We were keen to know if there is possibly some truth in the stereotypes concerning male au pairs: is it really so difficult nowadays to find a host family being a male? Sara and Ellen of AuPairWorld have interviewed a male au pair. Ismael from Spain has spent more than a year as an au pair in Germany.
AuPairWorld: Hi Ismael! The fact that you are sitting here talking to us proves that au pair boys are no mere myth. They are for real and, as we can see in your particular case, there are certainly families who are glad to host an au pair boy. Did you have any difficulties finding a host family?
Ismael: No, I didn't, actually. I spent about a month with my search and was lucky enough to find my present host family.
AuPairWorld: Wow, that went fast! Why did you actually decide to become an au pair?
Ismael: To be quite honest with you, it was quite a spontaneous idea that crossed my mind; just like that. I decided from one day to the next that au pairing was just the thing I wanted to do.
AuPairWorld: Were you facing any difficulties or did you have doubts concerning your decision?
Ismael: I was a little concerned, as my German skills were rather low at that time. Besides, everything was so new to me. When I finally arrived, I got struck by cultural shock, as well. I got used to everything fairly quickly, though.
AuPairWorld: So why did you opt for Germany as a host country, knowing that you only had little knowledge of German?
Ismael: I've never been to Germany before, but I always wanted to get to know the country. As my English skills are not too bad and as I intended to improve them, as well, I thought I'd manage somehow. (laughs)
AuPairWorld: Did it work then? How was your first day with your host family?
Ismael: Well, ... so-so. Throughout the first few days we basically had to use sign language. It worked, though. Later I started taking a language course in the evenings and was thus able to brush up my German.
AuPairWorld: Which were your tasks at your host family's home? Did you also carry out any tasks which are typically considered to be women's jobs, such as preparing meals? Or did you actually live up to the cliché being put in charge of typical male tasks, such as carrying heavy shopping bags, etc.?
Ismael: I really didn't have to cook that much; only if I felt up to. Apart from that I took care of all types of tasks around the house and looked after the two boys. Every now and then I hoovered, picked up the children from nursery school, played with them, etc.
This was my family for a significant period of time. Therefore, I gave them a helping hand, just like any other member of the family did. We split our tasks as all normal families do: I picked up the younger son and my host dad the elder one. Then we set the table together. I believe that it even was an advantage for me to be a male au pair in my particular host family, as both of my host kids were boys, as well and as we had similar interests. I am not entirely sure I would have been over-enthusiastic about having to play with dolls.
AuPairWorld: What do you consider to be particular valuable about your au pair stay?
Ismael: Living with a local family and learning a new language in the privacy of their home was definitely a positive experience. Furthermore, it felt great to get to know the German culture and to share my own one, too.
AuPairWorld: What were your plans for the time after your au pair stay?
Ismael: I intended to stay in Germany to start an apprenticeship.
AuPairWorld: Would you recommend the au pair stay abroad? Are there any suggestions you wish to give other au pairs?
Oh, I would absolutely recommend the au pair placement. It is such an amazing experience. Unlike me, however, au-pairs-to-be should take a language course before leaving their own country. You should at least have a knowledge of the language of your host country at level A2. Even though I got my way around my personal linguistic challenges, it would have been a lot easier for me to have gained some basic knowledge beforehand. Furthermore, it is a good idea for au pairs and host families to skype and phone each other as frequently as possible well before the au pair's arrival at the host family's home. This helped me get a good impression of my host family. Thus, my decision was quickly made.
AuPairWorld: Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us, Ismael. We wish you good luck with all your future endeavors!
Our conclusion: Au pairing is nowadays no longer a privilege of girls. Male au pairs are also increasingly gaining popularity. Even if their search of a matching host family may seem challenging in the beginning, it can quickly be crowned by success and turn into an unforgettable au pair experience, as Ismael's example shows. Many host families are sharing the positive experience they had with au pair boys. On the following page you can see the video testimonial of au pair Julien in the USA.
Have you also already had the opportunity to host a male au pair? In this case, we would be delighted to read your and your au pair boy's au pair story. Please send us your testimonials to: firstname.lastname@example.org!