Becoming an au pair can be a daunting yet exciting experience. What will their home be like? What are the families rules? How will you settle in? Will you be a good fit for them? These are all questions I’m sure you are asking yourself, I know I was! Before I give you my 5 top tips on helping you become an awesome au pair, the first thing you need to know is that it’s perfectly fine to be anxious. It’s a big step entering into someone else’s life! Another point to keep in mind is that it’s okay if it doesn’t work out. It happens. There’s always going to be another family out there waiting for your superstar ways.
Anyway, onto why you are here…
1. Stroll into your family with open arms.
Whether you are a live in, or live out au pair, you are still becoming a new member of the family. Walk in with confidence, you need to assure the parents that you are capable of looking after their children. I say below to put yourself into the children’s shoes, but also put yourself into the parents! Imagine leaving your children with someone you didn’t know. You need to fill them with trust and faith, to guarantee you are able to be the best au pair they have had so far.
2. Patience and Communication.
I cannot stress enough how important communication is to your host family. No question is a silly question when looking after other people’s children. Any queries or worries you have, simply ask.
As for patience, all children are different. It is vital that you do not get overly angry with the them. They will be naughty, they will misbehave and not listen… they are kids! It will take time to get used to their ways but eventually it will become familiar to both you and the family.
3. Put yourself into the children’s shoes.
Sometimes you can walk into a family that has had 10+ au pairs, or one that’s had none. Empathise with how the children may feel having to get to know another person and having to go through their routine again with someone new. It can be hard for some children to express their emotions to an unfamiliar face.
On the other hand, what about a child that has never had anyone else look after them before? Usually, children are intrigued by new faces so they will probably stick to you like glue as soon as they see you walk through the door. But what happens when they don’t want to leave their mother/father? It’s probably because they are not used to someone else looking after them.
It is important not to take this personally.
4. Think carefully before becoming an au pair.
Being an au pair is not about the money, it is about the experience you have with your host family. Are you concerned about your income? If so, being an au pair probably isn’t for you. The reason I am saying this is because being an au pair is a lot harder than you may think. If you are thinking about money, it’s highly possible you won’t engage with the children as well as you would if you are in it for the experience.
I know many au pairs that have gone into their gig for a roof over their head, food and income… and ended up hating it. You are the children’s big sister, their friend, the one they go to for help, the mother’s helper, the mothers friend, and many other vital positions that come with an au pair role, so if you aren’t prepared to put in the efforts, you may as well save your time (and the families) and move on to something else.
5. Don’t take any cr*p!
This may sound silly, but it is a serious part of being an au pair. If you feel like something maybe wrong, something doesn’t sit right with you, or you are unhappy with a situation, speak out! The hardest thing to do is carry on with your day feeling unhappy, especially when you are in a new environment in someone else’s home. If you are worried about speaking to your host family about concerns and issues, there are many au pair pages out there which allow you to share your problems and get advise from other au pairs and/or parents.
Finally, be yourself. This is more than just a top tip! It is so crucial that your host family know you for you, and don’t worry! You are awesome.