For families


Many au pairs will have travelled some distance to arrive in a foreign country. It is reasonable to give some time for recovery from the journey and to allow for acclimatisation to the new surroundings. You will find out much more about your new guest in the first few days. You will need to teach the au pair many things about the running of your household and the way your family functions. Conversely, you will have the pleasure of experiencing life through the eyes of a different culture and this will enrich your family also.



You will have assessed the proficiency of the au pair's language level as part of your selection process. However, you will need to give the au pair time to come to terms with speaking home-language every day. With your support you will see the au pair's confidence and ability improve dramatically in the first few weeks.


Induction to duties

It is well worth taking the time to be very specific about the duties you are expecting the au pair to complete. Do not underestimate the cultural differences that may be highlighted when you have someone new living in your house. If you like things done in a particular way, then these will need explaining and demonstrating to the au pair. Remember, the smallest of habits can lead to misunderstanding so, if you like the dishwasher loaded in a certain way because that works best, you will need to explain this. This area is particularly critical where an element of childcare is involved. We all bring our children up slightly differently, and you will want to ensure that the au pair reflects your desires and standards in all activities relating to the children.


Induction to Household

Over the first couple of days you should ensure that the au pair has a basic introduction to the household and particularly the operation and location of any facilities that you require the au pair to use in their duties, and also those available during the au pair's own time.

For example, the following may form part of the household induction:

  • Household security: - locking doors, windows, setting alarms
  • Domestic appliances: - cooker, microwave, washing machine etc
  • Entertainment: - TV, DVD, etc.
  • Heating and lighting
  • Emptying bins, waste disposal/recycling
  • Etc.


Induction to area

Again, in the first few days, the au pair will appreciate any time taken to introduce the locale, and particularly the local bus and train stations. It can be daunting to try and figure out a timetable and buy a ticket in a foreign country, so if an opportunity arises the au pair will appreciate being shown these facilities in some detail. The happier the au pair is in the environment, the more rewarding the au pair placement will be for the au pair and the family.


Registering with a Doctor

Assist your au pair in locating the local surgery and registering with them. This is important as it avoids delays and bureaucracy in the event that the au pair requires treatment during the placement. Registration requirements will be explained by the surgery.


Local College/Language School

It is usual for an au pair to attend a local language course in order to improve the standard and proficiency in the language of the host country. The au pair normally meets the cost of travelling to and from the school, and of any course fees, unless you previously agreed to meet these. Attendance of a course may require some flexibility in the timetable, particularly if the au pair is helping you for a number of hours in addition to the five hours per day. It makes sense to investigate the course location, cost, and timetable, prior to the au pair placement arrangements being finalised.


First Aid Training

We all know that accidents can happen at any time and there will always be that unguarded moment when attention is diverted elsewhere. Statistics show that a child dies everyday in an accident and that accidents are the single greatest cause of death among children and young people – they put more children in hospital than any other cause; and yet the vast majority of parents and au pairs would not know what to do if a child or baby stopped breathing or started choking. Anyone left alone with young children should be equipped with basic first aid skills and information which can help stop a minor injury becoming a major accident and in the worst case scenario make the difference between life and death.


Contact with other au pairs

If possible introduce your au pair to others in the local area. You will be able to find other local au pairs via the local language schools. This will help kick-start a social framework for your au pair, and will be appreciated.


House rules

You should give careful consideration to the following areas and write clear guidelines as to exactly your requirements. This will set clear ground rules and minimise potential areas of misunderstanding that may lead to conflict at a later stage.


Care of children

It is very worthwhile taking the time to explain in detail the way you prefer your children to be cared for, and detailing any special requirements you or they may have. In particular you must assess the proficiency and experience the au pair has in childcare and not leave the au pair in a situation where he or she is out of their depth, as this could put the well being of the child in jeopardy. Please remember that an au pair is usually not a professionally qualified child carer such as a nanny, and should not be treated as such.


Driving and car use

If you require the au pair to drive at any time you will need to ensure that the au pair has a licence valid for abroad, that the minimum legal insurance requirements are met, and that you and the au pair are both confident in the au pair's driving skills. It makes sense to ensure that all parties are clear as to whether any private use of a vehicle is allowed, and whether any reimbursement by the au pair for running costs is expected in this event. It is also worth considering what might happen in the event of an accident and subsequent insurance claim. As au pairs are young people the insurance excess is often an appreciable amount, and if an accident happens whilst the au pair uses the vehicle privately, it will be beneficial to have agreed responsibility for the excess payment upfront, so all parties are aware of the ground rules.

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