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Should we get an au pair?

(17 Posts)
memory505 Sat 18-Jun-11 22:51:43

I'm just trying to work out the best arrangement for our family when I return to work in January (after maternity leave). By then, DS will be 5 and attending school full time and DD will be one.

I am very lucky and have a really flexible working arrangement - about 20 hours per week, mostly from home (I can choose my hours). I just have to go into the office once per week (fixed day). On the day I go into the office, DH tends to work from home.

I'm starting to think that an AP might be the best option for us, but I have no idea as I don't know much about it at all.

I would like the AP to watch/entertain DD while I'm working at home and while DH is working from home. This would be for no more than 20 hours per week. That would be the most important part of her role. She wouldn't have sole charge as either me or DH would be supervising her. Do you think that would be reasonable/is a workable arrangement? I was thinking that I could ask her to start helping me from about 10am so that she wouldn't have to get up too early (I think teenagers like to sleep!).

Then I was thinking that maybe I could ask her to do a bit of housework to make it up to 25 hours. We don't really need a babysitter during the week (except for the occasional parents' evening) so she would have most evenings free and 2 free days at the weekend. Should I expect the AP to do housework as well or do you think that will lead to problems?

We plan to move before Jan but it will most likely be to a modest 3 bedroom terraced house (the AP would obviously have her own room). Just wondering what APs expect from their host family and their accommodation. We don't have much money so she wouldn't be coming on luxury holidays with us but we could provide her with a laptop with wireless internet connection and I'm happy to make sure there's always a supply of her favourite snacks in the kitchen. What else do APs expect? I've seen some agencies with forms asking whether you have a swimming pool. Do APs expect swimming pools?!

Also, what sort of house rules would I need to set? What sort of house rules do others use for visitors etc?

This is all new to me so any advice greatly appreciated.

catepilarr Sat 18-Jun-11 23:34:53

i think it all sounds all right. you sound like a nice considerable ap employer and that counts. adding housework is perfectly fine. just be upfront about all duties that will be expected and about the set up. and swimming pool is not required!!

memory505 Mon 20-Jun-11 21:09:08

thanks, catepilarr. Any advice on the sort of house rules to set for APs?

sanssucre Mon 20-Jun-11 22:00:45

We're in a v similar situation. Au pairs have worked out well for us. It's fine to ask them to help with housework though I've never asked mine to do heavy duty cleaning (except in emergency) - our current AP empties dishwasher, hangs out washing (after I've put it on), folds dry washing and puts out bins.

They definitely don't expect swimming pools.

Re rules think about:
- guests - can they stay over? for how long? do you want warning? can she have friends over while looking after your DC? Can she have boyfriends to stay?
- alcohol & smoking - can she smoke in the garden? can she drink in the house when she's not off-duty? are there limits i.e. we don't want you drunk and vomitting in front of the kids... would she have a curfew?
- internet - do you have a monthly download limit?
- phone - when can she use it?

that's all I can think of right now, I'm busy compiling my own list because we're about to start recruiting again. What agency are you using?

memory505 Wed 22-Jun-11 23:03:40

thanks for that list - it's got me thinking. We won't be getting an au pair for a few months yet and so haven't thought about agencies etc. Any recommendations for good agencies?

RebeccaHowald Fri 24-Jun-11 16:21:12

As the other people have told you, everything you say sounds very reasonable, concerning your question i would like to tell you that...

Usually the working hours of an au pair in the UK are 25 h/week and according this hours the normal thing is to give the au pair a pocket money of 55€/week. Sometimes if the au pair and the family get to an agreement, it could be 35/week and 75€/week.

The Au pairs want to learn the language so they have the option of going to a language school, if you can help she with it it would be great.

Regarding the housework, it wont be a problem, the task of the au pairs are taking care of the children (taking them to school, playing with them, teaching a new language as a native speaker...) and helping the family with light housework smile

You can find good databases on the internet where you can filter the Au pairs according on what you want (country of origin, smoker or not, language skill, driving license...)

Oh, I forgot to tell you that au pairs have two days of per week. I hope all this information will be useful for you, I know quite of the subject, so any question you'd have, just ask me, I will be happy to help you, and I know good Au pair portals as well that I can recommend to you ;)

I wish you good look!!!

