Glamorous life of a live-in nanny
HOW does living in a mansion in Cabo, Mexico, complete with an infinity pool and cinema, perched on the edge of the Pacific Ocean sound?
Amazing, of course, and even more so when it's for free.
Only catch is you have to look after kids, and while the job of a nanny can be demanding, Sarah Kinghorn wouldn't have it any other way - after all, she gets paid to travel the world.
Since starting her live-in nanny career in Sydney at 19, Ms Kinghorn has travelled to more than 20 countries. She has spent spring in France, Christmas in Switzerland and had a couple of weeks poolside in Mauritius. She's lived in some beautiful homes which would otherwise have been out of her reach.
Her first overseas trip was to the Aspen Mountain Ski Resort (popular among celebrities), but her favourite spot has been Mexico.
"We stayed in this incredible mansion that had nine bedrooms and stunning views of the ocean," she said.
"It's funny the things you get used to, like switching on the fireplace in the upstairs cinema from my room - using the app on my phone - so that it would be toasty when I started my movie.
"On average, I do about four international trips per year, usually about three weeks long, with a lot of quick domestic trips as well."
The now 32-year-old said all expenses are paid for, from flights and transport, accommodation, food, even a local SIM card and work-related activities, such as museum entries.
"The standard for accommodation is for the nanny to be provided a separate bedroom, or to be paid for overnight hours if sharing with children," she told news.com.au
Ms Kinghorn agrees it's a job not suited to everyone as it comes with great responsibility, but for her, "travelling with kids makes you slow down and really notice the little things".
"I love watching babies respond to new languages," she said.
Ms Kinghorn gets paid roughly $35 per hour, with one day off per week.
"I am paid my full hourly rate for every hour worked, which can be up to 24 hours a day, six days a week," she said.
"In my free time I get to do whatever I feel like. Sometimes that's exploring the city or just taking advantage of the (usually 7-star) hotel facilities."
"In Geneva, myself and another nanny (there's usually one nanny for each child) would spend every evening after work at the hammam (Turkish spa) in the hotel. They had free products to test and we just thought, 'Whatever, let's stay here all night.'"
It makes dealing with tantrums, scraped knees and fussy eaters a lot easier knowing you have a luxurious and blissful ending to your day.
While the locations might be exotic, the days for Ms Kinghorn can be long and hectic.
For starters, when she travels she has sole responsibility for children during long-haul flights, including crying babies and toddlers. She has to load mountains of luggage into taxis and trains while keeping everyone safe.
"When friends and family suggested I should become a nanny, I told them that was a silly idea … it then turned into a full-time job, which turned into a 15-year career and I love it."
Ms Kinghorn said a lot of the families come from corporate working backgrounds and are either travelling for work and need help, or simply need a break.
"Some have been high net worth, and others have been your 'average family next door'," she said.
Despite being blown away by most of the accommodation she has stayed at, Ms Kinghorn recalls a jaw-dropping moment with one of her more wealthier clients.
"They desperately needed hair ties, and so paid the hotel concierge $300 to drive to the nearest location - an hour away - to pick up a pack worth $5, if that," she said.
Travel nannies are not uncommon. According to comparative website finder.com.au which surveyed 2005 parents, one in three families bring a nanny to join them on holidays.
The research also revealed 35 per cent of Aussie families who've taken the kids on holiday have taken the trip with grandma in tow.
"That's when I also get free time, when we visit grandma on the trips. They usually want to look after their grandkids and that's when I get to do more exploring," Ms Kinghorn said.
The Nanny Collective owner Daria Jelcic said the majority of her agency database of 500 nannies, including Ms Kinghorn, were placed in roles required to travel with families either domestically, internationally or both.
"There is a growing desire for families to have support when they are travelling, both on long-haul flights and then again at their final destination," Mrs Jelcic said. "It gives parents the chance to have an extra set of hands when on the road but also to give them some quality child-free time on their holiday.
"Some of the responsibilities range from organising and settling the children into their accommodation to organising child-based activities during the holiday.
"One of the nannies on our database was even responsible for planning a child's birthday party in two different cities as they were not yet sure which would be their next destination."
She said while travel nanny roles tend to be popular due to their appeal, it comes with great responsibility.
"Many families require care (for the nanny to work) 24/6 and sometimes even more. They work long hours, they can never know what to expect at their next destination, they may need to jump from one environment to the next and yet still have the responsibility of providing continuity and consistency for the little ones."
CHANGING ROLE OF A NANNY
Mrs Jelcic, who comes from a teaching background, mainly recruits nannies who focus on early childhood education, as the traditional role of a nannies has shifted.
"While the focus is still primarily caring for children, we are finding that families' needs are changing and when they can, they like to combine the responsibility of educating children (academically - tutoring, teaching), managing busy households and acting as personal assistants to parents," she said.
"Most parents of younger children like for the nanny's sole focus to be the care and engagement of their child however once the children reach school age (and have their music classes and sports training to attend) parents begin looking more for someone who can manage the day-to-day schedules, while of course ensuring that the children are safe, well cared for and enjoying themselves."