So New Years Resolutions…

Every year we set out identifying our New Years Resolutions whether it’s to be healthier, exercise more, loose weight or stop smoking….. I don’t know about you but what ever I decide to focus on as my New Years Resolution I normally fail to achieve even before January is out. Which is why the last few years I haven’t bothered to focus on specific New Years Resolutions instead I set more realistic goals to make sure I keep doing the things I love and enjoy. It also links in to my last post about work life balance and helps me focus on the things that are important to me.

This year my main focus overall is to continue to establish a more effective work life balance by:

Personal aims:

1. Seeing more of my family and friends on a regular basis.

2. Traveling to at least 3 new places this year. (This is one I’ve done for the last 2 years and it’s be so unbelievably worth it).

3. Read at least one book a month. I love reading but at times life gets in the way and I forget just how much I like reading until I finally sit down to read again.

4. Once a month I’m going to try do a class in something I’ve never tried before. Last year I used the website Obby to do a flower arranging class and also a bookbinding class in which I made a lovely notebook so it’s definitely something I want to try more of.

Work based aims:

1. Plan more home based activities for the twins I look after. This is my first job looking after twins, I normally start doing arts and crafts with children from 1 year old and I have done some with the girls but now they are 15 months I feel it’s time to start doing more. I’m hoping there will be a tuff tray waiting for us when I go back to work this week as I have loads of ideas.

2. I want to focus on a learning development plan for the little boy I look after who was born 3 months premature. I feel like it will be helpful to see how he is getting on and if there are areas I can focus on with him.

3. Limiting the extra work I take on so that I don’t get too over worked and tired and ensure I can still put 100% effort and attention into the children I look after.

So fingers crossed this time next year I can look back at this post and say I’ve achieved most of my aims and had a good year.

Happy New Year to you all x

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Being a nanny and achieving the ideal work life balance.

I’m just going to start by saying achieving the ideal work life balance is not something I think I have succeeded at yet BUT I am working on it.

I gave up live in nannying as I felt being 26 I was at an age where I needed a bit of separation from work as well as more privacy the added bonus at the time was being able to agree Monday to Friday working hours. I went from doing 60+ hours a week as live in nanny to doing 40 hour weeks Monday to Friday. To start with I thought yes I’ve cracked this work life balance thing. Well it was short lived. I was soon approached by another family who needed about 10 hours help a week which the naive me thought it’s only 10 hours a week of course I’ll help you. Then a third family needed help for about 4 hours a week which again I agreed to. It’s only after a few months of this that I stopped and realised that these jobs on their own are not that much out of the working week but in fact when I looked at the hours I was doing it was in fact a total of 58 hours and yes I had weekends off but sometimes I would be asked to babysit so I was left with little time for myself and the time I did have I didn’t want to do anything as I was tired from working all week. So I had failed to establish a work life balance in this case.

So you would think attempt number two may have worked out better. Well initially it did. I did 36 hours for one family and 4 hours for another making a 40 hour working week. Which was great I finally felt like I had it sussed and sustained this for a year.

Until I discovered an app called Bubble which was a platform for parents and babysitters to connect to each other and at the start I was offered sits quite slowly and infrequently but before long I was getting 2 or 3 every day and having to turn down loads which meant I was now doing maybe 4 or 5 evening sits a week on top of my working week.

Then an opportunity arose through a family I knew to help their friend who had a premature baby who was on oxygen and fed via nasogastric tube. Obviously with my paediatric nursing background I was keen to help them and at the start it was kept quite casual just a few hours here and there but I grew attached to the little boy and the mum became comfortable with me so more and more hours were added. So I was now doing 60 hour weeks with 3 or 4 evening babysits. My free time was disappearing very quickly.

I was then approached by a lovely mum who runs her own company from home called International Elf Service if you have not heard of them you really should check them out. Anyway she wanted to know if I could help her in the run up to Christmas at this point I could only offer weekend help to her which she keenly accepted. Which meant I was basically working 7 days a week with hardly any time to myself some weeks I struggled to find time to have showers and wash clothes. I ended up skipping meals as I never had time to go shopping let alone prepare meals. My energy levels were dwindling and although I honoured all the hours I had committed to everyone I could feel that my abilities to work well and the way I should be were deteriorating.

I knew something had to change. Firstly I set my availability to unavailable on Bubble until after Christmas explaining that I was fully booked and unable to take on anyone else. Which meant for the time being I had my evenings back.

The International Elf Service work is slowly tailing off so I have more time back at weekends.

Which leaves me with just my weekday commitments and although it looks like after Christmas I will be working 60 hour weeks doing 7-7 Monday to Friday I have promised myself I will keep my evenings and weekends free for myself. Obviously from time to time I will do babysitting but I will definitely not take on as much and I will be much more selective.

