au pair

Abbey’s: How to find the balance between working for someone and being part of their family

by AbbeyReading time: 4 min.
Au Pair: finding balance between working & living with a family
Hey guys! Yet another Wednesday is here and this week I’m going to talk about how to work for someone and also be a member of their family. I know this balance can be quite difficult especially if you’re a new Au Pair.

At first, it can seem really weird that you live with your boss. But the Au Pair programme works so well if you can create the right balance between doing a job and becoming a part of your boss’s family. This is how you will have the best au pairing experience and I know because I did exactly this. 

Be positive, happy and responsible when you’re working with the kids

So being an Au Pair means that you have daily tasks that the person you live with gives you. These are based around the activities and the needs of the children, but you can read more about that here. You need to complete the list of things you need to do in a positive, happy and responsible way. After all, you moved to another country for exactly this experience, so you should tackle all the activities with the kids in a positive way – they will love you for it and so will their parents. 
If you’re showing up late to collect the children from school almost every day then your boss won’t be happy with you and neither will your host child. This is when the balance between you and your boss can be put off and therefore, affect the feeling of the family unit. Being responsible and competent is going to work in your favour. 

Have dinner with your Host Family 

Having dinner with your Host Family is a really good way to connect on a family basis rather than a boss-employee. In almost every country, dinner brings the family together and is a time to bond while reflecting on the day past. It’s most likely the same for your Host Family, join in and enjoy that time that you can spend all together. I ate with my Host Family almost every night and not only did I get to eat traditional Italian food, but I spoke with the family and more importantly my boss/host-mum about things other than work which was a really nice way to get to know each other. We often shared a glass of wine over dinner too which was a really nice way to say, “okay the day is over we can relax” and we did exactly that. 
Dinner really brings the family together so it’s the perfect opportunity to also become a part of the family - that older sibling figure. I really became a member of the family and enjoyed dinner with the whole family including the grandparents and extended family on the weekends. This absolutely changed my experience in Italy and broke the barrier between boss and family. 

Don’t be afraid to spend time alone

Your bedroom is where you can really make it your own space and lets you have that much needed private time. Although sometimes it’s really nice to spend time with your Host Family outside working hours it’s also really necessary to have your own privacy and space when you need it. Yes, you live with your boss but at some point, you need to “leave” work, just like an ordinary job.

At first, I was worried that I was staying in my room with the door shut too often but actually if you need to shut out work for a little bit, it’s totally fine. While you’re having your private time, it gives the Host Family their own time together too. When you come back together again, everybody has had a little “break” from each other and is in a sense, recharged

Join in on special moments 

Birthdays, Christmas, Easter and country celebrations are all something you should get involved with. They’re a great opportunity to connect with your Host Family as a family and also learn about their cultural traditions. I was able to experience Carnevale, which is an Italian festival before Easter, with my Host Family and it was such an amazing and typical Italian experience to have.  

It’s also a really nice time to exchange gifts with your Host Family. I think when it comes to gift giving during these times, give them something that shares with them your culture like they have done with you. For Christmas, I gave my host children a $5-dollar Australian note and the kids were over the moon and I got the biggest hugs and even little screams. It was a small gesture, but it went a long way in the eyes of the kids and my host-mum. 

Communicate with your Host Family 

As much as it’s so lovely to spend time and connect with your Host Family on a family level you also have to remember that they’re your boss. Sometimes you have to have those difficult conversations. For example, reminding them to pay you (in the case they forget) or saying, “hey guys I’ve had to babysit four nights this week”.

It’s not always easy when you’re trying to fit in as a family member but after all, you’re there to do a job and according to your contract, you and your Host Family must follow what you agreed upon. I can totally understand that it can be awkward but both parties have to comply with the contract. If you feel like your expectations aren’t being met, then have a conversation with your boss and remove the fact that you’re within the family unit. 
I hope that this post gives you some useful tips on how to create a balance between your boss and becoming a part of your boss’s family. Feel free to connect with me through my Instagram.
Have a great week guys and I will see you next Wednesday. 
- Abbey. 
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Some Thoughts...
Feb, 20, 2019 - 12:02 pm
Excellent points. I have found communication to be key. Also try and be as happy and cheery as possible. If you need space then you can go. Great points Abbey!
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