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My life as a summer nanny for the super-rich

Wonder what it's like to become a nanny for a rich family? One nanny shares the pros and cons of working for and traveling with the super-wealthy and their kids.

Nannies for super-rich families look like they have it all: wearing designer clothes, traveling by private jet and relaxing by the pool of an exotic resort … but there has to be a catch, right?

Candi Vajana of The Funny Nanny has been a nanny to wealthy families for more than 10 years. After two years of training, she took her first job as a live-in nanny when she was only 19. But even living with the family during training couldn’t prepare her for what was to come. Here, she’s sharing her thoughts on the myths and facts about what it’s like to work for the super-rich … and whether it’s really as glamorous as it seems.

Myth 1: Your family’s swanky summer vacation means it’s your swanky vacation, too.

Fact: Sure, you’re in a vacation destination, but you’re working 24/7.

Vajana explains: “You go to all these places, but you don’t really see anything because you’re with the children. You go to activities and shows, spend time at the beach or on a yacht — but it’s definitely not your vacation. You have to allow your employers to have a good time, and it’s not at all important whether or not you have a good time.”

Myth 2: Summer nannies can make an insane amount of money.

Fact: In some cases, high-priced nannies can bring home bigger paychecks than pediatricians.

Vajana explains: “I work year-round, but my annual salary is in the six figures. However, like with many jobs, the higher the salary, the higher the expectations and the higher the demands. It’s a lot of pressure, especially during the summertime, and you’re expected to do much more than just child care. We’re constantly traveling, and I’m fully responsible for getting the children ready for trips, which means clothes shopping, immunizations and planning activities. The parents are not involved, which means I’m also in charge of packing and coordinating the children’s schedules, no matter what. Even if a child is sick, you have to travel. That means I still have to pack, even if one of them is throwing up and the other one wants to play — and then I’m taking care of them on the plane.”

There have also been plenty of, well, let’s just say uncomfortable moments Vajana has had to deal with while living with families during the summer. Imagine one of the children’s parents going through your personal dresser drawers on your days off, or having your room in the basement — where the dad tends to wander around in his underwear! Yikes!

Bigger paychecks come with greater responsibilities and higher expectations. Even though it would be awesome to make six figures, it’s also important to consider how much more work you’d have to take on to earn it.

Myth 3: Nannies for the super-rich get the super-rich lifestyle to match.

Fact: Although they often make more money, summer nannies for the super-rich generally aren’t living like the Kardashians.

Vajana explains: “Instead of feeling like a celebrity, some nannies feel lonely and isolated since we’re bound to strict confidentiality agreements with the family. So, although I’ve met presidents, dined with royalty and been invited to a celebrity’s home, I’m not able to share my stories with anyone. In fact, I’ve been so invisible that I’ve entered foreign countries and my passport hasn’t been stamped. I’ve been to remote and beautiful locations, and nobody has known that I’ve been there. I’ve attended very important events, but my name is not on the guest list. Why? Because I’m only at these events for one reason: to ensure the children are seen at their best and to deliver the best possible care to my charges and their extended family. I’m the help, and sometimes that hurts my sense of pride.”

Yet, nannies for super-rich families are exposed to a lifestyle many of us can only dream of. You might be willing to give up a little of your personal life if it means being able to take a private jet to New York for lunch and then another to San Francisco for dinner with the children, of course.

Myth 4: Summer nannies get some personal time on their family’s vacations.

Fact: Most high net worth families who decide to take a nanny on a summer vacation will expect you to stay with them the whole time, day and night. You’ll be on duty the whole time. And most likely, you’ll have the children sleeping in your room, too.

Vajana explains: “During the summer, I never make my own plans and basically live with the family to make sure their summer is amazing. But it’s the great kids, the constant sense of adventure and, let’s be honest, the money that make me do it over and over again. Plans change at the drop of a hat. One minute, we’d be going on vacation to Spain, and the next minute we’d actually be going to Antarctica, so obviously that meant I had to change the whole suitcase! I also have to be extremely adaptable. One summer, I was on vacation with a family who had three young children. We spent a fair amount of time at sea, so it was really challenging because if you’re not in the water, you’re on the boat with the children, with nowhere else to go. You really have to be able to go with the flow, no matter what the situation brings.”

Myth 5: It’s a fabulous life.

Fact: The level of gratification you get out of the job depends on how you perceive it and the family you work for.

Vajana explains: “The thing I find most rewarding is being able to travel to new places with the children and opening their eyes to new cultures. It’s also great to see them develop and grow into little people. And my career has broadened my horizons, too. Being a nanny for a rich family has allowed me to live in six countries on two different continents, and I’ve learned to speak two languages fluently and dabble in a few more. I’ve built on the experiences from my roles and I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to live and connect with different cultures around the world. As a former HR director and teacher, I love to continuously learn and help others discover skills they did not think they had.”

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