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Is it an au pair I want, or something different?

(15 Posts)
stillcrying Wed 03-Nov-10 16:34:44

Changes in personal circumstances mean that I am starting to think about getting an au pair at some point next year. ds will be starting school next September and I am going to need someone to collect them from school and look after them in the holidays. Also, having someone living in who can do light housework and some errands - shopping, picking up parcels etc.

Obviously this is classic au pair territory, and I've got the space in the house to have someone live in. I would probably prefer, on balance, to have someone who didn't live in, or who perhaps was only there during the week, but I appreciate the reason au pairs don't cost much is because they are getting board and lodging.

I do, however, think it would be pretty important to get someone who didn't fit the traditional au pair profile - ideally not a teenager with a poor grasp of English, I think. ds has slight speech delay, and isn't particularly easy to understand, and would definitely need someone who was pretty fluent linguistically. Ideally it would be someone who was a native speaker, but au pairs seem to be Eastern European.

I suppose what I'm wondering is whether there is a sort of non-au-pair option, say a student looking for a room who is happy to help with childcare from time to time? Does anyone have such an arrangement, how does it work, and where did you find them?

firefrakkers Wed 03-Nov-10 18:35:16

You can go for the student but they'd probably be live out and you'd have to be near a big Uni to get someone whose timetable allowed them to do all the school pick ups.

What about an Aus/NZ/Canadian au pair here on a working holidaymaker visa? Expect to pay a little over the odds for the EMT factor but not as much as for a nanny.

Or someone looking to get into nannying who's happy to do more of a mother's help role.

How much childcare experience would you want them to have and how much would you be willing to pay?

nannynick Wed 03-Nov-10 18:46:18

working holidaymaker visa? Think you mean Tier 5 - Youth Mobility Scheme.

firefrakkers Wed 03-Nov-10 18:52:27

That one. Sorry - still working out what visa I need for my prospective nanny grin

We still have the WHV.

stillcrying Wed 03-Nov-10 19:47:29

That sounds good. What's EMT and how much would that cost? Was thinking about £150 a week for 3-6.30pm three times a week, three full days during the holiday though not every week, and a night's babysitting. Or is that totally crazy? We're in London.

I don't need childcare experience - just enthusiasm and kindness. dd is very vocal bs will issue plenty of instructions to anyone who we employ.

It's a big leap - we have a wonderful nanny who's been with us for nearly three years but the finances just won't add up once ds goes to school

dikkertjedap Wed 03-Nov-10 20:41:33

Please note that if you offer £150 a week you will have to pay employers and employee NI and tax as well .... lots of paperwork (cost of living and accommodation might become taxable as well, so do seek advice from an accountant!). However, you will get plenty of candidates as it is about double the normal rate with fewer hours. Hungarian au pairs often also speak very good English (I believe there are a lot of American schools there). Good luck.

Sequins Wed 03-Nov-10 20:58:21

I think you could find a 20 to 25 yr old (say) au pair or "au pair plus" with perfectly good English. You can interview by Skype.

Treeesa Wed 03-Nov-10 23:10:45

Our au pair is Romanian and her English is almost fluent as are most of her other Romanian friends who come round to see her.

firefrakkers Thu 04-Nov-10 05:21:48

I wrote this huge post and my iPhone swallowed it

Basically EMT - English Mother Tongue. Don't discount other candidates if you think your DS might cope with them/they might cope with DS but it's true dealing with a speech delayed child in a foreign language is often 10x more challenging than dealing with one in your own. Put him on the phone/skype and listen in to how they cope.

£150 a week is high especially in termtime but if you employ a nanny you're used to payroll. Is that £150 gross or net? To keep it under the threshold you could offer £95/week on the understanding term time hours balance the holiday care. You're presumably familiar with all the other aspects of being an employer.

I'm not sure what the rules are on A2 nationals working full days in the school holidays - normally if here as an au pair they can only work 5 hours/day.

Only needing 3 days afterschool care makes it much more attractive to a student which might work better if you don't need regular care in the holidays. But it's less reliable than an au pair arrangement, if cheaper.

stillcrying Thu 04-Nov-10 06:03:31

Lots to think about - and I was worried £150 wouldn't be enough so that's good. Obviously happy to pay less! Skype interviews are a good idea. I've no objection to someone with English as a second language if the standard is high, either.

