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Au Pair Job Duties & Responsibilities

What is an Au Pair?

Au Pair Meaning / Definition

An Au Pair is a young person from another country, between the ages of 18-26, who lives with a family for one to two years on a J-1 exchange visa while providing childcare in exchange for a stipend, education contribution, and room-and-board. It is an amazing cultural exchange opportunity for both the Host Family and the Au Pair, as the time spent together allows families and Au Pairs to share culture through food, language, hobbies, celebrations, and more.

Au Pairs become part of the family, and not just a hired hand, through caring for the children and cooking for them, cleaning up after them, helping them with homework, taking them to and from school and other activities, and so much more. Most Host Families tend to think of their Au Pairs as a brother or sister, and get to know the Au Pair’s family back in their native country. Host families can help Au Pairs adjust to living in a new country by supporting their goals, educational and otherwise, and inviting them on vacations with the family.

How can an Au Pair’s responsibilities help my family?

What is an Au Pair expected to do? Specific Au Pair duties vary between Host Families, but can include a huge range of direct childcare and childcare-related duties and tasks.

If you have kids, you could probably use some help with childcare tasks. When it comes to Au Pair duties, the true value of this cultural childcare experience is immeasurable. First, Au Pairs and the tasks they can perform go above and beyond any regular sitter or nanny, all for one price! Whether you are a new parent with just one baby or a veteran parent with a brood of all ages, another set of eyes, ears, and hands is likely welcome! Au Pairs can help with all kinds of tasks.

Who are Au Pairs? Can they handle the responsibility of caring for your kids? They are:

  • EAGER to engage and learn
  • ABLE to see situations with new eyes
  • READY to please you, the Host Family
  • TRAINED and have the skills you need
  • EXTENSIONS of your family unit
au pair giving the peace sign

Before we go further, here are a few things Au Pairs ARE NOT:

  • Housekeepers and can only do kid-related cleaning
  • Pet-sitters and should only supervise kids’ animal-related chores
  • Mind-readers and sometimes need direction or instruction
  • Personal chefs and can prepare kids’ meals, not full family meals, as a regular duty


Au Pair duties are regulated by the U.S. Department of State in general. But, specific tasks and duties are determined by each Host Family. Go Au Pair wants to provide you the very best candidates and the resources and tools for a successful experience!

Which Au Pair duties are allowed?

Hosting an Au Pair is more than just hiring a babysitter from another country. For the variety of duties Au Pairs can do, there is no more affordable option for American families. This is because, in addition to the affordability of the program itself, Au Pairs often provide far more value than just childcare.

Host Families can assign Au Pair tasks and duties based on their unique lifestyles. You can embed cultural exchange in the things you ask your Au Pair to do with your children. Au Pairs can do so much more than just take care of your kids!

With flexible scheduling, Au Pairs can also perform duties while kids are at school and Host Parents are at work.

“[Desiree] drives the children to and from activities when needed, allowing us more flexibility in our scheduling.” –Amanda, Host Mom

Appropriate Au Pair duties include:

  • Playing with kids, helping parents limit screen time, taking kids out to do interesting things;
  • helping with potty training, teaching kids to clean their messes, and supporting disciplinary needs;
  • simple household tasks related to childcare, such as the kids’ laundry or vacuuming play areas;
  • providing healthy meals to children, helping prepare school lunches;
  • monitoring children’s hygienic needs like bathing and brushing teeth;
  • supervising the children’s pet-related responsibilities;
  • language and reading practice, homework help;
  • driving children to and from school or activities.

Tasks that are inappropriate for Au Pairs:

  • Doing the parents’ laundry, or being solely responsible for household trash and dishes;
  • cooking meals or grocery shopping for the entire household;
  • extensive, time-consuming chore lists and household duties;
  • cleaning messes the children left during the Au Pair’s off hours;
  • taking care of pets or cleaning up litter box/ dog poop;
  • caring for children alone while parents are on vacation;
  • working overtime (past 45 hours/ week) for any reason, even with additional pay.

These lists are in no way comprehensive. Each family will have their own needs, which is why Au Pair duties range so widely from family to family.

If you bear in mind that Au Pairs are here as students who want a cultural experience, appropriate and inappropriate duties for Au Pairs are pretty intuitive. The idea is for Au Pairs to assist with anything childcare-related, but to avoid placing so much of a burden on your Au Pair that they can’t enjoy their time here in the U.S.

However, if you have more specific questions about what Au Pairs can and cannot do, your Placement Coordinator would be happy to clarify.

Can Au Pairs perform skilled tasks?

Au Pairs from Go Au Pair have the skills to perform the duties your family needs. You can search our database for candidates who have the skills you need.

Common specialized skills we see from Au Pairs:

  • Special needs experience;
  • CPR and First Aid certifications;
  • infant/ under 2 qualification;
  • experience with twins or multiples;
  • support for single parents.


Not every Au Pair will have these skills. However, you can search for these skills in our online database. Or, you can ask your Placement Coordinator to help you find someone who fits your family’s needs.

Please note that Au Pairs are not certified medical professionals. If you need your Au Pair to administer special medications or medical care, you are responsible for ensuring it’s done correctly.

can au pairs do cpr
au pairs flexible responsibilities

Can Au Pairs have flexible responsibilities depending on our needs?

Host Families can assign Au Pair duties when it is convenient for them. Flexible scheduling, within the 10 hours per day, 45 hours per week maximum, makes Au Pair childcare so much better than daycare and other forms of childcare.

Families can plan for direct childcare duties like supervising and engaging the children, as well as childcare-related duties like laundry and meal or snack preparation and clean-up.

For families with flexible or rotating schedules, Au Pairs can work all of those odd hours when sitters won’t come and daycare centers are closed.

Keep in mind that if your Au Pair is alone in the house with the kids, they are considered “on duty.” This means if you leave your Au Pair with the kids overnight, they are still on duty the same way a babysitter would be.

Au Pair Definition

An Au Pair is a young person from another country, between the ages of 18-26, who lives with a family for one to two years on a J-1 exchange visa while providing childcare in exchange for a stipend, education contribution, and room-and-board.

An Au Pair takes care of their Host Children and performs child care related tasks, like cleaning up after the kids, driving kids to activities and school, helping with homework, and more.

  • Au Pairs cannot do the parents’ laundry, or be solely responsible for the household trash or dishes.
  • Au Pairs can’t be held responsible to cook for everyone in the house or do all the grocery shopping. 
  • Au Pairs can’t be left alone to care for children while the parents are on vacation.

Joan Lowell


Joan is a mother of six and is a writer and Local Area Representative in Providence, RI for Go Au Pair. She earned her BS in Elementary & Special Education from RI College and her MEd from Providence College. She helps lead other LARs in writing content and growing their clusters.

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About Our Au Pair Agency

Go Au Pair is one of the best Au Pair agencies in the United States, providing quality child care for over 30 years. Beginning as a nanny company in 1984, we soon expanded to include Au Pairs. We were one of the original Au Pair Program sponsors designated by the department of State in 1989.

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