Ever wondered what it would be like to be an Au Pair?
Well, you’re in luck, because this week’s guest post is from the very well-travelled @georgiamaeleatham who talks about her experience…
When I was 18 I decided that I wanted to be a Nanny/Au Pair in England, so I went ahead and signed up to a bunch of online job sites and scoured Gumtree for opportunities. I had vague idea of what I wanted, but was open to pretty much anything, planning to travel for a month and then work. While on a Contiki tour around Europe I exchanged emails with a few legitimate families and a few insane scammers… 4,000 pounds a week for 3 hours work a day and all I have to do is pay for my own ticket through your travel agent, sure – seems legit!
I ended up finding a job with a great family with 3 beautiful kids in a Village called Micheldever in the South of England. We emailed back and forth for a few weeks, both talking to other people at the same time and keeping our options open, until they decided they wanted me and until I realised how broke I was. The mother actually emailed me the day after my tour ended, whilst I was wandering aimlessly around London trying to cure my post-party depression, saying she had to come to London for the day and “Can I take you home with me?”
Luckily I received it an hour before she planned to leave and was able to make it to the cafe she said she would be at… a few minutes before she left! She must have seen past the bedraggled backpacker exterior, suffering from a case of the Contiki-cough, and straight into my childcare-loving soul, because she took me home and I ended up staying with them for 5 months.
Fresh out of school I suddenly found myself in charge of a 6, 4 and 2 year old while their parents worked and studied. It was a big challenge but we kept busy. We finger painted in the bathtub, took the train to story time at the library, took walks in the woods behind the house, built cubby houses while it rained (it rained a lot!), collected caterpillars, did grave rubbings at the local cemeteries, accidentally stopped for a water break in a cathedral and found ourselves standing on Jane Austin’s grave, baked bread, went to playgroups and spent endless hours on the swings at the local park.
It was an amazing experience, but it was also challenging, and at times incredibly hard. There were endless questions, low wages, stinky nappies, kids with serious cabin fever over winter, lost ‘blankies’ and snotty noses. But overall, I look back and I’m so glad I did it.
Things to keep in mind when considering if being an Au Pair is for you:
The casual, no stress and, fun kind of nannying that I was interested in wasn’t very lucrative. But while my wage was only £100 a week I was able, and encouraged, to take the children wherever I wanted to go and explore. We would load up the double decker pram with jumpers and snacks and take the train to various neighbouring towns to explore. As long as there was a trip to a park or a cool craft activity at a museum then the kids were happy to be dragged around.
Don’t commit too soon, make your own way over there and meet the family beforehand, or at the very least arrange a Skype interview. Agree to a trial period before you start and don’t be afraid to get out of there if you don’t suit, they don’t want a discontent nanny just as much as you don’t want to disappoint them.
I got my job (and a bunch of scam emails) through Great AuPair.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladies Gone Global. Ladies Gone Global takes no responsibility for the verification of any company referenced in the above article and any and all research into the legitimacy of any Au Pair experience is the responsibility of the person seeking placement as an Au Pair.