10 Things to Know Before Au Pairing in London
Thinking about working as an au pair? Considering London as your destination? Here are 10 things to expect and what you need to know before arriving...
1. When you need to go somewhere by subways it always takes more than 30 minutes
Wherever you want to go, you need to plan at least 30 minutes to be there. Between buses and subways, sometime they are late, sometime they are off. And be careful with the names, the colours and the changes of lines because you easily get confused when it’s your first time using London transport. Make sure you have a map and an oyster card! Feel free to ask someone if you feel lost.
2. Taking care of children is not as easy as we could think it would be
Just be prepared and don’t ever lie on your resume saying you’re used to take care of children if you don’t or if you once did baby-sit. Being an au pair is a very responsible job, you are in charge of the comfort, the well-being, the health, the mood, the LIFE of the child you’re taking care of. Don’t take it as a hobby, take it as a real job and be involved when you’re doing it, so that the parents can go at work absolutely relieved and without any fear. They need to trust you at 100%.
3. If you’re broke at the end of the day not because of shopping but because of subways, don’t worry it’s absolutely normal
Being an au pair is actually a good way to learn how to manage your money. You are in a foreign country so you might want to buy memories, new clothes, have a drink, go out for dinner, parties ... But you don’t have much money to do it. If you want to work in the UK know that life is very expensive in London and you easily get broke before the end of the month. You need to plan every activity and to plan how much it costs before you go: public transports in London are very expensive and you must count it when you’re going out!
4. If you’re someone who usually gets bored quickly, you need to learn how to be more patient when taking care of children
Especially if the child you’re aupairing is young, you need to be creative so that you won’t get bored. But you need to know that any game you’re playing, id the child likes it be prepared to play it a thousand times (not killing! I did more than 20 times the same puzzle).
5. Au pairing IS a real and very tiring job
If you want to be an au pair to visit the country, to go shopping, to meet friends, to go to parties. Fine. You will probably do it BUT a week as an au pair is very tiring, and you’ll be surprised to prefer a Netflix night instead of going to parties on your Friday nights! So, if you want to work abroad as an au pair only for these reasons, don’t do it. You need to understand that au pair is a real job, as tiring as another (even more!).
6. It’s not as easy to be comfortable with your host family
Travelling in host families, to me, is the best way to learn the language, the culture and the way of living of the country you are. However, the first days are not the easiest ones. Indeed, the first week is very important; you must get in touch as much as you can with your new family to get integrated quickly. You will live with them every day during a long period, these people you don’t know yet are now your family, speak with them, even if you’re not very comfortable with the language, they will appreciate your effort and help you progress; tell them how you feel; be curious, ask them about the country, the habits, etc. The more you feel great in your host family, the more you will enjoy your au pair experience.
7. You really need to plan everything and to be clear with your expectations with your host family BEFORE your arrival
You packed your suitcases and you’re just about to take your plane but did you make sure you were clear with your hours of work, days off, conditions of living…? I admit, these things are the most boring things when you skype with your host family, but they are also the most important. If you are not clear about these subjects at the very beginning, you won’t enjoy your travel and the first steps living with your new family won’t be easy. Another advice, once you spoke about it and everything’s clear in both sides, ask a contract so that everything’s written and the family won’t take advantage of you.
8. If you’re French and you want to hear some of English don’t go at Camden Town, it’s full of French people
Actually, Camden Town is not the only place you hear French, there are (too) many French and other international speakers in central London and Camden Town is one of them but it is the same in all touristic places (London eye, Big Ben, Tower of London…). I don’t say you don’t have to go there because it’s absolutely worth it but you could be surprised to hear as much as French language.
9. You need to go at the au pairs meetings so you meet nice people doing the same thing as you from all over the world
One thing very cool in London is that there are a lot of au pairs, and there are groups in social networks that help you get in touch with them: they organize meetings where you can meet them, share your experience, and one of the best thing is that they are from all over the world.
As simply as that, make you best efforts to live everything at 100%, time flies and make the most of this adventure so that you won’t regret anything. Enjoy, enjoy, ENJOY!
By Céline Thiélin