Au Pairs & Driving In The UK

Au pairs & driving in the UK

All the references and checks have been carried out and both the au pair and host family are looking forward to developing a great working relationship. Then you remember that there is some driving required within the role. What are the three main things to think about before you get behind the wheel?

Do I need a driving licence?

You do need a driving licence to drive in the UK, but it is almost always OK to use your existing licence if you are an EU national or come from an EEA country. Nationals from elsewhere can usually use their current licence for the first 12 months but after that will need to apply for a British provisional licence and pass the UK driving test. Responsible agencies such as Oaktree Au Pair Agency Ltd are always happy to chat through your options and signpost you to reliable information provided by the British Au Pair Agencies Association.
For further information about holding a non-GB driving licence, check out the UK government website.

Do I need motor insurance?

Every individual who drives a motor vehicle in the UK is required to have adequate motor insurance in place. The easiest way to sort this out is to have a friendly chat with your host family and ask them to include your name and details on their family motor insurance policy. The responsibility to be insured rests with you, not them, so always ask for a copy of the insurance document so that you can reassure yourself you are legally covered to drive their vehicle.

Do I need additional driving lessons?

Even experienced drivers can benefit from a few refresher driving lessons from a qualified instructor if they are taking to the roads in an unfamiliar country. British citizens are in the minority – they drive on the left side of the road. This means the controls in the car are on the opposite side, you drive clockwise on roundabouts, and traffic has priority from the right. If driving on the left is new to you then you should definitely consider some further instruction on how to safely handle driving in the UK. If you believe you already have the confidence to drive without additional lessons, make sure you familiarise yourself with UK speed limits, road signage and parking rules before you get behind the wheel. You can do that by taking the time to read the UK’s Highway Code.

You don’t need to be a driver to be placed as an au pair in the UK, but it is often a real advantage if you are. It is ultimately your responsibility to be honest about your level of driving experience and to ensure you have a valid driving licence and insurance in place. If you are still unsure, contact us to find out more.

5 Challenges Of An Au Pair & How To Overcome Them

woman and young boy on the beach

There are many challenges that may come your way as an au pair. These top 5 are the most common, and here are some helpful tips for you to overcome them in order for you to have the best experience possible.

1. Culture Shock

Undoubtedly, you are stepping completely out of your comfort zone into a new country with new ways of life, including a different language, different foods and general day to day activities. The key is to keep an open mind and treat everything that is new to you as an education. If the host family asks you to go on day trips or dinners with them, always be open to saying yes. Part of being an au pair is immersing yourself into the culture as much as you can, and what better way to do that than by spending your time bonding with the host family?

2. Language Barrier

This is a common and possibly the most difficult challenge, especially if you go to a new country with no understanding of their language at all. When looking after children, it can be tricky to connect with them and warm up to them if you sound unfamiliar to them. The best way to overcome this is to invest in a handy phrasebook and/or dictionary, as you will pick up important phrases needed for every possible situation. Challenge yourself to speak to everybody you meet in the language if you are somewhat proficient already.

3. Adapting to a different age group

Au pairing is all about being the right carer for the children. When you have to spend most of your day with children, it is essential to adapt to their needs in terms of activities. Depending on their age, it is best to get creative and do some research into what they might like doing. If your job is to teach them English, there are plenty of resources and games online to keep them entertained but also educate them. It is important to note that you are not only a teacher but somebody for the children to look up to. Join in on their activities and show as much interest in them as possible.

4. Budgeting

It can be particularly important for au pairs to budget, and you will already be saving a lot by getting accommodation and food from your host family. If you are in need of some extra spending money or want to do some travelling on weekends, spend less on weekdays and prioritise your needs. You could even get a part-time retail job outside of your au pair work for some extra income.

5. Conflict

A host family may not always be as you had imagined, and you may encounter some differences either with the children or the host parents at any given point. If the problems are minor, especially in terms of clashing with children, it is best to express your worries to the parents and resolve issues early on.

If you want to immerse yourself into a new culture, learn a language and make new friends, becoming an au pair is the perfect opportunity for you.

Register here and begin your adventure as an au pair with Oaktree Au Pair Agency, today.

8 Top Tips For First Time Au Pairs

Although the adventure of becoming an au pair may seem daunting at first, it could well be an exciting experience that you cherish for the rest of your life. However, if you are feeling a tad anxious in regards to your new role, hopefully, these eight top tips that we have put together will help you to put those to rest, so you can look forward to your new venture.

#1 Use An Au Pair Agency

If this is your first time as an au pair, it is recommended that you use an au pair agency. This will provide a safety net to help you plan your trip and connect with your new family. If you are feeling sad or down, then the au pair agency is a great point of call for you to contact as they can help you calm down and will fix any little problems you might have.

While there are free alternatives for you to opt for, you will be more suited for them once you have gained enough experience as an au pair.

#2 Speak The Native Language  

Communication problems are likely to make you feel nervous and a little overwhelmed when you first arrive at your new location. That’s why you should try and learn the local language as soon as possible, especially if one of your reasons for taking on this new role was to become fluent in a new dialect.

If both you and your family use gestures and don’t rush the process, you will have absorbed the local language and will be speaking fluently in no time at all. Furthermore, you could join a local language class to help you along the way.

Additionally, classes are a great way to meet new people, some of whom may be in the same position as you, so you can make friends and learn at the same time.

#3 Take Each Day As It Comes

You may feel a little overwhelmed at first when you start considering how long you could be staying in a foreign country.  However, you are the person that decided to go, so it’s important to remember that no one is keeping you there against your will, which means you can leave whenever you feel like it. Therefore, just take each day as it comes, so you don’t count the days down and forget to embrace the country and language that you have surrounded yourself in.

#4 Think Of The Bigger Picture

There is every chance that you will only start to appreciate the memories and experiences that you made from your time as an au pair after your adventure. When you do decide to look back at your experience, you will realise how much it has shaped you as a person and opened up a number of doors for your future.

Having learnt the local language of chosen country fluently, you will then be able to mention that you’re bilingual within your CV, which will look highly appealing to any employers.

#5 Change Families 

If you and your host family don’t click straight away, you can always change families if you need to. Contact the agency and they will help you to find another host family that will hopefully end up being more suitable.

However, ensure that you give your original host family a chance before you jump the boat, as it may just be the initial language barrier that is causing the issues.

#6 Do Plenty Of Research

Before you fully commit to becoming an au pair, do plenty of research into what the job fully entails. Of course, you are likely to come across a few horror stories, but don’t be put off by these and find success stories to balance them out. Additionally, those horror stories may have been written by people whose personalities and attributes didn’t match the role.

#7 Know Your Motivation

When you are in the initial stages of planning your journey as an au pair, think long and hard as to what your motivation behind the job is. Is it to travel the world? or are you interested in learning the language, embracing a new culture and getting experience with children? Au Pair jobs should never be used as a stepping stone for travelling the world. You need to be fully committed to your job, so you can truly make the most out of the experience.

#8 Spend Time With Your Host Family

Even though it’s great to have time to reflect on your day and to rest, the only way you are going to get to know the people you are now living with is to spend quality time together in your free time. Due to the fact you’re all under the same roof in such close proximities, spending more time together will ultimately be beneficial for everyone, as you will know what you all like and dislike, which will help you all get along much better.

Hopefully, these tips will help when you initially decide whether you want to become an au pair or not and will be beneficial when you are actually in a new country with your host family.

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