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Etiquette: Governessing can make you self aware – which is a good thing as it helps you grow

Governessing makes you really aware of how you act and how easy it is for others to misinterpret your actions.  I have felt it has made me a better communicator and improved my ability to look at both sides of the situation.  I also think it has made me look at the mistakes and personalities of my parents, who I love dearly but are not perfect, and change or admit to my own actions and habits.

Etiquette: Support your Governess when she is trying to rectify behavioural issues

Show you support what your governess is saying and the behaviour plans she has put in place, and
tell her what your children best respond to.   

Do not undermine the governesses’ authority to the children. Show that you respect her in front of the kids.  

If you have issues with your Governess, discuss these with him/her in private rather than in front of the children.   

Remember kids have big ears even when they are support to be in bed or outside.

Etiquette: Flexible

Being flexible means if emergency situations or out of the normal situation occur then a governess or parent can do what needs to be done.   

It does not mean that the governess on a regular takes the clothes off the line or looks after the children for longer hours on a regular basis.  It does mean when mustering early the governess may step in a look after the kids in the morning. It may only happen in busy seasons such as mustering, marking, shearing, crutching, etc.  That is not considered regular.

The Rule:  If it happens more than twice a week then if is a regular part of the job.

Platinum Tips for Governessing - 31 to 60

Thanks to all those who contributed ... Would love to have comments, do you agree or disagree?

31.         Lamps - coloured globes in a lamp will help to keep the bugs from being attracted to your accommodation at night.
32.         Don't forget to pack a ball gown. You'd be surprised when you get to wear it...
33.         Don't take mail day for granted...
34.         If you're not from the country, don't dream up romantic illusions. Haven't come across a remotely handsome nice young male neighbour yet.
35.         Note: what you used to consider 'sexy' may change when out bush and a member of the opposite sex is few and far between!
36.         Communication is KEY! before you even start working with the kids, work out what they expect from you and what you expect from them... as long as everyone is clear about what they want/expect/accept from the start, there should be no problems!
37.         Make sure you're patient!
38.         Ambulance cover – that covers Flying Doctors (just in case) .  Flying doctors also run clinic days for you to see a GP.
39.         Is it essential to have a working with children's card to work as a govy.
40.         I know as a kid any backpacker who couldn't ride a horse ended up as my govy.
41.         Talk to your boss about who supplies what with your meals.... and if you can choose to look after yourself on weekends. 
42.         Don't eat over the house on a Sunday night after a weekend out if you have your own cooking facilities.... making conversation after a big weekend can be tiring.
43.         Don't get home on the weekend and tell your bosses gossip about other govies... what happens on a govie weekend should stay on the weekend.  Anyway gossip usually gets out without help.
44.         Get sunglasses to wear on the property (cheaper than your good ones) ... losing your $200 sunnies in the lake is not a great weekend camping.
45.         Alcohol is expensive in small country towns ... when you go home buy a couple of bottles of spirits at cheaper prices to take back on put in the cupboard until needed.  I decant mine out into smaller bottles to take in the car for weekends out.
46.         Remember it’s probably the business and private line so don’t clog it up.... remember you are running up someone else's bill.   
47.         Get your parents to call on a certain day/night all the time so that you and your bosses know that is the night they call and are expecting it ... or pray you have mobile service.
48.         Emergency no age specific birthday cards are need.  I also have 10 kids' books to give out as emergency presents...
49.         First trip to town with the boss, go and buy a broad brimmed hat if you don't have one.  Kids will help choose and won't hold back on telling you if it looks terrible.  Delightful little angels.
50.         NO WHITE clothes it turns pale brown after the first wash.   If you are lucky you will have rain water to wash in.
51.         Set up internet banking and phone banking.  Organise a credit card with a small limit to pay for things which you get posted to the property.  Get a spare key card to you account and give to your parents or someone you trust in town so they can buy stuff for you and post it out.
52.         Internet shopping is a killer in the bush.  It can become addictive and you will find you have no money to go out on the weekend.
53.         If you have a car, be prepared.  Most bosses will help you out but in the end it is yours to maintain ...carry a water bottle, oil, coolant, fan belt, fuel filter, If room 2 spare tyres.
54.         Fuel for the car will be more expensive and service stations further apart... Fill up at the last service station – Don’t forget.  Some bosses will provide some fuel.  Talk to them.  I always had my own jerry can which I left at the property full for my own emergency fuel.  If you have a Ute you can carry it.
55.         An UHF radio is a good idea. (And stickers and spot lights!)
56.         Join an auto association. (RAA, NRMA, RACQ, etc.) Get the plus or 2nd level member ship that cover 100km from town.  It may cost about $100 but it can be worth it.  Even if it is just to get the keys out of the car when you locked them in - LOL.  Get your parents to buy the membership as a Christmas present.
57.         Do up a couple of pages of photos of people at home.  I did them on white paper, laminated them and then could blue tack them anywhere.
58.         Invest in a nice sharp shovel and strategically place in easy access for when someone shouts "SNAKE"
59.         Never wear white on the trip to town OR have some overalls in the car.  Changing a flat tire in white clothes is never going to come out in the wash.
60.         A 5 minute conversation with the sexy pilot about cattle tracks on the airstrip may be the highlight of the week.

