Morgan Tait

Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's consumer affairs reporter.

Busy couple cannot imagine life without their helper

Stephanie Hawthorne (standing) - with Mark and Lara Utatao and children (from left) Esmae, Cleo, Frankie and Isla - has noticed attitudes to nannying services changing. Photo / Chris Loufte
Stephanie Hawthorne (standing) - with Mark and Lara Utatao and children (from left) Esmae, Cleo, Frankie and Isla - has noticed attitudes to nannying services changing. Photo / Chris Loufte

If you had told Lara and Mark Utatao last year that they would have a fulltime nanny running their household, they wouldn't have believed you.

Now, the Pokeno couple and Frankie, 1, Esmae, 4, and twins Cleo and Isla, 7, can't imagine life without Stephanie Hawthorne.

The family are one of thousands contributing to the rise of nannying in New Zealand.

Mrs Utatao said she hired Mrs Hawthorne, 28, when she returned to work last year as a part-time tax adviser. "When I first decided to go back to work with my fourth child, she was only 5 months old so I was keen for her to stay at home instead of go somewhere. So I found Steph through Porse in a nanny-share situation where she would come to us two days a week.

"It worked well because we had a 4-year-old, too, so the little girls would just play together and have a great time while Steph looked after the baby."

When Mr Utatao took on a new role at an oil and gas company that required him to go away for three weeks at a time, the family's childcare needs changed.

"It was difficult for me to be able to keep working and deal with all the drop-offs and pick-ups myself so we decided to take Steph on fulltime then, and it has just been awesome," Mrs Utatao said. "I wanted the household to carry on to a certain extent when I am not here, so that's what she does."

Hiring Ms Hawthorne for 36 hours a week was slightly more expensive than fulltime childcare for Frankie and Esmae and after-school care for the twins, but meant the children were settled in their home environment and household chores were also completed.

"I'm not making a huge amount of money now that we have Steph, but it's more of a long-term, stay-in-the-workforce thing for me.

"The option was either stay at home or get a nanny to be able to manage our family and we wanted to take a long-term view that in the future I wanted to still be working and involved in my career, so from that perspective it made sense to us," Mrs Utatao said.

Mrs Hawthorne, who hails from Northern Ireland, lives with her Kiwi husband, Mark, in Pukekohe and travels to Pokeno for the job. She has 12 years' experience in early childcare education and says she has noticed people's attitudes to nannying services change.

"People are starting to see that it's not just for the rich and famous. They can have a nanny and it's good for everybody."

- NZ Herald

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