Have you ever considered the possibility of working abroad? Starting a new job in a new country? If so, becoming an Au Pair may have crossed your mind. The concept of caring for children while travelling and living abroad sounds like a dream right?! Well… even if you answered yes, there is still a lot you should consider before you become an Au Pair. Being an Au Pair definitely is not a walk in the park but there are also many great things you can take away from the experience. So, do you think you are cut out for the job? Do the pros outweigh the cons? Keep reading to find out 😉.
Before I begin comparing the bad and good, let me tell you what you should know before becoming an Au Pair. The number one most important thing you should ask yourself is: “Am I ready to move out of my comfort zone?” This question is so so so important because you should be sure you are ready to make the commitment of moving away from home, not seeing your friends and family for long periods of time, and that you are ready to adapt to a new way of life. If you think becoming an Au Pair is a just a way to travel while having a place to stay, you should really reconsider your options. It is a big commitment and some people really are not cut out to be an Au Pair.
You should also reconsider if you don’t like spending time with kids…. I mean, it seems like a no-brainer but 90% of your time you will be with kids and that can be really difficult for some people. I would definitely recommend having previous experience of looking after kids if you want to become an Au Pair so you know what to expect. It isn’t always a requirement to have previous experience but if you want to know what you’re getting yourself into…. it’s probably a good idea. It’s also a way to learn qualities about yourself that will come in handy while being an Au pair, such as patience for example.
It is also super important to get to know the family a bit before you start working for them. I suggest Skyping with the family to ask questions and of course to answer questions they might have for you. Make a list of questions you may have and trust me, ask ALL of them. You’ll want to be as prepared as possible before you start so ask about the kids, ask about ways they discipline the kids, how they behave, their personalities, and ask about what they expect from you as their Au Pair. It is better to know as much as possible before you go rather than being surprised when you arrive.
Now let’s talk about the pros:
- Accommodation, food, travel = paid for.
- As an Au Pair, you will either live with the family or have a flat/apartment that is paid for by the family. Depending on the country, you will be given a certain amount of money for food. And depending on your contract, your host family will pay for your travel to their country.
- You get to live abroad!
- Going to a new place is always exciting. By living in a new country you will not only get to learn a new language and culture but you also have the chance to share your language and culture with the family and kids. There really is no better way to learn a new language than by being immersed in it daily.
- You meet new people.
- By moving to a new place, you will be surrounded by a bunch of strangers but this gives you the opportunity to go out and meet new people. There are usually Facebook groups you can join to meet other Au Pairs who live nearby.
- You learn valuable life lessons.
- Being an Au Pair is one of the closest experiences to being a parent. You will learn lots about caring for children and will pick up many little tricks while doing so (such as how to be organized AF). You will also see the family and how they function through an outside view.
- You will grow as a person.
- The experiences you go through will change you, but in a good way. You will feel accomplished with your achievements and you will realize it’s an experience of a lifetime. You will learn a lot about yourself and that you are capable of so much!
Okay, now for the cons:
- You don’t make a lot of money
- Yes, on one hand your rent/groceries are covered but on the other hand… you don’t earn that much. It’s enough to live but you will be on a tight budget for sure.
- It’s hard to separate work from home.
- When you live where you work, it can sometimes be difficult to feel relaxed. Of course it is a great advantage to have your accommodation paid for but it’s hard to feel like you’re always “at work”.
- Kids are not easy.
- Being an Au Pair is all about working with children and at times it can be really stressful. Kid’s have their bad days, throw tantrums, resist your authority, and this can all be hard to deal with. (don’t worry of course there are good days too and kids are often really fun)
- Loss of independence.
- Luckily, my host family is very open and understanding. They respect my privacy and they understand the need for independence. But unfortunately, some families set rules that may feel like a loss of independence for you. One example of this would be setting a curfew for you. Make sure you ask your host family about these things before you go.
- Language Barrier
- As mentioned before, one of the great things about being an Au Pair is getting to learn a new language but sometimes it can feel isolating. There will be days where you might not feel understood or you may feel embarrassed when trying to order a coffee at a local café. When this happens, just remind yourself you are still learning and by putting yourself in these sometimes awkward situations, it will force you to learn even quicker. Think of the grand scheme of things… someday you’ll look back on those times when you struggled to find the right words and you’ll see how much you have improved!
So there you have it! Some of my tips and suggestions you should consider before becoming an au pair. Just remember, everyone’s situation will be different and there will always be good and bad experiences in whatever you do. But I hope that my personal experience so far has given you a bit of an idea of what life is like as an Au Pair. I also hope you took away some information from this blog if you have ever considered becoming an Au Pair. I just want to say again that despite the bad days or the hard times, I am really thankful for this experience and I am grateful to have found such an awesome family to work for!
Before I sign off, just one more piece of advice: Always listen to your gut. If you have a bad feeling about a family, don’t sign a contract. If you feel like you’re having second thoughts, think about your options. Always listen to your own mind when it gives you warning signs or red flags. You are in control of your situation and it is up to you to do what feels right! The most important thing at the end of the day is that you are comfortable and happy in your situation.
Thank you so much for reading this post (if you got this far)! I hope I was able to give you some insight on being an Au Pair. Let me know if you would like to see more on this topic on my blog 🥰