The nanny life is a unique experience that connects nannies all over the world, sharing the experiences of playing a part in the growth and development of gorgeous children. Recently we had the pleasure of catching up with celebrity nanny Philippa Christian, to ask her all about life as a nanny to the stars, and to find out what’s next on the cards for her as she slows down from the nanny industry. Life after the #nannylife looks exciting for Pip, and we’re so happy to have her join the #happynannies ‘day in the life series’ here on the blog.
Tell us about a day in the life of a nanny to the stars
Would it surprise you if I said every day is a very early start? Children get up early and so does their nanny! Breakfast is usually fairly routine and then the day can pan out depending on what time of year it is–school time means lots of work with uniforms, lunches packed, travel to and from school, after school visits with friends and so on. But during the holidays, anything goes. There could be flights to faraway beaches or combined holidays with other families. No matter what happens, the children are always under your care and until they’re in their beds (wherever they may be) your eyes are on them nonstop. Some days are much longer than others!
As nannies we love all our children, but do you prefer working with any particular ages?
As you say, we do love all our children, but I have a real soft spot for the toddlers. These little people can’t usually get a word in because the words haven’t started yet! They cling to you and trust you and the communication between you both doesn’t need words. They’re very special and need you desperately to be their mouthpiece.
Was was the most defining moment during your professional nanny career?
There definitely have been a few ‘moments’ that are very memorable to me. One that comes to mind is of a little boy from of the first celebrity families I worked for. When I first met him he was very quiet–it was almost impossible to get a smile out of him and I was constantly called into his school to talk with the principal about how challenging his behaviour was in the classroom and how was constantly bullying other children. I tried everything! I would talk with him, I would read him stories about why it’s important to treat others the way that you would like to be treated. I constantly made an effort for him to have friends from school over at the house. This went on for a very long time and I would get so upset with myself because it didn’t matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t change his ways. One Saturday morning I took him to his weekly soccer game to watch him play. At one point during the game he was running towards the soccer ball at the same time another little boy was running towards the ball (who happened to be on the other team). They knocked into each other and both fell over. I stood up, ready to run on to the field to make sure he was okay (as most nannies and mothers do!) but instead, he quickly got up and instead of walking away, he put his hand out to help the other boy. It was just one of those moments that made my heart melt. He finally got it! I still keep in touch with him and he is now such a different child–always smiling, very social, and funnily enough he has become very sensitive. He’s absolutely beautiful. It’s little moments like these that mean so much to you as a nanny.
Do you stay in touch with the children you've cared for as they grow older?
Oh gosh of course I do! Just yesterday I received a phone call from one of my favourite little girls, checking to see how I was and to tell me she had seen my TV interview. I hadn’t heard from her in over 5 years. We spoke to each other as if time had stood still, saying how much we missed each other. We had a great laugh at some memorable moments we’d shared together. The most amazing thing was that she rang me while she was, yes, you guessed it, babysitting! I was so proud.
What's your top tip for travelling with children?
Fortunately, when I started nannying, I managed to get quite a few good strategies in place before I had to include long haul travel, time differences and extended stop overs. Most people have had some experience with children on planes – good and bad – so it basically comes down to preparation. You can only do your best when flights are delayed or children fall asleep just as you’re landing. But it’s great to have a bag full of ‘things’, like colouring books with washable ink pens, craft activities, figurines, a great story book that they’re keen to hear more of. Even games like Eye Spy have kept things together for quite a few flights! Often it’s about just taking what comes your way and going with it. If the children see you accepting a delay with just a shrug of the shoulders, they will usually do the same.
As a celebrity nanny that travels regularly, have you perfected the art of packing minimally?
Oh my goodness, great question! Yes, yes, yes. When you find something you like to wear and you’ve been complimented while wearing it, buy at least another one or even two sets! I don’t actually keep the outfits, shoes, accessories in a bag packed ready to go. But I do have them to one end of my wardrobe ready to throw in a suitcase. You just have to be prepared for two outcomes–summer or winter!
Did you find it difficult to constantly be aware of the paparazzi?
I’ve always been an observant person which has helped me with nannying a great deal, but over the years I have realised that certain behaviours help too. If you know that cameras will be where you’re taking the children, just go about your business in a calm and direct way. I suppose it’s obvious, but the less attention you create around children, the more relaxed you are and therefore, they are, the less likely you’re to have much trouble with paparazzi. If we’re going on a major outing, the logistics are usually pretty well organised, so we all just have to do as we’re told. Which makes the children laugh at seeing ‘Nanny’ have to do what she’s told too!
I’ve always been an observant person, which has helped me with nannying a great deal over the years. And I’ve realised that certain behaviours help too. If you know there are going to be cameras where you’re taking the children, just go about your business in a calm and direct way. I suppose it’s obvious, but the less attention you create around children and the more relaxed you are, and therefore they are, the less likely you’ll have trouble with the paparazzi. When going out on major outings, the logistics are always tightly organised. We all just have to do as we’re told. Which makes the children laugh, seeing ‘Nanny’ have to do as she’s told too!
Were a lot of the children you cared for bilingual because of the time they spent travelling and countries they visited?
There have been a few families I’ve been involved with where English has been their ‘other’ language, but the children have always spoken to me
in English. Many parents encourage their little ones to be proficient in English, so it helps to have an English speaking nanny. It’s fun too when they teach you how to speak their language–only nice words of course!
What are your must-haves whilst working all over the world for some of the most elite families?
If I could pack my family into a bag, I’d be fine but as it’s a little difficult, I have narrowed down my ‘Must Have’ list to just a few things; a small jar of Vegemite for toast (don’t laugh–it’s such an energy booster and it takes me home in just one little bite), my favourite perfume and my current journal. I say ‘current’ as they have been many, but I love to write about everything–it relaxes me after a long day.
Have you spent much time in the UK during your time as a celebrity nanny?
I’ve spent more time in the U.S than the U.K, but I’ve still experienced it’s wonderful atmosphere–more like home in a lot of ways. I’ve worked for quite a few English celebrities but most of them were based in America. I have been invited to Norland Nanny College for a tour though, so I can’t wait to visit next time I’m there!
What's next on the cards for Philippa Christian–Australia's Nanny To The Stars?
I’ve a lot of projects coming up but all of them have one thing in common–they all help people. And so as long as I can continue doing that, I think I’ll be able to enjoy the business world as much as I’ve enjoyed the nanny world. At the moment I’ve spending a lot of time with a foundation called Bully Zero as an ambassador. I’m extremely passionate about trying to end bullying and make school life safe and inclusive for all children. I’m also working on another series of books, shedding light on the nanny industry. My new baby care brand is set to launch another range of products this year, making parenting easier, safer and more enjoyable.