I want to do something with my life before I settle down? I love kids, so why not to become an au pair? It’s so easy, i’ll look after those adorable little kids, we are like big happy family and I will live the American dream everyone is talking about… and then the reality hits :).
So why is the reality so harsh sometimes?
When you are at the orientation then everyone is talking about the ‘honeymoon’. Yes, the honeymoon is the lovely, lovely thing and often times when the honeymoon is done, then the reality hits. It’s not that reality is difficult to handle, rather the situation often is that it differs from what we have expected.
How can we prevent it? I mean, make the reality to suit to us?
When I talk to the potential au pair candidate and we are preparing the documents and at the very end I tell them how they need to prepare for the phone call then one thing what I address particularly is not to assume anything. Things that are normal to us might not be normal to the host family. When the host mom is particular about certain routine errands in the household and she expects the au pair to do it the same way then who is weird here? My answer here is no-one. There for sure are many things in your home you prefer to do it in particular way. If the au pair is not aware of household rules, then the tiny bit of undone homework lies on the au pair. I always tell applicants that my host family had 40 questions to me. Among those questions were questions like do you have a boyfriend and what kind of food are you accustomed to eat or how do you spend your free time and there were tons of more questions. And I remember thinking, what is it about? Is it the host parents business to ask if I have boyfriend? But the truth of the matter is, this all is very much relevant. Remember not to assume anything. You want to arrive into your life-changing experience feeling like this is exactly what you were talking about with your host parents on the phone / Skype call. You don’t want to arrive and say, oh no, this is not what we were talking about.
A little example from my phone call. My family called me and we connected right away. Long story short – we matched at the end of the first call. But there was this one incident where I assumed something and realising it at the arrival was hard bill to take in.
So, I asked my host parents if I can use the car on my spare time. The family told me, yes I can. In my head I got a car for my own use whenever I wanted. In reality, I got the car that I had to share with host dad and got to use it twice a week apart from my school time. It was so disappointing. What do you mean I can’t use it whenever I want it? You told me that I can use the car.
In reality I did not need the car more than twice a week. I got to use it when I had to go to school, my friends picked me up and there was only 2 days a week I really needed the car. Later on when my host family got to know me better, then they told me that if I should need the car, I am more than welcome to use it. So, it all ended up well, but if I should have asked my host family right away how often I can use the car and what are the other limitations and we had actually discussed the situation, then I would have been happy with the same rule from the beginning. Because I assumed something else, there was tons of emotional exhaustion that really could have been avoided.