My Year as an Au Pair

My Year as an Au Pair

Holy moly these 9 months have flown by! Right now I’m either at the airport or on my flight from Stockholm to Chicago. If this is your first time on Boarding for Chynna, I’ve been an au pair in Finland for the past 9 months. If you want to know more information about being an au pair below are some blog posts I have written!

My year as an au pair has definitely been an interesting one. As a 25-year-old it’s not something you hear of people doing after college. I will say that taking a year of was really nice so that I could travel before having to get into the game of life. But I don’t think I will ever not stop traveling! I’ve had a fun year and I’m excited to share what I did today!

August and September

Tallinn

I arrived in Finland at the beginning of August and the weather was great! I visited the capital, Helsinki, for the first time and met some other au pairs in the same city. At the beginning of September I went to Tallinn, Estonia by boat with some of the au pairs. Tallinn is a beautiful place I would have never thought of going to, but so glad I did. You can read about my trip HERE.

October and November

My Year as an Au Pair

October was a big month! I turned 25 and went on my first solo trip to Prague! My grandpa is from Prague so I have been wanting to go for a long time and was blown away by the beauty of the city. If you would like to read about my trip to Prague, click HERE.

Why I Became an Au Pair After College

In November I took my next solo trip to Copenhagen! I loved this city! Even though it was chilly at this time of the year, it was amazing! You can read about my trip HERE.

December and January

One au pair I met was from France and when she found out I wasn’t going home for Christmas she invited my to her families house to join them! Seriously the nicest thing and I’m forever grateful for it! We spent a day in Paris before heading to her family’s town and then two other days exploring Metz and Nancy. You can read my posts about France, HERE and HERE.

Traveling to Amsterdam During Winter

After Christmas I made my way up to Brussels and then to Amsterdam. I will say that Brussels didn’t really blow me away, but Amsterdam did! Amsterdam is gorgeous and the canals are a dream to just look at all day. You can read my post for Brussels HERE and Amsterdam HERE.

In January I took a weekend trip to Stockholm with another au pair and her friend. Stockholm is a beautiful city, but pretty cold during the winter! You can read about my weekend HERE. 

February and March

Why I Became an Au Pair After College

I’m not going to lie, February was rough. It’s cold and dark and it feels like winter will never end. On a positive note though, I did get to go skiing with my host family for the first time!

Why I Became an Au Pair After College

I also went to a public sauna and jumped into a frozen lake! Very very Finnish thing to do in the winter.

In March I finally saw a friend from back home! After not seeing any of my friends since August I was so happy. I’m so glad I was able to meet up with them in Barcelona! You can read about my trip to Barcelona HERE. 

April and May

5 Things You Should Do in Lisbon

April was a great month! I had another friend come to visit and we took a trip to Lisbon Portugal! I fell in love with this city. There is so much to see and do. You can read my Lisbon posts HERE, HERE, and HERE.

How to Spend a Weekend in Northern Austria

And here we are in May! At the beginning of the Month I traveled to Germany and Austria to visit an au pair I met in Finland. You can read about my weekend HERE and HERE.

My Thoughts on Being an Au Pair

People ask if I would do it over again and it’s such a hard question. If I didn’t come I would have never met the people I did or do the things I did. And really I’m not sure I would want to give that up. But also I overall didn’t enjoy being an au pair. I love working with kids and even have a degree based on working with them, but this is completely different. I am not in control of anything and had to base my life on what 5 other people were doing. So really I have not felt in control of my own life these past 9 months which has been hard for me. It was an experience though and was able to do so much, so for that I am thankful.

I want to thank everyone who has kept up with my journey these past 9 months and can’t wait to share what I will be doing during this next chapter in life!

 

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3 Things to Ask Yourself Before Becoming an Au Pair

3 Things You Should Ask Yourself Before Becoming an Au Pair

Deciding to become an au pair is a pretty big decision. One that I should have probably thought over a little more than I did. Luckily it ended up well and nothing horrible happened, but there are some things I should have asked myself before I signed my contract.

Am I okay with doing more than what my contract says?

For example staying home with the kids when they are sick. I don’t get paid anything extra and I lose my free-time during the day. Or doing the dishes everyday. I am only supposed to clean once a week lightly and then once a month a heavy cleaning. Even though this isn’t a big deal, spending 15 minutes of your morning almost everyday cleaning up after people can get old (and they start to expect it). If you aren’t okay with doing more than what is in your contract, then you need to be true to yourself and know how to say no. I am still working on that one.

