Charne from South Africa, who lives with her host family in the Chicago area, gives us a peek into her daily life and shares her favorite things about being an au pair in America!
Read on for our interview with Charne about her life as an au pair.
Describe a typical day with your host family.
I make sure that the kids have breakfast, are dressed and are ready for school. I then either drive them to school or walk them to the school bus. On days when my youngest doesn’t have school, we play outside, visit the local library, go to open gym, play at home, go on play dates, etc. Once everyone is home from school, we have lunch and do homework and reading. We then do afternoon activities—play in the park, visit museums, walk in the neighborhood, have play dates, visit the library or play at home. I then bathe the kids, and if we have time we read books, do puzzles, play games or have a dance party.
What do you enjoy the most about being an au pair?
The best part is that you get to interact with children at a time in their lives where they see you as their role model, and they simply love you and want to be loved back. You become like a big sister to them and you learn so much about them and about yourself in such a short period of time.
What is the best part about life in the U.S.?
You have the opportunity to travel and see as many places as you desire! The U.S. allows you to experience so many different cities, lifestyles and cultures all in one country. Also, you feel so safe and welcomed by your host family, which helps with homesickness.
What do you do during your free time?
On weekdays I go to the gym, Skype my family or meet up with friends for coffee. In the evenings, I go out for dinner, spend time with my host family or participate in voluntary work. On weekends I go downtown into the city of Chicago to visit museums, parks, shops and restaurants. I love to walk the streets or cycle through the city to visit all the big tourist spots as well as the top secret local places.
What do you enjoy doing the most with your host family?
I love hanging out with them and sharing stories about my life back home. This allows us to get to know one another and share cultural experiences.
What advice would you give future au pairs who are considering applying to be an au pair?
The best advice that I could give future au pairs is to look at this program as a cultural exchange. You are here to become part of a family and to fulfill your duties and responsibilities in a fun way. You need to become an additional family member and work as a team with your host parents to ensure that the kids are happy and well looked after. The thing I realized quickly is that a happy au pair means happy kids, and happy kids means a happy au pair!