The most important thing in the Au Pair programme is that the host family agrees to host an Au Pair with the understanding that this is a cultural exchange programme based around childcare.
The balance should at all times be on the children and not on the light housework, and the Au Pair should be welcomed as a member of the family, i.e. share in some or all family meals, be invited / included on days out, family events etc.
Accommodation for an Au Pair should be welcoming and pleasant and part of the home, yet private. It is imperative to allocate a comfortable bedroom to the Au Pair, with a bed, a wardrobe and a small desk and of course a window, a door that can be closed and adequate heating. Most families provide internet access in their home. Optional extras would be to provide sole use of a bathroom and TV, music and computer in the au pair bedroom.
The host family needs to be prepared to set aside some time to get the Au Pair settled, explain duties and routines, help to enrol into language classes, register with GP and find friends locally. A happy and settled Au Pair will be a joy to have around as an additional member of the family!
A host family needs to be realistic about expectations and understand that an Au Pair is neither a nanny nor a cleaner. Too much responsibility and long hours can put a real strain on the Au Pair, so it is important to get the balance right and to communicate on a regular basis to ensure your Au Pair is willing and able to meet your expectations.