 

Am I patient and flexible?

Not only will kids test your patience being belief, but sometimes situations will arise where you need to be flexible. Like if the taxi doesn’t come at 5am for the dad and the mom needs to drive him. That means you have to wake up and be in the house with the kids (if you don’t live in the same house). Or maybe a toddler is throwing a tantrum and has cried for the past 20 minutes. You can luckily learn these two things over time, but I would ask yourself if you are willing to.

 

Am I okay with doing these differently than I do?

Not every culture does things the same ways you do. What they eat for breakfast, how they spend their free time, and how they raise their children. Are you open to do things differently or not?

 

I think these are really tough questions to answer and ones that should be thought over before making a decision. For some of you these might be easy and you know or have known you wanted to be an au pair for a while. That’s great and I hope you have the best time! If you want to know how I became an au pair in Finland you can read my post HERE.

 

Do you have any more questions about becoming an au pair? Feel free to ask me!

 

 

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Why I became an Au Pair After College

Why I Became an Au Pair After College

Something no one tells you about is how the last few months of college are crazy. I remember thinking “what the heck is going on with my life” on a daily basis. You’re basically giving up a life you’ve loved for the last four years and going into another that is not exactly as exciting (it can be, but in general bills don’t seem exciting). Fast forward and I’m currently sitting in a super cute cafe in Tampere, Finland and planning a trips to Barcelona, Portugal, Germany, and Austria. So if you are wondering if you should take a gap year after college, here is why I did!

 

I Can Be a Teacher the Rest of My Life!

College

What is one year going to change? Nothing. The real world will still be there when I get back. Also, I don’t mind pushing off the adult world another year 😉

 

I Wanted to Experience a New Culture

Why I Became an Au Pair After College

Why I Became an Au Pair After College

Living in a different country really opens your eyes to how other people do things. You also learn that just because we do it one way, not everyone else does, and it doesn’t make them wrong. I also got to try so many different things from living in Finland; I went skiing and also went to a public sauna and jumped into a frozen lake! I would not have done any of those things in Indiana.

 

The Ability to Travel

Why I Became an Au Pair After College

This was probably the biggest reason. I have been able to see sooo much since I have been here! There is a huge world out there to see and seriously it’s really cool.

So if you are considering taking a year to travel, do it. You really have nothing to lose and a world to see!

HERE is the link to how I became an au pair in Finland if you are interested in becoming one.

If you have any questions or just encouragement, message me!

 

 

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How I’m Able to Travel

How I'm Able to Travel

Everyday we see the blogs and Instagram accounts of people who give up everything and travel the world. They make money blogging and are able to see the world because of it. While I do have a blog, that’s not how I travel. There is really one big reason why I am able to travel and another factor that helps a lot in being able to afford it. So if you are wanting to travel more, I’m sharing how I travel and more ideas on how you can see the world!

Au Pairing

This is basically the number one reason why I am able to travel as much as I do currently. I live in Europe so it’s much easier to travel to another country over the weekend. While the daily life of an au pair is not glamorous or necessarily fun, you get to live in another country for free. If you want to know more about au pairing I have a whole tab dedicated to this topic. You can read more HERE!

Teaching English Online

This is a major factor that enables me to travel. While I do live for free, at 25 I do have bills and au pairing doesn’t pay that much per month. So I decided that if I wanted to travel I needed to do something more to make that happen. Teaching online has been awesome and I love the company. It’s pretty flexible and the hours work for my schedule. If you want to know more I also have a tab dedicated to this, you can read more HERE! Use my referral code: KCFDOT

Other Ideas

The two things listed above are basically the two major reasons why I am able to travel. But I do realize that a majority of people can’t do them for numerous reasons. So below I’ve listed more ideas on how you can travel based on things I’ve seen or heard of people doing based on their life.

College Students

In college I know that it is hard to travel because of time and also money. I think one of the best ways to travel and probably the easiest is to study abroad. You take classes that can count toward your major and also live in another country! I didn’t study abroad but I did go to Europe twice while in college. Both times I saved up money to go. The first time I went with EF Ultimate Break and was able to pay for the trip with monthly payments. The second time I went to Ireland for a week and the ticket was pretty cheap! Search for deals and start saving!

