Anyone have experience with getting an Au pair for help with older children when having another baby?(18 Posts)
Looking for advice and to hear from people who've had similar experiences please.
I'm expecting dc3 in Feb/March next year. I will be having a planned c-section. My husband will only be able to have a week or so off at that time of year. He is self employed and works long hours. I'll need help with getting eldest to and from school (by car) and help with toddler who will only just be 2 years (I will be present). I would also would like help navigating tea time and bedtime when Dh won't be home.
In an ideal world I'd prefer a mothers help. but it would cost twice as much. I'd only need 5/6 hours a day for 6 weeks or so (till I've recovered and can drive) Then would want to reduce their days to 4 or so hours 3/4 days a week. (To save on cost) but I think this would be hard to find.
So considering an au pair for 3/4 months instead. A few weeks before baby is due and then 2/3 months after. We have plenty space but I'm worried about a few things.
1. having a young person/stranger in the house when I'm just home from hospital.
2. They would have the spare room which would make make it hard for my mum to visit. She lives 1.5 hours away and comes to stay quite regularly and is very helpful when she does stay. But I couldn't ask her to come for 6 weeks. And even if I could, although she's lovely and helpful it would be too much!
3. We live in the country side in Scotland. Around 1 mile outside a town which is then a 40 min bus journey to 2 different cities. But essentially quite rural. So might be difficult to find someone good.
4. Heard of other people having difficulties with their au pairs. For example, when they're not 'working' not clearing up after themselves at all. Or offering to help/clear away meals they're sharing with the family.
Would love to hear from anyone who's used an au pair in similar circumstances and/or any advice.
You can get an au pair for 25-30 hours but I think you will have to phrase it as you will pay them x weekly for the whole stay and x more for the first few weeks if they will be doing an au pair plus role initially for first few weeks (can be up to 35 hours). If you check with agencies they will know the going rates.
My bf had an ap while she was on Mat leave and it worked well.
Interesting to hear that someone else has used an au pair on mat leave. Most testimonials I've found online are for people with just older children.
Hi! I used to be an au pair in a rural area of England. This was a billion years ago (ok it was five years ago haha), but the family did state it was a rural area and the bus times and timetables to nearby cities. To be fair, I was just 18, but I had no problem with that, I loved countryside Britain, and had no problem of spending a whole day in the city on my day offs. Some people just have this preference, so don't think that you will get someone 'bad' just because you live in the countryside, especially in Scotland! Also adding that you are only looking for 3-4 months, for a year it may be harder to find someone to stay in a rural area, but for a couple of months it's not a problem at all in my opinion.
I know thousands of girls who went into a house with a pregnant mum to help around before, while and after the baby is born. This arrangement is extremely common.
I understand your worries however, here is my tips for finding someone:
1, Use au pair world. This gives you a chance to fully 'investigate' someone. If you go through with an agency, they will do the job for you, but they are not you.
2, Find 2-3 girls and interview them via skype. It is not unreasonable to have even more skype interviews with one person if you wanna ask some more questions. To make everything easier for you, I would concentrate on the following things:
- Their English is great. Make sure they always understand what you say, it's more important than speaking well. Bear in mind though that skype sounds strange sometimes and they will be hella nervous.
- Make sure they have experiences with newborns, as well as older kids - you are looking for help with your bigger ones but you will never know when you'll need someone to take care of the baby in an emergency situation.
- Ask concrete questions about their experiences (What was the name of the baby? Did they have any siblings? What did you do with them in free time? etc, basically make sure that they really have the experience and don't just make up answers)
- Write a list about everything you will need help with. It personally drives me up the wall when someone says 'you will only need to work 5-6 hours a day', so taking care of the kids and driving them to and from school. If they come home from the school run and have to tidy up the morning mess, or you need help with prepping the food and putting everything away once the kids are in bed, those are still working hours, even though a child is not actively involved. In both my au pair jobs I worked 12 hour days with 1-2 hour breaks while the kids napped and I was always contracted for 5-6 hours. Bear in mind that an au pair is only not working when she is in her room. A job like this you can't break down for hours, I would recommend you write down what happens in an average day in your house and what will their rule be in that.
Don't get me wrong, i'm not playing au pair protection services here, just giving you tips to avoid them leaving you.
I don't know about your house arrangements, but if you have a living room maybe your mum can take the couch for a couple of nights? (my parents do this all the time, but maybe it wouldnt work for everyone)
It’s usual for an au pair to do some e English language study whilst in the uk. Will that work with the times/location you have?
Wow thanks @chloehazel for your response. Really helpful and much appreciated. Excellent tips.
Unfortunately no appropriate courses in the nearby town but there are options in both cities.
I kept my au pair on once I was on mat leave and it was great having her there. School run after a sleepless night is not fun - ok most people do it, but if you can avoid having it every day then go ahead!
She was the au pair I had the closest bond with out of all.
