I’ve been working in early years for around 13 and a half years now. The journey thus far has been nothing short of a roller coaster. From working as a nursery nurse, to becoming an early year’s practitioner and even a nursery manager, to care worker, support worker, youth worker, play worker, mentor, to now - owning my own award-winning childcare service. None of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for the various teams and managers I worked alongside over the years.
Journey thus far
I walked into a nursey at the age of 19 with barely any knowledge of child development or nursery life and no relevant qualifications. Just an interest, big heart and support from my mum who helped me find the job and the amazing manager who gave me the role. This all makes so much sense now - I am a big believer in the old African proverb:
It takes a village to raise a child.
The village I came from, aka home, prepared me to go out into the big wide world and find my feet, and that particular manager had faith in me, to let me enter her village and learn life whilst caring and teaching life to little souls.
In my universe, life always comes back full circle.
That opportunity changed my life. This is something I’ve always known, but as I’m typing this it’s really hitting home that I have now reached here … ‘humbled’ is an understatement. But what I learnt in those early days at that nursery turned out to be the foundations of an extensive and heartfelt career in Early Years, one that I’m nowhere near finished with.
This is where I learnt good practice, were I learnt about partnerships with parents and how to build healthy and secure child-adult bonds. I didn’t realise then how much it would mould me into the man I am today.
It was at that first setting as a nursery nurse 13 years ago that I realised childcare was one of my many vocations.
And it’s the children I have cared for over the years who have taught me the most about myself and about my work. Hence, 13 years later, I can confidently say that children are the best teachers. I’ve worked in various nursery settings and even managed to get a Level 3 in Childcare and Development along the way. And as the years passed, I have worked in every possible role you could think of in a nursery setting and with all age groups.
I worked in various settings in and around London, building up a strong repertoire with families across London, especially North London. That’s how Jossy Care came about - babysitting for families from these settings until I got so inundated with requests it gave me the premise to become a Manny. Which I did 3 years ago. But going back a bit further in time, as well as working in nurseries, I ventured into care homes and youth work and that’s where my skill set widened, my heart got bigger and my knowledge grew.
So, 3 years ago I became self-employed with a business idea I’d devised over 10 years ago when I created a business card for babysitting. This has now become my own registered childcare service, that I have managed to take around the world, win an award for, break stereotypes and change the narrative for us men in childcare.
I devised the term childcare specialist due to my practice and approach being different to most Mannie’s and Nannies. It’s a mix of all my experiences in different care-based settings and roles imbedded in one. As we all know, you can’t approach every child the same way because they are all individuals, regardless of age, gender or race. Well, I hope you know.
My practice and approach with children is extremely heartfelt and curated to the child’s individual needs, personality and abilities. When I say heartfelt, I mean, soft, patient, child led and full of love. Which allows me to build healthy bonds with them, allowing them to feel secure and at the same time create a safe space. This is something I think all humans need – animals need it too. I have been privileged enough to be in a position where children can let me into their worlds and spaces and build safe spaces with them, whether it be new-borns, toddlers or teens.
I just may have the best job in the world.
Being a Manny has enabled me to do this more wholesomely and given me time to reflect on my practice. Reflection allows me to hold space for myself, grow, pour back into myself, and still be able to help these little souls have full cups of joy.
Love got me here
So yes, my experiences thus far have been nothing less than beautiful, life changing and real. Being a man in this field has also added to my journey. Not everyone has accepted it, but over time that has taught me to accept people and respect their views even if they aren’t aligned with mine.
Parents have been totally supportive of me being a male nanny. I have always felt this comes from the passion I share for their children. Love see’s love, and who better to see it than a parent watching their child have secure attachments whilst in a safe space with someone who cares about them as much as they do. I’ve been able to do this while staying professional and building healthy relationships with these families.
As for love...
If I did not have the right amount of love in me, I wouldn’t be able to put love into what I do. It’s the honest, raw emotion children show that has taught me so much. Being able to embrace my own emotions has helped me to support children to learn theirs over time. That’s me being present and showing up for them. I believe if I can’t do that for myself, I can’t do it for anyone. Children do not need fake love or bad energies around them.
Men in childcare
Children need to see men be vulnerable and emotionally available. They need to see that men can be soft and that men can deal with emotions, so they grow up having varied experiences that represent the world they are in. It is the same for race. We need to make sure that children are exposed to all cultures regardless of their environment, because representation matters, and children need to see positive representations of all races, especially ones that represent them.
Race and gender
This makes my position in life and work a unique one: a black male childcare specialist. Let’s normalise this because I know there’s more men out there like me in the industry and world who children could learn from and relate to.
This has made my role more important, breaking stereotypes, cultivating change and raising awareness, be it gender equality or race equality….
I say this due to me being the minority in classrooms and the nanny world for both my gender and race. We need the childcare industry to reflect every culture and gender on an equal level. I think this is possible if we all keep trying to change the narrative and stand up for what is right.
Our children need to see us doing so - it is paramount for the next generation that we break the silence on both issues and keep up the good fight. We can learn how to do this from children, they don’t judge, they embrace and love one another regardless of gender, race or inequalities, especially at nursery age. I let children lead in play and development because I know we have so much to learn from them.
My experience has shown me I need to be in-tune with children, letting them show me what they need and don’t need. As adults, we complicate nearly everything. Let’s take a leaf out of the children’s book and learn to love without condition or premise.
This is what Jossy Care is about - fighting gender and race equality via the work I do every day. This journey has been a long one, but the journey continues.
Where to find Joss: