Wednesday, November 14, 2012

When Tragedy Strikes

The New York City story where the nanny killed the two young children in her care brought out the best in people and the worse.  When parents needed support they at times received criicism for hiring a child care giver.  To me, they are the cruel ones.

I recently read a story from Meagan Francis, The Happiest Mom, where she sited the rescue stories of nannies who saved their charges.

Before you let fear of hiring a child care giver that you need in order to work, read her post and be reassured  that there are more good stories than tragedies out there.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cruises - Right for You?

I have this great client in Florida that enjoys cruises and I have been with them for 4 of them. The first time we flew to Barcelona and took a cruise from there to Italy. My charge was a very smart who turned 3 the second day of the cruise. We had a small cabin we shared and since you are not in your room that much, it was great and pretty comfortable.

Cruises have great camps for kids starting at 3 that are potty trained. My little guy was eligible the second day by age but had not mastered the potty thing. However, they let him come into the camp if I came with him. I had as much fun as he did!

There are some great things about cruises with children. There is always something to do as besides the camps there are usually the kid friendly pools with slides and other water trinkets. You are on the sea all day at least twice so there are things to do for the parents too. Besides all the food that includes fast food as well as sit down meals, feeding on a child's schedule is easy. Our Cruise line Royal Caribbean had free room service which is great when you have children who wake up hungry before the dining rooms open. Plus, if you have 2+ you can relax in your room and have breakfast.

Cruises sound "incident proof".  But this is travel folks, and anything can happen!  On our first cruise, dry lightening on a beautful Florida day caused our plane to be delayed and we missed our connection flight.  Racing thru the airport to try for another flight, our stroller falling off the cart, We finally arrrive in our destinations (did I mention the flight we managed to get didn't have any first class left and my clients who had paid for this priveledge was left in coach?) only to find our luggage was lost?!  We didn't get any luggage for 3 days and diapers were down to two? Or that cruise ships don't always sell diapers?  But that's another story....

The moral is:  Be prepared for anything!

Cruises:  don't always take in to account your children's personalities

I know the thought of clubs sounds like your kids could do without a travel nanny.  Yet, some kids are not comfortable with clubs.  They might have their own anxieties about being in groups with no kids their age or have problems being alone with strangers.

Some of my children can handle clubs for a few hours but that is their limit.  I can come and get them and we can have some fun when their parents are gone on excursions.  Or at night we can do our regular night time routine and they can be asleep without waiting for parents cutting their own fun short needing to get back to them for the night.

Know your kids personalities because a travel nanny is prepared to deal with them.  Not every ship has great kid's clubs.  Some ships have designed their kids club as an after thought.  They are small and not equippped for all ages.  Just a thought to check out the ship and the arrangements for kids.

I have taken kids to excursions suited for them while parents enjoy a more adult excursion.  Everyone has fun and I have even met the parents somewhere in the town so they can enjoy the rest of the day.

Cruises are great but go into them knowing they may not fit everyone's needs.


The life of a travel nanny ranges from a 3 day visit to a home while the parents enjoy a romantic get away to traveling with them on vacation.  But even that has variables and I am always surprised at how many ways there are to do travel!

In 2012 I had this wonderful opportunity to work with an Australian family.  I had never had an email from someone out of the country so I was intrigued.  I did all my checks to make sure it was legitimate and slowly we got to know each other.  One of the best things I ever did as this has been a wonderful travel experience with an extraordinary family.  It seems my father married this wonderful woman from Maine and as they had children, it was important to go back and spend time with their grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins.  So once or twice a year they make the journey back to Maine with the two children. " Traveling is stressful", he said, "last time we did this we only had one 18 month old child and even with my parents traveling, we were all wore out by the time we got there!"  He just wanted some traveling relief and found my website.

I would fly to Perth, Australia and have a few days to rest up and get to know the kids.  Then we would fly to Sydney, spend the night and fly early the next day to Honolulu where we would let the children rest up, get used to another time change.  From there it was to San Franciso with 2 nights to adjust before we took off for Boston.  In Boston I would say good bye and see them again in a month and make our way back reversing the route.

Jim and I on Sydney Bridge

Everyone should climb the Bridge!
The great news for me was when we went back, I could stay as long as I wanted to rest up.  So the first year I flew my husband over and we explored Australia for two weeks.  It has been my dream since a child to go to Australia so another thing was crossed off my bucket list.

Ollie sleeps through his first trip across the Pacific
One time we stayed in Orlando for a week as they attended a conference and I took care of the children.

Going back we went via Boston to Dublin, then to Vienna and then to Dubai where he had a cousin before we made our way back to Perth.  This time I took a 4 day rest in Melbourne before starting the journey back.

It's not your usual travel as this is not about the parents going out at night to have fun.  Everyone is trying to get to Maine rested up so they can begin enjoying their family for the month there.  Yet, I can coax them out during the day to do some couple shopping (clothes much less expensive in US) or just have a nice dinner together.

Everyone has different goals when they travel.  For some parents it is about having couple time and knowing your kids are being amused and happy.  They love doing family time with an extra helping hand.  When they want alone family time, I can amuse myself.

The Parkers and I will be friends long after they no longer need a travel nanny.  When you travel with a family more than once, you become an adopted member.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

When there is a "bump" in your vacation....

