A lifetime worth of experience and memories- Au pairing in a foreign country.

Why it should be on your bucket list….

Imagine being in a place with people speaking in a foreign language, sitting in a corner- café and music playing among the benches of the park. The Arc de Triumphe or Eiffel tower in the background. So many places to visit; The Louvre, Palace of Versailles, Port des Arts and the Norte Dame Cathedral. All this in just one city… The city of love – Paris.

Au Pairing in a foreign country can be immensely rewarding, exciting and amusing. And don’t forget educational. You acquire to learn a completely prestine language, experience culture and perceive the world – and all this while getting paid.
An experience numerous wish for and so few can obtain. Everyone knows at least someone who says they feel the urge  to discover the world. And there is no finer way than Au pairing. You have accommodation, food, pocket money and people who care and can tell you about local things. You can also spend time with adorable children.

The experience does not stop there. Working with children can be a significant way to learn new things and gain experience. You also get to learn major  personality traits and characteristics and plenty others, such as patience and assertiveness.
So far we have touched the topics of experience from traveling, and working with kids, but do not forget that you  shape a lifelong friendship. Working with someone elses kids requires trust from the host families side. And for an au pair this job will hold an enormous responsibility. In the conclusion however, if everything went successful and smoothly, you will forever have an acquaintance.

Au pairing is truly also an exceptional gap-year experience and it’s clear why. And if you are not sure to which fabulous country you want to depart yet, watch this space since my upcoming blog will be concerning the best places to au pair. So all you future (or present) fantastic au pairs bookmark www.fantasticaupairs.net since wonderful stuff are still to come.

When your match feels a bit unmatched….

It can happen to anyone. There could also be various reasons for the match to feel a bit uneasy. Some reasons can be completely normal whereas others are not normal. In today’s blog I’ll help you discover the underlying causes, solutions and if all else fails – how to terminate.
First of all … Just because you might feel a bit uncomfortable and ungrounded in the beginning does not mean that you don’t match, it does take time to get used to each other. Au Pairs, especially with kids! Don’t be alarmed if they don’t seem to like you immediately, it might take time for them to warm up to you.

Lets look at causes: There could be communication issues, personality conflicts, different meanings about chores, over time, cultural differences, payment issues, misunderstandings and feeling uncomfortable/unsafe, and more.
Communication issues. 2 languages needing to meet each other halfway. It is understandable, that it will need some adjustment and require a great amount of work and on some occasions a dictionary. Without clear communication, there’s plenty of room for mistakes, misunderstanding and problems. It’s better to Skype before hand to assemble that both parties understand each other clearly and that there’s at least 1 mutual language. English works best of course. Taking a language course will also help since it will (after a while) get you on the same page as the host family. You can even acquire the kiddies to play along and teach them english while you learn their native language. Perfect – win, win for everyone.

Personality conflicts.
Understand that people differs, and try to find the biggest triggers for conflicts and try to avoid it. Respect each other and try to remain calm and reasonable.

Chores, work overload.
This can cause a gigantic problem and feeling of unhappiness. Best way to go about this is to create a chore list before hand, require all parties to sign it and then follow it. When the chores seems to get worse and worse and continue, try talking with them, since your main focus is not on chores but on children.
There’s time to work and there’s time to play. Obtain a rough idea of working hours and try ticking with it. Remember that sometimes you will be required to work a bit later or babysit occasionally. But other times you will also get to leave work earlier. It’s all about balancing.
Payments should be correct amount, punctual and given as discussed. Cultural Differences, remember that one of the biggest reason why you are au pairing in a foreign country is to experience a bit of culture. Again this means foreign foods, traditions and mannerisms. Try to adapt where possible.Misunderstandings should be fixed as soon as it is discovered, and try to note where it all went wrong and oblige it to not happen again. If it has happened, don’t worry, it’s normal, since there’s so numerous factors to keep in mind. If you are feeling uncomfortable or unsafe, the biggest question is why? Adress your problem, is it paranoia or truly a crucial problem? It may be just because you are not used to the new place.
In the end, communication is the best solution. However this does not always work, and therefore you might feel the need to change host families. If you feel you have tried everything and it’s still not working, then read on. It can be a very awkward conversation.Here’s some talking pointers and ideas on how to confront this situation, both for au pairs and host families:

Use the oreo-cookie method: Something great, the unpleasant news, something pleasant.
Firstly discuss the satisfactory things and how much you enjoy it( if you do). Be honest. Show them how much you do appreciate their family and how important they are for you. This will open them up to focus on the problem with you. Secondly, tell them what is bothering you and why. Also try to give opinions and possible solutions. Thirdly, end it of with something admirable again, to show them, that even though there is this problem, you still want to fix it and stay here with them.

Example of talking to them about a problem:

Hosts: The kids can’t stop talking about how great you are with them.And we notice how hard you work with them. However we do feel that you are slacking off with your chores. It’s extremely important for us that you do your chores in the morning while the kids are at school. In the afternoon you can continue being their great au pair, and helping the kids with their homework. Their marks have improved greatly since you’ve been here, so it’s all thanks to you.
Example of telling them you want to change host families:
Au Pair: You honestly do have an amazing home and kids here, and you sure know how to establish me as part of the family. A while back we discussed a problem, and I feel that even though we talked about it and tried fixing it, we have not succeeded, thus I believe it’s time to maybe find someone else.It was truly great and heaps of fun and just so much memories. Definetly an amazing time. But unfortunately, I do feel like we should separate.

When push comes to shove, it’s important to be polite, assertive and as sensitive as possible. This is much like breaking up with a loved one. It should be done with care.
When this do happen, don’t worry there is other great host families and fantastic au pairs at www.fantasticaupairs.net