Tell us about yourself.
Hello hello!!! My name is Chris Alderton, 28 year old male nanny in England, specialising in twins & new-borns. I am qualified sleep trainer, breastfeeding consultant and PND (postnatal depression) specialist. I currently work with one family and do a lot of childcare consulting for families all over the world. My main nanny job is for twin girls aged 3yrs. Being a male nanny wasn’t easy in the first few years. Lots of people would say to me “I get that men work with older children, but why do you want to work with babies?” This never upset me, it me it just motivated me more to prove that men are just as capable and passionate about working with children under 5 years. I am really big on equality and a huge feminist myself, so I love to make sure the girls know that they can achieve anything they want to be. When I am not being a nanny or consulting, I volunteer. I have worked with Great Ormond Street Hospital as volunteer but now, I volunteer for the Terrence Higgins Trust.
What led you to becoming a nanny?
My mum worked with young children for years so I kind of just fell into it. I studied at college and when I was on my first placement I just know that I had found my calling.
Describe yourself as a nanny in 5 words.
Pro-active, energetic, creative, loving, kind.
Describe your nannying approach. What is your childcare philosophy?
Positivity is the way forward! Having a positive approach to the way I manage the children and our day always works for me. I believe in setting out clear boundaries from the get go. Teaching respect, kindness and emotional well- being is key. Making children socially and emotionally developed is of the utmost importance in my childcare style. Everything else will follow naturally. Children feel safe, secure and loved with firm expectations. Being firm and consistent is one of the greatest kindness you can show your child, making sure that with everything there is fun and loving.
What do you enjoy most about being a nanny?
Being part of a family team. The family I work for and I now call ourselves “THE TEAM.” It’s so lovely to guide and help a family bring up their little ones. It is incredible to give children the skills and tools they need to grow, explore and develop. Then the best part is getting to watch them achieve and accomplish. It never gets old when you see the huge smile on their faces. Plus all the cuddles are an added bonus of the job. As well as an endless supply of babybel cheese in the fridge!!!!!
What part of nannying do you find the most challenging?
I think most nannies would agree with me when I say it’s the leaving the families. It can be so difficult to leave them when you have spent however long caring for them, but it’s part of the job and they know its coming. Plus change is a good thing for both the children and the nanny. Luckily, I have a good relationship with all my past nanny families. I am actually a godfather to the first twin girls I looked after.
What advice would you give to someone just beginning his or her nannying career?
The relationship with the parents is the key thing you must get right. If you love children, then you will love whoever you look after. By making sure that you gel with the parents, you work out what kind of nanny work life it will be (shared care or sole charge). Honesty is always a vital make-up of being a nanny. If I have problem at work with something, I bring it up straight away with the parents so that it doesn’t build to something more than it needs to be. It works both ways, so they do the same with me. This means we are always on the same page, and that way everyone stays happy.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
My weeks change all the time. Once a month I also look after their baby cousin (boy 6 months). Typically I work Mon-Wed 7am to 7pm, then Thursday 8am to 2pm. I arrive and the girls have just woken. We say bye to the parents and have a relaxed first hour. I ask them if they slept the night before and if they went straight to sleep. If they did, they get a button in their button jar as a reward. The goals is 10 buttons for a treat, which tends to be pancakes for breakfast. We play for an hour, which is normally hairdressers and doctors at the same time. Then we watch the weather and change our weather board. The mornings are either filled with playdates, creative activities, learning games, or sometimes they have a class. I love making treasure baskets and doing imaginative play. The girls have nursery in the afternoons for 3 hours. But on Monday one girl goes alone and then the other Tuesday. This way the get to have a little independence themselves and some one-on-one time with me. I pick them up at 4pm we go home, play a game again, and have supper around 5pm. Then its quiet time, bath at 6pm, then one parent will come home to do bedtime for 7pm. On Thursday the mum and I share care, so I arrive later and we all have breakfast together. Then we spend the mooring doing something all together. After that I take the girls to nursery and leave at 2pm. This is great because it means the care the girls receive is always consistent. We are constantly on the same page. I gave up doing 5 days a few years ago so I could focus on other things.
What is your go-to nanny outfit?
I love clothes and shop way too much. It can vary from tartan trousers to jeans, but always something oversized and floaty on top in all the patterns possible. When in doubt, it’s double denim!
How do you wind down after a long day on the job?
I have a busy social life seeing friends and hanging out with my fiancé. Generally on my long nanny days I go home to binge watch House of Cards and Orange is the New Black with a glass of red wine. I also listen to music and podcasts. Woman’s Hour and Stuff You Should Know are my favourite podcasts at the moment.
Any childcare books, websites, or resources you recommend?
For childcare books I love anything by Tracey Hogg. Plus the Millponds Sleep Clinic have a fabulous book called Teach Your Child to Sleep. It’s a must-have in my eyes for any parent. The website I get regular articles from the best is Aha! Parenting. It’s brilliant for parents and nannies.
The gals behind Not Quite Mary Poppins are always looking to grow our bookshelves. What are your favorite children’s books?
My Granny Went to Market by Stella Blackstone is a great book for learning to count and the illustrations are just beautiful. What’s a Penguin to Think When He Wakes Up Pink! by Lynne Rickards is a lovely book that teaching children that it’s ok to not fit in with the crowd and be different. This is such an important lesson to learn. The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord is just a classic that I had when I was little, so I just love it for that.