Top Au Pairing tips
Emily spent the summer before her year abroad au pairing for a family in Northern Italy. Here are her top tips for choosing the right family and making the most of the experience.
2. Don't pay anything for membership, just fill in your profile, write your dream family preferences and wait to be contacted.
3. I would recommend meeting the family on Skype before agreeing anything, seeing photos of where you would be living, and choosing a family with 2 happy-sounding parents (I write this because I was contacted several times by single fathers, and I'm not sure it's a good idea to suddenly find yourself as a mother/wife figure as it could be a bit awkward).
4. The usual pay is about €100-150 per week, plus bed and board.
5. Find out what your free time is like - if you're a sociable person, it might be better to choose a family in a town as opposed to an isolated country farmhouse, although it's likely that your language will improve more if you're a cut off from English-speaking people.
6. Find out what their summer holiday plans are, as they might involve you which would be fun!
7. Find out if they are expecting you, as an English au pair, to speak English the whole time. You need to benefit from the job as well - and they need to know that in advance. They also need to know if you have any dietary requirements, if you can swim, etc. They might require you to do housework too - make sure you make it clear either way before you get there!
8. Ask if you can have the email address of one or two of their previous au pairs (they should be happy to provide this) and see what the au pairs say, and the advice they have.
9. If you have no au pairing experience, then make sure the children you're looking after aren't too young. I worked with 2 children who were 7 and 9 and they were very well behaved and good friends, which made my life a lot easier!
10. I would recommend taking English games and paints and Fimo and beads and googly eyes and treasure map making kits (with tiny prizes) with you, and keeping them hidden so you can produce them over your 1/2/3-month stint. I wanted to produce everything on the first day to dazzle them, but am glad I kept things like face paints and friendship bracelet cotton hidden until the last week :)