The article has been automatically translated into English by Google Translate from Russian and has not been edited.

'This is complete hard labor': how Russian women bring up other people's children abroad under the Au Pair program


Source: Billboard Daily

The girls who went abroad to raise their children under the Au Pair program told how to survive in a foreign country, where you have no protection, and what to do if the guest family was far from being the most friendly.

Фото: Depositphotos

An Au Pair is an international cultural and language program that allows young people to go to another country to live in a family, do housework and raise children in exchange for food, a private room, pocket money, and sometimes a local language course. . In theory, a participant in a program receives the status of a family member — this is rather an older brother or sister than an employee. And the term itself translated from French means “on equal terms”.

There are special agencies that are looking for families for operas (as the program participants are called) and help to draw up documents, but an independent search for guest parents on the Internet is becoming increasingly popular. One of the most famous sites AuPairWorld provides access to profiles of more than 25 thousands of such families and profiles of more than 8 thousands of operas. Since 1969, when the program agreement was signed, young people use this opportunity to get an interesting experience and learn a foreign language. The program has seen many inspiring stories, but there are also those participants who were in the guest family waiting for unpleasant surprises. The Bill of the Daily talked with former operas who had encountered unexpected difficulties and learned how they got out of these situations.

Фото: Depositphotos


There was an opera in USA

I decided to leave the program in 15 years, because I wanted to feel what “American life” is. In 20 years I took a sabbatical. I got into a good family: my parents worked at the Pentagon, lived in Washington, their son was an angel, and my daughter was not angelic at all.

The girl was 13 years old, and she suffered from attention deficit disorder: rolling tantrums out of the blue, throwing an iron at her brother. In general, it was hard, but for almost a year of struggle I re-educated her a little: the psychiatrist canceled most of her pills, and I was awarded as one of the best participants in the 2010 program of the year.

The most difficult moment was when this girl struck me, and I could not restrain, gave her a slap on the head. In the States they can sue for this, so I was very worried. Fortunately, the parents were on my side - they said they would do the same, so everything worked out.
The first months I thought about changing my family, but I couldn’t do this purely for moral reasons - besides this obnoxious girl I had nothing to complain about, and my guest parents were simply wonderful in general.

During the program, I traveled a lot, made a bunch of friends and now I remember everything as a complete adventure story, so I don’t regret anything. After returning there was a lot of things: I worked in Egypt, India, and generally traveled half the world. Now I have my own business, and in the next couple of years I want to return to the United States and meet with my American family.


There was an opera in Finland

My girlfriend went to Denmark as an opera, and I also wanted to. I got into the usual Finnish family, only very greedy. My father worked as a diplomat and taught at the university, and my mother had her own online store of evening dresses. She spent all day at the computer, did not clean, did not cook, and did not pay any attention to the children at all. For all these purposes, they invited the opera, and always from Russia - they explained this by saying that it was supposedly not the most prosperous country, so the girls agree on everything.

Parents did not buy normal food, children ate sandwiches. I was the only one who did the cleaning, and they still had the audacity to blame me for not washing. They also expected me to clean the snow in the yard, but I refused. They signed shelves in the fridge to know where the food was. When I started talking about wanting to go to the courses, the mother made a surprised face and said that they would teach me themselves. When I started talking about food, she became hysterical, and she smashed the whole kitchen.

Feeling full impunity, the owners do what they want, and look at us as slaves - they know that we are in their territory, and take advantage of the situation.

I thought that I would look at Europe, learn English, find friends, but in the end, maybe I’ll stay there. But in reality everything turned out differently: all day I sat with these crazy children, while their mother either slept off or sat out at the computer. I never looked at Europe, I barely had enough money for food and travel, but I wasn’t recorded for language courses. I found friends, but they are all local - and they don’t care about my life. I hoped to spend time culturally, but we did not go anywhere with this family. Once the guest father suggested that I go with them to the theater - I was so happy, but then it turned out that I had to pay for the tickets myself, so I had to stay at home.

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Six months later, of course, I left this little family. At first I put up with it, as I hoped that they would be kinder to me, but over time everything only got worse. I didn’t know whom to contact in a foreign country, because there are no organizations that would defend the rights of operas, and this is a big minus.

In short, for me it was a complete hard labor, but now I am in my homeland, and everything is fine with me. Here I am a man - I got a job of my dream, besides all my relatives are close by.

Фото: Depositphotos

Maria (name changed)

There was an opera in France

In 18 years I started to learn French, and decided to become an opera because it is the easiest and cheapest way to get to France, then to go to university and stay to live.
My parents were very worried, but they let me go.

The first family was just golden: I was not paid much there, but the attitude was human, and the living conditions were simply wonderful. One minus - it was a small village in the south of France. I had to take the children to school, but for some reason in the prefecture my driver’s license was considered invalid. As a result, I began to look for a new family, and I came across one near Paris, where three children were growing up, and their parents spoke very warmly of their former operas. I pecked, and hell began.

