Nannying abroad… Some questions answered by Heather, a Nanny in Paris.
I thought it might be interesting for any readers out there considering a nanny job to get a little insight into the life of – well, a professional nanny! Heather is from the USA and has been living in Paris working as a nanny. We have become good friends and shared some common traits: neither of us knew anyone when arriving, spoke minimal French and have both since fallen in love with the country. I asked her a few questions:
Tell me about yourself?
I am 24 years old, graduated from college last May, and I am a nanny working just a few minutes outside of Paris. I live with my employing family, who are German actually, in a beautiful home and I take care of three children Monday through to Friday.
Why did you decide to come to France to work as a nanny?
I was here in the summer doing some research for my degree and fell in love with the city, the people, the language, the food, the list goes on. I graduated from college and decided I wanted to come back to Paris to experience being a nanny and learn French, so here I am!
Could you speak French before arriving in Paris?
In high school I took two semesters of it but by the time I returned, I still didn’t know more than basics so it was basically like starting from scratch.
What is your family like?
I am working for a family that moved to Paris one month before I arrived because of job relocation for the father. The mother works from home and they are both marketing directors of American companies. They have a 10-year old daughter and twins, one boy and one girl, that are two and a half years old.
Tell me about a typical day for you.
I’ve learned working with children means no day is typical, no matter how much you try to keep the routine. Monday and Friday they have daycare from 8:30am until 12:00pm so the mother wakes them and dresses them, I eat breakfast with all three kids, the mum or dad takes the 10-year old to the bus while I get the twins in the car and to daycare. I pick them up usually and when we come home we eat lunch and then the twins have their nap but having no nap is just around the corner. Then it’s a combination of snack time and getting their sister from the bus. They play in the playroom while I help her with her homework. And then it’s dinner at 7:00pm and bath is every other night for the twins. I would say half of the time I give the bath, the other half of the time the mum does but from there I am done for the day.
Tuesday and Thursday are great, slow waking up for the kids followed by breakfast with just us and playing and getting dressed. Daycare from 11:30am to 6:00pm so I’m free for a long time. I get the 10-year old at 4:30pm from the bus, help her with her homework, we pick up the kids, and I drop her off at dance. Once we get back it’s a short 30-45 minutes of playtime and then dinner at 7:00pm, possible bath, and then I’m free. They cuddle with the parents and get books read to them until bedtime at 8:30/9:00pm every night.
Wednesday consists of no school or daycare so for me it’s a full day with twins but for others it’s running around shuffling kids from activity to activity. We met another German family with a girl only a few months older than the twins so every Wednesday after breakfast we go to her house or she comes to ours and we play together and eat lunch together until naptime.
That would be what my life is like every week but nothing is typical. The parents are frequently traveling leaving me to do a lot more work around the house. It can be exhausting but ever-changing and fun.
Has everything lived up to your expectations?
I would definitely say so. I love this experience more than anything. I’ve learned so much from this family and from my kids. I not only learn about the French culture but also about the German one, including different traditions. This experience has exceeded my expectations. I love my job. It doesn’t even feel like one.
What advice could you give to other nannies wanting to nanny in France?
I have to say that being a nanny is not for everyone. Yes, we may all be great parents one day but this job is not just about taking care of children, especially if you live with the family. You really have to be able to connect and become a unit of the family and be happy to be flexible. My best advice is to take your time, make sure you know what you want and make sure the family is a perfect match with your expectations, goals, and personality.
I love my family like they are my own. If it’s not a perfect match the experience will not be as rewarding and positive. Just don’t jump into everything and choose a family because you would make a great team.
What are you planning to do when your contract with your family is over?
I hope to find another family or get a teaching job. My degree was in education so I really hope I can use it and stay for one more year. I may even continue to work with the family part-time because the twins will be in daycare all day by then. So we will see, I haven’t solidified any plans yet.
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