Samstag, 20. Dezember 2014

Being an Au-Pair in London in a nutshell

Hi there

Are you all getting ready for the annual Christmas-Madness?
Personally, I feel very relaxed as my mum and I are going to Cuba over Christmas/New Year and I just escaped from the madhouse aka my working place and host family in London. Yes that's right, my experience as an Au-Pair in London was altogether a complete disaster and just one of the most terrible and stressful times in my life so far.

No panic, I won't bore you with the details of all the little and big no-no's and beastliness I experienced with my host family, but for everyone considering to do an Au-Pair job I highly advise you to inform yourself thoroughly about your rights and actual duties as an Au-Pair; as most of the host families in London (at least what I and several other Au-Pairs could detect from our and other families) try to make use of you - or simply are misinformed about the duties of an Au-Pair, leading to you becoming the housemaid, servant or even slave of the family if you don't stand up for yourself. I did inform myself but it kind of got in that direction anyway. The thing is that the kids grew up around Au-Pairs rather than a stable Nanny while the parents both were working full-time, resulting in the children having no stable attachment figure. No wonder therefore, that the 7 years old daughter went berserk and tried everything to get me, the seemingly root of evil that stood between her and her beloved mummy and daddy, out of their house. And I mean EVERYTHING.

At first I ignored her wicked little games and her snottiness, as I am very well aware of the fact that children always will test you and see how you deal with them over a longer period before they grow to respect you. And I tried really hard to get her to like me. I know I am really good with kids and they usually like me a lot, since I can empathize with them easily and always try to see the world through their eyes. And in fact, she did like me; she even said so and showed it as well through her actions when she had a good moment. The problem wasn't a personal matter, but the fact that she just didn't want to have an Au-Pair in her family at any cost. And I just happened to be the unlucky guy who drew the short straw and got the position while she had (and presumably still has) her worst phase so far. She even went as far as lying about being hit and pushed down the stairs by me. That was the point where it was enough and I quit. That weren't little, innocent, childish games anymore. That was a serious matter that could have hurt my reputation and that could have jeopardized my future if the parents would have believed her (which they luckily didn't - turns out she used the same lie with previous Au-Pairs as well...Little, spoiled, pitiful brat!). I told them in advance so that they could find a new Au-Pair and they agreed that I could stay with them until after my Proficiency test, as it would benefit all of us and as it would be great if I could work in the new Au-Pair. Two weeks after they kindly requested me to leave the house as they had already found another Au-Pair and changed their mind after all. Nothing personal. Only that I now had the stress to find a new place to stay. I found a small, really cheap 1-room flat in Acton which I would have gotten, but the guy suddenly didn't respond anymore to my mails and calls which I thought of as really strange. In the meantime the host mother asked me whether I wouldn't like to stay with them until Christmas after all - Turned out the next Au-pair's references weren't that fab after all. Since it was more convenient for me that way as well, I agreed. But as nice they treated me when I first arrived, as cold and uninterested they were now. Shortly said, the last couple of days were just hell and sheer madness.

To sum it up, Au-pair can be either one of the most lovely or one of the most hellish jobs at all. And I think it highly depends on where you are - On the countryside I think families are more likely to treat you as part of the family as in the capital; especially London, since there are a lot of empty, snobbish and posh people and excellent examples of the sharp elbowed middle classes. It's a 50/50 thing, really. But as far as I can judge, it doesn't really matter wether you go with an agency or on your own, for my friend went with an agency, had exactly the same problems as I and also left early, with the difference that she spent 2500€ and her agency made the very helpful comment that they "would totally understand her decision" - of course she won't get back her money for the time she paid but didn't spend over there. Biggest joke of it all is that the agency assured her that they would take the family out of their list; only for her to hear from the family one week later that the agency already had found 30 new candidates for the Au-Pair job in their family...

But nevertheless the last couple of months were an experience I am grateful for, as I could learn a lot about myself and were I still have to work on. My mother always uses to say "be grateful for everything life throws at you, as shitty as it may be; as everything will teach you something, makes you grow and surpass your former self ". Or in short: What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. And I share her belief.

See you soon,


your cheeky devil

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