So being 23, an being offered an opportunity of working in Italy for a few weeks, I decided to leave my job (other factors were involved here too) and pack up my suitcase and head off to Naples. Travel has always excited me, so the opportunity to visit somewhere new always appeals to me. The opportunity itself came from my Godfather, which is probably different to how most people become au pairs, but he works in Italy and needed someone to look after his 2 and a half year old for 3 weeks as his wife (an air hostess) was working away.
To me this was a perfect opportunity.
I wish I had asked or read blogs about doing ‘nannying’ before coming over here. I actually think people who like the idea of travelling, or living in a foreign country and enjoy working with children will thoroughly enjoy being an Au Pair, and although those things are me, it has been a difficult experience.
– you don’t pay rent
– you don’t work ‘too many’ hours
– you’re in a foreign country
– the weather may be hot
BUT don’t think that being an au pair is all face painting and making cakes – this is what I thought.
An au pair is someone who traditionally lives with a family for a year in order to experience another country’s culture and to learn the language. They get free food and board and a small weekly wage. In return they help out with the kids, taking them to and from school. They learn the language and become a part of the family. Whilst experiencing the local area and travelling to great sights on days off.
I think my ‘Au pair / nanny ‘ experience will differ hugely to others, as I know this family really well and i’m only here for 19 days. I have lived in with the family and been ‘mostly’ in charge of Ruby’s routine.
I have had a lot of time to myself, which has been amazing, but due to 90% of my time here i’ve been poorly, I think that definitely has affected the way i’ve thought about my experience. It can also be quite a lonely job, I haven’t really met anyone, apart from the family that we spent time with in Rome (who were lovely).
I had visions of dropping Ruby at nursery and being able to explore Naples and enjoy coffee shops, or bakery’s or head to the beach, but unfortunately where they live is a little outside of the main tourist areas and I don’t have the confidence to drive around and find places that i’m unsure of. Also I would hate to be in an accident with Ruby in the car!
The early mornings have also been quite a shock to the system, although I am use to waking fairly early for school, being woken anywhere between 6-6:30 and then being on your feet all day with a toddler is tough work. I now fully understand why people say ‘when you have a baby, you must sleep when they sleep!’ It’s 100% true, otherwise you constantly play catch up with yourself for a good night sleep!
The days themselves have also been very much the same, and I understand baby’s and young children have routine but for me it has been slightly tedious on occasions where i’ve just thought ‘it would be nice to walk the dog somewhere else, or see something new’.
Hopefully on the weekend when Suzy is back I can go off and do a little exploring or visit the beach, and then Joe arrives and we are off to explore Rome, Florence and Pisa so that will be really exciting.
My day to day role has been quite simple too, as I imagine some Au Pairs are asked to prepare meals for their families, or clean, and other jobs; whereas my role has solely been to look after Ruby and whilst I make Ruby’s dinner I haven’t had to cook a meal for the people i’m living with, of course i’ve made my own food etc but i’ve not been expected to do other things. In essence my job title is probably more ‘glorified child minder’ than Au Pair but never the less.
Whilst i’ll always be grateful for the opportunity i’ve had here, I honestly don’t think I could be a full time Au Pair, the teaching life is definitely for me!
IMPORTANT QUESTIONS TO ASK A POTENTIAL AU PAIR FAMILY:
I found a list of important questions to ask if you are seriously thinking about becoming an Au Pair in a foreign country and think these are great! * and really some these I probably should have asked myself!
- How does the family feel about you going out during the week?
- Will they expect you to be home by a certain time?
- Are they comfortable with you coming and going as you please at the weekend?
- Have they had an au pair before? If yes, can you speak/email/meet them?
- What is your room like and where is it in relation to the other rooms of the house?
- How far is the nearest metro station/bus stop?
- What is the area they live in like, is it safe to walk through at night?
- What food do they eat?
- Are you free to eat your own meals or do you have to eat at the same time as the family, even at the weekends?
- Will you be expected to go on holiday with them? If yes, where will you be staying (you don’t want to share a room with the kids) and what kind of hours will you work? Will you be paid extra?
- Will you have to work half-term holidays? If not, will you be expected to go home?
- How often will you be expected to babysit? Will it be at the weekends? Until what time?
- How far is the kid’s school/activities (horse riding, ballet, football etc) from where you will be living?
If you have your own place:
- Are you allowed people to stay whenever you want?
- Does it have internet access?
- Is there a bathroom in it? If not, what is the shared bathroom like?
- How far is your place from the family’s home and the kid’s school/activities?
- What floor is it on and is there a lift?
Some of these may not apply to you, but they are probably worth having just in case!