Tell us about yourself.
My name is Christina, also known as Dina to my charges, Axton to my friends, and @nannyoutnumbered on Instagram. I’m 31, I love travelling, cocktails and a project! I am a Norland Nanny, qualified Maternity Nurse with specialist training in Postnatal Depression and Special Needs. I’ve worked as a nanny for 12 years in a variety of positions, including both residential and daily. I’ve also worked overseas and in Early Years Education. I am a Registered Children’s Nurse and work full-time in Neonatal Intensive Care whilst working part-time as a nanny for multiples. I have a passion for multiples and have cared for twins, triplets, quads and even quints. This interest began when I became a volunteer for TAMBA (Twins and Multiple Births Association), who through the Helping Hands Supporting Families in Crisis service provide short term practical support to families who are in desperate need. I was lucky enough to be awarded the inaugural ‘Helping Hands Volunteer of the Year’ award in 2016.
What led you to becoming a nanny?
I was born prematurely at 30 weeks gestation, weighing just 900 grams (roughly 2 lbs) and for most of my childhood I was the smallest person everywhere I went due to my prematurity and being growth-restricted. This was until one day my childminder had a new charge, a baby called Timmy. He was only small and I guess you could say he was my first ever charge! Apparently, my parents tell me all I wanted to do was care for Timmy and look after him. I was only 3 at the time but it became a life-long passion, caring for those who need it most.
Describe yourself as a nanny in 5 words.
Practical, resourceful, fun-loving, tenacious, supportive.
Describe your nannying approach. What is your childcare philosophy?
I feel that once you have more than two children in the house it’s a case of, “the more the merrier!” I believe in being realistic, not striving for perfection. Children learn best when they are given opportunities to explore and make mistakes in a safe environment. Start with love and you will never go far wrong. I am a big believer in encouraging children to be independent, empowering them and empowering parents. I feel parents are raising children at a very hard time – it’s a total minefield to know what to do for the best for your children. With much often conflicting advice on child-care, there’s a real lack of parents following their instincts. I like to ensure that I provide a solid foundation for parents to utilise, to navigate 21st century parenting. I love to provide all children with equal opportunities to enable them to reach their full potential, so if there are any obstacles in the way of this, I will always try to remove them. I can be relentlessly positive when it comes to facilitating change!
What do you enjoy most about being a nanny?
The flexibility! Unlike working in a nursery, if my charges wake up in the morning and want to learn about the sea, we can take a trip to the beach or the aquarium. I also love having the ability to get to know one family really well and building a rapport with them which enables me to support both the children and the parents and to grow with them as a family. You will also find me making something out of nothing and being resourceful.
What part of nannying do you find the most challenging?
Talking about money! I find it often becomes the elephant in the room.
What advice would you give to someone just beginning his or her nannying career?
Know your own worth, and make sure you communicate effectively at all times, not just on email or text but by having regular sit downs with your employers to discuss plans and how things are going. Make sure you have time for yourself! You cannot pour from an empty cup!
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
My days vary massively. However, my nanny jobs usually run 7am -7pm, depending on the role. Although every day is different, there are consistent themes when you have multiples around. I find the key to success is preparation, preparation, and more preparation! For this reason, I tend to start my day before the children wake to make sure I’m ahead of the game, so to speak. I always try to get out of the house with the children in the morning and the afternoon, with at least one meal a week out and about. This might be a picnic or lunch at a restaurant. I try to make sure we do a variety of trips, including museums, playdates, and creative classes. I am a big believer in routine with multiples so regular sleep times are important. They also give me the opportunity to do more preparation, including laundry, activity planning, and cooking fresh and nutritious food. In the afternoon, we often do an activity at home, such as craft or imaginative play, followed by the teatime, bathtime, bedtime routine which can be rather hectic but I love to find some time for nappies off and baby massage.
What is your go-to nanny outfit?
Anything that can be wiped clean with a babywipe!
How do you wind down after a long day on the job?
I find that winding down from work can be tough, especially if it’s been a busy day. I love to work my way through a good boxset to help switch off, and a couple of cocktails with friends is also the perfect tonic on a Friday evening.
Any childcare books, websites, or resources you recommend?
Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain by Sue Gerhardt, Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, Having a Premature Baby by Tommy’s, The Nursery School by Margaret McMillan.
The gals behind Not Quite Mary Poppins are always looking to grow our bookshelves. What are your favorite children’s books?
Disclaimer: Not Quite Mary Poppins obtains legal permission from a parent or guardian though a signed media release form for any photos that display children’s faces. All identifiable photos are posted with express permission.