Full Name: Sarah Bracknell
Location: South West London
How did you decide to become a career nanny? I was in love with the idea of the job from when I was a little girl. Growing up my friends’ nannies were these fantastic fun-loving beautiful women. I couldn’t not want to be one!
Have you had training outside your jobs? Some basic training, first aid and a ‘common core skills’ course. Mostly I’ve learned on the job and from the fantastic mothers I have worked with.
What can you tell me about your salaries and packages? Salaries vary and I prioritise finding a family that I gel with over salary expectations. However, it would take a pretty fantastic family for me to consider a salary under 35k per annum.
What should a family look for in a nanny? Somebody who fits in with your family is the most important thing you could possibly ask for. When you interview candidates see if the make you laugh! This is a person who you will share the most important moments of your life with, don’t let that be somebody who you don’t care for! Let’s face it, anybody can come in and do your cleaning and ironing, but it takes a special bond to make a great nanny.
What’s the most difficult experience you’ve ever faced in your professional career and how did you overcome it? Saying goodbye to children that I loved because my relationship with the parents wasn’t working out.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced? Getting called in to school because one of my charges had been exhibiting violent behaviour – I was on the brink of tears! I know that violence in children comes from a place of unhappiness and I was distraught feeling like I wasn’t doing enough for him and that other children were suffering.
How do you handle picky eaters? It depends on the age group! Remember, pre-industrialisation children had to fend for themselves so a biological aversion to new foods served a child well (less likely to eat some poisonous berries). If you don’t try your children on enough of a variety of foods in infancy fussy eating is totally to be expected! If you have a child who has already developed fussy eating habits then my best tip is: relax. Make them the food that they like and make sure meal times are a happy family occasion. They will soon learn that food is an enjoyable thing and slowly but surely open their minds to the huge variety of yummy things on offer! It helps to perhaps have a different meal to them and let them try some if they’d like to.
What do you do when children won’t go to bed? Going to bed is non-optional for me. When a child wakes up in the morning after a poor night’s sleep they are grumpy and upset and not living life to its full potential. However, depending on what sort of day your child has had they may not be tired at the exact same time. That’s why it’s important to distinguish between ‘bed time’ (children are in their room, reading or playing quietly) and ‘sleep time’. Bed time should be at the same time every night (even if that means carrying your child kicking and screaming up), Sleep time will vary.
What advice would you give candidates looking to become a nanny or develop to a high level of nanny work? Don’t be afraid of hard work. Develop your CV like you would in any other profession. My CV is impressive now because I worked for minimum wage for over a year, supplementing my income with any babysitting work I could get. Nothing speaks quite as loudly as hard graft.
What are your top tips for interviews and getting your next dream job? Smile. Address the children as well as the adults. Don’t misrepresent yourself or lie about experience – you will get caught. Present yourself well, dress smartly.
Can you tell us your most memorable moment looking after a child? Becoming god mother to the little sister of a baby I had been a nanny for. I looked around that church and knew I would always be part of that family.
What inspires you in your career as a nanny? My knowledge that happy children will make happy giving adults. If we create a happy younger generation we will be helping the world become a better place.
Lastly what are your dreams and hopes for the future? I hope to have my own children some day. I’d love to be one of those mothers I fiercely admire, who are on the PTA and who’s children are fantastic and charming. I think being a nanny will hold me in good stead for that.