Is Connie, nanny to the stars, on Meghan and Harry's wishlist?

Photo: Nanny Connie / Instagram
Photo: Nanny Connie / Instagram 

Connie Simpson has diagnosed a problem parents everywhere will recognise but few have truly addressed: "We've become such a society of hurry-up-and-wait," she sighs. "We don't listen." Nor, she believes, do we know how to rest.

We should probably listen to her. Nanny Connie, as she is known to her army of adoring families in the US, knows her stuff when it comes to childcare.

She has one grown-up daughter herself but, at her last count, had touched the lives of more than 257 people in her 30-year nannying career. "I've stopped counting because I'm just glad I've been able to do it," she says.

Among them are a string of famous names: George and Amal Clooney, Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel, Jessica Alba, Brooke Shields and Emily Blunt. It's little wonder, then, there were rumours - subsequently denied - that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would employ her when their baby arrives this spring.

However, after "listening to advice from friends", supposedly including Amal herself, the Sussexes plan to hire a traditional nanny, it was reported at the weekend.

Photo: Dominic Lipinski/Pool via AP

Photo: Dominic Lipinski/Pool via AP

They could do a lot worse than Nanny Connie. Speaking from the US, she radiates a southern warmth coupled with a no-nonsense attitude. "I would tell them: 'Don't ask me about your movies, I don't know anything about them. Don't tell me about your music, it's not my genre.' I wanted to teach them to be the best person they could be. Being a parent, you're forever learning. If they make an error, it's all over the media."

Indeed, the behaviour of celebrity parents is scrutinised more heavily than ever, thanks in no small part to social media - of which Nanny Connie is wary. Of the modern tendency to share every last nappy change with the world, she says: "Get out of the public eye. Retreat. Shut down all your social media the best you can and just focus on the child. Spend some time with your family instead."

Her advice to all new parents is to slow down. "I want you to take the time to get to know your baby," she says.

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Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, her early days were spent far from the glitz of Hollywood. "I think being a nanny found me," she says.

Her mother was a nurse and, as a child, Connie would accompany her on home visits. "But I had no earthly idea I would one day be who I am today."

Still, she had plenty of practice, babysitting her cousins' children. "When I had my daughter Courtney at the age of 24, I was primed and ready. I had a couple of jobs and tried to juggle it all, but being a parent was the most important thing. I was a single parent so it was important to be there."

Her mother was by then doing private nursing for the family of a woman who worked in finance. Connie became their babysitter. "When I went away to college and came back, [the woman] told her husband she wouldn't have any more kids unless I could be their nanny," she says. "Life has this way of coming back around and mine always comes back to the care of children and nurturing the family. I've felt that this is my calling."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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How did she end up as nanny to the stars? "It's a very small world once you get into it," she says. "I was with Brooke Shields a while ago and once you get to the level of where I am, I found it was not me going to have an interview with the families, it was me interviewing them. One came after another."

So she's seen the inside of the Clooneys' house? Her response can best be paraphrased as: "So what?"

"The Clooneys have been great parents and they want to be there, even when they can't be there," she says. "George is a beaming father, he's just so excited. Nothing makes him happier than to see his children [twins Ella and Alexander, who are almost two] giggle."

What about Timberlake and Biel? "They are so sweet," she says. "She's just normal and he's the same way."

Last year, she distilled her wisdom into a book, The Nanny Connie Way: Secrets to Mastering the First Four Months of Parenthood (Gallery, ??12.99).

And the relationship with the family is far from over when she walks out the door.

"Once they become my family, they're always my family," she says.

The Daily Telegraph