Disclaimer: That is most certainly not me in the photo above.
In case you didn’t know, I had a whirlwind ten day period as an au pair in France (which ended in me fleeing the country and vowing never to leave Ireland again. You can read about that here). However, if I didn’t manage to put you off the concept of au pairing enough here’s a typical day for you to make up your own mind.
I hunted through four years of emails to find my original au pairing contract and a) felt genuinely ill rereading my poor level of written French from then and b) shivered at the memories of au pairing.
Here’s a direct quote from my contract to give you an idea:
Nous avons évalué à 15 heures / semaine pour le « contrat ».
Dans ces heures, il est compté l’aide que tu nous apporteras avec les garçons, les gardes après l’école, le temps que tu prendras pour leur faire découvrir ta culture et les langues étrangères.
Il faudrait quatre fois par semaine le matin les préparer pour aller à l’école, les récupérer après l’école, s’assurer qu’ils fassent leur devoir, leur faire découvrir les langues étrangères, les doucher.
Le mercredi et samedi après-midi, il faudrait leur faire faire des activités, découvrir les langues étrangères, ta culture, …
Il y aura une à deux soirées par mois.
Il pourra avoir d’autres taches que tu souhaiterais faire.
I typically had fifteen hours of work for the week and received €35 for this weekly.
Here’s what a typical weekday consisted of:
7am: Wake up. Get the boys ready for school- get them changed, pack their schoolbags and make them breakfast. Have awkward conversation with host parents. I should mention that I began au pairing in June so the boys were still in school at the time. The boys would leave for school at around 8am.
8am-11am: Housework time. This consisted of walking around the tiny house, inventing jobs and generally trying to avoid the host father.
11am- 4pm: I was free during this time, although lunchtime was at around 1pm. This unfortunately involved thirty minutes spent eating with the host father. I generally tried to avoid conversation (a typical question that he would ask me was “tu penses à quoi?”- ie “what are you thinking of?”) and mostly smiled and stared blankly at him for the duration of the meal. I mostly tried to evacuate the house after lunch, although the village was TINY. Otherwise, I would stay in my room and read books/ surf the internet. All very cultural! 😉
4pm-6pm: I used to absolutely dread this time. The twin terrors (the boys I was looking after) would return from school and we would complete “activities” together. Unfortunately the most popular activity seemed to be locking me out of the house. I would also have to shower them and unfortunately the younger boy (who was three at the time) would REFUSE to let me shower him and insisted on his mother showering him instead. (I was secretly pleased).
6pm-10pm: This was “cultural” time and literally involved me watching television with the parents. I would evacuate to my room at around 9pm and relax by myself.
The boys were off school on Wednesdays and I would have to do activities with them on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons. I had fled the country before any of the “soirées” (that apparently would happen two Saturdays per month) and didn’t have the opportunity to go to any of the activities that they had mentioned to me before I came- swimming or football matches for example.
I also was to receive one day off per week (with at least one a month being a Sunday).
As I’ve mentioned in my other au pair posts, I lived in a tiny village. I didn’t see any tourists or people my own age, let alone other au pairs. This probably also implicated upon my enjoyment of the experience. If you have any questions feel free to ask! You can also read my advice for au pairing here.