Au Pair Guilty Pleasures

Being an au pair can be totally draining and frustrating. It’s like parenting, but without the reward of unconditional love. Between all the negotiating, complaining, crying and rule-enforcement you have to deal with, sometimes you just need to TREAT YO’ SELF.


Any au pair can tell you that the time you get to yourself is precious, and needs to be spent wisely.


1. Naps

If only I were a mathematician, then I could write you an equation for the amount of energy I spend trying to get A to take a nap and its proportion to how much I then need a nap. Oh, the sweet, sweet irony. Sometimes, napping is the ultimate priority: one of my friends told me she decided not to punish herself by keeping her kid home from soccer when he forgot his homework, “I just wasn’t going to deprive myself of my the-boys-go-to-soccer-nap.”



2. Chocolate

I partially blame this on the family for always having chocolate in the house… I only have so much self control. After a long day, you just need something to take the edge off. Since I live with the family, binge-drinking is off the table and thus chocolate is my frequent substitute. Hiding in the kitchen alone with a piece of dark chocolate is often the only way I get through the afternoon.



3. Other snack binges

I have enough self-control to stay out of the sweets cabinet when the family is home, besides my vice mentioned above, and I’m pretty shy about making myself food in general (usually I eat my meals with them, I don’t cook for myself). Technically they’re supposed to feed me as part of the whole au pair deal, but I don’t think that means that the fridge is open 24 hours… But once they leave? It’s pretty much a free-for-all. I feel the least guilty about the leftovers I polish off, but I think they might have noticed that their jar of cornichons (little pickles) is emptying itself more often than usual.


4. Baths

My host mom has the most magnificent tub in the master bathroom. I’ve always been a shower girl, but after giving A a bath in this tub 3-4 times a week, I jumped at chance to use it the first time the family left me home alone. That plus glass of wine, a face mask and some Netflix… Bliss.


5. Netflix

Ah yes, it deserves its own special mention. I take special pleasure in the fact that I spend so much of my free time watching Netflix and yet the kids are only allowed 30 minutes of screen time per day… Suckers, being an adult is the best. Again, it’s ironic that I often choose to watch the old Disney movies that I could watch with the kids, but its so much better to watch them with my chocolate and snacks pilfered from downstairs… Even if I can’t take a bath and didn’t have time for a nap, at least I get to fall into a blissful Netflix-induced-coma at the end of the day.


Friday Photo Dump V


This week featuring food (obvs), cat friends, and a snack complete with HEALTHY banana pancakes (they’re made out of just bananas and eggs). It’s been a long week, looking forward to some time off this weekend and seeing friends! Hopefully I’ll fit some design work in there too…

Hope you’ve had a good week too 🙂

Humor, a 4-year-old perspective


Yesterday, during a lego play sesh, A admitted something to me.

“M doesn’t think my jokes are funny.”

And A LOVES to make a good joke. He’s also very perceptive about whether he’s being laughed with or being laughed at (unfortunately for him it’s usually the latter).

As he says, he has three jokes:

The boy told his mom he needed to do a ca (poop) but then he only went pee.

(alternately) The boy told his mom he needed to go pee but then he did a ca.

The boy told his mom he wanted carrots but he got green beans.

Yes, he came up with these all by himself. There’s something to be said for originality, right?

I tried to make it a teachable moment and I explained to him that different people think different things are funny. I could have quoted Tina Fey to him, but I’m not sure that he would have understood… or that it proves my point. But keep trying to make jokes, little guy! And when you’re an adult doing stand-up and still making jokes about poop and carrots, you can thank me.

Friday Photo Dump IV

Featuring: nomz, a picnic with A, animal friends. I’ve neglected to document my trip home, but it’s just because it was too great and I can’t relive it yet.

What’s in My Bag: Au Pair Necessities

  1. Tissues
  2. Band-aids
  3. More tissues
  4. Some of those wet wipe things
  5. Something distracting (alternatively the ability to make pocket lint entertaining)
  6. A book to read while you sit on the bench at the park
  7. Chapstick
  8. A snack/water
  9. A separate snack/water for the walking germs (alternatively children)
  10. A coin to flip for particularly heated disputes
  11. Absolutely no other money so they can’t ask you to buy them candy/tickets for the manège (carousel)/whatever else crosses their little mind at the time

Friday Photo Dump III

I know I’m being pretty liberal with my numbering system, but technically I HAVE posted two photo dumps before (here and here). This one will have a few throwbacks, but I think they’re still worth it to chronicle my life at this moment.

#Latergram: My French Thanksgivings

I hope you noticed the plural there, because I had not one, but TWO Thanksgivings this year, which I’m pretty thankful for. Since everyone has moved on to Christmas already, I’ll keep my anecdotes brief.

Thanksgiving Round 1: The Host Family (they lived in the US for 6 years, so they’ve had a few Thanksgivings)

Culture Shock Moment: My host mom was astounded when she read that the turkey was not only going to cook for 3 1/2 hours, but it was also supposed to sit for 30 minutes after it finished cooking. However, we also had a French-style aperitif, so by the time we actually sat down to eat almost everything was cold. We agreed that whoever made the recipe hadn’t accounted for aperitif (probably because they weren’t French, since, you know, Thanksgiving).

Cooking Incidents: Condensed milk instead of evaporated milk in the pumpkin pie, which meant it was just a leeeeeettle too sweet. AKA I couldn’t finish my piece, but it didn’t stop me from picking at the leftovers all weekend. / My mom’s Italian Sausage Stuffing recipe became a French Sausage Stuffing made with baguettes, but it was still delicious!

Drink count: 2 glasses of champagne, two glasses of wine, then two glasses of Perrier because wait how can I feel tipsy when I’ve eaten this much?

Thanksgiving Round 2: American (and Canadian and British and Australian) Au Pairs… and a different French host family

Culture Shock Moment: Canadian au pairs insisting they were celebrating “Fake Thanksgiving” since apparently Canada’s Thanksgiving is in October. LOL right, whose Thanksgiving came first and also, who cares about Canada… at all?

Cooking Incidents: What kind of potatoes should I buy for mashed potatoes? / Oops, I forgot to put olive oil on the roasted veggies. / Wait, did anyone set a timer for that? / Does anyone have a meat thermometer? / Were you still planning on cooking something here? Because we’re about to start eating. / Yeah whatever, Valerie, you think you’re special because you showed up here with your stuffing all done and ready to go? (Yes.)

Drink Count: 3 glasses of wine, 1 cup French Press coffee

And to finish up, almost a week late but here are some of the things I’m thankful for: well-illustrated children’s books, the classic December “Santa threat”, headphones, international calling and skype, a mother who will listen to even the most inane details of my life, friends who haven’t forgotten about me even though I’m in France, new friends who keep me sane, blog readers who are understanding of my inability to post in any relevant time frame!