By James Somper
A male nanny who cooks gourmet meals and takes children on visits to fire stations said that he’s proved such a hit with parents that he’s got a five month waiting list.
Dad-of-two Sam Mills, 38, spent years working as a luxury furniture designer producing high-end pieces for celebrities.
But Sam, from Morpeth, Northumberland, said his outlook on life began to change after the birth of his daughter – and he realised he had a knack for looking after little ones.
He ditched his lucrative day job and became a full-time manny – with parents queuing up to book him to look after their children – Molly, 4, and Harry, 3.
The dad-of-two regularly looks after six under-fives in his own home, and after word spread of him teaching little ones carpentry, baking, cooking and going on bug-hunting forest walks – he became inundated with parents begging him to look after their kids.
He said: “It’s been the best decision I’ve made.
“Everyday is different. You have a plan, but children rarely stick to plans.
“Watching a child have fun, listening to a child laugh makes your day.
“I don’t like to boast. Other childcare providers probably do the same things but I try to push the kids more and help them get the best out of themselves.”
Sam said that no longer being the main breadwinner meant that his wife Kathy, 40, has had to work more to support his family.
He said: “It has put a strain on the family life as she has to work a lot longer hours than I do. Being self-employed can be fairly stressful sometimes too.”
Sam, who spent over a decade in the design industry said that his priorities changed after he and wife became parents.
He said: “They say children turn your life around. You don’t realise it until it happens.
“Work became a second thought and my children were continually on my mind. I loved hearing what tales they got up to while my wife was on maternity leave. I was jealous if I’m honest. I loved teaching new things and having new experiences with them.
“When it came to looking for childcare, I didn’t want to pay someone to have those amazing times with my children.
“So that’s when I decided to become a childminder. Being a bit of a big child myself, other children seemed to gravitate towards me so it made sense that to compensate for my lack of wage.
“That I would also look after other people’s pride of joys has been amazing.”
Sam added that he hopes the Duke and Duchess of Sussex consider a male nanny to look after their newborn son Archie.
He said: “I’m hope they’re considering it. I think males have a great advantage in that the future prince will see a man doing a traditional female role and he’ll grow up and not have those stereotype and not have the stigma that it’s a woman’s role.”
Sam, who has been working as a “manny” since November 2017 charges £4.50 per hour per child and typically looks after a group of three children at any one time.
He said: “I have a core of six children (two are mine) that I care for throughout the week. They live locally and most of them are my daughter’s age so it’s great as a father to know my daughter is going to have life-long friends from the work that I do.”
On a typical day, Sam will look after the children between 9am and 3pm and will teach the children craft and woodwork skills and also make them a home cooked meal including pizza, scones and bread.
He said: “Children arrive at my house for breakfast.
“We have a chat about what we are going to do today and then I take them to school or nursery.
“For the younger ones I come home and we go on as many adventures as we can. We hunt for bugs, watch birds and discover the world. As quick as a flash the lunchtime nursery collection happens. I feed them lunch which are always freshly made home-cooked meals and always around the family table.
“We then we continue learning though play. The afternoon school run quickly comes around at which point I collect the older children and we might go for a picnic at the beach or the woods, all depending on the weather.
“Then their parents arrive by which time the kids are, tired, exhausted and full of fantastic stories to tell collect them.”
Sam said that before he started working as a manny he had some concerns that his gender would hinder him but said that he’s got a loyal client base and growing waiting list.
He said: “I had concerns when I first started that I wouldn’t find work because I was a man, but in actual fact, I’m getting work because I’m a man.
“I do things slightly different and the parents I have love that about me. I’m always getting asked about my availability, but I’m currently full.
“I will have space coming up after the summer holidays as my current children will be moving to reception class at school. I do have a list of parents that have asked before which I will be speaking to.”
Sam said that he’s looking at qualifying as an early years teacher.
He said: “I love my job so being able to work with more children and in a more formal setting would be an amazing thing to do.”
Topics Sam teaches:
– Craft skills
– Pizza making