October 2, 2019 | 0 Comments

Interview with a young German Au Pair in London

1.What are the rules and qualification for working as a au pair?
You should definitely have some experience with children. Some babysitting hours or internships in kindergartens etc are welcomed and these references also help you getting more confident around kids and in tricky situations including them. I guess there are some unwritten rules such as don’t swear in front of the kids, don’t be a criminal, don’t do drugs.

2.What is it like being a nanny?
It’s tiring but fun. I can’t imagine that I used to have this much energy when I was small. It never gets boring, that I can say! You surely get a lot out of it: a fitness regime, self control training, family therapy, a creativity class, time management and organisational tasks, cooking lessons, motherhood-preparation and, most of all, the perfect skill set for working as a children’s holiday rep! 

3.What is the best part of your role?
Making the kids laugh. The kids making me laugh. Having inside jokes with them. Helping them. Being there for them when their parents can’t. Sharing funny stories. Having nicknames. Taking silly photos. Finally calming down after a big fight. A genuine “thank you” from the parents. A small hand unconsciously holding yours. Being a big part in their lives. Being needed.  

4.What is the worst part of your role? 
You can’t take a break, really. Kids always want to be entertained and – with some of them – you just can’t leave them alone for a minute or they burn the house down (literally… always make sure they don’t forget to put milk in the porridge bowl before putting it in the microwave…) Also, in my case, I wasn’t really allowed to take things in my own hands when it came to education. I was only a “conveyer of news“ which meant only telling the parents what disasters we had to go through that day. But there were also other things, eg me being fine with the boys not eating certain stuff because they really just didn’t like it (me neither, actually…) and their mother forcing them to eat up because they can’t be picky at lunch meetings in the future! That’s just one example of having to accept and follow educational strategies you may disagree with. That’s a part of the job I really struggled with; you certainly realise what you would do differently with your own kids! 

5.What are the common misconceptions of being a nanny? 
It’s an underrated job! You need to be very organised, patient and cool-minded. Managing children is at least as tough as managing adults in other jobs. I can imagine that some may think “a mother has to do this all the time!” – but, you see a) the mother employed me to do this, so she, well, doesn’t do it, b) it’s not my children so I can’t treat them as I would treat mine and c) you’re not the kids’ mother, so they don’t treat you like her! You’re like a full-time kindergartener who lives where their job is (at least as an au pair) and you don’t have co-workers but your employer constantly around you! Now if that’s not a job that should be appreciated more…!  

6.Do you have any key tips or advice for people getting into the profession?
Be patient. Sometimes you have to repeat yourself about fifteen times or have to put up with 40 mins of constant crying and shouting, but it’s going to be fine in the end. Even kids need to sleep at some point! Also don’t be too sensitive – don’t forget that children often say things out of affection or without knowing the real meaning behind it. I know words can hurt a lot sometimes, but try to be above that; you’re the boss after all and shouldn’t get irritated by little monsters trying to get a reaction out of you! And, so so important, speak up. Talk with the parents. Tell them their kids were not good today and you didn’t know what to do at all. Tell them when they behaved well and that you all had so much fun after school. What I quickly realised is that the parents wish they could spend all this time with their children, could make these memories with them. They know they can’t live without you, they need your help, and that it’s all not optimal with work and family, so the least you could do for them is sharing your experiences so they won’t lose insight in their kids’ lives. 

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