If you’ve read some of my previous blog posts you know I absolutely LOVED being an au pair. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done and I feel like it has made me more independent, more responsible and even more compassionate. However, I do want to be honest. Being an au pair isn’t always easy. Here’s a few things that many au pairs seem to struggle with (especially in the beginning). I’m sharing them because I want you to be prepared. And I want you to get the most out of your au pair experience.
Don’t be an au pair if you don’t TRULY love being around kids.
Don’t just see this job as something that funds your travels. You need to be there for your host children 100%. It’s not just a babysitting gig. You’ll be their role model. A very important one and you have huge responsibilities being their au pair. Make sure you have enough child care experience. Not just evenings of babysitting while the kids are in bed. Make sure you know what it is like taking care of children for longer periods of time.
If you want to travel but you’re not sure if you like working with kids all the time or you’re not sure you want to live with another family then there are heaps of other jobs you can do while being abroad.
You will get lonely and homesick at times
There will be moments that you’re feeling lonely and homesick. Especially in the beginning. But these moments will pass and they will only make you stronger. It’s good to be prepared though, so it won’t hit you as hard. It’s not uncommon for au pairs to go back home again, just because they weren’t prepared for it. Go out and socialize, go for a walk or meditate, write in a journal, talk to your host family.. do whatever makes you feel better during these moments and keep in mind that it will get better.
Your host children need time to get used to you
Just as it’s not always easy for au pairs to get used to being in a different environment, your host family has to get used to you too. Your host children will test your limits. Some children find it harder to bond with you than others. They might ignore you for a while or even tell you they don’t like you. It’s perfectly normal. It’s just their way of letting you know they need more time or space. Don’t take it personally. Don’t force anything. Just let them know you’re there for them and let them come to you.
Be picky when you’re looking for a host family
Lots of au pairs I know match with the first or second host family they talk to, because “they are nice”. Most host families are nice though. That doesn’t mean it’s the right match for you. Write down exactly what you’re looking for in a host family before you talk to them. Location, number of children, ages of children, how many hours you want to work, how much you want to earn. Don’t settle for less. It took me months to find my host family in Australia! Research and shop. There will be lots of offers. Of course you might have to compromise at some level, but don’t just throw all your preferences overboard.
Don’t let this blog post keep you from becoming an au pair. Do your research like you would do for any other job. It’s good to be prepared for what’s coming. Read my previous blog posts if you want to know why you SHOULD become an au pair and read about my experience as an au pair in America and Australia.
If you’re already in the process of talking to host families check out my blog post about how to find the right host family.