Hi mixed up, I was in exactly the same situation as you and 2 years later have just said goodbye to my third au pair.
It was a fantastic and economical answer to my childcare needs. Like you, we live quite rurally (in Ireland) and we found it important for the au pair to have access to a car as bus services round here are fairly rubbish...
The au pair arrived 2 weeks before my planned section to give her time to settle in and get to know the other children and our routine.
She would take the older kids to nursery and school, and allow me to sleep in the morning which was a lifesaver after being up with the baby in the night. We couldn't have managed without her, especially in those first weeks when I couldn't drive.
I didn't find it difficult having someone in the house after having a baby, I was just so glad of the help, and it was great for the older children to have someone who could e.g. take them swimming or to the park. It took a lot of pressure off my husband too and I would really recommend it.
Our au pairs went to language class 2 nights a week which was nice for us too, as it meant we had at least a couple of nights slobbing in front of the tv. Could you maybe include gym membership in the package so she would have something to go out to when she's not working?
I would second all chloehazels points up thread, but I wouldn't be too concerned about getting someone with newborn experience ...I could count on one hand the number of times the baby was left with the au pair.
Ps all our au pairs were over 25 , cheaper to insure on the car and very settled , mature and keen to help.
Good luck !
Thanks for your recent messages. It's very reassuring to hear of people in similar circumstances having successful experiences with au pairs.
We have a girl due to start at the very end of January. She's only 19 but seems quite mature. She's been in the UK since August doing a language course and working.
We've spoken a lot and I've tried to be very clear with our expectations and regarding our location. Just got everything crossed now that it goes well.
Thanks again for all the advice. I'm feeling positive we've done the right thing and that it will go well.
I hope it goes okay, just to mention though that its very difficult to get a 19 year old non-UK citizen insured on a car, I notice that you need a driver, I'd really recommend checking with your insurance company.
We did thank you. I appreciate it's normally very tricky but we've managed to sort it.
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Just seen this post! We are in same position except due a baby in the next week or so. We've had our first ever au pair from Germany who is lovely, diligent and quite shy. Her job is mainly to do school drop offs and pick ups while i recover from c section (school hols atm). So far so good i think though real test will be when baby arrives. The only time we've felt it go wrong is when we haven't communicated what we want/expect. She (shockingly for us!) Isn't interested in visiting London or making similar au pair friends (when interviewing she came across like others in that she was keen to be in London)...she would rather hang out with us (husband and i or/and with kids). Bit annoying but considering I'm 9 months preggers this is fine.
This though made last night really awkward as we hosted a small NYE dinner party and she expected to join us. My husband and i didn't realise as she'd disappeared to her room most evenings. We have included her during Christmas and eating out and visiting London etc but mostly to introduce her to London and our lives and to feel part of us. I'm terrible at drawing the line as i dont want to upset her particularly as she hasn't made any new friends. And doesn't seem to want to.
It's a learning curve for us all and i need to be more assertive but i have terrible mother guilt as she just sits in her room all day and leans on us for entertainment 😯! She is good with my older children though.
@Fanofpotato our girl is from Germany too! She arrives 3 weeks today!
Sounds like it's going relatively well. Hopefully she settles in a bit more. Good luck when the baby arrives.
Would love an update if you had time. X
@Fanofpotato hope arrival of baby has gone well and your au pair is helping/working out.
Ours arrived just over a week ago and seems to be settling in well. She's got a lovely nature and seems have struck a good balance between being around and helping and not getting in the way or being over bearing. It's early days though I suppose. Planned cs still over 3 weeks away!
Great to hear @mixedupmummy !
Our AP has been with us 2 months now and baby has been with us a month - all well so far - we re just focussing on getting through the early days with a newborn atm! Not exactly what we were expecting as far as the AP is concerned; she has only been out to London once on her own ! We had a chat and she insisted she is genuinely not interested in going out nor meeting new ppl (i had put her in touch with other APs). She has some uni work fo be getting on with and she enjoys skyping her family/friends. She is well travelled and insists she isn't homesick but "just an introvert". I still find this very strange as she is helping us out with pick ups and drop offs but other than some pocket money, she doesn't seem to be benefiting from the whole "being in London" experience. Bizarre. She is involved in our day to day family life and we try to go out for a meal once a fortnight (baby permitting). Life with a newborn is pretty full on for me and i am obv at home a lot. I used to find the AP's constant presence annoying but I'm now used to it and to be honest, have other things to worry about. I do wish she'd go out and enjoy herself as I find myself worrying about her when i needn't.
Good luck with the new baby - i had a cs birth too so the help with the older children has been invaluable. I hope all goes well! 😊
I think it's fine when they want to stay at home if it's because they need to study. I am always a little worried by those who resist making friends because I'm scared they will get lonely and go home. I had one girl who did not make any effort to make friends, then suddenly her gran died and she went home for the weekend (with all her things!) and never came back!
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