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Au Pair for the Summer. First time host family

(9 Posts)
SouthLakes1 Wed 11-Jun-14 12:08:46

Hello everyone (apologise now for the rambling)

We're looking at getting an AP in for the summer. This will be the first time we've ever had one.

I'm a WAHM running a motorhome hire business and my husband works in town 7.30-4.30 Monday to Friday.

We have two children aged 8 months and 2.5years. Our eldest goes to nursery 2 mornings a week.

I'm struggling at the moment and need an extra pair of hands with the kids but i don't want to put them into nursery full time as the hours i need vary from week to week and it seems crazy when i might need childcare for only an hour or two here and there.

Typically i have two vehicles being picked up and dropped off on Fridays and Mondays though this varies. Some days i have a van being dropped off at 11am and then i need to clean and service it and send it back out again at 3pm.

This is where i'm struggling as i can't do handovers with customers and clean the vans properly with two kids in tow and they are too young to be left to amuse themselves.

I'm only out on the driveway so the AP wouldn't be left home alone with two kids, i just need those eyes on them and an older-sister type person who can play with them, read books with them etc.

I've had a couple of AP details sent through to me that look promising but i'm wondering how i approach this.

I need flexibility from the AP. I can provide a diary for working hours probably 2-3 weeks ahead so the AP knows when she's needed. Would that be enough notice for the weeks ahead?

Saturdays and Sundays would always be days off.

I'd really like an AP that integrates into the family.

Its important for us that we all share in our evening family meal together. Its something we were both brought up with and we don't want our kids to see an AP eating separately or going upstairs with food. Is that unreasonable to expect an AP to eat their evening meal with us?

We go out and about in the Lakes quite alot to various attractions. We'd love it if the AP would come with us though not in a working role. I think if i were somewhere like this i'd take the opportunity to see and do some local stuff. Do we just ask if she'd like to join us? I'm worried she'll think she's on duty and i'm paranoid about taking advantage of her, the kids are bound to want to do things with her if she is with us.

We're quite far from any big cities so its unlikely there are any other AP's nearby for her to socialise with. I'm not that much older than some of the AP's i've got details for. Can i offer to take her out on nights out with my friends? Go to cinema etc. (assuming we get on!) Or is this a no-no and we should be keeping it more of a work relationship?

We have some holidays coming up and we're going to Centreparcs with friends. One is a week in July and the other is a weekend in September. How do i approach this? The first holiday we couldn't really take her with us as its not just our holiday. The other one in September we are going with family and there isn't a spare room available for the AP.

I'm trying to weigh up the candidates we've got so far from the agency. I have someone from the Czech Republic who is younger and does alot of things with kids dance groups Vs a slightly older French girl who has just finished Uni and wants to travel a bit before settling.

I've also registered on Aupair-world and have a million messages, haven't paid to upgrade yet though so don't know if any of those might be suitable. I'm not sure if i should do that and wade through the masses of messages if one of the AP's from the agency might be a good option.

Arrggghhh so much to think about. Thanks for reading. Sorry for the long ramble. :-)

Karoleann Wed 11-Jun-14 13:35:37


Au pairs are prefect for flexibility, we give ours her hours for the week the week before and she's perfectly happy with that.
Au pairs seem to either fall into the wanting to do everything with the family or wanting to be independent. Its quite normal for the au pair to eat evening meals with you. I would check that your potential au pair isn't fussy about her food though.

As long as you make your expectations very clear before she comes, there should be no problems about her joining you at the weekends (if she wants) or not going on holidays with you - although you should pay her for the time you don't need her..

I wouldn't really take her out on nights out with your friends though, I think you're blurring the line too much.

Are there anythings todo nearby? Is there a decent bus service? If not, you may want to consider getting a driver and insuring her on your car.

SouthLakes1 Wed 11-Jun-14 14:04:58

Hi Karoleann, thanks for the reply

Our town is very industrial (we build submarines) and isn't particularly big and most the town centre is boarded up tbh. We're getting a TK MAXX soon, its the most exciting development this decade.

We have a bus stop outside the house into town, where she'll find a cinema, some bars and a club. Other than that we're quite isolated. We're 40 miles from the motorway. We have a train station less than half a mile away that links to Manchester in around 2hrs.

We only have one car which my husband uses in the day unless i really need it and then i drop him off at work early doors. Its 2.5 miles into town which we often walk with the kids and dog, its not a bad walk at all. I'm happy to provide her with a bus pass, i think its about £30 a month.

JennyWren Wed 11-Jun-14 14:41:14

It sounds like a very usual role for an au pair. The only thing I would suggest is that your au pair should have the opportunity to take a language class (or, if his/her English is already very good, (s)he may prefer to take a class in something else - anything, really, in which she'll be speaking English). This is partly because she will be able to develop her language skills in a formal way and obtain a language qualification that she can put on her cv later, but also (and almost more importantly) it gives her the chance to go to the college and meet people of a similar age/in a similar situation. That is hugely beneficial in helping them to settle in, and a happy au pair is worth a lot.

