Traveling Nannies... What Should They Expect?

opinion 2 Question for all of the experienced professional nannies. What is it like for you when you travel with families? I'm currently on location with a family I work for - my charge just turned 1 year old and her parents are at a conference for the week so I'm here to basically watch the baby. I didn't really have any idea what I should ask for or insist on when I agreed to this, but this is what I have experienced so far...

I came from a different state than the family so when I got into the airport I had to get myself a taxi over to the hotel. The parents apparently forgot that a room key is needed to make it past security near the elevators so I had to call momboss who had to call dadboss and then I had to wait for him to come down and let me in. The room is a suite, 2 bedrooms, but the bedrooms are for the parents and baby, and the business partner who is also in town for the conference. There was supposed to be a pull-out couch in the living room area for me, but there's not, so I am sleeping on a cot next to the couch. When they said living area, I thought it would be an actually separate living room, but instead it is the area right next to the main door to the suite.

When dadboss told me about the problem with the cot/couch he told me that I basically had the option of sleeping on this cot, or they had looked into getting me my own room in a hotel right down the street, because apparently the one we're in is full. He then went on to insinuate how inconvenient it would be and how it would be a really big added expense for them, but if that's what I wanted they would do it. Of course I felt like I couldn't say I wanted that.

I was assured that I would have plenty of time to sleep and everyone would go to bed early, but it's currently 9:00, which is 12:00 our home time and everyone is just now heading to their rooms. Dadboss is still out on the town so he is going to come in at who knows what time and walk right through what is essentially my bedroom to get to his room.

They never really give me definite on/off times. Like tonight for example. I got in this afternoon, went out to lunch with the group, and then was left with the baby in the afternoon around 3. Momboss was supposed to be home in a few hours, as 5 be baby's bedtime at home, and she sleeps in the parents' bed and does not sleep well when they aren't around. However, she didn't get back until around 8, and baby (who is actually sick right now too) spent the time alternating between sleeping and screaming.

I'm sharing a bathroom with the business partner and I'll have to go through her room to get to it. She's very nice but I'm still a little bit uncomfortable with it. In the morning dadboss and the partner will be leaving by 8, so she'll be using the bathroom from 7-8. Momboss wasn't really clear about when she will be leaving, just that it will be sometime after them. I have no idea when I'm supposed to be on duty. I assume I'll get up early because of the time difference, and I have no problem being ready whenever, but I don't want to walk through her room before she's awake, and I won't be able to use it after that until 8 which is when everyone is leaving. So basically I'll be sitting out in the kitchen in my pajamas until dadboss and the partner leave.

I don't know, maybe it will get better. Or maybe traveling with families is never fun or comfortable. Does anyone have any insights you can share with me? I'd really appreciate any advice you can give me- I know I did a terrible job of laying out the job description before the trip, and I definitely wont make that mistake again. So what SHOULD traveling with a family look like?


Sympathetic Nanny said...

Wow...I have never actually traveled with a family I have worked for, but because of how close and comfortable I've been with them I cannot imagine it would be anything like what you are describing. To be honest, while you should have had a sit down with the parents before agree to do this, mapping out you responsibilities, compensation and all of the logistics, I think they are being really unreasonable and inconsiderate. I feel for are a grown woman and deserve your privacy! I would like to think that when a (nice and reasonable) family asks the nanny to accompany them on vacation, that there would be a pretty set schedule just like any other week with time off, etc. You certainly should not be expected to be working 24 hours a day, every day for the duration of the should have your own room, or at the very least your own bed for goodness sakes...this sounds awful to me, I'm sorry! Good luck...=(

Ms.Nanny said...

OP, Sounds like a tough situation. Traveling with little ones is never easy. I am not sure why the partner is staying with them when there is no room for you, I think it shows a lack of respect on your employer's part. They should have made other arrangements. Maybe DB reacted the way he did because he realizes that he made a mistake and wishes the partner had booked somewhere else to stay during the conference.

My experience traveling with the family I nanny for has only been for vacation. Once, when we stayed at a hotel for a wedding, they booked me my own room and I was incredibly comfortable and grateful. On another vacation, I was on hand to help when needed and to cover nights when they wanted to go out for dinner and the kids needed to be in bed. They also included me in fun activities that they were doing and encouraged me to enjoy myself and have daily downtime. I shared a bathroom with others on the trip (I didn't have to go through anyone's bedroom to get to it though and I felt I had plenty of privacy) and shared a bedroom with the children. I was not sleeping in a couch, there was a bed for everyone on the trip :) They provided all my meals and gave me a clear daily schedule so I would know when I was needed and could plan my downtime. They respected me by making sure I had personal space and by letting me know the daily schedule. I feel they were very generous and are an example of how employers should deal with traveling with their child(en)'s caregiver.

