Today on the nanny spotlight we’re so lucky to be chatting with professional nanny Reli Köbernick, a palliative paediatric carer turned nanny. Reli is from the beautiful Munich, Bavaria, and is a passionate world traveller now living in Sydney.
>>> Meet Reli Köbernick
I did my education in 2002 and since 2005 I dedicated myself to our most special kids in the world of nursing; disabled and palliative care children aged 0 – 21 years-old. When I lived in Munich I cared for children suffering from severe brain damage, and genetic defects and disorders such as apallic syndrome, leukodystrophy, muscle dystrophy, cerebral palsy, charge syndrome, phokomelie and trisomy.
Most of my kids were palliative patients from birth onwards and hooked all day long into machines and monitors (respiratory machine support, feeding tube and so on). For them, we lived life as usual. On a normal weekday we would go to school for special needs children, then to swimming classes or picnics, day trips to the zoo, school camps and once even to Octoberfest!
My favourite project is the Kinderhaus Atemreich in Munich. Some of the children in this video are my little heroes.
You now work as a nanny with children with special needs correct?
Yes! I previously worked full time for a little boy who was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, and as a casual nanny for a boy with Aspergers. I also did a live in position caring for a little boy who had a severe anaphylaxis nut allergy and needed an EpiPen. Currently I’m working full-time with two families. When I first started with them the twins were born premature and were tiny. Now I love seeing them as healthy cheeky toddlers!
My other little boy has had some health issues, and has food allergies to nuts and soy. He also suffers from extremely sensitive dermatitis and needs hydrocortisone creams and oral drops each day. I also work casually as a palliative paediatric carer for a young girl with leukodystrophy. I really enjoy the different challenges of nannying and nursing and I’m glad I can still utilise my nursing background here in Australia.
How did you get into the nursing industry to begin with, and then working with kids?
I always wanted to work with kids but couldn’t decide between nursing or becoming a preschool or kindergarten teacher. When I started my family social work training we had work placements in both kindergarten and hospital. It was then that I realised I could combine my love for both and be a Paediatric Nurse. Once I completed my studies I began working with my little heroes (link) and did my specialisation in palliative care.
Do you find it challenging to work with a child who has severe anaphylaxis risks?
Yes it is challenging! Every allergic reaction can end up in a life threatening situation. Not many people are aware that an allergic reaction can start with just a rush one day, and with an anaphylactic shock another. That’s why I really appreciate that nannies take action and learn about these risks and the handling of an EpiPen as part of their professional development.
As nannies we have to be aware at all times, and a strict diet has high priority. We basically turn into nut free, egg free, dairy free, gluten free junkies who know the best vegan cafes. We become cooking and baking professionals and our nanny bags are full of special treats for our nanny kids so they never miss out on anything yummy.
Any advice for nannies working with autistic children?
To have the blessing to work with an autistic child is very special. Here are a my key tips:
1. Always keep in mind to be cautious of over stimulating an autistic child. I’m also a big fan of this video and always recommend it to people who are about to begin working with an autistic child.
2. Children with autism do progress. Early intervention is the key. If you’re after a centre, ABA Therapy at The Lizard Centre in Hunters Hill is my recommendation for Sydney residents.
3. Autism varies from person to person, no two children are alike.
4. Children typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions and leisure or play activities. Awareness about this will help you and your child to interact with each other. Remind yourself to stay calm in difficult situations, don’t pressure the child, and be on eye level with the child when you talk with them.
Do you think nannies should have more health + wellness knowledge than the standard First Aid Care certificate?
I believe a good, well rounded knowledge across all areas is important. Basic cooking skills and to be able to prepare healthy nutritious foods are essential. Natural and homeopathic knowledge such as the use of fennel seed oil or tea for windy days, arnica buise cream for clumsy accidents and baby massage is alway a bonus. Just remember to always ask the children’s parents first before applying these methods. Plus, anaphylaxis and asthma training should be a uniform requirement across the board for all nannies due to rising health issues.
The biggest challenges you’ve faced during your nanny career?
My biggest challenge is always the last goodbye with my nanny kids. It’s hard to move on but I try my best to stay in contact with them and watch how they grow and develop. I always organise special days or try to go to birthdays. School events like the christmas carols when my little autistic boy was dressed up as a wise man and sang in front of the audience is one of my special memories. I’m so proud of his personal developments that he achieved during the year of ABA therapy.
What’s your take on the nanny industry and community?
The nanny industry here in Australia is definitely more developed than in Germany. The nanny agencies in Sydney are very professional in what they do and take good care of their nannies. I’m also really enjoying being a member of some nanny specific Facebook groups and like the Australian Nanny Association Facebook page. The support on these sites is great and very helpful. I regularly meet many genuine, professional nannies via these groups and we have regular play dates and get the opportunity to learn from each other.
How would you like to see the industry evolve?
I think we are on a good path to having our industry more regulated and supported by the government. I’m also very excited about the first Australian Nanny Conference and look forward to meeting many more nannies. We put it to the public that our industry is a professional career choice and we shouldn’t be labelled as the girls (and boys) who “sit on babies.”
What was it like travelling with children with special needs?
Three words: fun, challenging, exhausting.
When I went to Fiji with a 2.5year old anaphylactic and an 8-month-old baby, these words summed it up. We had lots of fun together in a 5 star private villa. On my first business class flight the little one soaked my seat with orange juice in the first 5 minutes and once we were in the air he vomited all over me. Note to self: always have a spare change of clothes in carry-on luggage!
From splashing in the pool, building sandcastles and exploring the nature and wilderness of Fiji, to toddler tantrums in luxurious restaurants, it was adventurous and educational experience. I had a great time, but my top tip is to make sure you’re 110% organised and ready for the change of routine.
Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?
Eveleigh Markets in Redfern! I love my local organic market where I have my coffee and an almond croissant before I buy my veggie groceries and other handmade naughty goodies like the salted caramel creme.
Favourite thing to do with kids whilst out and about?
We love the park and play dates! Nothing is better than exploring nature and a walk to the park, having a swing, climbing and slides with friends before a yummy picnic where we get messy with our favourite hummus dip and fruit salad.
Favourite shop for tools of the trade in the nanny life?
Can you recommend a super kid friendly café that caters to both little tastes and big tastes?
I enjoy About Life shop & café in Rozelle. Spacious with high chairs and organic food. Everyone loves yummy smoothies!
Where do you go for ideas and activities to do with the kids?
Next up on the list of your “big target goals”?
I’m getting ready to commence a Postnatal Care/non-medical Maternity Nursing course to stay up to date and to gain more experience in sleep consultancy. My newest little project is #inspirehealthyliving where I help people to get into a healthier lifestyle.
Favourite travel destination?
The world is my playground but India is my secret home.
In 5 years you’ll find me…
I will have traveled the world with my partner and volunteered to help many more children. I will still be the same fun Reli just with a bit more wisdom to teach to my nanny kids and will live somewhere in the bush in Queensland.
What would you say to a young new-to-the-industry nanny?
Believe in yourself, never stand still in your education, and live your dream.
Connect with Reli
Facebook | Instagram
>>> Have you worked with children that require nursing care?