as life gets busier and more hectic, many of us need a helping hand when it comes to raising a family.
And for some, employing a nanny is the answer.
Nannies work in private homes caring for their employer's children.
Responsible for all aspects of childcare, their duties may vary according to the number and ages of the children in their care.
Babies and very young children need dressing, feeding, bathing and changing. Older children need to be taught basic social, reading and writing skills.
Nannies often take children on outings and keep them entertained through play.
For nannies working in private households, hours tend to be longer than a standard working week of 35-40 hours, and time off can vary.
Most nannies live with the family they work for, but there are opportunities for day only positions.
Nannies spend much of their day alone with small children.
Working with young children is a very skilled and responsible job and the majority of employers require employees to have appropriate qualifications - although there is no requirements.
Young children can be emotionally demanding and unpredictable so early years workers need to learn the skills to cope with exacting or unforeseen situations.
Training gives nannies the confidence to look after other people's children and provide them with the proper support that enables each child to develop its full potential.
SKILLS AND INTERESTS.
As a nanny, you will need:
* An interest in the social and personal development of children.
* Imagination and the ability to plan and organise stimulating activities.
* To be responsible and aware of any potential dangers.
* Patience, tolerance and a sense of humour.
* To be able to cope with unexpected situations, and to stay calm under pressure.
* The ability to establish close and trusting relationships with parents or carers.
* To be physically fit, with energy and stamina, as the work is active and can be tiring.
There are no qualifications required to work as a nanny.
But many employers prefer candidates with relevant childcare qualifications.
There are a number of courses available on a full or part-time basis, which provide useful preparation for a career as a nanny.
Many courses include a work placement, however, in the absence of a placement, gaining experience through voluntary work may be helpful.
The Council for Awards in Children's Care and Education (CACHE) has developed a Diploma in Childcare and Education, which prepares you to work with children under eight, including babies and those with special needs.
There are no formal entry requirements, however, many colleges prefer candidates with three to four GCSEs (A-C)/S grades (1-3) including english and maths.
In addition, there are Advanced Vocational Certificate of Education (AVCE) and BTEC national qualifications in childcare and education, and early years care and education. Entry requirements are usually five GCSEs (A-C)/S grades (1-3) or equivalent.
A CACHE certificate or intermediate GNVQ in Childcare and Education, may be suitable alternatives to GCSEs. Check with individual course providers for details.
Once employed as a nanny, it may be possible to work towards NVQ 2 or 3 in Early Years Care and Education. NVQs are validated by City and Guilds, the Open University, BTEC and CACHE. There may be no formal entry requirements for this course.
In addition to working in the UK, there are also opportunities to work overseas. Positions are advertised through agencies and in the national and local press.
Council for Awards in Children's Care and Education (CACHE), 8 Cheque Street, St Albans, Hertfordshire, AL1 3XZ. www.cache.org.uk
Professional Association of Nursery Nurses (PANN)
Learndirect advice line, 0800 100 900.