Ever wondered what it’s like to be an au pair? This week SitterCycle spoke with working nanny and former au pair about her experience and her advice for beginning nannies.
This podcast is part of our “Nannies Like You” series, where we interview working nannies about their tips and strategies for navigating life as a nanny and giving parents the inside tip on finding a professional nanny.
Cynthia on becaming an au pair
1:05 — Meet Cynthia Rosemberg Pagan. She’s originally from Lima, Peru and has worked in the US as an au pair and nanny for the past seven years.
2:01 — What led you to become a nanny?
3:02 — “When I went to visit [my mother who was working in the States as a nanny], I saw how she’d interact with the kids and how she’d become a member of the family. That’s what made me want to be a nanny.”
3:52 — How did you find your first job as an au pair?
5:01 — “I was like, ‘Mom, I really want to do this [au pair program],” and she was like, “But you’ll have to take a year off school.’ But I thought it would be a great experience.”
6:20 — “I think because I was here before and I had experience with being in the US and exposure to this culture, [families] liked that. That’s really unusual in au pairs. That and I had over 800 hours of childcare experience in the field.”
7:10 — How much did your educational background help you in your career as a nanny?
7:41 — “[Education] helps you learn to be responsible. It helps you learn to organize schedules. It helps you set milestones that you have to accomplish..”
Adjusting to nanny life in a new country
9:45 — “I was lucky because my host mom was very sweet. She stayed with me or to weeks, training me on everything. Like the bottle. We don’t use formula in my country; we nurse the babies, so that was different for me.”
12:00 — “in my home country, they sold it to me as you’re going to be like part of the family. You’ll be like a sister. You won’t do laundry. You will travel with the family. You will just play with the kid…The reality i you’re actually that kid’s nanny. You have to do that kid’s laundry. You have to work 45 hours a week. It’s true that you travel a lot and that it’s a wonderful experience, but the first week I was confused. Should I play with he baby?”
13:00 — “I didn’t know how to recycle. We don’t do that in my country.”
What would your advice be to a parent who is thinking about getting an au pair?
14:30 — “[The au pair] not going to be someone who is a professional. It’s not going to be someone who has had a lot of experience before. It’s going to be a part of your family, and you have to understand that this is not her first language. Things can get confused or the au pair.”
15:20 — Always ask your au pair what kind of food she likes.
15:50 — “Make sure you can afford an au pair. That means a nice room and a bathroom and paying for the courses.”
Making the transition from being an au pair to being a nanny
16:20 — “I took English classes, because i wanted to finish my English, and I really wanted to learn CPR.”
17:20 — “When I was an au pair, I met a lot of nannies, and I was like,’Wow! They make a lot of money!’…I had a lot of experience already.”
18:30 — “When I was interviewing with families, they were like, ‘Wow! You cook?! That’s great!’…Everybody’s different, but I was open to cooking and food shopping, because I really enjoy it.”
Cynthia on finding work-life balance while working as a live-in nanny
21:00 — [on being a live-in nanny and work life balance] “I was working 70 to 75 hours per week…It was hard for me, but at the same time, I saved a lot of money. It’s good for nannies who are thinking, ‘oh my god, the rent is too much.’
21:42 — “It’s like dating. You have to find the right match. I mean, you live with them, and you cannot be like, ‘Oh, I’m not going to tell them my life.’ They’re like your family.”
22:30 — “It helped me a lot to have dinner [with my nanny family] at least once a week and tell them about our day. And writing about that in my nanny book.”‘
A Great Tip: Using your nanny journal
23:00 — Cynthia on using the nanny journal to figure out what her charge’s allergies
How do you improve communication between you and your nanny family?
25:00 — [on bad nanny/family match-ups] “I think that the biggest issue is that some nannies do it for the money, and they don’t take it the way that they should…They don’t sit down with the parents and tell them about their day…In my experience, I’ve had great communication with the parents because I really enjoy it.”
28:18 — “It’s always good to go back to the contract and see what you’re expecting and what you’re expected to do.”
28:40 — “Sit down together and get excited about the child’s milestones.”
29:00 — Being a live-in nanny is like being part of the immediate family; being a live-out nanny is more like being part of the extended family
Cynthia on finding a new job
32:09 — “My current nanny role is very different from my old one. Now I’m mainly just taking care of the baby and doing the baby’s laundry if I have time.”
33:00 — “My last mom boss wrote me a recommendation on this site where all the moms who are looking for nannies go,and the next day I had like 20 emails from families offering me job! I had to choose between families.”
34:00 — “The recommendations made a big difference.”
What’s your favorite part of being a nanny?
35:20 – “It’s so wonderful seeing all of the kid’s milestones, growing with the family, and looking forward to the next day. I love being a nanny. You contribute so much to the family, and that makes me so happy every day. And now that I’m live-out, I’m so happy to come home.”
36:00 — wrap-up
Cynthia Rosemberg Pagan is a Boston-based nanny who has been working in the childcare industry for seven years. She’s was grew up in Lima, Peru, went to chef’s school for one year, and went on the study childhood education for 3 years at University of the Sacred Heart Lima. After that, she came to the United States and worked as an au pair for a year, and she’s been working with children in the states ever since. Her year as an au pair was featured on the Tumblr myaupairexperience.tumblr.com. She spent a year and a half working as a childcare assistant at the kids’ camp at Lake Tahoe Resorts, and she’s had several successful nanny jobs.