Some mothers tell me they would never allow a stranger to take care of their kids. Some even claim that nannies, au pairs, cleaning ladies are people exploited. My experience working as one and having one has been thoroughly good though.
I myself worked as an au pair in London when I was 19 and I loved the experience. I also worked as a baby sitter (in London too) and some few years ago as a dog sitter in Australia, Queensland. My experience has always been positive, I have worked with amazing families and am truly happy to enjoy now in Peru the presence of a nanny and a household helper (both in one person) who is living with us.
I already spoke a little bit about the cultural trend of Latin America of having nannies and household helpers (even in a lower middle-class family) in one of my articles about Brazil.
Our nanny obviously has her own room, eats all the meals with us, and has the weekends off. She is paid a fair amount of money every two weeks for helping every week-day from 7 am to 7 pm. Her work includes looking after Rafael when I teach my yoga or English classes and helping with the household. I do most of the cooking while she does most of the cleaning. I do the laundry and shopping while she helps me unpack the bags and wash the dishes (there are no dishwashers in Peru). We go out together to enjoy the town, the beaches, the malls and restaurants. If I buy an ice cream for myself, she obviously gets one too.
She has an incredibly beautiful relationship with our son and really takes care of him with great love.
Unless she decides to go to see her family at weekends, she stays with us to enjoy together whichever programme there is: beaches, swimming pools, countryside, dining out, barbeques. We pay all the expenses. Our nanny Nancy likes to enjoy a glass of wine with me after lunch or dinner and is happy that I do most of the cooking as she likes to taste new dishes.
She is intelligent and has some really interesting opinions, so it’s a pleasure to talk to her. I consult various personal things with her, such as what clothes to wear for a family photo shoot on the beach. Although she hasn´t received any higher education, she acts as an extremely educated and conscious being. Nancy is naturally talented and creative, she can appreciate art, and is extremely diplomatic in various situations.
One wonders how it is possible that such a smart thirty-year-old woman lives alone without a partner or children. But simply, her life has been no bed of roses. She comes from ten siblings and her parents did not have enough funds for her to go to study, so she ended up like many others working in a factory where she operates a machine for 8 hours doing the same task: opening and closing the door of a machine which produces plastic drinking bottles. She would never complain about her job though it´s badly paid and monotonous.
Deep inside I believe she longs to meet the right man, have her own family, travel, get to know other cultures, cuisines, history.
When we talk honestly and I ask her if she likes the job she does, she always tells me that what she does now is of course much better than what she does in the factory. Basically, she supports the idea that working with kids and people is much better than working with machines. As she lives with us, she also has more chance to save up and travel.
Nannies and household helpers are entitled a vacation period as well as healthcare help (with their insurance). When it´s their birthday, the family would buy a gift for them and would eat out or have a take away so she can relax more on her special day.
What a shame that we don’t have these services available in the Czech Republic and that people who, like Nancy, would much rather work with children are simply forced, if they don’t have education, to work in factories operating machines in routine tasks which by no means fulfil them.
The fact that in the Czech Republic we can pay a lady for a few hours of cleaning or for a few hours of babysitting simply cannot compare to the standard here where the helpers live with the family, spend time with the family and are a part of the family.