Au Pair

WHAT IS AN EQUIPEOPLE AU PAIR?

Are you female, aged over 18 years old, have good conversational English, love taking care of children, enjoy travelling and ready for an adventure?

Read on, this might be for you …

 “AU PAIR/ˌō ˈpe(ə)r/ – a young foreign person, typically a woman, who helps with housework or childcare in exchange for food, a room, and some pocket money.  Origin:late 19th century: from French, literally ‘on equal terms’.”

Sourced from Oxford English Dictionary

So that is the formal definition – but what is an Equipeople Au Pair?

An extra pair of hands around the home that help parents or guardians with looking after children whilst staying on top of the daily house chores.

Being an au pair through Equipeople Au Pairs is a great experience for any young woman who is interested in looking after children as well as wanting to discover a new culture and getting a chance to visit Ireland.

The main priority in any Au Pair position will be the children.  As an Au pair, you will be in charge of keeping the children safe, playing with them, perhaps preparing light meals, helping with homework, helping with bath- and bedtime and any other activities related to taking care of children.

In addition to looking after the children, you will be expected to help out with the daily house chores such as vacuuming, doing laundry, ironing, tidying up the children’s bedrooms and/or playroom, loading and unloading the dishwasher, sweeping floors – basically, keeping the house tidy and staying on top of the daily work that a busy household generates.

The majority of our host families are rurally based.  They will live in the countryside and might have a farm with dairy cows, cattle, chickens or horses.  If you are interested in helping out on the farm or have experience looking after horses, be sure to specify this in your application.  You might just be exactly what this family needs.  Don’t worry if you prefer to remain indoors – a lot of our families do not require the extra help with the animals.

Equipeople Au Pairs will have the same terms and conditions as other Irish employees which will be detailed in terms of employment contract – for example hours of work, holidays, payment rate etc.  It is important that the terms and conditions are discussed at interview stage to avoid any misunderstandings. You will receive an hourly rate of pay with a deduction for board and keep. You will be living as part of the family.  As an Equipeople Au Pair you will have your own bedroom within the family home, share your meals with the family and be involved with some of the family’s activities. Some families will gladly give our Au Pairs two days off per week in order for you to get a chance to unwind and visit Ireland.

We can provide two types of Au Pair placement:

  • 3 months (minimum length of stay) up to 12 months (maximum length of stay)
  • Summer Au Pair (June to September)

WHY BE AN EQUIPEOPLE AU PAIR?

First of all, if you do not like children or you do not have any experience whatsoever in looking after children, don’t do it.  It is not for you.  Children are an Au Pair’s main responsibility; your time will revolve around them and their routines.

If you do like children, you have some experience and want to look after them, then … why not?

Being an Equipeople Au Pair will give you the chance to improve your childcare experience, discover the Irish culture and visit Ireland and improve your english.

Travelling is most young person’s dream, but some don’t have the funding or the courage to go into the unknown alone.  As an Equipeople Au Pair, you get the peace of mind that we are here 24/7 in the event that something goes wrong.  All our host families have been visited and vetted by a member of our team; are regularly reassessed for suitability and know what we expect for our Au Pairs.  We only work through trusted partner organisations across Europe and treat every application personally.  We do our best to create the best match for both our Au Pairs and our host families, but are here in the event of an issue.  If there is a problem, we will do our utmost to fix it for you but you need to tell us about it!  A member of the Equipeople team will regularly give you a phone call to ensure all is running smoothly.  If there is a problem or you have a random question, feel free to ask.  Of course, you do not have to wait until your scheduled phone call, you can reach us any time and all our contact details will be provided to you at the start of your experience.

Living with a host family means that there is always a sense of security for our Au Pairs.  You will be treated like a member of the family and will be respected like any other person in the home.  (Just remember – respect works both ways!)

You will get plenty of opportunities to visit Ireland and your host family will be more than happy to help you with your plans.  Living with an Irish family will ensure that you soak up the Irish culture, but of course, it is up to you to make the most of your stay.

Equipeople Au Pairs will do our bit to help you make this an unforgettable time away.  As soon as a placement is secured, we will provide you with public transport details from the airport to your host family.  We will ensure the host family is aware of your arrival time and is ready and waiting at the bus stop to welcome you to your new home.  In addition to this, you should have a Welcome Pack waiting for you when you get there.  The Welcome Pack will contain information on Ireland, tourism, childcare as well as a list of contacts of all students in work placements in Ireland whilst you are here.  We encourage our Au Pairs to meet up with other students, be it other Au Pairs or some of our agricultural students, to get together, make new friends and discover Ireland communally.

