Before I begin, for those who don’t know what an au pair is, it is a girl (in some cases a boy but, this is a rare occurrence for obvious and unfortunate reasons) who travels to another country to live with a family in order to help with childcare. Whether it is babysitting/supervising or playing with/entertaining the children. Occasionally, au pairs also help with light household chores. In return the family that they live with (the host family) gives them board and lodging as well as money. The main reason au pairs travel to different countries and are hired are for cultural exchange purposes. Thus, the au pair can practice their language skills and so can the host family (mainly the children). An au pair is not a nanny nor a housekeeper.
For the past two and a half weeks I have been au pairing in Italy, Pegognaga. This is my first time au pairing, nevertheless I have friends who have au paired and still do now and they have had a great time au pairing in other locations such as Germany, the USA and Spain. After hearing how they found it I thought ‘Why not?’ and signed up to, https://www.aupairworld.com/en , which is a great site than can be used to find host families and au pairs too. It did take me about 60-90 minutes to sign up to the website but I seen this as a positive because it ensures the family get a good idea of who you are before you start interacting with them and vice versa. You simply add a few pictures of yourself and then fill in various boxes such as your age, hobbies, religious beliefs, why you want to be an au pair, your experience with children and many, many more. Within the first week I had a lot of responses from families from all, if not, most of my chosen locations such as, France, Spain, Germany and of course Italy. I was on the website for about 6 months until I finally found a family to live with. It’s not an easy decision to make. You’re going to be living in someone else’s house, taking care of someone else’s children, becoming part of another culture. Eventually I found this lovely family in Pegognaga.
Unfortunately, I have hated it so far which is a shame but there is not much I can do about that. So here’s why;
- Where I live is extremely isolated. It’s quite deep in the country side of Italy. I cannot go anywhere in my spare time by foot or bike. Even to drive somewhere, the nearest city is 45mins-1 hour away. Thus, it has been a pretty lonely and grim experience. I can’t meet new people, I can’t learn the language (because the family want me to speak English so their children can learn) The family maybe nice but spending my spare time in my room in reading, watching Netflix and drinking Chinese tea was definitely NOT what I had in mind. But sadly that is the reality for me at the moment.
- The children are 7 and 8 and are pretty rude and it doesn’t surprise me one bit because their parents let them get away with it. For instance, they ignore me in English and Italian thus, its hard for me to engage with them and allow them to gain anything from me. I’m not bothered by it though because they do the exact same to their parents. So there is no way in hell they are going to listen to someone they don’t know very well. When they scream their parents fall to their knees which I don’t think is good. Everyday I have been here so far there has been at least one moment whereby one of the children cries because they can’t have their way.
- I don’t really know what I’m supposed to be doing here. It doesn’t help that the family has never had an au pair before. Most days I find myself hovering around the children and doing nothing. Even though they don’t want me to, I end up helping around the house because I feel like I’m being paid for nothing. Everyday, I don’t know what time to wake up, when and what I should be doing with the children or most importantly if I’m doing a good job. I suppose they keep paying me but for me there is no reassurance whatsoever.
- I’m bored and I do not like it here. Period.
But there is one positive I can take from this experience so far.
- The money, which is kind of sad. I’m in one of the most romantic countries in the world and I can’t even see the best parts of it. But all things considered, good and bad, the pay is better than what it should be. So, that is definitely one thing that I cannot complain about. I get paid €150 a week which is about £120. That is the only thing that has been keeping me here so far.
All in all, I’m not too bothered about the money. I was supposed to stay here for 4 more weeks but I don’t think I can take it anymore. So, I’m leaving in 2 weeks instead. Every day, there’s a point in which I want to scream. Furthermore, I feel this pressure because I don’t feel like I’m fulfilling my role as an au pair. More importantly, I’m not happy here. Is au pairing for me? I don’t know and I probably never will know because I don’t feel like do this again any time soon or again at all but, who knows? Perhaps, I will choose another family in another country whereby things run more smoothly. I will admit it was an interesting and different experience I can add to my list. But for now, I’m counting down the days until I get on the plane home.