Platinum Tips for Governessing - 1 to 30

Thanks to all those who contributed ...

1.              It's hot, take shorts.
2.              Buy some water boots at Big W etc. Because you are going to be swimming or walking through mud at some stage littered with prickles, sticks and the kids will be begging for you to come. 
3.              Before you head to your new job, ask the parents what each child is into and buy then a book (reading, information or puzzle) on the subject.  A great little gift to give them on the first day in the schoolroom when you are getting to know them.
4.              Make sure during the interview stages that you pick a family that you think you'll be able to get along with, pay isn't everything.
5.              Get to know your family well before you go, become Facebook friends and all of you share videos of you and your life.
6.              If there is stuff you can't live without make sure you can take it along. I was allowed to take my dogs and it made life much easier.
7.              The kids education is your job.  Get to know them, have a giggle but remember they need to respect you when you say no. 
8.              If you think they're the wrong family for you or you won't make a good match, trust your instincts.
9.              Take a digital camera.  You will have some amazing photos to take home
10.         Go buy yourself a cheap laptop under $1000 to take with you.  Also get a Telstra prepaid wifi dongle that connects to an external aerial.  If you get phone service on property you can use it.  Or you can take it with you to town and use it when you are in for school events.
11.         Get a hobby ...take up blogging, you can share your adventure with your friends and family.  Remember don't use the work families real names, use a codename. For some good govies blogs check out or or
12.         If you have questions read the GovAust Govies Page 
13.         Shops are far away .. take personal and medical supplies to last 10 weeks.  It saves any embarrassment you may feel when shopping with your boss or coming home in the same car.
14.         Remember to take different size cases.  You need one to toss in the car when going to town for a few days for a school event.  The car will be packed up so big case won't fit for town trips.  I bought some Gidgee Smith Chest Bags  Medium Size  I can wipe the dust off and it squashes well.
15.         Pack a set of clothes for every occasion.  Clothes to get grubby, town clothes, race day clothes.
16.         Choose a job and area which appeals to you ... family and friends will have different ideas but in the end you will be the one going there.
17.         Get to know govies on your school.  Your all in the same position and will be great for social support.
18.         Pet calves always leave a warm disgusting mess at the door.  Look before walking.
19.         Feeding pet calves is not nearly as much fun at the end of the year as it was at the start.  By this time the kids will have abandoned the chore to you.
20.         Afternoon walks can keep you sane and keep the weight off from all the yummy food you are eating 5 times a day.
21.         Your bosses bedroom is always a long way from dogs who bark all night.  
22.         Take a alarm clock / radio that your MP3 player can connect to.  Drowns out barking animals, it will be great to wake up to music.
23.         The outback doesn't have many radio stations so bring music.
24.         Power blackouts take a long time to fix in the outback ... bringing a windup torch saves on batteries.
25.         Be prepared to not see much TV if you are sharing with the family.  The TV may be dominated by cartoons, news and weather.  Get a family member to tape your favourite shows and post them.
26.         Give the family space, throughout each week, in the afternoon and night to spend time as a family.  The parents need to have conversations which don't need to always include the governess.
27.         Smoko (morning and afternoon break) may look fantastic but after you have put on a clothing size the budget will be drained.
28.         Telstra Blue Tick mobile phone is the only type that get decent service along the roads and in town.  Talk to your boss or other govies about what they recommend.
29.         Buy a pair of boots that pull on and protect your feet.  My Baxter Boots, I can't live.  
30.         At some stage you will have to squat behind the car to go to the toilet ... so get use to that thought now.
 Do you have any to add?   already have thought of more for the next installment.  While even I don't agree with everyone of these it is great to have such a wide range of opinions.

