National Careers Week: Amalia’s career as a nanny so far
1 March 2021
After graduating from Norland, graduates (known as Norlanders or Norland Nannies) benefit from exclusive access to the Norland Agency which had on average five permanent jobs for every Norlander looking for one last year.
But what does a job as a nanny look like and what does a typical day entail? Whilst every nanny job is unique, Amalia (Set 37) gives an insight into her daily routine, her career so far and her current nanny job in South Africa as part of National Careers Week.
Please introduce yourself.
I’m Amalia and I graduated as a Norlander following the completion of my Newly Qualified Nanny (NQN) year in August 2017 as part of Set 37. After working in London for three years, I decided it was time for a change and headed to my current job, then based in Monaco, in October 2019. Since I started, we’ve had a new baby join the family, home schooled through lockdown and, most recently, moved to South Africa! I look after two very active children, aged four and one, who keep me busy and laughing from the minute I start every morning.
While I’m working in Monaco, I’m a live-out nanny and I commute in by train every day from Nice, where I’m lucky enough to live. In South Africa, I’m a live-in nanny with a beautiful room overlooking the beach.
What does a typical morning look like for you?
I come down for work at 7am and help with breakfast and getting the children dressed and ready for school and nursery. By 8am, the children are at school, and I use the time to prepare lunch and dinner, as well as any activities we want to do in the afternoon. I’ll also use this time to drive out and pick up any supplies that we need for the children. Once I’m finished with any jobs I need to do, I can use any remaining time as downtime and I’ll head down to the beach for a walk, swim in the pool or video call someone at home in the UK. My youngest charge comes home at 11am and I’ll give her lunch, we’ll play for a little bit and then she’ll go to bed for a nap at about 12.15pm.
What is your lunchtime routine?
My older charge comes home from school after lunch, at about 1pm, and we will take the time to do some 1:1 activities. As he already has school in the morning, I try to follow his personal interests when I plan the activity. Current favourite themes are space and cruise liners, so I’ll use these as a framework for activities that support his learning. Otherwise, we’ll build Lego models (another passion) or have some downtime and watch some television if he’s really tired from school.
What do you and your charges do in the afternoon?
Once the little one gets up from her nap at about 3pm we all have a snack together – nuts and fruit, toast or maybe something I’ve made in the morning – before getting on with the afternoon’s activities. Sometimes we’ll go out to the park, or have friends over to play, at other times the children’s swimming teacher will come over to do their socially distanced lessons in the pool. Later in the afternoon, we’ll often go down to the beach for a run around and a swim before dinner, to use up the last bit of energy!
If we are going out to a public place we of course have to wear our masks and be sure to sanitise our hands thoroughly and when we have people over we are careful to make sure the children play in a safe and hygienic way with their friends. However, I should point out that at the time of writing, here in South Africa the COVID-19 situation is different to the way it is in Europe, with considerably fewer cases and restrictions. We follow all the South African rules as they change and make sure that the children do too.
Walk us through your evening/bedtime routine with your charges.
We live such an outdoor lifestyle here that the children are exhausted by 5.30pm so that’s when we’ll have dinner. If the children are going to have some screen time, they’ll usually have it while I get everything ready and they chill out. Usually the children will eat the same thing, but sometimes I’ll have to adapt the meal for the baby, to account for the fact she’s waiting on a lot of her teeth still! After that, it’s straight into the shower for the baby (neither of my charges are bath fans!), into pyjamas and in bed by 7pm. My older charge can stay up a little longer after dinner and might play with some Lego with his Dad while I clear up the dinner. His parents will usually help him with his shower and put him to bed after this. Then it’s time for me to have a cup of tea in my room and chill out for a bit. If I haven’t got plans for the evening, I’ll sometimes plan activities and meals for the day ahead, or I’ll go down to the beach again for the sunset.
“If you love children, are a hard worker and have a passion for child development then I would say a career in the early years is unbeatable.”
What has been your career highlight to date?
It’s difficult to pick a career highlight as I love so many things about my job. Apart from the bonds I’ve made with all my families, I would have to say that travelling here to South Africa has been an unexpected highlight! I never would have expected to come here when I graduated, or even to work in Monaco, and I’ve loved both of these experiences, particularly the opportunity to learn French. Here in Cape Town, the quality of life for the children and for me has been amazing. I know that leaving here will be a real wrench as it already occupies a very special place in my heart.
Another highlight is going back to my old families to catch up with all my charges – leaving is always so hard but seeing how they are thriving when I go back to visit is just the best feeling.
What attracted you to working as a nanny rather than another early years role?
I love working with children and, although I enjoy working in a team in settings with other practitioners, nannying offers me so much autonomy and responsibility right off the bat. I have so much input into what we get up to, what the children eat, routines and the children’s development – the trust you have from the parents is a great feeling – as is knowing that the children’s achievements have come as a direct result of your work. Of course, I also love the freedom to get outside and to travel with the families – no two days are ever the same!
What do you love about what you do?
I love a lot of things about what I do. In what other job are you building a Lego model of the titanic in the morning, watching a baby take their first steps in the afternoon and jetting off to the southern hemisphere the next day on 24 hours notice?
Each family brings their own quirks and personalities and adapting your practice to work with them as their family grows means you can never get stuck in a rut and you are motivated to keep abreast of best practice as it evolves. I love working in an industry that is being increasingly recognised for its significance in a child’s early years and beyond. Watching your charge develop new skills and grow into a happy little person and knowing that you played a key role in that is very fulfilling.
You can also meet people you would never have met ordinarily, travel to places you would never have thought to go to and begin to understand the world from so many new perspectives.
Would you recommend a career as a nanny and why?
I would absolutely recommend a career as a nanny. It is different to any other early years role as from day to day you never know what challenges and opportunities you are going to face. You can plan as much as you want but when there are children involved you need to be ready for anything! In some nanny jobs you don’t even know what country you will be in from week to week, and I just love the adventure of it all.
Besides that, when you are a nanny you have the opportunity to provide really holistic care to the children and be such a central person in their life. It is an enormous privilege to become part of someone else’s family and have such an impact on them for the rest of their life, and there are very few jobs in the world where you will have this opportunity. It’s incredibly special.
What would you say to someone who was considering a career in the early years or considering studying at Norland?
Historically, the early years sector hasn’t been viewed as a high-status industry to work in, but it’s a very exciting time in early years at the moment and I believe that having highly trained, passionate practitioners throughout the sector will do a lot to help raise its profile as a whole. So, if you love children, are a hard worker and have a passion for child development then I would say a career in the early years is unbeatable. Even with my Norland degree and diploma, I still learn more about early years development every week and seeing the children benefit from your work never gets old.
Going to Norland means that you’re at the cutting edge of early years research and training when you graduate, you have amazing experience across a multitude of roles, and you are poised to jump straight into an amazing role immediately on graduation! Norland is a one-of-a-kind experience, that will find you friends for life and will set you up for a career full of adventure with little people. I couldn’t recommend it more highly.