We’re about to demystify the world of male nannies. So if you’re curious about mannies, thinking about hiring one, or even becoming one, this blog is definitely for you.
Nannies and Mannies
As a nanny agency we’re very aware that men are currently a minority in the childcare profession. A staggering 98% of nannies in the UK are female. But ever since rumour spread that Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, were considering a male nanny, mannies have been thrust into the spotlight.
It certainly seems to be the case that more families are opening up to the idea of employing a male childcarer and hopefully that means more men will start considering it as a career choice. But since only 2% of nannies in the UK are male, it’s unlikely you’ve ever met one. Lucky for you, we happen to have our very own manny in the Happy Nest crew.
John Shotton is a male nanny who found his ideal role through Happy Nest working for a family with two boys. We caught up with him to demystify the male nanny role and find out why he thinks he’s “living the dream”.
How did you become a nanny? Is it something you always wanted to do?
I started working with children in 2011 in a residential setting. I was looking after children who’d had very difficult upbringings and been referred by social services. There were a lot of behavioural and emotional issues and it was a tough environment.
You want to help the kids you are working with, but in a residential setting you often don’t get to work with the children for long. They get moved around a lot and run away, so you don’t get enough time with them to make the impact you’d like. They’re also very vulnerable to manipulation and abuse. So even when you give 100% it only takes one bad decision on their part and you can lose them. That was hard.
I worked in residential care for 10 years. Until a friend asked me if I could help a friend of theirs who was having some issues with her child’s behaviour. They’d tried everything to get to the bottom of the challenging behaviour her child was displaying. My friend knew my background and thought I could help.
I had a chat with the mother and she wanted to hire me. I saw it as both a challenge and an opportunity. I still got to work with young people, but I had the chance to have more of a positive influence. Eventually I got to the bottom of what was going on and we managed to move things forward for the family. We’re still friends now.
I discovered that working in the nucleus of the family is really rewarding. You see the child grow and develop. It made me think that was a time for change and that’s why I left residential and made the move to nannying.
I’d also always wanted to move to Liverpool. So when I saw a nanny job advertised there via Happy Nest I got my qualifications together and put my cards on the table. And here I am.
How would you describe your average day as a manny?
Once the children are at school, I make the beds, walk the dogs, tidy up, and put some washing on. Then around lunchtime I start making their dinner. I’m not the world’s best cook but the family have really helped me with that and I’ve enjoyed learning a new skill. I give the mum a shopping list on Thursday and she buys for the next week. Then we have fish and chips on a Friday. The family has given me lots of support with the cooking and I’ve taken that home with me, which is great.
During the week, looking after the children is mainly learning focussed. So once I’ve collected them from school, I take them to their after school activities or we head home. If there are no after school clubs I do reading and spelling with the younger child. Then help the older sibling with their homework.
Fridays are fun days, so we get a ball and head to the park or the garden. But I try to make every day fun and interactive. This brings its own challenges but I’m loving it.
Sometimes the family asks me to help out on a weekend. If I’m not busy then I’m happy to help out. It usually involves taking the children to their various activities. Or the occasional evening of babysitting.
What’s the age range of children you’ve worked with?
In residential I worked with children from 10-18 years old. Now I work with an eight year old and a 14 year old. Eight is the youngest I’ve worked with so far.
What do you think is special or unique about working in childcare?
For me, it’s being able to watch a child grow and develop. Seeing their personal development and being able to be a positive role model in their life is hugely rewarding.
I also enjoy working together with the parents to support the children and meet their needs. It’s a team effort.
What would you say is the best thing about your job as a male nanny?
I love being an extended part of the family. You get a real sense of belonging and feel like you’re part of something wholesome and pure, which is a great feeling.
When I worked in residential care it was hard to make a connection with the children as they would often leave before that could happen. It also involved a lot of report writing and meetings.
Being a nanny is completely child and family focussed and I really enjoy that. You can give the children your time and focus and be really engaged.
I still have connections with the previous family I worked with and that’s great. I also enjoy rediscovering things that you loved as a child and learning to play again.
I wouldn’t change it for the world, I absolutely love it.
Do you think that as a man you bring anything different to the nannying role?
That’s a good question and I’m aware that there are a lot more female carers and child carers than male ones. After working with kids for so long I do see it as a badge of honour to be in the minority, but I’m not sure if I bring anything different.
I bring my own sense of fun and the kids seem to enjoy that. Perhaps the fact that I’m looking after two boys helps a little, but only because we have a lot of common interests. We mostly spend hours down the park with a football, playing with a ball or talking about football.
To be honest I’ve always worked with strong women and over the years I’ve taken on board many things that they’ve taught me. I’ve watched them deal with difficult situations and learned a lot. Now I’ve just adapted that to work for me.
What would you say to other men who may be thinking about a childcare role?
Go for it. If you’ve got the qualifications and you love working with children it’s a great job. I wish I’d made the move years ago.
For me, working in residential care dropped me in the deep end and that’s where I earned my stripes working with children. It taught me to be patient and understanding. But it was hard to feel like you were making a difference.
If you’re working with children and would like to be a nanny I’d definitely recommend it.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience as a male nanny?
Only that working with Happy Nest has been great. If you’re interested in becoming a nanny I can’t recommend them enough.
The whole process was quick and efficient and Fiona was always on the end of the phone if I had any questions.
I honestly feel like I’ve landed on my feet. It was a fantastic process, Happy Nest are fantastic people and I’ve got a fantastic job. I feel like I’m living the dream.