Covert ‘cappuccino conferences’ are the standard place to begin. Then follows a flurry of sly, seductive emails earlier than the gives begin rolling in.

These embrace greater wages or maybe a cash-in-hand deal; designer cast-offs from Mum’s wardrobe; an upgraded residence, even. The kind of super-luxe life-style a woman can solely dream of . . .

Throughout the nation, nanny theft is on the rise. Identical to HGV drivers or fruit pickers, as we enter the pre-Christmas flurry of household occasions and college live shows, there’s an acute scarcity of childcare staff, which implies a superb nanny — all the time a prized possession — is now a severely fought-over asset. The issue is Covid, in fact, with a aspect order of Brexit.

Journey bans from nations reminiscent of Australia and New Zealand imply the variety of nannies coming to the UK has fallen to nearly zero, whereas European au pairs, eager to get again to their households as quickly because the pandemic struck, are discovering new visa necessities make it more durable to return. Whereas everybody labored from house, mother and father muddled by way of — however the return to the workplace has created an ideal storm. Simply as mums want childcare, there’s none to be discovered.

As the number of nannies coming to the UK falls, the owner of an agency in South-West London reveals families are resorting to nanny poaching. Pictured: Emma Elms, who has had 16 nannies, with her last nanny, Talia, far right

Because the variety of nannies coming to the UK falls, the proprietor of an company in South-West London reveals households are resorting to nanny poaching. Pictured: Emma Elms, who has had 16 nannies, together with her final nanny, Talia, far proper

Nowhere is that this extra evident than in leafy South-West London, the place I’ve run a nanny company for the previous ten years.

Right here, moms are resorting to nanny poaching to such an extent that households and companies are beginning to go to courtroom over it for breach of contract.

In reality, we’re making ready a courtroom case proper now. One among our shoppers, a lawyer, used considered one of our nannies for a number of months to assist the household throughout a tough patch. She then mentioned she’d terminated the contract, however continued to make use of the nanny on the QT at a decrease fee (for her — we didn’t get our lower).

That ended when the nanny bought fed up with the best way she was handled by the kids and forwarded us the emails outlining this personal association, stitched up behind the company’s again, which resulted in us beginning authorized proceedings towards the household for breach of contract.

With nannies so scarce, egocentric mums are additionally pinching nursery nurses. Just lately, I heard how two moms, who each beloved the important thing employee at their kids’s nursery, mentioned between them the way to poach her, just for considered one of them to dive in immediately and do it unilaterally.

The nursery employee was provided an enormous quantity to go and work for her solely — to absolutely the disgust of the opposite mum, who beforehand had been the primary mom’s finest native good friend.

(Karma prevailed, nevertheless — the brand new employer turned out to spend a lot of the day in mattress, and the poached nursery nurse, fed up with doing every little thing, finally referred to as the opposite mum and went to work for her as an alternative.)

One other mum noticed a good friend’s nanny at a party — they’re taking place once more now — and beloved how she was together with her youngster. She sidled as much as her between rounds of go the parcel, plied her with fizz and mentioned she’d do something to amass her providers.

Pre-Covid, you could get a decent nanny for about £32,000 to £35,000 per year, but now it costs an eye-watering £46,000 on average to hire a nanny in South-West London

Pre-Covid, you may get a good nanny for about £32,000 to £35,000 per yr, however now it prices an eye-watering £46,000 on common to rent a nanny in South-West London

Fortunately, the nanny had heard tales (all nannies speak) and knew the grass positively wasn’t greener, so mentioned a well mannered however agency no.

Like vitality payments, childcare wages have been surging — and determined working mums are paying the value.

It was costly to rent a nanny, however for the reason that pandemic, wages are in one other league.

Pre-Covid, you may get a good nanny for about £32,000 to £35,000 per yr, however now it prices an eye-watering £46,000 on common to rent a nanny in South-West London. Nice information for younger girls who need to earn good cash early.

In North-West England, it’s no less than £32,500, a rise of 11 per cent year-on-year, whereas throughout the UK on the whole it’s nearly £30,000 for a live-out nanny.

The UK is successfully catching up on pre-Covid salaries that after utilized solely to London. (In London’s super-rich neighbourhoods, reminiscent of Holland Park, it’s regular to pay a 23-year-old nanny £65,000 plus a £3,000 bonus. Not forgetting the anticipated perks: holidays by personal jet, a private residence and a top-of-the-range automobile for the college run.)

In the meantime au pairs, as soon as the saviours of cash-strapped, juggling working mums, are just about non-existent.

As much as 90 per cent of all au pairs come from Europe, and for the reason that finish of free motion, with childcare staff categorised as ‘expert staff’ who should earn no less than £20,480 a yr to enter the UK, it’s all however not possible for them to return.

