Christmas is right around the corner and although we are all starting to buy the expesnive gifts that rest under the tree, we sometimes forget those poor stockings that just want a little attention.
I’ve collaborated with the lovely Rhiannon over at MrsSleeJones to bring you our Christmas themed posts just in time for your shopping! With more stocking filler ideas in her post which you can check out here!
So let’s get started, this isn’t a paid ad or anything like that for Boots (I’m not that popular yet!) I just do a lot of my make up/skincare shopping there and there is soooo much choice!
All these items can be purchased online and they currently have a Black Friday sale on, so here are my 10 gorgeous stocking fillers from Boots each £10 or under!
Love, love, love this! I mentioned this in post over at Roccabox a few months ago, easily my favourite lip balm of all time. It’s packaging is so adorable and colourful which makes it great for kids! Currently at the bargain price online of £4.33, do they look like mini baubles? You decide…
I was going to leave this one until the end but it was to exciting! It’s currently on offer at £8.33 and they are selling online fast! In these gorg metallic colours they are so perfect for the festive season and the fact they are Harry Potter themed, just screams Christmas time!
Another personal fav of mine, I’ve had these in quite a few colours over the years. With a selection to choose from they are perfect for a long lasting matte look that really stays! I would choose ‘Sandstorm’ or ‘Soft Spoken’ – I’ve 100% owned about 5 ‘Sandstorms’ in my time cause I love it so much! Get yours now for £5.60.
The gorgeous neutral shades on this mini palette with a touch of glitter is want you want for this festive season. The colours on this NYX palette are stunning and full of warmth to keep you cosy this winter. At another bargain price of £5.60, don’t you just love deals?
The chilly weather is all about pamper nights in with the girls and what better way to do it then with not one but five maks! This dream team from Soap & Glory is exactly what you want to find in your stocking and you can grab yours for £8.33 but hurry, it’s trending!
Unreal Christmas vibes from this little bauble of joy, Fenty Beauty has released a limited edition version of their Fairy Bomb Glitter Pom Pom into this adorable collectable for festive season only! 100% cruelty free and smelling like vanilla, this will glitz the body and make your loved one feel like the true christmas star they are! Grab it for the stocking at £8.00 today!
Keeping in with the festive theme, this adorable bath bomb from Pretty Suds is sure to send your loved one into a winter wonderland, minus the cold weather! Give them the gift of some ‘me time’ and let them enjoy the bath bomb show when they pop this in, grab it for £4.00!
Scrub away the day with this fab body scrub from Soap & Glory! Say goodbye to dry and rough winter skin and makes someones day by popping this in their stocking, who says we can’t prep for summer a little early? Now for £6.30!
A totally gorgeous gift that smells incredible, any one would be jumping for joy on Christmas morning if they found this in their stocking! Infused with natural and ethically sourced oils and extracts, treat your loved ones to luxury and grab it for £9.99!
It’s true that gift sets get a bad name but not all are awful. This delicious Ted Baker 3 spray set is currently on offer at £10.00! Ideal to pop in your hand bag without carrying around your expensive perfume, a quick spritz of these and you will be smelling lush, get it in that stocking!
And there you have it guys and gals, I hope you have an amazing Christmas and get your shopping in early! Dont forget to follow us and keep up to date with Rhiannon via the links below xo
Hey guys, the second instalment of my 3 short reviews has arrived! The Pestana Hotel & Spa just across Chelsea Bridge is a 4* Portuguese owned hotel. Situated across from Battersea Park and near Battersea Power Station, it’s tucked away in a alcove by the main road in a nice area.
We booked a double king deluxe room and it was on the 9th floor (finally, life has given me a hotel room NOT on the 1st floor so I have some sort of view!) Check in process was easy, we had a free bottle of Prosecco with our room and breakfast was included, happy days.
Spa, sauna, gym & pool are also all included, you just have to pay for treatments seperatley. We wanted to get our stuff and get ready for Cocktail Week soon as but I had to stop Josh from unpacking anything until I took some pictures.
