For many girls choosing to be an Au pair in Australia, a childcare job is simply an easy transition to the world of work and a way of acquiring a higher standard of living than is normally possible in one’s early working years. In addition to your own room , you may have your own TV, the use of a car, and the chance to accompany the host family on exotic holidays. There will be no need to worry about organising or paying for transport to work, finding accommodation and all the other headaches.
In addition to the worthy goals of learning a language and experiencing a foreign culture, many Au pairs simply want to see the world and can’t afford a straight holiday. Jane Newel was a trained nanny with two years residential experience in Britain when she noticed an advertisement in a national newspaper for an experienced nanny to care for a three-year-old girl:
It was January when I saw the job advertised and I was immediately interested because it involved a lot of travel. The winter blues were getting to me since I was extremely fed up with the British climate and longed for some sunshine
Others are less concerned about the climate and are trying to escape from a difficult or boring situation at home.
I was engaged to be married at the time the job was offered, but I jumped at the chance because I felt uncertain about marriage and needed some time alone to think.
It can also be a very good way for young women to assert their independence from over-protective parents. Some au pairs learn to appreciate their own families more after intimate acquaintance with another family
DECIDING TO GO
Some questions that you should be asking yourself when trying to decide whether or not to pursue the idea of working as Au pair for an Australian family should be answered at a very early stage. You will probably be asked many of these questions by our agency questionnaire, so it is worth thinking them through ahead of time.
How much do you like kids? Jessie Lane, who spent an enjoyable three months au pairing in France, makes this point:
Before you go, ask yourself, do I really love children? If you can tolerate all their moods, good and bad, their rudeness, not to mention spite, then you will be all right.
If you have had very little exposure to young children, try to arrange some since you may discover that you lack the appropriate quantities of patience to take charge of them for an extended period. If you do have experience of children you might give some thought to what age group you most enjoy. Nannies often have a favourite age, though every stage brings its own pleasures and problems. For example, babies can be carted around on private errands and you may find that they adapt to you more quickly than older children. But you might also find their dependence restricting and miss not being able to hold a conversation. A job as an au pair with school age children (except in the summer holidays) allows much of the day free. The more flexible you can be the better; you don’t want to limit your choices too much, for this will make it harder to find a suitable job.
How much are you prepared to put up with? Could you cope with a major loss of privacy? Au pairs are occasionally made to share a bedroom with the children, which can be a shock to anyone who is not used to sharing. How much do you value your free time? In theory au pairs work no more than 8 hours a day, whereas a mother ‘s help position is more like a full-time job.
What kind of lifestyle are you seeking? If you have visions of working for a celebrity family, living in the lap of luxury in some sunny part of the world, you are almost certainly going to be disappointed. And even if such a situation did materialise the reality might not match the anticipation. Rich and celebrated families can be very demanding, and you may have to work extremely hard for your material perks, with little free time to enjoy them. Furthermore if you look for au pair jobs on your own you take the risk to be treated like a servant than a family member.It all depends on the situation and on your own individual goals and aspirations.