Two men are determined to convince more families the value of employing males in childcare to destigmatise the idea it’s a role “just for women”.
Jamie Leith and James McCrossen, two former primary school teachers from London, want to raise awareness of the fact males can be excellent carers and enrich children’s lives just as much as females.
The pair, both 30, have launched “Manny & Me”, a male nanny agency for kids ages four to 11 that offers education as well as childcare. The majority of their “mannies” are men (although some females are signed up to the agency) and all are qualified teachers.
But perhaps more importantly, they want to shout out about the positive benefits of having a male nanny within a family.
Having worked as a male nanny for more than six years, McCrossen felt there was the need for a nanny not just to care for a child, but to fulfil a number of roles in the family including education and harnessing hobbies.
The pair believe attitudes towards males in paid childcare is changing and people are becoming more use to the idea of having a male nanny.
“Having a balance of male and female influence is so important to a child’s development,” Leith said.
“In 2016 we believe that wider society is, on the most part, becoming more accepting to the fact men and women are equal, but not just in the work place, also at home.
“Men can be excellent carers and educators, equally so can women.”
The pair were shocked by Andrea Leadsome’s comments in July 2016 when she said “males should not be hired to do childcare”.
“We predicted that this may have a negative impact on the manny world,” said Leith.
“But families, or at least the ones that come to us, are very receptive to the idea.
“While attitudes are definitely changing and people are becoming more and more used to the idea of male childcare, there are definitely still some barriers.
“Years of socially-defined roles for men and women will take time to even out, but from what we experience on a daily basis, things are moving in the right direction.”
The pair said they have only ever had positive experiences and reactions from being male child carers.
“I guess, with our name defining us before we step through the door, fathers we work with tend to see having a manny as a positive thing,” he said.
“Our mannies and nannies are often very active and sporty, some having specific training to coach certain sports and fathers can definitely see the benefits of this.”
Leith and McCrossen said being a manny is an “incredibly enriching experience”.
“You get to know families on a personal level and become an integral part of their daily lives,” Leith explained.
“Parents are usually looking for someone active and they will ask us about the possibility of sports coaching, alongside childcare and tutoring.
“Families looking for specifically a manny will usually have at least one son, we have never had a family with only girls request a male.”
Find out more about Manny & Me here.