Planning your au pair stay well can help you to avoid problems later on. For example you should find out before your trip when you talk to your host family over the phone or when you write emails what your day as an au pair is going to be like and what your duties will be. Keep in mind that your au-pair stay is not a vacation, people expect you to work.
Becoming an au pair is a fascinating opportunity to improve your language skills and get to know a new country and its people. But being an au pair also means that you have to work. You have to be willing to make that sacrifice as you will be taking care of the house and the children for many hours during the week – this is your job as an au pair.
It is not very common to have problems and most host families are very friendly and respect their au pair. But, as everywhere else, there always are some black sheep. You could end up in a bad host family or you could be doing work that you are not supposed to do according to the official au pair rules. Sometimes the food is bad. If you are looking for a family online you should talk about all the details with them. Let them show you their place and your room. If the family has already had other au pairs, get the contact information so you can get in touch.
Find out all the important information: your working hours, free time and your duties. If you ask the right questions from the very beginning you won’t have bad surprises. If you hire an au pair agency to find you a host family, the chances of finding a loving and caring family are – from our experience – less. This is due to a new law that was passed by the German government and makes it easier now to open up an au pair agency.
The result: now there is a new agency in every corner. They often send au pairs to families where they already know that the au pairs are treated badly. They don’t care if you get your own room as an au pair, if you get your pocket money or if the host family leaves you enough free time.
We recommend: Look for your host family on your own, using an au pair website or look for an agency that gathers a lot of information about you as an au pair and that can give you detailed information on your host family.
You can never rule out problems completely. Most au pairs are lucky and find a good host family and spend an unforgettable year with them. Working abroad as an au pair is definitely worth it. You will grow and mature with the challenges. Life can teach you more than any school or university ever could.