Hello everybody! My name is Anika and I’m 22 years old and from Germany. I arrived in North Carolina in July 2018. I am taking care of twin babies (9 months), two girls (4 & 5 y/o) and a boy (8 y/o). Yes, I am an au pair for no less than five host kids!
Don’t worry, my host mom is a ‘stay at home mom’. I started writing on this blog to raise awareness for bigger host families, because I know they’re struggling more to find an au pair than other families. And also because I can see why some au pairs might be overwhelmed by the idea of au pairing for a family with so many kids.
UP FOR THE CHALLENGE
For an Au Pair in America, it takes a lot of commitment to be with a bigger family. But the bigger the commitment, the bigger the reward! Five kids also means five times more love. Another advantage is that I’ve never been homesick, and I honestly think that’s because I don’t have much time to get homesick in the first place.
At the beginning of my application process, I was open for everything and I secretly hoped for a big challenge. It’s save to say that my wish was granted when my current host family got in touch; A family with three kids, and a host mom who was pregnant with twins at the time. I couldn’t resist, and from the first Email on, I knew that we would be a great fit. I had lots of questions, so we Skyped twice and sent a lot of Emails back and forth before we both decided that this match would probably work out.
And it did! I start my day at 11 am and finish around 8 pm from Monday to Thursday. On Fridays, I look after the kids from 9 am to 6 pm, so that I’m off a bit earlier. This means that I do 45 hours of childcare every week, and therefore my family decided that I should be off on the weekend.
On my weekends, I spend time with my friends, go to events that I mostly find on Facebook, attend the monthly cluster meetings or just stay at home to save money for my vacations. I’m flexible with my vacations since my host mom is at home anyways. My host family also takes me with them on vacation. Together, we’ve been to Connecticut for Thanksgiving, on a cruise to Mexico and to a beach in North Carolina over Spring break. On my ow, I’ve also been to New York, D.C, Miami, Orlando and went on a road trip to Atlanta, Nashville, Dallas, San Antonio and New Orleans back in April.
CULTURAL EXCHANGE AT ITS BEST
Besides traveling, I also enjoy ‘the simple things’ and spending time with my family. I love sharing my culture with them: Teaching my host dad German, for example, or celebrating German festivals like the ‘Carnival’. But I also like sharing my friends’ culture with them. My host kid learns Chinese in school, so I once brought my Chinese Au Pair friend home and we made Hot Pot and tried some Chinese snacks together.
Another thing we enjoy doing is making a party out of everything. Which is why we had a 6 months anniversary party with cake and a bunch of German games that everyone enjoyed.
MANAGING YOUR EXPECTATIONS
Besides all the fun, it is important to prepare for the fact that the au pairing for a family mostly means: routine. Every au pair knows that looking after kids can be hard work, and not every second of your day will be all sunshine and daisies. E.g., kids don’t have the self control to stay calm in stressful situations, especially when they’re hungry or tired. In those situations, it can get really crazy, so that sometimes you can’t help but just shake your head in disbelieve.
Which is why I’m so glad that I can always count on my host mom. Together, we are a great team. We support each other with our decisions and stay mostly consequent. Even when it gets hard, we laugh it off. And yes, sometimes the kids go to their mom to complain about me – but from the very beginning, we’ve established the rule that “the kids have to listen to Anika”. My host parents try to make sure that the kids listen to me, respect my privacy and appreciate everything I do for them.
As an au pair, the most important part of your experience is your host family – and they are one of the biggest reasons why my year has been so amazing!