Family DutiesHome > Family Information > Family Duties
Au pairing can incorporate any number of duties beyond caring for children. It is worth emphasising that the job is often very demanding. Try not to have unrealistic expectations and never be seduced into thinking that you are on holiday. You will no doubt have opportunities that might not have come your way had you stayed at home, but first and foremost you are abroad to work.
Your primary duties will revolve around the children.
Most families will expect you not only to keep their children's rooms tidy, but also to do some light housework. `Light housework' is notoriously open to interpretation, however, so do be careful that you are not exploited. It is usual to be asked to dust, vacuum, wash dishes and keep the children's rooms clean.
It would be surprising not to be responsible for the children's clothes, though you should not be expected to do any hand washing. The vast majority of families who hire live-in helpers own a washing machine and usually a dryer, which should cut down the time taken to do this chore and on any ironing you may be expected to do.
Normally you will be expected to prepare the children's meals. You might even be required to cook for the adult members of the household sometimes, so be honest about how good you are at cooking and how much (or little) you enjoy it.
The amount of shopping you will be required to do varies considerably from family to family. Some will expect you merely to pick up a few items at the local grocery store while others will make you responsible for the entire food budget. Usually, the parents will go on a major shopping expedition once a week and leave you to purchase any extras that may be needed.
Candidates with driving licences are at a distinct advantage when applying for jobs since many parents will want you to ferry their children to school, to the doctor/dentist/dance class, etc. Not all parents are willing to lend their au pair or nanny a car, but if they do require you to drive, they will usually allow you to use the car to take the children out for day trips, or even allow you to borrow the car for your own private use during your free time. Always be scrupulous about paying for your own petrol, unless you have come to some arrangement.
Some families in Europe prefer foreign au pairs so that they can assist the children with another language. Your task will be made a lot easier if the children share their parents' ideas about the benefits of language learning, not to mention have a certain aptitude. It may be a case of giving a scheduled lesson once a day or simply chatting to them in English or reading them stories.
Au pairs must not be asked to work more than their maximum allowable hours and they must be given at least 2 days a week completely free.
It is important that the "free time" should be genuinely free, that the girl should be at liberty to meet her friends and to go sight-seeing and to concerts, cinemas etc. and that she should have the time and opportunity to attend religious services.
Many Au pairs leave families if they feel they are being taken advantage of in terms of work, so it is in the interest of the family to work out the Au pairs schedule in the form of a written work plan in order to make the best use of her time.