I have been working as an au pair in London for seven months now, which means taking care of Emilia (4) and Leon (6 almost 7), during their parents work hours and living in their house. It has been an amazing yet challenging experience to work with kids this much and live in a different country at the same time. My work schedule is different every week since I work for a family with two classical musicians, but there are some things that never change, like Emilia’s Nesquick time. In this blog post, I will describe what my days look like so that you will be able to learn more about what it is like to be an au pair.
I am pretty lucky because most of the time the parents are able to take the kids to school, but when they can’t – due to the mum having a tour – I’m up for duty. The father leaves around 7:15 – 7:45, so my alarm goes off at 6:30 and after a quick shower and a light morning snack – I can’t eat breakfast that early – I go downstairs at 07:00 to find the kids having breakfast. When they finish breakfast they need to get dressed which is usually very easy because they can do it themselves. While they do this I do the dishes and tidy up the kitchen. Then it’s time to do Emilia’s hair and brush their teeth, Leon can do that by himself but Emilia still needs a little help in that area. At 08:05-08:10 Leon plays 15 minutes of piano while Emilia plays upstairs and at 08:25 we put on our shoes, coats, scarves or neck warmers and are off to Nursery to drop of Emilia. When Emilia is safe and sounds at Nursery I drop of Leon at Primary School, which is in the same building but has a different entrance, after which I return home to either read a book with some tea or take a nap.
If I don’t have to work in the early morning then I start at 11:00. At this time I usually prepare some sauce or curry for dinner, get Emilia’s lunch ready, clear out the dishwasher and tidy up the kid’s rooms or put up or take down the washing. All of this within 25 minutes, because I have to leave to pick up Emilia from Nursery at 11:25. After Emilia and I had lunch it is time for ‘relaxtime’, this is the moment of the day where Emilia can watch some YouTube videos like ‘Charlie and Lola’ or ‘Peppa Pig’ or ‘Peter Rabbit’ Etc…. in my bed while I clean up after lunch. 30 to 45 minutes later it’s time to drink Nesquick, each and every day. She always wants “something next to the Nesquick” – she means a snack – and do a puzzle while the Nesquick gets cold.
After Nesquick we play doctors, do arts and crafts, go outside to the playground or to ride her bike or we play one of the many, many games that they own like ‘Guess Who’ or ‘Loco’. Except on Thursdays, that’s when we go to gymnastics.
At 15:10 we put our shoes and coats on again and go pick up Leon who gets out of school at 15:20. When we come home we drink ‘koekjesthee’ (chai tea with milk and honey) with a little snack and afterward, he is allowed to do 30 minutes of computer time – Leon LOVES computers – while Emilia watches some ‘CBeeBies’. After this – if one of the parents is not home yet – we go back to playing games or do some more arts and crafts until it’s almost dinner time. Before dinner, they take their bath and get into their PJ’s so that they will be all ready to go to bed after dinner.
The weekends are a bit different, most au pairs are free during the weekend but I always have to work on Saturday but am off on Sundays fortunately. We don’t have a timetable for the kids on the weekends so getting dressed and brushing their teeth is done somewhere between breakfast and lunch. I try to come up with fun things to do with the kids most weekends, for example going to museums, soft playgrounds or winter wonderland, but on some weekends we just stay home and play.