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Adventures in childcare...about to get my first au pair but worried we might be a weird family!

(16 Posts)
mellowvibes Thu 06-Apr-17 01:07:00

hi all!

I'm about to move into a lovely house in an awesome trendy area of Liverpool near fantastic amenities and parks and the airport etc., with my ds, who will be 4 then.

Meaning I now have room for an au pair! Happy days! smile

I'm used to doing everything entirely solo since I am a single parent with no family in UK. My son is not at nursery and will be starting school in 2018.

He doesn't love babysitters/nannies. I want someone to live with us and help out with a bit of childcare and household jobs, but I want to feel our way into how much babysitting/day time childcare the au pair does.

I want him to get to love her as a house mate, then to develop the time without me and with her, gradually.

So to begin with, I'd want them just to arrive, settle in, hang out with my son casually to get to know him a bit, with no pressure.

There's no real rush as I will be wfh and only 10 hours a week. And to begin with I can do my work hours as I do now; while my son's busy playing or at night.

I see the move into this lovely house as a chance to start developing some regular time off for myself, which might look like a weekly swim, maybe an evening dance class once a week and the occasional proper night out.

Eventually, childcare wise, what I want is this:

- 1 evening/week babysitting (3 hours)
- 1 evening per month babysitting were I can come back any old time!
- x10 hours day-time babysitting during the week (totally flexible as depends on when I have a client and as I wfh I can work anytime. Would likely be done in 2-3 stints each week)

I want the au pair to do daily jobs (rubbish out/superficial living room and kitchen-diner tidy at end of day), weekly jobs (laundry/hoovering/childs bedlinen/bathroom clean) and monthly (adult bedlinen and dusting) - so that at least is pretty clearly structured in my mind.

I also want her to be a native Italian, as I want me and my son to learn Italian. A very long time ago I had a stint as an EFL teacher and I could support their English if they wanted. I want the person to be up for speaking to me and my ds in Italian sometimes and to kind of just throw in few bits of vocab and coaching now and then. Nothing intense or formal. Just to an enjoyable level which wasn't too onerous for them.

My question is, how the heck do I frame this job in an au pair advert?!

I believe this is less than what most people ask of their au pairs, am I right?

What should I pay her weekly?

I want the advert to be normal and standard enough to attract a good crop of candidates!

I would just love other people's input.Maybe you have more experience with au pairs and have some thoughts on how to approach this.

Maybe you are an au pair and can give me some advice on what might make this work?

Or maybe you think I should just make it a standard, clearly-defined package, then when I have selected the candidates I like, raise the 'warming up' period and see how they feel about it? hmm

Has anyone tried the language exchange element? Hows it gone?

Any tips or input very gratefully received!

This may have been too long. Thank you if you have made it this far - and even more thanks if you reply!!!

NotStoppedAllDay Thu 06-Apr-17 01:12:56

Aren't au pairs actually students over here living and learning but with just a bit of childcare?

You seem to want/need a housekeeper

Bitchycocktailwaitress Thu 06-Apr-17 01:39:34

Sounds like at least 20 hours a week, maybe a bit too much for a student? I would reduce the amount of cleaning if you can, might attract more applicants? I did a similar role as a young adult and was paid £10 per hour but not live in.

DingDongtheWitchIsDangDiddlyDe Thu 06-Apr-17 01:51:42

Au pairs aren't cleaners and aren't there to do your housework.

highinthesky Thu 06-Apr-17 02:19:09

It sounds like you've got your work / life balance sorted!

I think the babysitting duties are a bit light for a live-in. Would you consider a local but native Italian speaker, perhaps retired for this role instead?

Jemimapiddleduck Thu 06-Apr-17 03:17:34

You need a cleaner and an au pair smile

peripateticparents Thu 06-Apr-17 04:35:31

There is a formal definition of an au pair on the Hmrc website with hours and maximum payments somewhere - I'm sure I referenced it when getting our au pair a few years ago. Other than that, it's useful to check out the au pair websites to see what other people are offering on your area for your hours. It's not too clear how many hours you want a week in total, but the PPs may be right about needing a cleaner too.

DaisyFranceLynch Thu 06-Apr-17 04:50:59

The babysitting duties are a bit light but the housework is a bit more than an au pair would usually do - they'd usually just tidy up after themselves and the child, and cook for the child.

Our au pair does c30 hours a week childcare a week including one evening of babysitting, but she doesn't do any housework except her own room. I think that is more standard (20-30 hours a week is normal but we pay more to compensate).

I don't think your set-up is wrong but it's not what most au pairs expect and it might be harder to find someone who was happy to do housework rather than childcare, and who was good at it.

DaisyFranceLynch Thu 06-Apr-17 04:57:18

Missed the language element. That bit is fine, our au pair is teaching my son Spanish and I think lots of au pairs are happy to speak to their families in their own language sometimes.

I've also discovered that our cleaner is teaching him Polish - this reminds me that I know quite a few cleaners who also do babysitting, and one who became a nanny-housekeeper. It might be, as others have said, that this might be a better option, if you can find someone local and Italian.

NewMum17 Thu 06-Apr-17 06:52:34

I had au pairs growing up and have to agree with some of the previous posters that you might be asking a bit much in terms of housework. We had student au pairs so had a few different ones as they obviously only stay until their year/course is up. So be prepared for change.

