6 years ago, I made a life-changing decision to become an au pair abroad for the first time. For those unfamiliar with the term, au pairs are (usually not qualified) nannies who receive accommodation and usually other benefits (including weekly pocket money, covered food costs, and travel expenses, etc.) in exchange for a few hours of childcare per week. Seems insane, right? Probably, but it is also highly requested, especially during the summer.
Interested? Here are some  things that nobody tells you about being an au pair.

Kids will challenge your authority in most ridiculous ways

And you better ask the parents about the rules of the house as earlier as possible. Your first few weeks as an au pair will probably be some of the hardest of your life. Temper tantrums, tears and banging heads on the floor will not only come from your kids – you’ll cry your eyes out a couple of times too. The secret is to not give up. Hold your ground and remember – you’re more like a big sister than a parent.

Some families just aren’t the right match

Often, au pairs find themselves in a pickle as they realise their family isn’t exactly what they claimed they are. The workload, the attitude, the kids and the expectations can all affect your au pair adventure and sometimes things just don’t work out. I’ve met a lot of au pairs who felt guilty for wanting to leave but guess what? You’re allowed to leaveif the situation’s making you uncomfortable in any way.

Not everyone can handle the au pair life

It sounds pretty easy but it was by far one of the most challenging jobs I’ve had in my life. Not everyone is able to handle it and some don’t discover this until they become an au pair. Just like a parent, you need to engage with kids on a daily basis – this includes changing diapers (depending on their age, of course), dealing with tantrums, injuries and everything else a normal parent would deal with. Warning: Losing your mind is an unofficial part of the job and it’ll happen unexpectedly.

You WILL make friends for life

And it’s extremely hard to leave them after your au pair adventure is over. Whether it is the kids, the family or people you’ve met along the way, being an au pair allows you to meet tons of exciting people that WILL change your life in the best way possible. The kids I looked after are now a part of my extended family and I still see them and do a surprise school pickup whenever I can.

You will know your family more than they know themselves

And sometimes it hurts knowing all secrets, especially when you can’t share them.All the dirty laundry will sometimes be aired right in front of you– the literal and not so literal. Affairs? You’ll probably know about them. Family feuds? You bet (and it’s really awkward when it happens, especially when you’re sat at the dinner table and surrounded by temperamental Spanish people). The guilt of feeling like you spend more time with the kids than the parents do? Yup. And you need to be ready to handle it all.

CAUTION: You might end up moving abroad

Some might go back to their old ways for a little while before they get lured back by wanderlust. The truth is, apart from gaining valuable childcare experience, being an au pair is alsoa fantastic opportunity to start your life abroad and gives you a chance to explore your future city without worrying about paying your bills.

It’s now been 6 years, 3 cities and 3 au pair (and about 10 other) jobs and I have no intentions of returning home anytime soon – the world now became my home.

So… where do YOU want to go?

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