Host mum Maria describes her au pair's duties. "Everyday the au pair will have to clean 3 floors and the 3 bathrooms, and make dinner for the family (for 5 of us and herself)."
An au pair is by no means employed to clean the house from top to bottom. They are neither a cleaner, a nanny, nor a language teacher, but a member of the host family for a defined period of time, who is responsible for looking after the children.
It is important that the au pair's tasks are clearly set out in the au pair contract beforehand, along with their working hours, holiday entitlements and the amount of monthly pocket money they will receive. Those who are then expected to do more housework than agreed should talk to their host family early on about this, so that they have the chance to do something about it. If the family does not agree, there is always the possibility to terminate your contract and look for a new host family.
Host dad Carlos complains „This girl thought she was on holiday, staying in a hotel. She was only with us for 14 days and spent only two hours a day with the children in her first week, then she went to the beach, lay in the sun, ate, went for coffee, and didn't tidy up after herself (...)."
Even host parents can feel used. Once again clear communication can help here. Please make sure to accurately define the exact tasks and hours the au pair should look after the children in the au pair contract, so that it is clear what the au pair's working hours are and when they have free time. A weekly plan also helps, you can download an example of our au pair timetable here.
Host mum Karin disapproves of her au pair's frequent internet usage. "Over time I noticed that Ljuba surfed the internet a lot during the day. Although she never left the children unattended during this time, she was still distracted. I later learnt that Ljuba wanted to use her stay in Austria as a stepping stone into the Western World and was therefore very active on online dating websites - with some success."
Host mum Karin solved the issue by talking to her au pair about it. "In principal I didn't have anything against it, just not in working hours! After speaking openly with her about it she only went on the computer in her free time."
In some aspects of parenting, au pair Lara is stricter than her host parents. She wants the children to get out of the habit of swearing. "At the beginning the children swore frequently, which I didn't like..."
Au pair Lara eventually gained the support of her host parents. "It was a positive thing that for the purposes of parenting I was permitted to impose sanctions. Especially with Liam who I often banned from his Gameboy...:-) With both the parents and I regularly confronting the children, they slowly began to realise that the majority of the time their parents were on my side, and after a couple of months the swearing was significantly reduced ."