Her jobs were:
to drop and collect my brother and I to school
give snacks afterwards (mum would still do the cooking)
entertain us after school until parents got home, sometimes this involved taking us to the park, but usually we would stay at home doing something fun
I do remember them tidying after dinner and washing the dishes but that was the only bit of housework they did.

I am not sure how you would phrase your advert but it sounds nice having the idea of easing them in. Get them to come in the summer hols to do that, if possible. Then you could say something like, 'before school begins in September, I would like you to spend time getting to know my child with me'..?
Hopefully you'll be able to work something out but I suggest looking early. I'm sure the occasional Italian lesson will be fine. Don't forget, as you get to know each other and hopefully bond well, she/he will most likely be willing to speak Italian to your child and you.
Just a thought, trial a monthly cleaner now/couple of months before au pair and then see if you can afford/want both?
Good luck! xX

carefreeeee Thu 06-Apr-17 20:41:13

Ha ha! There are no trendy areas in Liverpool.

I agree with others that the housework sounds excessive - you might find someone who doesn't mind, but be very clear from the start that there will be 10 hours cleaning and 10 hours child care a week.

Leading into the childcare gradually over a few weeks is probably quite a good idea - although you should let the au pair have some time alone with him from the start (go out for a short walk etc, and don't let your son decline this just say that's how it is) because it's very hard to get a young child used to a new carer whilst the parent is helicoptering around and it would probably be frustrating for her if you insist on being present all the time for the first month as the child will likely insist that you are the one that feeds, dresses him etc.

I had the opposite when I was an au pair - 3 kids for 40 hours a week after 1 week of help from an aged granny I was left to sink or swim - maybe your way is better!

harshbuttrue1980 Wed 12-Apr-17 17:58:59

No way should an aupair be changing adult (ie YOUR) bedsheets!! Au pairs are very definitely not maids or skivvies. Changing the kids' sheets is totally different, but they aren't there to be your servant.

pennybun Wed 12-Apr-17 23:07:23

No way you can advertise requesting/expecting a she - unless you can find a way to make your job fit pretty specific criteria in the sex discrimination act - nor can you request an Italian easily - you can ask for Italian language skills but not the nationality.

Bear in mind, a reasonable number of people from Latin America speak Italian due to family migration.

Also, do consider how to make sure the person has the correct visa/passport to work - the fine falls on the employer and is something horrendous like £10k.

Agree Au pairs do less housework but more babysitting. You can consider Au Pair plus but wages go up with hours/duties

underneaththeash Thu 13-Apr-17 08:38:31

penny - its very easy to find an italian/female candidate; au pair world has thousands of au pairs and has filters that allow you to select desired gender and nationality.

In the UK people from latin america cannot be au pairs in the UK unless they have dual EU nationality.

Au pairs do LIGHT housework only, so no bathrooms, adult bedrooms or things like dusting etc. A bit of hoovering, kitchen cleaning is fine, but they are not cleaners.

I know someone who has Italian au pairs and they teach the whole family Italian as part of their hours, I think she asks for 30 hours and 3 of these are Italian lessons. The reason for most au pairs coming to the UK is to improve their English, so she'll want to spend most of her time speaking in English to you.

SouthPole Sat 22-Apr-17 18:38:55

It's not a job and there is no such thing as discrimination as such,

Carefree - you cheeky bitch, there are fantastic areas in Liverpool.

OP -- AP to deal with the children and their care and mess made during those hours only. Get a cleaner for the other bits or pay her an hourly rate outside of childcare if she wants to clean for you.

We have a great AP at the mo, Spanish bloke (our first male) and he is awesome. Also teaching the littles Spanish which is hilarious when we're out and about!

chicarubia Tue 25-Apr-17 21:34:39

I have had 3 Italian au pairs for my daughter. My other half's family are Italian and it is important to me that my daughter grows up speaking it, as he speaks to me in English.

As someone said, Au Pair World is a great site (well, its crap technologically but its got the largest number of potential au pairs to choose from). It's not, however, super easy to find an Italian au pair. It took us a couple of months the last time. When we last looked there were around 120 Italians who met our criteria but many of those were not actively looking and not all of those had the right experience or saw us as what they were looking for.

You are entitled to ask the au pair to do light housework that relates to a more than the mess made in the time they are in charge of the kids. We had our first au pair hoover the whole house once a week. However, we realised that that made us uncomfortable and haven't asked for that since. We now ask only for housework relating to her-so they do her washing and tidy her toys. This comes within the 25 hours a week and is separate to the time spent caring for her. We want the au pair to focus solely on her rather than tidying for the time she is with her (its only 3 hours a day and our daughter is only 2). Have a look at the Au Pair world guidance on what constitutes light housework and I really would take your sheets out of it.

A couple of points to be aware of when drafting your advert: We have had people put off by the requirement that they speak Italian to our daughter as an au pair's purpose in coming here is to learn English. So also emphasise that you will talk in English a lot with her if you can.

Sell Liverpool and the area you live in- and explain there are language schools nearby that are accessible by public transport (if there are).
Be aware also that some people would be put off by the idea that you would be constantly around. I have a friend whose au pair became a nanny and was very put off by this in job searches. I agree with what someone above said that letting her spend some time with your son without you hovering from early is a good idea.

We have also helped our au pairs find babysitting work with our friends which has bumped the money they receive. If you have friends who might want babysitting you could highlight this as an advantage for them, too.

Timing wise, 25 hours a week including an evening babysitting is normal and enables them to attend a language course, especially if you can be flexible as you work from home.

Good luck! We have loved having Italian au pairs!

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