Devon was an Aupair from Britain and I actually met her the night we picked her up for a road trip to Niagara falls ha! She is lovely and was always my soup buddy when I wanted to get soup at an absurd hour! She lived near me in Pearl River and I loved every moment of being her friend.
Tell us a little about the reason why you decided to Au Pair
My main reason for wanting to become an Au Pair was to experience another way of living in a new country and to explore whilst making new friends along the way.
What agency did you go through?
I used Au Pair in America as a girl I used to work with had just gone through the entire process with this agency and was already in America making memories.
How did the process go for you? Was it easy and did you enjoy your process?
The process had its ups and downs. I applied in February and after completing the application form, including all my childcare experience and visiting a lovely lady from the agency my profile went live to all the families in America. Before I went on my holiday, I wanted to make sure I had a family so I wouldn’t be stressed on holiday. I would say I rushed into it and should have taken more time. I had interest from families from New York, Texas, California, and more. It was a crazy and scary process because it was an important decision that would affect a year or more of my life
How long did it take to get a family?
It took me a few weeks to get a family as I wanted to have everything sorted before I went on my week holiday to Rome, Budapest, and Prague. I chose the first family that showed interest when my profile went live.
What did you learn at orientation?
I had a few setbacks with not getting my visa in time so the agency kept changing my flight. When I eventually arrived at JFK airport I was greeted by a lovely man who drove me to where the orientation was taking place. I missed two days of orientation and this was when everyone had made friends and friendship groups. It was difficult at first but I picked myself up and spoke to a few girls from Germany and Brazil.
The orientation itself was very dull and did not prepare you for the realities of Aupair life. The first aid part was interesting but not exciting. I went on the New York night tour which some Au Pairs said that the families paid. If you’re like me then it’s you that pays. I wouldn’t recommend the tour because I went many times to New York and explored on foot which is so much better as you see more of the city rather than just the main landmarks by bus.
What do you regret packing and what do you wish you packed?
I was told to pack light and because America is so cheap it’s a great excuse to go shopping. In my opinion, it’s an expensive place. Whilst I was out there I bought so many clothes and shoes. I would recommend packing for four seasons with a variety of clothes or if you have money then take as less as possible and go on a shopping spree once you arrive.
Do you think that getting $195,75 is enough money per week?
The money per week is a ridiculously low amount for what the week involves. I worked Monday to Friday and had most weekends off. I used this time off to go out with friends or to go for a wander by myself. Eating and drinking out is a lot especially with the tipping. It is difficult to save money for the two weeks’ holiday we are given and also the travel month in the end.
When did you Au Pair? And where?
I was an Aupair in May 2016 with a family of five children just out of New York.
What has been the highlight of being an Au Pair?
The highlight of being an Au Pair is experiencing how another family lives for an entire year and what they celebrate and don’t celebrate compared to my life at home. It was a tough and challenging year but something I would never change.
What was one negative thing about being an Au Pair?
My main negative point of being an Au Pair was not being able to use the family car. All the other Au Pairs I met were allowed to drive. I’ve been driving for many years and love to drive. It was difficult relying on the friends I’d made to drive me around.
Do you recommend being an Au Pair?
I do recommend being an Au Pair. It is definitely more challenging than I ever could have imagined. At some parts, you’ll question why are you doing this but then moments, where you see their faces light up when you get them each a Halloween trick or treat bag filled with sweets and toys, will make you realize why you decided to be an Au Pair.
Can you give a small summary of your week? When you worked etc
The days I mainly worked were Monday to Friday. I woke up and got ready to start at 7:30 am. I needed to clean the kitchen worktops and placemats before the children came downstairs demanding breakfast. We only had breakfast if they were fully dressed.
This was a choice of toast or cereal on a school day. Then they brushed their teeth, some of them realized they had homework and only a limited amount of time to complete it until the bus came so we had tears and arguments most mornings. Around 8:30 am we waited at the bottom of the path for the school bus to arrive. Once the children were at school I needed to wash up, turn the dishwasher on, make the beds or wash the bedding depending on what day of the week it was, do the laundry and make sure everywhere was tidy from the morning antics.
School and break
Around 11 am I was off and could do what I wanted which usually involved going out for breakfast or to the supermarket. Then at 2:30 pm I was back to work deciding what to make for dinner. The eldest child came home around 3 pm and would go to his room and do everything except what he should be doing which is his homework.
Then at 3:30 pm I waited across the road for the school bus. The children were all hungry straight after school so that was ready for when they walked in. Obviously having five children was not going to be easy. Every day involved one child commenting on the food. After that, I cleaned up again. Usually, it was a quick eat because we needed to take one or more to their sport activity or religion which involved tears and fights because homework had not been completed. It was usually an evening of driving around and dropping off and picking back up again. I usually finished around 7:30 sometimes 9 if it was the day the eldest had religion. By the end of the day, I was exhausted so I would either lie on my bed watching tv or reading or I used to meet up with friends just to get out of the madhouse. I worked every bank holiday and did late nights if the mum and dad had a date night.
Final thoughts on Au Pairing in America
I hope I’ve given an insight into what Au Pair is like. In orientation, they describe it in a way you’ll be looking after the darling children. Playing games with them and doing activities.
The reality is Au Pair is a collective term for taxi driver, chef, cleaner, mum, and dad because there is so much to do on a daily basis. I would say make sure you are doing it for the right reasons because it’s no holiday and you are going to have to work more than have time off. Also, make sure you have lots of experience with children rather than just a couple of babysitting shifts. Take your time when choosing a family and make sure you ask lots of questions about what you will be doing, what hours you will be working when your days off are. Most importantly have the year of your life and make many memories
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Read more here: Dealing with conflict