There have been a lot of things I never thought I’d do in my life, and a lot of them happened after I made the decision to become an au pair.
I think not.
I’ve trekked in the Himalayas, trained for months at a Muay Thai gym in Thailand and even flown to a remote island off the coast of Africa just to film a video.
Yet deciding to become an au pair is perhaps the craziest decision I’ve ever made. Somehow the idea of looking after two small children terrified me the most and still, I decided to do it anyway.
So why was au pairing one of the best decisions I’ve ever made?
Let’s be honest, the idea of having unforgettable experiences in amazing locations is perhaps what draws most of us to the au pair experience.
The enticing allure of travel immediately sprinkles your aura with magic fairy dust and, let me tell you, once that happens it never quite washes off.
I’ve wandered the streets of Rome eating gelato, laughed with hip Italian youngsters over wine in underground bars and been invited to some of the most beautiful Sicilian villas imaginable. I’ve gone on unforgettable road trips with friends who feel like family, broken fresh bread with local families over traditional dinners and conversed in Italian with old nonnas on the street. I’ve explored art galleries in old castles, driven a scooter around world heritage islands and backflipped off sailing boats into the pristine Mediterranean Sea.
Connections to a new family
But I’ve also laughed until my stomach hurts with Alessandro and Francesca, the two Italian children I looked after. I’ve had one-on-one cooking lessons with Valeria, my host Mum, who taught me how to make fresh bread, homemade pasta and Ciambella, a type of Sicilian breakfast cake. I’ve been taught the running rigging on a sailboat by Maurizio, my host Dad, and have watched him make his famous seafood pasta and build a bike ramp in the backyard for the kids. In restaurants closed to the public, I’ve dined with people who bought instruments along to play once we’d finished eating. With the kids in bed, I’ve been taught how to play Burraco, a traditional Sicilian card game with family friends. And greatest of all, I’ve participated in the best family group hugs you could imagine.
Here’s the thing though.
Quite frankly none of these words you’ve just read do justice to the experiences I had. It’s true these are the kind of things we dream about before we leave to go traveling and don’t get me wrong, they are very much a possibility if you get your au pair experience right. But there’s so much more to au pairing than unforgettable experiences.
It’s the people you meet along the way
This is the au pairing secret. It’s the people you meet on your journey that make au pairing an experience unlike anything else on earth. It’s precisely what makes the experience so intoxicating.
I found a real-life soul sister. I met friends who I truly believe I will stay in contact with for the rest of my life. I dated foreign guys and fell in love when I was least expecting it. I met people who I will never speak to again, but who I have bonded deeply with over shared experiences.
Perhaps most surprisingly, I also feel I am part of a whole new family. Au pairing changes your entire concept of family and even expands it to include friends in a way that no other experience can. It doesn’t replace my biological family in any way but rather adds to it.
The connections you make as an au pair have the potential to run so much deeper, they’re so much more meaningful. It’s not uncommon to feel closer to these people than to people you’ve known your whole life. But again, words alone cannot capture the nuance of the people I met and their humanity.
But do you want to know the best part? There is still so much more to au pairing than this.
Au pairing revolutionises your thinking
Ultimately, au pairing expands your view of the world. It blows your mind wide open to different perspectives and different ways of doing and seeing things.
It’s an opportunity to learn about the world, to discover yourself and who you really are. Through unforgettable moments and also through the adversity that fending for yourself and being outside your comfort zone brings.
Perhaps most importantly au pairing is a pathway to freedom. It gives you the time and space to consider your next steps, offering clarity and perspective on the direction you should head in.
I knew au pairing wasn’t the answer to all of my problems and I’m sure you know that too. What I did know was that I wanted to use my time as an au pair to figure out what to do next. I’ve always wanted to have my own business and help other people. So, I decided that by the time I finished au pairing I wanted to have a business idea.
And that’s exactly what I did.
I’ve since started The Au Pair Movement, a global online community created by au pairs for au pairs. Aimed to help you get the most out of your experience and connect you with other like-minded au pairs.
I mentioned earlier that one of the things I did while I was an au pair was fly to an island off the coast of Africa to film a video. This video turned out to be the launch video for The Au Pair Movement.
So, take it from me. As a girl who never thought she’d do a lot of things, I can tell you that regardless of whether you’re male or female, from a traditional family or a more modern one, confident with kids or not, you already have what it takes to be an au pair.
We may currently be experiencing a global pandemic, but this too shall pass. And when it does, I hope you are ready for the adventure of a lifetime.
Feeling at home away from home changes you forever and that’s what au pairing does. It helps you find your way home.
So, maybe, just maybe, on this occasion, perhaps the very fact that au pairing terrifies you is precisely the reason you should do it.
P.S. Want to see how the video we filmed off the coast of Africa turned out? We’ll be sharing it soon on Instagram @theaupairmovement.
One last video for now
And for right now, I have a final AuPairWorld #keepcalmandaupair video for you. I go into detail about what an au pair experience can do for you and why in my opinion it's a truly great opportunity. And it's not only talk! In the middle, I share some of the special moments from my own au pair stay in Italy. Take a look!
AU PAIRING AFTER THE CRISIS
Teaming up with AuPairWorld
Thank you for coming along for the ride in this 3-part collaboration series with AuPairWorld. This is blog #3 the 3rd and final of the series. I hope you’ve enjoyed our time together as much as I have and I wish you all the best on your au pair journey, wherever it may take you. In the meantime, #keepcalmandaupair and most importantly, keep doing you.
About the author:
Casey Aubin has climbed in the Himalayas, trained in Muay Thai and survived one and a half years as an Au Pair in Italy. Just like you, she never thought she’d do a lot of things and yet here we are. An entrepreneur, founder of The Au Pair Movement and teacher of various things, Casey is currently in Perth, Australia. Her book I Never Thought I’d Be an Au Pair: A Collection of Things I Wish People Had Told Me is available in Kindle format on Amazon.