Being an au pair is a real human experience
Pauline from France has a passion for books and literature. However, what she really wants is to become a nanny. Her au pair experiences will help her a lot down the road.
I’m Pauline, 24, and I've been an au pair three times in four years. Unfortunately, I never stayed more than three months within a family. It’s both a choice and a combination of circumstances.
My first host family was in 2008, in Ireland. I spent three months there and it was great, even if the children were difficult (2 and 4 years old). They were shouting, slaming the doors and sometimes spiting. It was not always easy to handle them, especially the 4-year-old little girl, but I found a real open family and had very good relationship to the mother. I’m still in contact with her and we sometimes exchange news from our respective lives.
I remember that the day I left, the 4-year-old little girl came to me and gave me a small necklace she had in her toys, and said «I love you». That was not a thing she did because someone had told her to! It was really something she wanted to do. She was so hard with me all the time I was there, but at the end I saw she really liked me and was sad to let me leave.
After this experience, in 2009, I started my studies in French Literature. I was really happy to study literature because I really love books, and I also love writing. I even wrote a novel (which has not been published yet) and I’m writing short stories each month… but after a few months at university, I saw that I had problems to study. It was a problem of concentration: I have problems to remain focused on something that is not concrete.
So in the middle of my studies, in April 2010, I decided to leave my books for a month and went to Luxemburg as an au pair. It was a great experience! I really loved this family a lot. There were three children, all boys. One baby of seven months, and two kids (4 and 6). I really loved playing with them, teaching them how to behave; I prepared the birthday of the 6-year-old one with him, we also did a lot of handcraft activities… After one month I was really sad to go home and leave them.
I then had my exams in France and passed them all! I was then in my 2nd year of study, but I still had these concentration problems. So in January 2011, I stopped college and worked as a nanny in France for 2-year-old twins and after that for a 2-year-old little girl, 35 hours a week. I really liked it and decided to be an au pair in Germany in the summer of 2011.
This was my third experience as an au pair. Unfortunately, the family I was in was not the right one for me, and after one month, we both decided, me and the mother, that it was better to end my stay with them. The problem was that I didn’t take much time to choose my family. It’s really important to know the family you’ll be living with before leaving your country, so you know exactly what will be your tasks and how will be the daily life there.
After that, I started my 2nd year of study in September 2011 again, but now, after only three months, I realise that these studies are not made for me. Writing is a hobby, but it’s not the only thing I like in life. I also love children, especially little ones. So I decided to go as au pair for the 4th time, this time for six months.
After that, I want to work with children as a nanny for babies here in France. Before taking care of a baby 35 hours a week, I would like to have more experience with babies and small children, that’s why I want to be an au pair again, and also because I loved so much my stay in Luxemburg. Being an au pair is not a job where you do your hours and then leave, it’s a real human experience, and that’s what I love so much.
So I hope to find a really nice family in Europe, whatever the country, but with small children or a baby… And with luck, next year I’ll be a nanny with a small baby here in France. Being an au pair was not only a nice experience for me, it was what made me realise that my real vocation was with small children and not with books. I will allways love books but working with children is so much more rewarding! You see them learn, change, and sometimes you feel so proud to help them grow!