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Anna Saarinen

au pair chores

All this time and talk about being an au pair and a bunch of people don't even really know what it technically means! So I'll share some basic info about the chores that are under your responsibility as an au pair. The term au pair techinically means that you live with a family and take care of their kid/kids for a certain amount of hours every week. You're basically a part of the family (hopefully), so you obviously have to help around in the house too. But au pairs can have very different contracts, so be sure to talk about it throught outly before getting any surprises! We had an aupair when I was 13, and I was the only kid in the house (my sister was on exchange that year) so her chores didn't really include babysitting. So here you have 3 different au pair experiences as examples of what it could be like;

1. being a big sister, about 20h/week
– cooking dinner for the family
– cleaning the house weekly
– ironing
– driving the kid to the hobbies etc. daily/ a few times a week
– basic house hold chores
– grocery shopping

2. an extra pair of hands, about 20h/week
– picking the kids home from school
– making them some snack
– playing with the kids
– emptying the dishwasher etc. basic house hold chores (not cleaning/washing laundry)
– tidying up the kids' toys

3. a full time au pair, about 50h/week
– helping with the kids in the morning, giving breakfast
– keeping a kid active for the day with games, crafts, play dates etc.
– cooking the kid lunch & dinner
– doing the kids' laundry
– tidying up the kid's toys
– helping with cleaning the house
+ babysitting if included in the contract

All these au pair contracts had 5 days working, and two days off. But as you can see, the job of an au pair varies a lot, and these are only some examples! The most typical one is number too, which often is also a great option for a gap year because the 20h/week leaves you with a lot of free time for studying and traveling around. But all of these have their pluses and minuses, as everything really! After being the au pair of situation one & two I dare to recommend it, and at least as the host kid I really enjoyed the option number 1 too! It's just about what suites you and your host family the best.


working as a short time au pair

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 and make a profile, that's where I started my search too!

3 weeks of English tea

Hello mates and greetings from the Land of Tea! I've been working here (in Surrey, but basically London since that's how the people would call this as we are about 20min away from the centre) as an aupair for 1 week now, and I have two more to go of which I'm really happy about!! It's a lot different than the aupair job I did in Brussels, because there for example my work days were about 4 hours only and here they are about 10h, also my daily life is different and obviously the places are very different, but I've been loving every minute so far!! I do am exhausted actually but that's mainly just cause I never was very good with early mornings, but I also feel incredibly lucky to have gotten two such amazing aupair experiences in just one summer!! The family is lovely, I love the kids I'm taking care of (a four-year-old and sometimes a 1-year-old baby) , I've made friends with some very sweet people, I've been seeing around England and I love my very own tiny upstairs where I can see the three topa right from my bed. I've been drinking tea with milk every day, I'm almost used to getting in on the right side of the car, I can almost remember where I should check for coming cars in the traffic, I've done my best with starting to talk English politely and I've already eaten fish and chips and I haven't even been to the actual London yet and I'm already in love with this place! So so far life has been very good, even thought I've been too tired to actually publish anything (and also too tired to study- oops!). But I'll try to fix my sleeping rythm and today's break in a super fancy cinema (where you sit on a couch and you can order in food or wine or what ever you'd like – if some one will take me on a date there I'll marry them right there and then) was probably some needed help too. It's been a bit muggy today, but hey with Finnish blood even this definitely feels like summer so no complaints! I hope your summer's are going wonderfully, tea-smelling kisses from England xx

Brussel’s been great

So how’s Brussels? It’s amazing! I’ts my first time in Belgium and I’d definitely recomend this to everyone! I’ve been working as an aupair here in Brussels for two weeks now, and I’m leaving next Friday but I’d really just like to stay here! I’ve been so busy studying, working and getting lost in the city that it took my forbiddingly long to write this, but always better late than never!! I’ve had some technical issues so for now you’ll just have to admire the iPhone SE photo quality, but I’ll be back with more photos of Brussels for sure! And I’ve also visited Luxembourg (and met my Italian friend there after 4 years!!) and right now I’m sitting on the stairs of Gare Centrale in Brussels, waiting for my train to Amsterdam! I have no idea how long the train will take and I have no idea what I’m planning to do there haha, but it being my solo adventure just makes it more exciting!! But anyways, back to the beautiful Bruxelles. There are only so many famous tourist sights so Brussels is indeed a great destination for a weekend trip, but in my personal opinion it’s such a beautiful town that even three weeks isn’t really enough! So there are the few things everyone must see while in Brussels. I visited those, and now I’m here to give you my honest opinion! But I’ll just add to the list my personal favourites, and of them my absolute favorite is just walking around the town and getting lost. Each street is prettier than the last one, even the metro stations are works of art really, and every waffle that you’ll try is better than the last one! (remember to try the Belgian and the Brusselan waffle, the latter is a bit harder to find and it’s more expensive, but also really good and less sugary!)

