the 5 phrases every French au pair knows

Learning a new languages one of the more difficult things I have ever done. It is an exhausting journey filled with “oh I finally understand this” to “what the hell?!?” to even  “there is no way they are speaking French right now, maybe it’s Spanish? German? Mandarin?” (in case you were wondering 11 times out of 10 it’s French).

Whether you speak french fluently or not at all here are the top 5 “need to know”phrases/ words that au pairs know just as well as any English phrase. Just as a side note, this list consists of phrases that you may need to say to your children and phrases that you may hear your children say to each other every 30 seconds.

  1. Tais-toi which is equivalent to shut up. Although I *never* ever * say this to my children I swear to you I hear this phrase at least 7 trillion times a day. Normally whenever my 13 year old guy says, he is either extremely annoyed at his sister or he is trying to get her to not tell their parents that he hit her. Whenever my 8 year old says it she is normally  being haughty. Either way this is the #1 phrase ever French au pair either needs to know or already knows (a little too well).
  2. Connard  aka asshole. I know that the translate says it means asshole but I think that the ACTUAL translate is a little tiny bit more mild. This word is normally said when describing bad drivers, stupid people in general or when my kids are arguing (which normally only happens as SOON as a parent returns home). In fact, tais-toi and connard often go hand in hand.
  3. Dépêche-Toi / hurry up. This is the French phrase that I personally use the most. My 8 year old walks painfully slow, takes the longest showers, eats like a turtle, and takes 10.5 years to change her clothes. It is for those very reasons that this phrase has become my “go to”. It’s a definite must know in my opinion.
  4. Que ce qui se passe or in english what is happening. My children never really say this phrase but I whisper it to myself multiple times a day. I mostly say it  when my children start fighting for no reason, I’m confused in French class, I’m watching French commercials, or when I’m driving (French people are crazy).
  5. Ce n’est pas grave which means it’s okay/ it’s not serious. I say this phrase quite often, as does my boy. Normally we say it when my girl gets herself in a fit for no apparent reason “oh don’t worry, ce n’est pas grave”.  I also say it to my friends when I spend foreverrr waiting for them *cough cough Molly & Alice EVEN THOUGH IT IS très grave!!

So there you have it. There are lots of other little phrases that I feel are important to know (such as basic manners and questions) but strictly from an au pair’s perspective these ones are the ones I can guarantee every au pair living in France knows, or will know in the VERY near future


patience is a virtue

I am generous (mostly), I am passionate, I am dedicated, and I am a good friend. I am a lot of things, but at the same time there are lots of things that I am not. I am not easy-going, I am not particularly kind, and I am certainly not patient. Whenever somebody says the well known expression, “patience is a virtue” I always mentally say, “a virtue that I just don’t possess”. It really is terrible. I roll my eyes when people aren’t promptly on time, I huff when I am asked to wait, and I avoid lines at all costs.

Being here in France has taught me more about patience than I ever thought possible. I find myself constantly waiting for one thing or another and I definitely don’t hate it as much as I used to. I have compiled a small list of things that I now wait for regularly which low key annoys the hell out of me (but I’m working on that, don’t worry).

  1. bus and RER and tram and train and uber and and and. IT NEVER STOPS. Unfortunately the bus that I take for school comes only once every half hour. Which is especially annoying when I arrive five minutes early only to find out the bus decided to arrive six minutes early. I feel like I am constantly waiting for transportation, which I am not used to seeing how in Canada I just drove myself everywhere (or my ever so gracious parents drove me around).
  2. children. I get off my bus at 4:15 everyday right outside of my girl’s school (which finishes at 4:30). The timing is pretty much perfect, except for the fact that her class is never actually dismissed until 4:45 or later. It’s terrible. I also have to spend an hour waiting for her at horseback riding once a week. Not only that but children truly do “test your patience”. Whether it be by having to explain something multiple times, never cleaning up after themselves, or just by constantly bickering.
  3. my apartment. When I took this job as an au pair I was told that I was going to have my own studio in my family’s garden. It was originally supposed to be finished on September 1, then the 2nd week of September, then November 1, so on and so forth. Needless to say the apartment is STILL not finished so I am still “patiently” waiting. (The good news it it will definitely be finished by December, yay).
  4. French Bureaucracy. Holy Hell, I can not begin to tell you how difficult the French are with all of their bloody paperwork. I just finalised my OFII (Visa stuff) yesterday after being here for almost 3 months!! I feel like there is definitely a faster system.
  5. friends. I have pretty great friends, we are unorganised but I guess that’s all part of the fun? ANYWAYS, whenever we decide to head into Paris I normally meet them on the train because I live a few stops away from them. In saying that they never get on at the time they are supposed to so I end up having to wait in the cold for 30 minutes to an hour. I definitely wouldn’t mind it as much if there was a way to wait inside and not in the freezing cold weather.
  6. language. This one has probably been the hardest for me to deal with. I have no idea why, but I had this unrealistic expectation that after a month of living in France I would be almost fluent in French. It has been three months and that is the furthest thing from reality. My French has definitely improved, but it is difficult, tiring, frustrating, and it takes a lot of patience and effort.

