Top 5 Tips To Making It as an Au Pair
An au pair job represents a great way to see a new country, and to get first hand experience of work through living with a host family.
Working as an au pair is distinct, however, from being a nanny. Au pairs aren’t expected to do intensive housework or a lot o childcare, and are primarily there to provide extra help to the family, and to learn about the culture. To make it as an au pair, you need to do your research into the role and potential host families, while being clear about the kind of work that you want to do, or should be expected to do. It’s also important to focus on some key skills, and to find ways of dealing with homesickness and problem children.
1 – Do Your Research
Before applying for an au pair, check different agencies to see what is available. You need to have a good sense of what families and locations are available, and whether they will suit your needs. Most au pair jobs in the UK are based in London, and you’ll likely want to focus on areas with the most opportunities. It’s also important to avoid scams, and to make sure that offers being made aren’t too good to be true, as they probably aren’t. Contracts should be carefully drawn up, and an agency should be able to help with passport and visa issues.
2 – Be Clear About Work
Try to be as clear as possible about what kind of work that you’ll be expected to do. Most au pairs work about 25 hours a week, and are given days off. You shouldn’t be expected to do more than light housework, some cooking, and childcare. Host families may also want you to pick up groceries and children from school and activities. Make sure that you’re not being given too much work. You should receive a small salary per week in exchange for room and board, and should have your own private room.
3 – Focus on Key Skills
When applying for au pairs jobs, it’s important to set yourself apart in some way from others. Some ways of doing this are to emphasise key skills like a driving license, or being able to speak more than one language. Previous experience of tutoring and childcare, or qualifications in these areas, can also come in handy if you want to demonstrate your value to a family.
4 – Seek Help with Homesickness
Being an au pair can be difficult if you suffer from homesickness, especially at the start of a contract. It’s important to try to get out and see places, rather than staying at home, and to chat to your host family about any problems. At the same time, it’s now much easier to keep in touch with friends and family through Facebook and Skype.
5 – Accept Problems with Children
Sometimes you won’t get off to the right start with a host family’s children, which can be stressful if you feel like you aren’t doing your job properly, and don’t want to lose your temper. Discuss any problems with a host family, and ensure that you aren’t being given too much responsibility. Childcare duties should be built up over time. A new au pair is going to be strange for children, so accept that there’ll be some problems.
Rob James is a father to four girls and recommends hiring an Au Pair to help you return to work. In his spare time (when he gets some), he can be found blogging about the different aspects of family life, from birthday parties, dealing with fights, and organising family time together.