– belgian fries

I honestly don’t know what is so special about them (please don’t kill me my Belgian friends!), but special or not, they do a re good and it’s something the country is really proud of so you should definitely get a cheap lunch and try them out!

– waffles

Do I need to explain this? I’m happy to, actually, I’m such a fun that I could just dedicate a whole post for the Belagian (and Brusselan!!) waffles.

– belgian beer

I’m the worst person to give tips on this, since I trust other’s opinions and I’ve tried what I’ve been recommended to! There are 1500 options I hear so please, please do try at least one of them. If you don’t really like beer but still want to take part in this tradition, try to Mort Subide! That’s a cherry beer, tastes really good and will work for both beerlovers and beerhaters!

– atomium

I mean, once in Belgium right! But honestly, at least the permanent exhibition wasn’t really worth the money. The view from the top was beautiful yes, and if you’re into the history of aviation you’ll like the museum inside too, but while I don’t regret doing it -and meeting a new friend in the line!- I wouldn’t really recommend it. Except for families, I did the atomium + mini Europe packet, and it was definitely good for kids! The mini Europe is exactly what it sounds like (full of beautiful miniatures from the countries in the EU), plus it has a small educational exhibition at the end of it, so I really do recommend it for families with kids!

– mannekin pis

The most exagerated landmark they call it. I was told in advance that it’s a forearm tall tiny statue so my expectations weren’t too high nor did I get dissapointed, but in case you haven’t heard it yet : Don’t held your expectations too high! It’s a cute statue and it’s part of the Brusselan (??) athmosphere and since it’s not far from the grande place, I do recommend following the line of tourists and seeing it with your own eyes! It has about 700 different outfits so you might see it in one of them too. Sadly it’s not the original statue anymore – I guess I’m not the only one interested in the tiny peeing boy since it has been stolen three times! Last of which ended miserably; by the peeing boy being shattered on the ground.

– grande place

No explanations needed I guess! Remember to touch (correctly!) the statue at the corner for good luck, and visit the square also at night when the lights make it a lot more beautiful even! Once you’ve span around for a few times then you can just hop on one of the streets (the one next to the statue would be my personal recommendation) and visit the souvenir, chocolate, and waffle stores on it (there you’ll also find the Brussel- waffle)!

– palais royale

I’m still a bit confused what all buildings are a part of it, but walk around it and if you see a Belgian flag at the top of the main building, it means that you’re just a few walls away from the king himself!

– galeries royales Saint-Hubert

(I didn’t and wouldn’t buy anything here, but it is a beautiful 50m hallway! So why not just quickly walk trough it and take a few pictures, since it’s right at the center!)

-the European quarter

Well, that’s Brussels after all! Walk around the huge office buildings and you can basically hear the suited up people whispering about EU decisions around you.

– eats clams

(I didn’t get to take a picture of mine but I do mean the sea creatures, not fruit haha!) They’re delicious!! Most of the restaurants a few blocks down from th Grande Place offer them in lots of different flavours, and for doable prices. But these you’ll probably find anywhere really!

– parc cincuentenaire

– especially these two fancy churches, and the other churches too

– parc Leopold

– every single park really

– the unkown streets

– the bunch of museums there are

– palais du Justice
Go for a run, visit every park that you can, eat greek food, visit the museums if you’re into them, try the fresh orange juice – machine in the Carre Four – super markets and enjoy Brussels! It’s safe, it’s beautiful and it’s tourist friendly in every way.  I recommend it from the bottom of my heart!!