Taking kids abroad involves many headaches, but there are advantages too and of those for a family of living in a low-cost country, having a nanny has got to be my favorite. In China, one can be had full time for less than $300/month. I suppose some people in the US would pay that for pre-school or private school, but for one-on-one attention for your baby and someone who can give you the indulgence of a long nap or night out when you need it, it can’t be beat.
Our new “ayi” is Miss Ding. Though always coiffed and made up like she’s going to a real job, she seems to enjoy our baby and he her. She has it easy as many nanny jobs go – we don’t require cooking, cleaning or shopping and he takes long naps. She covers the gaps when my husband and I are both at work and also at those times picks his big brothers up from or drops them off at school.
Word of mouth is the best way to find someone who’s reliable. Agencies exist but can’t always be trusted themselves to thoroughly vet the nannies or to not cheat either party. After interviewing some strangers who demanded too high a salary, we found Miss Ding through the foreign experts’ office at our hotel.
She hadn’t worked as a nanny but her sister was a former hotel employee and both were well known. She also had the most reasonable salary demands (seems she has other income from somewhere) as well as the flexibility we needed for our irregular schedules. She also has the advantage of being a standard Chinese speaker and not speaking any English, which is good for the kids and myself as well.