The History Of Au Pairs

Thinking of becoming an Au pair? Well before you ship off abroad to your new family, find out more about how the domestic assistant role came to be. Exploring where the title comes from, how au pairs originated and how the job has changed over time, in this guide we’ll give you a better understanding of what an au pair is before you sign up.


Where Does The Title Come From?

The title, ‘au pair’, originates from the French term meaning ‘equal to’. This name indicates that an au pair is to integrate into the family, opposed to them just being a domestic worker.
Over 100 years ago, the idea of an au-pair started when English and German girls travelled to France to study the language, live the lifestyle, whilst living with relatives or friends.
It was clear that both the host family and the girl that was visiting were learning and benefiting from one another, whether it was a different language or culture.

The families of relatives or friends paid their thanks to the girls for helping with childcare and chores around the house, by providing them with free accommodation and food, which has continued to today, even though au pairs sometimes receive little pay nowadays.


How Did Au Pairs Originate?

After the Second World War, the au pair scheme was a great way to tie European countries back together and build a close-net bond. It wasn’t long after, that au pair experiences became an opportunity for those studying a language to live in that country and improve their fluency, by embracing a different culture.

Due to the social change after the war, an increased number of middle-class girls needing to earn their living increased, in addition to educational aspirations for girls rising, which made learning a foreign language and experiencing other cultures more appealing.

The au pair was created, to steer away from the term servant and make the girls feel part of the family, opposed to a visitor or just a worker.


How Are Things Different?

Today, it isn’t just girls that you see as au pairs, some young men are taking to the role, even though this hasn’t seemed to be a trend, as of writing.

Many governments have limits on how many hours an au pair is allowed to work, which gives them the chance to explore the country or have a part-time job on the side to earn some extra money.
With the continued help of au pair agencies, many aspiring young women and some men are taking a year out before university, or just a few months to enjoy living a different lifestyle and becoming close with a new family. What’s more, there are now many websites that can bring ambitious au pairs and host families together through posting profiles online.

Not only are there opportunities for au pairs to travel to Europe, but they can also go to the likes of America or Canada, who have a different format to the rest of the world.
Although there isn’t such a demand for au pairs nowadays, it is still quite popular for those wanting to add a unique touch to their CV or experience a different way of life.

If you are thinking about becoming an au pair, don’t hesitate to contact us, today.

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