If you want to be an au pair, you must keep an open mind, realize you are living in someone else's home in another culture and act accordingly. And you need to understand you are not just living there, you are working for them. Most of all; you must love children!
Being an au pair and spending six months in another country was the absolute best experience of my life. I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for an adventure!
A typical day as an au pair with GeoVisions started with breakfast for the children. If they were already in the process of being fed, I would make their lunches, help ensure they were dressed appropriately for the weather and the activity they were going to be doing, and do general tidying up. The children I cared for were an infant, a 3 year old and a 5 year old.
Some days, I would take the 5 year old to school, then do some sort of activity or playgroup with the 3 year old. We lived 20 minutes from the beach, so sometimes we'd head over with a picnic and do some crab hunting or swinging on the swings. Other days, we stayed home and entertained ourselves...whether it be chalk art on the sidewalk, jumping on the trampoline, doing crafts, or baking together. We always found something to do.
Activities that we did regularly also included going to a gym class, the swimming pool or a playgroup. In the late mornings, I also often would do some laundry; hang out to dry, fold and put away. If the floor needed to be mopped, I mopped it. If the dishwasher was full, I unloaded it. An important part of being an au pair is seeing what needs to be done and just doing it!
Because my host family needed assistance primarily in the evenings, often I would have a few hours in the middle of the day to do whatever I pleased. I lived out in the country, and I really love to hike so I spent a lot of time hiking. Plus, New Zealand is beautiful, so there was no shortage of places to see!
In the evenings, the routine would include bath time for the kids, dinner prep (and clean up), brushing teeth, stories and tucking into bed. After the kids were asleep, I would tidy up areas of the house where the kids had been playing. I'd often vacuum and of course make sure the toys were put away.
The kids I cared for went to bed at 6-6:30, so I had evenings free after 7 PM, generally speaking. I liked to either blog, go hiking, or meet up with friends. I'd also frequently Skype or text family and friends from home.
I always had the weekends free. I did not want to just sit around and watch TV. I was in a foreign country and wanted to travel!! I had a group of friends I met in orientation that included two girls from the Netherlands and one girl from Germany (and myself, from the United States) and we did all kinds of fun stuff together.
We went rafting, we skydived, we hiked, sight-saw, took surfing lessons and just had fun in general. It was really fun to have friends from other cultures that everything was new to them as well. Over Christmas, we went on a two week road trip.
We lived in the North Island of New Zealand, and spent the holidays in the South Island. In the South Island, we spent Christmas in Queenstown, where we had a barbecue with hamburgers and roasted vegetables. I learned my European friends were much healthier than my American friends. I could tell so many stories of all the fun stuff we did, but most importantly, I made lifelong memories, with lifelong friends!
I absolutely adored my host family, and hope someday they will come visit me in the United States. It was really cool to learn about Kiwi traditions and try new foods. Seeing pictures of the children growing up is so fun, and I will always love them.