Monday, 17 November 2014

What is ‘light housework’?

au pair light housework
This is a question that we regularly get from host families and au pairs alike. As an au pair, you know that among your duties you will have to help your family doing some light household chores, but what exactly does this entail? 

Our advice is always to discuss your duties with your future host family or au pair prior to starting your placement. It is also recommended to include this information in the au pair contract. If, for example, your host family needs you to sweep the kitchen once a day, this should go into your au pair contract. This way you know that it is expected and if you feel that you are not happy to do it, you can tell this to your host family before your placement begins.

We recommend approximately 1 hour of light housework per day. Light housework is the everyday housework that a family would undertake everyday. These are not the jobs that you might do once per week or less. Remember an au pair's priority is to help to take care of the children.

Light housework that is suitable for an au pair:
  • Preparing simple meals and snacks for children
  • Keeping the kitchen tidy and cleaning the floors
  • Loading and unloading laundry into the washing machine
  • Hanging the laundry out and taking the laundry in
  • Ironing the children's clothes
  • Putting clothes away
  • Vacuuming children’s bedrooms and communal areas
  • Keeping the children's bedrooms tidy
  • Making and changing children’s beds
  • Keeping your own room/bathroom clean and tidy
  • Doing light shopping (not the entire household shopping)
  • Walking and feeding pets (if agreed beforehand)
  • Washing dishes and loading/unloading the dishwasher

Housework that is considered not suitable for an au pair: 

  • Gardening 
  • Window cleaning 
  • Gardening 
  • Spring cleaning 
  • Heavy housework such as cleaning out the oven 
  • Cleaning pets 
  • Washing the car 
  •     Weekly shopping 
  • Clearing up after untrained pets 
  • Pet training 
  • Cleaning and tidying the parents bedroom 
  • Polishing
  • Cooking the family meal, unless the Au Pair enjoys cooking and has chosen to do this for the family

We always suggest that au pairs and host families get in touch by phone or on Skype to get to know each other. This is a good opportunity for you to touch this subject with them and if you think that your family is asking too much, don’t be scared to let them know how you feel about that. It could be the case that your host family is unaware of what they can expect from you and they’ll be more than happy to adjust their expectations to what is normal for an au pair. Being open with your host family is the first step to have a great relationship with them!

The au pair and the host family should always bear in mind that an au pair's first priority is to look after their children and your family can only ask you to do some day-to-day household tasks, and these should mainly be related to the children. 

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