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First time au pair hirer - help please!!!

(16 Posts)
stinkingbishop Thu 07-May-15 09:42:35

Am taking the plunge. Have resisted it for ages, but DP is now weekly commuting TO ANOTHER FRIGGIN COUNTRY so I just need some spare, nice, responsible hands at home.

Have registered with greataupair and aupair world and applications starting to come two favourites so far are from Uganda and Brazil, and I do think the cultural exchange would be great on both sides. Does anyone know how the visas work for non-EU/Commonwealth countries? Am finding the websites' info pages rather obtuse. Or should I really only take someone from the EU? Want them to stay for 1-2 years (maybe more if they/we are up for it).

Also, has anyone got any killer interview questions, lessons learnt the hard way of things to check well in advance, pitfalls etc.

Thank you!!!

QuinoaLenghi Thu 07-May-15 10:13:17

We have had au pairs for a few years and its been life changing. Its amazing having some live-in support with the children, I finally feel like I understand the phrase "it takes a village to raise a child". We built our village with au pairs. We feel like we have enlarged our family as we have grown close to each au pair and stayed in touch after they have left.

We have always had EU au pairs but I am considering recruiting a Canadian this time. I cannot help you on your visa question as it varies for each non-EU county. Generally speaking Commonwealth countries are fine as are EU but I have never looked outside these two groups.

I am about to start a thread asking specifically for experience with non-EU au pairs. My concerns are:
- What if it does not work out? Previously I have always put a four week probation period in the contract and one time we let an au pair go just because we did not gel as housemates. I paid her ticket home but it was cheap as it was EU. I could not afford to do this for a non-EU ticket so what do you do if things don't work out? I would feel awful leaving a young girl without a home or job in the UK and with no way to go home.
- Will they want to spend Christmas with us? EU au pairs tend to fly home for Christmas. We could not take our au pair away with us at Christmas and I feel bad leaving them home alone during the festive season.
- Are they more likely to get home sick as their friends and family will find it harder to visit?
- If friends and family do visit will it be for long stays in my house? I have previously been fine with hosting an extra for a weekend here or there but friends with Australian au pairs talk of stays of up to 6 weeks.
- Will a non-EU au pair want to travel to Europe for lots of weekends? This could be a problem for us as we ask for one weekend night babysitting most weeks.

So those are my concerns about non-EU au pairs but they not be concerns for you.

More general lessons:
- Be really clear about your expectations in your profile and from the first interview. Send a model timetable over and a list of tasks. Discuss these with the au pair.
- Be cutthroat in deleting au pair world applicants who don't look perfect otherwise you will get overwhelmed. We have had 84 applicants in the last 10 days. If they do not send a personalised message at first contact then they are deleted without me even viewing their profile.
- Don't listed to wider MN about what it is, and is not, appropriate for an au pair to do. MN is crazy warped in its view of au pairs. Au pairs vary widely and are generally much more capable and flexible that this site would have you believe. As long as you are up front with expectations you are being reasonable.
- Get the au pair to Skype first with you and then with the kids. Watch them with the kids.
- Be clear in your own mind about how integrated you want your au pair to become with your family. Some parents eat every dinner with the au pair and invite the au pair on every family outing and holiday, others are much more separate. There are au pairs looking for both types of relationship so you need to be clear what you want and make sure it matches what they want.
- Treat your au pair like you would want your own child to be treated if they were an au pair.

Good luck.

QuinoaLenghi Thu 07-May-15 10:13:41

Wow that was long! Sorry.

OurGlass Thu 07-May-15 10:14:54

Place marking!

stinkingbishop Thu 07-May-15 10:21:15

quinoa that's brilliant, thank you!!! Like the idea of doing some sort of timetable. Might do a dummy one for this month. It would be crazy but that's kind of the point.

I hadn't thought about the flights home. And Christmas. Hmm.

Have also been ruthlessly deleting the ones who can't be bothered with a personal message!

TooBusyByHalf Thu 07-May-15 11:35:35

Competely agree with Quinoa. Really clear expectations and lots of communication, and no assumptions on either side. A timetable and even a sort of job description (list of tasks, how often, when) are essential. Nearly all AP problems result from the family thinking something was obvious and not saying it, or vice versa. There are a tons of 'types' of APs, just as there are tons of families; you just need to try and make a match.

