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Au pair... This is my first time, advice needed :-)

(24 Posts)
ziggiestardust Tue 04-Mar-14 20:54:14

I am chatting with a couple of girls at the moment to be an AP to our DS, who is 3.5.

The duties will be 4 days per week, taking and collecting DS from nursery, (he goes 8-4:30 mon-fri), caring for him and giving him his dinner, and giving him his bath and bed if DH and I are running late. Probably not much babysitting; certainly not more than once per week; we're not that sociable grin If she has the time when DS is at nursery, then it would be great if she could make his packed lunch for the following day and run the Hoover round if it needs it. We have a gardener.

One girl is German and seems quite confident with English, and she is 18. Very polite, glowing references.

The other girl is Spanish and her written English is quite good, but her spoken English really isn't great. I think it's a confidence issue, and I'm sure that after a month being in England she'll really improve tenfold. She is 23, also great references; one working with children and another with the elderly. The agency lady said to me she seems rather shy, but I've been emailing with her this evening and she just seems so sweet. I'm really quite taken with her. She really, really seems like she wants it you know? Like she really wants the opportunity.

I think the German girl is a great candidate, and her English is great.

But I almost feel like the Spanish girl wants it so badly, she's emailed me and chased me up about this job. I also feel like she's got a lot to gain from this exchange, and she could learn so much from being here.

Can you help me choose? I'm worried I'm choosing with my heart and not my head. Does anyone have any experience here, or any nuggets of information for a first timer?

wadi1983 Tue 04-Mar-14 21:25:47

Can.you skype them both?

ziggiestardust Tue 04-Mar-14 21:36:33

Yes, I've skyped them and those were the impressions I got. Spanish girl very nervous and shaky, her English really not great. But very keen. We also hit it off emailing afterwards.

Paintyfingers Tue 04-Mar-14 21:48:29

Honestly? Don't give the job to the person who wants it the most. Go for the person you think will:

Be best with the dc
Have good enough English to bond with the dc
Be responsible and sensible
Be most reliable
Get on best with you and be easiest to live with

Have you thought of a trial weekend? We have our ap over for one and it costs next to nothing - £50 for a cheap flight.

ziggiestardust Tue 04-Mar-14 22:06:42

painty the trial weekend sounds great, but we are moving houses and jobs between now and then so just don't have the time, but next time I will definitely do that, that's a great idea.

Mimishimi Wed 05-Mar-14 04:57:47

German girl. Look it up on here or on other forums. Nearly all say the best experiences they've had are with German/Scandanavian girls. Not so much with Spain.

ziggiestardust Wed 05-Mar-14 07:14:02

mimi grin I've just come off a thread on here where a bad experience was with a German AP grin haha!

Do you have any experience with German AP's? thanks

NomDeClavier Wed 05-Mar-14 08:26:50

Does the Spanish girl have a firm plan for after? The German had probably worked this in to her life plan - AP for a year, Uni, career etc - and knows that she wants from the experience and is willing to commit to a year. The Spanish girl may have a plan where improving her English in England leads to something or she may be desperate to get a job out of Spain. From reading threads here the best ones seem to be the ones who have an ulterior motive for coming and moving on to something after.

ziggiestardust Wed 05-Mar-14 09:22:19

nom she says that she wants to come here for a year to improve her English and get experience working with children in another country. She says that things are very bad in Spain for young people, so I think that's where the drive lays.

I'll be speaking to the German girl on Saturday again; the connection wasn't great last time (bad weather here) so I hopefully I'll be able to chat to her more and get a better opinion. She wants to stay for 6 months, but she is young; 19. So when she returns in September I think she'll be looking to go to uni.

Stubbed Wed 05-Mar-14 09:26:25

I'd go for the Spanish girl. You already say you are taken with her maybe her personality will fit best with your family & child. I wouldn't worry too much about the language. I think it's over rated anyway but children will be able to communicate and her English will pick up very very quickly.

ziggiestardust Wed 05-Mar-14 09:31:08

I think also, I might be leaning towards her because she is really keen. The German girl was slower to respond to emails, and from me initially asking to Skype to chat, said she was too busy until the weekend (which was 5 days away at the time). Whereas the Spanish girl was eager to get in there as soon as possible to chat. Now this is probably circumstantial, totally get that. But I was bowled over by he Spanish girl's eagerness and keenness I suppose. In my book it counts for a lot. But again, it's circumstantial and possibly the German girl was working or had other commitments all week, which we all do.

andagain Wed 05-Mar-14 10:48:14

Ziggie hi,

I wouldn't get too hung up on their nationality, it is a very personal thing whether an au pair works for you and suits your family.

When you say the Spanish candidate's English is bad, how bad do you mean? I agree that she will pick it up fairly quickly (I have seen it with our au pairs) but if an accident happens and she has to speak to someone else in a stressful situation or make an emergency phone call would she be able to explain the situation and what she needs? I do realise that this is a really extreme example but these things do happen.

And I would also second Painty's suggestion of a trial weekend. We always do it, it is worth every penny and a complete eye opener!

OvertiredandConfused Wed 05-Mar-14 11:25:25

I've had great experiences with four German au pairs. There are also some great Spanish au pairs but I found it harder to pick them out from all the young Spaniards just desperate to get out of the country and find some hope of work!

Go with your gut instinct as to who will be the best fit and do the best job. And don't try and sell your family too much. Be honest, factual about what's involved and welcoming.

