What means to be Au Pair?

Hi Au Pair!

Admit it! You’ve wondered 1000 times what will provide you to be Au Pair, if you’ll enjoy the experience or if you’ll improve your English.

And of course, there have been issues in your head about cleanliness, salary, relationship with parents and children…

But what is actually being Au Pair?

The usual answer would be:

“A Girl (or a boy) who is going to live with a family from another country to take care of their children”.

Wow, it’s real that to be Au Pair is just that?

Sounds very abstract and too simple.

In fact, sometimes we’re prone to underestimate this name and consider it more an adventure in another country than a job.

It’s true that the Au Pair enjoy, know people, play at all hours with the children and travel (as far as possible), taking into account how limited is the salary.

But it’s also a lot more than that!

Ser Au Pair y trabajar con niños

To be Au Pair is to learn something new every minute, to believe that you had less patience than you thought and to know yourself a little more.

Realize that you know a lot more about the language than you thought and that your survival instinct is your best ally.

That with a smile we all understand each other and to laugh even of oneself solves any bad day.

And I could go on like this for three more hours!

Going back to the concept, I’ve decided to dig a little and find out what it really means to be Au Pair.

Au Pair meaning

The word Au pair comes from the French language and means “equals”.

Therefore, it’s wrong to write it all together as an aupair.

According to Wikipedia:

“The concept” au pair “was born in the eighteenth century in Switzerland, where it was very common for families of high social class to send their daughters to live with another family and to take care of the children of this in another part of the country, in a region where another language was spoken“.

As we see, the goal of the first Au Pairs was to learn a new language through the complete immersion in the foreign culture.

Without a doubt, learning the language is easier in contact with children, since they themselves are also in the process of learning and have more time and patience to teach us.

At the end, it’s a mutual teaching child-Au Pair.

Aprendizaje mutuo niños-Au Pair

However, although the concept was already created, it wouldn’t be until the nineteenth century when the expression Au Pair began to be used in France, referring to:

“Those girls who came from England to France and stayed with a French family to teach English to the children of this family. In return, English girls learned to speak French”.

We got it!

Knowing the history of the term is very easy to understand first instance the meaning of being Au Pair.

It’s an exchange where both parties seek to gain a profit.

What does the Au Pair win?

The benefits of an Au Pair are many and vary according to each person’s preferences.

Do you have future goals where working as an Au Pair will come in very well? Do you want to live new experiences?

Is the language very important to you? Have you always wanted to work as an Au Pair and experience it in the first person?

What is clear is that one way or another, the Au Pair will come back home:

  • Having greatly improved the language level in the country where you worked (English, French, Italian, German…).
  • With a much more open mind towards new cultures and people.
  • Experience with children? In this aspect, an Au Pair is the best.
  • Maybe even with a few savings (it all depends on how you manage the salary you earn). Although it is sure that accommodation and food are already paid, except whims 😉

What does the host-family win?

Of course, families who take on an Au Pair, also take many benefits.

But first of all, its main objectives are:

  • Someone who takes care of their children.
  • Someone who helps them at home and facilitates the management of school/work schedules. Even parents can have free time to go out as a couple or with their friends.
  • Cultural immersion with a person from another country who teaches them traditions and different ways of life.

Dictionary definition

We will then extend the definition given at first to add the most basic exchange between family and Au Pair:

Au Pair: Girl (or boy) who is going to live with a family from another country to work taking care for their children in exchange for accommodation, support and salary.

It is clear that I write “boy” in parentheses because the most common is that Au Pairs are girls, but of course we can find some excellent guys who adore children and are launched to work and live this experience.

We can also add specifications of the type age between 17 and 30 years that I will comment more carefully in another post on requirements to be Au Pair.

Emocional definition

But what I really like are the deep definitions, those that invade you and make you want to leave Au Pair for the first time or repeat the experience (as is my case).

Because at the end, you forget the salary, the food or the accommodation, when you spend so much time living so much and so intensely.

Au Pair: Girl (or boy) who one day decides to go on an adventure to another country to live with another family that surely has nothing to do with her/him, in another language and most importantly, to take care of some totally unpredictable kids.

Pack without knowing if you’re going to come back or if you want to stay for a long time.

With fear and at the same time emotion for the unknown, for having heard all kinds of good and bad experiences and be aware that even with all this, you don’t know how it will be yours or what will happen.

But you want to!

You really want to.

In discovering a new culture, visit all you can of your new country for a few months (or years), meet the one that will be your new family there and those children who are going to drive you crazy…

And of course, live 1001 stories to tell with wonderful people, including of course many other Au pairs.

That’s what it really means to be Au Pair.

Are you ready?

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