So I haven’t written in a while because I’ve been super busy with the girls and then I got locked out of my account for a while 🙈 haha. I’ve spent the past couple months working as an au pair, which is basically a live-in nanny. In my mind it was only for Europeans, or French people mostly. In reality though, most families are looking to have an au pair help their kids learn English. So lucky me, I found a job after only 2 days of searching, and I thought I’d share a little bit about my experience au pairing and let you guys know exactly what it is I do. (Since most people don’t know what it is, or have only seen the movie Au Pair that came out on ABC Family years ago) First off, fitting into someone else’s family and trying to find your place isn’t the easiest thing in the world. Especially in a different country, where there’s different customs, practices, routines, even simple things like the way they eat or prepare food. (And let’s not forget the times of the meals, 9:30pm is hardly a normal dinner time back home). Being an au pair means adjusting to all of these things and having to take care of children while your at it. However there is a plus side! Your food and accommodation are paid for and you get a weekly stipend of money (not much) but it’s usually enough to do something fun in your spare time.
Most duties as an au pair range from childcare, helping the kids with English, or whatever language (but mostly English), as well as some household chores. Here’s what my day-to-day schedule looks like:
7am: my alarm goes off, I hesitantly roll over and hit the snooze button until about 7:20 when I finally drag myself out of bed and get myself presentable enough to leave the house
8am: wake up the girls (this takes a full 20 mins for Irene)
8-9am: have their school uniforms ready for them, make their beds, give them breakfast, make sure they brush their hair and teeth, prepare them “almuerzo” basically a morning snack for them to take to school
9am: drive them to school, with my awesome manual car driving skills
9:30am-3:30pm: free time for myself
3:30pm: pick up the girls
3:30-7:30pm: help them with homework, practice English with them, play games, etc.
7:30-11pm: The rest of the night is pretty much free, but I enjoy the family and my favorite part of the day is helping Bea cook dinner. I also clean up afterwards and help the girls get ready for bed
Now that it’s summer time the girls are home with me all day, so we spend time practicing English, going to the swimming pool, and I do more household chores like preparing their meals, cleaning up the kitchen and tidying their room, helping with the laundry, and other things like that.
I’ve honestly really enjoyed my experience here in Spain as an au pair and I can’t believe it’ll be coming to an end soon already! This family has been such a blessing. You’re really taking your chances when you Skype a family one time and then buy a plane ticket to go live with them! Luckily, my family here has been amazing and they made it very easy for me to adjust and become “part of the family.” I connected with my host mother right away and I love spending time with her! We have a similar sense of humor and can talk about so many things, although sometimes we need the help of google translate! Toñin, the father, is also really cool and has so much knowledge about so many things, he is always teaching me something new. Bea, the oldest girl who is 9, is very smart and speaks a good amount of English. She loves learning and loves speaking with me in English. Irene, the younger girl, is 8years old and wouldn’t talk to me for the longest time because she hates speaking English and has a hard time understanding it. She has come so far though and will try her hardest to have conversations with me, even though it is usually 70% Spanish still. Or we all make fun of her because her go to phrase is always my name plus One English word. “Chelsea, look!” “Chelsea, help!” “Chelsea, come!” It’s progress though! , and her and I have become so much closer than I ever thought we would have, considering she hated even speaking to me when I first got here! 😂 Of course the fighting between the two girls seems never-ending also, but I can’t help but laugh at them most of the time because it reminds me so much of me and my brother when we were young. The whole, “Stop touching me! You’re on my side of the car!” are still very vivid in my memory.
For me, the hardest part is that although living with the family, you get a real and authentic experience of wherever you are, you also have to sacrifice a little independence. Sometimes you get homesick, or your in a bad mood for no reason at all and you just want to be alone in your room all day. Well, that’s not really possible. You can’t tell them to just leave you alone, and no matter how much you don’t want to you have a parent telling you, “Can you take the girls to the swimming pool, can you practice English with them, etc.” I’ve had my days where I’m beyond ready to go home and be with my own friends and family, but the good outweighs the bad. Being an au pair is definitely more for me than being an official English teacher stuck in a classroom all day. I still get to teach English, but on a much more relaxed level and I’m building deeper bonds which I love! I’ve even made some au pair friends from Ireland and Poland! Once you meet people doing the same thing you are and feeling the same things you’re feeling, adjusting to things gets a lot easier 🙂