If you want to try out the experience of an au pair stay abroad, you have probably already gone through the question box! And this is quite normal because living for several months in a family that is not yours can quickly turn out to be rather stressful, especially if you don’t know what to expect once you’re there! We already told you about the conditions to become an au pair in a previous article. Today we’ve put together a few tips to help you avoid unpleasant surprises and make the most of this enriching experience!
A safe stay
To enjoy an au pair stay, it’s best to start by finding the RIGHT family! There are a lot of possibilities to choose from. The most common is to go through a specialised agency. If you do this on your own, you risk running into a real and serious problem, that of safety. They explain to you: you’ve done all your business, you’ve planned everything, you finally arrive at the family’s home and then after a few days you’re kicked out… (Not very reassuring but unfortunately already happened for some people…). You’re not covered! Luckily, there are various au pair organisations that can help you in case of a problem! Be careful, it is also very important to get good information from these organisations and to ask all possible questions before your departure! Trust the opinions and comments about each au pair agency to get an idea of what they are like and not to find yourself in an unpleasant situation!
Find THE right family!
And yes, this is the first criterion for any young person wishing to go as an au pair! If some will fall at first sight in a golden family, with children to chew … Others on the other hand will rather spend a kind of hell as they will be disappointed by the family in which they have set foot! Rest assured that all is never lost since many au pairs have already experienced this and have been able to find a family that corresponds more to their criteria! Here again, to avoid unpleasant surprises, it is important that you are already familiar with the host family before joining them. Placement agencies facilitate the exchange between au pairs and families, but afterwards it is up to you to take over and make sure that you are as familiar as possible.
It is then necessary to gather as much information about the family as possible: do not hesitate to contact former au pairs if there are any to get a first impression. Use and abuse Skype to communicate frequently with your future family: ask to see all the members of the family, if you can have a small visit of the house or pictures of your future room etc… Prepare ALL the questions you need, what relationship the parents have with their children, how they behave in general, what are the tasks you will have to do, your schedule, days off… You should already have a good idea of what is waiting for you and see if the family suits you well (which is the most important thing)! Because there is a cost to go as an au pair, avoid leaving thinking only about the place you absolutely want to go to the detriment of the host family, prefer the opposite! If you have both then it’s Bingo!
If you feel that it’s the green light, put all the chances on your side by listing your skills, past experiences with children, diplomas obtained in relation to the activity (BAFA), language level…
Know the legislation according to the country
As you can see from the many au pair testimonials that we have made available to you on the blog, the work of an au pair is quite intense, so you might as well know this in advance if you’re not the type to get up early and work more than 35 hours a week! Beyond this little detail, you should know that an au pair is not there to take the beating and work tirelessly! Yes, because there are conditions according to each country and no matter what you are going through, a written contract including: working conditions, tasks to be done, number of hours per week, pocket money, plane tickets included and days off must be established between the family and yourself before your departure! This is what will allow you to have a guarantee and security in case of unforeseen events!
If the role of an au pair is not limited to taking care of children, some countries nevertheless regulate the work of an au pair with a maximum quota of hours per week, the number of days of obligatory holidays per month… You can already find out more about this subject depending on the country of destination. For example, in countries applying the European agreement you must have the following guarantees:
- Accommodation in a single room,
- Benefits for the family of up to 5 hours per day,
- Arrangement of working hours for language courses,
- One full day of rest per week, including at least one Sunday per month,
- Pocket money
Please note that you can also turn to the industrial tribunal in case of disputes with the family during your stay!