Hey au pairs and future au pairs!
My name is Malin and before becoming an au pair, I was not well prepared! I did not know what to expect from my stay.
Right now, I am the au pair of a 2-year-old girl, a 5-year-old girl and an 8-year-old boy. I am originally from Germany and I live with my lovely host family in Biarritz, which is a small town on the ocean in the southwest of France.
Based on my experiences, I want to help all of you who are thinking about becoming an au pair. I’m going to tell you the details of what the first month of the au pair experience is like!
First things first…
When you first arrive in your new home, it can be quite a shock living with people you barely know and spending 24 hours a day with them.
It might take a while to get over the homesickness, culture shock, and boundary setting. That said, DO NOT let that overwhelm you. Trust me, we all feel a little lost in the beginning!
To help you make the best out of every situation, here are 5 tips to help you with the beginning of the au pair process.
1. Reach out to other Au Pairs
Whether you ask your agency for contacts, meet people at language courses or join a Facebook group, finding people to spend time with is so important. It can especially help you get over homesickness and the feeling of being lost.
The Au Pair, Oh Paris community is a great resource for au pairs all over the world. Check out this video of their culture shocks between the USA and France!
2. Discover what the country has to offer
A little walk around the neighbourhood or a weekend trip to another city can help lift your spirits. Exploring your new home offers the possibility to learn more about the country and culture and meet new people! This will distract you from any negative emotions. It can also help you get used to the customs of the different culture faster.
3. Write about your au pair experience instead of calling home
The urge of telling your loved ones about every single step is huge. Instead, try to write down your experiences either in form of a daily/weekly blog or diary entries. Then you can share them with your loved ones to read.
Telling them about every detail of your day on the phone can take up a lot of time. It may also make you prone to homesickness.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask your host family for your privacy
When it comes to becoming an au pair, the first weeks can be very tiring, especially when you’re not used to this type of « work. » That said, don’t be afraid to make yourself a hot tea and watch Netflix when you’re done.
Sometimes when you are « a guest“ at home, you can will feel the pressure to be available and help at all times. However, you have to remember that your family will understand that you need time for yourself as well!
5. Spend quality time with your host family
Last but not least, the only way of feeling more at home as an au pair is getting to know the family better and spending quality time with them. For example, a family board game before dinner or going to the park together are small but valuable moments that you can share with them!
So if you are thinking about becoming an au pair, just know that we all have our little struggles but in the end the experience is so worth it!