What is an Au Pair?
- The term “Au Pair” is French and translates to “equal to”
- Typically a young woman, however in some cases may be a young man often between the ages of 18 and 30
- Au Pairs are often from a foreign country and come to learn a new language or teach their own language to the children they are living with
- Au Pairs live with families as a caregiver for young or disabled children, while doing light housework
Why did I decide to become an Au Pair?
I am honestly not sure where or when I discovered the idea of becoming an Au Pair in a foreign country. In Grade 12 I had looked into it as a possible opportunity as a gap year before attending university but decided I was not mature enough to travel across the world on my own and care for children. After graduating university, I decided I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and made a profile on www.aupairworld.net as a start. I didn’t really know how serious I was about actually doing it but made a profile anyways and was contacted by an amazing family living in Melbourne, Australia. An idea immediately turned into a plane ticket. The reason Au Pairing appealed to me was because it was a relatively cheap way to live and travel in another country, I enjoyed working with children, and I liked the idea of still having a family atmosphere while I was away from home.
My process of becoming an Au Pair…
* Please note that this was the way that I chose, however there are a variety of ways through the internet that may suit others better
- I made a profile on aupairworld.net
- The family contacted me through the website
- We arranged a Skype interview where I met the boys and their other Au Pair at the time
- We all decided it was a good fit
- I started saving money like crazy!
- I applied for my Australian working-holiday visa and was accepted within a few hours (all online)
- I purchased a one-way ticket to Melbourne, Australia
- I bought travel insurance (highly recommend shopping around for this)
- I Skyped with the family and their Au Pair at the time throughout the four months before I arrived
- I cancelled my cell phone, called the bank and let them know where I was headed, quit my jobs, packed my bags, and said my goodbyes
- I left for Melbourne and was picked up by the family upon arrival
Things I learned BUT will probably write in more detail in a future blog…
- How to travel completely solo… this was actually my first time
- How to drive on the other side of the road
- How to be somewhat of a parent
- How to cook, stay on top of laundry, do groceries, and balance other chores (TIME MANAGEMENT)
- How to care for three children (ages 9, 6, and 3)… it wasn’t easy but it was rewarding
- How to be independent and enjoy my own company (ie. going out for meals and to the movies alone on a regular basis)
- How to put myself out there and make friends in all sorts of places
- How to navigate my way around a large city and use public transport for the first time
- How to stay in on a Friday night… or Saturday night (after suffering from severe FOMO in Canada – Fear Of Missing Out)
- How to be independent and confident
- … and lastly, how to make amazing popcorn every single Tuesday night for our movie night (which I really miss)
My advice for a future Au Pair…
- Remember why you’re going on this adventure… to be an AU PAIR, you need to love kids.
- Make sure you have the chance to talk to the family a lot before you get on the airplane… make sure they’re a good fit.
- COMMUNICATION… make sure you and the family both have a mutual agreement on how many hours are expected, what kind of additional work is expected etc. to avoid problems.
- Be open to new people and experiences and take advantage of any opportunity that comes your way.
- Do NOT go out partying the night before you have to wake up at 5:30 am to work with children… just don’t even attempt it (trust me).
- Respect your host family’s rules and expect the same respect in return.
- As much as you want to spend time with your host family it is also important to take advantage of your time off and explore the city or area you’re living in, you’ll probably need a break from always being ‘on the clock’.
- If you’re there for a full year and you’re given paid holiday time then you should try and spread it out evenly… don’t wait until the last six months to attempt all of your extra traveling (you’ll run out of money and/or just not be able to fit it all in).
- Stay in contact with friends and family from back home, it is so easy these days with the internet.
- … This being said… don’t spend all of your time communicating with everyone from home as you should be trying to make the most out of your current situation (nothing at home changes… trust me on that too).
- You’re likely going to become overwhelmed with the amount of work in combination with being homesick but don’t give up. I almost gave up after a few months and came home because I was overwhelmed and stressed out but that would have been the biggest regret of my life.
- Enjoy every single moment because it goes by faster than you can imagine and you’re going to miss those kids like crazy, even if they were wild sometimes (or all the time).