Patience is something that being in France has forced me to work on and I can definitely see small improvements in my attitude towards waiting around. Patience is something that I feel like I will never master. I need to continue to working on it, but hey, nobody’s perfect, right?




happy, happy, happy

My dad, being the weirdo that he is, enjoys watching the show “Duck Dynasty”. One of the characters in this show has a catch phrase, which is, “happy, happy, happy”. That is exactly how I have been feeling since moving to France.  Happy. It honestly feels like I have been living a dream. My friends are all amazing, Paris is beautiful, my family is fantastic, and I truly have never been happier.

Today was one for the books. It started off with a group of au pairs meeting up at Angelina for “lunch”. Angelina’s is an extremely popular (and expensive) restaurant known for their chocolat chaud. I honestly cannot begin to describe to you how RICH and thick this hot chocolate is. It is truly impossible to explain. That being said, if you ever find yourself in Paris it is definitely something you should check out. Just beware that there most likely will be a queue.

After that I headed over to the Aquarium of Paris in order to take “my kids” on a little adventure. Today, being November 11th, is a bank holiday for France. On bank holidays almost all of the stores are open but all large offices are closed. This means that my host parents had the day off. I offered to do something with the kids in order for them to be able to run some errands. The Aquarium was surprisingly small but it was fun none the less. Although, I am fairly confident that I had a better time than the kids.

After we were done with the aquarium we ate crepes while sitting in front of the Eiffel Tour. It was amazing, it felt like the epitome of everything Parisian. After that I bought some flowers for my host mom and the kids and I headed home. It was a great day, and an awesome start to my long weekend.

adulting? kind of? help?

Not going to lie, in the two months and five days that I have been in France as an au pair a lot has changed. I have had to grow up and become “an adult” (wipes away tears). BUT ACTUALLY.

The most obvious way I have grown up is the fact that I am responsible for people other than myself. I have to take care of two other people, TWO. I make sure they get home from school, do all of their homework, eat, shower, don’t kill each other, brush their teeth get to all of their 30,000 activities on time, make sure they get to bed on time, and MAKE SURE THEY DON’T KILL EACH OTHER. To be perfectly honest with you I never do all of my homework, I often forget to eat, and I am always late for everything the list of my downfalls goes on and yet here I am making sure everybody else’s life stays put together.

I am going to try to explain these next two without sounding too much like a princess, bare with me here. Basically what I want to explain is the fact that I was fortunate enough to pay for very little of my costs. My phone bill, car, gas, car insurance, and other random expenses were paid for by my parents (which I am so grateful for). I always had an allowance and although I worked and saved money I didn’t really have to think or worry about it that often. Moving to France has changed that. I am trying to do this as independently as possible which to me means without relying on my parents finances. I know, I know, “welcome to the real world”. I have it great here as I don’t have any real “bills” to pay other than my phone bill. However when it comes to random things such as; personal hygiene products, museum tickets, clothing, vacation costs, and school supplies I have to pay for them. I am now paying for things that I never would have had to pay for before. It really pains me every time I have to fork out €50+ for an “unexpected” cost. Although I must admit this experience is making me understand the importance of tracking finances and budgeting.

The second “princessy” thing has to do with my car…Let me start this off by reminding you that I live in Canada (which as you probably all know gets HELLA cold in the winter). In saying that, it is necessary for you to “preheat?” your car and remove the snow from your windshield and windows. Sometimes you even have to dig your car out of the snow!! The point of this is that this week it got pretty chilly here in France so I had to de-ice my car.. WHICH despite the fact that I live in Canada I am not used to doing. My dad is an absolute sweetheart and so often times when I got in my car in the morning my dad had already gotten in all prepared for me (thanks dad). I miss that. Waking up early to turn your car on and de-ice your windshield is practically the epitome of “adulting”.

Just incase you are wondering this what my car after a fairly light Canadian snowfall…. img_6931

On a kinda similar note THE FREAKING DISHWASHER. In Canada I *almost* always put my dishes in the dishwasher but I probably only emptied the dishwasher once a week (if that). Here in France, I empty it every. single. day. I feel like I just assumed the dishwasher was only run once a week?? Now I know that it ran 24/7 my mom just emptied it every day. lol, thanks mom. All that to say, I went from someone who was fairly tidy but not great to someone who not only has to PERFECTLY clean up after myself but also after two  (sometimes 3) other people!

It’s currently 11:30 pm and I can’t think of anything else to write even though I am sure there is more. So I will leave it at that. I haven’t fully decided if “adulting” is a good thing or a terrible thing. Let me know what you think!