Working as a rota nanny? Everything you need to know about healthy living on shift

Lucy Boulton's picture

Former Career Nanny and now Childcare specialist recruiter at The Lady, Lucy Boulton has over 12 years’ experience with children of all ages. With a passion for exceptional childcare and giving advice, Lucy is delighted to be offering regular blogs alongside helping families find the perfect nanny through the services provided by The Lady.

Working as a rota nanny? Everything you need to know about healthy living on shift.

You see the enticing ad for a rota nanny role with worldwide travel, paid full time for just two weeks work a month and you jump at the chance to apply.

Or perhaps you’ve been a long time runner on the rota nanny career path and it’s all you’ve ever known.

Either way, working rota is HARD.

 I know first-hand as I did it towards the end of my career as a nanny and whilst it was fun, exciting, changed daily and involved lots of travel, I quickly realised I had to up my own game to keep ahead of my nanny game and be the best version of me both on and off shift.

So for those of you that are considering rota or maybe aren’t sure what is exactly expected of you, I’ll break it down briefly.

Each family is different, however most rota roles consist of two weeks on 24/7 and two weeks off in which you are flown back home if overseas and share this rota with another. You are never off duty during this time, except for when you sleep and will most likely, depending on the ages of the children, have a monitor in your room in case the baby or child wakes so you can hear them. So basically, never off.

You cover all aspects of childcare for 14 days straight, and then rest once off shift and back home before repeating it all two weeks later.

It’s mentally and physically challenging but equally fun and manageable as long as you take good care of yourself.

Here’s how I made time for myself whilst doing rota so that I could remain as alert, energised and healthy as possible for my charges and employer but ultimately myself.

  • Figure out your alone time and micro manage it

So this can be anything from waking up half an hour earlier to have alone time enjoying a coffee, replying to friends and family, or making it a priority to read a chapter in a book before bed each night. I’d take a new book and make it my goal to finish if before the end of my shift, and this way I had something to look forward to each evening. Scheduling in this time is also very effective, and I loved planning out my rota shift diary and scheduling in little things for me to keep me grounded each time.

  • Beauty

I always ensured I took a facemask with me (or two!) to enjoy once a week and it became something I really looked forward to. It felt like a real treat and didn’t cost a fortune, plus I could have it on whilst watching something, reading or on a call to home so this is a great use of time management!

  • Exercise

I think this was the hardest to implement, but gave me the best feeling each time I managed to fit in a quick work out! As my shift began at 7am, I woke at 5.30am each day to give myself a good hour of self-care including a 20 minute workout ranging from a squat challenge, to an energising morning yoga flow. It helped set me up for the day, and prepare me mentally and physically for whatever came my way, which when working in rota can be anything! I also liked having a challenge of doing 100 squats a day before the end of my shift, or hitting 15,000 steps. It kept it interesting and exciting.

  • Nutrition

Now this was so crucial for me that I would often plan in advance. Being already aware of what foods made me lack energy and what enabled me to feel great was helpful yet it wasn’t always so easy to stick to.

Yes we had a chef, but when your main priority during the shift is the children and their needs, meals can be skipped or there’s the temptation to snack on processed foods that provide zero benefits to your body.

I found fruit a quick and easy go to, yet didn’t always feel like it especially in the afternoons, so I’d bring energy balls or oatcakes from home with me, or eat with the children whenever possible unless stated by the parents.

The key here was not giving into cravings between meals, or using sugar filled snacks and drinks as a way to fuel me through another hour when I felt tired.

  • Mental wellbeing

Being away from a partner, friends and family can be tough and one element of what makes working rota less appealing.

Having a couple of small Polaroid’s by my bed always helped me, plus scheduling in the time to call home a few times a week too.

Then you have the missed occasions such as weddings and parties you need to turn down as it just so happens that your shift falls on the same dates, or feeling isolated from your home life as you are swept up in someone else’s for those two weeks.

Having strong, mental foundations and a daily journal can really help you stay focused on the positives in each day and ensure you create no space for anxiety or loneliness at all. Writing down daily gratitude each morning whilst drinking a coffee, or maybe a 5 minute meditation are all essentials that I incorporated and included every time I worked a shift, and back at home too!

So when it comes down to it and you’re all packed ready to head off on another shift, just remember it is possible to maintain a well-balanced lifestyle even if it’s in small amounts, by including essentials just for you during alone time and making it a priority.

If you or someone you know is searching for an experienced Nanny, or you have any questions about becoming a Nanny, contact Lucy today on