An au pair is an additional member of the family and should never be viewed simply as a housekeeper, gardener or language teacher. Au pairs are temporary family members.
In return for the help that au pairs give to families they receive pocket money as well as free room and board. The working time of the au pair should not exceed the prescribed time of the respective host country.
The main responsibility of au pairs is to help taking care of the host family's children. In addition to this, au pairs also help out with light housework. All their responsibilities form part of their daily schedule.
Housework for au pairs
In addition to helping with childcare, light housework also forms part of the au pair's tasks. Light housework mainly involves housekeeping tasks connected with the children of the host family, for example helping with keeping the children's rooms orderly and tidy.
Possible housework tasks for au pairs:
- Washing dishes / loading and unloading the dishwasher
- Now and then: cleaning, sweeping, dusting/ hoovering
- Doing the children's washing and putting it away
- Ironing (not including difficult items of clothing like shirts and blouses)
- Making the children's beds
- Tidying the children's rooms
- Doing a little bit of shopping
- If necessary, looking after pets
- Emptying the rubbish
Obviously, the au pair is responsible for keeping their room and, if available, their own bathroom tidy. They must also clean up after themselves in other rooms that they use for example if they cook in the kitchen for their friends. If an au pair has to look after a baby or small child, they should not have too many other tasks. It is important that the au pair's working hours are not exceeded, once all of these tasks are taken into consideration.
The following housework tasks are not part of an au pair's duties:
- Garden work
- Cleaning windows
- Spring cleaning
- Cleaning the oven
- Washing cars
- Cleaning carpets
- Doing lots of shopping
- Washing pets
- Making the host parents' bed
- Cleaning the toilet
- Ironing difficult items of clothing
- Cleaning the entire house/ flat
The extent of housework tasks included will depend on the family and the age of the children. However, in all cases, an au pair is not a housemaid. They are, rather, a member of the family and help out in the home like any family member does.
- Each task should be discussed together beforehand. Use the questions to ask au pairs or questions to ask families as a basis for the discussion.
- Write down each task in the au pair contract in order to prevent possible misunderstandings.
- It would also be advisable to set all the au pair's tasks in a schedule.
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