To facilitate that, you may need to ring-fence some weekday time off, so that she can go to class. If Monday and Friday are your busy days, can you find the nearest college that offers ESOL and ask what days they run courses. Then you can say to candidates that classes are available on e.g. Tuesday mornings, and that Tuesday mornings will be kept as time off for attending class.

In my experience, not having access to a car is fine (although I always offered to collect from the station any time up to midnight if they went out at the weekend - that was my trade-off, and without advertising it, I'd have gone later if it had been a special occasion) . We did provide a bike, though, and that was usually well used.

SouthLakes1 Wed 11-Jun-14 15:52:05

Hi Jennywren

I've made enquiries about English Classes.

Our local College no longer runs standalone English Classes for Adults, its now called "functional skills" and is a mixture of English/Maths and general how to live skills. They said its not suited to someone such as an aupair who wants to learn/brush up on English as a 2nd language.

Our Council run ESOL but it starts in September and runs for 22 weeks. Our AP will only be joining us for the summer months.

Our local Adult eduction centre runs an English class and they say it too isn't really suited to an AP's needs though she could attend if she wishes. However it started 2 weeks ago and by the time we actually get an AP it'll be probably 5/6 weeks into the 8 week course. The next one begins in September too.

I'm by no means an English teacher but i'm more than willing to spend time with an AP helping her learn English better. I'd happily set aside so many hours a week if needed.

I go to coffee mornings and toddler groups when i can, happy to take the AP along with me (if she wishes) so she can socialise with more people. I do alot of work at the local church who are a friendly bunch.

eastmidswarwicknightnanny Wed 11-Jun-14 20:43:40

Hi rather than looking at European au pairs as an option how about looking for an English girl/boy who has just finished college or about to for summer before going away to uni could still be live in and offer same wage would be good experience something I would have done before training to be a nurse in gap between college n uni.

JennyWren Thu 12-Jun-14 01:12:05

I can see that English classes are probably a no-go. But, without wishing to sound unkind, to be happy, (s)he'll need the opportunity to make friends of her own age somewhere. On a personal level, she won't have anything in common with your mum friends at toddler group - she won't want to go out for coffee or to the cinema with them, and I'm pretty sure they'll have other priorities than going bowling/clubbing/anywhere with her of an evening. Can you look for other opportunities for her to meet likeminded people? The details may not come until you have a shortlist of candidates, but you could have an idea of where the local sports clubs etc. are. One of our au pairs took herself off to a ballet class once a week, another found a Facebook group of au pairs in a local city and met up with people that way. Between those and their language classes they had a good time, and met people to meet up with at the weekend etc.

Happydutchmummy Thu 12-Jun-14 01:43:08


We had 2 summer au pairs last year (whilst I was struggling with being pregnant), one started in May and stayed for 3 months and one started in August for 3 months.

As they were both over here for such a short time I was very fussy in my search criteria. I insisted on them having an excellent level of English (the first was Australian, the second one was American) and due to visa restrictions they could only stay for 3 months max. That way I knew there would be no language difficulties.

I also said I'd only have over 25s as I wanted someone used to living by themselves who could cook, clean,tidy, etc.

There are plenty of students who have long summer holidays and want to go abroad and live somewhere New during their vacation and au pairing works well for them as it gives a secure base from which they can explore the UK/europe.

The first au pair was AMAZING (she's coming back over for Australia for a visit in a few weeks, and she happily came to the cinema, meals out, etc with us during non working hours (no nights out for me as I was miserable and pregnant) and I found myself arranging fun day trips (to local beaches, castles, stuff she wanted to see) for us all.

The second au pair viewed going out/hanging out with us as more of her job, and she definitely viewed us more as employers rather than friends. She was good with Dd but didn't want to interact with us more than necessary. So therefore I stopped bothering trying to find local events to attend and she just worked her hours and hid in her room the rest of the time.

SouthLakes1 Fri 13-Jun-14 08:30:27

I've had a few girls suggest they'll pop to the cities on their weekends off, i'm pretty sure they don't realise the distances involved so i've tried to make that crystal clear.

As to hanging out with me and my friends, i'm not sure it would be a problem with an Older Au Pair as I'm only 28 myself and quite alot of my friends aren't mummy friends either so there's more chance of some common ground there.

I've specifically said i want someone to join our family not just fill an employee type role. Alot of the younger girls who have applied have said that sounds good. One 18 year old said it sounds ideal, like a summer exchange visit (which most seem to have done a few times through school) but with pocket money for watching the kids and doing some light housework.

I don't mind a younger AP as long as she's outgoing and can fend for herself. I would imagine an 18/19 year old is going to be capable of loading the dishwasher and running the hoover round. I'm not looking for domestic goddess. If i'm honest i'd prefer to do the cleaning myself and just have someone play with the kids so i can get on with the cleaning in peace!

Age of the Au Pair has me torn. Do we want someone closer to our age we might have more in common with, or a younger girl (most applying are around 17-19) who is looking for family integration and might be more suited to the older sister role we want filling?

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