This article originally appeared on restless.co.uk
Connie and Margie, both 63, have found passion and purpose by finding new careers at unique childcare company, GrandNanny.
Founded in January 2020, GrandNanny is a new kind of childcare service that matches parents and their children with midlife+ GrandNannies who have either professional or personal childcare experience. GrandNanny’s mission is to build age-integrated communities, champion the underemployed, and offer flexible and rewarding childcare.
We spoke to Margie and Connie about their experiences of working for GrandNanny, including what their roles involve, and what they love most about the GrandNanny concept.
Connie – “I said to myself: I must use my experience and my love for children to help other people”
Connie Ajilore, from Bermondsey in South East London, is a mother of nine and grandmother to ten children. In her previous roles, Connie has worked as an administrator for the NHS and London Fire Brigade. She also has a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Studies, is a writer of children’s books, and has experience working with children in her local church.
With professional knowledge, hands-on experience, and such a genuine love for children, Connie explained that since becoming a GrandNanny in August 2021, the role has been a perfect fit for her.
She says, “I signed up to GrandNanny because children are my passion. I was looking after my grandchildren when I retired in 2015, but when the youngest one went to nursery school I had a lot of time on my hands and I said to myself: I must use my experience and my love for children to help other people.”
Margie – “I really wasn’t sure where I was going after my last role, but then I found GrandNanny, which has been amazing”
Mother-of-two Margie from London came across GrandNanny on the internet and decided to apply, after her previous roles hadn’t worked out as planned.
She says, “I’ve had quite a few career changes in my life. I was doing the accounts at a school for children with autism, but was made redundant. Then I started nannying with a family but again, unfortunately that all changed due to covid.
“I really wasn’t sure where I was going after my last role. At our age, it’s easy to feel as though you’re on the rubbish heap a bit. Because if you’re unfortunate enough to lose your job in your early 60s like me, you’re left thinking – what is there for me now?
“A lot of women have also found themselves in the awful situation of losing out on their pension until they’re 66 and having no way of earning an income between 60 and 66 due to ageism in the workplace. So finding GrandNanny – a company that aims jobs specifically at older women – and being able to earn a living in a way that I enjoy has been amazing.”
In her spare time, Margie enjoys quilting, going to the gym, playing on her Xbox, and spending quality time with her elderly mother.
A week in the life of a GrandNanny
Individual requirements, such as working hours, location, ability to work with pets, and the age and number of children they’re happy to care for are taken into account to determine which family a GrandNanny is paired with. As a result, each role will be slightly different, depending on the family, the age of the children, and the childcare needs.
Connie explains, “The ages of the children that you care for can vary – it depends on your own requirements and the family that you’re paired with. For example, I currently care for a family with an eight-year-old child and an 18 month old baby. The amount of days that you work is also based on an agreement with the family.”
Connie currently works four days a week and is with her second family since becoming a GrandNanny. Explaining more about what her role involves, Connie says, “I go to the school at closing hour and pick the children up to take them home, and then just spend the rest of the evening with them – until about 6pm or 7pm – depending on when the parents return home.
“I make dinner and we do fun things together – we can play, we can read, we can do crafts, I can help them tidy up their bedroom – all things that you’d usually do with children. Every day is different, and if the weather allows then sometimes we will go to the library or the park too.”
Margie has so far worked with one family since becoming a GrandNanny in March last year. She says, “My most recent GrandNanny role was during the Covid-19 lockdown. I covered childcare for the family either in the morning and early afternoon, or late afternoon and early evening.
“In the mornings, I’d go to the family’s home and make breakfast, help tidy up the kitchen, and then depending on the day, I’d take the children to the park, or we’d go for lunch. It was mainly about looking after the little ones and giving mum a bit of time-out.”
“My role as a GrandNanny was often a very supportive one – not just for the children, but for the whole family too”
Both ladies explained their nanny roles have included supporting families as a whole. For example, in her previous GrandNanny role, Margie supported a family who were struggling as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.
She says, “Alongside caring for the children, I also became a bit of a mentor to mum too. I think for a lot of new mums – especially during covid – a big problem was not being able to get out to child groups and chat to others mums. Many were left scrolling through the internet, finding information that wasn’t necessarily helpful. So they were left convinced that they were parenting wrong.
“Having someone there in those times to help mentor and reassure you can be invaluable. So in that case, my role was a very supportive one – not just for the children, but for the whole family too.”
