If you love working with children and are looking for an experience away from home, an au pair may be the perfect role for you. The demand for au pairs in Australia is increasing, as more and more mothers choose to return to work, and seek cost effective alternatives to childcare centres.
Australia is a widely diverse nation with myriad different cultures calling the country home. No two families are the same, so the duties an au pair can be expected to complete will also be different. There are, however, some common duties an au pair may be asked to do on a daily basis. These include taking care of the children, getting them ready for school, preparing and cooking meals, and some light housework tasks.
If you’re thinking of taking on this kind of role, read on to find out what goes on in a typical day in the life of an au pair.
Preparing and cooking meals
Children need to be well fed to give them energy for the day, starting with a healthy breakfast. You may be asked to prepare meals each day, starting with breakfast and ending with dinner, with lunch and some snacks in between. You may be asked to follow a specific meal plan, or be given the freedom to cook as you please.
Parents may look for au pairs with basic cooking skills, or request someone with experience in preparing more complex cuisine, such as culturally traditional meals. You will also need a high level of attention to detail in case there are specific issues such as allergies and food intolerances.
Helping children with homework
Parents may ask you to help their children with their homework or school projects, which can vary in complexity depending on the age of the children. Parents may request an au pair who possesses specific language skills, such as Japanese, Italian or Indonesian, which are commonly taught in Australian schools. They may also look for someone with strong maths skills, who is highly computer literate, or simply has the ability to read homework instructions clearly and help their child understand the task at hand.
If you are asked to help with homework, you will need to be prepared to be firm with children and ensure they complete any given work in the set timeframes provided. This can be a challenge, but just remember that au pairs are asked to help children with homework, not complete it for them.
Dropping children to and from school
Negotiating school hours and working hours is one of the most common tasks parents need help with.
Start and finish times often vary between schools, so parents may look for someone with advanced time management skills, especially if there are two or more children to get dressed, fed and to school. Dropping children to and from school may be as easy as walking with them to school or the bus stop, supervising them while they ride their bikes, or it may involve driving several kilometres to one school, and then driving an older child to their school. You will need a valid driver’s licence to drive on Australian roads.
Helping children get dressed
This may sound easy, but when you have more than one child to dress and get out the door, it can be hectic. You often need to hunt down multiple school uniforms, sports uniforms, shoes and socks, and be aware of special events such as sports days or photo days. Keeping school wear clean during breakfast time can also be a challenge! If you have proven high-level organisational skills and thrive in a demanding and challenging environment, you may feel most comfortable in a family with two or more children to look after.
Light housework duties
As well as keeping children entertained, an au pair will usually be asked to help parents with light housework duties, including cleaning, vacuuming and mopping, tidying up after the children and helping them to pick up toys, as well as washing dishes, and folding laundry or ironing. Parents might look for someone who has experience with animals in case there are pets in the family, and you might be asked to perform specific tasks such as feeding pets, walking a dog, or cleaning out a pet pen.
Sound like the type of role for you and you want to get started? Apply online with Select Au Pairs – we can assess your suitability to work as an au pair, and we offer a limited number of places with Australian families. We can match your qualifications, skills and personality with the most appropriate family and get you started in your dream of working as an Australian au pair. If you would like more information, contact us.