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Will Au Pair suit me? Does Au Pair work out cheaper than regular childcare?

(27 Posts)
littlecrystal Mon 22-Jul-13 13:59:53

I am looking into my options for next year. Currently my 5yo goes to a childminder-School-afterschool club, and my 2.5yo goes to a childminder. Total childcare costs are around 1,100/month. It will go down a little once the 2.5yo gets 15 free hours.

I once had a nightmare with live-out 22yo nanny and I am quite reluctant to the idea of a person rather than a an official childcare institution, but the cost of Au Pair seems to lower and DC could benefit from being able to attend afterschool activities or just relaxing at home when tired.

I live in London Zone 4. The school and pre-school are within walking distance. School hours are 9-3 (roughly) and pre-school hours are 8:15-11:15, though we could still use a morning childcare elsewhere or buy extra hours in the nursery if this is excessive for Au Pair. I normally leave home at 8am and come back by 5:30pm, although not rushing from work once in a while would be nice…

We only have 2 bed house, but we could accommodate Au Pair in our spacious living room (we once had a lodger in there). We have a separate kitchen/family space where we normally entertain. There is only one bathroom upstairs but we can easily add a downstairs loo.

I am pretty bad delegating jobs so when I had the nightmare nanny, I ended up catering fully cooked meals and so her only household duty was to wash up after eating. Delegating jobs is something I need to learn so I need some guideline what level of household work is acceptable, as with my nature I will end up having another child rather than a household help!

How much would you pay in my circumstances? Is my accommodation acceptable? What extras am I expected to pay? I.e. transport? phone? gym? A separate computer? Special food requirements? How much does Au Pair add to the food bills? Has anyone tried to calculate what does the Au Pair actually cost?
How do you pay if a child is sick and cannot go to school?
How do you pay during school holidays?

If anyone could advice it would be highly appreciated!

littlecrystal Mon 22-Jul-13 14:14:14

* not how much Au Pair adds to the food bills, but how much having Au Pair will increase my food bills? My previous nanny used to finish all my normal weekly fruit, yogurt and biscuit allowance within 2 days not to mention she stole food from me, so I am naturally fearing another disaster.

Cindy34 Mon 22-Jul-13 14:46:32

Au-pairs do 25 hours a week, so looks like you want more of an au-pair plus... An au-pair who can commit to more than 25 hours.

You also want someone who has some childcare experience as they will be having your youngest all afternoon.

So it depends on finding the right person. Just like finding the right live-out nanny, you need to find someone who is the right fit with your family, someone you can trust to care for your children, someone who will give some commitment to the job.

NomDeClavier Mon 22-Jul-13 14:53:29

I would say no to an au pair if you didn't feel comfortable managing a nanny. An au pair will more naturally slot into a 'child' role and will need a certain amount of parenting.

IME an au pair costs more than outsourcing childcare because they add a pretty significant amount to household bills and food.

You can't expect an AP to miss their English class to look after a sick child/cover school hols (although most colleges don't operate in school hols) so you still need that bank up plan. Plus it's long days for an AP and the 11.15 preschool finish is going to make attending class difficult.

littlecrystal Mon 22-Jul-13 14:58:39

Well if take care of DC in the morning and Au Pair's duty is to collect DC2 at 11:15am and I am back 5:15pm that's technically 6 hours per day. 30 hours per week are not excessive, right? (obviously with adequate pay!).
I could extend DC2 hours at pre-school till 3pm but then Au Pair technically works only 3 hours / day = 15 hours per week.. not sure if then having her makes financial sense?

Cindy34 Mon 22-Jul-13 14:59:52

I too would worry about your ability to manage an au-pair, given your experience having a nanny. An au-pair may be new to the country, may be quite young, may not have done any job before, may not even like children. They are here to study not care for children. Whilst they do help around the home and may do some childcare, it is not what they are in the UK to do.

littlecrystal Mon 22-Jul-13 15:05:54

Don't get me wrong, I think I was extremely unlucky. I love the idea of treating Au Pair as a family member and taking care of her. Unfortunately my previous nanny misused my trust.
People chose Au Pair for some reason, not only financial. Cindy34 you described them so badly that I don't see why anyone should choose this option at all..

