Being an au pair is a weird life. Sure it’s a life of adventure and travel and meeting interesting new people on every corner… but it’s also a life of awkward conversations, embarrassing moments, and unconventional relationships. I’ve been an au pair in Vienna for nearly a year now and I feel like I’ve encountered more than I ever expected. These are just some of the things that depict the strange life of an au pair.
You may be an au pair if…
1) You’re constantly getting sick as your host children bring home delightful new viruses.
The kids get sick. Then the parents get sick. Then you get sick. It’s like dominoes but with vomiting and head colds.
2) You have very strange working hours.
Having to FaceTime my friends from home at 1 a.m my time because they work a normal 9:00-5:00 is the usual for me. Scheduling coffee meet ups with other au pairs is a struggle because some of us work mornings, some work afternoons, and some work evenings. It’s not a regular post-work “happy hour” meet up because all of our “happy hour” times are different.
3) You find yourself working while everyone else is on holiday.
Austria has loads of holidays but it doesn’t mean much for an au pair. Some au pairs even have to work extra on summer holidays because the parents still work but the children are out of school. Other au pairs will work on New Years while their host parents go out. It’s a weird life.
4) You find yourself having to cancel plans last minute.
Not the case with everyone, but a lot of au pairs’ schedules are dependent on their host parents’ schedules. Perhaps my least favorite thing about having spontaneous, cool host parents is the fact that my plans often have to change at the drop of a hat.
5) You have seen your employer in their underwear or vice versa.
… it happens.
6) You find yourself having tearful goodbyes more often than you’d like.
The great part of being an au pair is you meet people from all over the world. The bad part is… then they go home and it breaks your heart.
7) You find yourself in situations where everyone is speaking a language you don’t understand.
You’re chilling with your host parents and their friends and assume they’re not talking about you in front of your face.
8) You often find yourself awkwardly having to ask for things.
“Um, yeah I didn’t get this month’s salary in my bank account.. just wondering if there was a problem as to why it didn’t go through.”
“Um, do you think I could have a friend over?”
“Do you think you could get some Capri Sun next time you go to the store?”
9) You can’t call out fake sick to work.
You live with them so… they know when you’re lying.
10) Your employer spends your monthly salary on a dinner.
This could be a lot of jobs, but as au pairs get paid a very meager salary and the host parents are rich enough to have an au pair, it rings true. I feel guilt for buying an unplanned cappuccino while my host mom just spent my entire week’s budget getting a pedicure.
11) You love your employer like family.
They’ve probably seen you at your ugliest, your most vulnerable, and your most homesick. They may be wildly different from your biological family but during your time there, they are your family. It’s not always convenient living where you work, but it makes a bond like no other.