One of the best ways to travel, to spend little money and get to know other culture and other language, is without any doubt to work as an aupair.
Many of you may know what an aupair is, but for those who don’t, an aupair is a person who travels to a different country to work in a family taking care of the kids, in change of pocket money, and normally meals and accommodation.
This will give the aupair the opportunity to live a great experience in a different place, meet loads of people, learn another language and another culture firsthand, acquire new knowledge, learn important lessons and have fun working at the same time.
Despite everything, not all is as good as it sounds.
To be an aupair can be one of the best experiences you can have, but you also can be very unlucky.
That is why before saying yes to a family, even if they seem the best family you could be living with in the entire world, you have to think a lot and ask them anything you need to know. Don’t be shy or insecure, it is better to have everything clear than spending a really bad time afterwards.
To help you to make a right decision, and having in account my own experience and the experience of other people I met on the way; here I write different things you should know and do before working as aupair. I hope it is useful, and if you have any question feel free to ask.
- Searching for the family:
- The Source: When you decide to be an aupair, the first thing to do is to find the way to do the searching of the family. There are many websites especially dedicated to the auapir work, the one I used was https://www.aupair-world.co.uk/, but there are also Facebook groups and agencies. An agency would provide bigger contact with the family and probably both the family and the aupair would be supervised, but this doesn´t mean that all the information you will find will be completely reliable, and you also must be aware of swindles, because there exist. Never trust anything if you have the feeling that there is something weird.
- Your profile: Once you select where to start finding, you have to create your own profile and write your information. You have to keep in mind that there are some characteristic you should have, and if you don’t, you better reject the idea of being aupair. First of all you have to love children, and then you have to be friendly, outgoing and willing to accept and learn about new cultures. If you match the description you can start creating your profile. Decide which country you want to go, the languages you’ll be able to speak, the age of the kids you’re able to mind, and write everything you like, your studies, the languages you speak, your qualities, why you want to be an aupair, what you are willing to do and what you expect from the family.
- The family: This is the most important thing, even more important that the country. If you don’t match with the family, it is not going to work. Once you have your profile, you can start looking for the family. They can contact you directly as well, but it is good to start finding yourself with an idea of the things that you want. Whenever you find a family that you like email them and tell them a bit of the information you have in your profile, and why you want to work especially with them. Send as many emails as you want, this is not the definitive word, you just want to get to know the families and then you will have time to decide. After all this is done, it is time for the second part of the search.
- The Selection of the family.
- Skype interviews: First thing you should know, never ever go as aupair with a family if you haven’t seen them on skype or personally before. You never know who those people are going to be. And besides, they are offering their house to a person that is going to take care of their kids, so they probably are as scared as you are, and want the perfect aupair. They will want to see you as well, if they don’t that’s not a good sign, I would give directly a negative answer. If this doesn’t happen and after sharing some information the family wants to skype, it is the time to write down all the questions you want them to answer, so that you can decide afterwards. Everyone is different so you will probably ask different things, but anyway here I write some everyone should make:
– Why they want you to be their aupair?
– Which are your detailed duties with the kids and in the house?
– How much would they pay you and if they would pay extra hours?
– How is the personality of the kids, which are their best and worst qualities?
– Which are their hobbies?
– What do they do in their free time?
– What could happen if they go on holydays?
– Would they write a contract with all the timetables, duties and agreements of both the family and the aupair and sign it before going there?
These are among many, all the questions you should ask. Don’t be afraid, if they are annoyed because of your many questions, imagine how that could be once there. If they are really interested as well they will probably ask you many things too. Answer sincerely, this is how things will work in the right way.
- The decision: After talking with the families you will have an idea of what you like the most, and depending on what you find better you can decide which family to go with, obviously if they have chosen you as well. Trust your instinct and be sure of what you are doing. The last question I wrote is very important. It is better if you have EVERYTHING clear beforehand. Once I arrived in a house and they gave me the contract once there, when I had asked for it so many times before; there it was written that I should clean the house for 4 hours one day a week, when they told me before that I should do just some light housework. In my opinion it is okay to help cleaning, but remember, you are there to work, never let them to take benefit from you. That is why is better to have everything clear before arriving there, is the best way to avoid troubles.
- Once the decision is made: Be positive and kind. People will treat you in the same way you treat people. If things have gone well the whole time it doesn’t have to change when you arrive. You really can live the best experience of your life. Nevertheless think that problems can happen, so get as much information of the place you are going as you can, and if you are very far from your home country, find alternatives in the country you are going and see if you could find other family to be aupair or if it would be difficult to find a job. But of course don’t go thinking about this as if problems would arouse, just as information you should know.
Whatever you decide is going to be a good decision, and if it is not, think that when things go wrong is when the world tests us so we can discover how strong we can be. We enjoy the good moments, but the bad ones are those which make us learn about life and about ourselves. Wear the biggest of your smiles whatever it happens and think that all the bad things lead us to better ones, but first of all think that everything is going to be okay, and you are going to live a great experience whatever you decide to do.
You can read some real stories written by the au pairs Paola, Juliane, Michela, Roisine and Cristi clicking here: Au Pair Experiences in Ireland, France and the UK