WHAT TO EXPECT

First of all – expect the unexpected.

With children and animals, not a single day is the same as the last one.  Kids are unpredictable.  They get sick, they have off-days, they have hyper days, they have school days and they have holidays … You must be flexible!

One day a four year old will think you are their best friend, the next day; he will make sure you understand that “you are not the boss, mammy is the boss”.  One day a baby will be going through a growth spurt meaning they will want to eat loads and loads of food to help feed this sudden growth and will smile at every person that looks at them.  The next day that delightful baby will be teething (getting teeth), his mouth and gums will be sore and he won’t eat a thing.  They will moan all day and they will surely not smile at you.  A ten year old has a mind of their own, a twelve year old thinks they are grown up … anybody that has worked with children or is interested in gaining experience in childcare, will learn fast that you cannot predict a child’s behaviour.  You cannot plan every day of the week strictly because things will go wrong.  If you cannot adapt to a child’s world, you are going to find this a very long and difficult stay.

So be open-minded.  Go along with it.  Be firm, but be fair.  Keep them safe and don’t be afraid to ask for help.  When it comes to discipline – ask how the parents want their child’s bad behaviour to be addressed.  Don’t make that decision yourself and never, ever, ever, physically discipline a child under your care.

If your host family owns a farm, expect animals to be totally uncooperative.  One day your host family will be working from 5 AM to 10 PM, and then next they might work 7 AM to 7PM.  If you need to work a little longer one day, ask them for a little extra time off the following week.  Be realistic.  If the family relies on you for childcare on a certain day and at a certain time, don’t ask for those hours off.

We know it may be difficult to visualise what a day as an Au Pair might entail, we have added an example of how a typical week day could go. This is just one example ask your host during the interview process what a typical day might be like in their house.

Mary and John have a farm in the Midlands.  Mary is a local primary school teacher and John is a farmer.  Mary is gone every day from 8.30AM until 4.30PM.  John runs the family dairy farm on which the family home is based so he is around most of the day.

Mary and John have three children – Sean is 10 years old, Michael is 6 years old and little Emily is 2 years old.  Sean and Michael go to school and Emily is at home all day.

Time: Activity:
7.15 AM Children get up for school, they need to get dressed, brush their teeth and be ready to go.  In the meantime you are getting up, getting dressed and are ready to start the day.
8 AM Breakfast time.  Help with laying the table and tidying up afterwards.  Ensure the boys have their schoolbags ready and haven’t forgotten their lunches.  Mary drops the boys into school for 9 AM, so don’t worry about driving.
8.45 AM Emily is now solely in your care.  John has gone off to milk the cows, Mary is at work and the boys have gone to school.  You will keep Emily entertained.  Play games, read books, do some art work, go for a walk.
10 AM Snack Time.  Give Emily yoghurt and some fruit.  Ensure she drinks some water.
10.30 AM Back to play time.  Perhaps Emily is getting a little tired.  Give her some quiet time whilst you give the floor a quick sweep in the kitchen, put on a load of washing.  If Emily wants to help – let her!  Toddler’s love feeling important and every bit helps …
12 PM Lunch time.  Give Emily her lunch and get her ready for a nap.
12.30 – 1.30/2PM John might come in for his lunch.  It is a chance for you to have some down time.  Have your lunch and relax a little bit.  If you need to catch up on some house chores, this could be a good time to do so.
2.30 PM Michael comes home.  Give Michael his lunch or a snack and help him a little with his homework.  Ensure Emily is safe.  Keep her busy, when toddlers get bored, they get up to mischief!
3.30 PM Sean comes home.  Again, ensure he gets something to eat and starts his homework whilst making sure that Michael and Emily are safe and occupied.
4.30 PM Mary is home.  Give Mary a chance to unwind, offer to help out with preparing dinner or supervising the children whilst Mary does so and then take some time out.

 

Saturday and Sunday are your days off, so go on – make the most of it.  Give one of those other people on the contact list a call and go and discover some of Ireland’s wonderful places!

 

DO’S AND DON’TS

DO… DON’T…
Get in touch with the host family prior to your arrival to “break the ice”. Come into the family home expecting to be part of the family immediately, you will all need some time to adapt and get to know each other.
Ask questions in order to meet the host’s expectations and find out what they need. Be afraid to ask the same question again if you didn’t understand the first time.  Also, if you don’t understand the work method or reasoning, ask your host to explain how and why.
Exchange ideas and cultural differences with the family – that is part of the exchange process. Force your opinions on household and childcare issues, you are here to help them and fit in with the family.
Ask the family how they deal with “naughty” behaviour from their children.  What techniques do they use and can they show you. Don’t ever discipline the children in a physical way such as spanking, shaking, hitting etc.
If you smoke, ask the host where and when it is acceptable for you to smoke.  Respect this! Smoke in the family home or around children.
Find out what the family’s hobbies are and what interest the children have, it will be a lot easier to fit in.