Mother simply ignored me — she did not greet, did not answer questions, did not say goodbye, and sometimes she pretended not to understand me, and she cursed to show how bad French I am.

We often had to remind about the salary, and the guest mum was simply obsessed with cleanliness. Under the contract, I had to clean the children's rooms a couple of times a week, wash the bathroom every day - that's all. Then it turned out that it was necessary to take out the garbage, wash the dishes, put the children’s things in the closet, vacuum, wash the floor and the kitchen. At first, I tried very hard, but every day they found flaws: the dirty kitchen floor, the light in the hallway turned off, the dishwasher too late. I asked for forgiveness and reproached myself for sluggishness, but they still did not let up. In addition, at the weekend, they began to frankly kick me out of the house, and they did not care that I would have to buy food in Paris for food, that it was cold and raining outside. If I suddenly lingered, the guest mom set the table for herself and her children, as if I was not at all.

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Once she declared that I was not doing anything, and it happened just after I had vacuumed the ground floor and washed the kitchen. I began to defend myself, saying that I actually do a lot, even things that are not in the contract. Then she became furious, began to slam the door and again reminded me of the former operas - they say, they were just gold, and I was very bad, because I mentioned the contract.

I could wash only when they were not at home, so sometimes I had to secretly wash my hair in the sink of children.

It should be added that the children were real pigs: they walked around the house with food, and I ran after them with a rag in their hands, because God forbid mother would see a baby. So I rushed between them and the mop. It was especially difficult during the holidays - I just hung up.

They even forbade going to the bathroom at night - they were afraid that I would make noise and wake someone up. From morning to night, we ate pasta: I was always put on a child's portion — and I always left the table hungry. I was never asked about my condition, health, or mood, and only children remembered about my birthday — in a month.

In the end, I accidentally learned that the previous, so praised, girl was the same. It was only then that I realized that it was not about me, and that was a real relief.

It was crazy for me that in this family “all the best” was not at all children. Parents could feed the children with empty pasta, while they themselves could eat meat or something else, much more delicious. The most expensive sweets or desserts were not relied upon by the children, they were relied upon by the mother.

One of my most pleasant memories of the program is a trip to friends in Germany. It was at Christmas, the whole of Europe was covered with snow. I met this holiday far from the hated little family, in a circle of people who treated me well, and there was a delicious dinner on the table. I felt safe for the first time in many months.

After the program I stayed in France. I found a new, this time a wonderful family, in which I worked for two years, and then two more just lived in their house, since they moved to another city. I enrolled in a French university and this year I am already completing a magistracy.


There was an opera in UK

In the second year of high school, I decided that I was not interested in the chosen specialty: I began to skip classes, lay all day on the couch. And my mother told me to go to work or study and stop sitting on her neck. At some point I was sick of my mother and elder brother sawing me, and I decided to run away in order to radically change my life.

I wanted to go to the UK, but there according to the program Au Pair Course it was impossible to get there - and I decided to be illegal. With the help of a special site, I found several families and sent them requests. I was answered by a couple where two sons grew up, my mother was from Belarus, and my father was an Englishman. I was immediately warned that they live in the tiny town of Somerset, where it is very boring. I found a Russian girl who lived in Britain, and for a small fee she helped me to make all the documents for a visa.

After some time it turned out that the father of the family is an alcoholic. He drank 6 – 7 bottles of wine a day and became completely inadequate.

I was given a tourist visa for six months. With the guest family, we agreed that I pay the way there, and they - back. In London, I was met by a huge man - the father of the family, who brought me home to a small room, where half of the closet was freed for me. Four days a week I completely dedicated to children, two helped my parents, and one day was a day off. My duties included ironing, taking care of children and a dog, cleaning the house — sometimes light and sometimes not. They paid for it 60 pounds a week.

Mom spent all her strength on her husband, so that the care of the children fell entirely on my shoulders. Periodically, he stayed with me and the children - he cuddled, really asked not to leave them, said that I was kind, like an angel. After some time, I could not stand it and told his wife that this would not work. She asked me not to leave, promised to expel him and confessed that she was thinking about divorce.

Then I told them that I wanted to leave earlier, because my mother decided to get married, which, by the way, was true. We agreed that this would happen in a month. Since then, the attitude towards me has changed a lot: they have begun to burden me more with work, talk to me rudely and so on.

In the end, I couldn't take it anymore and on my day off, when no one was home, I packed up my things, left a note and keys and left for another family. These were father and son of twelve years. But there was not everything going smoothly. It immediately seemed strange to me that there was also a former nanny with them - a young girl from Slovakia, who found another job in London, but continued to live in a family.

