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you do what?

What does it take to become a children's entertainer? We asked one to find out

It is not an industry for the faint hearted.

sarah tully -1 Children's entertainer Sarah Tully Sarah Tully Sarah Tully

SOME JOBS HAVE very distinct career paths.

Becoming a children’s entertainer is not one of them.

Sarah Tully has been working in the industry for the past five years and her route into it was anything but conventional.

Starting off doing substitute work in a primary school in Dublin, she developed an interest in child relaxation.

“I was working with fifth class,” explains Sarah, “so ten and eleven year olds. At the time I came to realise that when it came to doing anything that was challenging or difficult for the kids that they would find it stressful.”

I started doing some breathing techniques with them and some yoga stretches as well. From there I got the idea that it really help to relax them and focus their minds.

After this she decided to branch out on her own and run child relaxation classes privately.

“I realised that I needed to compliment it with something else. So I just started facepainting and then I started doing storytelling, and I’d dress up as characters. So I’d dress up as a fairy or a maid or a princess. Or Elsa from Frozen now is another one I do,” she said.

A key skill for working in the industry is adaptability. For Tully, her background in speech and drama has given the stage experience and confidence to work in a number of different environments.

And children are not always the easiest audience.

“They will always be amazingly honest with you, and you have to be prepared for that… always be over prepared. I always bring every kind of puppet I have, and then if that doesn’t work, you can move onto the next thing. You can’t have a set and rigid plan of exactly what to do because if they’re not happy with it, it is going to be a disaster for you,” she said.

sarah tully Sarah Tully Sarah Tully

In the course of a day’s work, Tully might find herself working at a children’s party, in a school, in a library or even in a hospital.

“I wouldn’t ever speak about hospitals in a business term,” she explains, “If you are there to work with sick children and to work with the staff who work with the sick children, and absolutely everything in that environment would be to do with what the staff wanted me to do and super sensitive to what the kids needed and what the doctors were doing on that day.”

While it might seem like an enjoyable job, competition can still be tough (particularly among balloon artists and face painters), so ensuring a personal service is of high importance.

If I get kind of tired or bored of something I like to change it and step it up a bit. I am always challenging myself. So I don’t really see the others as competitors. I am selling myself, I am not just selling my service. And there is only one of me.

Odd Job: Children’s Entertainer 

What does it pay? Varies entirely depending on size of groups and types of sessions

How many are there? Substantial number of balloon artists and face painters but other niche areas are less competitive

What qualifications/experience do you need? No formal qualification required but experience in education and performance a big advantage

Do you know someone with an unusual occupation for our Odd Jobs series? Email the author below.

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