According to the dictionary definition, an au pair is someone who performs domestic duties in return for room and board. That means you live in the house of the people you work for and help them with household chores. One thing it means in any case is that you’ll never be late to work!
But what’s your role, exactly? Are you a nanny? A cleaner? Cook? Dogsbody? Mentor? Entertainment committee? Homework tutor? To tell the truth, all of those rolled into one. In principal, an au pair goes to live with a family in order to care for their children, but their role often extends to playing with them, keeping the house tidy and cooking.
As an au pair, you’ll be expected to take over some or all of the parental child-care responsibilities. This could be because the parents have jobs that don’t allow them to be at home enough, or because they want their children to learn to interact with people from different backgrounds and be exposed to other nationalities.
By hiring you as an au pair, the parents are offering you a chance at a unique experience. You’ll get to personally see the children grow up, develop close ties with your new family and help them in every way you can. You’ll be given lots of responsibility and have to adapt to a new environment, which isn’t always easy. However, if you make it work, the experience is truly priceless.
Of course, caring for someone else’s children over a longer period of time can be quite a challenge. But you’ll also have time for yourself. In most cases you’ll get spending money and have the weekends to yourself to go off and have fun. In other words, it’s not just about working. A big part of being an au pair is learning a new language, exploring a new country, making friends, discovering yourself and becoming a stronger person.