My time backpacking Europe was coming to an end due to an expiration of my three month tourist visa. The UK and Ireland are outside the Schengen zone so going their for 90 days would allow me enough time to fully experience a new country and be allowed 90 more days in Europe. My friend and travel partner Danielle was also studying in Ireland for a semester so the option to stay in Ireland presented itself as the best opportunity. Using the site greataupair.com I secured a paying job and found my host family independent of an agency. I skyped them from my riad in Marrakech and confirmed the job. My 6 month verbal commitment came to an abrupt end when reality kicked in. It started as an incredible experience that turned into a stressful job. My experience of both the good and bad is what I’m including in this post. Here is a list of things you may experience as an Au Pair:
(Waking up to this view almost made it hard to leave)
1) Pro: You get to experience a new culture
This is the sole reason of becoming an au pair! You get to live in a brand new country, earn money and experience a new culture by living with a local family.
Con: You still have to deal with schedules and don’t get much travel time
I was hoping that I could use the weekends to travel but I was only given Sunday and Monday to do so and factoring in long bus rides or plane trips, this wasn’t sufficient time to make a trip worth it.
2) Pro: Being a nanny allows you to test out motherhood without any strings attached
I would be an amazing mother but have no desire to do so. Maybe something to reconsider in my 30’s… Seeing all sides of raising children was just way to stressful and made a full time job look more like a pleasant escape in comparison. I did have a whole new appreciation for my parents.
Con: You’re a stranger in someone else’s home and have to abide by their rules and ways of raising children
I got along great with the family initially but their ways of raising children was much different than how I was raised so I had to quickly adopt their customs.
(I enjoyed picking apples from the garden and made apple pie from scratch as a welcoming gift)
3) Pro: You make money while living abroad
On average this can range anywhere from $100-$250+ a week with around 30-40 hour work weeks.
Con: The amount you make is barely enough for some decent shopping and a day trip
Unless you live very frugally.
4) Pro: You might fall in love with the family and wish to stay longer
Cons: You might not get along with the family and plan your farewell on a daily basis
It is difficult to tell your host parents that it is not working out for you but trust me you will feel a lot better choosing to rid yourself of anything that makes you unhappy and diving back into the world of vast opportunity.
5) Pro: You have minor chores and spend the rest of the time playing games and hanging out with your host children.
I thoroughly enjoyed being a kid again by building forts and playing tag in the yard.
Con: You not only have to watch, clean up after, and feed the children, you also have to clean the house and after your host parents.
My host mom literally had me climb into a trash can to make room for more trash. I also had to empty gallons of water from their broken laundry machine with a cup and cook and clean after the kid’s friends (sometimes their parents) that visited on a weekly basis.
6) Pro: You get to learn a new language, adopt a new culture and make new friends
Con: Your host family lives in a remote area and meeting people requires transportation and proper planning.
Living in a remote area of Cobh, Ireland was one of my biggest complaints because I felt so isolated. I think alone time is necessary at different times in life but I wasn’t at the stage where I wanted to experience the life of Walden at 20.
In summary, for every pro there is a potential con. Don’t let this discourage you from working as an au pair in the future, but instead use this post as insight when making your decision. My ultimate advice if you choose to become an au pair is to go through an agency because they sort out the issues you may experience with the family without you having to deal with the drama and awkward conversations.