ActionLog Mon 22-Jul-13 15:14:36

I can't see any AP being happy at not having their own room and at a minimum would make your job very unattractive to candidates.

littlecrystal Mon 22-Jul-13 15:32:18

She would have the living room for their personal use.. we would not go in there. It is bigger than an average bedroom so I do not see it as a disadvantage.

NomDeClavier Mon 22-Jul-13 15:38:25

30 is longish but it's 6 hours on the trot, not a bit in the morning and a bit in the evening, and it's constant Childcare so no housework that might take a bit less time than advertised IYSWIM.

If you can extend preschool hours twice a week depending on English classes that may help, but you're still left with the management issue. What if this one eats all the fruit/yoghurt, or does nothing around the house?

Cindy34 Mon 22-Jul-13 15:49:02

AuPairs can be ideal for care of older children, or for general help around the home. Some may be experienced teachers, childcare workers back in their home country and thus could cope with younger children but some are not.
It really depends on the individual as I wrote earlier, you need to find the right person, someone you can trust to care for a 3 year old.
Maybe the nanny you had took advantage but what is to say that an aupair wouldn't do that as well - is your judgement better now having had a bad experience and thus now know what to find out about someone before having them care for your children.

More hours in nursery could well help, would enable the aupair to attend language class.

littlecrystal Mon 22-Jul-13 16:16:01

Am I obliged to find and pay for English courses for the Au Pair? How much do they cost?

Ok so I have several options, which I need to decide before I adjust DC2’s preschool application.
One option is 8-9am and 3-6:00pm (rounded). Pay £80/week + £10 phone allowance?
Another option is 12:30-6:00pm (rounded). DC2 gets to eat lunch at the preschool. Pay £100/week + £10 phone allowance?
Do I need to add bus travelcard? (£60/month) or gym (£40/month?)

Expected duties – to take to afterschool activities (if any), feed DC, go to a park if the weather allows, wash up and help sort out DC toys and bedding (if they wet the bed).

No, I am not confident judge of character. I tend to input 100% of my trust and if the person is trustworthy it could work very well. If not then we will have problems. I just thought we could give it a try. If it does not work out, then I will totally drop this idea.

ActionLog Mon 22-Jul-13 16:18:30

So if they have living room what communal space is there for people to use in the days? Is there a large kitchen? If not your house doesn't sound big enough to cope.

pinkje Mon 22-Jul-13 16:21:42

We had an au pair when we had a new baby and 2 older kids. It didn't work out as we'd expected, she needed a lot of hand holding.... Just be careful. If I was in the same position I wouldn't do it again (I should have trusted my own capabilities of coping with 2 plus baby).

nannynick Mon 22-Jul-13 16:25:41

8-9am, 3-6pm sounds like it could work. It means the au-pair is not with your children for that long a period of time without getting a break. The three hours after-school is manageable by a teenager/early20's who enjoys children but does not want to work in childcare full-time, in my view. It also means they have 6 hours during the day to get to language class, or whatever it is they want to do during the day.

No idea on costs, expect you need to be competitive compared with what others are offering in your area, so look on sites like AuPair World to see if you can see what other families offer.

If you did this, is there any backup plan for if things do not work out? I guess you would lose the place with the childminder and may not be able to get that back again.

I agree that it will depend on the individual person, some people want to care for children and are good at it, others are not. They may be coming to the UK to study and socialise, not really to come to care for children. Thus giving them as much time as possible to do study and to have evenings free I feel could help.

Do you speak any languages other than English? It may help if you could check references the au-pair has, thus the need to be able to speak to someone who they have done voluntary work for, or paid work.

NomDeClavier Mon 22-Jul-13 19:46:30

Your 8-9 and 3-6 option would be best IMO, plus a bus pass as they're likely to need that to get to English lessons or out to socialise and you want them up do that. There's a thread about reasonable expectations somewhere and the AP wants a 1-4 travel card instead of a 3-4 so I feel if you provide no transport at all you'll be stuck.

