Manny Around the House - From Park to Proxy Parenting

"You're a Manny? What on earth possessed you to do that?" A quote I hear too often



When I was a little boy I didn't think my dream job would involve changing nappies and helping with homework (go figure).

Having been a professional Male Nanny or 'Manny' for the better part of a decade I have to admit it is the most rewarding thing I've ever done. A guy working in a childcare setting is rare enough but there are even less who work as "mannies" and I've been asked more times than I care to count what made me want to do it. Most people are surprised to hear that it started as a way to keep me out of trouble.

The Park - My Mini-Kingdom

Back when I was in primary school I used to go to a play scheme at my local park after school and during the holidays. My mum was a single parent, working full time and me being there meant she could work without worrying what I was getting up to before she got home. I spent about 5 years going to the scheme and I really enjoyed it and made some great friends. As I got older, I started helping out at the farm in the park, while at the play scheme which kept me interested for longer.

When I started secondary school I stopped 'officially' attending the play scheme but as I'd made friends with the play leaders, and my friends and I were often at the park, they were cool with me helping out. When they had events like family days they would ask me and my friends to join in and we kind of became the unofficial big brothers and sisters of the park. 

From Pastime to Job 

My mum was all for it, the way she saw it if she had a teenage boy in East London who spent his free time looking after younger kids that weren't his, she was winning. Keeping teenagers on the straight and narrow is rarely an easy task so she encouraged me to continue to help out, she used to say 'Be the role model these young ones need'. That line has stuck with me for all these years and I think that was when I decided to really consider taking care of children as an actual job and not just something I did because I was bored.

Eventually when I started college I didn't have time to help out at the park much but a lot of the parents in the area knew me and they would ask me to babysit often. I was happy to do it as I could still do my coursework and make some extra money which was much appreciated, having a social life was expensive. 

In the summer before my second year one parent asked me if I would be willing to come take care of her sons for a few hours in the morning then take them to the play scheme as she had to leave really early for work. I said yes without hesitation, I was generally up early anyway and it meant some more spending money so it was win-win. I kept this up for the majority of the summer and did some more babysitting.

I didn't even realise I'd become a Manny

When the new school year was just around the corner, the mother asked me what my class timetable was for the coming year and I told her they were mostly midmorning. She asked me if I wanted to do the school run in the morning and pick them up after school. I was fine with it and happily accepted. I fell into a comfortable routine; get the boys ready in the morning, take them to school, go to my class, pick them up and take care of them till their mum got home. Then go home and do my own coursework. 

About 4 months in, one of my friends in class asked me if I wanted to go bowling after college and I said I couldn't make it as I had to pick up the boys. He asked if they were my little brothers and I said no, he looked confused and I explained it to him. He laughed and said he didn't know I was a nanny, I was about to correct him when I realised he was right, I had a part time job as a nanny.

When did that happen?

By Reece Sinclaire.

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