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Work as a nanny (male nanny)

It has become accepted to have a male nanny
The importance of positive male role models has been known for years. Fathers, brothers, uncles and family friends have traditionally filled the role.

But with longer working hours and a dearth of male teachers in schools over the past decade, it has become accepted to have a male nanny – known as the manny – around the house.

Annie Merrylees, of London-based manny agency My Big Buddy, has 350 mannies on her books. She says the biggest reason families want another man about the  house is that “boys get on with boys”.

“And sometimes girls aged four-10 are just as active as their brothers and they want to go out and run and jump around and climb trees so there is a bit of the whole role model thing,” she says.

Business is booming for Merrylees.

“There’s a growing demand and it’s all word-of-mouth. We don’t advertise but once they sprout in a certain area, the boys turn up at the school and the mums get very interested,” she says.

Originally in the Kensington/ Notting Hill areas, My Big Buddy has recently branched out to Crouch End, Highgate and Hampstead. “The north is going to take off a bit more this year,” she adds.

The most important thing for a manny is experience with children, says Merrylees.

Guys who have coached sports, swimming, Camp America, or worked as school teachers are all sought after.

“There are a number of them who have a babysitting-for-family-and-friends background which I value very highly.”

Duties typically involve picking the kids up from school, some form of active entertainment - kicking a ball in the park, biking – then comes homework, preparing the evening meal, bathtime, bedtime and organising breakfast and school bags/uniforms so the next day runs smoothly.

“We just say you’re helping out mum... so if that’s take the car to get MOT’d or washed or taking the dogs to the vet then so be it,” Merrylees says.
Patience and a fun-loving attitude are the most important traits a manny can bring, according to Merrylees.

For weekend and holidays families seek  big, friendly personalities. But on a daily basis, sometimes quieter, more diligent characters work better especially with the live-ins. “They don’t necessarily want someone who’s on and upbeat all the time,” she says.

“We’re always looking for a range.”

Mannies usually earn about £10 an hour but this can vary depending on whether or not they live with the family.

Some men don’t take kindly to another male around the house but it’s only when they haven’t been consulted.  “Often there’s feelings of ‘why would a guy would want to do this’ – a little bit of ‘that’s my job’ type of thing – but if the father’s involved in the interview those soon fade,” Merrylees says.

For those still hesitant, a three-hour “playdate” is arranged date to see how kids and mannies respond and 95 per cent react positively.

“When the manny explains he’s been around kids his whole life and that he loves seeing them catch a ball and ride a bike, fathers relate because they have the same feelings themselves,” Merrylees adds.

In the end having a manny is a win-win for all involved.

“It gives the mannies a chance to pass on their skills – the children respond really well to it and appreciate it. At the end of the day, I’m pitching these guys because they are good people, they’ve got skills to teach and lessons to pass on and they enjoy doing that. It’s a good thing.”

» mybigbuddy.com

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