Working hours – What’s work and what’s free time?

Hi guys,
Many au pairs have asked me about my number of working hours, what is considered to be working time and what isn’t. When I think about it, It’s not always that easy to distinguish working time from free time.

When taking care of the kids or cleaning the house, you are working, of course. However, whenever I helped tidying up after dinner, for instance,  it didn’t feel like work, at all. It is normal for family members to tidy up together after a meal. You are doing the same thing at home with your own relatives. And when the kids want to play a last round of Memory after dinner, it never felt like working hours to me, either. It’s just the same whenever I am accompanying my host family on an excursion. I’m part of this family, so I spend my time with them, not only during my working hours. If my host parents ask me to take care of the kids while they are on a trip, the hours I dedicate are by definition working time for me. However, if I am being asked to join them on a trip, it is different. It is more like a chance to get to know the country, culture and family.

I think it depends a little on the family and if you share some of your duties or if you are being treated like a mere employee. My family is really easy-going in this regard. I tidy up, clean a little bit, take care of the kids and help wherever I can. I don’t count my hours, but I know that I don’t work above my limit.

I think you shouldn’t be too fussy about it, but you must still feel comfortable. If you think you’re working too much, you should definitely talk to your host parents. That’s the best thing to do and ultimately should help you to find a solution for any problems in this area.

You will find some more questions and answers on this topic on AuPairWorld.

If you have any questions about this or any other issues, feel free to ask.

Talk to you soon!

Ellen :-)

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