Packing Guide: Au Pair’s bag
Being an Au Pair is a great way to live in and explore a new country whilst earning money, but being responsible for someone else’s child isn’t easy, especially in a foreign country with a possible language barrier depending on your linguistic skills. As an Au Pair you’ll have a lot on your plate: cooking, entertaining, disciplining, educating - to name a few. To give you one less thing to think about I’ve compiled a list of items every good Au Pair should carry around on a daily basis to cover all bases.
When I was living and working in Paris I looked after three ages on different days of the week; Lucas ages 12, Solenn aged 8 and Louis aged 4. As I was in Paris with my boyfriend I didn’t live in with my assigned families and I had weekends off, but my afternoons into the evenings and Wednesdays (no school on Wednesdays in France) were spent with the kids. My experience with them definitely made me far more responsible as a young adult, I learnt so much from them, one of them being how to pack the perfect Au Pair day kit!
You won’t need a big kit, literally all you need on the go are some plasters and antiseptic wipes. If anything more serious happens than a bump and scratch you should be looking to contact their parents and doctors so these two items will get you by.
PFH Top Tip: Check with the parents to know if the child has a latex allergy.
Whether it’s on your phone or written down, make sure you have all of the emergency numbers needed for the children i.e. parent’s, doctor’s, school etc.
There will be tears for sure so be ready to mop!
It never ceases to amaze me how grubby kids can get, germs are good for their immune system but if they’re about to eat and the option to wash their hands isn’t available, a gentle wet wipe will do the trick. The likelihood is that you’ll get through a fair amount of these so you’ll probably want to just keep a big pack on you.
Obviously this depends on the time of year you have the children. Mine would spend a lot of their time outside and Spring can really heat up, for this reason suncream is good to keep close because it will be easier to slather it on them than to try to get them indoors - trust me! Make sure it’s a child friendly factor and brand that the parents trust and use.
Try to stick to healthier options such as fruit but keep in mind what the child is usually given. French children notoriously have sweet snacks after school such as a biscuit or pastry. Make sure you stick to their routine when feeding them, even with snacks, you don’t want to fill them up before their evening meal but equally you don’t want them to go hungry. Of course, make sure that anything you feed the child has been approved by the parent.
PFH Top Tip: From my experiences, you’ll want to have a snack for them to hand if you plan on eating yourself, because they will always want what you have!
Water, juice, milk or syrup mix, whatever it is that the child is used to having make sure you always have it to hand for them to drink, no matter the weather. Children exert a lot of energy and it’s important to keep them hydrated. This goes for you too as you will undoubtedly need a drink in-between running around after them.
Have some children's songs on your phone such as nursery rhymes or Disney sound tracks. Not only do they love a good sing-a-long but you also have the opportunity to teach them english with something they already recognise. Frozen had not long come out when I was working in Paris so I would spend the walk home from school four days a week singing “Let It Go” back and fourth between French and English.
Reading, colouring, activity, whichever one will keep “your” child occupied when they can’t have a run around. I used to bring an English activity book to keep Solenn occupied whilst waiting for her dance class to start.
PFH Top Tip: If you choose to carry a reading book with you try to get one that is part of a series so that they have the chance to get familiar with characters. It will help you encourage them to read if they become attached to the characters in the book because they will want to know more about them.
Crayons don’t need to be sharpened like pencils and they won’t mark clothes like felt tip pens, plus they are small and easy to pack.
Don’t worry about spending your own money on these things, no parent expects you to pay for these items. My “families” always reimbursed me for the books and as for the snacks, they would be from their after school snack cupboard.
I’m thinking of doing a series of posts on being an Au Pair, focusing on how to keep them entertained, educational tips for helping them improve their English etc. Let me know if this is something you would be interested in here.