Stacey Teague: Nanny Extraordinaire!
Stacey Teague was one of the first people I met through the online writing scene six years ago AND she happened to live in the same country as me. She doesn’t any more though. Her jobs have taken her to a couple of different countries since then. She’s also written an awesome book and edits an awesome lit mag and runs an awesome reading series. I still consider her one of my best friends 🙂
If I remember correctly, when we first met you were working at a cattery and a bird sanctuary. How did you come to be doing those jobs?
The cattery one I just got through applying on a job website, I had previously volunteered at the SPCA cattery so that’s probably why I got it. The bird rescue one was a bit more miraculous. I had just dropped out of my uni degree, and had moved into a shack in the middle of nowhere. I was trying to look for a job, and signed up for the dole in the mean time, in was at the unemployment office, that they recommended me for the bird rescue job. I had a trial and found that I had a natural affinity for it. The job also happened to be 20 minutes walk from my new house, which I still think is wild. I hadn’t thought too much about birds before, and now I love them a lot. It gave me a lot of joy to see them eating and drinking and becoming well again.
Obviously those jobs had something in common as they both involved working with animals. What were the differences between the two jobs and did you prefer one to the other?
The cattery job was just something I did when I was studying, only 2 hour shifts, but I loved it, I just got to hang with a room full of cats for 2 hours, and granted I had to clean their shit and deal with aggressive cats, it was still very pleasant. The bird rescue was very demanding physically, it was a very active job and I had to work outside a lot, and deal with a lot of gross stuff, as well as with the public. I think the cattery is the nicer job, though the bird rescue was more fulfilling.
Did working at the cattery and bird sanctuary have any noticeable effect on your writing?
I’m not sure that either of those jobs had an effect on my writing, I don’t ever remember those jobs featuring in my writing from that time.I think in a way I compartmentalise my work life and my writing life.
Why do you think you compartmentalise your work life and writing life in that way? Is it intentional or just something that happens naturally for you?
I compartmentalise because it would stress me out too much if I thought about work while not at work. It is also a luxury to do this, I realise.
Had you had any jobs prior to those two? If so, what were they?
I had 2 jobs previous to these, my first one was doing office admin full time after I dropped out of high school (dropping out is a theme), and another weekend admin job that I did also while I was studying. I got made redundant from both, hurrah!
Did you get the office admin jobs by applying through a job website too? What sort of things did you have to do as part of that job? Did you enjoy it at all? To be honest, I wish I could get an office admin job right now lol.
I got my office jobs through the normal job sites. I didn’t really like my first job, and I find that I can’t do as well at a job when I don’t care about what I’m doing, which was data administration for an energy company. My other part time job was better, it was in healthcare, organizing nurse’s schedules for home visits.
So you’re looking for work now, are you looking for any job? Or are there some things you think you just couldn’t do?
I like to think I’m pretty open as to what sort of job I’d take, but I probably haven’t applied as widely as I should. I’ve applied for a lot of jobs at libraries and bookstores and universities. I feel like I’m not qualified for most jobs. Do you have any advice for me?
I’m no expert in job-hunting. I find the whole process so hard and disheartening, so all I can give you is strength!
You’ve been working as an au pair/nanny for a while now right? How did you start doing that sort of work and why do you think you’ve continued with it for this long?
I’ve been working as a nanny for the past 5 years. I got into it because I wanted to move from my hometown, Auckland, to the UK, and my aunty recommended I look at a nanny website she used to get her nanny. I joined and made a profile and instantly a family messaged me about coming to be their nanny, which I did end up doing several months later. I’ve continued to work as a nanny because it is easy for me to get work as a nanny, I like that it gives you certain freedoms, you can wear what you want, gives you free time to write, it’s fairly active, and I seem to do well with kids. It takes a certain amount of patience.
Have you always done well with kids, or is that something that has come from working with them?
Before I started working with children I had no idea if I would be good at it, or get along with kids. I am the youngest in my family and never really had to deal with younger children. I was lucky in that the first nanny job I had, the kids gave me a lot of love and made me feel accepted.
Do you see yourself continuing to work as a nanny for the long term?
I am constantly stressing about what I will do for work in the future. I don’t know if nannying is sustainable long-term, but I’m not qualified to do anything else, I mean, I’m not technically qualified to do this either. Then it’s like, thinking about going back to school to study something, which is …. ugh.
Out of all the jobs you’ve had, is there one that you’ve enjoyed the most or found the most fulfilling? And if you could have any job, what would you choose?
My animal jobs were the best, and I also think caring for children is pretty rewarding as well. As I mentioned before, I really need to feel like I am doing meaningful work.
If I could choose any job..hmm…ideally something I could do remotely, that paid okay and was for an animal welfare organization or something like that. Or just being around animals (and not having to be around humans so much).
So, if you could have any job, you wouldn’t choose something writing related? Is that the compartmentalisation coming through again?
I just don’t know if I enjoy writing if it is to some end other than what I want it to be. I don’t enjoy writing copy and I don’t think I’m necessarily good at it. I’d rather work in other sectors, but I wouldn’t rule it out.
There are some poetry/literary-related jobs I have that I don’t get paid for 😉 Being paid for that sort of work is not something I’ve properly thought about, but I would consider it, but I’d have to go back to school again, and right now the thought of doing that seems hellish. I don’t want to be in debt for the rest of my life, and I currently live in a country where I am ineligible for a student loan.
Thanks so much for interviewing me about the hellishness that is the job market. I hope you can find a good job soon ❤️