There was a little space where you could make hot drinks with a separate tap above the mini fridge, anywhere I can make coffee is a plus in my book. Straight away we notice the bathroom blue light, Josh is not a fan but I like it in a fun, tacky kinda way.
The bath had a slope which can be a blessing and a curse, especially for tall people like Josh. It was clean and well presented with fresh towels & robes (no slippers </3), the only thing we thought was a little odd was the window between the bathroom and the bedroom. The person on the outside of the bathroom has control over the blind which is even funnier, basically you have no choice if someone wants to see you naked.
The room was very spacious, with a decent size and comfy bed. A large desk for all of my make-up, straighteners, hairbrush, life. TV of course, big ass mirror but the smallest light which wasn’t really much use in the end.
The wallpaper behind the mirror was very love or hate, we did like it although I didn’t like all the furnishings. I dislike brown carpet very much, I understand this is to avoid stains but when you have a white leather chair and this bad boy below, you kind of defeat the purpose…
All in all, greeting and check in was 5/5 & room 4/5 – I’m having to remove a point for no overhead light which means we’re relying on multiple lamps which I don’t think is necassary and that unattractive white leather sofa.
We didn’t have have breakfast until Sunday morning and I have to say It was pretty flawless. There was LOADS of choice, whatever you prefer to have for breakfast it was 100% there. Feeling a little hangover hungry, I had a classic English Breakfast to start with some continental in the mix, then some fruit & a croissaint after.
Now, I know what you are thinking…are those Babybels? Well yes, yes they are. Which means I was the HAPPIEST person alive because I am obsessed with Babybels. I had so many, it’s an odd breakfast addition but I am here for it.
All together breakfast was 4/5, I have to remove a point for the scrambled egg which just was not nice. Even Josh agreed, he usually tells me if I’m being dramatic which is a lot of the time, but I’m never fussy with food. They were just so mushy with zero flavour, I didn’t even know you could get scrambled eggs wrong but they were so wrong. I thought it could of been a one day thing but they were the same the next day, so I did give them another chance!
Sad Time – Why We Didn’t Go To The Spa
Saturday night we got back from City Social and I asked reception how it worked with the spa, do we book on the day or do we book before as we wanted to go Sunday morning (understand this will probably be short notice, so I asked about Monday too).
The person on reception responded quite confidentially that we don’t need to book, we can just go there in the morning and have a treatment. I had to ask twice as this didn’t seem right, but she assured me so going with it we went to bed ready to spa the next day.
After breakfast we head downstairs for treatments, I asked for a price list and say we are there to have a treatment that day. The spa reception lady proceeds to tell me you can’t book on arrival for any time that day and it has to be in advanced and they are fully booked that day. I told her about my conversation with the hotel reception the night before and she said the hotel reception and spa reception are totally different and they don’t how it works down there.
So, you don’t communicate with upstairs at all and the hotel reception are telling people the wrong thing? I was obviously frustrated as one of the main reasons we booked this hotel was to have a spa day, review or not I needed a massage. She also told me that she doesn’t know why she told me Monday would be okay because the therapist isn’t in.
For a 4* hotel with spa, to not even communicate with eachother is a bit ridiculous. In the end after after speaking with a manager (I know, don’t judge me) they did offer to try and sort me a treatment that day which was really good of them but it was just too short notice in the end.
So I wanted to finish by saying they did do their best to solve the problem, I just wanted to let them know guests are getting told something different which can impact the visit, especially if you booked for the spa!
In the end, the hotel was really nice, the staff were attentive and friendly and it was clean and we had some of the best sleep ever. I am giving the hotel 7/10, if we didn’t have the spa situation this would have been higher without a doubt but it did put a downer on our last full day.
I guess high school was when the ball started rolling with this, although I didn’t know it was that back then. Social anxiety doesn’t always mean you are uncomfortable in social situations, I find that I am rather confident and comfortable in social situations, even meeting new people.
