1. You swear you’ll never have kids.
All the tantrums, fights, unbelievable requests, and time putting children before yourself has you swearing you’ll never have kids. It also has you in awe of your own parents who raised you without the help of an au pair. How did they do it without going completely insane?
2. You’ve forgotten what it’s like to have a 9-5 job.
Routine? Nope, not as an au pair. Your wakeup time changes more regularly than Katy Perry’s hair, and you’ve morphed into the most flexible person on the planet. “Very adaptable to change” should be bolded and underlined three times on your resume.
3. You know more parents than people your age.
The sad truth of au pairing is that a large part of your social life revolves around organizing kids’ play dates. You have more phone numbers of fathers than guys your own age, and a trip to the supermarket can result in an impromptu Mothers’ Club meeting in the cereal aisle.
4. You’ve responded to “mum” or “dad.”
If your host parents are the type to spend more time at work than with their children, the whole “whoops, I called you mum” thing is bound to happen. Best thing to do is laugh it off and move on. Like, to another job.
5. You’ve seen Frozen at least 18 times and know all the words to all the songs.
Ah, Frozen, the Disney movie of the year. Admittedly it’s one of Disney’s best, but after watching it every afternoon for a month, even cute little Olaf can start to drive you bonkers.
That said, the fact that you can sit down and watch a movie while your friends back home are probably slaving away at some soul-crushing job definitely makes you feel a little smug.
6. A big night out consists of bitching about your host families with your au pair friends while seeing how far you can stretch five euros.
When moving to a new country or city to au pair, the easiest friends to make are other au pairs. Though as time goes on, your conversations tend to focus on whatever crazy request your host parents made of you, or how many beers you can get with your last bit of pay. It can get monotonous, but then again, it makes the week go faster.
7. Your handbag resembles a war zone complete with snacks, toys, makeup, at least two phones, several bottles of water, plenty of tissues, and the kitchen sink.
Mary Poppins and her bottomless bag is pretty much on point.
8. You think about what to make for dinner before you even finish breakfast.
Chances are, by the end of your au pair stint you’ll be able to pull off a nutritious dinner for five that fulfills all dietary requirements and personal tastes with absolutely no leftovers. Stepford Wives move over!
9. Your social life is predicated on whether you have to babysit or not.
Nothing like babysitting on a Saturday night to squash your party plans. Or worse, weekend mornings. After trying to babysit three young children with a roaring hangover, you’ve learned to be responsible, stay at home, and give your liver a break.
10. You secretly love taking the kids out to the movies, bowling alley, theme park, etc. because you go for free.
The best perk of being an au pair is all the cool stuff you get to do for free. Sure you’re babysitting, but waiting in line for a photo with a Disney princess isn’t as lame when you’re with a 10-year-old.
Your workday can consist of playing at the beach or going to the zoo. One girl I knew got flown from the Netherlands to America to join the family holiday. Now that’s a perk!
11. You’ve employed the “count to three” threat.
The age-old trick that was used on you as a youngster now works a charm when the kids are acting up. Much like when you were a child, your kids are tempted to see what happens after three but are too chicken to find out.
12. You refer to the children you look after as your own.
You spend the majority of your day with them, live with them, feed them, bathe them, and entertain them. You know you’ve au paired too long when you utter phrases along the lines of “My girl has this new thing of only eating carrots and cheese,” or “My kids just got the new Xbox game” without thinking it sounds weird.
13. You learned the language from your kids.
Moving to a new country with a whole new language can be daunting. Most opt for a quick language course to get them through. However, your best (and freest) teachers are the children you look after. Sure, you might not be able to ask how to open a bank account, but you can ask to leave the table and watch TV with perfect fluency.