Luiz here, an Au Pair from Brazil who’s a big fan of the program. I’m writing a guest blog for The Au Pair Movement this week with some advice for #bropairs.
Can you believe I used to think guys couldn’t be an au pair? Says who?!
At this point, I have been able to travel to some 26 states in America and some 17 countries while au pairing in Europe. So, I’ve seen a few things.
I’m hoping to share a few words of advice with you, that may help you in different ways. Ten items, to be exact! Here we go…
10 Tips for BroPairs
- It’s unusual, not weird. The first thing I had to face (in my head or talking to people) was “don’t you think it’s awkward for a guy to take care of kids?”. Okay, it is UNUSUAL, but the best way to change that mindset is to set good examples! It’s such a rewarding experience. I believe it’s worth heading against the stream a bit if you’re up for it.
- Prepare. It’s important to prepare yourself and acquire and develop skills, since to be honest some agencies will require more of you. For example, guys need Advanced English (while girls often only need Intermediate level) or twice as many hours of work with children. This is a reflection of host families’ criteria, though. It took me a while to not see agencies as “the bad guys”, but to understand we should stand out.
- Don’t think it’s over. While many families will not differentiate guys and girls, some will prefer, or specifically seek a male Au Pair for various reasons. Sometimes the kids in the family are all boys so the parents often are seeking an older role model. Maybe some of it is based on stereotypes, but oh well, we’re not the only ones to face it.
- Your soft skills matter. I am not an easily agitated person (which is a reflection of my calmness and patience), so not quite your stereotypical P.E. Teacher, but a good fit for being an au pair! I used to hear that male au pairs were chosen by families with older kids and for driving purposes. I want to tell you that you CAN also take care of infants and toddlers, boys and girls (just like I did) if you have the skills. See, I am more “caring” than “playful”, so that was great!
- One thing you may have gotten from the items above, but I will highlight anyway is: The kids are a BIG part of the deal. You really should be prepared to be around kids if you wish to au pair. It’s okay if you don’t have the experience but you should know that kids are a big part of this experience! Parents are entrusting you with what they consider to be most precious and kids will be kids – chat, scream, run, trip, fall, cry and laugh again. So yeah, there are travels, fun and games, but that does run secondary.
- A good host family is better than a dream location. Choose wisely and don’t say yes to just the first option if you’re not sure you’ll get along, or if they don’t meet YOUR non-negotiables.
- Open communication is very important, and respect is key, and that goes both ways. When I was doing my extension to take care of a 9-month old baby, I told them I had never changed a diaper, but that I was willing to learn. Many times in my life determination and commitment led people to choose me over other very qualified people!
- Be open-minded. I say this and it may seem obvious, but now I see how deep that can go. Sometimes a “cultural difference” feels like plain “wrong”! And it takes an extra flexibility sometimes to do things someone else’s way. Question your beliefs.
- Allow yourself to make mistakes! I have always been annoyed if I said something wrong, but I see how knowing what was wrong led me to speak very well! And I am thinking about German as I type this (my native language is Portuguese).
- One last thing that may relate to guys (and that girls may find funny) – Masculinity. REALLY, if you become an Au Pair and you are not gay, NEVERMIND someone saying something “otherwise”. You can still be a great role model and ask girls out on your time off! Maybe they’ll fall for your confidence. And then, if you are gay, I think that’s brilliant too and it’s up to you to bring it up when interviewing with a host family!
I hope I could serve a bit as help and inspiration to you no matter where you are on your journey. Please feel very free to come to me if you’d like to chat some more!
Or cry, or laugh or scream… haha
Just another day in the life of an au pair.
You can find me on IG @aupairguru or email firstname.lastname@example.org