Etiquette: Job Seekers need to reply to emails if they want respect (this goes for employer too)

A parent recently made contact with a person on the Resume / CV list. This is the parents explanation... "We emailed and then I sent my job description as she asked – with no reply.  Weeks have passed now and she did not have the common decency to get back to me."  

It is common courtesy to reply to future employers when they might send out their job description even if they do not think the position is right for them.  There is nothing more frustrating when you have a few people that you are contacting and trying to keep track of all the communication is hard enough without some of them not even replying to you. 

Guest Blog: A day in the life of By Lee-Anne

Welcome to our guest blog series of insights from governesses and nannies on stations sharing some of their outback station world.  

This story was written as part of a tongue in cheek series for the SA governess groups magazine the Govo Grapevine in 2003.  

*** GUEST BLOG ***

A Day In The Life Of ………….
7.10 Alarm trills.  Mind still asleep.  Well wishing anyway.  Turn off alarm

7.12 Briefly considered getting up.  Stupid idea.

7.15Grab remote control and turn on CD player.  Set sleep button
for 30 minutes.

7.45 Music turns off.  Swear briefly.  Damn it is time to get up.

8.00 Breaky completed, feeling human.  Millie (2 Y.O.) has talked her head off while I've been eating and Tanya (10 Y.O.) is brushing her teeth. Say good morning to my bosses.

8.05 Teeth brushed and computer on.  Checking emails.

8.30 Well the day starts as Tanya wanders in.  If she's singing she's happy if the outside door slams look out.

8.40 Assembly starts.  If I miss assembly my whole day gets out off kilter.  Tanya usually starts work while the messages are on in the background.

10.00 Break time.  Usually I go for a quick 15 minute walk up the flat to warm up and take in some rays.  Gets the blood pumping. Tanya usually tries to beat me on her bike.  Grab a hot Milo then head into the schoolroom.

10.30 Back to the grind.  Tanya continues working thru her list of work.  Slip in a card game on the computer if I have time.

12.10 LUNCH, Thank heavens I'm hungry.

1.10 Lunch is over all too quickly.  Lesson starts in 5 minutes. Quickly Login in and hope that we don't drop out again.

1.50 The teachers are going over time again.  Tanya and I are getting sick of lesson.  Tanya has sat properly all thru lesson.  I'll have to reward her for the good behaviour.

3.00 Schools OUT.  Thank heavens there are no meetings.  Do some
prep. for tomorrow.  Play my favourite game on the computer. Clean the bathroom.  CATS are fighting again.  Take to the big ginger bully with a broom.

5.00 Help my boss with tea be peeling the veggies.

5.30 Sit down in the old lounge and watch Neighbours,

7.00 Teas ready.  Pandemonium sweeps the kitchen as tea is being served and the kids are settling down,

8.00      Wash dishes and leave them to dry on the drainer, watch a bit more TV before I head on out to my room.  Get on the computer again,

10.30     Hop into bed and check to make sure the alarms on.  I sure hope the wind stops blowing as that piece of iron is stating to p*%$ me off.

by Lee-Anne Bright

My favourite outback blog

I have a lots of favourite blogs and if you go to my blog (  you will see a list...

... but one of the funniest blogs I have seen is...Farmers Way of Life

The Golden Rules of Farming  ...
Every time I read this wonderful series of points tears of laughter pour down my head as I nod in agreement and match the people and experiences up.

