by Michelle LaRowe
Editor in Chief
Sometimes the notification of a new Twitter follower catches your eye. This was just the case when I received a notification that “Australia’s Number 1 Nanny” was now following me. If someone’s going to call themself the best nanny in their country, it goes without saying I want to learn more. So I reached out to Philippa Christian, the nanny behind the number, to learn why she’s known as her country’s best nanny. Here’s what she had to say.
eNannySource: How long have you been a nanny?
Philippa: I have been working with children since I was 11 years old, so I guess that makes it 15 years now. I have always combined babysitting and nannying whilst at school, and once I graduated I took on permanent positions doing what I have always loved – caring for children. I could never see myself doing anything else because I truly feel that being involved with children as a nanny is one of the most rewarding careers of all.
eNannySource: Tell us about your training and experience.
Philippa: Since the very beginning, I have continuously made time to train, not only for the sake of the children in my care, but also because I truly love learning about what I do. Whether it be attending a professional nanny school, completing online courses, updating my CPR and First Aid training or even reading parenting and nannying books and magazine articles, there is always something new to learn.
Apart from working as a nanny, I have also trained nannies myself at the Australian Nanny Company on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. This was a wonderful experience and gave me the opportunity to see how important it is to be on top of the latest information regarding childcare. Along with the guidance from my mum and my gran, I have also gathered a lot of very useful advice from my relationships with other nannies, nanny agency owners, parents, my nanny mentors, my babysitting coach and even through networking online with other nannies overseas.
I think that experience itself has been one of my best teachers. It has allowed for me to learn on the job, and I believe that learning how to handle a real-life situation has several great advantages over simply reading about it. For example, while nannying you can see what works best and what doesn’t by trial and error. You soon learn to predict certain behaviours and have more of an instinct about how to manage certain problems the next time they come around. Once you can carry out the role and gain the confidence you need, it won’t be long before you will know exactly what you are doing.
eNannySource: You call yourself Australia’s number 1 nanny. What makes you the best?
Philippa: As a nanny, your job is to serve others. As Australia’s ‘Number 1 Nanny’ I plan on doing exactly that by the largest amount of numbers I can.
Whilst serving nannies, babysitters and parents with the free advice and online certificates they can complete, I am using the money made by that to serve children in need from all of the countries I have been fortunate enough to visit whilst working as a celebrity nanny. I have always believed that success is measured not by what you can achieve for yourself, but by what you can achieve for others. As a nanny, every day you are helping children achieve their goals and building a solid foundation for their future. I have always loved this, and have decided to try and do it on a much larger scale.
eNannySource: Can you tell us about your most interesting celebrity experience?
Philippa: Well this is a tricky question! I have worked for quite a few celebrities and have had to work through some pretty major headlines, some of which might be a little too obvious about who I would be talking about if I were to discuss those times. It’s a really fun lifestyle – lots of holidays, five star hotels, private yachts, first class plane trips and meeting lots of other famous friends of the families along the way. But all of the luxury and glamour does come at a cost. Working for families like these, you have no social life, you are worked very, very hard and the expectations are extremely high. I’ve always loved a challenge, and to this day I still work as a celebrity nanny.
One of my most interesting experiences in this job would be a couple of years ago when I was on a cruise ship visiting islands in the South Pacific. The family I was working for were enjoying their time in the water together, so I decided to go for a short walk around the island and let them have some family time. As I was walking along a dirt road with palm trees and lots of bush land surrounding me, I noticed a group of natives standing in the bush looking out at the cruise ship and the tourists. The night before arriving on this island we were told on the ship that a lot of the natives have never seen ‘light skinned’ people before. As I kept walking a little boy who was probably about 3 or 4 ran out of the bushes and stood on the road in front of me, just staring at me. The women who were amongst the group of children were screaming at him, obviously wanting him to go back to them. I just stopped in complete silence not knowing what to do. I looked over at the women and smiled. Within seconds, they stopped screaming at the little boy and waved their hand to him as if to say, ‘It’s okay, you can go.’ The little boy walked up to me and gave me a hug. That was an incredible day and a day I will never forget. Although languages can separate us, a smile is universal.
eNannySource: What’s the state of the nanny industry in Australia?
Philippa: Unfortunately, nannies have never really been featured in this country up until now. They have definitely existed, but have not been officially recognised as a large group of people needing support. At the next Federal election in September, there will be a campaign promoting a ‘National Nanny Rebate,’ which is designed around giving families the choice of considering a home-based nanny rather than ‘away from home child care’ for their children, as the government is willing to provide in-home care at the same cost as day care.
eNannySource: How do you think nannies in the US and Australia are different?
Philippa: As far as I can see, the role of a nanny has always been an important part of American history. As a young girl, I loved to watch TV shows from the USA, and many of them were about families with a nanny! It seemed so wonderful that these children growing up in a family didn’t just have their parents to help them, but also a caring friend that they could rely on to help them through many difficult situations. Our history hasn’t really made a point of bringing nannies or ‘mothers’ helpers’ into the limelight very much, and so it’s a difficult job to compare the differences.
I must say that I have noticed American nannies seem to be a lot more passionate about their work. Could one of the reasons for this be that there is a lot more available for nannies in America? In Australia, we don’t yet have nanny conferences or nanny workshops, we don’t have laws that protect nannies whilst at work, we don’t have a recognition week or even a nanny association, but I’m hoping that very soon this will all change as the more we can make available to our nannies, the more we can encourage them to take on one the best and most rewarding careers they could ever hope to find. After all, a happy nanny equals a happy family!
eNannySource: Tell us about the book you are writing.
Philippa: I am currently writing ‘The Original Handbook for Australian Babysitters and Nannies.’ This has been a project of mine for the past six years. I really wanted to write it properly and not miss a thing. When I began babysitting, I would constantly be calling my Mum asking her so many questions – how do I get the baby to sleep if he keeps crying or how do I stop the kids from running away from the trolley when we are in the supermarket? Once I think I even asked her how to cut up an apple for the kids!
This book will hopefully be the ultimate guide to caring for children and help turn good nannies into great nannies. It’s really something I wish I had when I first started out. The book covers everything from nappy changing techniques to ‘meals in minutes,’ and goes on to explain things like child psychology and the different kinds of families you may have the opportunity to work for one day.
eNannySource: What are your favourite nanny resources?
Philippa: My favourite nanny resources would be my Daily Diary and communication book. I have always believed that communication and a strong relationship with the parents of the children in your care is what makes a great nanny/family relationship. The Daily Diary includes everything about the day, from the meals and drinks the children had to sleep times and even which activities they enjoyed. The diary covers exactly what happened during the time that Mum and Dad were not around.
The communication book is a book containing everything that Mum and Dad really need to know. Examples could include a milestone that one of the children may have reached or are showing signs that they are on their way to reaching, certain things that need to be noted like a reminder for the parents to sign a school form or attend a school function or even things like unacceptable behaviour and the way I have handled the situation. Sometimes as a Nanny we need to discuss things with parents that aren’t very easy, so a communication book is a great way of noting all those things down and going through each of them with the parent.
For as long as she can remember, Philippa Christian has dreamed of becoming Australia’s best nanny. She has worked nationally and internationally for a very large number of families, including some very well-known faces, and over the years has gained what she now feels is enough knowledge and experience to justify the title of, ‘Australia’s Number 1 Nanny.’ Learn more about Philippa at www.number1nanny.com.au, where she hopes to use the experience and knowledge she’s gained to put together an educational package to assist anyone and everyone who is involved or is planning on becoming involved in the caring of children.