I like calendars, to-do lists and consumer reports. I’m a major planner and recovering over-thinker, so there aren’t too many things I’ve done in my life on a whim. With that in mind, this post will probably surprise you.
In an earlier post, I told you about my “I’m-about-to-graduate-from-college-and-I-don’t-know-what-the-EFF-I’m-going-to-do” crisis and how it led to a Google search for ways young people can live abroad. Several bloggers suggested becoming an au pair as a viable option, and although I really didn’t (and still don’t) consider myself a “kid person” (more on that later), I was intrigued.
In case you’re new to this blog or are just forgetful, an au pair is a young person, usually a woman, from a foreign country who lives with a family and helps to care for the children in return for room and board as well as the opportunity to learn the family’s language.
Within an hour of me learning about the au pair option, I had set up a profile on Au Pair World. It seemed pretty legit, and I was just putting myself out there to see if I got any bites.
If the above statement didn’t give you this vibe yet then I’ll just say it: Au Pair World is a lot like a dating site. Au pair wannabes and potential host families both set up profiles. I filled out an “About Me” section in which I wrote about my age, hometown, education, hobbies, history working with children and why I wanted to be an au pair. I also set my preferences about what kind of families I’d be willing to work with and what kind of household chores I’d be willing to do. I opted for nonsmoking, dual-parent households with a maximum of three children between the ages of six and 16. I also didn’t want a family with a cat (I’m allergic) or any family that would require me to do more than light housework (I hate cleaning).
Unlike dating websites, it’s important to be honest when filling out your au pair profile. You’re going to be moving to a foreign country and relying on your host family to fulfill your basic needs (food and shelter). Your host family is entrusting you with the care of their beloved children. For both parties, it’s vital that the relationship is built on trust. If you don’t want to do housework, say so. If you’ve never worked with kids, say so. Don’t be afraid of not finding a host family if you tell the truth. In my experience, there are no deal breakers. As long as you’re not an axe murderer, chances are there is a host family out there for you. If you are an axe murderer, get off my blog!
In another section of the profile, you’re asked to set preferences regarding in what countries you’d like to be an au pair. You can choose a maximum of five countries. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go, but I knew I wanted to be in Europe so I selected Spain, Italy, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Have an open mind! You could find a good host family anywhere.
Before my profile went live, I uploaded a few pictures of myself so the host families could put a face with my name. If possible, post pictures where you’re the only person in them (please, no selfies though). You don’t want to confuse host families by posting a pic of you and 20 of your sorority sisters. It’s more likely that they’ll skip over your profile rather than messaging you to ask which girl you are. I just cropped my friends out of the pictures I uploaded.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I submitted my profile. Before signing off, I viewed a few host families I thought sounded nice and asked if they would be interested in talking to me. When I logged back on an hour later, I already had a handful of messages from people who wanted me to be their au pair. Within 24 hours, I had over 30 different families trying to convince me to be their au pair. That’s right! These families were pursuing me.
I soon realized I was the ideal au pair candidate. The majority of families want an au pair who is approximately my age, college educated, a native English speaker and female (sorry bros). If I’d left my profile up longer than a week, I’m sure I would have had even more families interested.
Funny story: my host mom, Veronica, was actually the first person to message me, and remember how I said I’m not impulsive? Well, we texted for about a day before she asked me to be her family’s au pair, and I accepted. You read correctly. Less than 48 hours after I’d learned what an au pair is, I had accepted a position with a family in Madrid, Spain. I told you this post would surprise you.
All that transpired back in April, and now, I’m in Spain living the dream! What impulsive decisions have you made that ended up working out? Are you be interested in becoming an au pair? Leave a comment, and tell me your story!
P.S. I know I said today’s post would include pictures of my new home and family. However, this week has been so crazy busy with the boys starting school and me still settling in. I’ll post picture as soon as I can. I promise!