I am chatty, friendly and hate awkward silences, a lot of the time I don’t shut up. I’m opinionated, I always have a story and to be honest, I even have a naturally loud voice.
My weakness? The fear of not being liked. I was ALWAYS worried about people not liking me and it still gets me from time to time, it can really hold you back when you worry about how people will think of you.
For most people, they won’t bat an eyelid if someone didn’t like them, you just move on. But for some people, it eats away at them, it bothers them so much and worries them to the point where they feel sick and panic about what they might have done to make people not like them. It may sound stupid to some, but these symptoms of social anxiety are really common and for people with personalities like mine, it can be hard to believe they even struggle.
The NHS lists symptoms of social anxiety that include fearing criticism, always worrying about doing something embarrassing, analysing social situations after they have occurred and skin picking (also symptoms of GAD).
For this piece, I wanted to chat with someone who is doing something amazing for young people & mental health back in my hometown. I sat down with Harry, a founder of The Compassion Initiative, a non-profit mental health organisation based in Congleton, Cheshire.
Throughout our meeting, we got the chance to discuss social acceptance and anxieties and his thoughts on the process. “I think people are predisposed majorly, to want to succeed in a hierarchy…” Harry says “…where to stand in that hierarchy is where most people derive their worth from”. This is true for most people, in a basic principle of social situations, basing your worth as a person on the beliefs of someone else, or what your mind perceives that belief to be.
Harry goes on to discuss the beginnings of his anxiety, “...I suppose that I put so much pressure on myself to be that type of person…I need to be that person so other people perceive me as worthwhile…that’s when all my anxiety kicked in after that, it’s ‘cause I put too much pressure on myself”.
As I have grown older I have started to come to terms with the symptoms, although it hasn’t been easy. A lot of these stemmed from putting too much pressure on myself to fit in socially and to be liked. For a long time I remember thinking (stupidly) that because I was always so nice to people to avoid this exact scenario that no one ever bitched about me, ever.
When I heard people had, I used to take it to heart so much and it would really affect me. Was it something I said? Was it something I did? What did I do? Hoping and praying it wasn’t something stupid. For someone who talks as fast as I do, words can come out before I have a chance to think. This has caused me problems in the past, so I would always hope and pray it wasn’t something stupid.
The anxiety then follows. It’s the usual “oh my god, they are going to tell everyone this” or “oh my god they are going to tell everyone they don’t like me and then everyone else won’t like me” or “now I have to pretend I don’t know, are they even my friend, did they ever even like me?” It took me a long time to actually stop and just think, well, what is that person is thinking. The answer? Nothing, nada, zip, zilch.
They have their own things to deal with, and you know what else? Not everyone is going to like you. Analyzing the social situation you were just in, isn’t going to change how it went down. Worrying about what people who just met you think of you isn’t going to change how they feel.
I have learned, especially whilst growing up and moving towns or cities or starting new jobs or go to uni, is that you can’t please everyone. It is impossible no matter how nice you think you are being. You must understand that people will not like you simply because you are you and you have to be okay with that.
Unless you are a horrible, nasty person (If you are, I suggest you check yourself) they will never have a reason to not like you. Now, I want this to be a bit of a tough-love kind of piece, but I also understand this isn’t easy for people to come to terms with or even want to hear. So I want to pass on some advice and you can either take it or ignore me and go back to binging Netflix (I won’t judge you.)
What you do instead of worrying about it spiraling out of control, is learn how to manage it. As you progress in life and especially in work, you can train your mind to manage these thoughts.
Remember these things:
The first thing to do is put yourself in someone else’s shoes. EVERYONE is going through shit, even rich & famous people who look like they have perfect lives. We all have our own problems and struggles and we all handle these differently. Imagine, for a minute if every single person in the social situation you were just in, has gone home and had the exact same thoughts as you? ALL of them has analysed it? ALL of them are worried someone doesn’t like them? You are not alone in your struggles and you don’t need to worry about how other people view you, chances are, they are too busy worrying about themselves.
Understand what you really need from people. Are you willing to burn out running around being nice to Susan from accounts when she constantly ignores you, just to soothe your anxiety? Is it not making it worse? Some people are just NOT worth your good energy. If you are a people pleaser like me, this is a tough one. It’s like you challenge yourself to win over these impossible people. Don’t, it will drain you.
The most important – you will be okay. There is a big picture, you have to power through because life/work won’t stop for you and people rely on you, whether it’s family, friends or coworkers and whether you want to believe it or not, they do.
Once you start to change your mindset into a positive (and somewhat) selfish one, you can overcome your fears and just be happy being you. It’s not easy and it takes time. It takes a lot of truth bombs and I’m still working on it. My anxiety will probably never truly go away. But by managing it so that it works for me and not against me, I can overcome it and be okay in my day today.
It starts with love and self-care it took me probably up until a year ago to finally learn to love myself, no joke. If other people don’t like me that is their problem, not mine. And I feel sorry for them because I’m hilarious (obviously) and fun to be around and they will never get to enjoy being in my amazing company…not taking yourself seriously & sarcasm can help too ;).
My Favourite Looks From Paris Fashion Week – Monday
Quick Coffee Read
Easily the most important of the four, Paris Fashion Week kicked off yesterday evening with three shows dedicated to independant talent. NOW before I start, I wonder if you’re thinking, “didn’t she make a post last week about sustainable fashion? Fashion Week REALLY?”
I am a sustainable fashion supporter all day. The people who target fashion week because they think they are the MAIN cause behind fashions impact on the planet, are misinformed. Yes, some luxury houses have come under fire in the past for bad practice but they make a hell of a lot less mess than fast fashion and high street brands.
Nearly all Luxury brands have in house artisans crafting their pieces, fabric sources are in most cases from small or family run businesses that are nearly always local and they don’t churn out £3 t-shirts that last two minutes and end up in the bin. For example, Chanel’s trademark tweed is woven in-house each collection, each piece is uniquely made with a variety of weaving techniques by a small team overseen by one person. The take away here is that luxury brands prefer quality, over quantity.
This subject is just dying to be discussed in more depth, but for now I just wanted to give a little background, so you can read this guilt free. SO let’s get straight into this, shall we?
Japanese designer Maiko Kurogouchi kicked things off with her S/S’20 collection from her label ‘Mame’, which showed us that shades of green (especially pistachio) are still in for Spring 2020, fabuloussss!
I LOVE the print on that tailored jacket, I am also a huge fan of the structure in her pieces. Japanese designers happen to be my favourite and when I did a little research and found out she used to roll with Issey Miyake, I wasn’t surprised. Maiko is relatively new to PFW, she is only just making some impressions on the mainstream, keep an eye out!
Korean born, Paris based designer Kiminte Kimhekim, started his fashion journey at Balenciaga. He made his Paris debut yesterday with a playfully named collection “buy it if you can” and it brought the ‘wow’ factor. Combining influences from both of his roots, the pieces are designed to empower women and make them feel elegant, yet sexy.
As I was looking through, that amazing butter yellow sheer shirt caught my attention immediately, just look how perfect that form is and that fitted sleeve is a dream! We all love a high waist two piece and this one is giving me big Chanel vibes with that white text on black fabric.
New-York-based Liberian-American designer Telfar Clemens created the brand back in 2005. Described as ‘unisex, universal & democratic’ Telfar is committed to producing high quality products at affordable prices. ‘The World Isn’t Everything’ collection was crafted with his social and political views at the heart, blurring gender lines with brand logos atop of military and urban print. Longer break? Read more about it here.
I love the red wine two piece with it’s soft lines and a slight casual vibe, it’s unlike the rest of the collection which represents a of the street style we can see throughout the collection. My favourite has got to be the knit dress, not only does it fall beautifully but the colours are so bold and strong. I am actually surprised at how well they pair with the print trousers, but I shouldn’t of had my doubts!
