Shalomé was an au pair in Australia first before coming to the UK, so she actually answered these questions for both countries.
What were your reasons for choosing these countries as your destination of being an Au Pair?
I wanted to work as an au pair in an English-speaking country. The UK was too close to the Netherlands and America didn’t really appeal to me. I’d always dreamed of going to Australia. When I came back, I never thought I’d be an au pair again. But when I decided to take another gap year, I found a post on Facebook. A family in the UK was looking for an au pair. This time, I made the decision on really short notice.
How did you find out whether Au Pairing was for you?
I’ve always liked babysitting and children in general. I’ve done a lot of babysitting, which made the step toward becoming an au pair quite easy. While I was doing this job, I found I like looking after younger kids more.
When was the first time you thought of being an Au Pair?
This is a funny story! I was at my grandfather’s birthday and overheard a conversation my mum was having with an aunt. She said that there were a few things she really didn’t want her kids to do. One of them was becoming an au pair. I did some research on what it was and kind of liked the idea. A year later I found myself living with a family in Australia. My mum is totally fine with me doing this now. Her main reason for not wanting her kids to do this was because of all the stories you hear about au pairs being treated like slaves.
What are your plans for after the year?
In Australia, my plan was to stay there for six months before studying musical therapy in the Netherlands. During my first year of that study, I found out that it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I finished that year, but took another gap year after, which is how I ended up in England. The original plan was to stay there until summer 2018 and go back to school in September. But my host family asked me if there was a chance of me wanting and being able to stay until the end of the year, instead of until the summer, which I agreed to. I am planning on doing a course, but when and where is still a big question.
What are the differences that you have come across between the Netherlands, Australia and the UK?
How friendly people are. When you ask someone a question on the streets in Australia, they’re so friendly and helpful. Something I really missed when I was back in the Netherlands. Same goes for England. People are much friendlier here (except for maybe in London).
How have you changed as a person since you moved to London?
Before I moved to Australia, I was really shy. I don’t think anyone who knew me expected me to go on an adventure on the other side of the world. I’m so much less shy now!
Now that I’m in England, I’m thinking more about what my options are abroad. Before coming to London, my future was in the Netherlands. I’d like to see more of the world, though. Maybe even do a course somewhere else in Europe.
What do you think is the most important trait an Au Pair should have?
Being patient, VERY patient, being able to work together with the family as a team, being able to respect their rules and being able to communicate when you’re not satisfied. Communication is the key!
What is the best thing about being an Au Pair?
It’s a cheap way to live abroad for sure, but the love I get back from the kids is the absolute best!
What are your tips for finding the right family?
Follow your gut. You have to ask the right questions, but the most important thing is how you feel about the family. Everyone makes mistakes. If it doesn’t work out with a family because they turned out to be different from what you expected, there are so many other great families out there.
Another tip is to not go for families with older kids if you already know you like looking after younger ones better, or vice versa. In most cases, things won’t work out. Stay true to yourself, that’s really the best advice I could give.