About the Author: Anne Haris is an HR specialist working for londongoverness.com. She recruits nannies, governesses and other childcare professionals, ensuring top-notch services for parents worldwide. In her free time she enjoys reading about education, children's welfare and attending sporting events
As the internet continues to open new doors in online business, an increasing number of families decide to work remotely or to simultaneously work and travel. While this lifestyle decision ensures a level of freedom in many ways, it can make starting and educating a family more complicated!
Until they reach school age, children can generally move from place to place without significant problems. However, it’s not generally recommended that children attend a new kindergarten everywhere they live; that’s why sooner or later many ‘digital nomads’ need to hire a nanny to travel with them (or a new nanny in each location).
In either situation, there is a high chance of significant cultural differences and ultimately a risk of misunderstanding between nannies and families leading such a lifestyle.
In this article, we’re going to discuss how nannies working for such families should behave and how they can ensure political correctness in these varied working contexts.
Choosing the right agency
When seeking work in your home country or planning to work in a country where you speak the language and understand the culture, you may find applying for work through an online job board to be the easiest option.
Through a jobs board you will be able to connect with experienced agencies, who can guide you through the legal aspects of the entire procedure. It would be expensive and counterproductive to learn these rules as a sole nanny, without any legal support.
Furthermore, agencies generally have an established formal procedure for recruiting nannies and matching them with families. As a result, you won’t have to waste your precious time going to interviews in different households. Getting on the payroll of a distinguished childcare agency will cut a few corners for every nanny whose goal is to collaborate with families on the move.
Finally, in case of any issues from either side of the interested parties, the agency is behind you and ready to solve any potential issues.
Asking the right questions
Having an agency behind you doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do your share of the work before agreeing to work for a family.
Each family that you speak to in any role will have prepared a set of questions to see if you’re the right nanny for them.
Similarly, it’s important for each and every nanny to come up with her own list of preferred conditions. You have the right to find out information that may define whether or not you accept the role. You might want to know where you’re going to stay if you’re going to live with the family for a time, or what sort of accommodation you will be offered during periods of travel. You may need to negotiate vacations or overtime work.
For nannies working for ‘digital nomads’, the issue of language is of paramount significance. Let’s say that a French family is coming to spend some time in the UK. The nanny they choose may have to speak a degree of French, and should speak English or French with an accent that the family can understand. Indeed, for a French-speaking nanny in London, there may also be financial benefits to working in an international family. Nannies who can speak foreign languages are more likely to work with families living overseas or travelling regularly, which can provide the opportunity to make more money.
Moreover, you should prepare creative solutions for topics the parents may enquire about during your interview. Of course, you can’t know in advance what they’re going to ask you but it may be worth looking at common childcare issues, for example.
Apart from that, don’t forget to double-check the background of the family you’re about to start working for. Ask the agency for as much information as you can - if the family is high profile you may also consider a Google search or checking out social media to see if you can find out more information about whether the family is right for you.
Introduce communication rules
Even if both you and the family you are interviewing with come from the same cultural background, there will need to be clear communication rules. To be more precise, nannies and parents should stick to topics related to the child or children’s wellbeing. As a general rule, private matters should be avoided in everyday communication.
This becomes an even more important question when considering a move to culturally different surroundings. In this scenario it’s advisable not to bring up any political or religious beliefs. If you’re about to spend a period of time in a more liberal part of the world and you have more conservative attitudes, you should avoid discussing any such delicate subjects with the parents.
It works the other way around too; while it’s clear that you need to know as much as possible about the kids you’re going to look after, the less you know about their parents’ private life, the better for you.
These rules need to be stressed at the interview with each and every candidate. Additionally, there can be a special annex of the candidate/client agreement to cover this topic.
Adapt the salary to the conditions
The largest issue nannies working in the families of digital nomads is the temporary nature of the position in question. On the one hand, we have parents who want to ensure the best possible care for their children. On the other, we have childcare professionals who need a stable and permanent job. If a nanny receives an offer with a three-month contract, she might not be able to find another job for a long period of time afterward. Because of that, nannies who want to take care of kids from families that often move will ask for conditions that are above average.
When a nanny is offered a six-month income for a three-month period with a family, she’ll be more eager to start working right away. As the period of time with the same family increases, the nanny may also show some flexibility and accept a slight lower monthly payment in exchange for a more stable position.
Finally, bear in mind that looking after kids overseas or whilst travelling is something that’s more expensive than ordinary childcare services no matter where you work.
Although the comfort of the ‘nomadic’ lifestyle inevitably changes when these nomads become digital parents, they can still live their life on the move. However, the key prerequisite for this is to hire reliable nannies everywhere they go.
Working as a nanny in the families of digital nomads is both exciting and fulfilling. The lifestyle of such families includes freedom and flexibility but it also brings a significant level of uncertainty for nannies.
Nannies who want to specialise in childcare for such families need to learn how to deal with potential cultural differences between and their clients. We hope that the tips discussed in this article will help you to overcome these obstacles and become a versatile nanny, able to work with all sorts of modern families.
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