About Carla’s Au Pairs
Hi! I am Carla Verster, founder & owner of Carla’s Au Pairs. I have been working with Au Pairs for numerous years now and was an Au Pair in USA myself in 2001.
I have a teaching degree and love working with young people and seeing them grow and develop during their year abroad.
We make a point of staying in personal contact with each Au Pair we send abroad. It is extremely important to our agency that our Au Pairs are happy, adjusting, traveling, exploring, developing & growing as young adults.
Cultural exchange, children and traveling are my biggest passions in life. It is an ultimate joy to be working with Au Pairs and combining all the things I love in one career!
What is an Au Pair and what does an Au Pair do?
An Au Pair is a ‘big sister’ who lives in a foreign country as an extended member of a well-screened host family. These young women provide child care services in exchange for room, board, a weekly/monthly stipend, and contributions towards education. Most Au Pairs participate in the Au Pair Program for the valuable cultural experience of living with a foreign family and are treated more as a member of the family than as an employee.
As an Au Pair, you provide 20-45 hours per week of childcare depending on the country you go to. Childcare duties will take up no more than 8-10 hours per day. All Au Pair duties will be focused specifically on the children; no heavy housework is required. Some daily tasks may include taking the kids to school, arranging play dates, preparing meals for the kids, helping the kids with homework; help prepare the kids for the day’s activities, bathing the kids, changing nappies & assisting with general child-related chores, such as laundry, tidying the children’s bedrooms and play areas. In some countries you may be asked to do some vacuuming or washing the dishes etc.
Being an Au Pair is a wonderful (and cheap) way to take a gap year & see more of the world. It’s the chance of a lifetime to go work overseas, whilst experiencing the culture of a foreign country and meeting interesting people along the way.
Advantages & disadvantages of being an Au Pair.
- Some advantages include free accommodation and meals while living abroad in return for assistance with childcare. You will have an unforgettable and exciting experience, within a safe environment of a family.
- You get to study a new language or in some countries and get to attend community college or a local university. You will live in a multi-cultural and multi-lingual environment & meet new Au Pair friends from all over the world.
- You will be part of a new family & learn about their culture and way of life. You can teach your host family about South Africa and our traditions.
- You have paid holidays that you can spend traveling and exploring!
- An experience like this is a unique chance to “grow up” in another culture. And the best part of all is that you get to be part of someone’s childhood.
- Disadvantages will include homesickness. Yes, you will feel homesick sometimes and will need to learn how to cope with it. The key is to have the right expectations for this experience. Don’t expect it will be like South Africa with the same culture, people and your friends & family around you. This is not why you go abroad to Au Pair! You need to read up about the country you are going to before you depart. Buy books about it and search for activities to do with your host-kids that are age appropriate. Prepare yourself mentally for this change in your life.
What about some tips for my year abroad?
It takes 1-3 months to fully adjust to your new environment. Don’t be too hard on yourself! Take baby steps. Get out, explore your surroundings. Talk to other Au Pairs in your neighbourhood. Get to know the area and attractions. It also takes time to build a relationship with your host parents and kids, so work on nurturing those relationships. Once you’ve established a new routine things will get much easier.
- Get out & explore! Keep busy. Start a hobby or join a gym. Take up scrapbooking or join a social club. It is important to create a new routine and life for yourself.
- Make friends! Reach out to other Au Pairs in your area. In most countries you will receive a welcome pack with names & phone numbers of Au Pairs in your area. Call them! Your friends will be your biggest support abroad as they are the only other people who really know what you are going through as they are experiencing the same day to day life away from “home”. Reach out to the Au Pairs on our Facebook page. There are hundreds of them just waiting to give you advice and support.
Communication is everything. Talk to your host family. Be open and honest at all times. You need to have mutual respect and understand what you expect from each other. Have regular “family meetings” where you can talk about things and work on issues if they should arise.
- Working with kids can be hard! Prepare to be a responsible caregiver. You can also prepare to fall in love with your host kids as they will become a very important part of your life.
- Be proud of yourself & stay positive! It takes a lot of courage to move to another country for a year and you will grow so much as a person. Focus on the good things and keep clear goals in mind of what you want to get out of this experience.
Why use an agency and why use Carla’s Au Pairs?
- You have a right to be nervous. There are a lot of risky search engine type agencies out there and you don’t want to go with a family who is willing to accept anyone in their home. If they are serious about their children and their Au Pair then they will be sure to have registered with an agency. It may take time to get references and police checks etc. but in the end you are offering a professional Au Pair service and it will be good for you and the family to go through a thorough process.
- It is much safer to go overseas through an agency. You will have the re-assurance that you are going to a well-screened host family, safe living environment & guaranteed placement.
You have full support through your year not only with the overseas agency, but also with Carla’s Au Pairs.
- If you have an emergency, question or concern, someone will be there for you immediately.
- Going through an agency you cannot be abused in terms of working hours, responsibilities, payment & off-time. There are strict guides and rules that the family (and Au Pair) must obide by.
What makes us different from
Explore this beautiful world!
Personal attention & TLC. Each Au Pair is an individual to us, each with their own unique personality, needs and wants. You are not just a number! You are a name, a face and someone who we care about.
No hidden costs, deposits or surcharges.
Personal contact right through your year abroad. Yes, you have support abroad with the overseas agencies, but you can also always come to us if you need any advice, have questions or concerns or just need someone to talk to.