Being an au pair is a cool and modern way to help other people — while also helping yourself. It can be a great opportunity for young people from different cultures to live together and learn from one another.
An au pair is someone who lives as a member of another family and helps take care of their children. In exchange receives home lodging, food, and opportunities to explore the local area and its culture.
An au pair is not a babysitter or nanny. The primary responsibility of an au pair is not childcare but culture. Au pairs provide childcare so that the host family can focus on work or school.
An au pair is like a roommate, providing company, guidance, and friendship in exchange for lodging and help with everyday tasks.
Who Can Be An Au Pair?
There are no specific requirements for becoming an au pair — people of all different ages and backgrounds apply.
The host family and au pair must agree to a formal contract and the agency will conduct a background check. But the au pair agency will not ask for references or academic or work experience.
So don’t be surprised if you receive a call from an au pair who is still in high school. Au pairs are most successful when they are open-minded and outgoing.
An au pair is someone who will be living in a new culture and be expected to participate in it. The ideal trainee is friendly, willing to try new things, and comfortable in new situations.
Benefits For The Host Family
The goals of the au pair program are pretty straightforward — they get help with childcare and household tasks while the au pair enjoys a free room and meals.
The au pair will be a friendly, helpful presence in the home and sometimes a tutor for the kids. But there are other benefits to the host family as well. Having an au pair living in their home is a great chance for a family to expand their horizons and have new experiences.
An au pair is someone from another country who is living with you and spending time with your family. If your children are young, the au pair can be a great resource for discovering other cultures and traditions.
Even if your children are a bit older, the au pair will still be a great source of different perspectives and life experiences.
Benefits For The Au Pair
Being an au pair is a great way for young people from different cultures to live together and learn from one another. Au pairs can choose to focus on childcare or cultural exchange, and either one is a win-win for the au pair.
If the host family has children, the au pair will have a chance to learn about childhood development from the inside. For many au pairs, the most important benefit will be the chance to improve their English language skills.
Most au pairs are expected to be fluent in their native language (or one other language besides English) and also have a high level of English proficiency. This is so they can help improve the English skills of the children in the household.
Drawbacks For The Host Family
One drawback for the host family is that an au pair is not a full-time nanny. Host families should not expect the au pair to provide 24/7 supervision for their children.
Au pairs are there to support the family and help out with everyday tasks, but they should not be expected to be full-time babysitters. Another drawback is that the au pair may not stay with the family for very long.
Au pairs are not required to stay with any one host family for more than two years. Some families find that the au pair is a good fit for a few months, while for others the au pair ends up staying for a year or two.
Drawbacks For The Au Pair
A few drawbacks for the au pair are the flip side of the benefits for the au pair. Being an au pair is a great opportunity for young people from different cultures to live together and learn from one another. But it’s possible that these cultural exchanges won’t be enriching for everyone.
For example, if the host family has very young children and the au pair has no interest in learning about childhood development, the au pair won’t get much out of this arrangement. Or if the host family speaks very limited English, the cultural exchange won’t be very balanced.
Both the host family and the au pair must have reasonable expectations and boundaries.
Is an Au Pair Right for Your Family?
If you are considering hiring an au pair, you will first have to find one. Au pair agencies around the world advertise available positions on their websites. You can also find au pairs on babysitting websites and apps.
The best way to find a good au pair is to be proactive about it. It’s not enough to post an ad on a babysitting website and hope for the best. You need to actively recruit au pairs and be thoughtful about the selection process.
There are many different au pair agencies in different countries. So you’ll need to find the best ones for your family — ones that are reputable and have a good track record of placing families with au pairs.
You can also look for agencies that specialize in matching families with au pairs who come from specific countries or cultures.
An au pair is a great option for parents who want some assistance with childcare but don’t want to hire a full-time nanny. Au pairs are friendly, helpful young people from other countries who are happy to trade assistance with childcare for a free room and meals.
Au pairs are not, however, full-time nannies. Host families should not expect them to be available 24/7 and should treat them like roommates rather than full-time childcare providers. Au pairs are also not full-time language tutors.
Host families should not expect au pairs to act like teaching assistants who are always ready to teach the children. Instead, au pairs should be treated like any other roommate — friendly people who are there to help out with daily tasks.
An au pair can be a great option for a family who needs a little extra help with childcare while also wanting to expand their horizons and have new experiences.