Families

Having a family might make it hard to travel. Not only do you have more schedules to work around, but it also costs more because you have more people. I don’t think this should stop you though! If you and your partner value traveling and want your children to experience the world then you should! I think paying off all debts or most is important so that you can focus on saving money to travel. Sell things you don’t need, downsize, and maybe pick up a second income.

Living paycheck to paycheck

I think this is pretty common for a lot of people. With student loans and maybe even just things that have happened in life, you can’t seem to save to travel. Like I said above, try to get your debt down first. Sell things you don’t need, downsize, get a second job. Take small trips or weekend trips for a while during this time. Once you are able to save enough, then you can start traveling more!

If you are anything like me, travel is a big part of my life and I want to keep it that way.

What do you do to be able to travel?

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Questions You Should Ask Before Signing Your Au Pair Contract

Questions You Should Ask Before Signing Your Au Pair Contract

By now you’ve probably found a couple families that you might be interested in. But the problem is you don’t really know what to ask or what you should be asking. If you have never been an au pair before it’s hard to know what you need to ask. You should ask a lot of questions before signing your au pair contract.

Haven’t found a family yet?

I would suggest starting your search with Au Pair World. There are many different sights you can go through, but I liked this one the best.

You found a family

If you think you have found your family, congratulations! Before signing your au pair contract I suggest you start video chatting and emailing with your family to go over all questions and details. Not sure what to ask? Today I am sharing with you a downloadable sheet with questions to ask your family! Print it out and keep notes to help you make your decision.

Questions You Should Ask Before Signing Your Au Pair Contract

Before signing your contract

Make sure that you ask all the questions you want! Research your countries laws on being an au pair. In some countries you can’t work over a certain amount of hours or you are required to make a certain amount. Make sure these match on your contract. If you don’t feel comfortable about something, then don’t do it. I would also ask for a rough draft of the contract before so you can go over everything that will be on it. That way there will be no surprises.

 

Interested in downloading the questions sheet?

Click HERE to download (subscribers only)

I wish you the best of luck with finding your perfect family!

 

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What to Do When You Want to Change Your Host Family

What to Do When You Want to Change Your Host Family

Things not going well with your host family?

Luckily, you’re not the only one who is feeling this! Before becoming an au pair I didn’t realize how many people change their host family. I knew there were the stories of the horrible families, but I just assumed they were stuck unless they went home. But it turns out you can change your host family!

This may depend on the country and your nationality, but it actually seems pretty easy! So what do you do when you want to change your host family?

Give it Time

If you just arrived, I would say give it time. Maybe you and the family need time to adjust and it just needs time. But after three months things still don’t feel right then it’s time to move on.

Talk to Your Host Family

If you are having a rocky start, you can also try to talk to your host family about how you are feeling. If you don’t say anything they will never know there is a problem. You may feel awkward saying anything, but it may make all the difference if you do!

Stay an Au Pair or Go Home

Now, you’ve given it time and even tried talking to your host family but things are still not good. So now you need to make the decision if you want to stay an au pair or to go home. Maybe being an au pair is not right for you and that’s okay! You need to do what is right for you!

Do Your Research

In Finland you can change a family pretty easily. Your new family will just need to go to the tax office and let them know. But this can be different for each country. Please research or talk to others who have made a change to make sure what you are doing is legal! If you want to go to a different country you may need to apply for a different visa depending on how long you are staying, so this is something you need to keep in mind.

Start Your Search

There are different websites you can find families. I personally like Au Pair World. It is super easy to search families and message them! When you are finding a family make sure you ask a lot of questions so you will get a better fit.

Inform Your Host Family

I think giving your host family at least a months notice is considerate so they can find a new au pair. This may be hard and awkward to do, but there is no need staying in a situation you are not happy in!

If you are not happy with your host family, I hope you will find a better fit!

Have you changed your host family? What did you do to change?

 

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A Day in the Life of an Au Pair: Julie

A Day in the Life of an Au Pair: Julie

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend 🙂

This weeks au pair is Julie from France! She is a chemistry student who is taking a year off from school to be an au pair and also do research. Before she came here she was in Iceland and then after au pairing she will head to South America to study coconuts. So cool right?! She au pairs for a family in Finland with four boys. Here is her experience:

What is your daily life like?

