Being an Au Pair

4 young people overlooking London

Heavenly Au Pairs Coffee Morning Photo Album 13.Jan 2016 Here

 

Welcome to the au pair world! To the future au pairs, here are some accounts written by some of our current or former heavenly au pairs:

The Time of my Life!

Why did I become an Au Pair? After my graduation I definitely wanted some time to figure out which kind of job would fit me. I have been babysitting for more than 7 years and I loved being around kids, helping them to discover and develop their abilities and skills and just having a good time with them, going to playgrounds, as the British would call them parks, reading, painting, baking and cooking. The idea of taking care of children in another country sounded very secure and easy to me at first. So I applied as an Au Pair in England, a very exciting process..

Finding a host family

After I had filled in the registration on the website, it didn’t take long until I received host family suggestions. Together with my family I read them all very carefully, took notes when I found something I really liked about one family. After the first few skype calls I could narrow it down to two families that seemed sympathetic: the first one was a single mother with a daughter who had a little physical handicap but was described as very charming and determined. The second family contained the mother, the father and two boys. I talked to friends, my sister and parents about the potential families. In the end I decided for the second family, I was too scared of the challenge that I could not handle the girl’s handicap. My mum would tell me that I had nothing to worry about, I’d have handled the little girl just fine and from my point of view today I’m saying “Always listen to your parents, because that is a really big step”. When I decided to go to a host family in Cambridge, excitement began the real deal!

The first weeks with the family & great time in Cambridge!

The host mum picked me up from the airport; I met the family, especially the boys. They seemed fun and cheeky just as all boys in that age! The first few days, the mum showed me the daily routines, I put the bikes out in the morning, tidied up after everybody’s breakfast, picked the boys up after school, gave them a snack as we were home. Sometimes I helped with their homework but most of the time they had already finished it at school and after dinner, I’d help tidy up the kitchen, as the parents got the boys ready for bed. Handling the boys was not so easy, but we just needed some time to get used to each other.

With facebook and the list from Heavenly Au Pairs, it was really easy to meet friends! We met in local pubs or at cafés, took walking tours through the city, took photos together and went on trips together and went shopping… It was so much fun, of course you won’t find your clique right from the start but as you keep on meeting with other Au Pairs, you’ll find great friends!

Busy/wonderful/chaotic/loving Au Pair life

After spending time with the first family in Cambridge I moved to a 2nd family, in London. Every family has different routines, habits and rules but by time I got used to it and even now as I’m home in Germany, I still do things as I learned from my host mum. It is really refreshing to see how other people think of things as totally normal you’d think are very bizarre, but it is great to learn how to deal with that, because in training or other job later there will always be people who’ll have other opinions.

As Elliot got used to me, he thought of me as a family member and as they wanted to go to the park or just shopping on the weekend when I had plans, he would ask “Deike come, too?” He’d come into my room at Saturday 9 am when I wanted to sleep in and had to show me his sword and shield, it was soooooo double cute!!!!

Travelling

I found out the fun of travelling way too late! So I recommend to all new Au Pairs: Travel! It is so exciting and fun to see new places. I travelled a lot with megabus, a cheap bus company, sometimes a journey was only 5 pounds, so amazing! For many trips from Cambridge to London and backwards, to Brighton, Liverpool I went by national rail and I’m so glad I got the 16-25 railcard, it makes travelling by rail 1/3 cheaper!

I have been to Bath (definitely go and see the old Roman Bath, it is so fascinating!), Oxford (Better check if Christ College is open that day if you want to see the great Hall from the Harry Potter movies), if you’re a Harry Potter fan you’ve got to go the Harry Potter experience in the Warner Brothers Studios in the north of London, you can see almost all the scene places, many costumes, even ride on the broom sticks like the actors did and try butter beer, it is so much fun and 2 hours really are not enough time to see everything closely. The best two destinations I travelled to, were Brighton and Liverpool! We went to Brighton in the late summer, which made it even better! It was so great just walking along the beach and discovering the Brighton Pier, there is such a fun roller coaster on the Pier! You’ve got to go and see it! If you’re not a Beatles fan you will be after a visit in Liverpool! Of course I also saw many of the typical London attractions such as Madame Tussauds

Review: best experience of my life

So all in all I can really say it was the best experience of my life, I’ve made so many new wonderful friends and we already have a date to see each other again! I’m so looking forward to seeing them all again! J I just joined all the “Au Pair London/ Nannies London/ Nannies & Au Pair London, Heavenly Au Pairs & Nannies” groups on facebook I could find and asked people If they wanted to meet, go sightseeing, travel or go shopping and such great connections developed!