Treeesa Fri 24-Jun-11 22:31:15

@RebeccaHowald - I would think the au pair portals that you've been using are a little out of date... 55 pounds a week..! Whatever source that came from must be 5 years out of date at least. The normal weekly pocket money for au pairs starts from 65 to 70 pounds per week for 25 hours.

RebeccaHowald Thu 30-Jun-11 15:02:44

@Treeesa - Hello smile I think this number depends on were you are and of the agreement between au pair and family, but yes maybe 55 is too few, I would say 60-65 € per 25 hours.

Treeesa Thu 30-Jun-11 16:40:01

Hello RebeccaHowald - Are you writing from outside of the UK? You've specified Euros so maybe it's possible that €55 (euros) or €60-65 (euros) is the situation in another European country. In the UK though au pair pocket money should definitely start from at least £65 or £70 per week..

CharlieCoCo Fri 01-Jul-11 16:07:53

gosh, what do the au pairs live on???

northnorthwest Fri 01-Jul-11 22:45:01

I have had good experiences of au pairs. Our current one I pay c£400 per month pocket money. She does the ironing and some light housework, alongside our cleaner, but mostly takes my elder child to and from school and teaches him conversational German -also cooking. He is becoming fluent in the language. We pay her flights home to Germany for holidays within reason. Her boyfriend is a student at Manchester Uni and he visits her on her time off - but we don't allow him to stay over with us. For the accommodation/allowance we also expect her to babysit when we go to dinner parties etc. We give her an annual bonus at Christmas to cover the time we are away skiiing. Luckily, she is an early riser and is happy to take my son to school.

mikulkin Fri 08-Jul-11 13:56:14

Hi! I pay £80 per week to mine. She works max 25 hours per week, but usually much less. She picks up ds from school and stays with him before I come home, she also vacuum-cleans, load/unload dishwasher, runs small errands and cooks for ds and herself. She has her own room and bathroom. She drives my kid around and can use car in her own time too. Babysitting twice a week. My mom often visits us and then the au-pair has a lot of free time, she doesn't cook then and also doesn't need to stay with ds after picking him up. She is very happy with the arrangement and so am I.
It is important to know they are happy, most of her friends are going back to their home countries after 1 year, but she wants to continue with us.
It is also important to set rules in advance. She is not allowed to have anybody over without asking me in advance and she is also not allowed to have anybody overnight.
I used millenium au pairs agency and was very happy. They were quite efficient, answered all my quieries within 15 mins and also seem to be equally committed to au-pairs and families. I have applied to about 5 agencies and ended up using them. Good luck!

Gonzo33 Sun 10-Jul-11 11:06:16

Sorry to hijack, but I have au pair questions too.

My husband is in the armed forces. In a year or so we are buying our "forever home" and going unaccompanied for a couple of years until he is done.

Whilst this is happening I will be working 9-5 Monday-Friday, and maybe the odd Saturday (although hubby will be coming home on a Friday night - so thats not an issue).

DS will be 12, DD will be 3. DS can pretty much look after himself now, but DD would need picking up from nursery in the afternoon and looked after Mon-Fri until I get home - which would be about 4 hours later. Is this feasible? Or should I be looking at the childminder route instead? I wouldn't want the AP to do any housework (apart from their bedroom) because I am really anal picky about how I like things done in that respect.

fraktious Sun 10-Jul-11 17:56:37

If you're happy to give plenty of direction and pay a bit more for someone who can do the care for your DD then I'd say you'd be okay gonzo.

With au pairs as l

fraktious Sun 10-Jul-11 17:59:40

*as long as you're realistic in your expectations and they are very clear on what those are then it's between you and whoever you recruit (subject to immigration restrictions).

Treeesa Sun 10-Jul-11 23:07:24

sounds like a fairly straight forward au pair role - so you just need to consider if you want to share your home instead of the child minder route..

Gonzo33 Mon 11-Jul-11 13:56:05

I'm quite happy to share my home. Hubby is as well - although he wouldn't be as affected due to him only being home at weekends.

Thanks for your advice ladies.

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