I had never thought about being an Au pair, so when money struggles set in and my life in Germany was not going as planned- I felt it was time to try something new.
I was recommended by a friend to try greataupair.com and have a look at what was out there in my local town (Dusseldorf). After a quick search, I realised how great this really could be. Free accommodation, free food and a family to be a part of? AMAZING! I soon had secured a great job with an amazing local family who wanted their beautiful three kids to improve their English skills. I had never been a teacher, I had never been a nanny- I had babysat a few times and that is about it!
After meeting with Kay, the mother of my new family, I soon realised what a wonderful lifestyle this could be. What you can learn as an Au pair is endless- you set yourself up for parenting and also encounter a completely different way of being raised than you have. You are responsible for these little lives and how they are educated. You are responsible for cleaning and cooking duties and most of all- responsible for your own determination to be the best suit for this family!
So what advice would I give somebody who wants to be an Au pair?
First and foremost, find the right family. This may seem a little silly, but if you do not find the right fit- it will NOT work. Ensure you have scheduled an interview and do not be intimidated- you are interviewing THEM too! They need to accept you for you.
Do not lie about anything. Things will come to light pretty quickly if you go saying you have years’ experience with kids and do not. Honesty is the best policy. Not only for education or childcare history, but also how you live your life and how they expect you to live.
Ask as many questions as you possibly can about the agreement between you and the family. By this, I mean asking about what kind of food will be provided- is it the food you even eat? Can you submit a shopping list? Remember- you are not their slave, your PAYMENT for hard WORK is your rent and food- so make sure it is how you would live on a regular wage.
Know what they expect of you. My family, for example, expected 10 hours a week minimum, without food, 15 with food. The food was not suitable for me so I dropped to 10 and picked up other part time work. I made it very clear we needed a schedule and hours clocked on and off to keep a gage on what hours I was doing. Being open is the only way you will both be happy and you all know what is being accomplished.
Commit to starting a plan for the kids I was asking once a week for any suggestions, homework or tasks the parents wanted me to complete with the kids. They will know what strengths and weaknesses to work with, so you could focus your week plan of action around spelling, or grammar. You should be researching and taking initiative yourself to come up with fun ways to keep these kids motivated- this is a job remember!
Finally, get to know the kids better than you ever expected you would. Ask them a million questions, ask them to hang out on off-time, check up on them while they are doing homework- pretty much be their second parent. Why? Because they need to love you, you need to love them and you want them on your side. They are your livelihood now!
Au pairing is a fantastic way to experience cultures and move abroad, especially for a short term stint (6 months for example). Although not a life-long career option, the memories and families you meet will truly change your life. To me little German clan- I love you guys <3