Six years ago I packed my bags to go and work as live-in nanny in Italy. I went to live with a family in Milan, take care of their children part time and learn all about Italians and their culture. I never planned to stay 4 years! It was the most amazing adventure and today I want to share with you my nanny and au pair experience with tips about children, host parents, host families, babysitting and living abroad alone.
1) What's the best part about being a nanny in a foreign country?
Going to work in a foreign country as a live-in nanny is a very cheap way to travel when you're on a budget. You won't have to pay for your own room, food or WIFI. A big plus of moving in with a family is that you will be able to completely engage with the culture and language of the country and learn everything in an instant. A host family is a great support system that will help you find a language school and maybe a hobby so you can integrate and make new friends quickly. Host parents who hire foreign nannies are usually very open minded and really enjoy learning about where you come from and your values and morals. The whole purpose of working as a nanny in a foreign country is not only about working but also about having fun. Nannies are everywhere, and on every social network. You'll meet people from all over the world and quickly jump on the nanny bandwagon. You'll eat, breath, sleep, travel and party together like there is no tomorrow!
2) What's the worst part about being a nanny in a foreign country?
The worst part is that you don't actually know someone until you have lived with them. A perfect life and a perfect family doesn't exist. You will have ups and downs with your host family, you will have fights and disagreements, just like with your own parents, and your own brothers and sisters. Here are a couple things I have learned about host families along my 4 year nanny journey:
- Even though your host parents are grown ups and should be responsible, they will come and sneak around in your room. If you do have something to hide, make sure you hide it well because you will get in trouble for it.
- Some families have this weird idea that nannies are super humans that never get tired. You will have to entertain their children your entire shift. Host parents don't know what it means for their kids to play on their own.
- Hostparents will always take advantage of you. In Belgium we have this saying: You give someone your hand and they take your entire arm. Never do anything you are not supposed to or you'll end up doing it for the rest of your stay.
- This one sounds harsh but it's the truth: your host parents hired you because you're cheap and they don't have a replacement for you. They will most probably make you work even when you're sick and will not really be bothered to help you go to the doctor or get medicine. When their kids cough once, they're put on antibiotics immediately and stay home from school for 3 days. #funtimes
- Host parents will often forget that you're young and wild and actually have a life of your own. They won't like it if you ask to invite friends and most probably won't allow it. Same with drinking alcohol and/or smoking. Asking for a day off will also make them freak out even though you have the total right to. Try to make them remember you have a life outside of nannying.
- Your host parents will take you on vacation with them and tell you it will be very fun. Truth is: you will work around the clock and won't have time to make friends or go out. You will be with them 24/7 and will probably sleep in a room with the kids and have no privacy whatsoever for weeks in a row. Going on vacation with your host family is a time where you'll feel very very lonely, most families also don't take into consideration an internet connection is important for you so you can stay in touch with your family and friends.
- This is the most annoying one of all: your host parents will forget to pay you or not pay what was agreed to. Make sure you and your host parents schedule your payments weekly or monthly so it will be easier for you to ask for your pocket money, when this happens.
3) Would you recommend being a nanny in a foreign country?
I would totally recommend it! This experience shaped me to the woman I am today and I don't regret one little bit of my trip. Nothing makes you grow up faster than traveling around on your own and taking care of someone else's kids. The little shy girl in me has now almost completely disappeared and my self confidence and self esteem had a huge boost. I met the most amazing people and now actually know the true meaning of the word 'friend'.
Disclaimer: Please do extensive research before considering to become a nanny in a foreign country. There are people out there who do not have good intentions and go as far as creating fake accounts, fake families and even fake nanny's. Meeting up with people you only know from the internet can be extremely dangerous. There are enough horror stories out there so please get yourself informed and be cautious!