An au pair is a young person aged 18 to 30, unmarried with no children, going abroad for a temporary period of time and living with a host family. Whilst living abroad, the new temporary family member assists his or her host family with childcare and light housework.
Incidentally, the term au pair is French and means "by mutual agreement". Therefore, au pairs receive a pocket money, live free of charge with their host families, just as regular family members, and share meals with the families. The monetary allowance and amount of working hours are defined by the regulations of the respective host country. The main objective of an au pair placement is the mutual cultural exchange – within an informal setting.
As a "big sister" or "big brother", an au pair occasionally takes on the responsibility of looking after the children. By living with a host family, he/she improves his/her language skills and normally attends a language course. He/she gains an insight into the family's life, as well as culture, language and the lifestyle of the host country. The au pair gets to know more about the daily routine of his or her host family, as well as new customs and habits. He/she gains new experiences, impressions and perspectives. All these are advatages – even for their future careers.