I guess what I have learnt it that:

1. It is ok to say NO! People will understand and it’s not solely your responsibility to provide childcare to everyone that asks for your help.

This is something I struggle with and I’m sure I will still fall into the trap of guilt and accept the work when In fact I should say no and do something for myself.

2. When people ask you to work or to help them say you need to check your availability and get back to them. This gives you a chance to look at your availability and also look at how much work you have as a hole and if you are happy to give up your free time to help.

Certainly something I do regularly is accept work here and there as it’s just 2 or 3 hours help but then when I stop to look at what my working week will be I realise I have no time for myself.

3. Try and plan activities, classes or social events for your self in advance so that you know you have time for your self booked in. That way when the weekend comes round you have something fun to look forward to instead of more work that creeps in as you had free time and felt guilty saying no.

I have started to use a website called Obby which is great so far I have done a flower arranging class and a bookbinding class. I will definitely be doing more next year.

I think the main thing is to take time to make sure you are allowing time for yourself each week and that you don’t suddenly find yourself working all hours of the week. Most importantly remember it is ok to say no. ☺️

At 29 achieving a work life balance is something I am still aiming for but I feel that this year I have learnt some valuable lessons and hopefully in 2018 I’ll have more time for me, my friends and my family.

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So why Nannying?

In September 2010 I completed University and graduated with an advanced diploma in Paediatric Nursing, you would think the next obvious progression in my career would be  to find employment as a staff nurse. Well in fact I didn’t even explore the idea of finding a staff nurse role, about half way through my final year I had decided that instead of going straight into nursing I would take a gap year and travel round Australia.

So in October 2010 I headed off to Brisbane with a backpack and only £500 to my name. For someone who likes routine and security this was pretty out of  character. After a few months travelling I ended up in Melbourne. It was here money started running low, and no I wasn’t still living off the initial £500 that would have been pretty impressive I had found fruit picking working in Queensland. With money running low I decided I had to find work in Melbourne I applied for live out nanny jobs and quite quickly had interest, I arranged to meet with a mum who had two daughters who were 3 and 5 years old. I can some up this experience in one word….. testing! The mum was highly strung and very demanding, the girls were rude, didn’t listen and had absolutely no respect for me. I could tell after the first day it wasn’t for me but thought I should stick with it and see how it goes. Before I was due to go back to them I received an email asking to change to the following day which I replied to and accepted, I heading to their house on the agreed day and time only to be addressed with confusion as to why I was there and why I hadn’t come the day before. I walked in and saw another nanny looking after the girls so the mum asked me to set the table for a dinner party, well this isn’t really my domain but out of pure desperation for money I thought I would just do it. Whilst cracking on with the table decorating I could see the girls running rings round the nanny and she often shot glances of disbelief at me, I ended up being glad I was asked to decorate the table rather than look after then girls. Needless to say that was the last time I went to their house.

Therefore I was back on the job hunt. I sat in the hostel on Grey Street scouring job ads, I applied to a few but there was one that sounded ideal so I rang the number there was no answer so I left a voicemail message, about a week later I received a call from the family asking what position I had applied for instantly I was like oh no not again what is with families in Melbourne. Anyway we chatted and she sounded lovely so we arranged a time for me to go meet them. When I turned up there were two boys 4 years and 2 years old running round I was instantly welcomed and their youngest was very open and keen to show me his Dora the Explorer doll I immediately relaxed and had a lovely chat to the parents. After a weeks trial the rest is history, I ended up moving in with them for 9 months until my visa expired and I had to return home. Three weeks after starting to work for them the mum had their third son who I looked after from only 5 days old. It was a busy and chaotic household at times but there was no doubt it was always fun and welcoming. I couldn’t have asked for a better family to start off my nannying career with. Nearly 7 years on and I am still very much in contact with them and consider the boys as little brothers who are now 11, nearly 9 and nearly 7 years old. the highlight of my year is my annual visit to see them.

Since then I have worked for three families full time one of which I still work for as a live out nanny and then alongside my last two roles I have worked for two families part time. My current full time family have twin girls who I have nannied for since they were a year old and my part time family has one 10month old little boy who has allowed me to dip back into some of my nursing background so my uni days weren’t a complete waste of time. I will do a post in more detail about what this involves.

So there we have it, that was my route into being a nanny, It wasn’t a career I thought I would end up in but I don’t look back on it and cherish every day as lets face it in nannying no day is the same. Of course there are bad days but those special moments completely make up for that.

Check back for updates, stories, reviews and advise on my experience as a nanny and most importantly the adventures I have as a London Nanny.

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