Tell us about yourself!
Hello everyone!! My name is Jo Bennet, I’m a 24-year-old Norland Nanny, Qualified Maternity Nurse and Sleep Consultant. I am based in West London and nanny for the most amazing family. I look after a little boy (3.5) and a baby girl (1). A fun fact about me is that I have a twin brother (and an older brother), my mum is also a twin, and my twin and I also have twin cousins whose birthday is the same day as ours – crazy! Talking of twins, I also volunteer for an incredible charity called TAMBA (Twins and Multiple Births Association) in my free time. I give practical help, consultations and support to families with multiples (twins, triplets or more) who are in crisis and in major need of help. I love sewing and drawing, anything creative. I love to be active so I run, cycle and swim as often as I can, I cycle to work most days. I also LOVE to travel, and enjoy traveling the world with work and in my own time. I also have an instagram account called @littlepeoplemadness!
Jo's volunteer work with TAMBA.
What led you to becoming a nanny?
I think everyone knew I would be a nanny before I did. I love children, babysat a lot, and volunteered in a children’s nursery. I’m a very caring person by nature – my twin brother has special needs and I assumed a caring role with him as a child and I think this made me become more nurturing as a person. I feel my personality fitted into being a nanny and looking after children perfectly. I went to the Norland open day after my Nanna suggested it. She grew up in London and used to see the Norland nannies walking their silver cross prams around in their uniforms. When I got there, I fell in love with the course and wanted to be a Norland nanny from that point on.
Describe yourself as a nanny in 5 words.
Enthusiastic, compassionate, fair, fun and creative.
Describe your nannying approach. What is your childcare philosophy?
I believe in being firm but fair. I think that children should always have unconditional love but they shouldn’t be spoiled. Loving a child doesn’t mean you have to do everything they want and give them whatever they want, you can show love without spoiling a child. I believe that children flourish from having consistent boundaries. I think teaching them to be kind, loving, happy and respectful is way more important than them having all the newest toys. I also believe it is very important to remember that our everyday life is their childhood, so be patient with them and let them explore, learn and discover everything so they can fully embrace the world and have fun learning. I think getting messy is so very important! We shouldn’t be scared of mess as it’s the best avenue for them to learn and develop. A messy child is usually a happy one, and mess can always be cleared up but a missed learning experience can’t always be recreated.
What do you enjoy most about being a nanny?
I love that children are always growing and moving forward in their development, which is so exciting. It brings such variety to the job, they reach new and different levels, which is so lovely to watch, see, and be a part of. Knowing that you’ve helped them to accomplish things and break down any barriers to let them experience the new levels life has waiting for them, seeing their faces when they’ve managed to achieve something new is so lovely and heartwarming, I love that about my job and seeing them grow into proper little people is just crazy. There’s always so much to process and so much going on, you have to be able to adapt to any situation as a nanny as things change all the time, which I love. If every day was the same it would be boring. Being such a massive part of our little people’s lives is magical. It’s an honor to be welcomed into a family and to have such a huge impact on the children’s lives. I’m really proud to have such a special responsibility.
What part of nannying do you find the most challenging?
Knowing you will have to leave them one day. This is something that I always wonder about, the next chapter! How will they cope without me and, even more, how would I cope without those little people in my life every day!? But as a nanny, this is something you know will always happen at some point and you have to be able to see the good in it, for them and for you. Sometimes change needs to happen to let everyone grow.
What advice would you give to someone just beginning his or her nanny career?
Having nanny friends is really important. Nannying can be quite lonely if you don’t have people you can meet up and chat things through with. I would say location does make a difference, if you are in an area with nanny friends it has a huge impact on how you feel about your job. I would also say you will know when the right job comes along, so don’t just settle for a family. I really believe that having a strong relationship with the parents is vital, if you click with the parents that’s actually more important than the children, as a nanny we all love all children, they aren’t the issue, it’s the parents! Having parents on the same page with you is vital, it will enable you to enjoy your job more and feel valued, having that relationship will also encourage stronger bonds with the children as well. So, a win/win.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
My day changes daily so this is tricky to answer, but I usually start at 8.00am and do breakfast with them and get them dressed. Three days a week B3 has nursery for the morning and so we will drop him off and G1 and I will do a class – swimming, music, playgroup or have a playdate. We have lunch and pick up B3 from nursery and they both have quiet time. G1 naps and B3 usually reads his books in his bed and sometimes he will fall asleep. Occasionally he chooses to watch a Disney film for his quiet time. I cook, sort the laundry and do all the chores in this time. Then usually B3 and I have some quality time together and do some activities while G1 is still napping. Once she’s awake we will go have a play date, go to the park or all do an activity together before dinner. After dinner, it’s bath and get ready for bed, and that’s when my day ends. I usually finish at 6.30pm.
What is your go-to nanny outfit?
Luckily, I don’t have to wear my Norland uniform anymore! We only have to wear that while training. I always wear casual clothes that I don’t mind getting messy. I tend to wear dark jeans, to hide the muck, a t-shirt, a jumper and trainers. As I cycle to work, I also need to wear something practical for that, for example not a floaty dress/skirt. I do love clothes though and will sometimes try to wear something nice so I can meet friends straight from work. But, with a baby especially, I often end up with something splattered on me and have to go home and change before going out anyway.
How do you wind down after a long day on the job?
I’m quite a busy person and tend to always have something on every evening after work – either meeting friends for dinner/drinks or the cinema. My boyfriend is also very active so quite often we will go swimming together after work or go for a run. If I have nothing planned we will just watch TV (I love Grey’s Anatomy. I have re-watched them all many, many times, and everyone jokes that I could be a doctor with the amount I’ve watched) and order food in and take a well-deserved break. I love to sew and at the moment I am in the middle of a sewing project to turn all the baby grows and clothes my littlest charge has outgrown into a patchwork quilt for her. I also love to read. My favourites are murder mysteries and crime thrillers.
Any childcare books, websites, or resources you recommend?
During training my most used books were Advanced Early Years by Iain Macleod-Brudenell et al., and Early Childhood Studies: Principles and Practice by Jane Johnston and Lindy Nahmad-Williams.These are very academic type of books so great for people doing childcare studies. The information I got from them has stayed with me and stood me in good stead. An interesting book is The Science of Parenting by Margot Sunderland. This is a book about the way our brains work and how best to help children become emotionally balanced. It’s a fascinating read to see things from a different point of view. The internet is also a good source of information “on the run”, but I am careful about the sites I use. Most often I share information, advice and issues with friends – they are my best source of information and help! A book that I’ve found helpful for parents of twins is Expecting Twins? by Professor Mark Kilby and Jane Denton. It’s nicely laid out, easy to read and not too intense.
The gals behind Not Quite Mary Poppins are always looking to grow our bookshelves. What are your favorite children’s books?
Handa’s Surprise by Eileen Browne – I have made sock puppets of all the animals to really bring it to life for children. B3 is obsessed with the Mr. Men books by Roger Hargreaves. I also think the books about feelings for children are so helpful and such a great tool for them to start distinguishing their emotions. The ones I like are by Brian Moses. I Feel Jealous is particularly good for new siblings, but they do lots of other emotions too. There are too many lovely books out there to single any others out.