Au pairs come to live with a host family to learn the language of their chosen country and/or to experience a different culture. Au pairs are not employees. The word au pair means equal. Au pairs help a family with childcare and light housework for approximately 30 hours per week (exact working hours vary per country). In return for their help au pairs receive full board, their own private room and pocket money. Au pairs should be part of their host family during their stay.
Me? Au Pair?
An au pair is somebody between 18 and 30 years old, who lives with a host family. Au pairs help their host family with childcare and light housework (tidying up, ironing, some light cleaning, etc). As an au pair you receive pocket money, board and lodgings. Your duties might be taking the children to school, playing with them, preparing their meals, doing homework with them, looking after them till the parents come home from work. You get to know another culture and language because you live with and get involved with your host family's life. In your free time you meet people from all over the world at your language course or out and about. If you like a challenge, then becoming an au pair is the thing for you!
You do not need special education to become an au pair, but a basic knowledge of the language of the country you want to go to will make your life a lot easier. Motivation is one of the main ingredients to make your stay successful. You will have to like being with children and be prepared to muck in. Do not think you are on holiday, host families do have au pairs because they need help with childcare. They, however, do realize that au pairs are not qualified and might not have a lot of working experience. We spend a lot of time and care selecting our host families. We ask the host family for a reference and put them through an assessment. We explain to our host families that the success of an au pair placement is based on a flexible attitude and understanding of both parties. Host families have to accept an au pair as part of their family and should make time to talk to them and help their au pair to achieve their aims. You have to adapt to your new surroundings, differences in culture and living habits. With the right preparation and attitude you can have the time of your life.
Rights and duties
When you want to go abroad as an au pair you have to abide to a few rules. The Council of Europe has laid down these rules in 1969. In 1994 the IAPA (the International Au Pair Association) was established and this organisation has set up guidelines according to the 1969 Council of Europe Treaty. The UAPA followed a year or so later but is also a worldwide organisation (see UAPA website). Au Pairs Worldwide works according to the guidelines of both the aforementioned organisations.
What to expect
You are between 18 and 30 years old and will stay with a host family for minimum of 6 to 9 months in a foreign country or for 2-3 months as a summer au pair. As an au pair you work approximately 30 hours per week (the number of hours depend on which country you are staying in) divided over 5 days. You can also be asked to baby-sit up to two evenings per week. You have to be flexible with your working hours, but so should your host family. The family will have to give you sufficient time off to go to your language course or any other course you want to do. If for any reason the arrangement between the au pair and the host family comes to an end, both parties will have to give each other two weeks notice. During the two weeks the au pair should be working her regular hours and the host family should pay her as normal.
No, not necessary, but you have to like being with children and be able to entertain them. Also, you should not be afraid of dealing with temper tantrums and have patience. If you have done a lot of babysitting or have been a leader in a youth holiday camp, this will be considered as excellent experience to become an au pair. Any education you had to do with childcare is even better. On top of that, your stay as an au pair will be seen as a perfect finish for your education or gap year off from studying.
Working as an au pair you will get full board, lodgings and pocket money. The amount will vary per country, but is the equivalent to approximately € 85,- per week.
What to do next?
Congratulations, you have decided to go ahead and want to apply to become an aupair.
This is what we need from you:
• You fill in the online application form for the au pair from our website.
• We need two references from you, one character reference and one childcare reference. These references should not be supplied by a member of your family but e.g. from a teacher, employer, somebody you baby-sit for, etc. The references need to be translated into English and will be checked by our employees.
• We need you to write a "Dear family letter". This is a letter written by you (in English) in which you introduce yourself (name, age, where you are from , about your family, your hobbies/interests, your education, likes and dislikes, work experience, childcare experience and why you want to become an au pair, future plans, and sign off.
• A medical certificate from your family doctor.
• 4 smiling passport photographs plus a few photographs of you with some children you have looked after or your family/friends.
When you have done all this, put it in the post to us and we will check your references. Once they are checked and we have no doubt that you are suitable for the au pair programme we will start sending your details to our partner agencies abroad. When they have a family that thinks you would be just the girl/boy for them, we will give you a call and tell you all about this family. If you like the sound of this family we will ask you to call them for a chat.
After you have spoken the host family and it's a match please let us know and we'll arrange all official details.