Despite what you may be thinking, an Au Pair is not a French fruit – but a wonderful type of person whose services can really help a parent out in their time of need!

An Au Pair is a person from a foreign country who comes to look after your children throughout the week when you cannot, and in turn your family provides them accommodation, food and a wage for their services.

For a lot of people, having friends and family nearby can help a lot – but for some people this isn't the case. Whether their family lives far away, or whether they live close but have their own routine separate to what you need; you need a consistent and reliable person in your life that can work around you and that person is an Au Pair.

Whether you have one child or several, hiring an Au Pair to help out in the family can be a rewarding experience not only for you and your family, but for the Au Pair themselves.

Looking for an Au Pair to help you can be a daunting experience. Who do you need? What can they do? How much do they cost? Is it really worth it? Do I really need one?

With so many questions running through your head in regards to whether an Au Pair is for you, here at Find A Babysitter we thought there is no better time like the present to hand you all the information you need on this matter in these handy paragraphs of information.

We'll be delving into what an Au Pair is, what they do, what you can expect and on an important note, and what they expect.

From a little bit of back story, to the differences between an Au Pair, Babysitter*insert placeholder link* and a Nanny *insert placeholder link*, we will do our best to give you all the information and answer all of your questions on a sparkling silver platter.

Because we know how hard this decision can be for some, and instead of googling, clicking, reading, researching and comparing Au Pair's available for hire, we've put all of your choices here on for your easy viewing pleasure.

Oh, and for those who are not interested in hiring an Au Pair, but perhaps reading this and thinking 'you know what? I think I could do this as an occupation' then you're in luck – because we're going to let you know some important information on how to become an Au Pair in Australia as well!

For Parents

What is an Au Pair?

Translating this mysterious word straight from French itself, in English the word Au Pair actually means 'On Par'!

"What a strange translation!" you may be thinking. Upon first hearing it, we could certainly agree; especially if you've never heard of an Au Pair before!

As discussed at the beginning, your Au Pair is someone from a foreign country who helps look after your children at home in exchange for a place to stay, three main meals and some pocket money.

So when you think about that in contrast to what an Au Pair actually means, you'll start to see how fitting it actually is.

What is a Demi-Pair?

A Demi-Pair is a new kind of Au pair that suits parents who have headed back to work part time, or who think that they don't need an Au Pair more than 15 hours per week.

Usually, a Demi-Pair is an international student who looks after your children for 15 hours per week for no money, and in exchange only requires free board and three main meals.

What can they do?

Generally speaking, your Au Pair will be responsible for the things you would do, but are unavailable to do so when it comes to your child. From waking the children up and putting them to bed, taking them to school and picking them up, taking them to the park and entertaining them at home, to feeding them when they are hungry.

Au Pairs can also tidy up after the children, and if capable of doing so, helping them with their homework.

However as much as Au Pair's are expected to do these things, there are also things which they generally do not do, and if they did they would be an Au Pair no longer, but a maid.

What can't they do?

There are things which you may wish your Au Pair could do for you, but when it comes to their expectations and rights, are not expected to be done.

Au Pairs are not expected to make meals, look after other children other than your own, do any kind of housework that is more than making the child's bed or cleaning up after play time (such as mopping the floors or vacuuming the house), or doing your weekly shopping.

Your Au Pair's priority is to look after your child, and not looking after your household. Of course there can be some mild exceptions made, such as asking your Au Pair to pick up something from the shops if you know they are heading that way – but each circumstance is different and should not become a regular event.

What's the difference?

There is a certain type of mutual dependency that happens between an Au Pair and their employers – you. As much as you will depend on the Au Pair to look after your child when you are not able to, they will also depend on you for accommodation, income and education as they explore the neighbourhood or city around you.

An Au Pair is somebody who are contracted by yourself to look after your children in exchange for board, main meals and a pocket money allowance for a minimum of three months. They are not expected to work seven days a week, but between 10-40 hours per week. Whether you agree on a part-time or full-time basis, they have the right to have days off.

In comparison, a babysitter is a casual worker whose hours and times will vary from week to week – and a nanny is someone who will look after your children and you have the option of having them living with you or separately, and can provide household cleaning services if previously arranged.

Having an Au Pair over a nanny or babysitter can become as an enriched experience for your child – especially as they are from a foreign country. Through playing with the child, an Au Pair can educate them with language, customs and culture, to food, music and fashion whilst in the comfort of your own home!

What can they expect of me?

Traditionally speaking, an Au Pair is a person who comes from a foreign country to look after you children.

Usually, as the employer and the parent, you provide the Au Pair with board and main meals in your home and a wage – so they can provide for themselves outside of work hours.

Do I have to give them board?

Your Au Pair may already have accommodation in your city, meaning they do not require a room in order to look after your children.

On the other hand, you may have an Au Pair that only asks to stay the nights in which they are to look after the children the following day – this may be the case if they have to travel a fair distance to your house.

Overall, whether your Au Pair boards with you or not is also dependent on yourself, your family and how often your Au Pair will be working – remember an Au Pair can work between 10 – 40 hours per week!

How long can I have one for?

When it comes to hiring an Au Pair, there is a usual minimum of three months of guaranteed work for them.

For those who think that three months is far too long, think of it from the Au Pair's perspective!

A working holiday visa in Australia is a 12 month visa to stay in Australia - this is the kind of visa your Au Pair may have.

If you had 12 months to stay and work in a country, the last thing you'd want to do is  pick up and move every month to find a new family to work for!