On the very first night, my father began to pester me and, naturally, received a rebuff. The next morning, he said that he was pleading, "so that we would remove all borders between us and feel more comfortable." After that, I decided to fly home, but could not find the money. Former nanny offered to buy me a ticket in exchange for a threesome with her and guest dad.

In general, my brother paid for the way home. And this experience in my life was no more. I went to study, I found a good job - everything ended happily.

Фото: Depositphotos


There was an opera in Germany

I learned about the program in the center of the German language. My parents did not believe in the success of the enterprise, so at first they reacted indifferently to my decision. And when everything turned out and I stood at the door with a suitcase in hand, it was already impossible to keep me.

At the very beginning, the guest parents were very friendly and polite - they sent photos of the children, talked to me in social networks. But on the day when I appeared on the threshold, they forgot not only their promises, but also the contract.

At first I didn't even have my room, I slept in the lobby. Then I fenced off the place with plasterboard walls, but the door did not appear until the very departure to Russia. There was no table or chair in the room, it was necessary to work on the floor or on the bed. The whole room was filled with some boxes with unnecessary things, although the family had a garage where it was possible to store it all.

They did not give me a clear timetable for the week, they said they did not know the exact time when they would need me. So I just carried out their orders and worked more than the five hours stipulated in the contract. I thought that when the courses started, they would still schedule me. I laundered the whole house to them and was constantly with the children. I was very surprised that we walked with twins only a couple of times a week, although they even had their own yard. But I, naturally, did not climb, it was just a pity for girls.

Even in this house constantly swore. Guest parents managed to inflate the scandal of such trifles as a napkin, improperly folded on the table, or a carpet moved a few centimeters.

When the children hinted that they were hungry, their mother began to throw a tantrum and complain about her difficult life.

When they gave me the first day off, I went for a walk around the neighborhood, and then I worked German and talked to my relatives on the Internet. The next day I was accused of not behaving like a family member. It turns out that even on my day off I had to participate in their life, that is, clean up, help with children, communicate. And when I had to run to the hairdresser for literally an hour, I was ordered to take a day off for this.

Clarifying questions about my duties terribly annoyed my guest mom. She rarely gave assignments, believed that I should guess what should be done. “You see, dusty in the cabinets - take it away!” She screamed, and I tried to justify myself by not getting into other people's cabinets without asking. In short, without extrasensory skills, it was difficult for me.

They ate rather poorly in this family - the refrigerator was always half empty. When the children hinted that they were hungry, their mother began to throw a tantrum and complain about her difficult life. The strangest thing is that all the food I liked immediately disappeared from their diet. One day I realized that they had nothing of what I was eating, and asked me to buy yogurt. They refused me, and they also accused me of arrogance. Then I myself began to buy food. Seeing this, the guest dad was deeply moved and brought home a whole box of cheap yogurt, which was running out of shelf life. Since then I have eaten him three times a day, fearing that he will turn sour and they will yell at me again.

The real theater of the absurd began when I announced to them that I was looking for a new family. It turned out that they spent a lot of money and time on me, were kind and allowed to use their bathroom (although there was simply no other!). So they nuzzled all my last days, and in the end I somehow didn’t want to be an opera again. They did not pay me the last salary and took away the SIM card, although it was on my money.

Faith (name changed)

There was an opera in Germany

I went to the program in Wiesbaden 9 years ago, spent more than a year there. I decided to participate because I did not see a future for myself in Russia and wanted to travel.

In the first family, the guest mom herself was a former opera. She was five years older than me, and her husband was a quarter of a century older. The kids were 3 and 4 of the year. I had a clear plan for the week: I worked exactly 30 hours, but my family’s attitude to me was not very good, I didn’t feel mine.

I was only allowed to use the Internet for half an hour a week, and even less to call home — just 5 minutes. They enrolled me in German courses, but they did not release me in all classes. Then conflicts started because they began to wind the watch, as they expected non-contract bebitsitting. So the relationship deteriorated completely, and I began to look for a new family. They didn’t help me at my agency, they said “be patient,” and they themselves informed the family. As a result, the guest parents found a new girl behind my back, and I found out about it by chance. There was a scandal.

Fortunately, I still managed to find a new family in which everything was fine: one child of eight years old, an extra payment for cleaning. They lived in the village, and in the middle of the week I could not go to the city to my friends, but I didn’t have it, because the people were wonderful.

In the first family we ate ascetic: quick steaks, mashed potatoes and sauce from the bag and some boiled vegetables. For dinner and breakfast always ate sandwiches or buns. In the second family, the food was better: in the morning - porridge, for lunch - hot, cooked by me, and also a lot of greens. Dinner was always prepared by my father, and I only helped. To part with them was hard, but what to do. Now I live in Germany with my husband whom I met when I was an opera.

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