Moderation is key. As is being honest, at least with yourself. Families tend to do things on the weekend, when everyone’s more or less home, which is great! However, as great as that can be, sometimes you just don’t want to be a part of it, and that’s fine.
Part of it ends up being honest with yourself. Do you really want to go or do you feel obligated to go? What are the chances that your time will be spent chasing after children and occupying yourself with them while the parents socialize? Have you said yes the last couple of times and just want the house to yourself?
I tend to say yes to a lot of things. I have this ridiculous inability to say ‘no’ to people and potentially hurt their feelings/inconvenience them. Which can get exhausting. So when it comes to ‘extra things’, I sometimes err on the side of, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Going to the pool, dance recitals, lunch down at the lake are all yeses. Films that are an undetermined amount of time about cyclists who biked around Europe? With a three year old? Dinner at a friend’s house that I don’t know? Hiking up the mountain with three children? Thank you, but no thank you.
I’ve started to learn what my limits are, what the kids’ limits are and whether or not those limits go together. Parents have no choice but to deal with those. As an au pair, I have to deal with those things while I’m working, but I can also choose to take myself out of those activities that are going to annoy or frustrate me.
I know that going to a children’s film that’s longer than an hour and say, 15 minutes, is too long for the three-year-old and he starts to annoy me. So going to watching a film about cyclists, with him, is definitely a no go because I know I’d probably want to strangle him. I also know that going to the lake is one of the easiest things I can do with the kids. Take some food and buckets and shovels and, bar clouds floating in, we can spend over three hours with relatively few problems. Count me in.
Also note that spending time with the family outside of working hours is encouraged by au pair sites/ the families themselves to help with that ‘member of the family’ feel. So if you’ve said no the last two times, saying yes the next time is probably something to think about.
The thing to remember is: being an au pair is about being a part of the family, but it’s also your job. The lines are just a lot more blurred than with a regular 9-5. If you don’t learn to recognize the times to say yes or no, you may realize that you feel as if you’re always working, which can lead towards resentment, which in turn can turn your relationship with the family a bit tense. On the other hand, if you don’t do anything with the family, there’s a high chance you’ll start to feel like a bit of an outsider. Neither are good places to go, so striving for that in-between is really important.
Things I’m Loving:
+ This video – (After watching The September Issue I fell in love with Grace Coddington and this interview is awesome.)
+ Not this – (Because everyone should have the attention span for Winnie the Pooh.)
+ This article – (On being alone even if we’re always connected.)
+ This 21st century speech – (It sounds like my dad mocking my sisters and I. In art form.)