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Au pairs and school hols and other qs

(5 Posts)
Hadeda Wed 08-May-13 14:18:54

My DDs are both at school from Sept which, coincidentally, is when our nanny goes on maternity leave. She plans to take 6 months and we are thinking about having an au pair to cover her mat leave. This is largely because I get the impression au pairs prefer to do shorter stints (6 or 12 months) so we might find it easier to recruit.

So my questions:
What do you do about school hols? Can an au pair look after the children for the day? The DDs may have an activity for part of the day, but given they are young we don't want to send them to a "camp" all day and we want them to have some proper, get up late, mess around the house free time in their hols.
We've never had anyone live in before and we're both nervous about it. We have a good size spare room and the bathroom would be shared with the DDs so I think the space is there. For those who have au pairs how do find having the extra person in the house? Do they eat dinner every night with you, what happens on weekends?

Thanks for your help....

Cathyrina Wed 08-May-13 19:32:18

All Au-Pairs I know look after the kids full time during holidays so that is definitely possible and part of the job if they are looking after school aged kids but must be mentioned beforehand though

middleeasternpromise Thu 09-May-13 19:25:55

There are lots of threads on here about the pros and cons of au pair arrangements. I would say you have to think carefully about how you would like the arrangement to work in your home so that you can then be up front and honest about your expectations when you advertise. Holidays can be covered by the au pairs and its good practice to offer a little more money for those stints. I have often planned an activity for them like a trip to the cinema or swimming etc and pay for all the activities. The starter expectation is that au pairs live with you as part of the family but you do need to think about what that means for you - do you want the au pair to come with you on all your outtings? What other opportunities are available to them (are you in a city or rural area). Making friends is difficult for an au pair if they dont get natural opportunties to do this ie language classes. However they can be expensive and not all aupairs have the extra funding to pay for it. If you want the au pair to give you alone time you need to make sure they have adequate space to comfortably manage their own time - ie TV; wifi; etc. Can they have friends over or not?

Do you currently generally eat as a family? If so how do you feel about the au pair being part of meal times, is it going to be comfortable for them to take their food elsewhere if they want to. If they would rather eat later are you OK with that or does it bother you having someone cooking in the kitchen later on. Those are just some of the things to think about I would say

Hadeda Thu 09-May-13 21:42:18

Thank you both for the replies, which are very helpful. We are thinking through how we'd feel about another person in the house. We live in London so getting out would be easy enough for an au pair, and I'd hope a social life can be found in a city this big...!
Not something we'll jump into unless we are sure we are happy with the idea of someone living here - it wouldn't be fair all round.

cjn27b Sat 11-May-13 20:40:02

We have had about 8 au-pairs in London. They key thing is to find someone who fits well into your family as generally they do eat with you and you end up spending quite a bit of time with them in the evenings.

Do Skype interviews, and if you have the slightest doubt, don't do it. We have had one disaster which was traumatic for everyone.

As they live with you, are young, possibly away for the first time, it is vital you are willing to let them become part of your family. To successfully achieve this, they must be compatible and willing to adjust to your way of doing things.

Also, it is essential they get their own social life so they aren't totally dependent on you. There are facebook groups called 'au-pair in London', that have regular meet ups. Get any au-pair onto these before they arrive.

For the first couple of weeks, we've found au-pairs do spend more time with us in the evenings and weekends. By the end of the first month, the dishes are done and they're in their room surfing / watching telly / doing homework, or they've gone out. Weekends we rarely see our au-pairs - they're partying, sleeping, hanging out etc... They sometimes eat with us, but not often. Unless we're doing something really exciting they don't want to come - they'd rather be in Camden with their mates!

Over the years, I've learnt what is most important is getting the right 'fit' for the whole family - not just the kids. This is make or break. Having someone around who has a totally different idea about life, expectations, ambitions and so on takes a lot of effort as no assumptions can be made. It's harder for them and you.

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