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Tips for a happy au pair

(17 Posts)
BarbLives Wed 14-Sep-16 15:40:21

Our first au pair starts soon. We are semi-rural/small town, no where near London, and she can't have a car.
I have put her in touch with the one other au pair at school - any other tips to make her stay enjoyable?

Rattusn Wed 14-Sep-16 19:07:23

Involve her in family activities, but allow her to have her own space too. Eg 'we are doing X, would you like to join?'

I also make it clear in the beginning that she is free to use the lounge too in the evenings, and that we don't expect her to spend all her time up in her room (though if she wishes too it is fine).

We just generally try to be nice and treat her as a member of the family. I have helped out where needed with finding language classes, etc.

FairyAccess Wed 14-Sep-16 19:12:38

The opportunity to earn more money. Ie normal rate of pay for evening babysitting

IAmTheBadOne Wed 14-Sep-16 20:22:54

Leave some nice things for her in her room - ie list of places to see, things to do, bus timetable, maps, few books etc

Take her out in first week - like for pizza and maybe shopping so she can choose a cushion for her bed etc

Encourage her to meet people locally and look at Facebook groups for au pairs

As others said- treat her as a member of a family ie a distant relative who is just visiting

Thingvellir Wed 14-Sep-16 20:32:27

We are just settling a new au pair. The first few days are difficult.

For me the top things for settling are:
- include her in the family as much as possible until she's built her own friendship group (we are playing games like uno together with DC as they are a great icebreaker and no language barrier)
- make sure she has all the basics in place for independence- get the bank account sorted, the mobile phone etc
- get her to English classes ASAP, she'll make friends and build language confidence
- Yy to aupair met ups organised through FB. (Ours arrived last Sunday, she already has meet ups planned for this weekend which she's excited about)
- be on hand to help her find the rhythm and what she needs to do, but also give her time with the DC when you are not in the Dane room so she can build the bond

Good luckflowers

Thingvellir Wed 14-Sep-16 20:33:09

Dane= room wtf!

BarbLives Wed 14-Sep-16 21:01:27

I think her English is already too good for the classes here unfortunately. There aren't loads of au pairs locally but I have put her in touch with a couple and directed her to some facebook groups.

Hadn't even thought about bank accounts and mobile phones yet!

Thingvellir Wed 14-Sep-16 21:09:27

The mobile phone is important! We pay a contract for our APs (as its a tool of the job, I need to know we can be in contact). For £15 a month you get a sim with data/txt/minute contract that is more than adequate. They bring their current foreign phone and the sim works as phones aren't blocked to networks abroad. We've always set the sim up in advance do you can tell them what their UK number will be before they come - it's a nice thing to do for them and helps them feel welcome/planned for I think.

The bank account I'm finding a bit tricky this time, rules have changed recently so you have to have an NI number to have an account as a foreign national (it's an immigration thing), which is annoying. We're still working through this one...

Thingvellir Wed 14-Sep-16 21:12:10

Also, I've been surprised more than once by the fluency of emails prior to arrival, compared to language ability when speaking. I speak the language of my APs fluently (but not my DC unfortunately) so we don't have a language barrier ourselves, but it's always a challenge for them in the first coup of months

Rattusn Wed 14-Sep-16 21:12:21

barb if she is not a native speaker, she is still likely to benefit from advanced classes. Are they any near you?

BarbLives Wed 14-Sep-16 22:29:10

Our local college only teaches up to B2 level (upper intermediate) and having had a few video calls with her I strongly suspect she's beyond that (Scandinavian). For advanced classes she'd need to travel over an hour each way to our nearest city.

MabelAllan Thu 15-Sep-16 10:34:39

That's really helpful advice, thanks Thingvellir. Do you know if au pairs are able to get an NI number? I've just spoken to someone at the NI agency, but he seemed a bit unclear. Said he thought so, but it would take at least 6 weeks. Is that what you've found as well?

Rattusn Thu 15-Sep-16 11:29:49

Mabel yes au pairs can get an ni number. They are easy to obtain from the job centre, as long as they have the right to work in the UK. They just need to call to make an appointment, and come with the necessary documentation.

Karoleann Thu 15-Sep-16 13:38:46

I'd actually book a date/time for her to meet up for coffee with the other au pair at school, I've found my like having some social activity in their dairies in the first week. Definitely second going on the local au pair Facebook too.

I would be wary however, in saying that they are welcome to sit spend all their time with you as it can lead to unrealistic expectations on their part (and you having no time with your partner). I'd have a couple of set days where you expect to have time alone with each other.

The other thing you need to think about is transport, especially if she can't have a car. I'd get timetables of bus/train routes and think about getting her a young person's railcard.If bus/train services are poor, maybe think about getting her a bike. You'll have a very bored au pair otherwise.

I'd have a chat with her about what she would like to do in her free time and see how you can facilitate that. Our current au pair's level is far too high for the usual language courses, so she's going to be volunteering at a local school a couple of mornings a week, another previous au pair found that she enjoyed working at the local charity shop, another obtained a higher qualification in her diving certification.

Hope it goes well.

Thingvellir Fri 16-Sep-16 19:51:25

Rattusn is right. However, the AP must not say they are requesting an NI just for a bank account as I did this and they said they wouldn't process it and told me to call HMRC. When I questioned a bit further I was told she must phone up again herself and say she needed the NI to work (and stick to this story throughout the face to face interview as well I imagine). She hasn't done it yet. I'm concerned if there are any ramifications for this but as she won't be claiming any benefits (other than occasional healthcare I guess) hopefully it will be ok.

There's a rumour on our local AP FB page that Halifax and Lloyds don't require an NI, I haven't validated it yet though.

nottoallyenjoyingit Sun 18-Sep-16 04:16:14

Tis true- Halifax will allow an au pair to open a bank account without a NI number- just need to book and appointment and being an EU passport. When we actually exit the EU this is going to get harder...

notausernumber Sun 18-Sep-16 22:09:51

I have a Halifax account and they said no to AuPair account without proof of British address.

Ap just a said she wasn't fused about uk bank account so we just pay her in cash. She's only here for 9 months so we've just left it at that.

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