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

This sounds hellish. I don't generally travel with families, but when I have, I have had my own room, defined hours, and defined duties. I did not get extra pay, but these days I would ask for some additional $$.

I think the issue is less that you didn't define what the travel arrangements and duties would be prior to leaving and more that you are working for jerky people.

Fan said...

Wait, the dadboss offered to pay for a separate room for you and you refused??? Well there's your problem right there... people with no backbones are the ones who get taken advantage of.

Afraid to travel... said...

I have had both very good and very bad experiences travelling with families. I have been in situations that sound very similar to the one you are in with the only exception being that I shared an adjoining room with one of the children. When the parents went out at night I could either hang out in their bedroom (on their bed) or lie in the dark with the children. During the day was torture as well because the parents couldn't handle being out and about with the child so they assumed I couldn't either. We were allowed at the pool, in the lobby or in the hotel room. That gets really old for five days. The parents claimed that I would just be helping the mother out during the day with the child and then babysitting at night while they went out. A couple of times I claimed that I wanted to take a walk or go to the fitness center but the rest of the time I was stuck because the mother would say "Can you just watch him for a minute while I..." I couldn't claim that I had something to do or was busy because she knew full well that I wasn't. I was pissed off and exhausted by the time we got home and in fact I quit nannying for them soon after.

However, I have been to Europe, Florida, California, Caribean Islands and more local vacations with a few other families and have loved those experiences. What I have learned is that they requirements for a positive experience are #1 Agreeing with the parents general ideas of childrearing & #2 Enjoying spending time talking with the parents.

I find that I never end up having much time physically apart from the children. It helps if during the times that the parents are present, you are able to relax without being stressed out being stressed out (or embarassed) by the kids behavior or fearing for the children's safety while the parents are 'babysitting'. If you have a relationship with the parents where you are happy to chat with them a little at the end of the day, you will be more likely to be able to relax while the parents and children are present.

nycmom said...

I have traveled with several different sitters and nannies for vacations. The important issues are the ones you already seem to recognize as mistakes:

-defined hours "on" the clock and off.
-clearly discussed extra pay for the travel and extra hours.
-family pays for all travel related costs including all food for you, transport, etc.
-if you work on the flight, you get paid. if not, you don't work.
-if we rent a house, nanny gets her own room. if we stay at a hotel, we usually get adjoining rooms with double beds and she shares the room with older children (including sometimes bringing her own along).
-adequate time off upon returning to recuperate!

I think the most important issue is that you have to have a certain level of comfort AND a certain level of professional distance. You are going to be in close quarters so you need to be mutually respectful and not annoy one another too much. However, you also need to accept that your nanny would probably prefer to spend her time off hanging out by the pool than going to LegoLand.

L.C. said...

@Fan: Please do not be so harsh on the OP here...I probably would have said the same thing. The way her DadBoss phrased it, she had no choice but to say, "NO." If anything, you should blame the DadBoss for being such a selfish jerk.

OP, I do not travel w/my families, but if I did, I would prefer all expenses paid (airfare, hotel, taxi + meals.) I would also expect to be compensated for hrs worked as well as an overnight fee if I were to sleep or be responsible for the child. I think you are entitled to your own room w/a private bathroom. EEEeeek...I would not want to share a bathroom with a complete stranger.

Sarah said...

I have travelled with previous families and will be travelling with my current family next month. I have usually had to share rooms with the children but that doesn't really bother me. My current family is going away for 2 weeks, but because I'm married and have a baby, they're flying me and my daughter out separately for half the time. They even invited my husband :)

You do need to discuss hours etc, we've already done so. It makes things a LOT easier. You'll know for next time :)

Just My Two Cents Just Now said...

I agree I would not want to share a bathroom w/someone I didn't even know. And you deserve better than a cot.

the OP said...

Thanks for all of the sympathy and good advice! I know that I made mistakes when setting up this whole situation- mistakes that I definitely won't make again. I tend to be sort of a pushover so I'll have to work on that.

I definitely know what I'm looking for with my next job, and that is a healthy professional relationship where there is mutual respect and boundaries. This family is very nice and I like them as people, but we're definitely on different pages when it comes to the role of a nanny.

We're leaving here in the morning and I can't wait. I just wish everyone would go to their rooms now so I can go to sleep :)

talesfromthe(nanny)hood said...

This blog has great info on traveling with families: