A host family welcomes an au pair into their home and gives them a temporary role of helping with childcare and household tasks. In exchange, au pairs receive pocket money and board and lodging. Host families are looking for a genuine and caring person to be a part of their family, not a babysitter. Au pairs are expected to join the family for meals, outings and trips.
What is an Au Pair?
What is the au pair program? The au pair is an international cultural exchange program where young people from different countries come to live with a family to help with childcare and light household chores in return for a private room, weekly pocket money and meals. Experienced host families know that building trust with an au pair is one of the keys to a successful partnership. Au pairs will feel very uncomfortable if they sense that the family does not trust them and will question their role in the house. Curfews should be kept to a minimum and only expanded gradually as the family becomes more confident that the au pair can manage their time safely.
In addition, the host family should invite their au pair to all family events and outings so they can feel included as part of the family. It is an essential part of the au pair’s experience and can make all the difference in how well the au pair integrates into the household.
What is an Au Pair’s Role?
While childcare is the main focus of an au pair’s duties, they may also be asked to do light housework. These tasks are contractually defined and regulated and should always be within the amount stipulated in the au pair contract. Host families treat their au pairs like family members, and many of these relationships last beyond the end of the program. Au pairs enjoy becoming part of a new culture while learning about American life and building valuable friendships. It’s important that both parties put themselves in each other’s shoes before starting the placement and reach a mutually agreeable arrangement. It’s true regarding the most important aspects of an au pair’s stay, such as working hours, tasks, pocket money and holidays. The au pair and the host family should discuss these matters beforehand, and the agreement should be documented in a formal contract. It will ensure more clarity for both parties and avoid any misunderstandings. There are standard contracts for different countries. These are usually written in English.
What are an Au Pair’s Responsibilities?
An au pair is more than a babysitter or nanny. In addition to helping host families with childcare, au pairs teach children about their own culture and language, participate in social activities with their peers, and earn college credit while living abroad. To help your au pair feel comfortable and confident:
- Spend the first week walking through their weekly schedule and ensuring they know what’s expected of them.
- Ensure your au pair has an emergency plan (for instance, what to do if there is a power outage or severe weather) and is prepared for school closings and early dismissals. Your au pair should also be able to find their way around town with ease.
- Make sure they have the use of a car to get them where they need to go.
What is an Au Pair’s Compensation?
When expecting your child, you probably spent months researching and preparing yourself, your spouse and your children for the new addition to your family. You’ll want to do the same for your au pair! Au pairs support their host families in connection with childcare and light housework. They are not domestic helpers, cleaners, language teachers, caregivers for older people or dogs, or seasonal workers. They are not expected to have pedagogical training or qualifications in these areas. Caring for the kids is their main responsibility and the heart of the au pair experience. Be sure to clearly explain their duties and expectations, particularly scheduling and routines. Rewarding their effort and contributions (not just when they do something wrong!) is also important. It doesn’t have to be expensive but will show you value and appreciate their work. It will also motivate them to work even harder to please you. It will keep them happy and on track for a successful au pair year!
What is an Au Pair’s Holiday?
In most host countries, au pairs are allowed 2-5 weeks of paid vacation during a year-long stay. Additionally, au pairs are entitled to weekly days off from work. Host families can also invite their au pair to go on holiday with them, but it should be discussed in advance whether these holidays count as working hours or holidays. Just like in any other job, au pairs are expected to follow certain rules and abide by the terms of their contract. However, sometimes misunderstandings can happen. It’s recommended that au pairs and hosts discuss important topics such as pocket money, work hours, tasks and holidays beforehand and put themselves in each other’s shoes to find common ground.
In this way, both parties can agree on the core conditions of their au pair stay and prevent misunderstandings from occurring. It’s also important to recognize the good work your au pair does and reward it. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but it should be done regularly. Some examples include offering her a special dinner, telling her she did a great job on a task or simply saying “thank you.” It will make her feel valued.
Iskra Banović is our seasoned Editor-in-Chief at BlueFashion. She has been steering the website’s content and editorial direction since 2013. With a rich background in fashion design, Iskra’s expertise spans across fashion, interior design, beauty, lifestyle, travel, and culture.