Host families are the heart of the Au Pair experience. They provide their Au Pair with room and board, a high stipend, and support in exchange for a year of childcare. Au Pairing is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture and gain valuable childcare experience.
Know What You Want
To become an au pair isn’t a small commitment. It’s a year-long experience that can take you all over the world! Understanding what you want from the experience before you sign up is essential. You can do many things to get the most out of your time abroad, from learning the language to volunteering. It’s essential to list your goals and actively work toward them throughout the year! This is also a great time to evaluate if you enjoy children. It’s easy to think you love it when you’ve worked babysitting or in a children’s toy store, but being an au pair is a different experience. You’ll spend a lot of time with kids and must find ways to entertain them. Once you’ve narrowed your search for a family, contacting the parents and children is a good idea to set up a video chat. It’s a great way to see if you like each other and if you can imagine living together.
Find a Family
It’s hard to find the right family to become an au pair with. But some tips can help you do just that. Start by listing what you’re looking for in a host family. This is called your “non-negotiables.” Make sure you don’t compromise on them. Next, contact families and schedule a video chat (Zoom or Skype). This will allow you to meet the family, ask them questions and see how they interact with their kids. Ask about their parenting style and what their expectations of you are. It’s best to discuss things like housework, driving, physical interaction with the children, and more from the beginning to be clear on your parameters. Also, if the family has hosted an au pair before, ask to speak to them. You can ask them about their experiences with the family and the job. Please don’t take everything they say as the absolute truth, though. They could have had a bad experience not because of the family but something else.
Becoming an au pair is a great way to experience another culture firsthand, learn a new language, and get practical work experience. It is also a fantastic gap year option for young people, especially those considering a future in teaching, social work, psychology, or child care. While the requirements for becoming an au pair vary from country to country, there are some general guidelines. These include a high school diploma, a clean record, some childcare experience (babysitting counts), and knowledge of the language spoken in the host country. It’s recommended that au pairs have some experience working with children before beginning the program, as this will make them more valuable to a family. Start by finding families who match your criteria using a search tool. Then reach out to those that interest you via the messaging system and schedule video chats if you have questions. Be sure to ask about benefits like weekly or monthly stipends, pocket money, vacation time, and any other perks the family may offer. These details will vary by family and country, so it’s essential to understand what you’re getting into before you begin.
As an au pair, you will work up to 45 hours weekly, watching children and helping with household chores. Families will live with you or expect you to have your apartment – the choice is yours. Regardless, you will be working many hours, so finding a family that can accommodate your schedule and lifestyle is essential. Most au pairs use an agency to help them find a family and apply for their visa. There are pros and cons to using an au pair agency, and it is essential to research agencies thoroughly before you choose one. You will be asked to provide a detailed profile with your background and childcare experience when applying. You will also be required to attend an information meeting and speak with a former au pair to understand what to expect from the program. Once your application has been approved, you will begin the interview process. You will typically have at least one or two video interviews with potential host families before you are matched.
Having the opportunity to live abroad and immerse yourself in another culture is an incredible experience, but it isn’t without its challenges. The most important thing is to be aware of what you’re getting yourself into and ensure you do this for the right reasons. Evaluate honestly how much you like kids and your goals for this adventure. If you’re not careful, it can be easy to fall into a pattern of only working and spending your free time at home. To get the most out of this opportunity, schedule your days and prioritize travelling and exploring the country you’re in. During your time with your host family, try to communicate with them in their native language whenever possible. This is a great way to practice your language skills while helping the children learn theirs. It is also an opportunity to share your cultural traditions with them and allow them to see a different side of your home country. Remember, an au pair is a family member, not an employee.