When Chelle tweeted me (@nannynick) to ask if I would write something for Brighton Mums about men and childcare, I didn’t know what specifically to write about. Then it occurred to me that back in the late 1990’s I went to a group meeting in Brighton which was organised by Men Who Care, Brighton and Hove Early Childhood Project. At the group I expect we discussed things like how more men could be encouraged to work with young children in nurseries and other pre-school settings.
So now 12 to 14 years later, have things changed at all with regard to men working in childcare. To be honest, I’m not sure things have changed that much. You may come across the occasional man working in a nursery or children’s centre, the occasional male childminder or the occasional male nanny. I feel men working with young children is still fairly uncommon, though your perception may be different to mine, especially if there are several men at your child’s nursery.
If you do have several men at your child’s nursery or children’s centre, then consider yourself very lucky, as in my view most childcare staff are female and although there have been various campaigns run by groups and councils, there are few men entering the childcare profession.
Personally I currently work as a nanny for a family with three young children ranging in age from 6 months old, to 6 years old. I like nannying far more than working in a nursery as a nanny gets a lot more freedom to decide what to do and when to do it. We are often out and about, seeing new places or revisiting places often of historic interest such as Castles, Steam Railways, Stately Homes plus we have our regular routine of things like swimming and toddler group. A nanny works alone so does not have ‘office politics’ to deal with, I simply report to the children’s mother and father. When in a nursery you are part of a team and being the only bloke can be a bit off putting I found.
Oh did I mention that nannying tends to pay better than nursery work? Low pay is an issue with childcare work and I feel it does put men off entering the profession. A nursery nurse may earn £16,000 a year whereas as a nanny I can earn 25-30% more doing similar hours (I work 40 hours split over 4 days). As with all jobs, some positions within childcare pay more than others but I found that nursery work didn’t pay me enough to cover my bills, so necessity meant that I had to find another job, which fortunately was still in childcare.
I am lucky that I have found great families to nanny for over the past 7 years or so that I have been nannying. Many parents looking to employ a nanny I feel will be considering a female nanny. Agencies have told me that they struggle to get families to consider a male nanny. In the past it has been mothers who didn’t fancy the idea but that has changed, these days the agency I deal with told me the biggest hurdle they had finding me a job was fathers… the mums were happy to consider a male nanny, the fathers were not.
Childcare I feel is seen as being a female occupation, although men are quite capable of doing the job. Would you be happy for a man to be working in your child’s nursery, or would you consider a male nanny? If not, why not? Some fathers are excellent with their children. Some children don’t see their fathers often. Could having a man at nursery be beneficial to your child? Having men work in childcare could be a positive thing for many children. Please support men who have made the decision to work with children.
About the author:
Nick goes by the name of NannyNick on parenting forums such as Mumsnet and on social media sites like Twitter. He has been involved in childcare for over 20 years since he was a young teen and is currently a nanny working for a family with three young children near Chertsey, Surrey.
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