From the beginning of December 2009 until March 2010
I worked as a nanny / au pair in the Alpes of France.
Yes, I ‘celebrated’ old and new over there, or rather I survived old and new!
I have to admit that I have never had such a bad Christmas and New Year experience in my entire life. So I can tell you that four months were more then enough for me!!! But that’s just my experience.
Sure, I have heard a lot of other nannys (male and female) who are actually really happy with their host family and honestly I don’t really complain about my host family. Overall they were friendly but it’s kinda difficult to help to raise a kid if the parents don’t even agree about the upbringing of their child.
Mommy says: Yes, Daddy says: No… Now what? What does Nanny say?
So Ok, the kid I had didn’t have any rules or as the parents called it had a liberal upbringing. Which is very nice and cool but aren’t there any rules? As in when does he go to bed, how long can he watch TV etc…..
There were no specific rules so I had to make them up myself!
It might be nice for a nanny to have some kind of freedom but it’s definitely not nice to make rules and to be the bad-man (or women in this case)!
Apparently the last nanny didn’t have anything to say about the boy, he didn’t listen to her or respect her. So obviously kids need some kind of boundaries, or they’ll just have a laugh with you. So I had to make some rules, although I don’t think it was my job to try to raise a decent kid that behaves correctly and listens to adults! As a nanny I actually expected to be the cool nanny that once in a while let the kid do something naughty. (Like to stay up half an hour longer). But I lived in an opposite World! Besides that my authority weakened every time we were in a walking distance of his mom.
For example: When he asked if he could finish eating I always said he had to eat a few more bites of its lunch/ dinner and then he ran to mommy – if she was in the area – and she would say it was fine….when I just had said to him to eat 3 more bites and then he could finish. So my authority got undermined…. and although he was only 5 he already knew how to deal with it…..
Next to that I lived in a tiny little town in the Alpes. It was a Ski-station which was very pretty. Amazing views of mountains covered in snow and a real white christmas but after a week or so it just felt more cold than anything else. Since there weren’t too many people and if you don’t get along with the few people or you just don’t really connect with any of them, it wasn’t really a happening place. I stayed in an apartment and had a flatmate that also worked for the parents of the kid in their restaurant, we definitely weren’t friends and we struggled to “connect”. We just lived together. Little things do matter. Such as there was no barber, no pharmacy, there was a tiny little supermarket, where you could find if lucky all your basic necesities. Like toilet paper water, bread and shampoo. There was also a swimming pool that would open in high season for a little while and a skate-ring that would open for a couple weeks and a pub and 2 restaurants a bakery and a few ski shops where you could find ski-material and clothes.
A word of advice
Look very good where you will be located, close to a city. Which other city centres are closeby? Is there a lot of public transport. What about money, things are expensive are not? The population about a city (compare it with cities you know or live in).
Very interesting for young people is if there are any universities nearby? Are there any classes that you can attend as in Sports, language, shows any form of activity MeetUp – Couchsurfing…. really anything as long as you can try to get in touch with a world aside of your nanny-duties.
Know when you work (hours) before you come in. Your vacations and the activities of the kids! If they say you have flexible hours this literally kinda means that you never can plan in advance and that you always have to be around , in case they need you! The more activities the kids do the less you have to keep them busy and the more socially advanced they are! So they will be familiar with rules and how to interact with other children….. Rules for the kids are always interesting such as a bed time, food habits, watching tv, playing games on the computer or game console, candy etc….
At last not at least know what you earn, where you sleep with who you have to share a room and what about food?
Conclusion for myself
I don’t think I ever do it again, and if I would do it I would probably do it through an agency.
Because if you don’t like the family or situation the agency can still do something to help you…. Replace you or whatever.
I found it through search machines on the internet which can be just as good I presume.
I can only say one thing about my whole experience it was the most horrible time ever but it made me realize a lot about myself.
I am happy I’ve done it because I learned so much but for me it was a first and list time I was a Nanny.