Natalie was an Au Pair in Spain last year from September until December.
The family she stayed with lived an hour away from Malaga and she looked after 7 year old twins, a boy and a girl.
Natalie, what made you want to be an Au Pair?
I have been a babysitter for about 6 years and as I got older, I noticed that the tasks, the parents gave me, required more and more responsibility which I enjoyed very much. Later on I did tutoring as well.
Which countries did you consider and why Spain?
I considered Spain and Australia. In the end, I decided to go to Spain. I only wanted to go abroad for max. 6 months and as it was my first time, I was a bit worried that Australia may be too far away from home. Going to Australia would have been way more expensive and so I chose Spain.
How did you find your family?
I created a profile on AuPairWorld. I contacted several families and had 5 Skype Interviews.
What was your experience being an Au Pair?
My experience had it´s ups and downs. The first 2 1/2 months were great, but then, the situation worsened.
Firstly, I struggled bonding with the boy but a bigger problem was, that I felt as if there wasn’t enough space for all of us, especially because the father was working at home. Also, the kids behaved very badly at times which can be pretty tiring.
Additionally, my host mother expected me to clean a lot, which is not the job of an Au Pair. She had a certain idea of what an Au Pair is supposed to do which is way more than what generally is expected from an Au Pair.
We had two serious conversations and in the end, decided that it would be best to fly home in december rather than february,as it was planned.
They also had financial problems and decided to not have another Au Pair after I left.
Do you regret your decision of going there?
No, I definitely do not regret it. I learned so much, even though things didn’t go the way I wished.
I learned that, as an Au Pair, it is very important to specifically ask what´s expected from you. During our Skype call, I felt that we would get along just fine and thus, I didn’t ask about some things, that were important to me. There were a lot of other questions, I could have asked which probably would have given me a clearer picture.
For example: Does the father have a private room for when he is working? Do the kids know that he is not available during work and do they adhere to those rules? Are friends allowed to visit me? Do I have any cleaning duties beside my room?
I should have been a lot more specific. Not seeing the family in person really leaves a lot of room for interpretation. And unfortunately, you can never know how the kids are, once they are left alone with you so try to find out, by, for example, asking the former au pair, how well-behaved the kids are.
Another fact that I wish I´d checked on is how far I would really have to travel to get to the city centre of Malaga.
I had to take the bus for about an hour, which is still ok but too far for going out during the week or for, for example, attending dancing classes which I really wanted to do.
Where you able to make friends while you were out there?
Yes I made friends at language school and through various Facebook groups.
Were you able to improve your Spanish language skills?
Yes, definitely. I don’t have to think too much, the words just come out way faster than before.
What else did you learn from the experience?
- …that kids need a lot of attention and it´s good to be well prepared. To know where you can go to with them, what they like to do etc.
- …not to take the things they say when they don’t get what they want too seriously.
- …to make the most of the time you have abroad. On weekends, I traveled as much as possible.
- …to appreciate my loved ones in Germany a lot more. I don’t know how I would have dealt with everything without the support of my family and my closest friends.
Do you have any travel advice?
Would you recommend being an Au Pair?
Yes I am very thankful for the experience, even though it didn’t went as planned. I learned a lot and I would recommend it but I would advice everyone who is interested in being an Au Pair to do enough research before you say yes to a family. Ask for your schedule and what they expect from you. Ask their former Au Pair about her experience with this family. Think about what matters to you and what doesn’t. Be honest to yourself and listen to your instinct. And most importantly, stand up for yourself, if something isn’t going the way you want it to.