Fully understanding the basic idea of au pairing

Tricky situations which may arise during the au pair stay, together with tips on how to resolve them: This page focuses on fully understanding the basic idea of au pairing; a fundamental part in ensuring the success of your cultural exchange experience, which incorporates the principles of fairness and mutual give and take.

Child on swing with au pair behind them: Good give and take balance


Discuss your mutual expectations and include all important agreements in the contract

Tips for tricky situations
Too many working hours 

Au pair Fabienne felt let down by her Irish host family.  "I didn't like the idea of having to work 12-14 hours a day. As an 18 year old a lot was expected of me, as I had to do all the housework by myself and take care of the 3 children at the same time. Therefore, I often felt let down by my host family."

Tips for tricky situations
AuPairWorld's tip

Expecting the au pair to work 12-14 hours a day definitively does not fit in with the basic idea of au pairing that AuPairWorld stipulates in its' general terms and conditions. That's exploitation! During the au pair's time with their host family they should be treated as a family member. Every family has different expectations when it comes to the au pair stay. We recommend that au pairs in Ireland work 25 hours per week. Please come to an agreement on this, making sure to clearly state in the au pair contract what the au pair's working hours are and when they will have free time, before the au pair's arrival - and then stick to it! For some it may be worth having a look at what you can do if you feel exploited. And please inform our AuPairWorld Team right away if this is the case.

Tips for tricky situations
Receiving no pocket money from the host family

Au pair Michael feels exploited. „They sometimes forget to pay me pocket money, and they never pay me for any extra hours despite expecting me to work extra.“

Tips for tricky situations
AuPairWorld's tip

Clarity ensures the safety of both parties. Therefore, all important agreements - the au pair's exact duties, the amount of monthly pocket money that the au pair will receive, working hours, holiday entitlements, free time and extra hours for babysitting - should be clearly set out in the au pair contract beforehand. Our au pair timetable may also be helpful.

Host families who are taking on an au pair for the first time, should check beforehand whether an au pair is the right choice for them. It's often helpful, during the early stages of your au pair search, to read through the basic idea of au pairing, which forms an important component of AuPairWorld's terms and conditions. And of course, if you find yourself in a tricky situation, you can always ask the host family if they would want their own children to be treated this way if they were to become au pairs.

Tips for tricky situations
Unsuitable tasks against all agreements: Family looking for a cleaner rather than an au pair

Au pair Nicole describes the requirements as set out by her host family. "Light housework, no driving license required, the au pair will be treated as a family member - that's what was agreed upon in our contract (…) But when I arrived it was the complete opposite, I was a cleaner from day one (...) They were rude to me, treated me badly and I had more house work day by day.“

Tips for tricky situations
AuPairWorld's tip

A good way of protecting yourself from such situations is by ensuring that the exact duties of the au pair are clearly defined in the au pair contract, and that any housework largely relates to the children. Cleaning the children's rooms and doing the children's washing is ok, and so is preparing their meals. However, those expected to regularly clean the whole house from top to bottom must tell their host family that this is not part of an au pair's duties. It is important that you talk to your host family about this early on, otherwise they may think that everything is ok and eventually start to expect this sort of work from you.

In general, the following applies: an au pair is neither a cleaner, a nanny, nor a language teacher, but a member of the host family for the duration of their stay. If you feel the other party is not sticking to the basic idea of au pairing please inform the AuPairWorld Team, or use the report profile function. The ten members of our team will answer all your questions and complaints in six different languages.

Tips for tricky situations
Different perceptions of the basic idea of au pairing

Host mum Brigitte: Being an au pair is more than a job. "In the end we had three au pairs who did not meet our expectations and caused us concern. One for example would not follow safety instructions for the children, another did not really want to be an au pair at all, but had been pressured into it by her parents, thus making no effort in our household; and the other made no attempt to integrate with our family. This was very upsetting for us, and emphasises just how important it is to ask au pairs the right questions before agreeing to host them. Au pairs need to understand that au pairing is more than just a job. When entering into another family's life where children are involved, they must always come first, most importantly in terms of safety and security."

Tips for tricky situations
AuPairWorld's tip

Even host families feel let down by their au pair if they neither show a sense of responsibility nor give their host children the necessary attention and care. Au pairs should consider beforehand whether childcare abroad is the right thing for them. Prior to the au pair stay it is also important to discuss: What exactly the host parents consider important in terms of childcare, and which tasks the au pair is required to fulfil. These are some of the most important questions to ask your host family. It can also be very helpful if one of the host parents works alongside the au pair for one or two weeks to help them settle in.

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