As the Local Coordinator in San Diego and Regional Supervisor for the Western United States for InterExchange Au Pair USA, I reach out to my host families each month with a question so I can stay up to date with the relationship between the host families and au pairs in my San Diego cluster.
This month I proposed the question “What non-child-care-related duties do you have your au pair do?”
Here is a compilation of those responses and other information that addresses the guidelines for non-child-care-related duties given to au pairs.
Generally the main responsibility of an au pair is child care. However, au pairs can be responsible for non-child-care-related duties that are related to the children and other responsibilities that would be required of any adult living in the host family home. For example, an au pair can do the children’s laundry and help keep the children’s areas of use and toys organized and neat. Au pairs can also be responsible for preparing meals for the children. In addition to child care and related duties, au pairs can be responsible for contributing equally to housework or chores that are required by other adult members of the home. These duties should be included in the au pair's 45-hour work week and not be required on their personal time. There are exceptions to responsibilities outside of the 45-hour work week such as an au pair bringing the trash to the trash bin when it is full or helping clear a dinner table or wash dishes after having dinner with the family.
These are the general guidelines that a host family should consider when hosting an au pair. Below are some specific responses I received from my current host families. All of my host families required their au pair to do the children’s laundry. For au pairs that have older children, the parents emphasized that it should be a partnership and the children should help fold and put the clothing away. Another commonality amongst my host families was having au pairs help clean up after meals and loading and unloading the dishwasher. It seems that most of the au pairs in my cluster join their families for meals so this is a partnership. These were the two main non-child-care-related responsibilities that all my families had in common. Below are a few of the responsibilities that were also mentioned by a few families:
• Helping to care for a pet • Keeping things organized • Responsible for keeping her or his own space clean • Emptying the trash can or recycling bins in the garage • Watering outdoor plants • Rolling the garbage and recycling bins in/out on trash pick-up days
As you can see, there are a lot of responsibilities that an au pair can help with around the home.
Some advice I have for host families is to make a list of all the responsibilities they will be asking of their au pair and share these job duties with them during the interview process. Don’t wait until an au pair has arrived to tell him or her what is expected in the job. Au pairs may not know to ask these questions but if you share this information with them prior to their arrival you are less likely to have any issues once they arrive to your home.
Join me next month to learn more about the au pair’s driving privileges and rules for the car.