What Household Chores Can Your Au Pair Do?

Your au pair can help with certain household tasks.
Image courtesy of Canva

This post was originally published in April 2020 and revised in February 2024 by other contributors.

As a Local Coordinator and Regional Supervisor for InterExchange Au Pair USA, I reach out to my host families each month with a refresher on the guidelines of the Au Pair program.

One group of guidelines focuses on au pair responsibilities regarding what household chores they can perform, according to the regulations of the au pair program. Remember: au pairs are not domestic employees, but rather Exchange Visitors who want to experience American culture as part of your family.

It can be helpful to think of household tasks in three different buckets: tasks related to the children, tasks related to the au pair, and shared family tasks.

One of the unique benefits of hosting an au pair is that they can help with chores related to your children. Au pair duties can include:

  • Doing the children’s laundry
  • Keeping the play area organized and neat
  • Cooking for your kids
  • Helping your children with their family chores
  • Supporting children with homework/schoolwork 

I’ve found that all of my host families require their au pair to do the children’s laundry, but it can look different in each home. For au pairs who look after older children, the host parents emphasize that it should be a partnership, and the children should help fold and put the clothing away. For au pairs caring for babies and younger children, laundry is usually the sole responsibility of the au pair.

Chores related to your children are always included in your au pair’s working hours.

As an adult member of your household, your au pair can be expected to clean up after themselves. Au pairs can:

  • Wash or load dishes that only they’ve used
  • Keep their bedroom tidy
  • Clean their private bathroom

Your au pair is an adult, and host families shouldn’t micromanage their personal space. Instead, discuss the basic level of cleanliness that you prefer upfront and then give them wiggle room to be independent. For example, if you’d like your au pair to vacuum and dust their room weekly, let them know in advance. 

Shared Family Tasks

Since your au pair is seen as a member of the family, they should be prepared to participate in some shared household chores. Au pair household chores may include:

  • Emptying the dishwasher
  • Helping out at family dinners
  • Being respectful of shared spaces

Au pairs should never be asked to do heavy cleaning, yard work, pet care, or chores that are outside of daily family life. As adults sharing your home, they are expected to act like team members and support the lifestyle of the home. For example, if your au pair eats dinner with your family, it’s helpful teamwork to set or clear the table. 

Communication is Key

Some advice I have for host families is to make a list of all the responsibilities they will be asking of their au pair and share these job duties with them during the interview process. Don’t wait until an au pair has arrived to tell them what is expected in the job. Au pairs may not know to ask these specific questions, but if you share this information with them prior to their arrival you are less likely to have any issues once they arrive in your home.

If you’re ever in doubt about your au pair performing a certain task, double check with your Au Pair USA Local Coordinator to see if it’s inside the program’s boundaries. We are always happy to help!

Dina Nichols

Dina is the InterExchange Au Pair USA Local Coordinator for the San Diego area.