In order to hang onto nannies, some mums are creating housekeeper jobs ¿ bumping up the childcare hours with ironing and cooking (file image)

To be able to hold onto nannies, some mums are creating housekeeper jobs — bumping up the childcare hours with ironing and cooking (file picture)

Au pairs, in any case, historically obtained board and lodging and maybe £100 pocket cash whereas they helped out and realized English.

Even when you will get one, they are often onerous to maintain.

One single mum residing in Surrey not too long ago had a brand new 19-year-old French au pair who was fairly high-maintenance and struggling to suit into household life.

Two weeks into the position, after a very dangerous day with the kid, she went to the home of a neighbour who was a good friend of her boss, and burst into tears.

As an alternative of counselling her on how to deal with British household life, the mum — who had been receiving assist with the college run from the au pair — provided her the chance to maneuver into her house and au pair for her household as an alternative. So she did. That very day.

Childcare is evolving in different methods, and Covid has additionally modified the requests we get on the company.

‘After-school nannies’ are at a premium and symbolize the primary ask we get from working mums.

It sounds easy — choose up the youngsters after college, take them house for tea and homework and end when mum breezes in from work at 6pm (or extra usually 8pm from the wine bar).

However now that nannies are in such quick provide, they only received’t work for odd hours right here and there. To be able to hold onto them, some mums are creating housekeeper jobs — bumping up the childcare hours with ironing and cooking. One mum even requested her nanny to color the home when the household was on vacation.

Some mums are so paranoid about dropping their nanny that, when their youngster goes off to high school, they pay to maintain them on for the entire day (file picture)

Some mums are so paranoid about dropping their nanny that, when their youngster goes off to high school, they pay to maintain them on for the entire day, doing not very a lot.

Younger nannies can set their phrases out, too, nowadays. One among ours was requested to sleep in the identical mattress as her four-year-old cost as a result of the high-flying mom couldn’t, below any circumstances, lose her sleep.

Though it was towards the phrases of her contract, the younger nanny was so determined to hold on to her job that she did no matter it took.

Not so any extra. Few nannies need to be a paid servant — they’ve normally educated onerous at school to be a specialist youngster carer. It’s a lot simpler to say no to over-demanding employers or odd requests.

The important thing problem for working mums proper now’s that, nevertheless a lot you pay them, preserving a superb nanny could be out of your management.

The primary motive a nanny leaves is due to the appalling behaviour of the youngsters they’re taking care of.

It’s fairly widespread for kids to kick and scream at nannies, leap on the desk, throw issues at them and ignore every little thing they are saying. Then Mum will get house and brushes it below the carpet, saying they should have been ‘a bit drained’ that day.

One among our women sorted a baby who was completely vile. She made the nanny cry every single day. The dad was shocked by reviews of the kid’s horrible behaviour and tried to take accountability, however the mom simply laughed it off.

Even when it was true, it was inconvenient — she didn’t have time to consider it: she needed to work!

The number one reason a nanny leaves is because of the appalling behaviour of the kids they¿re looking after, with children kicking and screaming at nannies (file image)

The primary motive a nanny leaves is due to the appalling behaviour of the youngsters they’re taking care of, with kids kicking and screaming at nannies (file picture)

In the present day, I’d advise that nanny to stroll out — she’ll get one other job immediately. Ditto the poor nanny who needed to arrive at 5.30 each morning in order that Mum may go to yoga at her unique fitness center.

One other benefit of the present nanny disaster is the tip of the merely sexist apply of selecting a nanny based mostly on seems. Sure, that actually occurred.

Many mums, closely influenced by the daddy, would say they wished a handsome, younger Australian, New Zealander or South African: somebody who would look nice round the home and complement their life-style.

Different, extra insecure moms wished a woman who wasn’t so stunning.

I had a number of who requested for photos prematurely earlier than interviewing a nanny, and after we despatched one consumer a CV with an image of a beautiful and really certified Swedish nanny, she requested for extra choices.

She ended up hiring a extra ordinary-looking, less-qualified younger girl.

On one other event, one bigger nanny wasn’t employed for the job as a result of the consumer thought she didn’t look match sufficient to climb the 5 flights of stairs of their house. Pre-Covid, some selected nannies with cut-glass English accents as a result of they wished their youngster to ‘converse effectively’.

With extra requests for nannies than out there, the selection we as soon as provided shoppers has all however gone.

Even in case you are fortunate sufficient to seek out one, it’d imply remortgaging to pay her wage. 

I’ve gone by way of sixteen nannies… and counting

By Emma Elms

Over 13 years of motherhood, with daughters now aged 4, 9 and 13, I’ve bought by way of 16 nannies. I do know — I’ve thought it, too: is it . . .me?

Properly, fairly presumably. However the reality is, all moms will secretly admit that discovering precisely the best assistance is a process of gargantuan issue. Which is why I go searching on the present nanny choices, and the gaping post-Covid scarcity, with even better trepidation than ordinary.

