Norland College has been training nannies for nearly 130 years.
These days, nannies are trained in everything from security to emotional regulation.
Here's what life looks like for a Norland nanny and their favorite child-minding tips.
Liam Willett's workdays begin at 7:45, when he wakes the boys up and feeds them breakfast. Then it's off to school for the older boy, 4, and the park for the little one, 2. Later, while the little one naps, Willett takes care of ironing, preparing dinner, and organizing, before hopping on an electric cargo bike for school pickup. Then it's playtime, followed by dinner, when Willett talks to the boys about their day.
Though his routine is similar to a stay-at-home parent's, Willett isn't the boys' dad — he's their nanny.
Willett, who works with a London family, is one of the first male graduates of Norland College, a prestigious British school that has been training elite nannies since 1892.
Norland nannies, or Norlanders, are renowned for their skills. Nannies undergo a three-year academic course covering everything from self-defense to nutrition.
During their fourth year, they work full time as a paid nanny, with support from the school. Upon graduation, Norland nannies are placed with rich and famous families, with starting salaries of about $53,000 plus living expenses.
Life as a Norland nanny
The nanny's role varies based on the needs of the family they're working with, says Julia Gaskell, 57, a former Norland nanny who now works as the school's head of consultancy, agency, alumni, and training.
Some nannies, like Willett, work closely with a family during business hours. Others offer around-the-clock care to kids of parents who have to travel for work. And others help parents through the first six weeks to three months after bringing home their baby.
"You do need to have sufficient income to be able to employ a Norland nanny," Gaskell told Insider. However, some families with three or more kids of preschool age find that nannies aren't that much more expensive than daycare costs, she said.
Each year about 100 nannies graduate from Norland, but the demand for their services far outstrips the supply of nannies: There are 11 job openings for every trained Norland nanny, according to the school.
Norland is expanding, particularly to focus on recruiting potential nannies from underrepresented backgrounds. In 2019 the school graduated its first two male nannies, including Willett, and this year it introduced a gender-neutral uniform option.
Working with the parents as a team
Willett often finds himself troubleshooting with the parents of the boys he nannies. He has been in his position for two years, and he's comfortable offering the parents advice and taking theirs.
"The parents and I have formed a brilliant working relationship that values the skills that we all bring to the table," he said. "Communication is, in essence, the foundation on which the relationship between parents and nanny is formed."
Training put to the test
Willett said of his extensive training that the class that had benefited him the most was emotion coaching, an evidence-based approach to managing a child's emotions when they feel overwhelmed.
"Using emotion-coaching techniques to ensure a child knows they are supported, loved, understood, and respected whilst at the same time explaining that not all behaviors are acceptable is a tried-and-tested approach," he said.
Recently, his older charge got a bit rowdy at school. When the teacher mentioned this to Willett, he was able to talk about it with the boy. The child hasn't misbehaved again, he said.
Misconceptions about nannying
Gaskell bristles at the misconception that nannies are servants. Norland nannies are highly trained professionals, she says. Often they form close bonds with the kids they watch; that's reflected in Norland's motto "Love never faileth."
Willett says that while Norland nannies have uniform training, each brings a slightly different presence to the family they work with.
"Every nanny is an individual and has their own unique set of skills, values, and interests. It's important that these skills and values closely align with those of the family to ensure chemistry and the best long-term match," he said.
Willett says that families considering hiring a nanny should think about their core values and look for a nanny who shares them.
Tips from a Norland nanny
Here are Willett's and Gaskell's top tips for parents:
Establish clear expectations for behavior. "It's important not to try to 'control' their behavior by constantly being on their case, as this is both exhausting and ineffective," Willett said. "Rather, I've invested a lot of time and effort into ensuring the boys are able to effectively manage their behavior themselves."
Have high expectations. "When you ask a child to do something, have confidence and expect them to do it," Gaskell said.
Know how to de-escalate. "If a child is shouting, whisper, and they will quiet down so they can hear you," Gaskell said.
Disregard some behaviors. "Always try to ignore negative behavior where possible," Gaskell said.
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