5 Steps To A Perfect Au Pairing Experience.
When I looked into au pairing I really struggled to find advice online. While I can Google 'how to contour your face like Kim k' or 'how to lose 25lb in 2 weeks' with just one search, decent advice on au pairing was lacking. I'll be honest; when I first considered au pairing I was pretty sceptical. Just the thought of going to stay with a random family you might find on the Internet freaked me out. And while I spoke to a few people who had undergone the au pair experience from hell, I asked myself how I ended up with one of the best experiences of my life.
Au pairing is a great way to learn or practice a new language and the perfect way to explore new areas. I've now au paired for the same family twice, with not a single regret. However, finding the perfect family wasn't just pure luck...
When you're writing your personal description, be honest. Honesty is key. Be honest with the family and be honest with yourself. If you claim to speak fluent Spanish and can play grade 8 piano, you may find yourself in an awkward situation. Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses and about what you intend to get out of the experience and what is most important to you. In other words, find out where you are going to be living before you find yourself living at the top of a mountain with the nearest bakery being an hour’s walk away. Consider living in a village, small town, city, beach or ski location...
Don't get excited and say yes to the first person that approaches you, despite their impressive 8-bedroom mansion, 25m outdoor swimming pool, 2 kittens and a darling son called Jeff. Yes, people are great at advertising themselves and their families online with a smiling photo of last Christmas at Disneyland. And as appealing as that may sound they may or may not be the family best suited to you. I would advise speaking to a number of families to see what's out there to allow you to draw comparisons and find the best match for you.
Discuss and negotiate all areas before you agree to anything and find yourself backing out in the last minute of 6 months in the Alps, when you find out you won't have any time to even go skiing (bore!). Au pairing is a compromise - you're going to be working for them but at the end of the day they need your help too.
There are 8 key areas worth covering. They include:
2. Days off and free time
3. Daily schedule (will I be a glorified cleaner?)
4. Bedroom and sleeping arrangements
5. Eating arrangements
6. Transportation within the area
7. Language courses
8. Whether there will be other au pairs to socialise with nearby.
It's important to see your family before you go and stay with people you have never seen before. Make sure you speak to them and see they are who they say they are. Most importantly speak to the kids. After all, they're who you are going to be spending the majority of your time with. You have to remember that although the Internet is great it's not always the safest place and there are some bad people out there...
Book your tickets and enjoy the experience of a lifetime. And you may find yourself invited back to a top beach destination as a friend next time.