There is only one nightmare that haunts a traveling nanny.  In this nightmare she is rushing around, exploring new ideas of things to do, when suddenly in slow motion she sees herself falling, turning wrong, any number of scenarios where she feels the pain of an injury. The mere thought of having unbearable pain is enough to make her wake up in a sweat.  Fortunately, it is just that--a dream.

Today, however, my dream became a reality.  DH's taxi was having trouble finding the apartment and I saw it drive by and ran up the stairs and down the street trying to catch their attention. I don't know exactly what happened but I felt the pull in the muscle in the back of thigh.  I tried to shake it off thinking it was just a "kink". Two hours later trying to walk around Sydney I gave up as the pain was just too great.  DH was suffering from jet lag by then anyway so we made our way back to take a nap.  A very expensive Bridge Climb is on our agenda tomorrow and I am in panic knowing there is little chance I will be up to it. 

I can try to see if I can rearrange the climb for the last day of our trip but if they won't do it, I will be climbing in immense discomfort!  My gracious host has made up ice packs for me and as I type I am moving it around to see if I can freeze the damn muscle into submission.  Pain makes your irritable and I'm trying hard to keep the spirits up for my DH's sake. 

The only good thing in this "half full glass " nanny is that I finished the job!  So only part of the nightmare is real...

Will I make it?  Will DH hate me by the end of the week?  Stay tuned...

We walked to Darling Harbour last night or rather DH walked and I limped!  Everyone has told me how fantastic Fish and Chips are here so I just had to try some last night.  They lived up to their reputation and a full stomach took my mind off the leg for a bit.

We managed to arrive during the Rugby World Cup being played out in New Zealand and they had these huge TVs set up in the Harbour so you could eat and watch the Rugby game.  I feel like I am watching a combination of soccer and football except I am not convinced there are many rules!  It seems like you just keep pushing and shoving, running and tossing till someone can't get up anymore!  Needless to say, "I don't get it!"

The exciting thing about Sydney is the ability to walk to most places and the easy access to the tram and trains. There is absolutely no need to a car and we have managed to go from Pyermont to the inner city with no problem.  The other couple who stayed at our BnB gave us their Transportation Pass that had one day left on it.  The great thing about these passes is that it lets you do unlimited rides on the bus, trams or train.  They are worth buying if you are going to be in the city for 5-7 days.  Since we were only staying 2.5 days the first time around, we hadn't bought one.  With my knee hurting, it was great to ride rather than walk so much.  Normally I love walking a city but this time we had a shortage of time and my injury wouldn't have made that enjoyable.  

We made our way to the town hall where they have a free walking tour by volunteers.  When we got there we found the square dominated by people protesting support with the Mothers Against Wall Street Protest in NYC.  Imagine coming half way around the world to find support for a US protest!  It was interesting talking to them and seeing their added agenda for the problems Australians are having with the new immigration laws.  Sound familiar?!  We figured the tour was cancelled as the grounds were filled so we explored a bit on our own.  The parks in the middle of the city are gorgeous and peaceful.  We took a tour of the History Museum and there were a lot of parents with children from 3 to teens and I watched the children to see if this would be enjoyable to them.  The 5-12 year olds seem to enjoy it the most.

There are delightful cafes along the way and DH and I love the black and whites which is coffee with milk.  They use steam milk so it's more like a latte and we are becoming addicted to them!  It's such a beautiful day we walk back to Darling Harbour and take the train back to Pyermont.

Later that night we are off to experience the revolving Tower Restaurant where it is advertise you can see the complete city by the time the meal is done.  It is very pricey at about $65 each but it's a tourist attraction and I figured something to say "you did".  Plus I wanted to experience it so I could advise my readers/parents.   The good news:  the view is terrific and I love seeing a city at night.  For those who want to experience a day time view, try the lunch time.  The bad news:  the food is pretty mediocre, the service almost non-existent.  It is a buffet so I did expect to wait on myself though remember to take a good look where you are sitting as it does revolve!  But there were things like ordering the drinks that took forever and then one was incorrect and basically indifference to the patrons.  Would I do it again?  Probably...if it was my first time in Sydney.   But I might just do the tower view and skip the lunch/dinner!

We took a harbour cruise that included lunch the next day.  A harbour cruise is a must as the view is gorgeous!  We ended up paying about $65 each but we were trying to cram in as much as we could on our last day.  To be honest, take the ferry over to to Manly Beach for practically nothing.  Enjoy a walk around to the shops and cafes.  We enjoyed our little Majestic Cruise and the lunch was actually quite good.  I have no regrets as our time was limited but next visit I will definitely do the Manly Ferry.

Our two and half days in Sydney have been busy but I am excited about taking off for Broken Hill the next day.  I had finally managed to secure a rented car with Bayswater Rentals.  They have the best deal in town for insurance rates!  They are not at the airport which was fine with us as we were leaving from the city.  They would be worth taking a taxi to your hotel and later renting from them if you need a car rental.  All the cars are white and have this "No Bird" logo on them.  I had wondered where that came from and our taxi driver enlightened us with the story.  It seems years ago in the early days of Sydney, escort services were shown as rental cars that "came with the bird(girl)".  Eventually rental cars became respectable and the woman who founded this rental put on the logo "no birds" meaning all you get is a great little car!  Taxi drivers have the best stories!

Next:  Our journey to the Outback....