‘Rokh’ is the London based label of Korean born designer Rok Hwang. A Central St Martins Graduate who recently won the 2019 LVMH Prize Special Prize, he learnt his craft at Celine & Chloé before launching his own label in 2016. His ready to wear collection from yesterday evening embodies style, form and an incredible colour palette, with something for every occasion.
Because this is my favourite, there is a few more pictures. I couldn’t just pick three and soon you will see why…
Choosing from all of these incredible pieces was soooo hard, but it wouldn’t be a quick read if I didn’t! I could sit and stare at these all day, the pops of colour mixed with navy & beige base, the impeccable lines & construction and effortless style they portray. Some of these on trend 90’s looks can be so easily replicated with a good dig around a charity shop or scrawl through Depop. Unless you can splurge on the price tag, what I would give for that orange and blue print spaghetti strap cami…did I mention it’s my birthday soon?
I hope you enjoyed this quick fashion fix guys, please make sure to click the links below the images for original shots. Have an inspired day x
Sustainable Fashion Is What We Want, But How Do We Get It?
We need to teach consumers about sustainable fashion, not just tell them…
It’s December 2018, I’m in my last year at the University of Leeds and I’m nailing down ideas for my final major project. Doing a fashion marketing degree allowed me to explore so many different options for this and in such a creative environment, everyone is full of ideas. Although we are tasked to do in depth trend research beforehand, you already know what the popular choice is going to be.
Sustainability, of course. It’s relevant, important and guaranteed to ensure your hypothetical brand is going to be successful. You can see why we all wanted to cover it, myself included. To put our project brief simply, it was to create an original brand based upon trend research and market this through various channels. But what to do that would stand out? I didn’t want to create another eco-fashion brand that made their collections from factory cut off’s, that’s great but unfortunately not original.
I researched 2019 macro trends and picked three in total for this project, one of these was education. As I started doing my initial research on this, I found not only the perfect USP for my brand (winner) but an interesting issue outside of this project.
People want to be more sustainable with their clothing choices, but they don’t know how.
They don’t know how? Really? It’s obvious, isn’t it? Or is it just obvious to me? A fashion student with 6 years of education in various aspects of the industry. A study of 1000 British adults found that 53% weren’t aware of the impact fast fashion has on the planet. Some are not even sure what fast fashion is and which brands fall into the category and that’s just 1000 people. It is no wonder they are unsure where to start.
We are a fast paced society. Rushing around, working, looking after children, studying and all the extra hobbies & life admin on top. It’s a struggle for some to find time to watch a little TV sometimes, let alone spend hours of research into sustainable fashion brands.
So, what is the solution? Do we give consumers another small, ethical start-up clothing company they can shop from? Do fast fashion retailers just keep announcing more sustainable clothing collections at slightly higher prices? Do influencers promote an eco-clothing product to convert their fans, just for a sale? I’m not knocking any efforts, but is any of this a long term solution? Are we teaching consumers anything substantial or just forcing it in their face?
An article by Fashionista back in June discussed areas of this subject with Maxine Bédat, the co-founder of Zady, a fashion brand that started 4 years ago on an ethical clothing mission. But then one day, Bédat bounced. The website & Instagram stopped getting updated and there had been no responses to unanswered questions on social media, what gives? They hadn’t struggled financially and she hadn’t given up on her mission, she had instead decided on a different approach.
“We can’t buy ourselves out of the problem”
A quote from Bédat in the article nails it on the head, “we can’t buy ourselves out of the problem”. Starting up another online ethical fashion brand is great, but does it show people what to look for in a high street charity shop? Creating a collection from factory cut off’s helps, but does it teach someone how to up-cycle a garment they already own? This isn’t showing people a long-term solution, it’s giving them a short-term answer.
Consumers want shopping for sustainable fashion to be easy and on a budget. A 2019 report by e-commerce platform Nosto shows that 2,000 US & UK based shoppers who are aware of the impacts of throw away fashion, want to buy sustainable clothing but without the extra cost. An article by Kayleigh Moore over at Forbes covering this report says that although 52% of consumers do want the fashion industry to be more sustainable, only 29% are willing to pay the price.
Another recent study claims that 70% of workers in Britain are “chronically broke” and it doesn’t help with fears surrounding the outcome of Brexit and the impact this will have on people’s wallets. We are being careful with how we spend our money, if it’s cheap and easy then that’s the way to go. Feeding the family and paying the bills becomes a priority over 100% organic cotton t-shirts at £60 a pop, I don’t need any research to back that up.
I don’t believe another online eco-fashion brand consumers can spend money on is the answer.
So, for those of us in and around the fashion industry, the brands, the students, the designers, the bloggers, the writers, the stylists, the academics & the little people like me. We have an awareness of how to be more sustainable with our fashion choices, we have an understanding of best practices. We understand the impact, we have the knowledge and the skills to pass on, we are informed.
So, I ask you to take some time to teach people what you know. If you have a friend who is “unsure” about charity shops, take them to one of your favourties and show them where to find the best garments. If you know someone that doesn’t understand the effects of that £3 t-shirt, make a conversation about it and suggest an alternative. If your partner is buying new clothes a few times a week from fast fashion retailers, just mention the impacts it can have on the planet. If you know how to use a sewing machine, offer to teach your family & friends how to upcycle old clothes into something new.
If people want to make a difference, they will and If they don’t act straight away, don’t worry. By offering your knowledge and skills, you have planted the seed of thought.
I am not perfect, but I am actively working on making my clothing more sustainable, here are some tips:
Charity shops – This is an obvious one. Especially in more affluent areas, these can be full of brand names at bargain prices. Whilst we are in Second Hand September, this would be the best time to start, but make sure you try and stick to it.
Up-Cycling – Not as hard as you may think. I understand not everyone knows how to use a sewing machine, let alone the luxury of owning one. But there are tonnes of online tutorials, guides & blogs that teach you how to up cycle with other methods & materials, no stitching required.
Depop – The number of people that I’ve mentioned to about Depop that haven’t heard of it, surprises me. This little app is what you would get if Instagram & eBay had a baby. An online store for new & used items all marketed with eye catching images. Make sure you get yourself something second hand, there are so many items in great condition. I’ve got half a wardrobe from here and I can tell you, you won’t miss out on your favourite brands.
Only buy clothes monthly – I’m only addressing the shopping addicts out there with this one. If you, like me, love to update your wardrobe on the regular then at the very least, take something out and do a swap. Take it to your local charity shop, and then buy something in there to replace it is one way to go about it.
This can seem daunting to those who have only ever shopped on the high street buying fast fashion, but it’s an easier transition than you think and you just take it one step at a time. We need to erase the stigma about all second-hand clothes being gross or tatty looking. Get rid of the idea that you can’t up cycle clothing without a sewing machine. I’m not saying that for the rest of your life, you can only buy from a second-hand shop. But if this post makes you think, makes you open your wardrobe or even come up with a change you can make to your shopping habits, I’ve done my bit.
5 Things You MUST Know Before You Au Pair In Paris…
5€ wine by the Tower anyone?
When I tell people I lived in Paris, it sounds so glamorous. Shopping on the Champs-Élysées, cocktails in the secret bars, dinner on your balcony that overlooks the Eiffel Tower…or so they think. Think shopping (if you can afford it) in Châtelet–Les Halles when the sales are on, drinking cocktails that cost 5€ for 2 on happy hour and cramped pre-drinks in your friends’ mini apartment, pretty close to the Eiffel Tower. It was some of the happiest times in my life.
I went to Paris in 2015 and it is, to this day, the most spontaneous things I have ever done. Ran off to look after children and get away from England for a little while. I was an Au Pair, who is essentially a nanny that gets paid nowhere near as well as an actual nanny out there, them gals were making bank. It was incredible, beautiful and it changed my life. Now I visit every year and have made forever friends (yes, we still all somehow meet up even 5 years later!)