I usually wake up at 7am to help the youngest get ready, bring him clothes and make sure he brushes his hair and teeth. I then have to make sure all the boys make it to the taxi on time to get to school. I then have free time during the day when the boys are at school.

During my free time I will clean, do the laundry, and dishes. I will also prepare hot meal for when the boys get home. After all that, I can do whatever I want.

When the first boy comes home, usually the youngest, I will help him with his homework if it is English or math. After that we usually play outside or do an activity inside, like make decorations for Halloween.

The parents usually get home around 5pm, so I am done for the day. I will usually still play with the kids though since there is always something going on.

At 6pm is night snack and then the boys go to bed at 7:30pm.

On Saturdays it is a special day, candy day, where we can watch movies and eat candy!

What is included in your contract?

  • Monthly pay
  • Can use the car (if not needed by parents)
  • Own room
  • Weekends free
  • Language course twice a week

What do you like about being an au pair?

Helping the family, playing with the kids, and becoming apart of a family. Also, learning about a new culture.

What do you dislike about being an au pair?

I would prefer to go places more during the weekend with the family to explore the country. Sometimes the kids act like they are the kings and I have to do whatever they want. They don’t know the limits sometimes.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an au pair?

I think Au Pair World was a good website to use to find a family. Also, don’t hesitate to ask the family any questions you have.

Thank you Julie for sharing your experience!

If you missed last weeks post, you can find it here

Are you an au pair or want to be an au pair and have questions? Let me know!

XX Chynna

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A Day in the Life of an Au Pair: Andrea

A Day in the Life of an Au Pair: Andrea

Happy Monday! This weeks au pair is Andrea from Austria. Andrea is an au pair for a family with two kids here in Finland. Andrea’s time as an au pair is sadly over and she is now back in Austria. Here is her daily life as an au pair!

What is your daily life like?

I usually wake up around 8am and help the host mom get the kids ready for the day. The boy, 3 years old, goes to daycare two days a week and the girl, 6 years old, goes to school 9am-1pm everyday. I cooked dinner for the family every day. During the day I would clean the house and do the laundry. When the kids were home I would take care of them and sometimes I would put them to bed.

What is included in your contract?

  • Food
  • Own room in the house
  • Monthly pay
  • Friends who visited me could use the guesthouse 20m below their house

What do you like about being an au pair?

It was a great experience to see what a different culture is like. How their houses are different and also how they raise their children and solve their problems.

I also got a clear picture of the way of life in Finland. There is a big difference in how people live their lives in Finland and in Austria.

I loved traveling around for the few months I was here. Sometimes with friends who came to visit or with other au pairs.

What did you dislike about being an au pair?

I needed to spend a lot of energy on things in my daily life. It was also difficult to do what my host family expected because of the cultural and language difference.

Have you learned anything?

I learned a lot about working with children and how to combine this with housework. Also, I learned how to make friends in a different country.

 

Thank you Andrea for Sharing your experience!

If you missed last weeks post about me, you can find it here!

Are you an au pair and want to share your experience or want to be an au pair and have questions? Let me know! I would love to hear from you

XX Chynna

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A Day in the Life of an Au Pair: Chynna

This weeks au pair is me, Chynna! I am 24 (almost 25) from Indianapolis, IN. After graduating from IU this past May I made my way to Finland to be an au pair for 3 boys. The boys are 2, 4, and 7 years old and when I got here they didn’t speak any English! Now they are able to understand me a little and I can understand them also (for the most part). Here is my daily life as an au pair!

My day to day life

The “usual” schedule is that I will pick the boys up around 3/3:30pm and then head home to get dinner ready. This may change if there are soccer or hockey practices. I clean the main floor once a week and then once a month a do a thorough cleaning. I also usually cook dinner during the day so that it is ready when we get home from school. They boys get “hangry” if they are not fed!

What is included in my contract

  • Bus pass
  • Monthly pay
  • Food
  • Own room
  • Weekends free

What Do I Like About Being An Au Pair

I really like working with kids and also my family. They are really easy to get along with and they really try to make sure I a comfortable. Even today my host mom asked if there was anything that they could do better or I didn’t like. I really like this because it makes me feel like they really care. I also like being able to live in a different country. It has been really amazing getting to experience a different culture.

