More and more young people wish to discover the world with all its nooks and crannies not as simple tourists, but as locals, and spending as little as possible. The aupairing experience seems the perfect option: you live with a local family, you experience and learn the local culture and language, and the pocket money you earn covers your expenses.
Yet, it is very common for young people who live with a first family abroad, to extend their Au pair stay and to change the host family. But why does it happen? And is it worth it? Keep reading to find out.
Changing family while you are an Au pair
Changing family while you are abroad as an Au pair and already living with a family might come as a necessity or might be a hard decision. If the host family and you do not get along, changing it seems the most obvious thing to do. But in other cases, Au pairs decide to change families for other reasons. To understand them, we have decided to contact an Italian Au pair in Germany who will talk about her experience, the requirements for becoming an Au pair, and how it was changing the host family.
Let’s dive right in.
Sabrina: an Italian Au pair in Munich, Germany
Sabrina has been living in Germany for some time now, and we wanted to understand what she has to say about her experience as an Au pair. Let’s start!
Hi Sabrina! So, you are an Au pair in Germany. Why did you choose to become an Au pair and why in Germany?
I chose to become an Au pair during my last year of high school and I left in the summer of 2020. In high school, my specialization was foreign languages and I wanted to keep learning German. On top of that, I love traveling.
Becoming an Au Pair allowed me to discover what lies outside of the small city where I live in Italy because in Germany I live in a big city, in Munich. At first it was scary, but my family and friends supported me and now Germany is my second home.
In terms of documents and childcare experience, how do you prepare to be an Au pair?
In reality, I didn’t have to prepare any documents because I can move freely in Europe, so I just needed my Italian ID. I only had to sign a contract with the family to regulate the main points of my stay, such as length of stay, pocket money, working hours, and so on.
Other than that, all I did was talk from time to time to the family to build a relationship with them and especially with the children before arriving. I refreshed some nursery rhymes and learned new ones in German, they come in handy when dealing with small children!
You left in the middle of the pandemic. Did it affect your experience?
There are some pros and cons. Due to the pandemic and lockdowns, I didn’t have the chance to travel during my first year or to hang out with locals, so I had to rely on social media. I also missed many of the traditional events such as the Oktoberfest, the famous beer festival.
Even so, I spent more time with my host family and got to know them better, to the point that now I consider them my second family, and talking with them daily helped with my German skills. Moreover, I saved some money because I wasn’t spending it all on weekend outings.
Tell us more about your host family. How did you find it, and what made you realize that it was the perfect one for you?
I created a profile on the AuPairWorld website, and after reviewing a few families, I sent a message to those that seemed to be a good match for me. When I video chatted with my first host family, I felt at ease and I immediately realized that they were perfect for me. And knowing that they had already hosted successfully other Au pairs reassured me because it meant that they knew what they were doing. They were kind and helpful.
You referred to them as your first host family. Does it mean that you changed it?
Yes, that’s correct. I stayed with them for one year, from September 2020 until August 2021, and then I went on to become an Au pair with the family that I am now living with. I loved my first family, but I had decided to be an Au pair for just one year and by the time I thought about extending my stay, they had already found another girl.
Since I wanted to stay another year, I started looking for another family in the same city using, once again, Aupairworld. I found them in no time and the process started all over again. I can’t believe that another year has almost passed. Time flies when you are having fun.
What documents do you need for an Au pair extension?
Just like the first time, I only had to sign another contract with the second family.
Tell us more about your families. Did anything change between the first and the second family?
Yes, there are some differences. First of all, in the first family I was looking after a 5-year-old girl, while in the second one I’m taking care of two boys. One of the boys was born while I was there and I had never taken care of an infant, so that is definitely something new and different. Tasks-wise, they are and were pretty much the same: getting the children ready for school in the morning and making them breakfast, and in the afternoon, playing with them and getting dinner ready. But while in the first family I had to also get the girl ready for bed, I don’t have to do it for the boys of the second family because the parents do it.
Another difference concerns the parents and the relationship with them. In the first family, the host mother and father were always at home so we had more time to hang out together. In the second family, on the other hand, the father works in another city during the week and he is home only during the weekends. For this reason, it can be harder organizing to go out all together, but we make it work.
What is your everyday life like? What do you do?
During the day I take care of the children, a 5-year-old boy and a 5-month-old one. Early in the morning I get them ready for school and make them breakfast, but then it is the host mum that drives them there. The rest of the morning I’m free and I usually go out exploring or I attend a language course. Children get out of school at 3:30 p.m. and until 8:00 p.m. we play together and I get them ready for bed. At 6:30 p.m. we have dinner all together.
On weekends I’m free, and I hang out with my friends or I visit other cities. Just two weekends ago I was in Paris, and last weekend I was in Warsaw!
Other weekends are just for relaxing at home, maybe to catch up with friends and family, and to watch some movies.
What is your relationship like with the children?
Our relationship is great and they consider me a big sister. At times it can be tiring as small children are really energetic, but I also have my doses of energy and with a bit of creativity I can entertain them all day. But I would say that being patient is probably one of the most important traits in a good Au pair.
Children are also very curious about the world and they have so many questions during the day about pretty much anything. It is this continuous talking and sharing that created such a strong bond between us.»
Would you extend your Au pair experience for a third year?
«No, I wouldn’t, but not because I don’t want to, but because I’ve already found my future career. Indeed, I’ve decided to permanently move to Germany. My time as an Au pair ends in August, and in September I start working as a childhood educator in the local preschool through the Ausbildung project. It is an opportunity offered by the state for people who meet certain requirements, and it allows you to work and gain experience in a three-year-long process. At the end of the three years, I’ll obtain a certificate as a qualified teacher that is recognized all over Germany so that if I want to move to another German city I can do it without any problem while having the chance to keep working in the field.
Was everything as you expected or would you have wished for something different?
To be honest, little was as I expected. For starters, I wanted to stay one year and go back home, but here I am already at the end of my second year and about to move permanently to the city
And the pandemic was something I wasn’t expecting. I planned to become an Au pair and contacted the family well before the pandemic started, and when COVID-19 hit I had to review my plan. But to answer your question, I say that I wouldn’t change a thing. Up until this point, I loved everything the experience and the country have offered me.
On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you grade your Au pair experience?
You can learn a lot from this experience. I learned to be independent and more confident, I learned a new culture, I improved my languages skills, and I traveled a lot.
Moreover, thanks to this experience, I got to understand that I love working with children and that I want to make a full time job out of it. I grew as a person and individual and got to choose my future, and for this reason, I give a full 10 to the Au pair experience. I recommend it to all of those who want to discover the world and themselves.
Aupair extension with new family – an overview
According to Sabrina, an Italian Au pair in Germany who decided to extend for a second year, the Au pair experience has been extremely helpful for her growth. She has learned another language and culture, she has met many people with different cultural backgrounds, and she has found her future career. At the end of her first year, she had to change her host family because she didn’t expect to stay this long and in the meantime the former family had already found another Au pair. She loved every single minute of it and she recommends becoming an Au pair to everyone.