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"Standard" questions for au pair...help please!

(5 Posts)
JinxyCat Wed 31-Aug-11 22:43:42

Evening all!

We have now decided we're going to try for our first au pair for when I go on maternity leave (after all the angst from my previous posts our nanny has given notice and will be leaving us shortly after #2 arrives) to help out with my toddler (2 1/2 DS) and general things.

I've put up an advert on aupairworld.net specifying that we'd like someone to do thirty hours - split up to be 7.30am-2.30pm twice a week; then 2.30pm-7.30pm twice a week, and one weekend day 7am-3pm. She would have her own room, and share a bathroom with us.

I was thinking of offering £80 a week, we live in Central London, does that sound reasonable?

The reason I've asked for a mix of afternoon and mornings is so that I can try and get some sleep (I remember being v. tired with DS1), and because I would feel a bit strange doing the 7am-9am/3-7pm split that I think most people want to do.

I know asking for weekend working is a bit odd too, but my DH wants to get on with DIY at the weekends, and I'm a bit scared of being left on my own with a newborn and toddler (although I'm sure I'll cope). The intention is to make sure they would always have two full days off, but one of those days might be a Friday or a Monday (so they have Fri/Sat or Sun/Mon off) instead of a Saturday/Sunday.

We're looking for someone to be an extra pair of hands, help with the cooking, maybe take my DS1 to the park/out or watch the baby for an hour so I can take DS1 out (once the baby is older). No sole charge for long periods (which I know is a no-no!).

So, just wondering if there is a standard list of questions which I should be asking the potential candidates once both sides (her and us) have said they're interested...I'm sure this has been asked before but haven't been able to find the thread...

Also, what are the potential 'gotchas', i.e. things I should make sure to mention to the candidates, or think about before we talk to them?

All help gratefully received!

ChitChattingaway Thu 01-Sep-11 12:00:43

Things to look for: experience with children on a frequent basis. Babysitting is not enough - the children are usually asleep at that time! So having much younger siblings is ideal - younger nephews and nieces not so great. Can't really know how much time they spend with them. (My au pair had kindergarden experience and was completely useless!!!!)

Also someone who has had exposure to a baby would be good, even if you don't intend for them to do much with the baby.

It's a toss up between someone who lives at home and someone who has lived away - living at home can show they are capable of slotting into family life. Living away shows they have some measure of independence and will get on ok in a new country. Perhaps someone who has done a bit of travelling before?

Asking for them to work one day on a weekend might make it harder to find someone, but if you stress that you are willing to make sure their weekday free day will be joining the weekend free day so they have 2 free days in a row would help make it more appealing.

Ask why they want to travel to the UK, and in particular what interests them about London. (Which is very desirable for lots of au pairs).

Also some first aid questions - what would you do in this scenario, etc. What are they planning to do with their time in London, do they need English lessons (what level of English are YOU looking for).

30 hours is more than the usual hours, but £80 is appropriate for them.

However - consider being willing to offer a little bit more for someone who is very qualified (and putting that in your ad). You will have a young baby. If it is colicky, or you are suffering from PND, you might want an extra pair of hands willing to just take the baby off you for awhile while you lie down or just walk away for a little bit, or to change the occasional nappy. Young and/or inexperienced au pairs wouldn't be able to cope with that.

Strix Thu 01-Sep-11 12:19:11

Those are funny hours. And the weekend day may be a deal breaker for a lot of candidates. Why not make the job from say 7:00am to 12:00 noon Mon - Fri. allowing her to sign up for an afternoon English class or whatever she wants to spend her time doing.

Does anything come with the £80? Gym membership, bus pass, use of car, etc.? You may have to sweeten the deal to get someone to work the hours you suggest.

mranchovy Thu 01-Sep-11 13:40:27

A couple of comments.

Will your DS be starting nursery school soon? A less unusual pattern might suit you better then.

7am is a very early start.

You might have to switch the days around a bit to fit in with classes.

There's not much point having Saturday off if you are on duty at 7am Sunday morning, you might need to rethink the weekend working a bit.

Scarletlips Tue 06-Sep-11 15:41:39

Jinxycat,
I did something very similar and got an au pair when my ds2 was born. She started 3 wks before baby was due and it was great. If I was up at night with the baby she was able to help in the morning while I got a few hours sleep.It also meant that she could bring ds1 to the playground or to go the our local toddler group while I was with the baby. I made a point of giving ds1 some individual time each week also so that he didn't feel abandonned (he was 2.5 yrs when baby was born). I think that the most important thing is to agree from the start what you expect of your au pair especially household choirs e.g dishwasher, hanging clothes out, making kids beds. If you can be flexible with your au pair that's great too. Our au pair loves taking the kids out of the house everyday. So she'll often go to the shops and get a few groceries if we run out. She loves ironing so she irons the kids clothes but doesn't like cooking so I do that. We work out the household schedule to try to accomodate everyone. I think the weekend morning work might be a bit much especially as au pairs like to travel while over here, as it is a cultural exchange that they are doing. You'll also need to make sure that your au pair can get to her English classes if she wants to do some. kangarooaupair as many of the au pairs on this site are already in the UK so we could meet them before we offered them the position. most important thing is that she's good with the kids. Check references if she has any. Also look out for childcare experience and did she study a caring profession in college. There'll be things that may annoy you but if your au pair is good with your kids try to let the small stuff go for example our au pair dresses the children in the strangest outfits and puts the bowls in the wrong section of the dishwasher but she's so nice and my kids are so happy with her, that these things just aren't important. Good luck with itsmile

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