So You Want to be an Au pair?

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You’re gonna miss your friends.

A lot.

And your family. That’s what FaceTime, iMessage, Skype and social media is for.

If you’re lucky enough, one may come visit you and get to see all of the behind-the-insta details of the unbelievable life you’ve been living.

Ultimately, you will leave completely heart broken.

Years down the road, and you will still get misty eyed thinking of how much you miss the sounds of children fighting, the silence at the end of a hard day, baby snores softly escaping from their door-opened-while-sleeping-policy, in case they need to reach you.

The tipper tapper of toddler and children feet quickly darting down the hallway to awake with the 6am sun.

You will miss these humans more than you could ever imagine possible.

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If your heart desires genuine experience through travel, if you crave new music, your stomach yearns for novelty foods, if you enjoy shopping in a different part of the world, revel in making new friendships and relationships that will last a lifetime, if you want to surround yourself with new beautiful accents and gain experience that most only dream of (and of course, you are fond of children), then being an au pair might be a great fit for you!

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However, before you embark on such a journey, let me fill you in on the basics of starting this type of career.

  1. You must love children | I cannot stress this enough, if children make you want to pull your hair out, if changing nappies or dealing with body fluids makes you ill, you may want to reconsider. Being a nanny is not for the weak, you are in charge of loving these little nuggets that are not your own, and ultimately, caring for them is your main job. It will only make your life miserable if you do not enjoy little ones.
  2. Know what you are getting into | How many children are you capable of caring for? Are you willing to care for a children with a disability? How about ages? Children with severe allergies or learning disabilities? Communicate with your host family about personality traits, behavioral concerns, the children’s interests such as horse riding, soccer, volleyball, swimming, gymnastics, basketball, art, instruments, etc. Get a feel for the family by Skyping, emailing, MULTIPLE times before you decide to purchase that plane ticket, get to know them and listen to your gut when deciding on a good match for both you and the family of interest.
  3. Don’t be afraid to talk specifics |  What will you be getting paid? Weekly, biweekly? Set days off in advanced. Set boundaries for both you and your family, will you be using a vehicle when you are there? Research around the house and see what type of transportation is available to you. Will you be the house cleaner, the cook, and the caregiver? [Recipe Ideas Here] What is an amount you can both agree on? Feel comfortable enough to interview each other on your strengths and weaknesses as far as personality goes. Will these be a make or break when it comes to living with this family for a long period of time?
  4. Set dates | How long will you be staying with this family? These programs give you guidelines to help determine length of stay, but once you are living with your family, agreements are now determined between the two of you. I personally stayed 6 months longer due to an agreement with my family and I. Some only want to leave their country for 3 months at a time, others for 6 months or you have some au pairs who have decided to stay for years at a time. Having an end in sight can help with homesickness and always remember, everything is temporary!
  5. Do you qualify? | The website I chose to go through allows ages 18-30 to register online and find a family to match with. Do you have the funds? Some require at least $5,000 in your bank account for traveling/personal expenses. Do you qualify for the country-specific visa? For myself to move to Australia, I had to apply for a Holiday Working Visa and it was accepted within days!
  6. Respect each other | Remember that you both belong to different parts of the world, you won’t agree on everything, in fact, you may have completely different views on raising children, and this is opportunity for growth for everyone involved. Respect each other and be open to new ideas and views on the world.

The website I chose to go through is called Aupairworld.com

The website outlines many questions you may have, create a profile and be honest and genuine, I promise, you will get HEAPS of emails. At first, it may seem a bit overwhelming, but options are better than the alternative!

  • Register as an Au Pair
  • Choose your country of interest
  • Find a family
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate (get a feel for a good fit)
  • SAVE, SAVE, SAVE. Trust me, funds dwindle the more you travel, you will never regret having extra money for cushion
  • Book your flight and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!

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Do you see yourself living by a bay? Close to the city? Countryside? All of these are things to consider when finding a family. Location can be key when trying to find friendships outside your family. I lived in a suburb about 35 minutes away from the Opera House in Sydney, 3 miles from the beach and had a pool and bay in my own backyard.

Granted, not everyone will have this opportunity, but it was a perfect fit for me!

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Now, don’t get the idea that being au pair is pure bliss. If you are an intelligent human being, you know that life always has its ups and downs. Here are some adverse side effects that were not listed on the bottle of being an au pair:

  • Weight gain
  • Culture shock
  • Loneliness
  • Tears
  • Sleepless nights
  • Temper tantrums
  • Early mornings
  • Poopy diapers
  • Homework
  • Laundry
  • Sick children
  • Money comes and goes as consistent as sunrise and sunsets
  • Deep awareness of self
  • Enlightenment
  • Part of your heart will be forever occupied and touched by every human you meet

I can tell you from experience, going from a college student to a caregiver of 3 children, I gained about 30 pounds. That obviously won’t happen to everyone, but my body decided to take on the challenge. I didn’t quite notice until I was bungee jumping in New Zealand and they proceeded to put my weight in Kilo’s on my hand. It looked so tiny compared to the American usage of pounds, until I later googled the conversion and my jaw dropped. I had never imagined my body could hold that much love, food and experience all in my gut. Do I regret it?

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Absolutely not.

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The people you meet will forever change your life. And when you come back, you may even experience a thing called reverse culture shock. It’s a real thing, and it is something I wish we had more information on for those of us who take the leap to travel and immerse ourselves into a different culture, only to try to adjust back into our own. But that’s another post for another time.

If it’s one thing that you get from being an au pair, it is the chance to travel with people from all over the world. There is no better time to embark on the this journey than right after college when you have no strings attached to the world. No children, your classes are over, you have yet to obtain your big girl/boy job yet, it’s the time to swim into wanderlust, make a plethora of mistakes, date, eat, surf, dance, eat some more, and meet your soul mates you never knew you’d have the pleasure meeting.

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You’ll also fall in-like many times, blame it on the Aussie sun, the brews, or the accents, there’s potential everywhere (cue heart-eye emoji’s).

But ultimately, the love you experience from true, genuine relationships, will stay with you forever.

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Whether it’s first hair cuts, or first words, nothing can compare to these moments

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These kids have taught me more than any class could ever instill in me. Apart of me will always belong in Australia, and I hope more than anything they will remember how much I care for them, always.

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If anyone has any questions on the process, or just wants to pick my brain from my experience, feel free to comment below and I will do my best to reply! It makes my heart so happy to hear people wanting to step outside of their comfort zones and immerse themselves into a completely different culture. There’s no other way to learn more about yourself than flying into a new world, stripped from your ethnocentric taught ways, and create a new form of yourself for the better.

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Thank you to my host family for everything you’ve done for me, I love you guys more than you know!

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xx

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