I remember the exact moment when I decided I was going to experience being an Au Pair one day.

I was 12 years old visiting the small local public library with my grandma, one of my favorite activities at the time. Religiously stopping past the ice cream store on the way may have had something to do with my excitement towards the weekly library trips nevertheless I loved running through the isles opening up and reading books that caught my eye, cover to cover.

I never wanted to leave so my grandma often threatened to leave me there to sleep with Peter Pan and the mermaids, ironically it backfired on her every time.

This one particular day I remember the library had a new brochure rack by the exit full of travel opportunity brochures. Growing up in a small country fishing town in South Australia, the idea of traveling was very foreign to me. I’d never even thought about traveling anywhere before… going to the closest capital city – Adelaide was a big deal at the time!

Being the eldest of 6 grandchildren and resident babysitter of the child tribe since I was capable, caring for children comes quite naturally to me. I’ve always adored the honesty, innocence and insatiable curiosity in children.

A bright yellow and orange brochure with children hugging a young woman caught my attention. “Love children? Travel the world as an Au Pair today!” it said on the cover. That brochure planted the seed that would follow some 14 years later to me becoming an Au Pair in Miami, USA.

My original gap year (year between high school and university) plan was to go to London or somewhere magical to experience being an Au Pair. Those library brochures were long gone and I had no idea how to organize an Au Pair job after high school, so I opted for traveling in Australia instead.

It’s crazy how you subconsciously manifest with dreams, ideas and thoughts and those ideas become reality if you’re patient.
At the ripe old age of 26, I found myself back in Australia nannying for a lovely Byron Bay family for a few summer months. I’d been traveling around the world solo for nearly 3 years by that stage, so I was ready for some motherland nurturing in Australia. I needed it.

I was going through interviews for superyacht jobs getting myself ready to move onto the next adventure when the opportunity came available for an Au Pair in Miami. A friend of a friend had been working for the family for 2 years and was looking for another Aussie with similar skills & personality traits to take over as her visa had expired. I was a little hesitant at first, wondering if I was ready for a land-based job again. I was intrigued by this unique position so I decided to apply anyway and see what happened!

I’d always dreamed of living in the States for a year and experiencing all the many holidays they celebrate and to get a taste of how Americans do life to add to my collection of life experiences.
Fast forward a year and I’m now in Costa Rica extending my visa for the second year! What a year it’s been too, I really had no idea what I was in for.

I feel SO blessed to have the opportunity of a practice run at being a Mom and running a household. I’ve learned so much about family, children, teenagers, family dynamics and how to bring children up to be intelligent, independent, caring, curious humans. I feel like I’ll be well practiced and ready to rock n’ roll when my time comes to be a Mom!

Doing an Au Pair Weekend in Salt Lake City, Utah was fun! I’ve traveled to the Bahamas on several occasions with my host family, I usually travel everywhere with them. My three host kids are like my best little buds, my host parents are not only my boss’ but my friends and mentors. My host family has taken me under their wing and treated me like I’m a key family member from the start, for this, I am so grateful and wouldn’t exchange this experience for a million dollars. The past year has been priceless to me I’m so excited to see what 2018 has install for us.

My Au Pair experience as a 26-year-old will be completely different from someone who is 19 but no matter how old you are I highly recommend doing an Expert Au Pair program. The younger the better I’d say! From the bottom of my heart, I believe this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for you to experience living somewhere foreign, learn new languages and traditions, to gain a unique skill set, to build long-lasting authentic relationships and evolve massively as a person!!

Please use this special experience as a way to start learning about yourself – who you are, your unique purpose and what you want out of life. Write about your experiences and encounters in a journal every day and really give the year all you got. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t find the perfect family right away – failing forward is a key life skill to learn, be specific in what you’re looking for in a host family and don’t give up.

Most importantly, HAVE FUN, learn as much as you can from experiences & people around you, put yourself out there and enjoy the ride ?

Sarah Paynter