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Published on October 25th, 2017 | by Jones

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6 ways to be a great Au Pair

So, you’re finishing up high school or your tertiary education and planning what to do next. You’ve read about Au Pairing and it seems like an amazing opportunity. You’re great with children, have amazing organisational skills and have no responsibilities keeping you at home. Which is why Au Pairing is the perfect opportunity for you. And if you really want an adventure, you can go overseas and Au Pair there.

There are so many benefits to Au Pairing. For one thing, you’ll likely live with them if you choose to go overseas. That means free accommodation. And families who can afford live-in Au Pairs often like to travel and there’s a strong chance they’ll take you with them to look after the kids. Plus, it’s a great buffer job between finishing school and starting your career.

However, the thing is, being an Au Pair isn’t easy. And if you want to be successful and make money, you have to be a great Au Pair. If you find yourself suddenly wondering how to do that, here are six tips to help you out.

Set boundaries straight away

You may have spent a lot of time with your younger siblings or cousins and feel you have the whole “kid thing” down. But you’re no longer just playing and having a laugh with the little ones. You’re in charge of them and their well-being. They have to know that you’re the authority figure while their parents aren’t around. Let them know that, although you want to have a good relationship with them, they first and foremost need to respect you. They may think they can take advantage of you when you first arrive as you’re new to their lives. Do not let that happen.

Never raise your voice

Children act out. No matter how well-behaved they are in general, they will be naughty at times. They’ll do something they’re not allowed to do. They’ll throw tantrums when they don’t get their way. And sometimes it will feel like they’re purposefully working on your nerves. This will obviously frustrate you and make you want to pull out your hair. But, whatever you do, remain calm and do not lose your temper. Shouting at the children will instill fear and not respect. Instead, find other consequences for their actions, like confiscating a beloved toy or cancelling a fun activity you had planned.  

Create a routine that works for you and the children

Children need routine and so do you. You’re not babysitting them for an evening, you’re becoming a part of their lives. Which means you need to create structure with a routine. Set strict times for certain tasks, like homework. Insist they eat their meals at specific times. Make sure they have a regular sleep schedule so they’re always rested and physically and mentally healthy. Having a routine may seem like a boring way of living life, but it it’s important in order to give them a sense of security.  

Don’t forget to have fun with the little ones

Yes, you’re a disciplinarian and it’s your job to run their lives to the best of your abilities. But don’t forget that children need to play as well. And playing with them will help you lay the foundation of a good relationship and help you to truly bond. So, when they’ve finished their homework, encourage playtime. When the sun is out, you can pretend to be pirates in the garden. When it’s cold outside, you can build forts in the living room. Of course, you need to make sure you put everything back together again and that their parents’ lounge suites remain in perfect condition. You don’t want to get so caught up in having fun that you forget you’re still in someone else’s home.

Keep the parents’ rules in mind at all times

Don’t forget, these are not your children. Their parents’ have rules for a reason and you need to follow them, even if it makes you unpopular with the little ones. When you start out Au Pairing for a new family, ask them for a list of rules or to discuss the way they’d like you to handle their children and their lives. Not following the parents’ rules may lead straight to you being dismissed from your job. Don’t think they won’t find out, because they will. Never forget they’re the ones paying your salary.

Be someone they can talk to about anything

Their parents can’t be there all the time, which is why they hired you. So, you need to be someone the children feel comfortable talking to about anything. You should make yourself a sounding board for their ideas or be willing to offer life advice when they’re upset. You’re not just there to make sure they’re doing their homework. You’re also there to ensure they have a happy childhood.

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