Big Girl Pants are ON

An excerpt from an email I sent to brother Reece a few days ago:

“Life could be better. A lot. Don’t worry I’m wearing my big girl pants! I’d let you know if it was anything serious…I can honestly say I feel grown up. Life is BEING experienced!”

Every word was the truth. There was a little sigh of relief in letting big brother know that my trip wasn’t ALL AMAZING and not everything I was doing these days could be chalked up to fun. It was Thanksgiving weekend and I was in now in Dannemora (about 45mins from Central Auckland) and I had not shared with any family members that my life got was getting a bit more adventurous. The timing of my situation coincided with Canadian Thanksgiving making me want to reach out a little bit to family. Not enough to worry them but just enough to keep them someone what in the loop!  (Reece, Tyler, Lisa, and Helle thanks for emailing me about your Thanksgivings! I ABSOLUTELY love emails and hearing about the day to day stuff! xox)

So how did I leave Mt. Roskill and move to Dannemora? What happened and why I am no longer in Dannemora right now is what this blog will be about.

Pretty much as soon as I arrived in New Zealand I knew I should look for a new family. My spirits were shrinking as the days went on. I’m a fighter and I hate giving up, so for me to recognize that enough was enough was a huge step! I knew that I could “put up” with the family I was living with but I wanted BETTER for myself. I didn’t want to “give up” on this family but I also did not want the next 9 months leaving me bitter and depressed. With encouragement from friends I concluded that I really had to step up my search for a new position. I posted an ad online and kept a watchful eye out for anyone needing an Au pair   I received a response from a lady seeking an Au pair to help her in her daycare. She lived in Dannemora which meant it would be a further distance for Emzie and I to commute. That said, I thought working in a daycare would be great experience and would look awesome on a resume. The accommodations sounded lovely as the lady had just moved into a 6 bedroom house. Laundry, queen bed, HEAT, TV lounge area, internet and access to an automatic car were all included. We emailed back and forth a few times and the lady said no interview was required. There was a 1 week trial period to see how I got on with the children. The only thing not included was food! It may not sound like a big issue but FOOD is SUPER expensive here so that and the location were too factors that I had to consider. Emma was heading to Australia (meaning no weekend relief) and I really wanted to get out of the living situation I was currently in. I agreed to give this new job a shot! At first the lady invited me to meet her at her house, but quickly made arrangements for her to pick me up as Mt. Roskill was quite a ways off from where she resided.

Having never met my new “boss” I was quite anxious but ecstatic to be leaving and heading to a daycare environment. The lady was over 30 minutes late picking me up so I was extremely on edge as to whether or not she would be a no show. Having had previous interviews cancelled and job offers filled I had put all my eggs into this one basket. She pulled up in an old mini-van and I instantly knew it was her. She was 60 years old lady driving a minivan that had definitely done many days of carpooling. The inside had not seen a vacuum in years. All this excited energy was running through my body as we drove away. To my surprise she informed me that we were making a stop at the ferries to pick up a young man from Ireland. He too would be moving in and working as an Au Pair. Was she hiring 2 people for 1 position? Was she getting more kids in the daycare? He was only staying 3 months where as I was staying for 6 months so maybe she just wanted the overlap? Questions were running through my mind as she was explaining her expectations as she drove us both home. She explained that she had over 100years of experience working with kids: she was a teacher, owned a daycare, helped employ Au pairs in Auckland. Recently she had sold her Daycare center and was working on growing her home based daycare. She was licensed to look after 6 children and she currently had 3 and would have a 4th child by the end of the month. Not only did she hire Au pairs but she also boarded international students and couples and taught English and tutored from her home. She was always busy and was working on trying to retire in 5 years. She told us she just moved into a bigger house 3 weeks ago so there was lots of room for everyone. She has a lot of experience with Au Pairs and nannies as she has employed over 100 but at least 70 have only lasted a week. Hence the one week trial, if she likes you, you sign a three month contract and have to have a criminal record check conducted by the Ministry of Children and Families.

Long story short –even though she had a brand new huge house to live in we did not agree with how she ran the daycare. This was fine as she let us know she did not like either of us either. She had a 6 bedroom house with a huge front yard and backyard yet she was running the daycare from her garage! The kids and the Au pairs spent their time in the garage all day while at home. The only reasons we were to go inside the house were to get running water (dishes, and drinks) or to use the bath room. It was just so weird. We were meant to believe we had access to the car but soon realized when we weren’t working the car was off limits. We walked to the nearby grocery store and unhappily bought our groceries. We both commented on how we felt we were both  in college again living off cheap noodles and bread.

After the first few hours of living there both the Irish man and I were looking for other work. The car had 2 seat belts that were broken and the car seats looked ancient and very unsafe. The seat belt that was strapping the kids into the seats were twisted and not nearly tight enough. The daycare itself had so many safety hazards  from no childproof cupboards to tools lying around to sharp edges.. It was completely NOT at all what we had expected. The ad was so FAR in left field from what we were dealing with. After the first night of looking after the children the Irish guy was told he wasn’t what she was looking for. As soon as he told me I knew there was no way I was living out here alone with her. So I spoke with her and asked if we had been “applying for the same job” and if so, he could have my position as I was looking for an Au pair job closer to the North Shore. She told me even if I left she still wasn’t going to be hiring him. Then the very next afternoon she told me she was through with me too and didn’t need me. It’s a shame because the 3 kids were so much easier to look after  than the previous 2 I had. I preferred tag teaming them with the Irish lad but when he left it was still manageable to look after the 3 on my own.  So that was my three day experience in Dannemora.

This blog became WAY longer than what I was planning on typing. So I will do another blog about where I am at now…  mentally and physically! Thanks for reading!

Still smiling,
Amanda

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