Being an Au Pair is far more than just keeping your host family’s children alive. It’s a job that requires you to become their number one contact person when your host parents are not home. Every Au Pair wants to have a great time throughout their year. They expect their host children and parents to trust and love them and become a part of the family. Unfortunately, many Au Pairs don’t realize that this part requires hard work from their side as well. So what are the top qualities every Au Pair should have? Keep reading to find out!
I don’t want to scare you with this article, but I met several Au Pairs throughout my two Au Pair years, that didn’t seem to enjoy their job at all. The result was unbelievable and led to some scary experiences, which I rather hadn’t witnessed. If you are not into spending time with children, please rethink your idea of becoming an Au Pair.
Here are a few examples of situations that could have been avoided if the Au Pairs had just cared a little more about their little ones.
- Au Pair let a 1 ½ year old play on a playground by herself – the little girl fell off the climbing frame and hurt herself pretty bad
- Au Pair was super impatient with her host kids and yelled at them very often – daily!
- Many Au Pairs take their host kids to playgrounds and parks so they can hang out with other Au Pairs – this is fine, but not if the kids are completely unsupervised and the Au Pair only pays attention to her friends
- A little girl ran into the street because the Au Pair expected her to walk by herself without holding hands – she was only 2 and didn’t understand the danger of cars. Luckily nothing happened.
I could go on and on. Please be aware that you will spend tons of time with your host kids and if you can’t enjoy this time, you won’t have lots of fun during your working hours in the U.S.
To avoid situations like the above, check out if these top qualities every Au Pair should have apply to you!
An Au Pair should be…
You will need lots of patience in many aspects of your new adventure. Of course with the children – they can be a handful. But also when it comes to learning the language, getting all comfortable in your new home, making new friends and feeling safe and comfortable driving in America. All these things won’t happen overnight, and sometimes we have to struggle a bit before we can experience and enjoy the entire beauty of the culture and people.
Are you able to stay calm in most difficult situations? Perfect! You’ll need this part of your personality as you will surely run into unexpected and sometimes difficult situations in America. Your host kids will very likely try to test your boundaries and become a pain in the butt from time to time. Don’t let this freak you out, it’s completely normal. Try to stay calm in situations like this and don’t let their little tantrums get the best of you.
Your job will require lots of dedication! Living with your host family will sometimes make it hard to see the fine little line between your work hours and your free time. They might ask you if you can work overtime, they might come home late from work and sometimes it will be hard to say no. Even though you might not be happy in these situations, it’s not your host kids fault and you should not let them feel that you’re unhappy with their parents. Also: you might feel like you’re a part of the family by now, is it really so bad to work a little longer than usual? Your little munchkins will probably be happy to spend a little extra time with you! So yeah, your host family should be very far up on your list of priorities for your Au Pair year.
Being an Au Pair will teach you to become a more responsible person. You might have lived with your parents up until now and suddenly you have to care for your host parent’s children, you have to do light work in the household or wash the kids’ clothes. These tasks might all be new to you. You should also be responsible in your free time, as your host parents feel like they need to keep you safe and that can be difficult if you’re out and about without discussing your whereabouts with them. Also punctuality is important. Make sure you’re always on time when you start working and when you’re supposed to take the kids to school or free time activities.
5. Fun and entertaining
All kids wish for a fun and entertaining babysitter. Even better is, if this babysitter lives in the same house! This does not mean that you shouldn’t have rules for or discipline your host children if necessary, but you should be able to enjoy seeing the world through your host kids’ eyes. Don’t be afraid to get yourself dirty sometimes, try new games and activities. Involve them in your cooking and baking – they might even have fun helping you fold the laundry. Be funny, be a clown, be silly! This is your chance to act like a kid again!
Your host parents will be happy to have another adult in the house for help. Pay attention to where you might be needed and where you could make yourself useful when the kids are in school. Don’t always wait until your host mom asks you to wash the kids’ clothes – just do it. You know they won’t wash themselves. Offer your help whenever you can, your host family will be thankful.
Do these characteristics describe you?
Sure, nobody is perfect, but spending 45 hours per week with kids can be quite exhausting. If you don’t completely love it, it will be hard to get through a full year.
The same counts for your host family. If they are not able to completely trust you and your work, it will be hard for them to leave their children in your care.
Want to learn more about becoming an Au Pair? Find the requirements here and a list of Au Pair agencies here – enjoy! Need packing tips for your year abroad? Check out this article and subscribe to get access to my FREE printable packing checklist!