According to the urbandictionaty.com, the word Au Pair means: “a French term, which means “on par” or “equal to”, denoting living on an equal basis in a reciprocal, caring relationship between the host family and the children. An au pair will typically be a young woman and sometimes a young man from a foreign country who chooses to help look after the children of a host family and provide light housekeeping. The au pair is given room and board and is typically paid a weekly “pocket-money” salary. Au pairs generally stay with their host family for one year”
To understand how the Au Pairs work in the UK, it goes something like this: they are welcomed into the homes of British Host Families as a family member for a 9 or 12 month for an in depth cultural exchange. For their benefit, they participate in cultural and educational activities designed to teach them about British life and, in exchange, they assist the host family by taking care of their children and everything this task involves. Unfortunately, only young people from the European Union can go to the UK.
We will first list the benefits an Au Pair receives while working in the UK:
- The Au Pair will live with a carefully selected Host Family who will treat him or her as a family member, not as a servant, maid, butler or anything similar. It is an amazing benefit as they can have communication with their host family and practice the language if needed. Also, give comments and recommendations in order to improve the experience and help out with their children´s education.
- Direct contact with other Au Pairs in the area. This is really good for people who do not have a lot of experience with children or with house chores that are needed around the house. Peers will always give good advice and how to handle new task and problems that may arise. Also, it could be a good way of making friends in a new country.
- Pocket money for expenses. Depending on the country, the amount of money varies. There have been experiences where the host family goes beyond the required payment and gives more money to the Au Pair to make him or her feel more comfortable and motivated to take care of children. Cars can be lent if the Au Pair has a driver’s license and other benefits such as good food and gifts are thrown into the package depending on the host family. These are not requirements, but remember that Au Pairs become part of the family and are treated as such.
- A private room. This is very important as Au Pairs are young adults between the age of 18 and 30. Au Pairs also undertake studies in English (if in the UK) and would need time to study and rest. Also, privacy is an amazing benefit when you are away from home living in another culture with another family. This is greatly appreciated by all Au Pairs around the world.
Apart from benefits, the Au Pair and families as well have some responsibilities towards each other:
- As for the families: some of the responsibilities were now mentioned such as treating the Au Pair with dignity and as another member of the family and not as a servant of any kind; giving the Au Pair pocket money for their expenses and providing him or her with a room. Other responsibilities are allowing the Au Pair to attend classes and participate in cultural opportunities as it is a cultural exchange program; and giving permission to have weekends free and two weeks holiday with pocket money if the au pair stays a year.
- As for the responsibilities of the Au Pair towards the family, here are the main ones: The Au Pair will provide approximately 25 to 30 hours of childcare and childcare related housekeeping for the Host Family, including household chores with other family members. As a reminder, heavy housework is not included in these responsibilities; personal expenses such a phone bills, personal trips and other personal things are the full responsibility of the Au Pair. Au Pair must not be smokers and must be drug free.
Being an Au Pair is an amazing experience for travelers between the age of 18 and 30 that are looking to know a new culture and experience a new country while they make some money on the side. It is a big responsibility and not everyone is eligible for the job as some previous childcare is required and visa requirements, especially in the UK, are not met by all nationalities around the world. There are other countries that have the same program, so get motivated and look for the country that best suits you and go out and experience the world.