Questions and answers about all the basics of the au pair stay

From the first planning steps to the detailed conditions of organizing an au pair stay, you'll find all kinds of useful information for handling the basics of an au pair stay. Here you'll find answers to the questions frequently asked by our users.

First steps

  • Becoming an au pair - the right thing for me?

    • You'd like to get to know a different culture and explore a foreign country?  
    • You want to improve your language skills in your host country and gain important new experience for your personal and professional future? 
    • You enjoy taking care of children?

    If you have answered these questions with "Yes", then au pairing could be just the thing for you. In the course of an au pair stay, you'll learn the language of your host country and get to know its culture with a unique intensity and depth of experience. At the same time, you'll be living with your host family as a new big sister or brother for the time of your stay, giving you a secure position in the new foreign environment.

    Au pairing involves lots of fun and good times, however, it also entails significant responsibilities, especially when it comes to childcare. Therefore, it is very important that you feel ready to assume responsibility and are not afraid of new challenges. Indeed, it is meeting these challenges that many au pairs find to be most enriching part of the experience. You can get a more detailed overview of the au pair experience by reading our Au pair stories and testimonials from au pairs and host families around the world.

  • Hosting an au pair - the right thing for us?

    • You need some help with childcare? 
    • At least one child under the age of 18 lives in your household? 
    • You're ready to integrate an au pair as a full-fledged member of your family for the time of the au pair stay and to help the au pair get to know the culture and language of your country? 
    • You can provide an au pair with a separate room in your home and also afford the other costs of hosting an au pair such as pocket money, meals and insurance?

    If you answered all these questions with "Yes", having an au pair might be just the thing for your family. An au pair can make it much easier to manage everyday childcare and also help with minor household tasks. On top of this, having an au pair is a cultural enrichment for your children and for the whole family. 

    It is important that you feel good about the general decision to host an au pair and also about any specific au pair that you select. An au pair stay is based on a special relationship of trust. You will be entrusted with a new family member coming from a different cultural background. And the au pair will be entrusted with the care of your children. In this context, mutual respect, good communication, clear rules and basic affinity are very important for a successful integration of the au pair into your family. 

    Please keep in mind: Au pairs are neither nannies, nor hired domestic help. In contrast to a regular employment relationship, au pairs live with their host families like fully integrated family members, albeit for a limited period of time. Your au pair will share your daily routine and help you with minor household tasks, just as other members of the family do. As a "big sister or brother", your au pair will usually become an important figure in the lives of your children. And just as your au pair will be learning a lot about a new language and culture, your family will also gain significant insights into the culture, language, customs and traditions of your au pair's country of origin.  

  • Why do I need to register?

    You register on AuPairWorld to find a matching au pair or host family. For this purpose, you create your individual profile free of charge. As soon as you have created your profile, your EasyFind search management tool will display matching profiles according to your personal search criteria. In addition, you can contact any au pair or host family within the secure area of the AuPairWorld messaging system. To let an au pair or a host family know that you are interested, you can simply send them a standard message. To exchange personal contact details, host families must become Premium members. Au pairs may use AuPairWorld services free of charge.


Au pair duties

  • What will my tasks as an au pair be?

    As an au pair, you will be living with your host family like a regular family member and taking on daily tasks as a regular part of your stay with them. As a "big sister or brother" for the duration of your stay, your main responsibility is for childcare, which is a highly responsible role to have in the host family. Furthermore, you will help with light housework related to childcare.

    As an au pair, you should not only be aware of your tasks but also be clear what your rights are. An au pair is not a nanny or a maid or a carer for the elderly, nor is an au pair a regular employee. An au pair is rather a fully entitled member of the host family for the duration of her or his stay.


Working hours

  • What are working hours and what is free time?

    The borderline between working hours and free time can sometimes be unclear for an au pair. In this connection it can be helpful, for example, when the host family states clearly in advance what the au pair's role is for a given activity such as family excursion. Is the au pair on the excursion to relax, as part of the cultural program of the au pair stay, or with the task of looking after the kids? Au pairs and host families should simply talk with each other in advance about such questions and make an arrangement with each other that everyone finds acceptable.

  • Is there extra pay for babysitting?

