My Au Pair Family
So what exactly is an au pair? Essentially, the job entails this: to responsibly babysit another family’s children and teach them another language, whilst also helping with household chores. In return, the host family allow you to live in their home free of charge, provide your meals and give you pocket money each month. Au pairing is a way to experience another culture, learn a new language, pursue new challenges and develop one’s confidence and independence. Luckily, I could not love my host family more. I have been made to feel as welcome as possible and have been included in events such as birthday dinners, Christmas concerts and even family photos. As time passes, I feel more and more like an added member of the family; I already feel I have gained lifelong friends and two more little brothers.
I found my family through the website aupairworld.co.uk. Registration was free and it was easy to operate. There are numerous other ways to find an au pair family, but this seemed to be the most frequently used and safest route. I was contacted by many families in Italy, from those who lived in tiny villages to others who lived in the centre of Rome. It was both thrilling and frustrating trying to find a family; for a long time nothing compelled me to say yes to any of them. I wanted to work in Italy for at least 6 months so choosing the right family was most important. I was waiting for the moment when my mind finally cheered “Yes, this is your family!”.
Of course, this moment came when I was first contacted by my now host mother, Arianna. The timing, the location (beside Venice? yes please!), the children, her friendly tone and her requests all suited my own requirements perfectly. When she told me she had two boys I thought this was ideal as I have two younger brothers, and I am already used to acting as their second mother. They chose me primarily because, like the boys, I enjoy fencing and being active. For months Arianna and I skyped and e-mailed each other, getting to know one another and our families. I know others may not spend half as long as this when choosing their au pair families but for mine and my family’s peace of mind, I wanted to be absolutely sure of choosing the best one.
The two boys I care for, now aged 12 and 7, are both very dear to me. The eldest is a hardworking, motivated and intelligent young boy who excels in everything he does. He is top of his class at school, can speak English with me very well, and always has his nose buried in a book. He is the fastest runner in his class and an avid fencer, often winning competitions. I don’t believe I have ever met a more impressive 12 year old.
With the youngest boy, there is never a dull moment. He is who I spend most of my time looking after. To begin with, he spoke only in Italian with me, but as our language skills have improved so has our relationship. I adore him with all of my heart; he makes me laugh and I love to see him smile. I think the moment I fell completely head over heels in love with him was when he could not sleep until Steve the Cow, the Highland cow soft toy I bought him, was by his side. I always look forward to picking him up from school and to see his face light up when he spots me waiting for him. Also, remarkably, we just recently had a no-tears-involved bed time. Instead we laughed and played; and this time I was his chosen cuddle companion.
The actual job of au pairing itself poses challenges of course, and it is certainly an advantageous learning curve. I have already learnt much more about what I want in the future for myself and even for my own future family. Should anyone reading this be thinking of becoming an au pair themselves, I believe finding the right host family is imperative to your time as an au pair; and I hope that you find a family just as lovely as mine!