¿What is an Au Pair?
An au pair is a young person from abroad employed by a ‘host family’ to care for their children. Au pairs provide a live-in form of childcare and provide a unique cultural and learning experience. When we think about what an au pair offers a family, it is hard to simply label their role as ‘childcare’ or ‘kind of like a live-in nanny’ – because it is much more than a job. An au pair joins your family to bond with the children and provide one-on-one care, love and stability in the place which matters most – your child’s home.
The word ‘au pair’ comes from the French word ‘on par’ or ‘equal to’ and with most au pairs living with the host family for up to a year, it’s not surprising they become an integral and much loved family member. It’s not uncommon for au pairs and families to stay in touch after their time together.
Other Au Pairs Testimonals
Working as au pair depends, mostly, of the family you go work for!
There’s all the kind of people out there, and I’ve had my share of experiences!
Overall, the life of an aupair is waking up, prepare breakfast for the kids, get them ready for school (or if they’re not in school age, get them ready for the day). While the parents are working, you mind them, play with them and feed them. If they go to school, sometimes you might have to take them and collect them yourself!
You need to have patience with the kids, but also know when to impose a rule. At the same time, you must give them love so they learn to trust you and the relationship between you is good. Of course, some kids have gone wild, usually because of the education they receive at home from their parents or maybe because their personality is like that. It can be tricky, but it also can be very satisfactory!
Families vary. I’ve worked for families that are good and respect your time off and never get late in paying you. I’ve worked for families who use you as a maid, don’t respect your free time or get weeks late in paying you. This can be tough. My advice is, if you’re thinking about becoming an aupair, keep in mind that you’ll spend a lot of time at home with the kids and that can be very stressing. It’s good if you talk well to the family first about what they are looking for and see if it matches what you are willing to do! Also discuss well the payment, the free time per week, etc…
And once you’ve gone living with a family, don’t close yourself to the world! Attend courses, go outside and meet people! To meet people outside the family is very important too, because, by experience, sometimes you feel a little asphixiated in the house and you need to relax and let your mind go from the daily worries!
In any case, as I said before. it all depends of the family, of the list of chores and duties that you have (the needs of the families vary!) and the kids. If you keep your mind open and you’re genuine with the kids, you’ll be fine. And if you’re not comfortable in a family, there’s nothing wrong in jumping out!
Regardless of bad experiences some girls have had (hey, me one of them), being Au Pair can be very satisfying and it’s a great experience, getting to know the culture of the country where you are staying and learning new languages and making new friends! It surely makes you grow. Good luck!
I won’t go into detail, but I would say it’s really important to get a sense of the family beforehand.
Working for a ‘bad’ family who treat you poorly and give you no (or little) respect, will be really upsetting, and make for a difficult daily life – especially if they are demanding and and expect you to do all the housework, child-rearing and much more.
Have a few video calls (eg. Skype / Hangout) beforehand if possible! Meet the whole family – parents, children, everyone. Use your judgement, and trust your gut.
Every experience will differ.
The variables are too numerous to name, but to consider a few; all possible locations, the families, the food, the children, the time of year. Each of these will deliver a unique experience.
Having been an au-pair myself I think it is important to establish your primary role. Is it teacher, is it big sibling, is it cultural exchange. I went thinking I would act as a big brother figure to the family’s son, help him best enjoy his summer, whilst I mine. However, it came to light that the parent’s wanted more of a teacher figure. You may not be comfortable with this, so is best to be clear before you jet off.
Be aware that you are entering someone else’s home. I didn’t take this seriously enough when applying and found the whole thing a little awkward.
Also, appreciate that whilst this may be a holiday of sorts for you, for the family, life will go on. They will have work stresses, money worries, family troubles, so not everything will be as rosy as their online profile may suggest.
Depending on what you go in expecting and how open you are to the experience as a whole, it can offer you a wonderful summer, where you take a great deal away from it, whilst hopefully adding value to a child’s summer.