Host Families

What is a host family

A host family is a family that employs a foreign student or Au Pair, provides them with accommodation, food and wages, but also includes the student or Au Pair in their family activities.

The Au Pair becomes a member of the family and is treated like any other person in that family would be treated.

It is totally acceptable to make house rules clear from day one and to be distinctive about what behaviour is deemed appropriate in your family and what isn’t.

The host family helps the Au Pair integrate into the host country and teaches the Au Pair about its culture, etiquette and customs. They encourage the Au Pair to meet up with local people or other Au Pairs/students their own age as well as going sightseeing, joining in in extra-curricular activities such as local sports teams, drama groups, Macra na Feirme etc.

In exchange for this service, the Au Pair assists the family with childcare and light housework.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Equipeople Au Pairs may not be qualified child-minders, indeed an Au Pair very rarely is. We do however set criteria that all our Au Pairs have experience with children and this will be noted in their profiles that are sent to you during the recruitment selection. Families will chose the level of experience for their family requirements. – depending on age of  children, length of time that the Au Pair is left alone with the children, extended family and neighbour support in the absence of parents etc. will all determine your choice.

 

Please contact one of the members of our Equipeople Au Pair team should you like further clarification on your own personal circumstances.

Why opt for an Au Pair

  • When was the last time you drank your tea / coffee hot?
  • Can you remember ever walking into the house after a day’s work and not sighing at the state of the kitchen? Or the pile of washing in the laundry basket?
  • How is doing your food shopping with two young children in tow working out for you?
  • When did you last get out with your partner for a meal without having to worry about babysitters?
  • Would you love to just sit down for a couple of hours and actually “play” with your children?

Do I need to go on? Being a mother, father or guardian of young children is hard work when trying to balance school, work, hobbies, children’s extra-curricular activities as well as the house work. An Au Pair is that “extra pair of hands” you need when one child is asking you to play with them, whilst the other has just poured their cup of orange juice over themselves and you are trying to cook the family meal.

An Au Pair is the person that will look after your children whilst you are getting ready for work or want to go for a walk around the block to get some exercise. She is the one that will be at home tidying up the kitchen whilst you are out doing your job and she is the one that will supervise the children whilst you do the food shopping.

An Au Pair’s role is varied. Traditionally her principal role is that of childcare. She is there to help you look after your children. She can play with them, supervise them, take them for walks, help bath and dress them, help put them to bed, prepare light meals for them and keep them occupied. Further to this, an Au pair also helps out in the household. She will help tidy up the kitchen, mop the floors, vacuum, keep the children’s bedrooms clean, help prepare family meals and do some of the children’s laundry and ironing. We suggest that prior to the arrival of the Au Pair our Host Family should consider the tasks required and note these on the job specification. This makes it clear from the outset what tasks will be in the Au Pair role and can be a very useful during the interview process.

Although an Au Pair is generally not a qualified child minder, she will have some experience looking after children, be it babysitting the neighbour’s children or having done an internship in a crèche or playschool.

Some of our Au Pairs come with an agricultural background or have worked with horses. These Au Pairs would be suitable to accompany your children to their pony clubs, supervise their riding, help with tacking up ponies/horses and stable maintenance. Some might be keen to help milk cows in the morning or check the cattle for you in the afternoon.

An Au Pair in Ireland is now entitled to the same terms and conditions as other domestic workers in Ireland and as such will be paid at least the minimum wage (at present this ranges from €7.32 to €9.15 depending on age and experience) An employment pack will be given to you during the recruitment process to clarify the employers responsibilities.

When you factor in the cost of childcare in creches in Ireland and add on the cost of a home help, an Au Pair can be a sensible option. While the cost of employing an Au Pair will be part of your decision, this is only one element, the priority as always is to employ someone who your children will be safe with and  enjoy their company. Families have told us that one of the main benefits of employing an Au Pair is that the children can stay in their home environment which is significantly less disruptive for both the children and the parents

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)

What to expect

An Equipeople Au Pair has that extra pair of hands you need when you can just not do everything at the same time. She is essentially an extension of a parent or guardian and is there to help you. An Au Pair fits into the family routine and makes a parent or guardian’s life easier.

