From Norland Nanny to Mum of two

Interview by Lucy Boulton 

Katie Mckeown travelled the world helping families and their children as a Norland Nanny and had always had a passion for working with children. She saw the highs, the lows and the real depth of how hard and incredible it can be raising children.

Yet how different really is it when you raise your own?

Katie shares her honest story and why it helped shaped her for motherhood in surprising ways. 

Being a Nanny is wonderful and tough all at the same time! What did your career look like as a Norland Nanny and what aspects did you absolutely love?

I  wanted to be a Norland nanny so that I was classed as the “best” in doing what was more of a vocation for me. 
I  loved  traveling, being busy, working hard and being put into new situations that were challenging and fulfilling.

Also, changing families often was great fun but on the flip side it was also so nice when I did longer posts and got to know all the friends and family members.

For me the first year of a baby’s life is just my favourite and being part of a family for that journey really is so special.

What particular moment stands out for you as a career highlight?

There are two as I couldn’t choose!

The first was my first real high net worth family. It was a rota traveling job so I knew travel was involved however they were extremely private so I had no idea what was in store for me.

On the day of travel we were driven from the amazing house in a top location in central London to the helipad, where we got a Harrods helicopter to outside the private jet. The next stop was Dubai!

The second was my longest nanny position.  The mother had her 40th  phantom of the opera birthday party in the opera garnier in Paris and they hired the whole place. The children greeted all the guests…it was not only an amazing evening but I was so proud of my charges!

Did you find it easy to come across new nanny jobs when searching?

Yes and no. I think sometimes the job found me, through word of mouth or agencies calling telling me they had a position. As I did lots of temp and short term I was always on the lookout, but being a Norland nanny and flexible with working hours and location I think it was always pretty easy.
How did you handle difficult situations that you may have found yourself in whilst on duty?

I think difficult situations can all be handled differently but I think a main one is differences in opinion between parents and nanny. I always tried to never take any stress or upset out on the children and to not speak about anything negative in front of them either. I’d wait and find an appropriate time to discuss it without them around which I felt was the best way to be.
Do you feel being a nanny helped shape the way you are as a mother today?

Yes for sure, I worked with a lot of different cultures and enjoyed watching parents bring up their children in so many different ways. I think it gave me the confidence in bringing up my children in the way I want to and not feeling like I have to explain that to anyone.

I’ve made mistakes being a nanny, and been in situations I wished I had handled differently, but I think making them made me realize that I am now aware that they don’t seriously impact a child and as long as you show love, compassion and give a child the security that children are always after that it doesn’t matter.

What did you learn during your years as a nanny that you’ve brought forward in to your role now as a mother?

I think being organized and prepared is likely one of the things that years of being a nanny means I just almost do without thinking! Having stashes of nappies and wipes, changes of clothes and hidden snacks in places I’d forgotten I even put them helps! Just being prepared for everything.

Also having done a fair bit of maternity nannying I’m pretty good at broken sleep! Although both my babies have luckily been fantastic sleepers, however the preparation for that was most certainly useful!

 If you could give your former nanny self one piece of advice what would it be?

To let more things go.

 I think I always over analysed things and over thought comments from parents. Being a parent now I understand sometimes things don’t come out the way you think and your tired and over emotional.

Now for your top 4 tips for current careers nannies. 

Work as hard as you can whilst you have less responsibilities.

Try and find positives in any situation.

Be flexible (minded and in working conditions).

Be true to yourself, if you don’t think you could let something go don’t take the job!

So finishing up with the one thing I’ve always wondered about, how different really is it having your own baby?

It is so very different.

You have the experience of working with children so they don’t scare you and know what to expect. However, you can never describe the love and how proud they make you!

Also the hormones, the tiredness and the lack of days off!! It’s hard too, as people expect for your child to be perfect because you’ve done it all before.

You also give yourself a hard time because you think you should be just as good as when working previously as a paid professional. It’s the best thing in the world though!