Being an au pair is pretty amazing but, like any job, it has its ups and downs. These are some of the challenges au pairs face when they first start doing this job.
Adjusting to a new environment
When you arrive in your new host family, everything will be new for you. The language, the house, the shops, the people. This can be overwhelming and challenging. But there’s also an upside: once you’ve gotten through that initial stage, you will grow so much more confident. It will make you stronger, and you’ll realise you can do just about anything you set your mind to!
A new language
If you go to an English-speaking country, I’m going to assume that you already know the language. At least a little bit. But even then it can be hard to understand what your host parents or children are saying. You’ll be forced out of your comfort zone, and you are going to have to ask people for help. Just know that it will only take you a few weeks to get through this stage. I’ve been in that situation, and you move past this stage much faster than you first expect. If you don’t understand what people are telling you, you will push yourself more.
Making new friends
This one can be easy or hard, depending on your personality. But it will benefit you in the long run. Social skills are always useful, and by improving your ability to make contact with new people, you have an advantage that you can use time and again. Read my post on making friends as an au pair for tips on how to meet new people. It’s so much easier than you think! Don’t lock yourself up in your room, because the longer you wait, the harder it gets.
A concern many people have before leaving for their year as an au pair is homesickness and missing out on spending time with family and friends back home. But being away from them will bring you closer to the people who are meant to be in your life and take you away from those who shouldn’t. You’ll find out who will actually make an effort to keep your friendship alive.
As for the homesickness – everyone goes through this to some degree. The ways you deal with it will help you grow. Will you try to find a way to move past the situation or do you let homesickness take away from the amazing time you can have while abroad? Remind yourself why you wanted to be an au pair and focus on that when you miss home. It can also help to just call your parents/siblings/friends and talk to them for a bit.
Looking after children
Being an au pair will try your patience on some days – even if you look after the sweetest children possible. But this will also help you grow, and you will learn so much about how you will want to raise your own children (if you want them) or what works and what doesn’t work with kids. Your job as an au pair gives you an incredible insight into another family’s life and how they raise their kids. This usually helps you find out what you want or don’t want for your future children. It also opens your eyes to the responsibilities that parents have and the love that you get back. You will respect your mum and dad so much more for raising you (I know I do) and you might even have flashbacks to your own childhood and suddenly understand why your mum reacted the way she did.
Even though it’s challenging at times, the things you learn during your time as an au pair will stay with you for the rest of your life, and that makes it one of the most rewarding jobs there is!