Au Pair Gap Years
Working as an au pair is a great way to experience life in other countries. "Au pair" translated into English means "equal to". So you are not actually an employee of the family in the way that a nanny would be, you live with them as an equal. In return for looking after the children and some light housework you get your board and lodging, and weekly pocket money. Au pairs don’t have childcare qualifications, unlike nannies, but they usually have some babysitting experience. Au pairing can be a challenge, you have to fit into family life in a foreign country. You don’t have to speak the host family’s language fluently in order to be an au pair. Often the parents will want you to speak English to the children so they begin to learn it. Knowing some of the language is of course useful, and can help you to settle into your new home more quickly. When you sign up with an agency or apply for a position as an au pair, expect to show proof of any childcare experience you have, along with character references.
Companies that can help you find au pair jobs, placements & programmes
A fantastic opportunity to travel abroad, learn a language, earn money and experience a new culture. BeAupair forms a perfect connection between an au pair and a family within Spain.
Experience a rewarding year caring for children whilst earning money. Receive free board and insurance as an Au pair in Australia and New Zealand, and free board, insurance and flights as an Au pair in the USA. Apply now to interview with our host families!
Being an Au Pair Abroad – A Case Study
Michelle was an au pair in Italy for 6 months:
’I had wanted to work abroad for ages, to learn a new language and meet different people. I was so bored of being at home after college and didn’t want to go straight to uni. When I found out about au pairing it seemed like an ideal opportunity. I liked working with kids, wasn’t bothered about earning loads of money, but wanted to do something completely different for a while.
I had always wanted to go to Italy and learn the language, and when I found an agency who were offering placements in Italy I got in touch straightaway. They had a selection of families who were looking for English speaking au pairs, and I narrowed it down to a couple who lived with their two young children in Treviso, north eastern Italy. They spoke some English, and didn’t need a driver, which was good because I didn’t fancy driving in Italy.
When I got to the host families house they couldn’t have been more friendly, and we soon got into a routine whereby I was basically in charge of the children during the day, taking them to school, cooking for them and helping them with their homework. I would get them into the bath and bed, and take them to tennis and football club after school My weekends were my own, and I soon made friends in the town and could meet up in bars and cafes on a Friday or Saturday night. The family were quite conservative, and expected me to be around or at language lessons during the weekday evenings, but I could stay with friends at weekends in town or go into Venice.
I had a fantastic six months in Italy. I learned to manage my money better, to be more self sufficient and to get on with people even when you don’t speak their language, all of which have been really useful once I started at university.’
Au Pair Top Tips
Use a reputable agency to find a job or placement
Contact the family before accepting the placement to find out more
Do your research online about your destination
Ask your agency for written agreements or contracts so everything is clear for both you and the family
Take some little gifts for the children from your country to break the ice
Remember that different countries have different approaches to childcare, keep an open mind but if anything concerns you ask your agency
Set yourself targets for language learning and things you want to do while you are abroad
Make notes of anything that will look good on your CV