The truth about Au Pairing

5 things they don’t tell you.

Photo by Pietra Schwarzler on Unsplash

I have been an Au Pair for almost two years now and I have not had very pleasant experiences, to say the least. I started Au Pairing in 2020, right after I finished school, and looking back now, that was my first mistake. Being young and naive it’s a lot easier for adults to take advantage of you, even though you both sign a contract or agreement, more often than not the contract/agreement gets broken, and being so young you feel almost disrespectful to stand up for yourself or to report it to your agency. So before you consider Au Pairing, make sure you can distinguish between disrespect and standing you for your rights.

In the two years that I've been au pairing, I have worked through two different agencies. I can not stress the importance of finding a good agency enough. You need to be confident that when shit hits the fan that your agency will help and support you. Being a foreigner in a strange county is scary enough as it is, you NEED to have a support system nearby.

know your limits. with the host parents but also with the children. I know ib the beginning you want to make a good impression but that's the time you need to be the strictest. The children will push you just to see what they can get away with. After a few weeks you can become soft but don’t let them get away with everything. Chose your battles.

your free time is your free time. Now I'm not saying don’t help the host parents out once and a while but do not allow it to become a normal thing. If you don't have plans sure why not. but remember you are not there to mainly look after the kids. Au Pairing is also about cultural exchange and you can't get that from staying at home all the time.

no matter what anyone says, DO NOT discuss any personal matters with the host family unless you are 100% sure that they will not use it against you. be very careful when making yourself vulnerable to people. if they can use it against you they will.

Au pairing is not for everyone. Be very sure you can handle it. the emotional damage is not worth the traveling. That being said there are people who are very lucky and find a lovely family and make lifelong friends, and I really hope you are one of those people:)

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Jane Redelinghuys

Jane Redelinghuys

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