My Experience As An Au Pair / Nanny Abroad



Six years ago I packed my bags to go and work as live-in nanny in Italy. I went to live with a family in Milan, take care of their children part time and learn all about Italians and their culture. I never planned to stay 4 years! It was the most amazing adventure and today I want to share with you my nanny and au pair experience with tips about children, host parents, host families, babysitting and living abroad alone. 

1) What's the best part about being a nanny in a foreign country?

Going to work in a foreign country as a live-in nanny is a very cheap way to travel when you're on a budget. You won't have to pay for your own room, food or WIFI. A big plus of moving in with a family is that you will be able to completely engage with the culture and language of the country and learn everything in an instant. A host family is a great support system that will help you find a language school and maybe a hobby so you can integrate and make new friends quickly. Host parents who hire foreign nannies are usually very open minded and really enjoy learning about where you come from and your values and morals. The whole purpose of working as a nanny in a foreign country is not only about working but also about having fun. Nannies are everywhere, and on every social network. You'll meet people from all over the world and quickly jump on the nanny bandwagon. You'll eat, breath, sleep, travel and party together like there is no tomorrow! 


2) What's the worst part about being a nanny in a foreign country?

The worst part is that you don't actually know someone until you have lived with them. A perfect life and a perfect family doesn't exist. You will have ups and downs with your host family, you will have fights and disagreements, just like with your own parents, and your own brothers and sisters. Here are a couple things I have learned about host families along my 4 year nanny journey:

- Even though your host parents are grown ups and should be responsible, they will come and sneak around in your room. If you do have something to hide, make sure you hide it well because you will get in trouble for it. 

- Some families have this weird idea that nannies are super humans that never get tired. You will have to entertain their children your entire shift. Host parents don't know what it means for their kids to play on their own.


- Hostparents will always take advantage of you. In Belgium we have this saying: You give someone your hand and they take your entire arm. Never do anything you are not supposed to or you'll end up doing it for the rest of your stay. 

- This one sounds harsh but it's the truth: your host parents hired you because you're cheap and they don't have a replacement for you. They will most probably make you work even when you're sick and will not really be bothered to help you go to the doctor or get medicine. When their kids cough once, they're put on antibiotics immediately and stay home from school for 3 days. #funtimes

- Host parents will often forget that you're young and wild and actually have a life of your own. They won't like it if you ask to invite friends and most probably won't allow it. Same with drinking alcohol and/or smoking. Asking for a day off will also make them freak out even though you have the total right to. Try to make them remember you have a life outside of nannying.

- Your host parents will take you on vacation with them and tell you it will be very fun. Truth is: you will work around the clock and won't have time to make friends or go out. You will be with them 24/7 and will probably sleep in a room with the kids and have no privacy whatsoever for weeks in a row. Going on vacation with your host family is a time where you'll feel very very lonely, most families also don't take into consideration an internet connection is important for you so you can stay in touch with your family and friends

- This is the most annoying one of all: your host parents will forget to pay you or not pay what was agreed to. Make sure you and your host parents schedule your payments weekly or monthly so it will be easier for you to ask for your pocket money, when this happens.


3) Would you recommend being a nanny in a foreign country?

I would totally recommend it! This experience shaped me to the woman I am today and I don't regret one little bit of my trip. Nothing makes you grow up faster than traveling around on your own and taking care of someone else's kids. The little shy girl in me has now almost completely disappeared and my self confidence and self esteem had a huge boost. I met the most amazing people and now actually know the true meaning of the word 'friend'.

Disclaimer: Please do extensive research before considering to become a nanny in a foreign country. There are people out there who do not have good intentions and go as far as creating fake accounts, fake families and even fake nanny's. Meeting up with people you only know from the internet can be extremely dangerous. There are enough horror stories out there so please get yourself informed and be cautious!  


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Image: Unsplash

14 comments

  1. Great tips! Sounds like a pretty amazing experience. Cannot wait to move to the US by myself later this year :)

    https://livinglifefullyalive.wordpress.com/

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    1. Thanks! Good luck, you will have so much fun :D

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  2. Very useful information, thank you for sharing! Are there any other kind of jobs?

    http://www.alinabefu.com/valentine-glow/

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    1. You're welcome, I didn't look into any other jobs myself whilst I was there, so I cannot help you with that :)

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  3. oh wow sounds like an amazing experience!! I am an italian living in the netherlands since 2012, so I'm curious, how do you like milan? did you manage to learn the language and culture as you planned to? I think you've been very brave to take the leap and move abroad without known connections, it is an experience that changes your life (at least it did mine) :D

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    1. I loooooooved Milano, it's such an amazing city. I still go there on vacation once or twice a year. I speak fluent Italian and speak Italian daily with my Italian boyfriend, who moved with me back to Belgium :) I attended a Liceo the first year while I was working there and the years after I went to classes especially for foreigners. I traveled around Italyin my free time too and went to places like Rome, Pisa, Venice, Verona, .. it was great :D I can definitely picture myself living in the south of Europe later on in my life; I miss the good weather haha. How is it going in the Netherlands for you? Do you speak Nederlands? :D Xxx

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  4. Lovely insight to your experience. Glad you enjoyed it but for me, I don't think I'd ever volunteer to be a nanny abroad, haha.

    www.fashionenth.co.uk

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    1. Haha I understand, I couldn't do it anymore now that I'm 25 haha :D Thanks for checking out my blog!

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  5. Sounds like a great experience. I feel I would get too home sick and have a big deal of anxiety if I took on something like this but I am glad you have learned a lot from it!

    simplycrystaline.wordpress.com

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    1. I thought I'd get homesick too, in those 4 years I only got homesick a handful of times and it never lasted long :) I was very shy when I went there and going there finally allowed me to come out of my shell. Thanks for checking out my blog ;) Xxxx

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  6. I am really considering to aupair somewhere in Belgium next year. I'm just not sure where to start looking and if I'm "old enough"...if that makes sense. I'll be 18 soon and I don't want to go study right away. How old were you when you did it?

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    1. I also started when I was 18 :) I think you're good there! I always has good experiences using au pair world as a website to find host familie, it's also the easiest site to post a profile as an au pair and you can make it for free. On top of that there is all the information you need about becoming an au pair, pocket money, working hours etc. The only downfall about the site is that the pocket money is quite low for some countries. Good luck! I'm here if you need more info ;) Xxxxx
      https://www.aupairworld.com/en/au_pairs

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  7. Vorig jaar werkte ik als au pair in Nieuw-Zeeland, namelijk bij een gezin in Wellington. Au pair zijn heeft inderdaad zo zijn voor- en nadelen, maar ik kan het iedereen aanraden!

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    1. Wat leuk! Dat is wel heel ver weg hé :D Wat een avontuur!

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