Till not too long ago, I used to be the fortunate employer of Talia, nanny quantity 16, and by far the most effective I’ve ever had.

The one individual I’ve ever given Talia’s quantity to is my finest good friend, for a night’s babysitting, after which solely as a result of I do know for a reality she’s pleased being a stay-at-home mum and doesn’t want day-care.

Emma Elms said one of her early nannies sealed her fate when she chose to sit in McDonald¿s for an hour with her first baby, Amelie, who came back smelling of fries. Pictured: Emma with her last nanny, Talia, far right

Emma Elms mentioned considered one of her early nannies sealed her destiny when she selected to take a seat in McDonald’s for an hour together with her first child, Amelie, who got here again smelling of fries. Pictured: Emma together with her final nanny, Talia, far proper

My different nannies have various dramatically in high quality and strategy over time, from Tina, who as soon as, to my nice alarm, allowed three-year-old Amelie and her good friend, Claire, to empty a complete bookcase and pile up the books right into a teetering Tower of Pisa; to the gorgeous Swedish blonde Marisa, who was a pure with infants, however sadly solely had two hours of availability a day, beginning at 8am (ouch).

The very best nannies are all the time on full-time contracts with high-earning energy {couples}.

One among my early recruits sealed her destiny when she selected to take a seat in McDonald’s for an hour with my first child, Amelie, whose hair and babygrow got here again smelling strongly of fries.

Then got here Judita, a grade A nanny shared with one other mum or dad on my avenue. Nanny-pooling is an effective way to cut back the fee, however Judita’s brilliance was ruined by her trustworthy companion — a growling Alsatian that belonged to the opposite mum.

I refused to signal a type to say I wouldn’t sue 

Virtually all my nannies have been non-Brits, which makes me much more anxious about my present quest for nanny quantity 17, simply as Covid and Brexit conspire to make it more durable than ever to seek out one.

The actual fact is, I’m nonetheless in love with Talia — presumably my companion is, too — however now my youngest has began college, I really want a nanny/housekeeper-in-one who will come to our house, cook dinner the youngsters’ dinner and perhaps even sort out the mountain of Barbies invading the lounge.

So . . . consider it or not, I’m on the hunt once more.

This time, listening to from buddies how onerous it’s to seek out the standard European or Aussie nannies from company or on-line sources, I attempted a special tactic and tapped up a instructor at my daughters’ college for concepts.

Emma said almost all her nannies have been non-Brits, which makes her even more anxious about her current quest for nanny number 17

Emma mentioned nearly all her nannies have been non-Brits, which makes her much more anxious about her present quest for nanny quantity 17

Now — whisper this, I don’t need everybody to have the identical thought — I’ve three of her buddies lined as much as interview, all mature, 50-plus British girls.

It’s not the primary time I’ve gone down the instructor route. Aged two, Amelie began attending half-days in a beautiful Montessori nursery, and I seized the chance to prime up my childcare with their employees, recruiting Cara (a kind-faced, 30-something who clearly adored Amelie) and Katia (a glamorous blonde West Londoner).

I clicked with each instantly and tried a number of bookings with every, however they quickly left the world of nursery take care of higher paid pursuits.

Subsequent got here Maria, a relaxed, assured however startlingly business-like South African of exactly the sort which might be so onerous to seek out now.

She stayed with me for over a yr — on the time, my private finest!

How am I going to seek out quantity 17? 

However I grew just a little nervous when she stored insisting I signal an insurance coverage disclaimer that if something occurred to Amelie, I wasn’t to sue her. I made a decision it finest to not signal.

She stop to go away London and begin a household together with her husband (and I’ll guess she’s not signing any disclaimers of her personal).

Whereas trying to find The One once more in 2011, after the delivery of my second daughter, Fifi, a lawyer good friend provided to ‘share’ her enjoyable nanny, Lou, who had a child son, sorted by her feminine companion.

Filled with vitality and life, I believed Lou can be the right individual, however after some time my good friend grumbled her home was filled with unwashed dishes and moist swim equipment left to fester. and switched to a live-in au pair.

In my cellular I’ve the numbers of two different nannies — Charlie and Gosia, whom I briefly used, however all I can recall is that they have been younger, fairly, Jap European and all the time booked up.

So, I used to be overjoyed lastly to seek out my Mary Poppins. Talia was a heat, variety, humorous, loving, dependable and environment friendly Romanian mother-of-two, who lives proper subsequent door.

She was by my aspect after I introduced house my third daughter, Belle, and it was Talia upon whom I relied to maintain my home life working easily whereas I juggled with work throughout lockdown.

Now that Talia takes care of kids in her house and I need her at mine, it’s time to look anew. Want me luck.

  • SOME names have been modified.