Wednesdays (aka the day of hell for au pairs)

For some reason the French think its a good idea to put kids in school from 8:30am to 4:30pm. When I say kids, I mean they start at age 3. Edgar is turning 4 on Saturday and this is his second year in school. Ridiculous, right? At the age of 4, I am pretty sure my mommy dropped me off at pretend pre-school twice a week for half a day. Anyways, I guess to balance this madness the French have decided the kids get every Wednesday off. And every 6 weeks they have school, they get two weeks off. Pretty sweet I guess. However, the people in charge really did not think of all the poor souls who decided to sign up to be au pairs.

Being an au pair is really not that bad. I have to say we are all pretty good at complaining. Yes, basically it is slave labor. But hey, you get to live in a foreign country. During the week, work is bearable…

  • Wake up at 7am– get the kids ready, fed, and take them to school
  • Back home by 830am
  • Usually it is in this period of time I take a nap…
  • 11:30am– get ready for class and have lunch
  • 12:30pm– out the door to catch a bus that is, lets face it, 9 times out of 10 late.
  • 1:40pm-3:40pm– French class
  • 4:20pm– bus home.
  • 5:10pm– get home and drink tea before insanity starts
  • 6:00pm– get the boys then craziness sets in… goûter, baths, playing, fighting, cartoons, scooby, dinner, the list goes on.
  • 8:30pm– parents and i eat dinner
  • 9:30-10ish– lock myself in my room and spend ridiculous hours on the internet.

But on Wednesday, this all changes. You have to think of 13 hours of entertainment for ninos. Yes, they have sports for an hour a day each but that really doesnt help much. Even taking them to the park and killing a few hours doesnt help. The day lasts forever…..

However yesterday, as I sat in the sun “watching” my kids play in the park, (but really reading my book), I decided that life is not all that bad. I think the reason why all au pairs complain is because of the whole weirdness of the situation. What is being an au pair? You are basically this young girl hired to raise someone else’s children, (yes, I say raise because I strongly believe I am doing more than watching a few kids), and live in your boss’s house. I went from recent college grad without a care  to full-time mother. I cook, clean, and basically my whole life revolves around these two little kids. Add this with trying to be 20-something, have a social life, and see the world. This is where things get off balanced and we see the constant feeling of dissatisfaction with au pairs. All of us moved to a foreign country to get an experience. Little did we know that the major experience would be growing up because of the job aspect of it. Dont get me wrong, I am still so happy that I made this decision. I also highly recommend au pairing if you can find the right family and situation for you. Just know, you will never be ready for what you actually signed up for.

I always tell my mom that the one requirement of being an au pair is a sense of humor. I realize that I have a ridiculous life and no where in a traditional scheme of things does it make sense. But it is mine. I am doing what I wanted and what many people are too afraid to do. I took the leap. Sometimes I want to kill the kids or dream about living in the middle of Paris, but I have to say this was the best decision of my life. I have grown more in the past few months than I ever could have imagined.

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2 thoughts on “Wednesdays (aka the day of hell for au pairs)

  1. “Madame professeur, j’ai oublie mon caiet a la maison”. Pretty much all I remember from high-school french classes. Thank God you’re american!
    So….I know my English is not that good, but I believe you can understand it, if a 4 year does 😀
    I am going to be an au pair starting May, any advice?
    well….not really an au pair, I’ll sign an “guarde d’enfants a la maison” work contract…which in sweet (I heard au pairs have a ridiculous low salary…or pocket money, as they like to call it). Am I making any sense? i feel like I’m changing the subject every 2 seconds…
    Anyway…I was reading your blog and I kinda feel the same way you did before leaving San Diego….only with me it’s more complicated on some wats and easier on other ways.
    I have to leave my bf behind for a year (that sucks) and I have to quit my job (somehow sucks), but on the other hand, I’ll have a well paid job in France and I already visited the family, which is cool (they are brittish, Y-EY!)…
    But there are still a few things to manage. Like ….taking care of all the papers (you know what a headache that can be) and finding a french language course in the area….and packing and saying good bye….and finding a way to make some new english speaking friends in France…and May is almost there and i’m freaking out!
    This post doesn’t help….I have two full days with the kids (yes, 13 hours!) and uh….there are 3 of them…all boys…help?
    What do you usually do with them? any games that could keep them still….like keeping them from running in front of a car? 😀
    I have a lot of other questions, but I’ll keep those for later. Hope to hear from you soon. xxxx

    • How exciting! You are about to start an awesome journey and growing experience. And it sounds like you have a pretty good situation. I know it is really hard to leave everything you know and make this decision but I can tell you it was the best one I made. The people and the life you leave back home will always be there. The people you love, and love you, will not change. It just takes more work to continue the relationship. I can tell you now, that although there are some people I lost touch with, the people that really mattered in my life are still here and we still have great relationships. I can tell you by no means is it easy and there will be times you are so homesick. But this experience is unmatched. The hard parts help you grow!

      As far as the headaches with paperwork and school… yes, it is a MASIVE headache but worth it. Just be persistent and dont give up. French administration is so difficult to deal with but as you can see from me… its doable. Dont worry about making friends here, you will though school and if you join other activities. Also, I am sure there will be other au pairs in your area 🙂

      If you have anymore questions I would love to help. If you want I can send you my email address.

      Bon courage! x

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