Nannypalooza UK: The heart of Nannypalooza translates across continents

By Louise Dunham.

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This first-time British event was held in London in November 2017. Helen McCarthy, the INA Nanny of the Year in 2016, and of course, Sue Downey, the owner and originator of the Nannypalooza conference and concept, were the organizers.

I must firstly declare my interest as a solid enthusiast and believer of professional development and networking in the nanny community. “Anyhow, anytime!” is my motto but add in the enthusiasm and generosity of Sue (who founded Nannypalooza 12 years ago in the USA) and you have a definite recipe for success. 

100+ UK-based and Swiss nannies converged in London willing to listen, learn, and divulge their own hard-won knowledge with each other and the session leaders.

Asking around, it turned out that we had many more countries represented than at first thought – hard core veterans from Nannypalooza USA who “get” what it is about. The other countries represented were Brazil, Spain, France, Zimbabwe, Switzerland, and a great surprise to me, 3 Australians, two of whom are working in London. The following interviews capture in their own words what they thought was great about the conference.

Sue Downey said:

“I think the best part was meeting nannies from all over the globe. London is such an international city. We met nannies from countries all over. In the end, the deep commitment to professionalism and to the highest quality care for children binds us together. It doesn't matter the language spoken or accents and words used, what matters are the families that we serve.”

The main difference between Nannypalooza US and the ‘palooza in London and last year’s ‘palooza in Australia, is that the US version is 12 years old. It has grown, and the bonds of attendees who return year after year are strong. As the conference grows, we can add more workshops and a few more bells and whistles; it just takes time. I will be very excited to watch Helen McCarthy as she develops her vision of the Great British Nanny Conference. I am sure it will be a huge success.

I don't think I would add anything but time to Nannypalooza UK; there is never enough time! These conferences have afforded nannies a chance to connect and learn from each other. It makes it a stronger profession when we can do this, and it makes me and all the attendees better nannies. I feel very lucky! “


Helen said:

 “Having a fantastic team behind me made my vision come true. Team work makes the dream work.” 

Now that you have been to 3 events in 3 different countries, what are the differences you’ve observed with Nannpalooza UK?

“There are a lot of cultural differences in the way the British nannies work. We are also a little more subdued and do not need everything to have whistles and trumpets blowing.”


Karen Yatzko, a veteran nanny from the USA had this to say:

“It was exciting to visit outside of the United States and to understand the perspective of what the “nanny life” was like in the United Kingdom and other countries.  Meeting nannies from different parts of Europe was especially fun in that we all have different words for the same things!  The sessions offered were informative and the discussions lively and fun.”


Kellie Geres, a fellow veteran nanny from the USA: 

“The highlight was getting to share in the excitement of Nannypalooza and the positive energy of everyone there.  

I sat in Stella Reid ‘s workshop on contracts/work agreements (Stella, of Nanny 911 fame, is a British expat living and working in the USA).  

It was in there that both sides really came out and shared their differences in how things are done and perceived. There was great conversation and debate, but in a professional and courteous way. It was great to hear both sides and how others perceive how the US does certain things, and how we perceive how other countries do things. For example, in the UK, they base rates on the caregivers age, something that had the US nannies’ jaws dropping! I can't imagine that ever going over well in the US - for any occupation.” 

What have you learned?

“That no matter where you're from, continuing education is a necessity in this industry. There is always something to learn.” 


Emma George of The Nanny lounge, and an experienced UK nanny, had this to say:

“It was so great to be able to walk into a room full of strangers and create new friendships. 

Also, fantastic to hear about Go Gross going Global!”

#GoGross is an initiative of Emma George of The Nanny Lounge. This became global during this conference. The idea is that all nannies are educated to only accept legally paying jobs with their full entitlements. We urge all nannies to get behind the campaign to #GoGross.

What have you learned?

“The workshop on schemas was so informative and interesting, and I really learned a lot about seeing things from the child’s point of view and following their thread of learning.”


Kitty Louise Formston, who is a nanny and runs the design business Nanny Swag, had this to say:

“What I learned was how keen nannies are to support each other in their endeavours. It is heart-warming to know that nannies are really keen to come together and see a positive change in the industry.”


Kelly Cortsjens, of the Swiss Nanny Association:

“We travelled together with members of the Swiss Nanny Association. I also finally met many people I knew only from Facebook groups.

I have never attended a nanny conference in another country; SNA did organize International Nanny Training Day in Switzerland last year, and I felt the same vibe... there are many enthusiastic nannies happy to attend professional development and networking events all over the world.

I’ve learned so much, in the workshops and during the breaks. The workshops are very professional and the fact that we could choose between 2 speakers each time slot made it so that I could find a topic that truly interested me each time.

In the breaks and after the conference, I learned that the nanny community everywhere in the world is facing the same difficulties, but also that nannies are uniting worldwide to raise the bar and working conditions.”

Do you have anything else you would like to add?

“I would love to thank Sue Downey again for starting these conferences a long time ago, and of course Helen for finally bringing Nannypalooza to Europe! 


The last word is with Tonya Sakowicz, the owner of Newborn Care Training Solutions in America:

“The highlight for me at Nannypalooza UK was getting to meet so many amazing caregivers from all over the world and being reminded of how similar we all are; at the end of the day, we all are dedicated to the well-being of children.” 


Venues might be a bit different; food, languages, and accents differ, but the heart of Nannypalooza translates across continents.