    The stipulated working hours of an au pair are typically clearly defined in the au pair regulations of the various host countries. Generally, an au pair should not work more than a set number of hours. In most cases, hours spent babysitting are included in this amount.
     

     

  • Must the distribution of the au pair's weekly working hours be specified exactly in the contract or is it possible to be flexible?

    Plan the main tasks and basic working hours with your au pair in advance. Of course, one can't plan everything exactly. Therefore, au pairs should also bring flexibility to the situation. As a host family, it is good to plan in advance what can be planned. Be careful that the au pair does not exceed the working hours specified in your country's au pair regulations and also that the au pair has sufficient time to take part in a language course. It works best if host families agree on a weekly or monthly schedule in advance and talk this through at the beginning of each week.

  • How are public holidays handled? Can the au pair help out on such days?

    You should check on the au pair regulations of the respective host country. In some countries, there are no official regulations for whether au pairs should work on public holidays. We recommend that au pairs be given a day off on public holidays and in particular that they should not exceed the recommended total working hours. If you need the au pair on a public holiday, make sure that the extra working day does not result in excessive working hours or that the hours can be compensated for at another time. Talk with the au pair about these arrangements and make an individual arrangement for the public holiday. Finally every successful au pair-host family relationship depends on a flexible give and take between the parties.

  • Is babysitting working time for the au pair?

    Yes, babysitting is working time. Even if the au pair is watching television, for example, and the children are sleeping, the au pair still needs to be present and be ready to take care of things if the children wake up. When au pair really isn't working, she or he can do whatever she wants , which is not possible in this case. In addition, in various countries the au pair regulations stipulate how many evenings an au pair can babysit for the host family. In most countries this is one or two evenings per week.


Holidays and free time

Christmas

  • Can we expect that our au pair will help us over the Christmas holidays?

    You cannot rely on the fact that your au pair will help you over the Christmas holidays, but you can certainly make the request. We recommend that you plan the Christmas season well in advance together with your au pair. If your au pair will be staying with you over the holidays, decide together when your au pair will be working and when not. As a possible compromise, you might propose to your au pair to stay with you at Christmas and take the Easter Holidays or the days between Christmas and the New Year's Day off.

    Read the following article on this topic:

    Christmas in a host family: a unique cultural exchange experience

  • It is one of our family traditions to take our children on a trip over the Christmas holidays. Should we invite our au pair to come with us?

    Ask your au pair as early as possible what she or he is planning to do over Christmas. If your au pair would like to come with you, you can certainly try to make this possible. Should it not be feasible for financial or organisational reasons, you should provide your au pair with everything that will be needed during your absence. If you won't be able to take your au pair, explain the reasons why that is the case so that it's clearly understood that it wasn't a problem with the relationship that you have.

  • We are Muslims, our au pair is a Christian. She would like to celebrate Christmas. What can we do for her?

    Christmas forms part of Christian culture, just as Ramadan forms part of Muslim culture. You can enhance cultural exchange by showing interest and respect towards her customs and traditions. For the practical arrangements, ask your au pair well in advance what she is planning to do over Christmas. Does she possibly wish to celebrate with friends, stay with you or travel back home? If she would like to return home to celebrate Christmas with her family, you should give her the opportunity to do so. Work out a plan together with you au pair regarding working hours and days off in connection with the holiday.

  • Should we give our au pair something for Christmas?

    For the period of the au pair stay, your au pair is a member of the family. If you are exchanging gifts within the family, your au pair will certainly also be happy to receive something, too. It doesn't need to be anything big. In this situation, calendars with language tips, a personalised photo album, objects handcrafted by the children, etc., can make great presents. If your au pair is going home over Christmas, you could think about helping with the costs of the outward or return journey if you wish.

  • Every year, we take an official family photo at Christmastime. Should our au pair be included in the photo or not?

    Different family members might have different opinions on this question. As your au pair is spending the Christmas holidays with you, we assume that you are all getting along well. If this is the case, there seems no reason not to include your au pair in the family Christmas photo. After all, this photo will be a great memory for all of you, reminding you of the time you spent together. Should other members of your family have a different point of view, you can always take two pictures, one with and one without the au pair. Asking the au pair to take this second photo would be a simple way to handle the situation.

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