But there are 100% some things I found out the hard way whilst I was there, and luckily I am going to share them with you so you don’t have to suffer, get your pen & paper hun.
Number One – Make friends before you go.
“Really? Before I get there?” Yes, really. We have this nifty thing called social media nowadays, so it makes this easier. I can’t quite remember who started it, but it was a lifesaver, having that support group of girls was amazing. You are going to a new country to LIVE there, remember this, with strangers (if you live in the family home) or on your own and having that network of girls in the same area and situation as you is so important, especially for your mental health.
This group chat was home of some crazy stories, much-needed advice, planning nights and days out so you didn’t go insane and it even helped one girl out in a VERY sticky situation. You have a tinder date? Tell the group chat girls where you are going and when you are home. Live far out of the city and haven’t interacted with anyone but children for 7 days? Message the girls and meet up for drinks. Your host family has taken a turn after you’ve said you want to live somewhere else? Let the chat know so that you don’t end up on the street (yes, this happens sometimes).
If you aren’t already in an Au Pair Facebook group, join one. Introduce yourself with something like “hey guys, I fly/travel into Paris on the (insert date here) and I just wanted to see if anyone wanted to meet for drinks?” and watch it go from there! Everyone is in the same boat here and nearly everyone is mostly super friendly.
Number Two – Research the area in which you are going to live.
By this point you have established the basics, you’ve joined an Au Pair group on Facebook, you’ve found a family that you think looks perfect, but hold your horses a minute. If you, like me at the time, have never been to Paris before, you may be a little unsure about what arrondissement is where, how close some areas are to the city centre & general navigation. Everywhere is super close to each other, right? Kind of, but also, wrong.
A lot of families live in the Parisian suburbs, still pricey but nowhere near as pricey as the city. These are places such as St Germain-en-Laye, Saint-Leu-la-Foret, Garenne Colombes & Versailles and although they are beautiful, they are 100% not as close to the city as some host families will claim they are. For my first 2 months I lived in St Germain, it was lovely and I was lucky enough to have a friend from the group chat who was close to me, so close in fact that both our host parents were best friends, so we spent a lot of time together.
But I underestimated how far out of the city I was AND how much it would cost me in travel each time I wanted to go, it’s hardly a secret that Paris is pricey. I was on 80€ a week, not including my travel, living in the house and I was MISERABLE. I would constantly tell the girls how hard it was looking after the boys, how I felt trapped in the four walls with no personal space and they all lived in the city apart from the girl near me (but she wasn’t always free).
It was costing me 10€ each way, then you want to eat or have some drinks, maybe treat yourself to some nice things and before you know it, your weekly spend is gone in one day and you’re stuck in the suburbs doing nothing but complaining on Tumblr and your precious time in Paris is passing you by.
Research the nearest metro stop, is it far from your home? How long is it going to take you to travel into the city and for how much? Is your host family going to cover your travel expenses on top of weekly pay? Check this beforehand and you will have a better idea of which location is best for you and won’t suffer in the long run.
Number Three – Compare payments with your friends/other au pairs.
It wasn’t until I was living with my first host family, that I realised I was being overworked and underpaid. My host family was nice, but the boys were DIFFICULT and I mean hard work. Remember I said my host family were friends with my friends’ host family? (try saying that 3 times fast). This meant that I found things out about previous au pairs. Many had left before me because they couldn’t handle the boys and the mum didn’t really help. They were constantly hyper and they it turns out they had behavioural problems that I was not made aware of.
I worked Saturday mornings (pretty much unheard of) 11-3pm, and every weekday evening, and I only got 80€ a week NOT including travel, again pretty much unheard of ESPECIALLY if you are living so far out of the city. Whilst all my friends were having fun on Saturday mornings & afternoons, I was trying to get a very uninterested and bad-tempered 10 year old to do his homework, it was exhausting and upsetting, I was missing out SO BAD. It was only when I told the girls the amount that they said it wasn’t right, especially for the amount of work I was doing.