Poem: No Other Way by Lee-Anne

Governessing is made of moments, good, bad and funny. I don’t think I’d change each experience for the world. I penned this while sitting in the Arkaroola schoolroom (2000) waiting for the kids to return. While enjoying my moments of peace.
No Other Way

On the weekends
I run a little room
Organised and neat
Tidy as can be

Everything has a place
And everything in its place
That's what I say
But that goes out the window
8.30 to 3.30 every weekday

This is the time
My tidy little room goes
From organised and neat
To a tidy little heap

For 5 days it's
'Could you pickup this please'
'Could you put that away'
If not those words
Then similar anyway

Here they come running    
From a half an hours play
Pulling things apart
Causing havoc to my dismay

On the weekends
I run a little room
Organised and neat
Tidy as can be
And I wouldn't want it any other way.
(Well not often)

By Lee-Anne Bright


Etiquette: In Home Carers are employed to care for the children

The meaning of In Home Carer is different than governess or nanny but can include these roles.
In Home Carers role is to help with anything to do with the children.
This may include
Ø       Providing them with games and activities, some of which are learning activities, at least one per day.
Ø       meal preparation – cooking with kids is a great learning activity
Ø       wash children's clothes (with care - not just overflow the washing machine with a week of washing)
Ø       cleaning and vacuuming areas the children are in (to a high standard - not just push toys under the bed)
Ø       bathing children (includes picking up bath toys, hang up towels, empty bath after children finish)
Ø       read to the children (at least one book a day)
Ø       Or any other task to do with the children’s care.
BUT be reasonable.  They are not the child's mother; they are just a carer who is responsible for those children within that time. You are paying for that responsibility; you are not employing a housekeeper. 
IF you want them to do more housekeeping (that is not child related) than childcare then pay accordingly.

Etiquette: Be careful what you tell you family and friends at home

Be professional, it is part of our job confidentiality not to tell people about all the job’s details.      My parents, parents on the school system, and even some friends I just tell them the same old thing it is going great.  I never tell them the private details and problems just the good things, you know the funny moments with the kids, the basics of what is happening. Superficial information. 
If you do need to talk always say if you are telling something in confidence. 
Trusted sources: Schools also have counselors, In Home Care officer staff, Governess Australia, your employers.

A big room with 3 kids that love to argue.  Given them areas to be responsible for meant 
less arguments but more running around for me.

Poem: The Window

I penned this at South Gap in my first year of governessing. It was written on 13 of August 1997. The year 3 schoolwork had a fantastic unit on poetry, which inspired me to start writing again. What a great lifestyle governessing is, it allows you to follow all your dreams.
The Window

You wake up in the morning,
What a great looking day
Out the window the sun shines away.

Getting up and having breakfast
Hoping for delight not dismay
For out the window the sun shines away.

Into the schoolroom we go
Starting a new day
Looking out the window the sun shines away.

Finally reached smoko
She’s trying her best
Still out the window the sun shines away

Back into the schoolroom
Back to the fray
Through the window the sun shines away.

Lunchtime has arrived
I’m feeling frazzled and dazed
Yet out the window the sun shines away.

Afternoon filled with Art and science
Developmental play
And out the window the sun shines away.

School is out at last
She’ll get a star
As we look out the window the sun shines away.

The rest or the day is mine at last
Peace and sunshine
Then I look out the window and see rain coming this way.

By Lee-Anne Bright

Poetry: Cheers Over


Is anybody there, over?

I can’t hear the studio.

Are there any messages from the field?

Moolooloo, over

Go ahead Moolooloo

Can I please have a radio check?

We hear you loud and clear

Can you please repeat that Miss..

Can someone relay that?


By Isabella C. and Lee-Anne Bright (Port Augusta SOTA Governess between 1997 and 2003)

Written at Moolooloo for Issy’s End of the Radio project, 2003.

Etiquette: Being an IN HOME CARER or GOVERNESS means planning daily activities and caring for the children

If your primary role is to supervise the children in the schoolroom then it will pretty clear on what you need to do within a day.  You will still need to do extra research and be prepared but you will be supplied with the basics.

If you are not in the classroom then your Carers role will be different.  You may have a job where the parent is in the classroom and you are responsible for the younger students care.  You need to be able to provide, plan and research preschool activities for the children.  Each employer will have a different expectation but you should be providing them with stimulation that doesn’t involve mechanical or electronic devices.   Plan at least one sporty activity, one quiet time activity and one learning activity a day.

