I may not be an au pair but I sure as hell hear about life as an au pair when hanging on the playground.
PettyNanny, who or what is an au pair?
An au pair is [[usually]] a young woman who works as a live-in-nanny for up to 45 hours a week in exchange for room & board, and a weekly stipend. You’re probably wondering what that weekly $tipend looks like….
Are you ready?
Most au pairs make less than $200 a week. Yea, let that sink in.
[Insert infomercial voice] But wait, there’s more!
The majority of au pairs are young women between the ages of 18 and 22, with little to no experience caring for children. And au pair agencies are the purveyors of weaving together a beautiful and millennial-filled vision board for them.
After the au pair gets a handful of prospects from the agency, she begins her first major task: partake in video chats with several families. Potential host-parents talk about their wonderful and angelic children as well as the amazing travel opportunities that await her.
However, when au pairs arrive, most of them are put to work. Suddenly, you have a young woman in a new country with two or three toddlers screaming their heads off.
Okay, so things suck. What now?
Au pairs treated poorly will usually speak with a mediator to help ease tensions with their host families. However, the mediator’s focus and best interest are to keep the young woman with her host family. Why? Money. Agencies make money when they have a great track record. Unfortunately, au pairs get the bad end of the deal.
The other day, I had a lovely lunch with some au pair friends. While ‘our’ kids played, we decided to share horror stories about our employers. “Jasmine,” a soft-spoken au pair, told us she works well over 55 hours most weeks and doesn’t get paid overtime. During her off-hours, she hangs at a coffee shop until nightfall because she’s often asked to keep an eye on the kids while “quick” errands are run. Can you imagine?
I asked Jasmine if she’d consider coming back coming back to work with another family. She laughed and said, “I don’t even want children of my own anymore.”
I often wonder why families invest in an au pair. Perhaps they want to bring more culture into their home? Or teach their children a new language? Hmm. I surmise that perhaps it has more to do with cheap labor and someone who can work long hours.