In the end I left and found a new family (I will cover that later). But that was stressful and potentially dangerous depending on how you go about it. Ask the others in the group, do some research online and get some opinions, I actually surprise myself now how little I researched anything before I just said “sign me up!”.
Number Four – Know your rights BEFORE you agree to anything.
This isn’t a 9-5 job, there’s (in most cases) no physical contract and you’re about to move to a different country with different laws and you might not even speak the language, families take advantage of that waaaay more often than you think. I was in a chat with 11 girls, at least 5 of us changed families within the first month or so, maybe a handful had any kind of written agreement and one nearly ended up trapped in the middle of nowhere in a dangerous situation when the host mother found out she was wanted to leave and threatened her.
Whilst there is requirements in France for there to be an agreement, hardly any family does. Why? Money. You have to be ‘declared’ as an au pair in Paris, if you are not and you require medical treatment this will cost you a pretty penny, but most families are willing to take the risk to avoid paying the Social Taxes which cost 100’s of euros a month.
Great for them but bad for you and can lead to some serious potential problems down the road. You should be getting paid a minimum of 320€ a month AS WELL as travel (a Navigo) and in some cases, a phone. There are also different rules for attending French courses depending on if you are an EU citizen or not, I didn’t have to because I’m from the UK, my American friend did.
Don’t make the same mistake I and so many other girls make. Draw up a contract before you get out there and if the family aren’t willing to do that, you can pretty much bet they are going to take the piss further down the line.
Number Five – Most importantly, stay happy, even if it means saying no.
I can’t tell you how miserable I became after that first month in Paris, this is not how things were supposed to go. I do believe I have only been truly depressed about 3 times in my 27 years of existence, January & February of 2015 was one of them. I was struggling with the boys, I HATED having to work Saturdays whilst all my friends were having fun, I was drained because every morning was a full-on battle to get the lads ready for school whilst the mum dolled herself up (looking back, I think she was struggling too, she used to shut herself in her room and play candy crush). I always went straight back to sleep after the battle mornings and spent most days doing just that, I had no money to spend during my free time, no space (the mum didn’t work so she was ALWAYS in the house, leaving the room was pretty much a no) and I felt trapped.
I lived there, where was I going to go? I had no contract and you hear the horror stories about telling you’re family you are leaving, they could have kicked me out in the street and I wouldn’t have been able to do anything about it. But everyone kept telling me, you have to find something else, you have to leave because it is not worth the sadness. I was lucky and after some secret searching, I found a lovely new family and after they accepted me I told them my situation. The host dad was very supportive, he said that if after I had told my current host family I was leaving and they tried to kick me out, to call him and I could live with them early.
It took me over a week to pluck up the courage to tell them and I can’t tell you how scared I was. They didn’t kick me out, but they were NOT happy, the host dad said I needed to help them find a new au pair and said I had to stay a bit longer so that they can find someone to replace me. I didn’t sign a contract, I didn’t have to do shit but out of courtesy I tried to help them look, but I was not staying there a minute longer than I had too. I also had no sympathy in a way, the mother didn’t work so she was more than capable of being there until they found someone and looking back I think they got an au pair because they couldn’t handle their own children.
I had some tough times as an au pair, but once I moved into the city (I was a 15 minute walk away from the Eiffel Tower, awesome) and I made some memories there that I will cherish forever. My new host family was so great, I visit them every time I go back and it’s been nearly 5 years! But I found things out the hard way, you don’t have too!
Don’t be scared or put off by anything, 9 times out of 10 there is no issue and no problem, just make sure you have a plan and know your shit before you confirm anything, you don’t want to let a family down either!
There is a special place in my heart for Paris and I know I will live there again one day.
All of us in 2015 and below in 2018, some things never change.