Possible duties can include:

  • Childcare in your own home to suit your specific needs
  • Babysitting
  • Supervising children with horses and/or ponies (optional)
  • Taking your children to school and collecting them afterwards
  • Helping children with homework
  • Bath-and bedtime duties
  • Light household duties such as mopping floors, vacuuming, keeping children’s rooms tidy, clearing away after meal times, preparing children’s meals, doing children’s laundry and ironing

Equipeople Au Pairs can work part-time or full time depending on the terms of employment. The hours of work will be noted weekly and their time off and holidays will be noted in the terms of employment. They need to have their own bedroom in your home. Host families can deduct €54.17 from the weekly wage as a board and lodgings deduction. Au Pairs should get all their meals. in the family home. Separate accommodation near the family home is acceptable; however a mobile home is not acceptable for an Equipeople Au Pair.

Considering the nature of the work some flexibility on hours worked may suit both parties. For example, if an Au Pair could babysit for an extra two hours one week, she could reclaim those two hours the following week to catch an earlier bus if heading away for a cultural weekend with a friend. Flexibility on both sides could be advantageous but clear communication is very important.

Having the option of having your children cared for in their own home provides security and stability for your children and  they enjoy the surroundings that they are familiar with – favourite toys, trampoline etc. All Equipeople Au Pairs have been vetted by our partner agencies; they must provide childcare references as well as a police check and a medical report.

Do bear in mind that no two Au Pairs will ever be the same. Some Au Pairs will just fit in with your family from day one, will be outgoing and will grasp the family routine immediately. Others won’t. They may be a little bit shy, homesick for the first couple of weeks and take a little longer to settle in. Don’t compare one to the other; it is not fair on an Au Pair who has just arrived in Ireland to be compared with someone who was integrated in your family for the last year. I am sure even the Au Pair that was “dynamite” took some time to settle in.

The way to overcome misunderstandings is to be clear about your expectations. Have several lists ready for your student:

  • House Rules – What behaviour is acceptable and what isn’t. This is for both the children and the Au Pair. This is your home; don’t be afraid to lay down the rules. eg. rules on when the phone should be put away.
  • Daily Chores/Timetable – Describe your family routine. Indicate what tasks need to be done on a daily basis i.e. clear away after mealtimes; prepare a light meal for the children when they get home from school; sweep the kitchen floor; put on a wash etc.
  • Weekly Chores – Divide your home into zones and pick a day of the week when you want a certain zone cleaned, for instance, Mondays: Mop the kitchen floor; Tuesdays: Clean the children’s (Family) bathroom; Wednesday: Iron the children’s clothes; etc.
  • “Rainy Day” Chores – This list will describe chores that you keep meaning to get around to doing, but never have the time to do. The tasks indicated on this list are things your Au Pair can do for you when she is having a “quiet day” or is looking for something to do. This could include: sort out children’s play room/toys; clean the oven; wipe the skirting boards etc.
  • Children’s Favourite Activities – Give your Au Pair some ideas on what your children like to do. What are their favourite games, do they enjoy certain sports, what are their favourite toys…

Equipeople Au pairs do come with some childcare experience and must provide references; however, their level of experience will vary. Some girls might have babysat neighbour’s children and others may have done an internship in a nursery school. Be clear about how you want them to interact with your children. Are your children outdoorsy? Let her know to take them out for walks, to go and see your partner on the farm, go for a cycle … Is TV time limited? Tell her. Explain how (and if) you want your Au Pair to discipline your children. Are your children allowed to eat treats throughout the day? Do they have their own chore list and/or reward system?

Communication is key to make this placement work. Your Au Pair is here to learn. She is here to learn a new language and to improve her childcare skills. In addition to this, Equipeople Au Pairs want to soak up the Irish culture, want to visit Ireland and be part of the family.

While an Equipeople Au Pair is now an employee, she is also an additional member of the family. It is our experience that truly integrating the Au Pair into your family life and teaching her about Irish culture is when you gain the best relationships between the family members and the Au Pair. She should be included in mealtimes and some of your family activities. A lot of the girls choose to meet up with other Au Pairs or students and go to explore the country however some prefer to “hang out” at home.

