Smashing Interviews Magazine

Compelling People — Interesting Lives



February 2016



Jo Frost Interview: Renowned Nanny Crosses America in Mobile Office to Fix Families in Distress

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Image attributed to Jo Frost

Jo Frost

UP television’s original reality series, Jo Frost: Nanny on Tour, stars and is executive produced by distinguished and beloved global parenting expert, Jo Frost. She has returned to American television to help families evolve through all stages of parenting from newborns and toddlers to tweens and teens.

Each week, along with tackling all the sass and showdowns you get from unruly tots and rebellions teens, Frost will also address  different 21st century parental concerns such as technology overload, single parent stress, blended family feuds, life-threatening allergies and much more!

"I don’t live my life in fear. I live my life knowing that I’m prepared and know the signs and symptoms. The information I have and the experience to be able to give others was something I felt very passionate about, especially as I’ve been given a lot of hostile attitudes from certain airlines and people in America. It made me realize I had a platform that I could do something good in being able to be that voice."

Frost first found fame in 2004 when Supernanny, a series about parents struggling with their children’s behavior, originated in the United Kingdom. It was an instant success, and shows were created in 48 countries by 2015 that were tailored after the show. The United States version of Supernanny ran on ABC and ended in 2011.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Jo, thanks for taking the time today. I’m a fan of Supernanny!

Jo Frost: Oh well, you’re going to love this one then.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Tell me about the differences between Supernanny and your new series, Jo Frost: Nanny on Tour, which can be seen on UP TV.

Jo Frost: I think what viewers are going to see is a wonderful opportunity to encompass all of my experience over the last 25 years of being in the parental arena. The show is developed to help all ages, so you’re going to see a wide spectrum of my expertise helping families with newborns all the way through to teenagers. Also we’ll look at the fact that families are dealing with issues like social media that really wasn’t around in that capacity 12 years ago.

The mobile office transports me like the taxi did before. My mobile office on Nanny on Tour really is a parental clinic. The mobile office is where I work from going across America to help families, and it actually stops in town squares to provide a public service to the hundreds of families that come to ask for help as well. This show really takes it up a few notches to say the least.

I continue to be a staple in American family homes, but we’re able to widen that net to say that we just don’t look out for parents who have toddlers misbehaving. It’s about addressing family life in general. This is about helping them through their transitions. This is about recognizing we have generational families living together under one roof. This is about helping families make that decision between work and home. It’s about raising newborn twins and looking at how we always react to one another within the family dynamic, looking at the impact that sometimes can have on our teenager children when we think they’re misbehaving when actually they want to be heard as well.

There are many differences between the two shows with respect with what you’re going to see and what we are now taking on board as far as the wider spectrum, the mobile office helping the community as well and still remaining in the hearts of American families where they can trust me to be sincere and honest in bringing my expertise to them time and time again. I’m very proud to be able to do that.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You’re traveling to other countries in addition to touring America?

Jo Frost: I am. This format that I developed, Jo Frost: Nanny on Tour, is an international format. It’s in the second season now in Holland, and there are other countries that are interested in me coming to help them. It certainly was my vision to be able to help parents around the world.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are you fluent in other languages?

Jo Frost: No I’m not. But what I have clearly shown successfully now, as we’ve just finished our second season in Holland, is the ability to be able to use an earpiece and to have a translator. I put an earpiece in, and I have a professional translator who is outside the home. She’s able to translate if the family decides they’re going to speak fluent about something. I’m able to talk to them in English and be able to explain. It has worked really well.

I was definitely a bit apprehensive of how that may work and my ability to be able to communicate. Like anything, I realized I wasn’t going to let fear prohibit me in my passion to be able to help families. I had to give it a go. Actually I was, thank God, surprised that I was able to continue to do the work that I do. It was great.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I understand that you will also be going into schools?

Jo Frost: I do walk into a school to talk to a teacher with respect to a child’s progress in school in the process of having a healthy dialogue with the teacher so that we’re all working toward the welfare of the child in question. But at the end of the day, if there are schools that do want me to come in and help them, that will certainly be a part of the show and the mission on being able to help families and teachers be on the same page.

As I say, this format gives me a wonderful opportunity to be able to address issues such as anaphylaxis, hot topics like social media and technology and to perhaps go into schools on that kind of level. Right now the mobile office for this series has provided itself as a hub for families to gather and ask their parental questions, which is marvelous. We’ve even had children step into the mobile office and ask me questions. It’s always marvelous to know that you can provide this service for the community as well.

