When I first started looking into travelling my first stop was the option of Au Pairing in another country, considering it gave me the comfort and stress free option of accommodation sorted, and being able to live the lifestyle of a local. I originally researched into American Au Pairing; living over there for a year and really becoming part of an American family. But I felt it would isolate me from the real sense of travel, which led me to a completely different decision of travelling Africa for four months.
A year on and I have decided to follow what I’ve been intrigued by for a while. Not that child care ever took an interest to me, but since working with underprivileged children in South Africa I’ve a sudden love for kids!
In the last month and a half I have gone from life on the road, to sleeping in a big double bed, full fridge and delightful daily showers. Living on the ‘rich, homely’ side of Sydney, in the suburb Neutral Bay, has been completely and utterly hit by the baby boom. Mummies and babies smother the place, prancing around in their fancy cars and living in flash, designer houses. Not really my scene but I cannot complain, having the privilege to live in a lovely house, with a lovely family, with the easiest access straight into the city via ferry, and its the perfect spot to carry out my marathon training, over Harbour Bridge to the Opera House after work totals a nice 10K run.
Not really ever having done any sort of qualified child care before I find it amazing how families all over the world accept a stranger into their home, use their place as their own and allow them to take sole charge of the children when needed. People can be very trusting and accommodating when they want to. Me being me I was of course nervous to start my job as an Au Pair, hoping to make a good first impression with the family and winning over the kids, making my job a little easier. An eight year old boy, Seb, and a two-year old boy, Toby, how hard can it be!?
Moving in was strange, after just a couple of days homesickness kicked in for the first time on this whole trip. I guess living with another family makes you miss your own. It has taken up until now to really get a hold of daily family life and Toby’s routines. My first week was spent with Toby’s mum, Kristen, showing me the ins and outs of Toby’s days out, like taking him to the Sea Life Aquarium, Taronga Zoo, soft play centres, parks, the library, beaches, playgroup, and having the famous ‘up tea’, in other words going for a babychino.
TIP: I’ve found with Toby, and probably all other toddlers, they have a whole vocabulary of their own, like above, and apple: oasch, horse: dordee, hot: sot and so on. I’ve already caught on with the language letting it slip into my daily conversations with adults making me sound crazy.
With everything a stones throw away it makes getting around Sydney pretty easy; buses, trains and the ferries take you into the city and around the Northern beaches, like Manly. But luckily I have use of the Au Pair car, a huge Toyota Land Cruiser, making me look part of the Sydney stereotyped mums, whizzing around doing school run, overrunning the streets.
Nappy changes! No, never done them. My fingers were crossed at him being potty trained, but of course he wasn’t only being two. First time seeing reusable nappies being used as well. Washing them and clipping them all back together is like working with a puzzle, all with different attachments and liners. But in hindsight they are very useful and a heck of a lot cheaper than disposables, plus they look super cute when on.
TIP: when changing a wriggly toddlers nappy, stick Peppa Pig or alike to watch on your phone!
Since caring for Toby I do wonder how tiring and hard it was when television and technology wasn’t around, with todays easy option of just plonking them in front of the screen in exchange for a moment’s silence, but then it annoys me how much television can take up a kids day, being glued to an irritating sing along freak show, rather than running around in the fresh air getting mucky like kids should be, or playing with arts and crafts, and remember Polly Pockets? Guess it’s the whole reason why I’m here to have fun with him, keep him out of the house and entertained throughout the day.
A huge and exciting bonus of my job is that the parents do a lot of business abroad with their jobs, meaning more travel! With a first over night trip to Melbourne booked for next week, to then be followed by a weeks long stay in Hong Kong, where we’re hoping to pop over to Shanghai during that same week, visa dependent. Also booked is a nine-day trip to the rural town Wagga Wagga, in New South Wales, where Kristen will be taking lectures for a University course she’s on, whilst Toby and I will be exploring the countryside. And finally, a week in Singapore in late September, where I will have the incredible experience of being able to watch the Formula One night race from their apartment overlooking the track. Lucky is an understatement.
As much as I am grateful to have this wonderful opportunity, living and exploring a wicked city and surrounding countries, I have to admit I miss being on the road; the freedom and sense of not knowing what to expect next.
In the meantime Tom and I have been able to pull ourselves away from our hosts and explore the beauties amongst New South Wales: