Before you Au Pair
Many people think being an Au Pair is easy and it is a great way of travelling. Well, one of those is right, I wonder if you can guess! I was an Au Pair for a year in the Netherlands. If you are considering becoming an Au Pair here are the tips you will need for your trip!
For many Au Pairs, this is a gap year option. You have to be prepared that when times get tough, you miss out on family traditions, you are going to be melancholy about it. My best tip for this: They will be waiting for you to get home and everything will be as you left it. I know people who are very close with their families and just couldn’t get over the homesickness. They wanted to go home early and they lost out on such an amazing opportunity because they couldn’t move on. This is not a healthy lifestyle and if you are one of those people, you need to be prepared to try it on your own.
Family you work for
The family you work for effect EVERYTHING! I know a lot of Au Pair companies that just match you with a family and that’s it. Don’t accept this. Call the family, talk to them, get to know them. If they are similar to you and your family values you will have a great time. If they can’t make time for you to learn about each other, don’t go. You are going to be looking after their children, the least they can do is make time for the person who they will have to trust with their babies.
It is important to ask the below question with your new family:
- How do you deal with conflict?
- How do you discipline your children?
- What do you want from an Au Pair?
- What do you want for your child?
- How was your last Au Pair experience? What did you like about the other Au Pair and what didn’t you like?
- How often do you travel as a family?
It is so important to choose the right family. I was beyond lucky. I had one gorgeous boy to look after, his parents were doctors and had very busy schedules but they were relaxed. They trusted me with their son. I am lucky to still have contact with them today, I have visited them after having Au Paired and I am glad we still have a relationship. Not just for me but for their son.
There are so many travel opportunities! However, that’s if your family allow you that time off. Some families don’t take enough leave and keep working all year long, then you have to keep working. Depending on where you are Au Pairing travel can be expensive or affordable. If you go through an agency you can find discussions on travel deals and friends to take with you. It’s really a great community if you want to travel! Its also great if you can travel with your family but note, you are technically working then too, just with the benefit of a new environment. My tip: Have a list of countries you want to see before you get there, every free moment you have plan it!
Luckily my stay in the Netherlands was my second year abroad so I changed my eating habits. I must say though for my first year, I gained so much weight due to comfort eating. You experience new foods and you enjoy them, like a lot! The weight gain is not an issue, its the eating habits that you need to be aware of. You need to focus on a healthy eating schedule as you don’t have your parents cooking for you anymore. You have to cook, you have to think about what you put in your body. Keep in mind once you put that gap year weight on, it is extremely difficult to get it off. My tip, lots of water and small portions!
You aren’t going to do it forever
This was the hardest thing for me after 6 months. Having built such an amazing connection with the family and their son. I would definitely miss them. My host parents really cared about me and my future and they pushed me to think about what am I doing next.
Made the most amazing friends that I am still friends with today. Would I really get to see anyone again? I was scared about the thought of the entire year just disappearing and becoming only a memory.
You don’t have to have a set plan but you need to have some idea of where you want to go from here. It is great to have a 5-year plan. A lot of people say, ÿou’re young, just enjoy it! – They aren’t entirely wrong but when you get a job, people look at the gaps in your life and ask what you did then. My tip, give yourself a 2-week limit. Your vacations and time off must never be more than 2 weeks or else you get too comfortable and struggle to get back into the working world.
I was an Au Pair for 2 doctors. It was by far the best year of my travels. They were excited for me, they took me in and they still check in on me. I built a bond with them and I am very excited to say that they became my family. Au Pairing can be a whole world of experiences but at the end of the day, you need to remember that you are looking after children and you have a huge impact in their lives. Just make sure you are ready to balance your life with theirs.