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Au pair for 3 mornings a week for six month old

(8 Posts)
abc123cd456 Tue 27-Sep-11 11:55:40

I am planning on going partially back to work when my son is six months old and am wondering whether anyone has any experience of leaving a relatively young baby with an au pair? I am researching a lot at the moment and have come across quite a few people looking for au pair positions in London (where we live) that have previously au paired for small babies for up to two years. There are also some that are already au pairing in London but are looking for a new job (for various reasons) so I would get a chance to meet them in person and do a trial run which would make me feel a lot more comfortable.

What does everyone think about the prospect of this?

Thanks so much.

Ladymuck Tue 27-Sep-11 12:04:33

I think that in general I value experience and common sense in a childcarer over a qualification per se. BUT there are a few things worth considering:-
a) an au pair will live in, and require board and lodging; so you will probably end up paying more than you wold for alternative childcare based on just those hours.
b) you may end up seeing an awful lot of this person. Have you had people living with you before in a relationship where you re providing board for them?
c) it can be difficult to get robust references for au pairs; obviously there are some great ones out there, but whoever you employ whether nanny, au pair, mother's help or anyone else, make sure that you can actually speak to people who have employed the. It is more important at this stage than when you have walking, talking children. If your au pair is form overseas then you may not be able to get the equivalent of a CRB check. You also need to think about the boyfriend issue.

At your ds's stage I would be more inclined to look at nannies (not necessarily qualified ones). There are actually a lot of people out in London who seem happy with part-time work.

harrietthespook Tue 27-Sep-11 12:45:52

Well, you could interview them and see what they're like. Even though they are calling themselves 'au pairs' don't get too hung up on the job title. They may well be 'nannies' in reality. But they will then expect nanny pay too. In which case, make sure that you can verify their experience as easily as you would be able to for someone who has mostly worked in the UK, as Ladymuck says in her POINT C. Can you not consider a childminder? Once you factor in the loss of privacy, room and board, etc the price differential for that amount of time is not likely to be very great and they will probably be more experienced.

pollywollyhadadollycalledmolly Sat 01-Oct-11 16:05:41

Au pairs are live in, is that what you are looking for? They also do around 20 hours of work a week but are not really meant for sole care for children under five.

JennyWren Sun 02-Oct-11 14:43:08

As an experienced au pair 'host mum' I would also add a note of caution re au pairs as carers for infants. We are on our third year hosting au pairs who have done a 'take to school and pick up then sole care until Mum/Dad gets home from work' routine three days each week. It has worked really well but this is the first year we have included DS in the equation - previously it was only for DD (when she started school). This year DS is at preschool for pretty much the same hours as the school day and so we are asking the au pair to care for him too. But until he was 3 years old he was in nursery care.

Au pairs can be older, and can have a lot of experience with very young children - as nannies or nursery school staff in their native country - and are looking to improve their language skills to be able to get a better paying job afterwards or even as a way to have an adventure here. But the majority of au pairs are gap year students with hopefully common sense and a reasonable maturity (but do your homework and hope even for that - we've got a very thoroough vetting process and this year still managed to get a girl who couldn't cope, and we're just recruiting a new girl as the original has decided to go home). And having a more experienced (older...) girl has risks too - a mid-twenties woman who's probably lived in her own home for a while may not slip so easily back into family life where she's not head of her own household.

By the time our previous au pairs had been here for a while I was happy to leave them in charge of DS for an hour or two on occasion, and they were fine for babysitting whilst he was mainly asleep, but I would never have left them in charge all day below the age of 2 and only in extremis for a good 6 months after that.

If you find a more experienced one, then great - I don't want to speak out of turn - but I guess that, as in all job interviews, it is up to us as the employer to make sure that you get the candidate with the skills for the job. Good luck smile

JennyWren Sun 02-Oct-11 14:48:05

I should say that my unwillingness to leave our au pairs in charge of DS for long periods of time when he was younger is no reflection on them - they were excellent au pairs with great childcare skills with DD and a bright head on their shoulders. But looking after an infant can be hard, hard work - it is not just a case of cooing at a cute baby, giving a few bottles and changing the odd nappy.

sunnydelight Mon 03-Oct-11 08:40:42

I think you need a nanny for a six month old, not an AP - let's face it if the AP spends her days on FB or entertaining her friends and ignores the crying baby until ten minutes before you are due home it's not like the baby can tell you. Have a look on here at the numerous threads about people having problems with APs. Childcare for small babies is expensive, you need to accept that.

Blondeshavemorefun Mon 03-Oct-11 10:00:04

au pairs are generally used to look after school aged children before/after school and help with housework and they live in

you need a nanny as you have a small baby

WHOEVER you get to look after your baby, you need to meet them (yes some parents dont hmm) and check, double check and thirdly wink check their references

they should also have some baby experience/crb and first aid and most importantly but cant 'learn' or be taught this grin - have common sense

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