Is this someone I would find through an agency, or are there other routes?

It's reassuring to know that want I want might be feasible. I am scarred by the memory of my friend's string of au pairs - terrified Croation girls barely out of their teens who hardly spoke a word of English and spent all day weeping in their room because they we're homesick...

firefrakkers Thu 04-Nov-10 06:11:31

Aupairworld and greataupair are 2 fairly good sites but you need to do a lot of legwork yourself sifting through rubbish unsuitable candidates.

An agency should help do that for you.

Either way before you start pin down exactly what hours, duties, pay etc will be. Then work out the profile of your au pair - level of English, driver, needs to have worked away from home, gap year student, whatever criteria you think you want and be as specific as possible in your ad. That way it reduces timewasters if you're self-recruiting, or at least people who look good but fail on one of your unspecified criteria, or makes an agency job easier.

You have ages yet if you only want themnext September. When is your nanny leaving? Will she settle your DS into school meaning your AP start date is more likely to be end Sept/October?

StillSquiffy Thu 04-Nov-10 09:05:59

It takes a lot of legwork but you can find fabulous people.

I now always go for male APs for a number of reasons:-
1) They find it more difficult to get work so you get much more choice. Means you can specify (as I do) 25 yrs plus, graduate, driver etc. You don't have to compromise on skillset. I also insist on fluent English as well (have found that is generally the case for Scandinavians but other ocuntries you need to skype.
2) It may be just me, but I find the chaps I have had much easier to deal with than the girls - more confident, less mooning about dreaming of boyfriends, generally more 'can do' than 'can't be arsed'. so long as they have a TV with Sky so they can watch footie in their rooms, and pizza in the fridge they are pretty much happy.
3) My DS in particular now insists on men-only because (in his view and mine)they are much happier to spend hours and hours trampolining, looking for bugs, swimming, etc etc. DD also loves them (but loves girls as well)

The ironing will be shit, obviously.

Current AP is Greek, was swimming champion in his country and is going to be doing an MSc in Autism at the local uni where we live (already has a BSc in Early years from Greek Uni). He's 26 with Good English and is happy to just muck about with the kids, take the dog for a walk, and do the groceries and laundry. All for £80 a week (and use of a car). So you can find your perfect person (but it is a slog - on average I will sift through maybe 150 applications and skype maybe 20 people). I recruit myself and tend to use aupairworld because I find greataupair full of too many people asking for too much money on there (lots of nannies rather than APs). But greataupair has much better search engine which is useful if you want to find someone who actively wants to live in Isle of Man or loves horses or whatever.

JustAnother Thu 04-Nov-10 19:03:29

if you find someone with reasonable English, it won't really matter. When I was an aupair in Germany, about 20 years ago, I looked after a 4 year old child with Down Syndrome. She had severe speech problems, and my German was not perfect, but after a few days, I got used to her and vice versa. Providing you warn the aupair of this, I am sure she will ok.

5DollarShake Fri 05-Nov-10 07:14:40

My Romanian Mother's Help is brilliant, and her English is fantastic. I've actually seen quite a few glowing reports of Romanian au pairs on here.

heathdb Mon 08-Nov-10 22:46:13

I've had two au pairs. As a fluent French speaker I wanted my daughter to grow up with some French. In both cases their English was very poor and in spite of my French I was surprised at how stressful that made it.
Having said that, the first was very responsible and I was very lucky. The second however, I have just sent home after an incredibly stressful 10 weeks. She needed an au pair herself, was insolent and had a blatant disregard for safety.

I honestly don't know if I can face it again - especially as a single parent I find they "hang around" in the evenings, and honestly, it's difficult to work up enthusiasm for the things a 19 year old wants to talk about (at least I found it so). I'm sure if there were two of us on the sofa they would not come and sit between us.

However if there ever is a next time I will be thinking of a fluent english speaker, and someone a little older. I also would not bother with an agency - I don't think they add anything very much to the process.

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