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Info re au pairs

(13 Posts)
mummyofteens Wed 17-Oct-12 11:05:50

My daughter is thinking of taking a gap year and has been wondering about being an au pair for some of it. Any advice gratefully received as I know absolutely nothing about au pairing at all. She is English and would prefer to au pair in the UK but I am guessing that doesn't really happen?

fraktion Wed 17-Oct-12 11:46:35

She could be an au pair in the UK but unless she wants to go on into childcare/working with children in some other capacity I'd personally view it as a bit of a waste IYSWIM? It's not well paid, the principle draw is the experience either of children or a language or another culture. There are lots of anglophone families abroad if the language worries her and plenty of places with frequent, cheap flights. She could apply for schemes like the au pair in America programme so no language barrier there.

Wherever she wants to go she needs to be aware exactly what the family expect and whether she feels that's reasonable. It's very easy to get caught up and agree to things which aren't workable. In many countries APs are protected by quite stringent legislation so she should find out what that is and not be afraid to ask the family to follow it. Ironically an exception to that is the UK where they're treated as any other live in employee.

Why does she want to be an au pair?

mummyofteens Wed 17-Oct-12 12:46:53

Thanks for the information/advice smile
She is in upper 6th at the moment and has decided to take a year out from studying after 6th form. She is just looking at what options/opportunities are available. She is taking a level french so going to France is an option. She has volunteering in a reception class, helped at her local Guides pack, helps get the younger girls sorted on her boarding house at school and has received very good feedback about her attitude around young children. We live in a very rural place and feel she could just do with spreading her wings a little before going to university.

Just happy to hear any advice/information/opinion from wise mumsnetters smile

fraktion Wed 17-Oct-12 13:23:21

Sounds like she's in a good position to go to France smile wing spreading is what it's all about! Plenty of mid-sized towns - Paris may be a bit much unless she's out towards the west in one of the more commutery places.

France is one of those countries with quite strict agreements, although some parents do try to take the mickey just as they do anywhere. Plus it's not far to come home if she feels that she needs to - although she'll probably be having far too much fun!

She should try putting a profile up and seeing who's interested in a couple of months smile

mashedpotatosandwiches Wed 17-Oct-12 14:26:59

Try au pair world online

UndeadPixie Wed 17-Oct-12 20:23:47

I did it. Registered with APWorld and a British family contacted me even though I was originally looking to work abroad. I went with them and loved it, they were brilliant.

Though be careful with them as APWorld themselves are absolute arses and I would never sign up with them again after the aggro they gave me for saying that I was happy to work in the UK (and abroad!). They blacklisted me a few months later when I was trying to find couple work.

The only real benefit to 'au pairing' over here as a Brit is that she'll be able to do her Level 3 in childcare if that's something she wants to get into. I had a lot of trouble meeting people as none of the local au pairs wanted to meet as I was British and due to my working hours I couldn't do much in the evenings, I ended up volunteering a lot whilst my charges were at school for various organisations, schools and nurseries!

mummyofteens Mon 22-Oct-12 09:55:54

Thanks for all the advice/information, all and any further contributions much appreciated. smile

chloeb2002 Mon 22-Oct-12 20:17:17

We have had two English aps and I certainly wouldn't say no to hosting another. The only issue we had with both English girls was that they didn't seem to have the same understanding about life as an ap as European girls. I guess they viewed themselves more as nannies and less as family members. Certainly the relationship we have normally with aps is a family one, often including.their families and host cousins etc afterwards! I found especially with one girl that she really couldn't get the concept. She was very hung up on... Are you boss or friend. Trying to explain I am a host mother, so yes I will happily sit and drink a bottle of wine with you on a evening, invite you to our parties, data out etc... I also will tell you what I need to have done while I am out, or if j need an extra pair of hands... Both English girls really struggled with this concept. That may if course have just been bad luck. I find in general that English girls expect to earn more of a wage than pocket money too when I look through aP world. So I guess my tips would be to really understand life as an ap, or look for a better paid nanny "job". Oh and completely by the by and I'm sure just my bad luck.. but both my English aps happily would drink and drive. Either the same night or the morning after with the kids. A huge no no with me and the police who do frequent rbt. The second English girl left because we wouldn't let her take the car to a party aftr half a bottle of wine. We did offer to drop off and pick her back up in the morning! So yes... That would be all... Lots of Aussie families host aps now and love English speakers!

dikkertjedap Mon 22-Oct-12 22:41:14

I think that it is much safer if she goes through an agency. If she goes through an UK agency they will probably charge her a fee (still worth it IMO from a safety point of view), however, she might be better off to directly contact a number of French agencies.

Agencies carry out a number of checks both on the au pair (CRB check, medical certificate, references) and the family. Some also organise activities for their au pairs and bring them in touch with each other.

mummyofteens Tue 23-Oct-12 13:33:20

I don't think she would view herself as a nanny as she has no formal qualifications. It is just that rather than play the grades game re university applications, she would rather wait and see what she has achieved re a levels and then apply to university. This then gives her about 16 months to fill and she is not a girl for just sitting around so that is where the idea of au pairing came from, along with volunteering, camp america, etc, i don't like the idea of her doing a gap year and just going off 'travelling' but to have a purpose, maybe earn a little bit of money and gains some life experiences.

UndeadPixie Tue 23-Oct-12 15:33:07

"I guess they viewed themselves more as nannies and less as family members" - That's a shame, I really enjoyed being part of the family, I wish I could do it again purely for that as being a live-in nanny is a lot different in that respect. Not bad, just I did miss the more casual family relationship iyswim? Though I did find it difficult at first more because it was the first thing like it I had done!

RE the drinking and driving, that's atrocious! How stupid would you have to be to even think of doing that?!

OP: Tell her to be careful with Camp America and similar companies, a few of them in the USA expect their leaders to share a bedroom with the kids sometimes, my friends were happy with that but I decided that I wasn't and ended up working for PGL instead in the UK. Depends on the person though!

chloeb2002 Tue 23-Oct-12 20:03:08

Un dead pixie...may just be incidental... Or just an observation , but both the English ap's we had drank and drove.

Both the UK girls we hosted came through a UK agency. Even tho we paid a lot for their service, ultimately only one had a crb check and that was obtained from school work experience, neither had any checks by the agency. So now I love ap world. We get to talk first hand to potential aps and their families.... Except my next one for the end of next year who is a cousin of a previous ap.... Word of mouth.. great recruitment tool!

UndeadPixie Tue 23-Oct-12 21:49:23

I wasn't saying it was untrue, I was saying that they are stupid to even think of doing it.

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