So what is it like to be working as an au pair for only a period of about 3 weeks? As you might know if you've read my blog recently, I spent 3 weeks in Brussels working as an aupair for a 2-year-old and a 6-year-old, and now I'm doing my last week of the three in England taking care of a 4-year-old and helping around with a 1-year-old. When I first mention that I'm working as an aupair everyone assumes that I'm staying for a longer period of time, for about a year. That's why I decided to start using the term short time aupair, because it really is a lot different from being a year-long-working aupair.
First of all, you have to learn everything a bit faster. Which can be hard with kids, because you're supposed to know from the beginning how to act around them, what they need when they're not behaving well, what kind of food they eat and don't eat and so on. You have to find your way around the house really quickly, and be able to feel comfortable in a new home with a new family very quickly, or you'll just have a miserable time. Usually the first three-ish weeks is the time that you use to get used to things, but when you only stay for three weeks, you have to do it a lot faster.
And also, making friends is a whole different story. Aupairs usually have quite large groups of friends, since they rarely are the only aupairs in the area and they are adults so on their free time they can go out and do what they please (But, there is the fact that you live in someone else's house so it's still not quite the same! Especially if you start working with their kids the next morning at 7 am) and might meet friends that way. But when you're there only for 3 weeks that's a lot harder. You don't really have enough time to form a group of friends, or time to start a new hobby and meet people there or maybe not even to learn what to do on your free time. So even thought you live with a family, those 3 weeks can be quite lonely. I've been very lucky with both of my host families, they're lovely people and I truly enjoy spending time with them. They've been extremely kind to me even though it can't be too easy for them either to have a stranger living under their rpof for 3 whole weeks! But making friends of my own age has been a lot more complicated. Here in England I've gotten to spend more time with other nannies so that has been very nice, and both in Belgium and here in England I do have some friends who I got to meet, so I have had more than enough to do and people to hang out with on my free time. But it's still very,very different from being at home and having a list of friends who you can call whenever you feel like it. But it's a choice you make!
There are also lots of pluses about this kind of experiences, of which the biggest one really is getting great experiences in plural and getting to know new places and new people around the world. So being a short time au pair has really suited me actually. But I personally enjoy travelling alone and I've learned to feel like at home in new places really fast, AND I've had lots of studying to do so I haven't had that much free time really, so I've had lots of reasons to not to complain. You also get paid some salary obviously, it's very little compared to another type of job but the experience itself is a way better recompensation really. You learn a lot about yourself, about new cultures, about different ways of holding a household and working with kids, language (French and English in my case even thought in Brussels my host family was Finnish), and also about how beuautiful and interesting the whole wide world is. So – if you don't mind missing the summer vacation/what ever free period you have of your life in your home country with your family and friends (which I do mind actually a lot but I still don't regret my decision) and you're not about to work for saving money, I'd definitely recommend working as a short time aupair. I can't really tell what is it like to be an au pair for a longer period of time, but while you don't get to see different cultures in plural you do get to actually form a life somewhere else in a way, so I'd dare to say I recommend that too! And I'm more than happy to answer any questions someone might have xx
P.S. The one question I keep on getting, is how did I find my host families so here you go; my host kids in Brussels are my distant relatives so there I had a family connection, and my host family in England I found through a happy coincidence when my mother was chatting with a British friend of hers! But since coincidences like these don't always happen, go to aupairworld.com and make a profile, that's where I started my search too!