Working better means more job security, increased likelihood of pay rises or bonuses and ultimately making yourself more of an 'in demand' candidate. So brush up on your skills with our list of 10 things to be aware of!
Here are 10 governess job tips you might just have missed.
1. Be aware of individual house rules
Many households have their own specific rules, and it is unlikely that you will be expressly told about all of them. If you’re getting 'evils' or bad vibes at work, there’s probably a house rule you’re unaware that you’re breaking. Such rules may include not sitting on beds, using separate ‘staff’ toilets. Families may insist that you read with their kids with the lights on full, even before bed time.
There may be lots of rules like this, so do your best to find out which house rules apply to you. Remind other members of staff that you are new and you would appreciate it if they could let you know if there’s anything you should be doing differently. You can mention this to your employer too - demonstrate your own common sense and willingness to do a good job by asking them for any pointers they feel they can offer you.
2. Be proactive with your suggestions
Don’t just sit around at work in downtime - get creative and be planning! If there’s nothing going on, suggest and prepare arts and crafts ideas for your work family. Tell them it might be good for their kids to get into songwriting, chess, or whatever else you’re good at and ready to introduce them to. Offer to teach something new, to organise a penpal exchange or to set up experiments to keep your charges occupied and learning nonstop. Try to avoid ever being seen sitting around doing nothing - even if it’s a slow day no parent wants to feel like they’re paying you to loaf around.
3. Keep an eye on the kids’ hair and clothing
Even if there is a nanny working alongside you, make an effort to maintain the kids’ appearances whenever they’re with you. If your charges are hanging around with you with messy hair or covered in mud (of course after sports etc. this is acceptable) the parents may associate this with a lack of organisation or attention to detail from your side. Be aware of this and try to make sure when you bring the kids somewhere (take them to school, to parties etc.) they are looking smart, even if it isn’t strictly your job.
4. Prepare an emergency bag
Whether travelling overseas or taking the kids to school, it’s important to be well prepared. Pack a ‘nanny bag’ with books, games, medicine - anything you think you might need during the work day. This way you won’t be caught short if there’s unexpected downtime or an injury, and you will instead have the chance to impress the parents with your forethought and organisation.
5. Offer to prepare ‘something special’ for the kids once in a while
Don’t let your charges get bored following the same old daily routine. Mix it up at work! Try and get the kids doing something special whenever you can, and take photos of it. This could be a treasure hunt, a new board game, a fun cooking project or similar. We’ve got loads of ideas on JIC - including our Harry Potter Treasure Hunt!
6. Keep them away from technology at all costs
Some parents will let the kids go on phones and iPads and may even tell you that it’s OK for you to do this together with them, but be aware that ultimately your work parents are not paying you to sit with their child and play Minecraft. Come up with whatever ideas you can to keep them away from the screen. Reading and board games are ideal, as is time outdoors. Agree amounts of daily screen time with the parents and try to encourage this as a family rule that everyone can enforce.
7. Suggest suitable days out to the parents
Days out and trips are welcome suggestions for kids’ holidays and weekends. Show some initiative by researching ideas in the local area. The more educative, the better - aquariums, science or space museums and zoos are an ideal starting point.
8. Photos/ blogs when appropriate
Many parents appreciate the chance to visualise what their kids have been up to day to day and what they’ve been doing with you. Ask for permission to take photos (promise to keep them private, naturally) and send the best ones to the mum or dad. You could even suggest keeping a daily blog with photos and setting it up so the parents can keep an eye on their kids’ progress - if you want to do that, there's a quick guide here.
9. Do birthdays properly!
Birthdays and celebrations like Christmas, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are a great chance for you to show off your governor or governess skills. Go for something original and personal - you and your kids could make a craft like this one, learn and recite a poem, write a song (complete with music video on iMovie), or anything! Take photos of the kids preparing for whatever surprise it is for extra brownie points.
10. Tidy up after yourself
This sounds obvious - but often isn’t done. Ingratiate yourself with members of household staff by showing that you are conscientious and not just going around making a mess (although it may look like you are). Books, toys, games etc. need to go away after you’ve used them. Any glitter, glue or paint needs thoroughly cleaning up. Even if the family has cleaners, keep your charge on the ball and ensure good relations with everyone else by being responsible for any clutter or untidiness. Tie this in with a big smile for your coworkers and respectful politeness and you’re sure to be a big hit in the workplace.
For tips on starting a new governor or governess job.
And if you want to make more money in your nanny job.