I really recommend a gap year to everybody! You get so much experience; gain more self confidence and you get so much more independent. I never would have thought I could just go to strangers and ask if we could borrow towels but when our hostel suddenly does not provide towels I it was either drying with clothes (Ewwww!) or being brave and asking the closest hair dresser for towels. At that moment it may have been a little frustrating but at a month later it was such a funny thing looking back!

And if you like being around children, Au Pair is really so rewarding, you get so much love back from the kids! Sometimes you’ve got to take a leap of faith like I did, I think I’d really have regretted it if I left and didn’t change families, now I know sometimes things just work out.

I already know that in 2016 I’ll definitely go back to London and Cambridge. I have got to see how much my little brother has grown! J

I’ve felt so much at home in England, I’ve made myself a little reminder with all the things I loved the most (you’ll come to know British people are crazy about mugs!)

Feel free to contact me for any further questions about my time in England, travelling or Cambridge or London: XX…XX Deike provided her email address but we removed it for her security. If you would like to contact Deike, we can pass you her email address just ask!

Good luck for Your Au Pair Experience!

 

Hi Heavenly Au Pair Team,

here a little update about my time in C’ham.

I am here for 9 weeks now and have settled in very well. Since last month I take English-Courses in the Marlow Language Centre, which is a very good school. Thanks to this school I already improved my English and met a lot of other Au pairs. We always meet for a coffee after class which is very helpful to find new friends. I often meet with one of my new friends on the weekend, just to talk or discover new places like Reading.

Meeting my friends and talk about everything was really helpful to fight the first feeling of homesickness. Because we all make the same experience and understand each other very well.

I got homesick after a tough week, when the little girl Clara (4) was sick and home all day long while the parents where at work. During this time I tried to be a big help but at the end of the week I suddenly felt that it was too much. Luckily my hostfamily understood and they asked me how they can help me. The following week was better because Clara went to school again and so I was able to organize everything better. When my hostmother Camilla had an operation she worked from home. Last week was brilliant because we could share the work with the children and the house and Camilla even said that I am a big help. That was really nice to hear because I am a person that needs praise because I often think that a make mistakes the whole time, for example when I can’t get the boy (Bertie,10) off his xbox or his ipod touch. But I talk a lot with his parents about things like this and together we find a solution.

Because Camilla was at home the last 2 weeks we talked a lot and got more close. That is a really big step to feel more as a part of the family of course.

Next Sunday is my 20th birthday and my hostfamily allowed me to celebrate my birthday in Germany. So I will come back on Monday to be there for the children during half term when the parents are at work. To come back on the monday will feel less sad as the day I left Germany 9 weeks ago because now I know what my life here is like.

I already feel that I have changed a bit through the things I have learned so far. I became more confident, which is one of my aim of this year. I didn’t feel lost on my first trip through London, but pretty safe. That really suprised me and I knew that this year will teach me a lot about myself.

I will let you know any news!

Thank you,

Mariella

A typical au pair recommendation written to the host family’s ‘next’ au pair, by the current au pair:

What’s life like in this family?

It really is an enjoyment to live with Kate, Jo and Toby.
The kids are a pleasure, who surely have their moments of being grumpy but it’s always been good fun with them.
Those two are typical London Kids who absolutely adore each other.
Honestly, I’ve never seen siblings hugging and kissing one another as much as they do. Kate is actually very grown up for her age and doesn’t care about any group pressure. She absolutely loves taking responsibility for Toby; who’s a little dreamer and keeps forgetting things. Toby’s always telling the longest stories in the world so don’t you worry about not gaining enough foreign language skills.
Both are very active and curious children, who love playing, painting and crafting.
Even if Jo’s working hard, she’s a lovely mum and is trying her best to spend as much time as possible with them. She puts much effort in their education and sports. So do I and read out stories to them each night.
I’d like to stress the family’s cultural interest as well. Wherever you’d like to go to, Jo will give you the best advice on what’s going on in London.
They’ve always seen me as a part of the family, so there never was any reason for homesickness.
Kate and Toby are allowed in my room and we used to watching German daily soaps such as Shopping Queen.
Jo’s taken me on holdiay trips and we often spent time together at the weekend. This was always something I really appreciated as it’s given me the chance to visit loads of hidden places around the UK.
By the way, they’ve got a gorgeous house and live in a lovely young area in South West London which offers you each sort of leisure activities, such as green space for running – even if I never did it; some cool Bars; nice shops and good travel connections.

