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How Au Pairs and Host Families Share Responsibilities

An au pair lives in your home as a temporary family member. Your family and au pair must agree on rules and regulations for her stay. Pocket money, working hours, and tasks are some of the things that should be discussed well in advance. Then it is easy to make a mutually acceptable agreement.

Host Families

Host families are expected to fulfill au pair program obligations, including providing the au pair from Go Au Pair with a private room as her host family accommodation and at least three meals daily. An au pair’s duties include childcare, light housework, and a maximum number of working hours, varying from country to country. Au pairs can also participate in some of the family’s activities and outings. Still, they should be given time to pursue their interests, such as socializing with friends or taking language classes.

Host families should discuss and agree upon the au pair’s working schedule, including weekend and holiday hours, to avoid misunderstandings. It is also a good idea to ensure that the Au Pair is aware of the school pick-up and drop-off arrangements from the outset, so she can make arrangements for public transport if necessary or ask whether it is acceptable to use a family vehicle.

It is generally considered good practice that au pairs will be invited to join the family for holiday celebrations. Still, the host family should clarify whether this will count as working hours. Generally, au pairs should be given some personal space and time away from the family, and respecting her curfew is a good idea. Respecting her privacy, especially regarding her home address, is also essential.

Au Pairs

An au pair is not a nanny but a temporary family member who lives with the host family and helps with childcare in exchange for pocket money and board. She should not be expected to perform household chores such as vacuuming or washing the dishes but can help with one-time tasks such as weeding and watering the garden or cleaning up after an event (like a party).

The specific duties are outlined in the official au pair contract. Both parties must clearly understand their expectations before the au pair begins their stay. Ideally, the agreement is written and signed before her arrival. This includes the schedule, working hours, tasks, and vacation days. If there are any questions about these agreements, it is best to speak with the agency or au pair coordinator before they begin their placement. A close connection to a family makes the au pair’s life in a new country easier.

Au pairs also have an opportunity to learn about the local culture and language through daily interaction with their children. It’s incredible how much a child can pick up from spending time with an au pair native to their country! Many families are pleasantly surprised that their kids speak English better after being cared for by an au pair.

Shared Responsibilities

As a host family, you should be clear and direct about what is expected of your au pair, especially around household duties. Aim for open communication and respect, and be willing to compromise on some issues. It’s a good idea to provide your au pair with a written handbook from the beginning, which will help them understand and digest the information you’re going over verbally daily. This will also allow them to read through it independently and conveniently.

Au pairs should have the same responsibilities as other members of your family: taking care of children, cooking meals, cleaning their room and bathroom, doing laundry, and cleaning up after themselves in any rooms that they may use (e.g., kitchen). In addition, au pairs are responsible for gardening work, cleaning up after guests, and being home as needed when children are absent due to school or illness. Host families are responsible for providing their au pair with a means of transportation and health insurance.

Communication

Throughout the year, both parties must communicate clearly with one another. This avoids misunderstandings and frustration and ensures all expectations are met and understood. Email is a great way to exchange information and ask the first questions. However, phone calls or face-to-face meetings must discuss all aspects of the au pair stay, including curfews, household rules, dietary preferences, school drop-offs, outings, and other family activities.

Getting to know your host family and vice versa early on can also help prevent any miscommunication in the future. It is also a good idea to ensure that your au pair knows the nearest public transportation options or is familiar with walking/ cycling routes in case she has errands to run during her free time and any other responsibilities related to the home. It’s also a good idea to make sure your au pair has adequate insurance coverage if she is asked to drive.

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