So if you want to know what it's like working a governess job in paradise, read on!
Roisin, your job in the Cayman Islands looks fabulous. But how did you first get interested in working in childcare?
I have always had a passion and love for children. I had a somewhat unorthodox hotel upbringing which resulted in my being surrounded by children from a young age. I distinctly remember building dens and creating playrooms and child friendly activities for the children of guests attending weddings at my home - with very little warning! It became routine for me to entertain toddlers and children whilst their parents took to the dance floor and I loved it.
Ever since then I have wanted to work in childcare. The impact we can have on a child’s life is immeasurable. I believe we play a fundamental role in shaping our future generations. A child is so earnest and enticed by the world around them and what it entails. I love being a part of the exciting journey of raising happy, healthy and kind human beings.
I remember well the difficulty in making my decision to work with a family or in a Montessori setting, and why I ultimately decided to work with a family.
I was with a family full-time with two visually impaired boys who were three and five years old at the time.
I found it to date one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. If it weren’t for the boys I would have never been as aware of the experiences of those with disabilities. To create an environment that was both safe but exciting required innovation. The onus was on me as their carer to facilitate their needs without disadvantaging them, and allowing them to experience the world as freely as every child deserves to.
It was in this role that I realised the power we have as childcare practitioners to make a positive impact on both a child and their family. I realised then how varied my role would be depending on the specific needs of that individual child, this excited me more than anything: the varying demands of my role are challenges I enjoy.
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What is your educational background?
I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in Montessori education (level 7). I have extensive experience working with newborns and children up to nine years of age. My roles have been diverse - from maternity nursing to nannying visually impaired children and have experience in family household management and assistant roles.
I now work for families privately which I couldn’t enjoy more; every day throws a different hurdle at you. I love the hustle and bustle of a family and being a part of every aspect of a child’s life. It’s hard to put on paper the connection one forms when working in a family. I have such incredible relationships with all my former families and they will remain friends for life.
How did you find your current position?
When I decided to move to the Cayman Islands with my partner, my first move was contacting all the private international agencies in London/ New York/ Palm Beach etc. which provide all nanny jobs working for families looking for highly qualified household staff. There were two roles I was considering when I stumbled across a British family with twins living here on a Caymanian site. I contacted them and immediately we clicked. I now have amazing three-year-old twins in my charge - the rest is history.
What does a typical working day look like for you?
My working day is 7:45am to 7pm.
Typically my day consists of preparing the children for the day ahead, making breakfast, getting them ready and bringing them to nursery and making a plan for the day.
The boys attend nursery in the mornings, during which time I prepare their meals, do admin work, organise their schedule - play dates, upcoming events, appointments that need to be booked etc. I then prepare for the afternoon activities which vary each day (swimming lessons, practical life, imaginative play, phonics, numeracy practise, litter hunts, walks on the beach, animal & farm visits, library trips, excursions to the museum etc.) The twins love aeroplanes and fire engines so an example of excursions I arrange might be a tour of the local fire station, where the boys are able to explore the engines and speak to the firemen and get a real idea of what the fire officers' jobs entail.
We were also once given a tour of a private jet where the twins were able to meet the captain and see the interiors of the aircraft and cockpit to go through our list of questions.
My core objective in my role is to make every day exciting, varied, stimulating and educational.
What are the best things about your job and life in the Cayman Islands?
We are incredibly lucky to live on an island that is so beautiful. It makes my life and job so much easier with there being fabulous weather the majority of the time. We spend a lot of our time outdoors which is a major bonus, and so important for the children as it allows them to have physically active fun filled days.
What are the most difficult aspects of your job?
The hardest part of my job is being so far away from home. It has been very challenging through COVID-19 and I have to make many sacrifices.
What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future are to continue to work with children and gain as much experience and expertise as I can. I have a genuine care and passion for what I do. I feel extremely blessed and grateful to get to watch a child grow and develop into their own.
I have considered opening a Montessori school or a childcare agency so time will tell which path I take. At the moment I am very happy in the position I’m in.
Who knows what the future holds for me!
What advice do you have for a nanny or governess looking for a job like yours?
I think the advice I would give to anyone looking for a similar role is to work hard, be kind and to listen & learn as you go. Every family you encounter will be completely different, with a whole new set of expectations and set ups so it’s a very diverse role. Let yourself grow with the family you’re working with.
Always remember a parent is handing over the biggest prize possession they have and giving you 100% responsibility for their children. That’s a huge decision for a parent and it is our job to make them at ease.
I can’t emphasise enough that having a good relationship with the parents is absolutely crucial. You need to be on the same team; at times you will not agree with an approach they take but you stay professional and try to guide a situation toward the way you would like it to go gently.
To finish, I would also like to say to anyone looking at pursuing a career path like this, respect what you do and love it. You’re helping shape and raise the future generation, so it's up to you to help make them strong, caring and well-rounded individuals.
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