What to Expect
– Scroll down for the practical advice section –
It can be really difficult to know whether you have found your perfect host family. I, for one, needed a second attempt to find a good match and this meant hauling two suitcases across Paris to a rented apartment while I searched for a new family. But my dedication (and the dedication of the friend who helped me move!) paid off. I went from a mere 60€ a week pay with one family, to 90€/week + travel pass + phone contract + separate apartment + awesome au pair flatmate + food money + a generally nicer atmosphere in the family’s house! Too many au pairs find themselves in difficult situations, so I’ve put together some practical advice based on my experience and research, that might just help you out!
N.B. While the way the family treats their au pair is perhaps more important than the overall rate of pay, the two are arguably connected (obviously not every family can afford all the luxuries mentioned above so bare this in mind…). Let’s face it, you can’t live on happiness in a city like Paris, so let’s begin with some general au pair advice on what to expect about au pair hours and pay:
Each family is different and so there will be a lot of variation in days/times, but au pair working hours should be between 25 and 35 hours per week. Some au pairs work in the mornings, helping the kids get ready etc., whilst others start by picking the children up from school in the afternoon. Others may be required to do lunch-times, collecting the children and making lunch, before taking them back to school. Normally 2 evening babysittings per week maximum are asked of the au pair and any more should (!) be paid extra. On Wednesdays, many children in Paris do not have school and so you may work all day. Be sure to check the parents’ requirements carefully when selecting a family!
A typical day may look like this:
(8:00 – Possible morning school run)
15:30 – Pick kids up from school
16:00 – “Gouter” (snack time filled with cake and biscuits, very important in France!)
16:30 – Take children to various activities /the park/play with them
17:30 – Homework & Baths
18:00 – Cook dinner and eat with the children
19:00/20:00 – Finish work
If you don’t go through an agency, then many families might not count the hours you work. This may or may not work out in your favour.
What You Get – Pay
The pay in Paris varies, but 80€/week is the minimum you should accept. It is extremely common for families to pay for a travel pass (called a navigo) and many even pay for french lessons or phone contracts. If you do not live with the family, money is often provided for day time meals, while evening meals are eaten with the children. Au pairs can be paid weekly or monthly as they wish. You should really look around and see what families are offering and be extremely wary of families offering low working hours for accommodation only!
What If I’m Not happy?
So, maybe you arrived at your new family’s home and not everything is as rosy as it previously seemed. You are not alone!!! Many an au pair in Paris finds themselves in a spot of bother with regards to hours of work and pay, but don’t worry there are a few things you can do:
- Speak to other au pairs
I personally spoke to my new au pair friends to find out about their situations and see if I was in the minority with my awkward working hours and rate of pay. Which I was. Badly.
- Comment on blogs , talk to other au pairs on Facebook etc.
Leave us a comment if you would like to talk your situation through! But don’t be scared to ask people for advice on Facebook groups, the au pair community is there to support each other. Be sure to objectively (!) evaluate if you are being treated fairly or not.
- Contact the appropriate people
If you cannot continue with your lack of money or crazy working hours, contact your agency if you went through one, or politely talk to your directly host family and see what you can sort out (it’s scary but worth it).
At the end of the day, you can probably work things out with your family one way or another. And if not? Then your last resort is changing families, I have done it, my friends have done it, it’s not as scary as you think, so above all just DON’T PANIC!
We will be posting another advice article soon, so keep an eye out!
Photo by eddieblogphoto.fr
Realted article: 10 Tips for Au Pair Survival