There are lot of reasons why becoming an au pair is a good thing. But after my experience I can think of (at least) 10 reasons why you may want to reconsider this position because au pairing is difficult.
- The situation is not guaranteed. There is no guarantee that when you pair with a host family that everything will be perfect. The uncertainty is very real with au pairing, even more so if you haven’t done it before. One of my main concerns was that the host family may not be as nice as they seem although, I was wrong, they were lovely. Nevertheless, Bare in mind that the host family of your choosing may seem lovely before you have met them, via email and/or Skype. But there is the possibility they may not be the same in reality. They may not be as nice, their children may not be what you thought. There’s no telling who you’re dealing with to be honest.
- Children are demanding. Not in the sense that they will demand you do things left right and centre but in the sense that you will need to be prepared for the bags of energy that they have. You will be treated as a big sister. Whether it is teaching them your native language or doing sports activities with them, be prepared to be on your feet.
- The children could be complete a**holes. I say this because this is exactly what I dealt with and I was not prepared for their wrath at all. They ignored me in their native language and in English, they did not have any respect for me whatsoever but there wasn’t much I could do. It was how they treated their parents so, I grinned and I bore it.
- Prepare to be told what to do. It doesn’t matter how nice the family may be they will tell you what they want from you and they wont hold back if they don’t think that you’re not fulfilling your role as an au pair. You will be told when you can and cannot have your spare time, when and what to do with the children etc. Their home, their rules. Don’t let it get to you. It is only temporary.
- Living where you work. Living where you work can be a little intense because it always feels as if you may be needed any moment. So, you’re always on your toes. But this could be easily avoided by exploring your host country. For me it felt like I never had anywhere to escape to in my spare time because where I was living was so isolated so I ended up staying in most of time.
- Homesickness. I don’t just mean missing you parents, friends, family and significant others but I also mean missing your city, your country. Your normal everyday routine, the shops and restaurants you go to regularly. All the things you cannot do in your host country. This was probably one of the hardest things to deal with for me because I was in such an isolated location and it didn’t help that I was born and raised in a huge city.
- May be expected to do more than you were expecting. There is the chance that you could be asked to do more than just look after and play with the children. Things like, cleaning, laundry, cooking. This is not certain though but there is the possibility that you are expected to do more even though you’re not a nanny nor a housekeeper.
- You may not like where you live. As beautiful as country or city may sound in books or look in movies, you could absolutely hate it. What is more, it may not be what you thought it would be. I had to live in an isolated area which lead to me feeling very trapped so its important to get all of the details regarding where you will be living.
- Having an emergency fund. Necessary. I’m not saying thats something will go wrong but you should always have some money saved just in case. What if you don’t like it there and you want to go home early but you haven’t made enough money yet. What if something goes wrong during you spare time and you are in need of money. These maybe pessimistic attitudes but they’re also realistic. Anything can happen.
- Let’s face it. It’s not the ‘safest’ thing to do. I’m sure you’ve all seen or at least heard of the film Taken and that probably didn’t sit well with anyone with a daughter or significant other. I did have some major doubts before travelling alone to a country I have never been to before. Things like, what if they do not meet me there or they changed their mind? What if it was all a set up and I’m forced to be a victim of human trafficking? What if this isn’t what it seems to be? These were all things that were constantly running through my head. Travelling alone as a female can be dangerous which is why you should always have your guard up.
Like I have mentioned in previous posts, au pairing wasn’t for and many of the points I mentioned above apply to me. I mainly wanted to emphasise that the possibility of au pairing not being a good experience is just the same as it being a good experience.