Cultural Exchange

British Au Pairs Reflect on Their Time in the U.S.

Choosing to become an au pair is certainly a big decision! You might be wondering if a year is too long a time to be away from home or if living with an American family is the right environment for you. When you’re at a crossroads to decide, it can be helpful to hear from others who have been in your shoes before. Check out what Natalie and Mollie, two British au pairs who recently completed their au pair program, have to say! 

Natalie (au pair in California for three girls)

I originally applied to become an au pair with the hope of exploring a different style of childcare. I’d only ever worked within a preschool/nursery setting at home, and I wanted to experience a different approach to working with children. I also loved the idea of being able to explore new places and meet new people while doing so.

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting new people in the USA, experiencing new ways of life and exploring many amazing places around where I was located in California: San Diego, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Big Bear, Lake Tahoe and many others. 

British au pair Natalie au pair in California.
Natalie traveled all over the USA! Image courtesy of Natalie.

Visiting Palm Springs was without a doubt my favorite part of my whole experience. This is something I never would have been able to do, had I not taken part in Au Pair USA. 

I learned many things during my time in the USA. This experience helped me grow as a person, gain confidence within myself and allowed my independent nature to shine through.

British au pair playing with host child.
Natalie and her host kid. Image courtesy of Natalie.

After I came back to the UK I was able to apply and become a Deputy Manager within a Preschool setting! My plan for the future is to continue to advance my childcare career as well as travel and see the world. Being an au pair has really inspired me to see more of the world and to progress in my career.

Natalie’s advice

My advice for new au pairs would be to go for it. It is scary and it may be the biggest thing you ever do, however, in my experience it will be the best thing you ever do too! Always go with your gut when it comes to choosing a family to match with, as finding the right family for you will make all the difference to your experience. 

The other thing I would say is, don’t be afraid to do this on your own. You definitely won’t feel alone while you’re out there. Enjoy every moment and if you’re missing home or feeling unsure, keep pushing through because it is worth it in the end. 

My time as an au pair in the USA was incredible and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. 

Mollie (au pair in Illinois for one baby)

When I applied to be an au pair, I was at college studying childcare. I was working part time in a day nursery and part time in a milkshake place! 
I went along to a presentation about Au Pair USA. I decided to apply because I could see it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I was soon to finish college and thought, what better way to start my career! 
Soon after I graduated from college, I matched with a family in Chicago who had just had a baby.
The thing I enjoyed the most was learning about the different way of life of a family in the USA compared to my life in the UK. I really enjoyed just being in a different country, being independent and meeting new friends. I think I found that getting to know new people was the key to everything.

Mollie adapts to life in the USA

I enjoyed the studying I got to do as part of the program. It really enabled me to make new friends too. I used to go out for dinner with my friends regularly and we did things like bus tours around the city, getting to know Chicago. 

I think I adapted quite quickly to my new life as an au pair in Chicago. My host family were first time parents, so I found that I was able to teach them what I knew about childcare from my course and experience at the nursery.

The host baby of a British au pair.
Mollie’s happy host baby. Image courtesy of Mollie.

My advice to new au pairs would be to be open-minded and take everything as it comes. It will all work out in the end, even if it’s hard to settle in at first. I found that keeping in touch with my own family back home regularly really helped and making friends locally was a big benefit. Your host family will do their best to make you feel at home. Everyone adapts and learns from each other. I would 100% recommend Au Pair USA to anyone thinking of becoming an au pair! I’d love to be able to do it again. My heart will always be in working with children.

British au pairs are just one part of the multicultural family that make the Au Pair USA community so strong; au pairs from all over the world have rewarding experiences sharing their culture with U.S. host families. Start here to learn more and apply to become an au pair with Au Pair USA. We’ve been successfully matching au pairs with American host families for over 30 years and would love for you to join in on the amazing experiences Natalie, Mollie and thousands of other au pairs have had!

Marisa Lonic

Marisa is a lover of all things cultural exchange. She and her family have hosted au pairs from Brazil, Germany, Colombia, Spain, and Ecuador. As a mom of four and the founder of Mama Work It, she helps working moms juggle mom life, work life, spouse life, fill in the blank life through her books, courses and coaching programs.