My experience being an au pair in Germany was truly amazing. I love my host family as if they are my real family. I would highly suggest to anyone to do it as it is a great way to immerse yourself into another culture and gain another family.
What is an au pair?
An au pair is a person who lives with a family in a foreign country to take care of the children and household for a monthly stipend. Typically, this person will cook meals, play with the children, do light house cleaning and whatever else the family may need.
In Germany, an au pair contract is set up to “work” 6 hours a day and have weekends free. Some families might be more strict with this. My host family was quite flexible, some days I was probably helping around the house for more than 6 hours but other days when the kids had school for longer, I might have only worked 3.
During my 8 months of being an au pair, I took care of two kids (11 & 13 years old) and a golden retriever puppy. On a typical day, I woke the kids up, made them breakfast and helped them get ready for school. Once they left for school, I would go on a long walk with the puppy. Then I would have a bit of free time and most likely go to the store to get any items we needed. Around noon the kids would come home and I’d make them lunch. We’d eat together then they would either bike back to school or hang out with me for a few hours before piano, hockey or ballet practice. Often, I would also make dinner for the whole family; because I truly enjoy cooking and they enjoy the recipes I’d test on them. I had downtime when the kids were at school or practice. I’d load the dishwasher, vacuum and pick up the kids rooms throughout the day. Everyone in my host family was quite busy, so I was always making sure everyone was where they needed to be with what they needed.
I truly bonded with my host family, so I spent a lot of my free time on the nights and weekends with them. They had many au pairs before me, but still welcomed me with open arms into their family.
How to become an Au Pair
I found my host family through AuPairWorld.com. This is a great platform to see families looking for an au pair in Australia, New Zealand and all throughout Europe. I created an account on their website and started filling out my profile. When creating a profile, try to put several photos and useful information about what type of family you are looking for, any past related experiences and some expectations you may have about your stay with the family (Example- I may want to travel often on weekends or I can only stay with you for 3 months).
Since I was already in Germany, and wanted to stay there, I looked only for families within Germany. Once I found a family that had similar expectations as I did I would initiate a conversation by messaging them. You may also find families messaging you first. After talking with some families I started to narrow down a few that I felt I would be compatible with.
One family needed someone to start as soon as possible and since I was already in Germany this made it a good fit. I made arrangements with the mother to take a train to their to their city to meet their family and stay over for a night before committing. Once I met their family, I knew it was a perfect match. We made arrangements for me to start the next week and we signed a contract. Originally, I thought I would only stay with them for 3-4 months; but after that time I did not want to leave. We were growing close and I was enjoying my time with them and they still needed help so I agreed to stay longer.
How to have the best au pair experience
All families are different and have different expectations for their au pair. It is important to reflect on the type of experience you are looking to have before you set out to look for a host family. Here are the things I would keep in mind when selecting a family:
- Duration, how long would you like to stay with the family? 1 month? 1 year?
- Accommodations, are you okay with sharing a bathroom or do you want totally separate living quarters?
- Which country would you like to live in? Germany? France? Australia?
- Locality, do you want to live in a city or further in the countryside?
- Age of children, do you want to take care of young or older children?
- Families hobbies, do they like to spend the weekends being outside or staying in and watching movies?
Most families will list this information on their profiles, but if not, feel free to ask when messaging with families. To have the best experience just remember to be flexible and respectful. You are being welcomed into the home of another family and culture.
Overall, being an au pair was a great experience for me. It allowed me to live abroad, get a first hand look at another culture all while gaining another family. I would highly recommend any one looking to have a unique experience abroad to look into becoming an au pair.