An au pair or nanny is normally a single girl or boy, aged 17-30, who helps a host family with childcare and sometimes housework, whilst living as a guest in their home. Au pair programs were originally designed with the intent for people to come together and exchange cultures, thus an au pair usually lives with a family in a foreign country whilst learning their language and exploring their culture.
Whilst living with a family, an au pair participates not only in childcare but also in other related activities, ranging from light housework to babysitting, or even helps older children develop particular skills (such as learning a new language or sport).
Being an au pair for a family, and in turn, a guest in their home, the au pair tends to participate in many of the family activities and is treated as part of the family. Thus, participating in an au pair programme can, therefore, be a very exciting and interesting experience for both the au pair and the family.
In some countries, the terms "au pair" and "nanny" are used interchangeably. However, it is generally accepted that a nanny is more likely to have professional childcare qualifications and/or first aid training. This is often seen as being particularly important when there are very young children to be cared for. On this site we ask members if they have nanny qualifications, and this is then something that the family can ask about, if they make contact with a particular candidate.
Please also see our Live In Nanny page.