Typically the au pair is expected to help with the care of the children, assist with the housework, mainly related to the children.
Here’s a few hints from our Italian Office;
The Au Pair should make sure that she has all the information about the family before accepting the position, and that the information matches her requirements before she leaves NZ. This will eliminate any misunderstanding.
She should be talkative, outgoing, cheerful, warmhearted, careful and patient. She must remember that they are children. They will want to play games, to be read to, and have fun with her. The au pair has to be creative and plan interesting activities which will make the time spent together more enjoyable and fun for both her and the children. Not just watching TV or videos.
She must realize that the children in Italy may have been brought up in a different manner than in NZ and may appear to be spoiled, but if she is patient and doesn’t lose her temper, her relationship with them will improve every day. When the au pair first arrives, the children will probably be wary of her, because she is a stranger to them, but if she is friendly and takes an interest in them, they can be won over quite easily! The au pair has to remember what it is like to be a child and put herself in their place. Understanding is a key to friendship! If the children are happy and the au pair is sincerely motivated, the parents will love her.
Furthermore, the au pair must be always very tidy in her own bedroom and in the rest of the house and refrain from leaving her personal belongings around. To Italian women, being tidy means to clean the entire house every day. Most families have a housekeeper, but the au pair’s bedroom and bathroom are her responsibility. So, the bed must be made, the vacuum must be used and the bathroom must be cleaned daily. This is something that often astonishes some au pairs, because they may not like doing this at home. An Italian woman cares about and loves her house more than anyone and an au pair must always offer her help and try to give a hand at home. The au pair does not have to be afraid to ask if there is something she does not understand. Never be shy and always speak up.
As an au pair you should expect to have at least one, sometimes two, full days off per week, plus free time during the day and some evenings to socialise with friends and see the local area. The host family will not want to put too many restrictions on their au pair’s social life, but they will feel responsible for you, so you must respect their house rules and curfews. They will be also concerned about your ability to function properly while with the children during the day, if you has a very hectic social life!We like to suggest that if you are due to work the following day you are in bed by 11pm. Some families may give an earlier time for week nights. Most of the time this is so they don’t have to worry about you.
Unlike NZ, in Italy it is not common practise for you to invite your friends to the Host Families house – if you have a friend that you have got to know and would like them to come to the house you must first ask permission from the family. No families will allow sleep overs or male visitors. On that note; if for some reason you will be staying the night elsewhere (say a short break away), you will need to check with the family first and let them know where you will be. It is not acceptable to stay the night at a friends house after a night out without prior agreement from the host family – as they will worry. It is also common courtesy to let the family know if you expect to be home later than usual – just think of them like your parents – they may worry.
The family will inform their au pair about the rules for the use of the telephone and internet.
Working Hours and Pocket Money
This amount is at the discretion of the host family. Generally speaking, an au pair works about 30 hours per week earning from 70 to 80 euros per week. A mother’s help works around 45 hours weekly earning from 90 to 110 euros per week and a nanny is a professional childcare provider working full time. In addition, three evenings of babysitting per week are expected.
The au pairs’ salary is not high, but you can easily survive on that, knowing that this is not a career, but instead a time of transition and a cultural experience. You won’t be able to save money from this job, but your basic personal necessities will be provided for by the family, including food (except pizza out with friends) and accommodation (except too many hours on the telephone and on the internet, which is very expensive in Italy).
Reading, studying, letter writing, hair washing, etc., should be done during the au pair’s free time. For example – you should not take a book to the beach while you are looking after children and it is vital to always keep an eye on them.
Every six months the au pair will have one week of paid holiday.
Our partner agency in Italy will make every effort to ensure you have a good experience and they are always available to provide information or help with any problems that may arise. If required they will assist in re-matching you to another host family if your original match falls through. In this situation they can only rematch you if the family are prepared to give you a good childcare reference.