What’s life like an AuPair?

In the mornings:
Getting up early; eating Porridge; emptying the dishwasher; doing pack lunches; drinking lots of tea; survive grumpy moods; drying tears; playing and reading out; loads of laughter; rushing to school
During the day:
Doing some general tidying up; putting clothes in the washing machine; wondering how many clothes they’ve got; hanging the washing out; wondering how many clothes they’ve got; doing some ironing; wondering how many clothes they’ve got; helping out with grocery shopping.
Spending a lovely time with other AuPairs and getting to know the city you live in. Falling in love with the city you live in. Visiting exhibitions and fill up your wardrobe.
Trying different kinds of foods and explore hidden places.
In the afternoon:
Picking kids up from school; reminding Toby to get his pack lunch bag; smoothing down differences; cooking fresh meals; being loved or hated for the meal you cooked; doing homework; having playdates; googling Scooby Doo movies; playing in the back garden; taking Kate to swimming lessons or Rainbows.
In the evening:
Chasing them up the stairs; running the bath; brushing teeth; telling silly stories.
You either do some babysitting and put them to bed or you’ll be off.
It’s up to you whether you’re stays in to eat a salad with Jo or go out to some Pubs.
Being an AuPair is not always easy as you work and live at the same place .
As Jo said, this is a relationship which takes some weeks to establish and then months to flourish into something which works for the family and the AuPair.
We found a good balance between one’s own interests and the importance of feeling included; so I am pretty sure the right person will feel comfortable in here, too.
I’ve actually never expected a such spectacular year in the UK and if I could, I would definitely stay for longer.
Lisa x (Lisa did not know we were going to publish this, thank you Lisa, we love your honest heart-felt letter)
(Au Pair in London Aug 2012 – July 2013)

Being an Au Pair, by Anne, former Au Pair:

There is more to being an au-pair than just looking after kids or earning money and even though having been an au-pair will look splendid on your CV it’s not about these things, but about the experiences itself that can make it your best time ever.
I chose to be au-pair out of the same reasons as many other girls (and boys). The possibility to go abroad, live in another country, learn the language and about the culture of the people while having a home.

After various e-mails with my possible host family and after having agreed to be the family’s au-pair, I was quite nervous about the whole thing. Not least because I’d be living in a foreign country with a strange family. But the family sent me really nice emails and photos telling me about what they were up to. They sounded like fun, kind hearted people and I really started to look forward to being their au-pair.

Once there it took a few days to settle in. There was a lot to remember, how to do this and not to do that. The “house-schedule” and all the little procedures that differ from family to family.

With some help from the kids, who were really looking forward to my arrival and were happy that I played with them from the start, it soon became like a second home and I soon found it easy to remember what to do, how and when. I’d say that after 2-3 months I was completely feeling at home there, had a strong bond with the kids, could fully orient myself in the home and the city and had a exciting social life with lots of friends. This is also why I recommend staying with the family for longer. The longer the better!

I met most of my friends in the English classes I attended in the mornings. Being surrounded by English speaking people and learning a school made my English improve quickly and I passed the Cambridge certificate, which by the way was also very helpful for getting into university the next year.

I’ve never learned such a lot about myself and other people, as well as their culture, than in my time as an au-pair.

I’m still in contact with the girls I met at the au-pair school (language school) and will definitely never forget how much fun we had sightseeing, on our evenings out or just hanging out together.

Like in every part of life you have to be a responsible, hard working person and should be happy with what you do – also flexibility is a great plus. You should show yourself from your best side, since the family is inviting you into their home and trusting you with their children! Don’t forget that being an au-pair, even when you are part of the family, you’re still their helping hand and have to treat all of them with respect, as they treat you with respect. I’m very sure that the family will appreciate all your efforts and the better they feel about you the better you will feel about them.

I was so happy and so well settled that, even though I had already made plans back home, I didn’t want to think of leaving and when the family invited me to stay two more months I happily agreed!

I left the family more than a year ago but visited them last summer and will visit them again because I still see them as my second family and I feel like I always have done – very welcome.

Good Luck!

Anne (au pair in London Sep. 2009 – Aug. 2010)