“In Home Care does not require the Carer to have any knowledge or understanding of early childhood education or development and they are not required to bring resources or materials to do activities with the children, so it has been my experience that the Carer often thinks that watching the children's channels on Austar with the children all day is OK - since they can't do housework!  The point is, that if they are not capable of doing appropriate childcare, then they need to do something in order to earn their wage - and it may well be housework.” quote from parent

Etiquette: You are not living with your parents anymore

Your boss is not your mother, it is not her job, to cook, clean, chase around after you, tell you to get off the couch and all those other jobs that a mother does.  Your boss is not your maid, cook or housekeeper.  Your boss employs you to do a job; she pays you money and supplies you with accommodation and many other perks. 
This is one of the few jobs in the world where employers provide personal accommodation and living expenses, so show appreciation by asking if she needs a hand or finding a regular chore for you to do to repay this.  You need to contribute to housework (not do all of it - just to contribute) to compensate for your own presence in the house.

Etiquette: I’m not Tina Sparkle, so don’t panic.

If I stay home for a weekend and spend it 
  • in my room reading, 
  • watching DVD’s, 
  • texting and talk to friends, 
  • or on the Internet
 DON"T PANIC, I am just taking some time out to recharge the batteries.  Have some ME time.

Living and working at you employment means you are on display constantly.  Then you go out on the weekend and smile all the time.  If your governess goes out for over half the weekends in the term she is going to need some weekends at home by herself and maybe even with the curtains down. 

Of course if she spends every weekend at home, then panic.  Or invite her out on water run, over for drinks and some fun.
PS Tina Sparkle is the character in Strictly Ballroom who smiles and performs all the time. 

My current oasis and the kids love it

Story: Another day and another ALTERCATION

Recently a mother looking for a governess said to me "we are having some altercations at the moment"

If I had a dollar for every time a teaching mother or governess had said that to me or I had said that to a them I'd own an island in the Caribbean...drink cocktail with a handsome waiter attending my every need.

I love the word altercations and use it on a regular basis.  It certainly beats saying we had a stand up, toe to toe, humdinger of a fight/argument or saying the child was a naughty little feral turd.

In the Distance Education world it can mean so many things that usually require 5 o'clock drinks to recover. 

My daily altercations are with an 8 year old who still thinks he can get away with things he did when he was 5 years old.   Upper primary students usually don't create many altercations but when we do it is usually a strong verbal stoush the require teacher or parental negotiations.  OR the word because I said and I am the boss, nothing like a dictatorship to make life simpler.

You're not alone - after fourteen years I still have altercations, of course now that I run a dictatorship they happen less often.  :)

Current Schoolroom Configuration...on a messy morning just arriving in the schoolroom

This is my end of the schoolroom.  The kids love coming to work at the front of my desk it is the best treat ever,  The computer desk is positioned so I can see it but the kids up the other end can't when each is on lessen.  White board on the back wall so everyone can be working at their desk and copy off is.  


Give the children time to plan and think; don’t jump in to quick to assist with the answer. 
Most of the children I have taught think I know nothing about the important subjects such as writing, maths, spelling and literacy.  In fact often in the first term they tell their parents Miss Lee-Anne doesn’t know anything.  Many parent will laughingly relay the story.  When the kids gaining Independence and doing their work to the best of their ability I know I am doing my job write.
Please remember that children don’t always have an answer, especially if they haven’t practised or learnt it yet.

Etiquette: This is a Job NOT a holiday or a farmstay

You are an employee not a member of the family or best friend.  That is not to say you won't be close to them and be included on everything.   

Your employers do not want to be a parent to their governess, they have their own children.   

That is not to say they won’t support you when needed but they will expect you to act like an adult.  They shouldn’t have to say clean up your room or use your manners.  As an adult we are all responsible for our own behaviour.


Etiquette: Always ask - Governess Social Manners

Also always ask if they can use the phone or the computer (even if you have been told they are free to use it at any time). 

Always ask if there is anything you can do to help - i.e. never assume that the employer wanted her undies folded or her bed made (basic respect of privacy). 

If your employer has a house in town or you become friends with someone in town always ask to stay.  Even if they say you can stay anytime. 
Five years ago a teacher became friends with a governess, invited her to stay once and after that the governess just rocked up and stayed all the time, sometimes bringing other governess or male friends with her.  If employer has a house in town, some might not want all the governesses rocking up expecting to stay.  Talk to your boss about expectations.  One of my employers has a town house with heaps of beds and was more than happy for us to stay as long as I let her know.  I always said who was possibly staying and cleaned up after we left.