A wonderful experience. That’s what being an aupair means to me.
In a few words; you go into the country of your choice to live with a family for free and in exchange you have to look after the children of your host family. Sometimes you also need to do some housework. You usually get paid weekly but can be monthly as it depends of the country and the hostfamilies.
To find a hostfamily, you can either go via an agency for aupairs, which you’ll need to pay for. Or you can use some free websites such as aupairworld.com (I think it’s the most famous). I used this one for both of my hostfamilies so I can’t say much about agencies.
Remember that when you’re online it’s easy to pretend that we are someone else. By using a website, you need to be really careful, ask loads of questions and request one or several Skype interview(s). It is important to make sure that it is safe talking to this or that person. Also, you need to be certain that the family you’re talking to is the right family for you.
Before accepting the job, make sure you know exactly what you’ll have to do when you’ll be there (hours, how many children, housework, driving, …) So there is no surprise when your host mum expects you to clean at least 2hours per day.
Don’t rush into anything. Ask questions, share your feelings and fears before accepting to work with a family. You’ll live with them for a certain amount of time and the aim is not living a nightmare for both of you. It is more than a job, because by the end of the day, you’ll still be sleeping under the same roof as your “boss”. Having a good relation with them is then crucial.
I find the first week the most difficult. Everything is new. You don’t know the house, the city or even the country you live in. You’re not used to the habits and rules of the house yet. You may not understand the language. You might be homesick. All of that put together can be really intimidating at first. It is normal. So don’t freak out. Take the time to get to know the family, especially the children. Observe how things are done in your new home so you’ll know how to (re)act. Don’t be afraid to ask questions once again and share your feelings. Communication is really important to make it work.
Au pair is not a job for everyone. Not anyone could do it and it is ok. Don’t see the job as a “holiday”. You are in charge of children, you can’t mess up. You have big responsibilities and you need to be well aware of that. Also if you think au pair is just playing with children, you’re wrong. You will need to think like a mom/dad. Organise things, organise meals, taking care of sick children, giving showers/baths, tidying up, remember a lot of things (sport’s day, swimming every Thursday, piano for the little one on the Wednesday evening but on Saturday morning for the big one, …). You might be more present in the children’s life than the parents, you’ll then become a role model for them. Put your heart in that job.
I think I made the decision to be an aupair in January 2016. I looked for it online, read about it and registered on aupairworld.com. At first, I wanted to go to Australia as I was (and still am!) curious about this country. After talking to my stepmum, I decided to go into the UK instead. Because it was way more closer and she was a bit afraid that if something would happen to me, it would be too complicated being that far away. So The UK, it was. I had never been and in my teen years, I was fascinated by London and its country in general (I had a bag with the union jack flag on it… that was that bad.).
So here I was on the website, writing everything they need to validate my profile. I put some pictures with my siblings and *tadaaaa* I was officially a potential future au pair. Some families started talking to me, I started talking to some of them but quickly I noticed that people wanted aupairs straightaway. We were in January and didn’t want to start before August as I was going to graduate in July and wanted to spend some time with my family and friends before going away. I was not giving up yet but started feeling worried. “What if there’s no family who wants me?”. And then, end of March, I started speaking with a mum, everything went fast, the feeling was there. A few skypes, with the girls. Absolutely lovely. A week later I was in Oxford for a “real” interview. I stayed for the Easter week end and it was so smooth than the mum asked me to come back in August, for a year. I immediately said yes. I was over the moon.
22th August 2016, I came back. As I told you, the first week was the hardest. I wasn’t homesick. I didn’t have any problem with the children nor the family. I wasn’t asked more than they told me. No. The problem was that I kept comparing myself with the last aupair. I thought I wasn’t good enough. Also, I was struggling with the car. A 7-seats car. Driving on the left side. Clearly, I wasn’t used to that at all. I had to take one or two driving lessons to be more confident. The previous aupair didn’t need some, so I felt really bad, I thought I was rubbish. I had a talk with my hostmum and she really comforted me. She was really happy with my job so far and told me to be more confident about myself. 2 weeks later, I was perfectly able to drive on the left side without any stress. Yay.
I had the most amazing year and it was time to leave. I didn’t want to as I loved (still do!!) them so much. But I thought it was time to find a real job (thanks social pressure… article on that subject coming soon). So I found a job in Reading, UK and left them. A month later, they called me as for many reasons, they didn’t have an au pair for the year coming. I took the time to think about it but my heart was saying “YES”. So I came back for another year. I didn’t regret it at all but leaving them was even harder than the first time.
And here I am now, in Switzerland since the 17 November 2018, being an aupair in another family until April. They’re completely different from my previous experience but are really nice as well and I am really enjoying it. I am proud of saying : I love my job.
Have you ever thought of being an aupair? Have you done it? Tell me everything about it in the comments x
“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”
With love, Anaïs