You might have heard of the term Au Pair being used in comparison to a “nanny”. In reality, the role of an Au Pair is much more complex than that of a child caretaker.
An Au Pair is defined as a young person (between the ages of 18-30), who goes abroad to live with a local family and learn (or perfect) a language, in exchange for childcare and light housework.
The title comes from the French term au pair, meaning “at par” or “equal to”, indicating that the relationship is intended to be one of equals. The au pair is intended to become a member of the family, although a temporary one, rather than a traditional domestic worker.
Au Pairs do not receive a salary.
They receive “pocket money” and do not pay taxes for that. In that sense, you should not be seen as an employee. Rather, as a member of the family who is compensated in the same way that most children get compensated for work at home. (Remember when you would receive an allowance from your parents?)
When looking for a Host Family you should keep this in mind. Try to imagine yourself becoming a part of a foreign family. Also, make sure that the host family knows and understands the role that you as an Au Pair will have in their family.
I know of a couple Au Pairs who had an unpleasant experience because they were regarded as a domestic worker rather than a family member, and this could have been avoided if they had asked the right questions during the interview.
Make sure to consider all the positive and negative aspects of becoming an Au Pair. Ask yourself if you are really prepared to handle the responsibility that comes along with it.
Being an Au Pair is not easy, but the experience can be very rewarding. My advice is to have an open mind and behave respectfully and responsibly. Remember, you will be taking care of the family’s most valuable asset – their children. They expect you to treat their family as you would your own; with love and respect.
If you have any questions about becoming an Au Pair or about my experience, please leave a comment below!
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