Living in the US as an au pair

Before leaving I had never heard about being an au pair. I read that short paragraph that explained what being an au pair means and that this job gives the opportunity of living in the US for free. Since I have been living in this “world” for almost 2 years I sometimes forget that many people don’t even know about it. I still have to explain to my friends when they ask me ” What are you doing there?”

Let’s start…An au pair is a girl ( less common a guy) who moved into another country for a year and lives with a local family. Her job is to take care of the host family’s kids and in exchange for that she gets room and board. This is the technical definition but if I would have to explain it using my own words I’d say that these families need a constant help with the kids and prefer to have someone always around. Moreover, in the US, paying for a nanny can be very expensive and that’s why we are also known as ” cheaper nannies”.

It looks easy, doesn’t it? I thought that too before leaving. Trust me, it’s not a vacation as many people think. Even my mom still says that I have been on vacation for 2 years. It is a full time job, 24 hours a day. We live with our employer and the kids never understand if you’re working or not. It is a job that requires A LOT of patience, adaptability and the ability of swallowing many things. An au pair has to live with a stranger family and respect their own rules, even if they sound weird and don’t respect your culture; we have to educate the kids following the parent’s will without saying anything.

Did I scare you? hahah If I stayed for two years, maybe it’s not that bad. As they say here, this has been The time of my life. An amazing adventure, new friends, new places and a new me. Surfing the web you can find thousands of stories and each of them is different. I want to tell mine too.

I left from Milano on the 08\03\2015 and my first family lived close to Seattle. I have to be honest, I didn’t even know where Seattle was. I only knew it was the city of Grey’s Anatomy. I took care of two girls, one was 6 and one was 8. I have been very lucky because I didn’t work a lot in this family. I usually worked 25 hours a week. My little girls went to school every day and after school they were always busy with some activities. I was always off at 6. During the weekend and holidays I was always free.

I decided to move after one year because I wanted to see new places. I love California so much. My second and current family lives on the Hollywood Hills. I have two kids here too, one is 5 and one is 8. I work more than before, I’m usually off at 8 but I’m happy anyway. I really feel like being part of a family and that’s the point of being an au pair. My host parents always ask about my life, my new friends, where I go and where I would like to go. We talk about everything, not just about work. The little ones love me and I love them so much, we are a great team and I sometimes forget that I’m working.

Two different experiences, in two different places but both have been WOW. I’ll tell more details, I promise.

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