What Do You Not Like About Being An Au Pair

Sometimes it’s hard to communicate with the kids. It makes it hard when you want them to do something (or not) and they don’t know what you are saying. I think now they have a level of respect for me, so it has been easier. Doing the monthly cleaning has been a challenge also. Not that the actual cleaning is hard, just that when I clean it is hard to keep it clean so I worry that they family will think I haven’t actually cleaned.

What Have I Learned So Far

I have learned to be more patient and how parenting can differ culturally. This will be beneficial to me in my future classroom since I may have students who come from different countries. I have also learned how to live in a country where their native language is not English. Something as simple as going to the gym can be a process because you have to figure out where everything is without being able to read the signs.

My Advice For People Who Want To Au Pair

Always know what you are getting into. Make sure to look over your contract and be honest if you are okay with it or not. Don’t say yes to something that will not make you happy. I also think it is good to talk with the previous au pair if they have had one. This way you can get a better idea of the family and if they will make a good fit for you.

 

Are you an au pair? Would you like to share your story? Let me know!

Missed the last post? Read it here! Want to know how I became an au pair? Find out here!

Thanks for reading 🙂

xx Chynna

 

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A Day In The Life Of An Au Pair: Zanie

A Day In The Life Of An Au Pair: Zanie

This weeks au pair is an 18 year old from South Africa, Zanie! I met her on my trip to Tallinn, Estonia and was so happy I did. Zanie au pairs for a family where the mother is Finnish and the dad is American. The family has three kids and also owns their own cafe (hello free coffee). Zanie’s host family also owns a lot where they have two houses so she has her own house to live in! Which is super awesome.

A Day In The Life Of An Au Pair, Zanie:

What is your daily life like?

My daily life can be somewhat repetitive. I mainly look after the five year old girl, who doesn’t go to school yet. Other than that, I get the kids from school and take them wherever they need to be.

We have a good system going. I make dinner on Mondays and Thursdays. My host parents take turns cooking dinner on the rest of the evenings. This ensures that you can have structure because you can plan your meals and never wonder who’s got dinner sorted that night. At least, it’s been working for us.

What is included in your contract?

  • Food at the house
  • Own house
  • Bus card
  • Monthly pay
  • Assist children during hours upon agreement
  • Light cleaning
  • Prepare meals
  • Maximum 30 hours per week

What do you like about being an au pair?

I like working with kids, and learning about another family’s life and culture. You settle in with a new family as if you are a part of their own, and while working you get to travel through a different country and see how it differs from your own.

What do you dislike about being an au pair?

There can be a lot to dislike. For one, if you are very attached to your own family, obviously being apart from them for so long can be really tough. I definitely miss my own country a lot too.

Repetition, another thing I really dislike. I like when I have different things to do each day, not constantly the same routine.

I dislike that there’s almost never getting away from certain things. Sometimes I need quite some space and alone time away from the kids on the weekends to regain the energy to go into the next working week without being utterly annoyed. Although of course its difficult when you are staying with them.

Have you learned anything so far?

Patience. I, myself, am not very patient person. You need a lot when you decide to become an au pair, and although I didn’t have any when I made the decision to be one, I certainly learned some in the past four months as an au pair.

I also learned that you can’t tun away from any problems you have, because they will follow you all the way to Finland 😉

I have learned a lot, life is short, and traveling opens up many doors.

What advice would you give someone looking to be an au pair?

Follow the guidelines of your contract. My host family is so good to me, and that sometimes makes me feel like if I’m working a lot more than I should or running around like a maniac doing things on days I don’t need to be doing it, that I shouldn’t complain, because they are so good to me. But then I question it, are they this good to me because they are hoping I’ll just do extra things for them, or is it because they are just good to me because they have good hearts?

Don’t portray an image you can’t keep up with for the rest of your time working for your host family. If you start off the first month constantly cleaning and doing so much more than you need to, they will expect you to do it all the time. Another reason this isn’t great is because it really just makes the kids lazy and they will see you as someone that just picks up after them!

Also, don’t ever hesitate to communicate. If something is bothering you, talk about it, and ask your host family to do the same. This way, if there is any problems coming from either the au pair or host family it can be worked on and the general relationship between you and the family will be much better.

 

Thank you Zanie for the interview again and your advice!

If you missed my previous posts about au pair life you can find them here and here. Also if you want to know how I became an au pair, you can find that post here.

Any au pairs out there that have advice?! Let me know! 🙂

XX Chynna

 

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