I accepted my first ever job as an Au Pair nervous yet excited. There was little easing into it though as I arrived to a home with 3 kids under 5 and within a month there was another baby and an 8 year old girl who joined the family. As well as it being my first time as an Au Pair, it was the families first time having one. This meant we stumbled through together, figuring out my place in the family and the kids getting used to having someone other then mum or dad look after them.
I had a great 3 months working as an Au Pair and have fallen in love with the family and all the kids. So as my time is coming to an end in this home I thought I would share some of the small things that define what it means to be an Au Pair, or at least what it meant for me with this particular family.
Being covered in bruises. The kids loved climbing on me! I didn’t mind it as I got to lie down and they’re entertained sitting on me but it resulted in me getting some baby feet size bruises across my chest that raised eyebrows.
Minimal privacy. It didn’t help that there was no lock on the bathroom door but if a kid wants to tell you something, there’s no waiting until after you’ve peed or bathed, they will just stroll in and tell you what they need to, no matter how insignificant.
Always being kind of dirty. Kids get dirty and then touch you. I’ll be feeding the baby and she will whack the spoon away and make the maximum possible amount of mess and I am of course in the firing line. There’s always dirt, food or grime and the kids find it and will conver you in it. Also babies poop, puke and wee. Sometimes being a bad caregiver. Don’t get me wrong I’ve never had a kid hurt, starved or neglected on my watch but any parent or caregiver can tell you that you will, at some point, make mistakes when it comes to kids.
One night the mum of the kids I look after was putting one of the babies to bed and he was screaming, she shouted at him telling him off and threatening punishment when he yelled that he just wanted to say sorry. I teased her about this but then the very next night I was putting him to bed and again he was screaming and protesting and I told him off and all when I realise he was just trying to give me a kiss goodnight. Whoops.
Losing boundaries. I’ve been sat eating lunch when a kid decided they wanted some so I let them try it and next thing I know they’ve had more than me. I’ve also shared water out of kids bottles from convenience despite the unknown quantity of backwash which is probably the content majority
Losing any shred of vanity. I probably brushed my hair about 5 times in 3 months. Personal looks are not a priority. It worked to my advantage that I was living in the middle of nowhere so no one could judge my appalling appearance.
Easy jobs becoming the most difficult tasks. When kids are involved things become trickier and take longer. Baking becomes a thoroughly messy affair. Tidying becomes the worst and slowest chore. And most things are deemed a success if you simply complete it. Brutal honesty. Kids are honest. Always. They will tell you if you look a hot mess. The kids always commented on my “prickly legs”. Cheers guys.
Wondering how much you can sell a child for on the black market. No matter how awesome the kids usually are, they will always have moments and in those moments they will drive you insane and you will consider having your tubes tied.
But of course as much as I joke (whilst conveying factual information) I adored working as an Au Pair and living with the family. I know I was incredibly lucky getting hired by the coolest family in New Zealand and whilst it was hard and crazy work, I had so much fun and made some great friends.
I will sorely miss the kids cuddles and unexpected compliments, (having a 4 year old randomly tell you how beautiful you look can really brighten your day). I will miss the jokes and chocolate therapy with momma bear once the kids were safely in bed. And I will miss the house that was so full of love and laughter and all the people that made it that way.
Au pairing is hard work but the pay off, in my experience anyway, is enormous.