The more you can introduce your Au Pair to people and places, the more she will be able to get involved in the Irish culture. It will give your family and your Au Pair a little bit of breathing space on her days off and will help your Au Pair get over any feelings of loneliness or homesickness which she may be feeling.

Encourage your Au Pair to join the local Macra na Feirme, camogie or football team, fitness club or any other such organisation. We all need some time out and this is a perfect way for an Au Pair to meet other young people of her own age.

We will assess every family on an individual basis, so please contact us should you be interested in getting help from one of our Equipeople Au Pairs.

Don’t just take our word for it, read some of our host family testimonials here.

DO’S AND DON’TS

DO… DON’T…
Make your Au Pair feel included in your family; respect her like a family member. Exclude your Au Pair from all your family activities. You don’t want to build resentment towards you and your family. Though it is OK for you to do certain things with your family without including your Au Pair from time to time.
Be very clear about your expectations. Be realistic about them and be fair towards your Au Pair. Don’t forget this may be your Au Pair’s first “job”. Give her a chance to settle into it.
Encourage your Au Pair to join local groups or sports club, meet other Au Pairs or students in the neighbourhood and introduce her to people her own age. Expect your Au Pair to be gone the moment she is off duty. She might choose to take some time out in her room or have a long lie in on her day off and that is OK.
Provide your Au Pair with house rules and chore lists/timetables when she arrives. This ensures everyone is on the same page from day one. Think that your Au Pair knows what you are thinking or feeling. You must communicate clearly and openly with her in order to get the best results.
Remember that English is not your Au Pair’s first language and realise that cultural differences do occur on a lot of matters. Lose patience or put down your Au Pair’s culture. Explain how things are done in Ireland and outline your work method.
Help your children to get to know your Au Pair. Let her cook you a meal which is traditional in her country, look up facts about the country and ask her to share them with you and your family. Let your children feel that she is an outsider. If you don’t “invite her into your family”, your children might be apprehensive about doing the same.
Be very clear about how you want her to deal with your children especially when it comes to matters such as disciplining them. Assume that your Au Pair has dealt with every situation a child could possibly throw at her. She might have some experience, but she is here to learn, she is not an expert and she is not a mother.
Ask your Au Pair to help out with the light housework. An Au Pair can help out with the day to day running of the house as well as any chores that are related to the children. Some of our girls come from agricultural or equine backgrounds and will be more than happy to help out in these areas as well. Ask your Au Pair to carry out duties not in her job specification. She may need some training in certain tasks, taking the time to train her will be beneficial to everyone.

What it takes to be a host family

Let us be straight about this, it takes a certain type of person to want to take in an Au Pair. You have to be willing to invite a young person into your home and to treat her as one of your own.

We want our host families to treat our Au Pairs as they would like their own daughter to be treated when living in a foreign country. These Au Pairs might never have lived away from home before and when faced with an unwelcoming family in an unknown country with a different culture and customs with a language they only master to a certain degree, the Au Pair will immediately either shrink completely within herself or take on a defensive attitude.

You need to want to take the time to help your Au Pair settle in, introduce her to the Irish culture and involve her in your family activities. An Equipeople Au Pair must be included in meal times and encouraged to join in with family outings or hobbies.

A host family must have the patience to allow for an Au Pair to make mistakes, to teach her and to help her with her English.

Everybody in the family must be on board and want to give the Au Pair a chance.

Put yourself in the Au Pair’s shoes. When you decided to have children, you started off with a little baby that slept most of the day (and kept you up all night) which then grew into a toddler that you followed around trying to stop him or her from killing itself. Then you were faced with a child going to school, learning and making friends, surprising you every day. You know their personality and you have “learned” to deal with any situation that was thrown at you. Since then you might have had another child (or more) and you have become an expert at changing nappies, putting kids down for naps, stopping sibling rivalry, disciplining and juggling life. You know your child, you know your home and you know the country in which you are living and raising your children.

In comes an Au Pair. She doesn’t know you, doesn’t know your children, she doesn’t know what your family routine is and she has no idea about you or your family’s house rules or traditions. On top of all that, your Au Pair doesn’t know your home, your neighbours, the culture, customs and very little about Ireland. Although all Equipeople Au Pairs must have an intermediate level of English, it isn’t their first language and “school English” is very different than “spoken English”, especially with a strong Irish accent.