The three month minimum rule gives the Au Pair a chance to not only bond with you and your children, but for them to be able to explore the location you are living in and make the most of their time there.

This as well as being able to have a secure place to stay for a reasonable amount of time, are some of the reasons as to why an Au Pair's length of stay has a three month minimum!

If your Au Pair has been a great addition to the family, you may want to consider extending their stay by a few more weeks, to a few more months.

If this is something that you are considering, our best advice is to have a sit down with your partner and your Au Pair to discuss their plans and the possibility of them staying a little longer!

Can they be expected to do housework?

As we established a little earlier, an Au Pair is not expected to do housework outside their child caring role.

What this means is that other than cleaning up after your child, they really shouldn't do any more than that.

So that means no washing of your clothes, cleaning your bathroom or the like – but just the little things such as making your child's bed once they are up in the morning, picking up toys after playtime and putting them away, and washing a small number of dishes used to feed your child.

If you think about it, by having an Au Pair you should have a little bit more time to do the above anyway!

How much does an Au Pair cost in Australia?

The cost of an Au Pair is generally vary from person to person.

As you will be supplying your Au Pair with board and all main meals at no charge to them, in addition to this they are going to need some good old pocket money to keep them going outside the house and on their days off!

But how do you determine how much you give them each week, we hear you ask?

Our advice is to think of it as an agreement between you and the Au Pair, pertaining to how many hours you expect them to work per week.

So, if you expect your Au Pair to work 30 hours per week with no need to really pay for meals and rent, then you might believe a $200-250 allowance per week is acceptable for them to go out on their days off.

If they are more involved with the children - working extra hours and taking your child out etc - they may need a bit more of an allowance to pay for food, parking etc. So you may bump it up to $300-$350 per week.

What do I look for?

When looking for a great Au Pair to look after your little one/s, you will have certain expectations of this person and their personality that you will search through in order to find the person for you.

Whether you prefer someone who has extensive history in working as an Au Pair, value older persons over younger persons, look for someone with a stern outlook on upbringing or someone who is a bit more lax and just wants to make sure the child has a good time.

It can be a complicated question to think about, not all of us can write a poem, throw it in the fireplace and have Mary Poppins turn up on our doorstep!

The only advice we can really give you on this question is to have a discussion with your partner, a family member or a friend and have them go through the profiles with you to help determine who you may want to contact in regards to this position.

How can I get one?

At Find A Babysitter, we have a profiling system in place for each person who wishes to find employment as a Baby Sitter, Nanny or Au Pair.

All you have to do is to come to our website, put your postcode, enter Au Pair in the type of work search field, and your availability. Straight away you will have profiles of many people looking for work and who are ready to be contacted right there on your screen!

They provide a short bio about themselves and what they're looking for, which is able to give a snapshot into the kind of person you can imagine with your children.

It's an incredibly handy way to make a first impression, and can help you create a shortlist of people to contact.

Once you have your list, we recommend that you check their references and any certifications that they may hold such as first aid*.

*If the person you are interested in has not done first aid, it is common for parents to pay and send the Au Pair to a first aid course to ensure that peace of mind in case something happens.

What if I decide I don't like the person I've hired?

Although that's a sad thing to hear, sometimes the Au Pair you've hired might not be the right fit in your family life.

But don't fear, there are plenty more Au Pair's in the Find A Babysitter sea for you to look at!

When you first employ your Au Pair, it's important to discuss how much notice you give them if you decide you no longer need them. This could be two weeks, four weeks or six weeks if you really want it to be, but it has to be stated in an employment agreement or contract between you and the Au Pair.

Have a think about it, and discuss this with the Au Pair in either their initial interview or as you are going through the motions to accept their application.

For Au Pairs

Hey, this sounds like my kind of job, how can I get involved?

Think being an Au Pair is for you? That's fantastic news!

We're excited that you've chose Find A Babysitter to advertise your new calling.

Before we give you all the details, it's important to note that there are some things you need to make sure you have before you can consider signing up to be on Find A Babysitter.

As you would be looking after children, we request that you have certain credentials on hand to ensure their safety and peace of mind for your employer - their parent.

At Find A Babysitter we do request that you have a Working With Children Card (WWCC) in order to validate your profile with us. However we know that the requirements vary from state to state if you are an overseas visitor looking for Au Pair work.

The best course of action we can recommend is to apply online to see if you are eligible to acquire a WWCC in the state you are moving to, as it is a handy card to have!

When meeting with potentials employers, some of them may ask if you have a Police Check. Although this is not always necessary, a Police Check is another handy document to have with you.

What if I'm chosen to do the job but decide I don't want to do it anymore?

At the beginning of the employment, it's important to discuss a notice period if for whatever reason, you are unable to work for your family or the family decides they no longer need an Au Pair.

We suggest that you agree on a certain amount of weeks notice between you and your employer, as this both gives you the chance to organise other arrangements.

If you decide on a different career path that doesn't require looking after children, then we ask that you take down your profile from Find A Babysitter

We hope we've been able to help you cross a few questions off your list when it comes to "What is Au Pair". We know it can be a struggle to absorb their role in comparison to a babysitter and nanny, but with a few distinctions, as mentioned above in 'What's the Difference' we believe you'll now have an understanding of their role and if an Au Pair is for you.

Au Pairs are rich in culture - which is a great experience for not only your child, but for you - and possess the desire, enthusiasm and passion to look after your child and help you focus on the things you are wanting to do.