What's it Like Being the First Au Pair?
Hey Au Pairs,
We were recently asked what it's like to be a family's first au pair. Although we've often said in past videos that it's best to speak to previous au pairs, it can often be the case that this isn't possible.
So, we thought we'd sum up the pros and cons of being the first au pair in a YouTube video. Check it out and if you don't have time, we've summed everything up in a list below!
You're the test au pair! This means, you might...
- get to go on fancy, expensive holidays where you're unneeded so can sip cocktails on the beach all day
- get closer to your host family faster as they want to show you EVERYTHING about their country (including fancy restaurants? It's possible)
- be treated like a member of the family rather than an employee who's replaceable and changes every year
You become the au pair which every new au pair is compared to. In other words, if you do a good job, you'll always be remembered.
Your host kids see you as a new adult and treat you as an authoritarian to be respected
This means, there's a fresh slate for discipline! No previous nanny or au pair can ruin your rules. We talk about discipline in a previous video on our YouTube channel.
Your host parents will go above and beyond to make the au pair process work as they're new at it too (this can mean more back and forth, let them know what's working and what's not!)
You can negotiate MONEY. Host families who have previously had an au pair will throw a figure at you (which you should always rebuttable if it's under €80 per week) But, if you're the first au pair, there is a lot more room for negotiation. You can also ask to have your host family help you set up a bank account and transfer money into there via standing order or direct debit once a month. No more awkward conversations!
You have to work out the dynamic of au pairing together.
Families who've had previous au pairs may have this sorted... You'll need to get used to the tester period and sort out:
- How should you discipline the kids?
- What are your responsibilities?
- Can you go out whenever you want?
- What is "off" time and what is "family" time?
- Do you have a curfew?
If you don't ask, you don't get. That is to say at this point if your host family haven't thought to pay for your French lessons or to give you a transport pass, you'll need to ask for it. Remember, you're helping out future au pairs but it may be pretty awkward.
You may have to remind your host family about small money issues - if a family isn't accustomed to having to pay an au pair back for a €2.30 train ticket for their kid, it can be easy to forget. But don't let it slip by - that's almost a whole glass of wine!
You may find it harder to set boundaries. For example, you'll have to ASK for a lock on your door or for your host parents to forbid the kids to enter your room when the door is closed. These can be hard to establish when a child is used to having the full run of the house at all times.
On that note, figuring out your "on" and "off" hours can be hard. A host family who wants to welcome you into their family is lovely, but it can be a little exhausting getting used to a culture all day. Remember, you should be working just 35 hours MAX per week. If you're invited places outside of this, you're within your right to say no. Be communicative about your need for some downtime - future au pairs will thank you.
Of course, your experience may be different from ours. No case is the same and it always comes down to an individual family. These pros and cons are little things which we've picked up on ourselves from our own experiences and talking to other first au pairs!
Just remember no matter how hard it gets - you've followed your dream and are living in one of the best places in the world. CHEERS!
Let us know in the comments what you experiences of being a first au pair were - would you do it again?
That's all for now!