Au pair/ Nanny Experience

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.

 

Why not travel?

Excuses

QuestionsIt’s too expensive

Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive.
You can make it as expensive as you want it to be!

  • Get in saving mode – SAVE SAVE SAVE
    • Do you really need an extra lamp or a new laptop or that cute little dress?
    • Do you really NEED this get back to basics and.
  • Work and Travel
    • You can’t wait until the time you’ve saved enough to go travel.
      No worries do 2 things at the same time.
      Check this out.
  • Couchsurfing
    • Couchsurfing is a virtual community developed to connect like-minded travelers. The website provides a platform for members to “surf” on couches by staying as a guest at a host’s home, host travelers, or join an event.

It’s too dangerous

  • Compare and view from a distant perspective
    How dangerous is it really compared to your hometown?
    Since robberies and shootings happen all over the world and I’ve never heard it was SAFE to walk alone on the streets anywhere.

LonelyI don’t have anyone to go with

  • Join an organized tour
  • Join like-minded people on special organized tours for people who are in the same situation as you are: Contiki,
  • Search for like-minded partners on the internet
  • Go Solo
  • Traveling Solo is HOT since it gives you so many positive benefits!
    You’ll meet other solo travelers, you’ll only do what you want without any discussion.
  • Go study
    You’ll meet plenty off people in your class

I have a boyfriend

Convince him
It would surprise me if you couldn’t convince your boyfriend of your passion, your heart and soul

Travel solo
Go travel solo your boyfriend surely doesn’t want for you to regret not realizing your dream YOLO!

Old rusty carI’m too old

You are only as old as you let yourself believe!

Times have changed and you are only as old as you feel!

You FEEL young ACT young and enjoy life and all its perks, you are never too old!

I’m too young

There’s an expression that says young taught is old done! 🙂

Go study abroad!

For under aged people there’ s still plenty of opportunities to go travel.
Stay with a host family
Whether it’s an exchange program, a language course or anything else there are plenty of options out there…. Trust me 😀

success
It will affect my career 

  • Boost your CV
    Traveling doesn’t have to be a bad factor on your CV it can boost your CV, it shows your independent, responsible and flexible and these are just a few of the main points.
  • Look for a job abroad!
    Take your Career on another level, everybody will admire you for the extend of your courage.

I don’t have time

Take Sabbatical / Leave without pay
This will not affect your career since the job you have will still be there when you return!

I’ll travel One Day

I might sound as a bumper sticker but there might not be a tomorrow. Trust me no matter how careful and how many precautions you take you never know what tomorrow brings. Postponing is just another word for giving up.

communicationI don’t speak the language

Find a country where they do speak your language!
Install a dictionary/language App

There’s nowhere I really want to go

You just need some inspiration no worries. Nobody has ever gotten more stupid because of traveling…. It opens your eyes…. Let yourself be amazed and inspired…

I hate planning trips

Don’t plan

  • Go on instincts and take a travel guide
  • Take an organized trip

MortgageI have a mortgage

Rent your house out, Swap your house!

I have kids

Take them with you – kids go free!

Have you noticed that people tend to come up with more excuses not to go… than to go!

 

Holiday representative

What do you have to do as a Holiday Representative?

The life of a Holiday Rep can be very hectic and chaotic. Depending on destination things can be very different. Nothing is ever sure and everything has to be done. But by who and when and what? This might be a slight mystery at first.

Airport Shift

At the airport you might have noticed there’s usually always a bunch of people with boards waiting at the arrival gate.

As a holiday representative you’ll be one of these people….

What do you have to do when you have an Airport shift?

At the airport you’ll wave your board and Cross names of your list and direct these people to the right bus to make sure they arrive at the correct hotel.

When you (and your colleagues) have seen everyone. You count the people on the bus to make sure they are all present. You’ll give them a flyer or an envelope and provide them with the basic Airport speech.

When you’re alone you’ll never do more than 30-50 people (no more than 2 buses).
One to say hello and farewell and another you’ll tag along to go back to the main tourist destination (where you live obviously).

Usually you’ll don’t go more than 2 times per week to the airport. However this depends on how many flights arrive and on your colleagues/ work load.

What do you have to say during the See Inn or See off?
See an example here: Airport Speech.

Airport Reps

When flights are coming in on a daily base there might be an Airport Rep on the destination. When there is an Airport rep on destination, holiday reps won’t have to go to the airport.  Te Airport Rep will have a higher basic salary than the Holiday Reps due to the fact that they don’t earn any commission.

Welcome meeting in the hotel

At the hotel you’ll try to provide a welcome drink if possible at the hotel. This might be in the Lobby or in a meeting room at the hotel. There you’ll provide the guests from some more information about the hotel, area, etc…

See more info and examples here: Welcome meeting

Visiting times in the hotel

After they’ve landed and visited you at the welcome meeting. The guest might still have some additional questions or they might want to book an excursion if they haven’t yet. They also might just be visiting you to know the departure times that you usually put up during your visiting times. Minimum 2 days in advance they are put up or written down in the folders.

