10 Famous Nannies

July 24, 2017

A look back at some of our most beloved nannies -- and what today's nannies and babysitters can learn from them.

It's not easy being a nanny or babysitter, caring for kids every day. It's a good thing you have so many great role models to turn to -- and you can find them on TV and in movies and books.

Check out these 10 famous nannies and discover what you can learn from their caregiving styles.

Want to learn more about improving your nanny skills? Read up on these 12 Nanny Training Courses and Certifications 

  1. Maria, "The Sound of Music"
    Coming unexpectedly to care for a household full of seven children would try anyone's patience, but Maria persevered and soon won the hearts of each child she cared for by providing them with a solid sounding board and foundation of care their father couldn't provide.

    What you can learn from her: As the governess, Maria took the time to talk to each child as an individual, rather than treating them as a group (like their father did with his military-style training). She helped them to grow as people and, as they grew, the family became closer and more loving.

  2. Nanny McPhee
    Stern yet loving, Nanny McPhee comes to the Brown family after the undisciplined children have run off several governesses. In the movie, she introduces order and responsibility to the disobedient children and, with her nanny magic, the family becomes whole again.

    What you can learn from her: If you're looking for a lesson in responsibility, McPhee can show you the way! The children learned about discipline, as well as the possible consequences of their actions. She focuses on teaching the kids five important things: to stop fighting, to share, to work together, to be brave and to have faith. These are things that every child can benefit from.

    Learn How a Nanny Should Discipline Your Kids 

  3. Victoria Winters, "Dark Shadows"
    Victoria is a character in this popular Gothic soap opera from the 1970s (which was recently remade into a movie). She knows how to take care of herself when things start to get strange. In addition to being the governess to young David, she quickly helps stabilize the relationships among all of the family members.

    What you can learn from her: Victoria was not only a caregiver to David, but also a confidant to the adults of the Collinwood estate. With her willingness to adapt to any situation, along with her caring approach to each family member, Victoria is a great example of a dynamic nanny.

  4. Jane Eyre
    After spending much of her childhood at a girls' school and orphanage, Jane knows what it's like to live without parents and easily connects with the young Adele. Where Adele is free-spirited and playful, Jane is solemn and firm. But as the governess, she listens to her charge and becomes a beloved friend.

    What you can learn from her: Jane Eyre's confidence and poise helped teach Adele self-assurance. She emphasized the importance of education, and tried to provide the girl with all of the tools she needs to succeed.

    Get the 9 Tips to Raising a Confident Girl 

  5. Mrs. Doubtfire
    As Mrs. Doubtfire was really the Hilliard children's father in disguise, his nannying style was quite different from other nannies. His character combines the best aspects of his personality and that of the kind and caring elderly Mrs. Doubtfire, allowed the children to open up and confide in someone.

    What you can learn from him: A nanny can be a trusted adult figure, who can help children work through any issues they might be having. The more support and guidance a child can receive, the more secure and loved they will feel.

  6. Nana, "Peter Pan"
    This four-legged St. Bernard nanny watches over the three Darling children as if they were her own pups. Her canine instincts and caring heart provide Michael, John and Wendy with a motherly figure and a stable foundation at home -- and lots of yucky medicine!

    What you can learn from her: Love gives children strength and confidence, and Nana's limitless love helped the Darlings find their way across many lands and return home.

  7. Jo Frost, "Supernanny" and "Family S.O.S. with Jo Frost"
    Although tough and disciplined, Supernanny Jo Frost provides structure and correction to families across the UK and US. Her strict approach to misbehaving children helps families maintain respectful relationships with each other.

    What you can learn from her: The supernanny offers stability and guidance to children and families that struggle with discipline. With lessons she teachers about respect, families mend broken bonds and grow closer.

  8. Fran Fine, "The Nanny"
    In this classic ?90s TV series, the bubbly Fran Fine welcomes the proper British Sheffield children into her open arms. Known for her crazy wardrobe and even crazier voice, Fran is a very unexpected nanny for the solemn family. But her honesty brings the once-distant family together and she ends up becoming the exact nanny they need.

    What you can learn from her: Honesty is key when building lasting relationships, and Fran's willingness to call it like it is creates a strong bond between herself, Mr. Sheffield and the children.

  9. Charles, "Charles in Charge"
    Nineteen-year-old college student Charles is an unusual caregiver for the Powell family, but commits to the happiness and well-being of the children. The manny's humorous personality and dedication to the children support the family as a whole, as he brings love and support to the children.

    What you can learn from him: Charles remained dedicated and passionate about caring for the Powell children and in return, the children respected and loved him. The father figure within Charles gave the children a role model to admire.

    Would you hire a manny (a male nanny)? Check out this interview with a manny  

  10. Mary Poppins
    She's the most famous nanny of all time. With Mary Poppins, everything is fun -- even cleaning up. By turning everyday chores and errands into games, she teaches Jane and Michael how to see life from a positive light.

    What you can learn from her: Introducing fun and games into daily routines can provide a great environment for children and families. Mary Poppins showed the Banks how to enjoy life and each other. And all it took was a spoonful of sugar!

While these characters are rooted in fiction, they can still teach us plenty of real-world lessons and provide practical advice on how to be a great nanny.

Gillian Kruse is a freelance writer living in Houston, Texas. Her work can be found here.

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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