What are people's experiences of au pairing?

I have recently graduated and - as I love working with kids and enjoyed my experience as a language assistant on my year abroad - I am considering seeking out au pairing work in Spain in the near future in order to perfect my spoken Spanish. However, I have heard a few horror stories from au pairs in the past, such as feeling stuck with horrible families with bratty children or parents who keep rowing, which can lead to a sense of isolation. What have been people's experiences of working as an au pair? Do you recommend it?

This question was asked on 13th August 2014 and has been read 1798 times.

  • Kelly · 5 years ago

    I au paired in Italy and it was a wonderful experience! I highly recommend it if you find a really nice family and you're planning to do it during the summer. I think the reason why there are horrible stories about au pairing is that past au pairs simply didn't expect what the family is liker and that s/he just didn't communicate well with the host family before and after arrival. I'd advice you to skype as many families as possible before deciding the perfect one you'd like to live with. You can figure out so much about the family within a 30 min skype call - are the kids hyper, is everyone there to meet you (after all it is pretty big to invite a stranger to their home, so if everyone is there, it means that the parents value their kids' and their spouse's opinion) and you can clarify anything that's not clear to you.

    But would I do it again and for a longer period? For now I'd say no because I don't think I can find a better family and I would constantly compare the new family to the old one. As for a longer period, again, probably no. As much as I enjoyed living with my host family, my independence felt restricted (even though I could do whatever I want during my free time, I just felt I should spend time with the family) and it was hard to meet other people around my age in the area I stayed in. I think 3 months max is enough to have a wonderful au pair experience.

    if you want to know more, you can read my blog entry.

  • Rosie Paul · 5 years ago

    It all depends on your family. I au paired for a family in France and I had the most amazing time. To begin with, I felt so homesick, isolated and really regretted choosing the au pair route but once I settled in and found some friends, I loved every minute of it. I was supposed to stay for 5 months but extended my stay to 8 months as I got along so well with the family and the environment I was in. It's so easy to see over Skype and through e-mail if the family will suit you!

    I was also supposed to come back to the UK to start a degree in French, but due to the advances I made in French, I decided there wouldn't be much point. 2 years down the line and I've just started the third year of my degree at a French university. I now speak fluent French and am currently living in the USA for a year on exchange with my French university.  I would say go for it, it's honestly the best way to get to know the culture you are living in and the people who live there. Your language skills will improve even more and who knows where it might take you. Good luck :)

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