Good luck

TwittyMcTwitterson Wed 05-Mar-14 18:31:21

Sounds to me like you have already decided the Spanish girl is the one you want but you're worried about English! She'll learn I'm sure. grin

Blondeshavemorefun Thu 06-Mar-14 08:42:22

How bad is the Spanish girls English - would she be able to understand your 3,5 and more to the point could he understand her?

Could she deal with his needs?

Obv ap's come over to learn English but often with older/school children so language less of a worry

Coveredinweetabix Thu 06-Mar-14 23:33:55

The employment position for the under 25s in Spain at the moment is horrendous. A huge percentage of them are unemployed. The Spanish girl will be desperate for a job, any job. One of my friends has a Spanish au pair who is a qualified English teacher in Spain but couldn't get a teaching job so came over here to au pair and is hoping to find some work as a Spanish tutor and build that up so that she can get a "proper" job in this country. Another friend's Spanish au pair is a fully qualified nurse. Does you potential Spanish au pair have any childcare or care experience which makes you think she would be a good au pair? Do near in mind that the Spanish girl may be currently unemployed and so sat at home with nothing to do but respond to your emails and chase you. The German girl may be equally keen but getting in with her current job/studies & social life and so not free until the weekend.

ziggiestardust Fri 07-Mar-14 07:08:32

I'm speaking to the German girl on Saturday evening so I hope to be able to get a better perspective then.

The Spanish girl, from what I can gather, has experience working with young children and the elderly and wants to improve her English in order to become a translator. She is 23.

The German girl wants to become a teacher, and volunteers at a nursery and has worked in a law office. She is 18.

justsodamntired Fri 07-Mar-14 07:16:51

Go with the one you felt the most rapport with (Spanish), they'll be living in your home!

I made the mistake if head over heart once and really really regretted it. Almost identical issue to you in fact.

Also, I had au pairs as a kid and the Spanish ones were far sweeter than any if the Northern Europeans grin. Even though my parents often preferred the Northern Europeans me and my sister hated them!

LadyHarrietdeSpook Fri 07-Mar-14 13:47:40

We've had four German au pairs. I agree very much with this statement: "The German had probably worked this in to her life plan - AP for a year, Uni, career etc - and knows that she wants from the experience and is willing to commit to a year. " But our current French AP is also very focused; we look for this and I think you could find it in any nationality. I also find the number of candidates from Spain so overwhelming I can't sort through all the CVs. But my friend has had great experiences with Spanish au pairs.

I must say that our German au pairs (all stayed a year) have been consistently 'pushier' than our current French one who seems much happier to go with our flow, so to speak, and give us space. However, we nearly hired a French AP the first time round who was very opinionated... you just can't tell. My children have liked all of them, which is the main thing.

The girl that I most connected to during the interview process as an individual and enjoyed talking to as a person was, however, our worst au pair in terms of her ability to cope with the day to day routine. I wouldn't be looking for someone who sees you as a peer - if there is an element of that in your conversations that you think you may be connecting with, I would be a bit wary.

I got kind of fed up, and I know this will sound crazy, with the near perfect English of the Germans and wanted to give someone else a chance to benefit from an exchange. I can understand where you're coming from with the Spanish girl. BUT our current French AP (and the one it looks like we're hiring for next year) still had good English. She will suffer in comparison to the German on Skype but is it still okay? Speak to her on the phone and in Skype, a variety of ways, to get a sense of whether she'd be safe with your kids.

MGMidget Mon 10-Mar-14 14:42:22

Do bear in mind that what you see on email does not necessarily reflect the standard of English of the Au Pair. There are translation websites out there, for example, or a friend may have helped her write it. The skype call and her ability to communicate on that is more revealing. How much could the Spanish au pair understand and speak on the call? If it was very little then I would definitely be favouring the German au pair (subject to how you feel about her after the next call).

I would not underestimate the benefit of having an au pair arrive with a good level of English. They will find it much easier to form a good relationship with your DS and will be able to follow your instructions and will be easier to train. We've had several au pairs and those with poor English were harder work to train, lots of misunderstandings, lots of repetition needed. They also had more difficulty successfully communicating with our DS, hence there were more frustrations (from him at not being understood).

Also, our au pairs with poor English were not very effective at any sort of communication with other people on our son's behalf (e.g. teachers) and there will be times when a teacher or nursery staff member may discuss something with the au pair.

In my experience, our au pairs who arrived with poor English sought out other au pair friends from the same country and hence spent their spare time socialising in their own language. Hence, you may find that her English does not improve as fast as you hope. It does depend partly on her motivation of course, but if her English is bad she may struggle to 'get in' with a multinational group of au pairs with better English and may find it easier to build a social life with other Spanish au pairs.

ziggiestardust Mon 10-Mar-14 14:55:28

Ah. I spoke with the German au pair on Saturday (speaking again with her tonight so DH can speak to her as well) and her English was phenomenal. Not only that, but she was very sweet and was quite funny too.

I'll see how it goes tonight, but I may well end up going for her because her language skills are excellent, and with a 3.5 year old DS, I need to be sure he will be understood and his needs met!

MGMidget Mon 10-Mar-14 15:17:51

Good luck with the decision! I think the fact that she wants to be a teacher (if that is actually true, which it might not be) could be good indication that she will have a genuine interest in caring for children.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Mon 10-Mar-14 22:05:43

At the age of your child I would be going for the person with the best English,all other things being equal...

MariePol Wed 09-Apr-14 14:21:27

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

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