Scarletlips Tue 23-Jul-13 09:51:32

The au pair could do attend their English classes in the evening. This would also sort out the issue of when the kids are sick, the au pair would easily be able to mind them in the morning. Cindy34, that's ridiculous about them 'not even liking children'. An au pair comes to the UK to gain a cultural experience and usually the language also. They get board and pocket money in exchange for 'helping with the children' and a small amount of housework. Why would a person choose to be an au pair if they don't even like children? Childcare is a given when it comes to being an au pair.

forevergreek Tue 23-Jul-13 18:05:31

I would say the 12.30-6 option plus bus pass. It's easier then as they have morning completely free to attend lessons/ lie in/ go out etc..

The bus pass I think they def need so they can go places with children if needed ( ie further park/ swimming/ take to children's friends party)

I would say 12-6, £100
+ phone credit ( you will want her to be able to all you also if needed and out with children)
+ travel card ( will need with and without children)
+ £ 15 per week to add to shopping bill ( can add online with the rest or in store with you). This way you can explain you buy x amount per week to last everyone ( including her), but that is for anything she likes in particular and wants more or ie fruit/ yogurts/ snacks etc

MGMidget Thu 25-Jul-13 04:32:20

Bus pass not essential if children's school and activities usually within walking distance. You could pay for travel with children as and when required. It is fairly common for au pairs to be provided with a bike where I live (zone 2 London) and the local language school even has a bike shed! Cheaper in long run than a bus pass.

Jaynebxl Thu 25-Jul-13 06:07:18

Is it really ok to pay £100 a week for 5 days of 5 and a half hours? That is less than 4 quid an hour. Does minimum wage not apply here or is it offset by the provision of a room?

nannynick Thu 25-Jul-13 09:30:33

It is ok as NMW does not apply as long as the person is being provided accomodation AND is treated as a member of the family taking part in family activities.

flowerpower03 Sat 27-Jul-13 08:17:10

Hi,
We have had aupair for many years now and certainly for us it is our cheapest childcare option. But by no means the easiest! There are positives and negatives. We find our own aupairs and from the outset state what their duties will be, certainly more than 25 hours a week and that way if they don't want those hours then they don't contact us.in our experience most aupair don't mind this as long as they get the weekend off. Regarding bedrooms, our aupair does not have an ensuite and lives in a room downstairs that was converted from a garage,this works out fine. With food this is a difficult one, we have had aupair that have eaten literally everything!! Even special treats we have bought the children. We ended up putting in to the contract that we provided 3 meals a day which were home cooked and if they wanted to buy their own snacks we could provide. Cupboard space.

I shouldnt think you will have any problem finding an aupair to stay in London as that's where most want to be!!if you have any questions please feel free to ask.

Mimishimi Sun 28-Jul-13 12:07:17

Is the loungeroom an older style closed off space or is it open plan? Will you really never use it (eg for storage which you will want to pop in and out of the room for etc)?

littlecrystal Mon 29-Jul-13 14:56:51

Thank you for responses, all very helpful. Our lounge is a separate room. Few years ago we accommodated my friend with her husband and a baby for a year as we and them were both quite skint at the time, and we found we managed without our lounge well.
We do our entertaining in our kitchen/diner anyway as everyone tends to shift towards food, and we also have a conservatory in use.
The only problem could be noise issue as the kids tumble down the stairs and pass hallway many times a day.

I have tried to compare the cost of au pair and the cost of breakfast/afterschool clubs and it seems that au pair would cost me around £500 / month will all extras so it is cheaper.

SunnyIntervals Mon 29-Jul-13 22:48:32

Au pair will be much cheaper and more flexible plus gives you the option to arrange babysitting if you are happy to pay for that and she wants to do it.

You may want ap plus - we always have 30-35 hours and pay £90 per week plus gym sub and unlimited use of car (we provide petrol). We do not pay for language classes, phone, train or flights.

We always select aps who have lived away from home and are trainee teachers in their eu country. There are plenty around as the supply of aps vastly exceeds the number of families looking.

You have to play a part in making their stay special as they come for the experience. That means IME helping them find language courses, some tourist info etc etc

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