What I Learned The First Time I Aupaired

by - June 19, 2017

Often times when I tell people that I have moved, and again am planning to move across the world to live in a strangers home and take care of their children they look at me like I'm crazy. And you know what I don't blame them. The idea of au pairing is a little bit crazy, and you have to be an extremely open person in order to do it. And while at times you will find yourself re-evaluating what made you ever think you could do it, or wanting to quit and go home, it can also be one of the most exciting, and rewarding things you'll ever have the chance to do.

There are pros and cons to every experience, and for me au pairing was no different. I really did love it, and enough so that I am willing to do it again, however as with anything the first time you do it, there are going to be lessons that you learn. I thought it would be a good idea to share some of the lessons I learned the first time I au paired, and maybe some of you may find it helpful if you are considering taking on an au pair role yourself.

1. Communication Is Key
I know that this sounds like the most obvious thing, but it is not always as easy as you may think. I know that the first time I au paired I was always so scared of saying no to my host mom, because I never wanted to seem ungrateful or difficult to her. But at times there were things that were not a part of my job description that she would ask me to do, that I really had no interest in doing. At first I didn't mind the extra thing here or there, but after awhile I really started to resent it. And I wish that I could have just sat down and talked with her about that, because really in the long run,  a 5 min awkward conversation is going to be a whole hell of a lot better than annoyance and resentment building up inside either one of you for your duration of your stay! So do your best to always communicate how you're feeling with your host family, because it is important that the both of you think things are going well.

2. Think About The Kind Of Role You Want
My first time as an au pair , was more of a "mothers helper" role than a nanny. Which at first did not seem like something I wouldn't like. But I did come to realize that being at home all day with my host mom, wasn't exactly what I wanted. I often felt like I was in her way, even if she didn't feel like that. And by the end I think we had just spent so much time together that it was kind of hindering our personal relationship. So my advice is to think if you are the kind of person who does not like to be alone a lot, or someone who likes having their own space and doesn't mind being on their own. I quickly came to realize that I was the latter, but there wasn't too much I could do about it by then.

3. It May Take Some Time For The Kids To Warm Up To You
Please don't take it personal if you don't click with the kids right away. Whether you are their first au pair or their tenth, it is a big change to have someone new in the house. When I moved in with my first host family the kids kept asking me when their previous au pair was coming back, and when I would be leaving. As someone who loves kids, and usually gets on great with them, that was a hard thing to digest. Kids can be brutally honest sometimes, but just give them a chance and they will do the same for you. It didn't take long for the two of them to cuddle up to me and say they loved me. And believe me when I tell you that the first time you hear them say that, your heart will just melt. So give it time, and don't stress about it too much.

4. You Will Do Things You Never Thought You Would
Before I became an au pair I couldn't even pick up my dogs poop without gagging. Fast forward a year and I was quite literally smelling a babies butt in public to see if he needed a nappy change. The longer you do it, the more natural things become to you, and you almost feel like you're a parent yourself. Au pairing sometimes tests your nerves, but a lot of the weird things you never thought you'd do sort of just becomes second nature to you.

5. You Are the Au Pair, Not The Parent
Often times it was hard for me to remember that the kids didn't need me to be their parent, because they already had them. I was there to watch over them yes, but also to be like a fun big sister! I used to get very stressed out about making sure they were always doing exactly what I thought they should be, that they weren't being naughty or getting into mischief, but then you have to stop and think that they're kids. No matter how hard you try to stop it, these things are going to happen. And I am not there to make sure they don't, I'm there to make sure they don't hurt themselves in the process. Being an au pair is supposed to be fun for you, and fun for the kids. Sometimes you just have to let them be kids.

Being an au pair was a really fantastic opportunity, and I really did learn so much from it. I'll forever be grateful to my first host family for letting me into their home, and letting me create a magical bond with their kids. And I'm so excited for my time with my next host family, and getting to know a whole new family! If you have ever thought about au pairing I really encourage you to explore your options more, because it is truly a wondering thing!

Much Love,
Spenser xx

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