It was very organic for me because that’s what used to happen anyway. You were there to help a family, and the neighbors would hear you were in town. They’d want you to drop in, or they’d ask, “Do you think you could help me afterwards?” I wanted to help these individual family cases who have parental challenges, but I needed to be out there in the public to provide this service to be able to help them. That’s why I wanted the mobile office to stop at town square.

We’re going to let people know I’m in town, and we are going to conveniently bring the parental advice to their doorsteps. This has resonated very well with the communities and the families. If you know there’s somebody there who’s going to answer your questions and help, you will go and seek the answers, right?

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Absolutely. Will there be a time in the future where you will go back and see if those families followed through with your advice?

Jo Frost: I do hope so. I think absolutely the viewers who watch the families are emotionally invested in how the families got on. In all of the families I’ve helped over my years, I’ve personally made sure that they have my personal consultation afterwards as well. It’s very important to me. I’ve been given the honor to help these families from the beginning to the end. From the time they write in until they know I’m coming, through the process, our team makes sure the family understands that’s happening.

This is my life’s mission’s work as a consultant in helping these families. We help families first. We film that process. We empower millions of parents around the world who watch the show. That can only be a positive thing, right?

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Yes, and that actually segues into my next question. When did you realize helping families would be your life’s mission?

Jo Frost: I don’t think it was ever a conscious decision. It wasn’t a light bulb moment of, “This is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life!” I was in the moment. I enjoyed doing what I was doing. I certainly know that there was this moment of being a professional nanny and going into consultation, this moment of recognizing that and wanting to be able to continue to troubleshoot and help families.

As a professional nanny, you work with so many families over the years. You do it over a decade, and you understand that you’ve learned so much that you can give back. You can take it up to the next level organically of being to consult as well. That, to me, was a very organic process. It wasn’t a light bulb moment like, “Aha, this is my life’s work!” This is what I was passionate about.

Certainly when I had the opportunity to help families when Supernanny was shown first in the UK, it was a pinnacle moment in my life where I realized that was what I love to do. It was what I was passionate about doing. Then I was at a place where it was taken to a whole another level of where helping one family was now going to help millions. That certainly was a moment for me. Wow. What an impact. Using the power of television in such a positive way to help so many!

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Tell me about the work you do to raise awareness of anaphylaxis and the other causes you are passionate about.

Jo Frost: At the moment, I’m working collaboratively with charities in the UK and the US to educate families more on anaphylaxis, the importance of us understanding life-threatening allergies and the difference between allergies and life-threatening allergies. In America, it’s about inclusion. None of us want to be treated special, but we do want inclusion. We want to feel safe just as anyone else on an airline or when we go to school to be educated.

I feel that education brings more empathy, and with more empathy, you can change policies and laws so that we can be treated as equal on that par. I’ve been spreading that word, talking in schools and holding conferences both here and the UK. Of course, being a woman who is mature and has lived with anaphylaxis and who really worked alongside my medical condition for 40 years, I believe I have much to give with respect to my experience. I want families to understand this is a medical condition that’s not going away, however, there are ways we can feel empowered in how we live our lives without feeling that it’s going to cripple us in some way.

I don’t live my life in fear. I live my life knowing that I’m prepared and know the signs and symptoms. The information I have and the experience to be able to give others was something I felt very passionate about, especially as I’ve been given a lot of hostile attitudes from certain airlines and people in America. It made me realize I had a platform that I could do something good in being able to be that voice.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Education is certainly one of the best ways to get the word out there.

Jo Frost: Well, it’s just people, right? When they just don’t know, it’s amazing when you can enlighten one human being and educate them where they understand more. You begin to see empathy, and with that they can spread the word. It needs to change, and we can only change that through education.

I’m looking forward to working with Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles and providing the parental clinic to be able to help the community again with their parental issues. My work for families is important. I’m a very firm believer in immunization and everybody being protected from disease, so I work very closely with the Shot@Life movement with the United Nations in making sure that children are kept safe. I think that’s our duty as parents to keep our children safe.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What is the most important thing a parent can teach a child when he or she is old enough to understand?

Jo Frost: I certainly would love to see empathy. More empathy in the world. More understanding. More empathy. We look at such an issue here in America when we look at how much is highlighted with respect to bullying and those who are outcasts because they’re different. We should teach our children to accept all in humanity, whatever shape, size religion or color. For us to be able to teach our children empathy and diversity, I believe the world would be a kinder place.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What are your other interests, Jo?

Jo Frost: I take time for myself. I understand the importance of doing that. I like to go to movies and catch up with my friends in the UK. That’s important to me. I love to cook, entertain and have friends around. It’s always a pleasure to be in your own home to have guests, to entertain and to laugh. I love to garden. I’m a big ocean girl, and I love the beach. My work brought me to America. I fell in love with an amazing man, and I live in Southern California.

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