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Au Pair Jobs in Europe

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.

Au Pair Case Study

Michelle Davies from Manchester worked as an au pair in Italy. She signed up with an agency that was responsible for placing her with families.

"I was placed first of all with a family who had one child, who was spoilt rotten! They lived in a big house out in the country, and at first I liked it, although the little boy was a handful. I found it hard to settle down though, as by the time I’d got the boy to bed at night there wasn’t a lot to do. I felt stuck in the house without a car and they didn’t like me coming home late, so I didn’t get to socialise or meet people outside of the house. This got me down after a while, and I went back to the agency. They placed me with another family who were more relaxed and lived nearer the centre of town. This was much better - the parents liked to put the kids to bed most of the time, so after tea my time was my own, and I soon started to meet other au pairs and to go out and socialise. I was really happy there and stayed for a year.”

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.