AuPairing 101: Part 3 - How to Choose an AuPair Family
For any just joining this series, AuPairing 101 Parts 1 and 2 can be read here!
Of all the decisions you need to make when it comes to AuPairing, choosing your AuPair family is probably the most important and often times difficult decision of all. I have met other AuPairs who, like myself, had amazing experiences living abroad with another family. Their host family became like real family and relationships were created that would last a lifetime.
On the other hand, I’ve spoken with some AuPairs who felt more like free slave labor than another member of the family. They had to work ridiculous hours, caring for poorly behaving children. Unfortunately, they couldn’t wait for the experience to be over and I knew some who even left their host family early because the conditions were so uncomfortable.
I don’t say this to scare you away from being an AuPair, but to demonstrate what can happen if you are not intentional about selecting a family that will create both a fun and fair environment. In this article I layout my suggested steps in choosing a host family. I have done my best to put together these clear guidelines that I believe will help you consider factors you may not have thought of before. I hope to give you confidence to stand up for yourself and your boundaries, and ultimately select a family that will take you in as their own.
This article turned out rather lengthy, but as I already mentioned, I really feel strongly that the family you choose can completely change the outcome of your experience. These steps will walk you through how to determine what your expectations for the experience are, how to browse through families, respond to requests, SET FIRM BOUNDARIES and ultimately choose an amazing family to start your AuPairing adventure with!
Steps to Finding your AuPair Family
- Consider what your desired outcome for the experience is
- Make a list of factors/terms that are critical to you
- Make a list of other factors that you would like but are willing to negotiate
- Browse through families
- Contact families through messaging options
- SET FIRM BOUNDARIES
- Video Call with families
- Select a family
1. Consider your desired outcome
The reasons behind why each person is considering being an AuPair can vary so dramatically. Some may want a cheap way to live abroad for a while, others may want to learn a new language, experience a new culture or simply get out of your current town. Take the time to consider why you want to be an AuPair and what you hope to come of the experience. These overarching motivations can help guide you in selecting the location and family that will be right for you. Using your desired outcome as a guide, you can then begin to make note of specific criteria that a family must meet.
2./3. Make a list of criteria that are critical to you
Before even looking for AuPair families or responding to requests you need to have a firm idea of what factors/work terms are “non-negotiable” to you. There is no right or wrong list of factors here that you need to have. These are things that are based on your personal preferences and boundaries.
Maybe one person is completely fine with sharing a bathroom with their AuPair kids, but the idea of taking a shower with rubber duckies is not as appealing to you. Maybe you don’t mind helping feed the children their meals, but you definitely do not want to be the person to cook said meals. I have included a list of questions below that can help guide your thought process. Carefully consider the questions and come up with a list of what things you absolutely need to have as well as what things you are or are not willing to do.
After this, I would suggest coming up with a smaller list of factors that you would like to have (you own bathroom, 3 days off a week, etc), but you are willing to give up if you really like the family. Making these lists can help guide you in the search process. There are A LOT of AuPair families seeking AuPairs from around the world and it can be pretty overwhelming trying to browse through them if you have no way to distinguish them. Once you have a clear idea of what your working criteria are, it’s time to begin browsing through potential AuPair families!
Factors Regarding Location/Family –
- What city do they live in?
- Is there home located near places of interest?
- How long does it take to get from their home to said places on public transportation?
- How many children do they have?
- What age are the children?
- What jobs do the parents have?
- What is their home like?
Factors Regarding Terms of Work/Living Situation –
- Will you have to share a room? A bathroom?
- How many days will you be required to work a week?
- How many hours each day?
- What kinds of activities/responsibilities does the family expect from you?
- What are your weekly wages?
- Will they cover your phone bill/transportation costs?
- Will you be allowed to request any days off?
- Will you be allowed to have friends over?
- Will you have access to the kitchen to cook your own meals if you like?
- Do they have any trips planned during your stay? Are you expected to go on vacations with them or will you be able to remain home or maybe go on your own vacation at the same time?
- Will they pay for language classes?
4. Browse Families
A. Randomly browse registered AuPair families
B. Browse through registered AuPair families who have contacted you personally
A. Browsing Registered AuPair Families –
Most AuPair sites will have filter options so you can narrow down the list of families. You can focus on families in a certain city/region, families with only a certain number of kids or kids within a certain age range. It can get pretty specific which is great if you have a really clear idea of what you are interested in. If you are pretty open to a wide variety of families then you can definitely just browse through a completely random list with families from completely different countries, cities, etc.
It is completely up to you how you want to go about this part of the process and again really depends on how specific your criteria are. I knew I wanted a family that was in Spain and in a region where Spanish was the main language. I also knew that I wanted to be in a more populated city rather than a rural pueblo. Right away this helped me adjust my filters and narrow in on some specific AuPair families.
As you are browsing, you will usually have the ability to mark, save or “heart” families that catch your eye. I recommend saving as many families as you are interested in. This may be 10 or may only be 2-3. Then you can go back and really read through their profiles and decide if you would like to reach out to them yourself through a direct message.
