For many people time as an au pair is the period in which they learn how to cope and make decisions for themselves without the safety net of family around them. This newfound independence is empowering for life.
It’s been proven time after time that being an au pair not only helps to educate about a different culture, offer the experience of another family’s life, the learning and use of a foreign language in day to day situations, it also delivers self confidence to the au pair and a greater sense of who they are, life’s responsibilities and the repercussions of decisions.
Broadening horizons to encompass a new way of life is proof of a person’s ability to function independently, adapt to new environments and situations, manage childcare, homecare and interact with strangers who become friends.
The wistful person that they once were will grow and flourish, the person that stared out of the window wishing to experience life, cultures, to see other countries, meet people and find out about how other people live, work and communicate will fulfil their wishes and develop with each new experience, each new goal set and conquered and decision making skills will strengthen in the absence of their usual counsel.
For example, if a child falls alarmingly ill in your care would you:
- Call your mum at home (it is 3a.m. there, 10a.m. where you are) and see what she’d recommend? Mum always knows!
- Call an ambulance or seek medical advice?
- Watch and wait, hope the child gets better?
- Call the child’s parents?
- Check the internet?
All five are viable options b
ut they’re not all excellent options – you’ll have the trust of your host family to make the right decision and quickly.
While away from home and spending time as an au pair, events that people may have been shielded from at home or the seemingly irrelevant ones thousands of miles away will have a bearing on their life and how they perceive it. They’ll develop courage in their convictions and views from having been near something at close quarters.
For example, a Canadian au pair in London commented that she wasn’t too bothered about whether the U.K. was in the European Union or left it, but when she lived here and witnessed the arguments for and against she gained a new appreciation and a matter which was barely noticed at home became a talking point.
If a future career is planned in a social or child related area the work experience as an au pair can be used as evidence and in some cases as a professionally recognised internship. So, before taking a course any gap year time as an au pair has set them ahead of fellow students, this can only leave them more certain of their own abilities – remember, they’ll have practical experience not just theory to work from.
Learn to stand on your own two feet, maybe with quaking legs at first but very soon with strength.