Give her a break. Help her settle in. Be as clear as you can about your expectations and communicate with her. If you are not happy, say so. If your Au Pair’s behaviour is unacceptable, tell her. If she is not doing things the way you want them done, show her how you do want the tasks to be completed.

Of course it is not only one-sided. It takes a certain type of person to be an Au Pair as well. We try to match personalities and individual needs as much as we can, but in the event of a bad match or some teething problems, we are here to help.

How to apply and fees

In order to apply you need to complete an application form. Please also read our Terms & Conditions and if you agree to these, please sign and return them with the application. A member of the Equipeople Au Pair team will call you to help guide you through the application process.

If you would like us to send you out our information leaflet, application forms or if you have a question, just contact us.

Upon receipt of your signed documents, an Equipeople Representative will call in to you at your convenience to complete our initial visit and to answer any further questions you may have. This helps us to assess the type of applicant that will best suit your needs. There is no obligation, but once the visit has been made, you can contact us whenever you need an extra pair of hands.

Au Pairs are now employees under Irish employment law and hence have the same employments rights and obligations as Irish employees ie. PRSI payments, employment contract stating minimum wage, max. working hours, job specification etc.. You will also need to have an Employer’s Liability insurance or hold a Casual Labour policy with your insurer. A lot of home insurance policies have the added possibility of covering an Au Pair under the same policy, speak to your insurance broker about your options. We will need a copy of your up to date insurance policy before we can send you an Au Pair. This is for your own safety and peace of mind. Our new families are finding this administration aspect to organising the Au Pair allows them to think through exactly how they want the Au Pair to integrate with their family and the time spent planning is invaluable for the smooth introduction of this new member of the family.

The fees payable to Equipeople will be paid in two instalments.  €250 plus VAT is a non-refundable deposit to new host families and is a once only payment.  The remaining balance of €450 plus VAT is due two weeks prior to the arrival of your au pair.  (This balance is reduced to €200 plus VAT for summer au pairs, i.e. those au pairs staying for 3 to 4 months).

We will offer you a number of Au Pairs which we feel will suit your family. We ask you to let us know which Au Pairs you would like to contact. We then encourage you to contact the Au Pair a number of times via phone, e-mail and skype. This is an important part of the interview process. We suggest you discuss at lenght what is involved in the position and encourage the Au Pair to ask questions. Once you have selected one of our candidates we send them information about your family; who you are, your family members, where in the country you live, detailed information about your home, farm or yard.

We also supply the student with photographs, so to help us with this, please send us pictures of you and your family, your home and the room which will be theirs.

Don’t forget to have your lists ready for your student:

The way to overcome misunderstandings is to be clear about your expectations. Have several lists ready for your student:

  • House Rules – What behaviour is acceptable and what isn’t. This is for both the children and the Au Pair. This is your home; don’t be afraid to lay down the rules.
  • Daily Chores/Timetable – Describe your family routine. Indicate what tasks need to be done on a daily basis i.e. clear away after mealtimes; prepare a light meal for the children when they get home from school; sweep the kitchen floor; put on a wash etc.
  • Weekly Chores – Divide your home into zones and pick a day of the week when you want a certain zone cleaned, for instance, Mondays: Mop the kitchen floor; Tuesdays: Clean the children’s (Family) bathroom; Wednesday: Iron the children’s clothes; etc.
  • “Rainy Day” Chores – This list will describe chores that you keep meaning to get around to doing, but never have the time to do. The tasks indicated on this list are things your Au Pair can do for you when she is having a “quiet day” or is looking for something to do. This could include: sort out children’s play room/toys; clean the oven; wipe the skirting boards etc.
  • Children’s Favourite Activities – Give your Au Pair some ideas on what your children like to do. What are their favourite games, do they enjoy certain sports, what are their favourite toys…

Also of benefit is to have a short letter of introduction available. This would briefly describe your family, your family’s hobbies and your expectations.

These documents only need to be produced once. They will make the placement run more smoothly without you having to repeat yourself over and over again. It allows the Au Pair to work independently and with a sense of responsibility, rather than being “nagged”.

For more details or should you have any queries, don’t hesitate to contact us.