What’s in a name? Au pair?

Alright, I’ve given an idea of what a mother’s helper, babysitter, and nanny are in previous posts and here is the finale…Au pair!

I’ll be honest, as I have a ton of personal experience in the first three names they were easy for me to address. Au pair is a name I had to learn about. I heard the term in books and movies but it wasn’t until I began my nanny career that I was face to face with a (gasp) real live au pair. I would run into people my age, doing what seemed to be the same thing as I was but they called themselves au pairs. I found this fascinating. What the heck was the difference between them and me?? I had to find out, after all, a name means a lot to most people. What was an au pair if not a nanny?

Well, here is the long and the short of it, they are pretty much the same thing with a few very key differences. Au pair means on “par,” a “visitor” who must acquire a specialized Visa and live with a single family caring for the children of said family for one year, acting as an equal in the family. While living in the home, an au pair would typically have quite similar tasks as a nanny such as household chores, childcare, and meal prep. Some families might like an au pair to teach their children the language and culture of the visiting au pair. Au pairs often work a slightly longer week, unless also involved in an education program paired with employment.

The income of an au pair is something I don’t fully understand. From a little internet research, it seems to me, that depending on how a family obtains an au pair for employment the rates change slightly. I was seeing government stipends, agency fees, reference to “type of visa.” If any one understands this part better then I, please please share it with me!! I’m just curious, is it as confusing as it seems on google search?

My best advice is to do diligent research if you go this route. It is easy to see that if one isn’t careful, the combination of “being part of the family” whilst still being professional could get blurred for the family and au pair. To ensure everyone is happy, the best way to enter into this sort of relationship is with as much clarity of needs and expectations beginning at the first stages. I find its always easier to avoid confusion by explaining up front, often very appreciated.



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