Similarly, using her personal experience and knowledge obtained from her Master’s degree in Early Years, Connie likes to offer mentoring to the parents of the children that she cares for in her role as a GrandNanny.
She explains, “My role isn’t just about looking after the children – I also offer mentoring to the parents too. I use my professional experience and skills in child development to help the parents if they so desire. This is not something required of GrandNannies, it’s just an option that I like to offer to families to go the extra mile in my service.”
“The role is flexible, offers time out when you need, and allows you to be part of something so worthwhile – it just really works”
Both ladies agreed that the flexible, part-time nature of the work at GrandNanny has allowed them to do a role they’re passionate about, while also having time to devote to other areas of their lives.
Margie says, “One of the main reasons that this role works so well for me is because it really suits my lifestyle. I look after my mum who’s 88 and being a GrandNanny gives me the flexibility to be able to make hospital appointments, and actually spend quality time with her.
“Also, with childcare working hours, the lines can become easily blurred. But when working with GrandNanny, you can communicate any problems that you’re having and they will help smooth things out. For example, if the parents are consistently not arriving back in time for you to leave at the agreed hour, someone will step in and hopefully sort any bumps. They’re an amazing team to work with.”
Currently working four days a week, Connie also enjoys a very happy work-life balance. She says, “I work Monday to Thursday, so on Fridays I do my shopping, I rest, and I schedule anything else that I want to do for myself and my family on that day.
“Children are at the centre of my job. I always make sure to sit down and reflect after work, to think about what I have done that day, and to help inform what I will do with the children next. I have time to do all of this comfortably – it’s a great work-life balance.”
“The fact that you’re making a child’s day by keeping them busy and happy – that’s what’s special about this role”
Aside from the flexibility and part-time nature of the role, both ladies explained that it’s being able to spend time with the children that makes working as a nanny so special.
Connie says, “What I love most about my role as a GrandNanny is the children themselves.
To be doing this work at my age is not only a privilege, but it’s also provided me with an opportunity to showcase my skills and my passion. It’s not tiring in a sense of working long hours on a physical job, because I see the children as an extension of my own grandchildren.
“When you work with children, especially in their early years, you have to become a child yourself. I love making a mess with paints, with clay, or play-do – whatever it is that the child wants to do. The fact that you’re making a child’s day by keeping them busy and happy – that’s what’s special about this role.
Margie added, “Being with the little ones is just lovely. For me, I don’t have grandchildren of my own so it’s wonderful to spend your time caring for these children, because you almost become a part of these families.”
“The role is about finding a healthy balance between your own personality, experience, and what the family wants for their children”
Both Margie and Connie agreed that an important part of being a GrandNanny is understanding children, and honouring what the parents want for them.
As Margie explains, “Whatever you do as a GrandNanny always needs to be based on the parent’s expectations. Your role is a supporting role after all, not as the main caregiver, and it’s important to always remember this and balance it with your own approach and experience.”
On caring for the child’s emotional wellbeing, Connie also says, “You have to remember that to these children, you’re a total stranger. When you come into their world, some children find it hard to accept you, but you just have to spend time working through that and allow the child to learn to trust you.
“To do this, it’s important to have an understanding of children and how things like separation anxiety can affect them. Being a good nanny is about finding a healthy balance between your own personality, experience, and what the family wants for their children.”
“You don’t have to be a grandmother to be a GrandNanny. You just have to be grand in your passion, your experience, and your love for children”
You might assume that to become a GrandNanny, you need to be a grandmother yourself. But this isn’t the case at all. Instead, GrandNanny applicants can demonstrate their ability through professional or personal childcare experience – for example, raising their own family or caring for extended family or friends’ children.
Connie says, “With GrandNanny, the word ‘grand’ does not just relate to motherhood. It’s about being grand in your passion, your experience, and your love for children. If you’re a grandmother too, that’s just another area of experience that you can draw on, but by no means is it required.”
“If you’re over 50, that doesn’t mean that your life is over – you have so much to give. Having experienced so much life already, you’ll have done many valuable things that you can bring on board to this role to improve somebody else’s life for the better – and that’s the beauty of why every GrandNanny will be unique, because so are our life experiences.”
While not a grandmother herself, Margie has two children and valuable experience working in childcare. Explaining what she thinks makes a good nanny, Margie says, “I think personality and life experience are the biggest things that you can bring to this role. If you’ve had your own children, that can be helpful, but it’s not a must because many people don’t have children for lots of different reasons.
“Being a good GrandNanny is about being open and kind, and leaning into the nurturing aspects of your personality.”