Hi there friends, thanks for stopping by to say hello! As you may know, I have spent the last three months as an Au Pair, or live-in nanny, for a Germany family. My main motivation behind this decision was to improve my German language skills and experience German family life first-hand. And although I’ve done my fair share of babysitting and camp counseling in the past, I’ve never been a huge kid person. That is, I’ve never had the burning desire to be a teacher, or felt the urge to hold the baby in the room. I like kids, don’t get me wrong, but they’ve never played a huge roll in my life.
So when this opportunity arose, I was initially hesitant. A million doubts ran through my head. Would I be nurturing and loving enough? Do I even possess the ‘mom’ gene? Will they understand my broken German? But eventually, I realized there were more pros than cons, so I took the leap of faith. And guess what? I’ve loved it! I already know this was one of the best experiences I’ll ever have, and would absolutely consider being an Au Pair again for another family.
Have you ever thought about working as an Au Pair? Do you enjoy travel, learning about another culture up close and personal, and investing in children? If so, then this job may be perfect for you! Today I thought I’d share five tips and tricks I’ve learned through this experience for those of you who have been an Au Pair in the past, are considering becoming one in the future, or are just curious about the lifestyle. Enjoy!
1. Give It Time. I tend to want everything to be perfect right now. Unfortunately, that’s not usually how life works. Au Pairing is no exception. The first few weeks were a bit awkward and unfamiliar. I didn’t know the family’s schedule, household rules, or lifestyle. Even though they were incredibly hospitable and accommodating, I still felt like a guest. But slowly, things changed and I began feeling right at home. There is just no way around the fact that it takes time to adjust to a new situation and complete a transition. Be patient with yourself and others through the process!
2. Communication is Key. This point seems obvious, but I actually really struggled with it for the first few weeks. I wish I had sat down with the parents the first day and clearly outlined my hours and responsibilities. Once we eventually did so, everything felt so much easier and less complicated. When I knew that my hours where 8:00am to 1:00pm and that my ‘household chore’ was to load and unload the dishwasher, I no longer felt guilty about spending alone time in the afternoons or not doing my own laundry. We also keep a weekly calendar of events to help us all stay on the same page. Communicating expectations and needs is key to a healthy and happy Au Pair experience!
3. Learn How to Discipline. Initially, I was extremely hesitant to discipline the children in any way. I knew when they were clearly misbehaving or testing me, but it still felt strange to reprimand other people’s kids. Again, communicate with the parents about this subject, and ask for some guidelines. Chances are, they will tell you how they usually do it, and trust you enough to make discipline decisions when you see fit. When I found the courage within myself to discipline the kids, our relationship blossomed! They garnered a new respect for me, and I acted with more patience towards them! Discipline is a wonderful tool for everyone involved when used properly.
4. Protect Your Alone Time. I am the mother of all introverts. If I socialize for a period of time, I need to recede into my ‘cave’ for some serious alone time. At first, I felt guilty about leaving the kids, so I would sacrifice my alone time to play with them, even after my working hours were through. But eventually I realized that I’m no good to anyone if I don’t take care of myself first. I learned to say no and prioritize time to recharge, which ultimately benefitted everyone.
5. It’s Okay to Say Goodbye. As my time here draws to an end, I’ve begun dreading saying goodbye to the kids. Will they think I’m abandoning them? They are too little to understand the situation, they don’t even know what America is! But then I remembered the quote “It takes a village to raise a child” by Hilary Clinton, and realized that I am a part of their village. There are countless people who played a vital role in my upbringing who are not actively involved in my life today, but I would not be the same person without them. I may not see the final product or outcome, but I know I am a vital link in the chain. I have influenced their lives for the better in some way, and that’s pretty dang awesome in and of itself.
^Selfie attempt number 12 million.
And there you have it friends, five tips and tricks I’ve garnered throughout my time as an Au Pair. This experience is never something I actively sought out or wanted to cross off my bucket list, but I’m so glad it fell into my lap. It has been better than anything I ever could have dreamed up myself. I feel so blessed to have worked with a wonderful family who treated me like their fourth child (probably because I still act like one), and who I know will visit me in California one day. I hope this post was helpful and informative, and don’t hesitate to comment below. Have a lovely week friends!
Question of the Day
Would you ever consider working as an Au Pair? Why or why not?