I recently took a job that I thought was a great fit for me. I met the mum and kids (all 5 of them) in a local McDonalds, where they seemed nice, friendly, the kids of people I would get along well with, and very eager for me to work with them. So I accepted.
6 weeks later, when I arrived at their house, I wanted to get back into my car and drive away. I managed 2 hellish weeks there, which ended in an all-out confrontation, with the mum swearing at me at 5:55am, and me setting the record for packing not only my things, but also packing all those things into my car – 34 minutes to pack everything I own into suitcases and duffel bags, and another 22 minutes to tetris it all into my tiny car.
Thankfully, if I do say so myself, I don’t usually find it hard to find another job, and have settled in with my new family. After dealing with 5 kids for even just a short period, it’s nice to be back to caring for just 2 little boys.
And without any further adieu, here are the top 10 reasons why you should probably interview with a family IN THEIR HOME before agreeing to work for them.
10. They may have 5 dead mice and half a kilo of mice droppings in their pantry.
9. Their definition of a ‘clean bedroom’ may just be the ability to get from the door to the bed.
8. The females in the house (including the mother) may have a rule about not cleaning up after boys who pee on the floor. If nobody admits to it, it doesn’t get cleaned up.
7. You may discover that your clothes come out of the washing machine dirtier than they go in. On further inspection, you may discover that the washing machine filters have probably never, ever been cleaned out.
6. Instead of cleaning out the cat litter box daily, air freshener is an acceptable substitute.
5. When you wake up in the morning, you think maybe you’ve imagined how bad it is, until you walk out of your bedroom and are hit by the smell of the rest of the house.
4. You may find yourself wearing shoes 16 hours a day. More if you sleep less than 8 hours.
3. “I don’t need a shower, I went for a swim today!”
2. Fruit fly infestation in the kitchen is acceptable.
1. The leftover chips from the fish’n’chip shop from lunchtime, refried in the home deep-fryer, are an acceptable side at dinner.
Nannies and au pairs, I urge you to make sure you interview with the family in their home, or after being offered the position (but before accepting) make sure you see their home. And if you can’t (this means you, au pairs heading to another state or country) make sure you use a reputable agency (like Cultural Care Au Pair) who fully screen their families, and make sure that each family hosting an au pair provides a suitable living and working environment.