Hello Sophie! First of all - please could you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?
Hi, I'm Sophie (@spoonful_of_sophie)! I’m 27 years old and I currently live with my partner in our home in a beautiful Cambridgeshire village. I qualified as a nanny after two years at the Chiltern Nanny College, just two weeks shy of my 18th birthday, and worked my first nanny job for over four years for two London solicitors looking after their twin boys.
My father flew in the RAF, so I have lived in a number of places; but we moved much less than some service families. I was born in RAF Akrotiri on the beautiful island of Cyprus, but left at aged two to spend five years in the Scottish Highlands - a beautiful place which I still miss. We moved to Lincolnshire, and I spent eight years at the Lincoln Minster Boarding School, where I developed my natural composure and independence, and also my love of caring for younger children, by volunteering to help the 2-4 year old pre-prep children.
My mother is mad keen on crafts and I have definitely followed her lead. I upcycle furniture and always have craft projects on the go, and I think it's fair to say my charges are always busy and having fun!
Over the years at school, the idea just grew, I just knew I wanted to work with children, so why not aim high and qualify as a professional Chiltern Nanny? I suppose I was one of the 'lucky ones' when it came to choosing a career; I always knew from a very young age that I wanted to work alongside children. I believe being an only child helped with my decision - no annoying siblings to blur my vision!
What pushed you to train with Chiltern College?
There were only two obvious choices for professional nanny colleges: Chiltern and Norland. Both are highly regarded; but as Chiltern offered a ‘boarding option’ (which I had already experienced) and a two year course starting at age 16 so I chose Chiltern. I did enjoy the smaller Chiltern classes - we had only 12 girls in each year. I’m sure some girls will claim loyalty to Norland but in truth I think both are excellent. Chiltern allowed me to start work two years earlier than Norland (which starts later at 17) and their course lasts three years. This meant I could pursue my career as a nanny from such a young age, starting my first job in London just after turning 18!
How do you think training with Chiltern helped your career?
Chiltern standards were extremely high and I performed ahead of most of my peers in both the essential theory and practical aspects of nannying. Chiltern tutors certainly helped to develop my own natural skills, and I believe it was my practical performance on the varied placements which made me stand out from the other girls and has helped me the most since as a nanny.
I was one of only two girls who passed all their placements the first time round and I was invariably complimented on my professional, proactive and industrious nature. I am especially proud that one long term external assessor took the unusual step of passing me only halfway through the term; something she had not done in 25 years.
What do you like best about working with children?
What is there not to like? Every child is different! I have worked alongside children from the age of 6 weeks old to 10 years old now, and no child has had the same or even a similar personality. The variety makes my job as a nanny so interesting and keeps me on my toes!
And what did you personally find most challenging about the training?
Personally I have never been very into essays and exams but having an ambition kept me going. Thankfully Chiltern wasn't too exam based - mainly practical and essays. It is definitely not a course for the faint hearted. Those two years were two of the most challenging of my life, but they were two years I would never change. As a young adult straight out of school, trying to juggle the essays, 'homework' and long hours of practical training was exhausting but so worthwhile!
You are very creative with your ideas, where do you get your inspiration?
Thank you! I love all things creative. It makes my job so much more fun if I can create new things and ideas for children to help them learn and experience new things. I definitely can't take full credit for a lot of my ideas, however, Pinterest and Instagram are my main source of inspiration.
Since starting my Instagram account, @spoonful_of_sophie I have started to realise what a lovely nanny network there is out there, we really are a lovely community of nannies and no single person has all the best ideas.
How do you like to spend your downtime when not in work?
Downtime? Is this even a thing? Ha! However when not crafting, I am usually at a race track with my partner who races historic cars or hosting themed dinner parties with close friends and their partners. I have quite a reputation for a good old fashioned dinner party now!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years' time?
Ten years seems like a lifetime away but the last ten years as a nanny have flown by! I'd love to have started a family with my partner, have a house full of dogs as well as some part time nannying alongside a child of my own. Maybe my upcycling can be turned into more of a ‘cottage’ industry, or maybe I could share my thoughts and experience as a ‘Social influencer Nanny’ - is that even a thing?
Finally, any advice you can give to someone looking to start a career in nannying?
DO IT! If working for children is for you; don't hesitate, you won't regret it. Nannying is very different to nursery life. As a nanny, you kind of become your own boss, you get the flexibility to have a big adventure day, or a quiet craft day at home, a win-win situation, plus you get to tailor your activities to just one or two children.
I love the close personal connection and watching a baby grow in those formative years to prepare for school. Of course I miss my previous children, but I also love staying in touch to hear their stories. I still keep in contact with all past charges and they still remember me, which just makes everything I do worthwhile.
Where is the best place to connect with you and find out more?
I'd love to chat to any potential or current nannies, and of course mums thinking about the pros and cons of nannying! The best way to do that is via my Instagram account. This is a great platform to have a nosey and see what fun activities we get up to on a daily basis, as well as recipe ideas and trips out in the Cambridgeshire/Bedfordshire region.