Be mindful of when and where it is appropriate to use your mobile phone or the internet – many host families will not want you on the mobile phone when you should be concentrating on the children. Ask what are the house rules for phone use.

Be nervous about joining in with family activities.  If you are interested in taking part in some of the extra-curricular activities, ask your host if this is possible but bear in mind you should pay for this out of your own money.  (E.g. Sports training such as soccer, hurling, football, horse riding lessons, swimming etc.)
Go and visit Ireland and meet up with friends on your days off. Sit in your room every night on your own and hang around the house on your days off.  You will not be part of the family and will not make the most of your time in Ireland
Ring Equipeople if you are unsure about something. Be afraid to ask our opinion if you are uncertain about something.

 

WHAT IT TAKES TO BE AN EQUIPEOPLE AU PAIR

To be an Equipeople Au Pair certain characteristics help to make your stay in Ireland a success, some of them include:

Must love children. This is VITAL Outgoing Flexible
Adaptable to new situations Honest Use own initiative
Creative Sporty Energetic
Fun Hard working Enthusiastic
Open-minded Adventurous Willing to take direction
Good common sense Able to learn from mistakes Pro-active
Re-active to children’s needs Social Respectful

These are but to name a few.  Of course not one person will harbour all these traits and a lot of characteristics can be learned and/or improved upon, but it will definitely help if you think your personality matches with some of the above mentioned qualities.

The main thing is your love for children and your willingness to learn to work with them.  No day will ever be the same, so you need to be flexible in your approach.  You must be firm but you need to be fair.

Living away from home is not easy and being away from your friends and family might be even more of a challenge, combine that with a new culture, a different language, a family you don’t know and a routine you are not familiar with and you will be taken out of your comfort zone for sure.

Every beginning is hard and nobody deals well with change, but you will adapt and you can embrace this opportunity by making the most of it.  You are gaining valuable life experience and you are acquiring new skills which will help build your confidence, personal development and perhaps which will be useful in your future career. Everyone will feel a certain sense of uncertainty and/or homesickness for the first two weeks, but once that passes, most feel ready to take on the world and really strive to make the placement a success.  You need to be the type of person that will take control of the situation and give it your all.

If you need someone to talk to, go to your host.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions or share your worries, they want this placement to work as much as you do.  If you feel you cannot resolve the matter with your host family or if you need someone outside the family to talk to, just call us at Equipeople, we are here to help.

For tips on children’s activities, discipline matters, travelling around Ireland and safety issues, CLICK HERE.

HOW TO APPLY

We work through a number of partner agencies throughout the world. If you are interested in applying to be an Equipeople Au Pair, give us a call or send us an e-mail and we will be happy to refer you on to our partner nearest to you.

Due to Governmental restrictions, we can only accept European Nationals or Au Pairs that are eligible for a working holiday visa on the Equipeople Au Pair programme.

Should your country be one of the countries that are eligible for a working holiday visa, then we would also love to welcome you onto our Au Pair programme. We cannot arrange visas or work permits; you must contact your relevant embassy. For more information, please follow the links below, or view on the Department of Foreign Affairs website: http://www.dfa.ie/home/index.aspx?id=80991#top

Area Further information for non-Irish citizens please see…..
Argentina Embassy of Ireland in Buenos Aires
Australia Embassy of Ireland in Canberra
Canada SWAP (Student Work Abroad Programme, Ca) which administers the programme on behalf of the Embassy of Ireland in Ottawa
Hong Kong Ireland’s Honorary Consulate in Hong Kong.
Japan Embassy of Ireland in Tokyo
New Zealand Ireland’s Honorary Consulate in Auckland
South Korea Embassy of Ireland in Seoul 
Taiwan Website of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service
USA  Please click here

Equipeople works through a number of agencies throughout Europe who will be more than happy to guide you through the application process.  Once we receive your full application, we take it from there.  Communication will go through your agency.

EU Members are:

Austria Belgium Bulgaria
Croatia Cyprus Czech Republic
Denmark Estonia Finland
France Germany Greece
Hungary Ireland Italy
Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg
Malta Netherlands Poland
Portugal Romania Slovakia
Slovenia Spain Sweden
United Kingdom