B. Browsing AuPair Families who have contacted you –
Just as you can reach out to a family you are interested in working for, likewise, AuPair families can browse through the list of AuPairs and message them directly if they are interested. I had probably over 100 families message me directly so I found that I was just filtering through these rather than just browsing randomly. Clearly these were people who were already interested in working with me so I already had the upper hand in a sense.
Regardless of which families you are looking at, use your list of criteria to guide you in either selecting or eliminating families. Again, there is a huge number of families searching for an AuPair so you will want to be able to filter through them pretty quickly. Again, you can save or mark families who have already contacted you in your favorites so that you can find them again later.
5. Contact AuPair Families
A. Contacting AuPair families you found
B. Responding to AuPair families who already contacted you
Once you have a smaller list of families you are interested in communicating with (this can be families you found on your own or families who already contacted you) it is time to either message them or respond to what they have already sent you!
A. Contacting Families You Found
If you are the one making the first attempt at communication, focus on sending a quick message that essentially summarizes your profile. You probably want just a short paragraph here discussing your background and interest in AuPairing.
After your introduction, be sure and add what it is about the particular family that caught your attention and made you want to reach out to them. For example, “I really loved how in your profile it mentions that your family loves outdoor activities and sports” etc, etc. Pointing out things like this demonstrate what commonalities you may have.
From here you can simply close with a statement inviting them to review your profile and respond if they are interested in further communication.
B. Responding to Families Who Contacted You
If you had some requests from families (no worries if you haven’t, there are A LOT of AuPairs out there as well) you can take a look at their profiles and if any of them capture your eye you can respond to what they have already sent you.
6. Set Firm Boundaries
I put this step in between contacting families and video calls with families because it is something that needs to happen throughout the whole process. You can forget or ignore everything else in this article, but PLEASE remember and apply this section!
When boundaries are not set or certain topics are not discussed, both parties (the AuPair families and you the AuPair) can end up frustrated, disappointed and even ready to end the agreement early. I know it can be easy to feel almost like an employee interviewing with an employer. But in this situation, both parties are the interviewer and the interviewee.
You need to respect the fact that just as you have a list of factors that are necessary to you, so to does each AuPair family. This is why you have your list of “non-negotiable’s” and then other criteria that you are willing to work with. This way, if a family comes to you and says something like, “Oh we will pay you “x” amount per week, but you have to share a room with one of the children.” If one of your criteria is that you must have your own room then right away you can say, “Thank you so much for the offer, but one of my criteria is that I have my own room.”
Some topics may be easily overlooked if you are careful to ask ALL your questions and fully understand what your living situation will be like, what your working situation will be like and how you will be compensated.
Your time as an AuPair can be an experience where you learn a new language, meet new friends, explore different regions and expand your perspective on life! Or you can end up dreading each day with the family and counting down the days until its over, or even worse, returning home early because the situation became so bad.
This is why I stress so strongly the fact that you really need to define every aspect of the experience with your family prior to leaving.
Don’t feel embarrassed or afraid to ask what their expectations are or share your desires/boundaries!
7. Video Call with Potential AuPair Families
I wanted to give this step specific attention because I really feel that it is so important to see each other “face-to-face” and talk through video. This allows both parties to grasp a better understanding of one another and explain certain things that may be difficult to explain through text. It can be a great opportunity to just share your personalities and see if there is any kind of connection between you and the family.
It is also a chance to potentially meet the children you will be working with as well as see the home you will be living in. Lastly, be sure and ask any other questions you may not have already covered in your messages!
8. Choose an AuPair Family
After chatting with families and talking through a video call it is time to make your selection! I only ended up video chatting with two families. It so happened that the video calls were on the same day and after each call I knew right away if I was interested or not. One family was a clear no and the other was a clear yes. Even with my decision made, I let myself sit on everything for another day to be sure I was really comfortable with my decision before contacting the family to share my decision.
I wanted to quickly note that even if you decide you do not want to AuPair for a family you may have chatted and video called with, you should still take the time to let them know that you have decided to go with another family. That family may be waiting for your answer for days or weeks hoping you choose them only to never hear from you again. Out of respect for their time, definitely make the effort to politely reject their offer so that they can continue their search elsewhere.
In my opinion, the video call can be the most important factor in distinguishing between families. Maybe one family on paper is willing to pay a little more or has a slightly bigger house, but after having a video call with them you found that your personalities just did not match up. You want to really like (and hopefully come to love) your AuPair family. I really believe that there are enough families to choose from out there that you will be able to find one that is the right fit both on paper and personality-wise.
I feel like I could go on and on regarding this topic, but I’ll bring this article to a close here. If you have ANY questions I would absolutely love to hear them and will do my best to give you a helpful answer. You can ask them in the comments below or send me a message through my Contact Page which is coming soon!
The next article in my AuPairing 101 series will be “Preparing to be an AuPair.” Hope you guys are loving this series as much as I am loving writing it for you all!