There comes a time, about nine months into their year, when an Au Pair is asked the question “would you like to extend with us?” Alternatively, you can choose to extend for a year with a completely different family and live in a different city.
I was lucky enough to live for nine months with my host family in Chicago, and then move with them to San Diego. While it was unbelievably hard to say goodbye to my friends in Chicago, I knew they would be finishing up their year(s) and heading home to their respective countries only a few months later anyway. When I first talked to my host mum on the phone, she told me that they were expecting to move to California at some stage within the next couple of years and asked if I would be fine with that. Of course I said yes.
When my host dad first asked me if I’d like to extend, my response was “are you sure you’ll be moving to San Diego? Cause I can’t do another Chicago winter.” He assured me that they would be, and I took a couple of weeks to think about it. I initially wanted to go straight to London from the US, but I knew I would end up regretting it if I didn’t spend some time on the West coast.
Most Au Pairs spend their travel month in California, and I was going to get the chance to live there, plus my youngest host kid would be starting kindergarten so I would be off during the day while they were at school, only working until 6.30 pm, and never working weekends. I’d be pretty dumb to pass that up.
You can extend six, nine, or twelve months, and while I originally wanted to extend six, I decided on nine so I could have a summer in California. I do know some Au Pairs who have extended for a year with a different family, and I think it all just depends on your relationship with your kids and host parents.
Personally, while we have our problems like any Au Pair/Host family relationship, I’m lucky enough to have good host parents who have raised their kids to be respectful. I can’t imagine leaving my kids-somehow they’ve crawled their way into my heart and it looks like they’re there for good.
If I had been unfortunate enough to have a bad experience in my first year, I honestly don’t think I would have extended with a different family. It’s hard enough when you first get here and have to get to know your host family, and it took months for my little boy to open up to me-the first six months he refused to say goodbye to me when I dropped him at school. Now I can’t get him to shut up!
If you’re already happy with your family, then you’ll already have your own reasons for extending. Here are some other things to think about though:
- Are you happy to stay in the same town/city for up to another year?
- When are your friends leaving? In a way I was glad to be one of the first to leave our group-it’s harder to be left behind as everyone else moves on.
- Are you prepared to become even closer to the kids, and then have to say goodbye?
- What about the potential income you’re giving up in order to stay? Not many Au Pairs are doing this job for the money-I was earning much more working in an office.
- This one was my main concern: Is two years going to be too long in one country? While I wouldn’t change this experience for anything, I sometimes think about some of the countries I’m dying to visit, that I could be traveling through right now.
One good thing about extending is that in some ways it can be easier to leave. After two years most Au Pairs are burnt out. Not in a bad way, just in a “I’d like to be able to sleep in for one day without being woken up by shrieks and crying at 7am” kind of way.
I personally think that if you’re thinking about extending you should go for it. You’ll only get this opportunity once so make the most of it!