6 Lessons Au Pairing Taught Us
Hey Au Pairs,
Are you feeling festive yet? If not, we definitely recommend walking around Galeries Lafayette and looking at the beautiful presents you would buy everyone if you were as rich as your host family.
Shameless plug, thankfully something which is affordable to au pairs is OUR NEW BOOK! It’s out very soon!
When we moved to Paris as 18-year-olds, we were pretty overwhelmed by the au pairing process. We certainly don’t claim to know everything now, but you have to LEARN FAST as an au pair.
A couple of weeks ago, we uploaded a video about SIX things we learned as au pairs. We had a lot of fun coming up with this list. (At the time we were in Nice looking after a doggie!)
1. Everyone Thinks their Country/Culture is the BEST in the World
In a Britain obsessed with Brexit, I continue to hear people say the phrase: “THIS is the best country in the world.” Living abroad taught me that it’s not.
Or, more specifically, it taught me that everyone loves their own culture and country as much as you love yours - your country isn’t special.
In my opinion, this was an important lesson to learn as it opens your eyes to learning about other cultures without thinking yours is superior. Learning the differences between cultures as an au pair makes you a more respectful person and tolerant of things which are “WEIRD” to you.
Alternatively, you could choose be someone who only sits with other people of your nationality to moan about how much you HATE France. Sure, we did that every so often, but we quickly learned that if you embrace the quirks and the weird aspects of French culture, you’ll be a lot more likely to get a better understanding of the country and people and enjoy your time a lot more in Paris.
2. You Can Live MANY Different Lives
YOU’RE BORN, YOU’RE EDUCATED, YOU GET A JOB, YOU RETIRE AND YOU DIE. Right?
Au pairing taught me that you can live as many different lives you WANT. Who says you need ONE CAREER? As someone who still hasn’t found exactly what it is that I love, sticking to just one career would be horrible.
Of course, money is the biggest problem in many young people’s lives. Au pairing is a great way to go away for a while, earn some cash, and decide what you want to do next.
Break the mould! Do something CRAZY! Learn, grow and thrive! Ok. I’m done.
3. Homesickness SUCKS But You’ll Get Over it and BE STRONGER
Edwina and I are regularly asked if we still get homesick. And, for me at least, the answer is no. I miss my family and friends like CRAZY sometimes but thankfully, I haven’t had that horrible homesickness you first experience when you’re away.
For months when we were first in Paris, we’d carry this ACHE around with us, feeling so homesick we couldn’t do anything else but watch FRIENDS and maybe cry.
But, after you get settled in a place and learn to deal with that feeling (whether it’s calling your friends at home or making new ones), you’ll feel 100 times better. Au pairing helped me go through tough times and learn how to deal with them a lot better.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with quitting and going home if it gets too much. But, for us at least, going through that hard emotional time helped us grow!
4. You Learn to Make Friends with ANYONE
Okay, I feel like I did a bad job of explaining what I meant in the video above - did it make any sense?
As an au pair, you learn to go out and make friends with anyone. “Friend dates” are a regular in your life and you learn to communicate with people from all over the world, not just people you grew up with.
5. I NEVER WANT KIDS!
And, of course, when you’ve looked after children for a few months or years, you learn the lesson that KIDS ARE THE WORST! Almost every au pair I’ve ever met has said “I NEVER WANT KIDS”.
Au pairing the best form of birth control around. But, presumably, time changes your mind and you begin thinking “well, MY kids would be much better behaved than my host kids…”
6. Changing a Nappy is All About Controlling the Arms and Legs
If you DO decide to have kids, at least you know what you’re in for. Our final point for this blog post is that changing a nappy is a SKILL.
If you don’t want poop flying around the room, then you better learn what you’re doing early on. To be honest, the best way to change a nappy is to give the baby something to play with and hold their legs with one hand. Then, be as FAST as you can!
We have more useful tips such as this one in our book. Which is coming out this month! Woohoo.
Thanks so much for reading! Sorry if you’re sick of hearing about our book already! But, we’re very excited that it’s finally becoming a reality.
If you want to help support us and keep this community alive, please consider becoming a patron. As little as $1 will help keep our website live (which currently costs us around $300 per year to run!)
Furthermore, if you need any help with the au pair process, make sure to join our Au Pair, Oh Paris Open Forum which both Edwina and I are active on!
That’s all for now.