Half-Time Thoughts: 4 Things I’ve Learned as an Au Pair

For the past 3 months I’ve been living and  working in wonderful Ulm as an Au Pair. Each week I work between 20-30 hours taking care of an adorable 5-year old and do light chores around the house. In exchange, I receive housing, food, and a true opportunity for cultural immersion. I also receive 260 Euros per month for my personal expenses.

Naturally, the time has passed rather quickly and my thoughts jump back and forth between reflection and “sh*t, what do I do next”. Sometimes allowing a little more time for reflection can actually help more with figuring out the future. Ya know, kind of like when you forget the name of a movie and you stop trying to remember it and then,voilà  you end up scoring a job that you never even knew you wanted in a place you never expected to be.

  1. The Beauty of Change

Science tells us that electrons, energy, mass whatever ( I was never very good in Chemistry) , always follow the path of least resistance. Ipso Facto, we humans tend to do the same when it comes to making decisions. Most people find change uncomfortable, scary, inconvenient, and/or all of these things. However change doesn’t have to come in giant leaps, sometimes it’s the little tweaks that can make a difference.

For example, I’ve been chowing down on some delicious food here here in Germany… and maybe imbibing ein bisschen.  This leading to a little thicker layer of insulation for the winter. While I do not regret eating a single bite of Wurst, fresh bread, or the (most likely) gallons of beer I’ve drank, I was getting a little self-conscious . In the past month, with the help of my wonderful new friends, I’ve managed to make small changes to my diet and took on a new workout routine to help me get back to my “happy body”. A little less sugar in the coffee, forgoing the bread with every meal, taking longer walks- while still drinking the same amount of beer. I haven’t given up anything and I don’t have a goal or number in mind. It was more so realizing the power of the mind. Turning a thought into a reality is fulfilling and can lead to a domino effect on other aspects of your life. PLUS I didn’t have to go shopping for a bigger pair of jeans, which we can all agree is the absolute worst.

The point of this anecdote was not to preach about a healthy lifestyle. Just a simple message about a fairly relatable issue. Any change that will make a difference is probably not going to be your “path of least resistance”. However, there are few things in life that you are in control of. Your body is one of those things. Once your learn how to turn your thoughts into results and master your body, the confidence will overflow into your relationships, hobbies,career  and you may even inspire those around you.

2. Simplify

Before I moved, I got rid of about 2/3 of all of my possessions. My life has fit into a 5×7 space with about 8 boxes, two bikes and small bookshelf. One containing my childhood trophies, one with my incredible Beanie Baby collection, another with my favorite pint glasses and mugs , 2 with clothes that are most likely already out-of-style, and the other with  things that must not be that important because I can’t even remember. I travel with my 70 L backpack. I may not have everything I want, but I absolutely have everything I need.

Regardless of your future plans to stay where you are or move half-way across the globe, taking a day or weekend to go through your belonging and toss things you haven’t used in months or years will make you feel a little… lighter.

I’ve learned from this family to emphasize quality of quantity. Whether it is food, clothing, electronics, or wine. Make the most of your hard earned cash and invest in boots that will last more than one season, foods that actually have flavor, and don’t buy that paper towel holder with 5 usb plugs in the base from the SkyMall catalog.

3. Do You

When I moved to Ulm, I had no friends. None. Naturally, there was a lot of hanging out by myself and it was the BeSt.

One of my guilty pleasures is going to a cozy bar by myself, ordering a beer, and reading. Maybe it’s just me, but I find the combination of being in a social atmosphere while also doing something non-social (like reading) can be pretty thoroughly enjoyable . You are still out and about, amongst people and stimulating surroundings, however you are also mentally focusing on your thoughts, in your own little world that is in the pages you are immersed in. It doesn’t have to be beer and reading, it can be a walk or enjoying your favorite meal at a restaurant or seeing a movie on your own that none of your friends want to see. The end-goal is just to be comfortable hanging out with yourself, not feeling self-conscious about what others may think if you are by yourself. And not allowing yourself to do something simply because you can’t find someone else to do it with. When you’ve mastered this art of being “happy alone”- it’s actually pretty rewarding.

4. Adult-ing Has No Threshold

So, what is the age you think you are an adult? I used to say 18 because it was a good argument when my parents didn’t want me to do something. Then 21 because HELLOOO alcohol. Now I am 23 and while I experience glimpses of adulthood, I have less of an idea of my future now than I did when I was 18 and still don’t separate my laundry by colors.

As an Au Pair I’ve gotten the opportunity to test drive “adulthood”, specifically the family oriented kind. I’ve realized its a hella amount of work to maintain a house, and a family, and then of course yourself. I already have enough trouble with myself. There is no one way to be a parent and comparing your family to another family will only drive you  crazy. Every family has their issues. Reaching a certain age doesn’t guarantee wisdom to figuring it all out.

We read articles, books, magazines, anything that we think might give us the answers to how to conquer life. To be a successful adult. Sometimes you don’t feel qualified to handle certain responsibilities, but if you try and “fake it till you make it”, I think you’d be surprised about how much you do know. Confidence changes people’s perception of you, but more importantly your perception of yourself. Establish your own definition of being a “successful adult”. Choose inspiration over imitation.


But what do I know…



2 Comments Add yours

  1. Zyriacus says:

    Valuable insights you put down. And the essence: Why should anyone respect you if you don’t respect yourself? Why sould anyone love you if you don’t love yourself?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. calogan0303 says:

      Precisely, thanks for sharing Zyriacus!


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