Lauren Brown is a new kind of nanny.
She cares for and educates children while cooking, cleaning, washing dogs, attending appointments, filing and doing pretty much anything else the families she works with ask her to do.
Brown calls herself a "nanager". She's trademarked the name and set up a business connecting would-be nanagers with families.
"I was working in childcare and I just got to know a lot of families and see their crazy lives from the outside and one day a mum approached me and asked 'would you be a nanny?'," Brown says.
After working as a traditional nanny for a while the 30-year-old says she saw an opportunity to offer more.
"I realised I'm really good at that additional layer on top of nannying, the cleaning and managing," she says. "I thought the nanny industry was still pretty under-utilised. I soon discovered people really value the service and I started expanding and I thought there is so much work for this niche service of combining quality childcare and effective home management."
It's early days for the business, which 30-year-old Brown started four months ago with $8000 of her own savings.
"I got sick of being called a nanny as I thought I was associated with someone who was a babysitter and I am so much more," Brown says. "I am reinventing it. There's not much I've said no to personally. I draw the line at things that take away my safety or supervision of children, I did say no to picking up dog poo once."
Brown charges a $300 fee to connect nanagers and families and says expanding the role of the traditional nanny opens up higher earning potential.
"Nannies are pretty underpaid but when we slot in the house duties as well there is a higher pay rate and more room to negotiate," Brown says. "For me it's making it a valuable career option for those who love working with children outside of childcare."
Nanagers charge between $27 to $38 an hour and Brown is creating alternative revenue streams for her business through a resource platform and workshops for nannies.
"It's really magical to see the impact on working parents and especially working mums when I get to see mums return to careers that they love", she says.
The nanny app
Brown is not the only entrepreneur tapping into the market for nannies. Mother of three Viviana Rossios is set to launch her nanny app Little Ones later this year.
Rossios came up with the idea for the app, which she describes as "like Uber for nannies", when she was juggling caring for her two-year-old, 11-month-old and newborn.
"I had three kids under 2½," Rossios says. "My mum used to come and help but she would get really tired and I could see she was exhausted. Childcare is not always available, centres are overflowing and you need to wait three years for some of them. I thought why can't I get someone to help me without the commitment of a full-time nanny. We can order a cab through Uber so I wanted to do the same."
Little Ones is a joint venture between Rossios and her brother Rob Rossi, a childcare operator.
The app will be free to use, with caregivers setting their own rates of $25 an hour and above with Little Ones taking an 11 per cent handling fee from the payment received.
Rossios says Little Ones will follow a "stringent" process of background checking carers.
"Obviously it's not for everyone and there are some people who are hesitant, but overall there's been a positive reaction," she says. "There's such a high demand for childcare services that I feel it's just a wanted and needed service."
Demand for nannies is increasing every year, according to Annemarie Sansom, president of non-profit group the Australian Nanny Association, which has 4500 members.
Sansom says when she started working in early childhood education nannies were employed on a full-time basis by high-net-worth families.
"Now 20 years later we see lots of ordinary families using nannies who are juggling with a lot of women going back to work," she says. "We find families utilising a combination of services including centre daycare and nannies. We are finding a larger proportion of people using nannies part-time."
Sansom says Nanager provides an option for nannies who want to diversify but is not for everyone, with some nannies wanting to focus solely on childhood education.
"The nanny housekeeper role has always been around but it went by the wayside and I think what Lauren is doing is reinvigorating that," she says. "I think the business is fantastic."
Sansom says the Australian Nanny Association is building its own online portal but she does have concerns about some online offerings.
"The big concern that we have about apps and directory websites is the concern about child safety and whether they are meeting child safety standards," she says. "It is not just being complacent and relying on the working with children check, it's about further measures to ensure the safety of children."