Au Pair life

Being an Au Pair

I’ve been procrastinating – as you’ll learn I tend to do too often -, avoiding to sit down and write this first acutally-useful post because I had too many things to say and no idea of how to do it. At the end I decided that less is more, so I’ll simply answer the seven key questions of what, who, why, when, where, how and – becasue that’s always important – how much.

So, let’s begin!

What is an Au Pair?

An Au Pair is someone who comes to live with a family and helps around the house with the children and the housework. Now, you must understand that every family is different and none is perfect. Some will have only one child, some will have three or more (I was an Au Pair for a family of seven. SEVEN!). These children can be any age, and that matters a lot – it’s not the same to take care of a baby than a six year-old. Some will have a cleaner, which means less hard housework for you; but others won’t. My current family even has a nanny, which means the job is devided and I have less responsabilities, but that’s mostly unusual. {coming soon: A day in an Au Pair’s life}

Who can be an Au Pair?

Anyone. Boy or girl – although boys might have it taugh finding families opened to that -, from age 18 to as old as you are if that’s your choice (I’m 26 now), from anywhere in the world as long as you can legaly – and easily – travel to the country you wish to go.

Now, when I say anyone I mean anyone who understands what their role will be and agrees with it, because being an Au Pair – a good one – is not as easy as it may seem from outside.

Why becoming an Au Pair?20161231_141448

Because of the experience. You decide to travel to see the world, to move abroad to run away from home, to stay for a year to go back to your studies… but you decide to do all this by becoming an Au Pair because of the experience.

Being an Au Pair means you’ll be immediately immersed  in the language and culture of the country you’re going to, you’ll meet people with different backgrounds, jobs, experiences than those you know at home; you’ll be involved in traditions, celebrations and activities; learn new recipes and skills… That’s the unique experience of being an Au Pair.

When to become an Au Pair?

Anytime. The summer holidays are a very good moment becasue a lot of families need help between June and September – begin your search a couple months earlier, at least -, but you can be an Au Pair for as long as you wish, either with one family or moving from one to another, then you can start your own adventure at any time. I joined my current family in November with plans of staying at least a year; but the first time I was an Au Pair it was only for the summer. Needless to say that the job is very different when children don’t have school. {coming soon: A day in an Au Pair’s life}

Where to be an Au Pair?

Anywhere. The EU makes things very easy becasue its citizens can move from one country to another without needing visas, but my cousin was an Au Pair in the USA for a year, and when I was in Ireland I met an Au Pair from Canada, so as long as you can travel to the country you want to go, and there’s a family there looking for an Au Pair, there should be no problem!

How to become an Au Pair?

Ok, so there are basically two (three, actually) ways to do it. You can join an agency or you can go solo, both work, but the first one usually costs money.

Agencies. I have never tried any so I can’t really say much about them. They simply work as an intermediary between the families and the Au Pairs and the costs are either divided (which means you’d have to pay a fee) or only the families pay (so it’d cost you nothing to join). The first time I decided to become an Au Pair I was just 19 and I had never travelled on my own so I searched for an agency but I ended up using a language school in Barcelona – there are many shcools that do this – that offered an Au Pair experience. I paid, I think, around 200 or 300 euros only so they would put me in contact with a family, who at the same time had contacted an agency.

Solo. Going solo means time and effort. There’s plenty of websites that help putting Au Pairs and families in contact. They work with profiles and private messaging, which – if done with enough time – helps a lot to choose the right family for you. Have in mind that you’ll be LIVING with and WORING for them, so you need to really get al
ong. AUPAIRWORLD is how I met my current family and I’m very happy with the result. I had no problems on this website, but I did come across scam profiles in other ones, so be careful with that, never trust too-good-to-be-true deals and NEVER pay or send money to anyone.

In my opinion, there’s no need to pay an agency but if it’s your first time it is a good way to minimize risks.

How much does it pay? 

Not much. Being an Au Pair is not considered an actual job, although mosts of the times you end up doing the same things a nanny would do. You should be paid at least £80 or 100€ per week – that’s your pocket money -, which is not much, as I said, but you must always remember that you won’t be paying rent, food will always be provided to you and sometimes families help with other expenses like transport, phone bill, etc. You won’t get rich, but you’ll survive and even get to save some money if you’re wise with it.
😉

Are you planning to be an Au Pair soon? Do you have more questions? Ask any doubts you have in the comments and I’ll do my best to solve them!

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