Expat Essentials

The nanny always knows Pt. 2: A guide for London babysitters and parents alike

(Editor’s note: This is Pt. 2 of a two-part post on finding a babysitter in London. You can jump to Pt. 1 here.)

There is a delicate symbiosis between babysitters and parents; both need each other. For the relationship to flourish, parents and babysitters have to be in synch in their approaches to child care, transparent and trustworthy. When that balance of power works, the kids are the ones who benefit.

Whether you are a new parent in London, a parent new to London or a babysitter in need of tips, this guide is for you.

What to do with kids in London

Oh, to be a kid in London! No seriously, to be a child in London and to have so many possibilities at our doorstep.

Museums are always an exciting idea for a rainy day and the good news is London is full of them:

• In my top favourites when babysitting is the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, where the dinosaurs’ gallery has gorgeous models.

• There is also the Design Museum in Holland Park which often organises child-specific interactive events.

The Children’s V&A in Bethnal Green has recently re-opened and is also a great idea for tiny East Enders.

Depending on where you are, the local council might also have wonderful child specific activities. My local children library organises story and playtime for toddlers three times a week. There is also a sound workshop for babies.

Do check out the council’s website; you might find a few good surprises on there.

Finally, there are of course all of London’s parks and playground areas where you get to marvel at the ease with which children make friends when you barely manage to utter a coherent coffee order.

The big no-nos


You’d think this is obvious right? The thing is most people don’t lie. They omit elements at most or fib to get out of certain situations. In childcare, there is no way that artfully omitting things will serve either people at the end of the relationship. If you are not comfortable babysitting a child below a certain age, and you’re offered a job, don’t do it. Even if the age gap is by a few months, your gut will know. This is one example.A parent not mentioning they’ll be consistently late in getting home, whatever the reason, is another one.

No matter the issue, transparency is key!

• Illness and energy levels

Yes, there are many jobs where being ill or with depleted energy levels doesn’t matter a whole lot (although COVID has changed that a fair deal) and babysitting is not one of them. Maybe this is first and foremost an issue of transparency but, if you feel the onset of a cold coming, always tell the family you’re working for. They may be in contact with vulnerable people, or they may have just gotten out of the last school-transmitted virus and would love some sleep.

In terms of energy levels, if you feel like you maybe wouldn’t be capable of running after a child’s racing scooter on the street, also use common sense in the day’s activity plan.

The same thing applies to parents: There is nothing as frustrating as coming to mind a family of three children and discovering upon arrival that they are all at different stages of the latest virus going around.

• Money

Ah the million-dollar question. Or rather the 12 pound question. I have quite a firm stance on it because I sadly have been in situations where my time and work have been taken for granted. The current babysitting minimum hourly rate is 12 pounds, or 11.44 pounds to follow London’s minimum wage.

Babysitters, whether your rates are these or higher, make them clear from the start and don’t expect new parents to know it all.

There’s no issue in stating what your rates are and no reason busy overwhelmed parents should know all the biz specificities.

Parents, pay your babysitters decently.

If you believe no one should be getting this much money for sitting on the couch whilst your baby sleeps, then it might be wise to stay home. I mean this in the most honest and kind way possible. When we take time to babysit your kids instead of being with our own family or doing whatever it is we love doing, we also make sure your children stay safe and happy.

Babysitting is a joyful job and like every job, it deserves a fair pay.


Read more from Zoé here.

Zoé Manset
author at  | Website

Zoe Manset is a French actress, writer and producer based in London, UK. After growing up in the Fragrant Harbour otherwise known as Hong Kong, Zoe moved to London in 2018 to pursue a BA in Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Arts. Missing the stage too much, she then completed a two year MFA in drama school and is now living the freelance actor life at full speed. Zoe is a fashion history lover, a great pub amateur, a dancer and a big foodie!

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