Not wanting to hijack but our AP has just handed in his notice for July. We are thinking of trying to survive August without and will need a new AP to start on 1 September. Do you mind me asking when you are expecting yours to start? How far ahead do people start looking? (both of our last two were last minute hires, it would be good to have a longer lead-in if possible)

QuinoaLenghi Thu 07-May-15 11:38:44

TooBusy - we are recruiting now for 1 September. We always hire from 1 September to 31 July and then go without an au pair for August. I usually hire in May or June. Right now AP World seems packed with great candidates which is a relief as last year I really struggled to find anyone.

stinkingbishop Thu 07-May-15 12:28:22

Us too - just registered, want someone in place by Sept (or earlier if it works). I'm not getting flooded by good quality apps; do you tend to be proactive and message people who look good, or sit back and wait for people to contact you, as a test of enthusiasm? Guess it may be that we're not in London...

Oo it's like internet dating, this smile.

TooBusyByHalf Thu 07-May-15 12:47:22

Thanks good to know. I will get on to it then! Before you both nick the best people grin

We are seriously difficult as our AP is also our dog walker, so it'll be good to have plenty of time to check them out!

TooBusyByHalf Thu 07-May-15 13:00:27

on the visa front stinkingbishop there is no such thing an aupair visa anymore.
non-EU applicants have to qualify for this

or a student visa (in which case obviously they must be a bona fide student doing a qualifying course and may not have enough time for their AP duties!)

I dont' think there's any easy way of either ugandans or brazilians coming to the UK as an AP

QuinoaLenghi Thu 07-May-15 13:44:09

StinkingB - I am never proactive and always wait for messages to appear but we are in London so I think that helps. Also we do not require a driving license or anything like that. Have you got a good profile with lots of detail and nice photos? Also have you set your eligibility criteria wide with lots of EU countries and a wide age range? We are always flooded with applications from German 18 year olds because au pairing in the UK is a hugely popular gap year activity in Germany. I have to say we have had some great German 18 year olds so I am suddenly questioning why I am complicating matters by looking at Canadians this time!

Karoleann Thu 07-May-15 13:51:22

stinking - you'll not get a VISA for a Ugandan or a Brazillian. EU is best, but its fairly easy to get VISAs for Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders. Our current au pair is actually South African, but her grandparents were British and she already had a 5 year ancestry visa in place.

I tend to recruit 3 months ahead, as it gives the au pair time to get all the necessary paperwork sorted out (police check etc). I also am quite organised and i like similarly organised people (who get things sorted early).

I do some contacting, but also have lots of people approaching me.

Most au pairs only want to stay 6-12 months.

Good luck in your search

MezleyM Thu 07-May-15 15:33:22

Lots of good advice here. I always go for EU au pairs as flights home are cheap and easy for holidays/Christmas etc. I'm a teacher so always make it clear that they can't take holiday during term time, but during schools holidays can stay/travel/go home.
As I have DS's, my last two have been male - with two sporty sons this has worked out really well for me - and gives you lots more choice.

TooBusyByHalf Thu 07-May-15 15:55:02

Our current AP is a man - the only downside is that they eat A LOT!

TooBusyByHalf Thu 07-May-15 16:04:28

I don't ignore the ones who don't send a personal message - but I do email back a standard response asking for more info but subtly highlighting the main pluses and minuses (in my case London, lesbian family, large dog the AP has to walk; yours would be different) which sorts the wheat from the chaff!

HRHQueenMe Thu 07-May-15 23:16:09

Great post Quinoa! Nice to see some positive comments and sensible advice! Agree loads of very good candidates on Ap world at the moment, just finished recruiting for this year, phew! grin
I recommend Scandinavians, good work ethics, perfect english and have a good idea of what is expected. I look for an older sibling that has travelled independently and asks good questions and shows an interesst in the family, area etc. NOT being in London attracts less candidates so try to sell your area and the benefits of village living etc (i.e easy transport to London, fantastic local pub, busy aupair community) good luck OP!

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