Visiting times can be tidious but it can also be very chaotic and rewarding.
Still whether they are just asking for the best tapa’s in the area they have an issue or anything else. You’ll find a solution or answer to their request. That’s why you’re there.

Although the guests are always right. They might not be exactly right according to the general terms and conditions or the Hotel description.  For standard questions guests ask. Make sure you already have a filled in Hotel Check list.

Planning

You usually get to make your own planning.
Great and annoying at the same time.

It’s a timeconsuming job, but a good planning is a good week. Your planning has to be approved by your teamlead. I used to love this part since you can set everything to your hand and adapt when necessary. It’s your responsability you get everything done.

Good to know

How many hotels will you have to take care of.

Usually you will have 3-6 main hotels and sometimes you’ll have some connected hotels which means you only have to foresee the departure times and make sure the folders are up to date.

Can you eat in all hotels?

No, this depends on the hotel.

Before making your planning check with the hotels and don’t forget to also take in account their opening hours. I mean if diner starts at 20.00 you might ask your manager to work from 17.00-20.00 instead of 16.00-19.00.

Working hours

Working days are usually 9-13 17-19.
Which are like 7 hours per day… However there’s a lot of organizing, follow ups, issues to be resolved which can’t be done during working times. Liquidation to be  done( money). Team meetings, etc….

Don’t underestimate it…. You won’t be spending every day at the beach….

Depending on what tour operator you are working for you might have one day and a half or two days off.

Money

Basic salary + commission

Basic salary is usually about 700-800 Euro. Additionally you’ll have commission of minimum 200 euro which will be recalculated at the end of the term.

They assume you eat in the hotel and you have free accomodation so in theory you don’t have that much expenses so you can save your basic salary.
In all honesty I always thought it wasn’t that much but if you have a job at home it isn’t that easy to save every month 800 Euro.

If you are lucky with your hotels your commission can rise up to 500 Euro in high season. This highly variates from destination to destination and from the hotel package and guests you are dealing with.

Information in the books/ Website

Sometimes they make you proofread booklets. Or check info with the hotels to make sure everything is up to date. This can be another additional task.

You are also responsable for all the info on the boards and the folders. They need to be up to date at all times, neat and available. Don’t be surprised if your folder dissapears or a page dissapears. Especially departure times.

You are always responsable so cover your ass and make sure you note it down and that it is still present the next time you visit!

 

 

 

Street dogs and cats in Istanbul

What’s the deal with all these cats and dogs?

Cats and dogs are beloved pets all over the world. However in Istanbul it’s seems the streets are full of  street dogs and cats.

Cat food is widely distributed along the street curbs and dog and cat houses are found at shop entrances. These animals don’t look ill at all…. nor malnourished.

Have you noticed any dogs in Istanbul?

The dogs always remind me of that old Disney movie “Lady and the tramp” . These tramp lookalikes just wander around. Most of them just hang or lay around and look completely harmless. But be aware they are not your usual mini maltezer size. These big dogs are more Labrador lookalikes.

Scared of dogs?

Don’t worry,  if they have a plastig tag in their ear, they’ve been vaccinated for rabies. If they bite you. “You’ll be all fine”.

Dogs begging for Food?

There’s plenty of meat literally hanging and spinning around.  Every street corner has a Doner and Durum shop. I am sure the tramp  of “Lady and the tramp” would have set his eyes on that juicy meat. These dogs seem too relaxed to even glance at it.

My experience

Today one of my last days. I saw a shop attendant chase a dog with his broom.
When I got there the dog was outside the shop. Shaking his tale. Sticking his tongue out.
Looking for a way back inside.
I wish I could have taken a seat and just watch this spectacle.  This dog clearly wasn’t given in…. Who would win? Would the shop attendant get food for the dog to make sure he stays outside?
Shop attendants often try to sell you a spot or a product especially in Turkey. The shop attendant tried to seduice the dog to a spot in the corner outside.
The dog just looked at the shop attendant as if he was insane. Funny because that’s how I sometimes respond aswell…. I mean lunch/diner at 16.00 ?

So who won in the end…

Pets?

Some of them seem to be hanging very often in the exact same place, making me wonder:

Are they really street dogs?

I’ll leave you to be the judge of that.

Cats are different

Cat in the street

 

Street cats seem to be Lady like they are from a royal breed.
Nothing like the underdog tramp lookalikes. They take pride in their appearance and are not scared of people.

 

 

 

Cat inbetween shoes

 

Pet cats are frequently welcoming you at shop entrances or even displaying in the window shop or even part of the displayed decor.
Cats are truly adored in this city!

 

Do you have  any stories about these street cats or dogs? I would love to hear about them.