Do you wish to travel for cheap and do you like
spending time with kids?
Then being a (summer)
au-pair might be the job for you!
I spend my last summer as an au-pair in
Tarragona, Spain. And I can honestly say that
this was the best experience and the best
summer I’ve ever had!
You meet great people and you’ll spend time
with a nice family. And besides that, you get lots
of free time to explore the city. I for one, had
the weekends off, and so I travelled with some
other au-pairs I met there to cities such as
Madrid, Barcelona, Lloret de Mar or even
Sounds great right?! So let me tell you
everything you'll need to know!
You might be wondering; what exactly is an au-pair?
Well, this means you will stay with a family and help them take care of their kids and teach
them a foreign language (usually English) or doing some small housework in exchange for a room,
food and some pocket money. An au-pair differs from a nanny because au-pairs are typically
from a foreign country and are also trying to explore the country a bit more. It obviously
depends on the agreements you make with your host family, but it is usual that you get
some days/evenings off, where you will be able to travel or explore the city.
What can you expect as an au-pair?
Obviously, I can’t speak for everyone because it honestly depends on the agreements you
make with you host family. However, I will explain how my average day looked like as an
8:30 : Wake up. Set the table and wake the kids if they aren’t already awake.
10:00 – 14:00 : Play with the kids, teach them Dutch and maybe take them to the beach, or do some other activities
14:00 : Make them (warm!) lunch and eat with them. Usually, the mom would make the
lunch in the morning so all I had to do was heat it up.
14:30-16:00 : The kids always had 1,5 hours ‘ipad time’ after lunch. I could rest and usually I
would go to my room and chill in my bed for a while.
16:00/17:00 : The dad would come home around this time, and once he was home, I was
free to do whatever I wanted to do.
17:00 : I usually would go into the city to meet up with some other au-pairs for a drink.
21:30/22:00 : Dinnertime with the family. It wasn’t required of me to always be there, but
their food was really nice so I usually tried to be there!
23:00/00:00 : Bedtime for me!
How much money do I receive?
For a summer au-pair it is usual to receive a little bit of ‘pocket money’. This isn’t perceived
as actual payment, because you also already get accommodation and eat for free.
In Spain (and most European countries, I believe) it is common to receive around 70-80 euros
per week. Again, make sure you make agreements about this before coming! For example, I
agreed with my host family that they would pay for both my flights, and I would get around
45 euros per week.
How can I find the perfect family for me?
I personally used the site www.aupairworld.com and so did most of my au-pair friends. I
could really recommend this, since it worked amazing for me! However, you don't have the
‘safety net’ that other organizations do, because on this site you can only find families and
communicate with them. So, if anything bad would happen, you're on your own. With
organizations such as Yellowaupair or CulturalCare you pay a fee to them, in comparison to
aupairworld, which is free, but then they would arrange some things for you. If there would
be any problems with the family, you can communicate it with the organization and they can
help you find a fitting solution for both parties.
How can I connect with other people?
There are many ways to make friends, however, when you are in a foreign country and don't know
the area or the people, there are some useful apps for you. I personally used Facebook. In Facebook
you have certain groups that you can join, so I joined groups such as ‘au-pair in spain’, ‘au-pair in
Tarragona’, or ‘Tarragona & Reus Au Pairs’. This was obviously for my little area that I stayed in, but just type in ‘AuPair in…’ and I'm sure you'll find something!
Once you're in the group, you could post a little message about yourself, your area and the fact that
you’re looking to meet up with some other au pairs in the city.
Once you meet one au-pair, others will follow. There is usually a whole network of au-pairs in the city
that you will find out about!
Another thing that could be useful are actually dating apps! Often there is an option that you're
looking for friendships instead of a relationship. I personally didn't use this, but some of my own au-pair friends really recommend it!
Why you should become an au-pair:
If all this information above doesn't immediately get you to pack your bags, then here is a small
summary of all the reasons why you should become an au-pair:
- Explore the world for cheap
- Make amazing connections
- Getting to know yourself on a whole new level
- Sun, Sea and Swimming
- Free accommodation, Free food and earning pocket money
- Getting to know a new culture
- Improve your skills in a foreign language
- Have an international experience
- Especially as a student, being a summer au-pair is an amazing opportunity!
If you’re interested, you could also read some of my experiences as an au-pair in Spain below:
I had the best summer ever because of my
experience as an au-pair and I would definitely
recommend it to everyone! I started looking
into being an au-pair when my friends
cancelled on our summer vacation. ‘Screw
them, I’ll just go by myself!” And it was the
best decision I’ve ever made. After some
research I found the website aupairworld.com.
I would describe this site as a sort of tinder,
but then for families looking for au-pairs.
Quickly I came in contact with a lovely family.
We facetimed a few times and I met the kids.
We had everything set up, the only thing that
was left to do was book my ticket. However,
unfortunately the mom contacted me after a while that she suddenly had to work in a different part of the country, which made it impossible for me to come. I was obviously very sad about this, and just
when I was about to give up, this lovely Dutch mom reached out to me. Asked if I wanted to
come and after one call, she immediately booked my ticket.
After a couple of nerve wrecking months, the day was finally there. I hopped on the plane to
go to them. The dad picked me up from the airport, and I have to say; It was definitely very
awkward. When we arrived, I was already so tired from the day, which didn’t make it any easier to meet the kids. They were very nervous and shy as well, so it was really awkward!
Luckily the next day everything worked out okay. I brought some tools with me to create your own jewelry, and that was a great icebreaker. I would really recommend to bring something to do with the kids, because that helps a lot with the awkwardness!
The kids were amazing by the way! They were eight and nine and I feel like that’s the perfect age when it’s your first experience as an au-pair.
Another thing that worried me a lot, was that I would be very alone. I was going to spend 2 months there and I can keep myself company, but it would be nice to have a friend.
Which is exactly why I started looking on Facebook pages such as ‘au pair in….’
There were many people who posted something about themselves and said that they would love to meet other au-pairs. And so, so did I.
I ended up meeting Emma from the USA. She was already in Tarragona for a few months, and she would stay another few months.
We immediately clicked and I felt so happy to have made a friend! Because Emma was in Spain for a longer time, she already met a few other au-pairs, and the first weekend I was
there, we immediately went clubbing in Salou with all the other au-pairs. The next day we
went on a boat trip with everyone, and now I had a bunch of amazing friends.
We had a lot of fun together, but it was also very useful because we could ask kid-related questions to each other.
I would spend almost every free time I had with them. Every weekend I would go clubbing with Lilly from England, and every morning I would wake up at 4:30 to watch the sunrise with Emma. I still miss them every single day, and it has been months since the summer.
Little funfact; We are still in touch, and I visited Lilly in England after Christmas! Emma is also coming to Berlin in the summer, so I will definitely see her again as well.
With another au-pair Jaelyn, I went to Madrid.
We had the best time here! It also happend to be that Emma was already in Madrid on a little get-away with her host family. That was such a nice coincidence. We had lunch together, did some shopping and ofcourse we went clubbing. And then, after the weekend and after we missed our morning train (I do not recommend going clubbing the night before you have to catch a train at 6AM) We got back to our host-families and did the usual. And because of the pocket money that you would get for being an au-pair it enables you to do these things. I literally spent my days in the swimming pool at the house, taking the kids to the beach, baking cookies with them and sipping sangrias in the sun with my newly made friends.
I got paid to lay on the beach all day, what more could a girl wish for?!