When it comes to professional childcare, the world is still very gendered. So what is it like as a male nanny? We talk to one to find out.
Max Kalogirou, a father-of-one, is a nanny and an ambassador for Nannytax, the nanny payroll and HR specialists. Here he talks about his career in childcare.
“I first realised I wanted a career in childcare when I was at college and landed a holiday job running children’s parties at a dry ski slope centre. I enjoyed it so much I decided to do an apprenticeship at a nursery.
After nine brilliant years working with children in a nursery setting, I sensed it might be time for a change. Being put on furlough during the pandemic gave me an opportunity to reassess my career and when I was offered a three-month job as a nanny over the summer, I jumped at the chance. I haven’t looked back since.
Being a nanny is completely different to working in a nursery. The best part of the job is the freedom, flexibility and the opportunity for discovery – I follow the children’s lead. One day we might be learning about nature in the local park, the next we’re exploring a museum.
I work for two families every week for a total of 25 hours and the rest of my time I fill with childcare for several families on an adhoc basis. It means I have a lot of control over when I work – something I really appreciate as a single dad to a one-year-old daughter.
I’ve been lucky enough to bring her to work with me a few times, which is nice for her. The children I look after love playing with her. But most of the time she’s in private childcare too, which means I have a unique insight into the sector from both an employee and employer’s perspective.
I’m pretty lucky as most of the families I’ve worked for have been wonderful and we get on really well. But I know that since the pandemic, other nannies have struggled with having parents working from home regularly. Navigating that can be a bit of a challenge, but that’s why it’s so important for nannies to be adaptable – you need to be able to adjust to a family’s lifestyle and situation.
For me, the most challenging aspect of being a nanny can be bonding with the children of a new client. It can take time to build trust and get them feeling comfortable around you, but it’s so satisfying once you do.
For dads thinking about hiring a nanny for the first time, I’d say it’s really important to call up their references, make sure they’re DBS checked and first aid-trained too.
Be sure to sort out a good employment contract – Nannytax can help you with this and the rest of your compliance checklist – these are so crucial and I’m amazed that some parents don’t realise they need one. Disputes are rare but disagreements can happen – a recent survey by Nannytax found 33% of nannies said there was ‘room for improvement’ in their relationship with their clients – and it’s better for everyone if expectations around things like when holidays are taken, and how much housework is expected in addition to childcare duties, are agreed in advance.
Personality fit is so important – I offer a free one-hour meet and greet session with the family to see how we all get on. Then I’ll suggest a paid, three-hour trial session.
Parents often remark on how unusual it is to meet a manny – it’s definitely my unique selling point! However I like to think my years of experience and passion for the job is just as important as my gender.
I’d love to see more men enter the childcare profession. I was lucky to work with three other men during my first nursery job – only with hindsight do I realise how rare that was! But men can offer so much and be important role models for young children, showing them that caring for others is a job for boys, too.”