My first month living the Kiwi life as an au pair in Taihape, New Zealand has come and gone and I’m loving every second of it! These past few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind and I’ve been terrible about keeping up with my blog posts (sorry Mom), but I’m finally settled in and ready to share what I’ve been up to.
First, let me explain how this works. As an au pair, I’m living in with my host family and have my own bedroom and car to use as I wish. Sherry (the host mom) is a midwife and works on a roster schedule. Bennett (the host dad) owns and opperates a concerete business, so his schedule depeneds on what jobs he’s taken up. Then there’s Colleen, who I look after when Sherry and Bennett are working.
My schedule mirrors Sherry’s, which can be a little confusing, but I’ll try my best to explain. Sherry basically works 7 days on then 3 days off, 7 days on then 4 days off, 7 days on then 3 days off, and so on. When she’s working, she’s either 1st on call for 3 days and 2nd on call for 4, or vice versa. This just means that if someone goes into labor or there’s a problem after hours, Sherry must be able to drop everything and go into work (but she would be 2nd in line if 2nd on call).
I typically work (if you can even call hanging out with an adorable little girl “work”) 8-6 on weekdays and have the evenings and weekends to myself. It’s nice to be able to do my own thing, but I usually choose to have dinner with the family and hang out with Sherry and Bennett at night. If I’m “working” on the weekend, I need to stay close in case Bennett isn’t around (he often helps Sherry’s brother on his farm on the weekends) and Sherry gets called in, but I’m not actually looking after Colleen. So I’m basically being paid for Bennett and Sherry’s peace of mind, which feels funny to me but I guess I’m not complaining! Technically, I’m “working” this weekend as Sherry is 2nd on call, but I’m currently at home alone writing this while the family is in town.
As an added bonus, I get paid a flat rate every week for 40 hours, whether I work 40 hours or not, plus more for any hours over that! Sherry also pays for any petrol (gas) I use if Colleen and I go into town or out and about to do something. AND she also makes sure to top up a little cash fund in Colleen’s bag for when we go to cafes and such. So, the only expenses I have are for my personal travels on days off. Not bad, eh? (FYI, “eh” is a very Kiwi thing to say)
To paint a better picture of my schedule, here’s what my last 2 weeks looked like:
- Saturday, July 21 – (1st) Sherry got called in and Bennett was helping on the farm, so I worked 9-5. They also pay me extra on the weekends, so it’s not a bad gig!
- Sunday, July 22 – (1st) I looked after Colleen for about an hour so Sherry could go into town for a few things and Bennett was on the farm.
- Monday, July 23 – (1st) Colleen and I went to the Library in town
- Tuesday, July 24 – (2nd)
- Wednesday, July 25 – (2nd)
- Thursday, July 26 – (2nd) On Thursdays, we go to Mainly Music in town then meet up with Colleen’s grandmother at a cafe for lunch.
- Friday, July 27 – (off) away in Gisborne
- Saturday, July 28 – (off) away in Gisborne
- Sunday, July 29 – (off) away in Gisborne
- Monday, July 30 – (off) away in Gisborne, then went to a movie when I got home with Cami, who is another au pair in town
- Tuesday, July 31 – (1st)
- Wednesday, August 1 – (1st) Colleen’s cousins came over for a playdate
- Thursday, August 2 – (1st) Mainly Music
- Friday, August 3 – (2nd)
- Saturday, August 4 – (2nd)
- Sunday, August 5 – (2nd)
- Monday, August 6 – (2nd)
Then my next days off are Tuesday-Thursday!
Check out my next post on some of the Kiwi lingo I’ve learned!