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Wondering about getting an au pair!(5 Posts)
I have some questions about having an au pair, as I've never considered it previously.
I've been accepted onto a full time PGCE course next year, and obviously full time teaching work after that (hopefully!). As my third child is due to start school next year, this is going to mean three children in before and after school care, which will cost small fortune.
We are thinking that an au pair might be the solution for us. We have a large spare room that he/she could have, and having a live-in foreign person would be a good opportunity for our children to perhaps learn a new language at the same time.
Do you have to provide au pairs with transport if they are not being asked to do any driving for the children? We live very rurally and so they would need a car to get anywhere as there's no bus service. Our children get collected/dropped off from the end of our track by the school bus.
We were thinking of getting a cleaner when I started back at work (after a 7 year break raising children) as I wouldn't have the time any more. How much housework is an au pair reasonably expected to do and would they do more of it if more 'pocket money' was offered? I wouldn't expect/want them to do any laundry as I don't even let my husband do the laundry in our house because I'm too particular about it. Ironing would be nice though.
What is the weekly going rate for an au pair and can you hire (is that correct term?) them long term and give them the summer holidays off, or is it easier to have them for the school year and then get a new one at the start of each new school year?
Does an au pair do cooking of children's meals? Supervise homework/music practice/outdoor play or walks etc?
Sorry for all the questions but I'm a complete novice at this! I'm not entirely sure about how I feel about having someone come and live in our home but I might just have to get over myself and accept it if that's going to be the solution that works best for us!
I think an au pair could work well, but with 3 children and the driving I'd definitely go for someone who is a little older with some childcare experience. We are London based so driving was never an issue, but when we made the switch from nanny to au pair it was a big jump and I had to quickly adjust expectations.
We had some lovely girls, they did it as a gap year between school and university and were all 18. We had au pairs for 4 years and they all did a school year from September through to July. We paid £90 a week for about 20 hours plus an evenings babysitting and provided an Oyster card and a phone contract.
In terms of what they did ours could cook a very simple meal (though I often left stuff to heat up), supervising homework was fine but not helping with it as it took them a while to get up to speed with their English. They dropped and picked up from school 3 days a week and took to some after school activities. You can specify exactly what the hours will entail so fine to factor in some cleaning but in a 25 hour week (standard au pair hours) I wouldn't ask for more than 5 of those to be housework or cleaning. Don't assume anything, I learnt early on that if I didn't leave a timetable then it wouldn't get done and tbh I think they all preferred fairly clear directions. There were a few hiccups, the one that comes to mind was when one of the girls let my daughter go for a play date at a friends house after school and then couldn't remember what the friend was called, so I had to ring round all the mums in the class trying to locate her!
Thanks cyclist. I've been looking at some agencies and there seem to be different tiers of au pair. We'd definitely go for older and more experienced I think.
You are not supposed to provide transport for personal needs but if you live rurally without bus service you would find difficulty finding au pair if you don't provide them with means of transport.
We had two lovely au pairs who initially came for a year but one stayed for 1,5 years and the other one for 2. Ironing I am not sure to be honest but mine did cook for DS and did light housekeeping (light vacuuming, dishwasher loading unloading, tidying up). I wouldn't rely much on supervising of homework since English is not their first language but supervising walks, outings should be fine.
I found the experience fantastic and still keep in touch with both of them.
One more thing about transport. We live in London but I still wanted a driver to get DS to activities etc. our first au pair was 25 years old and the second 22 and believe me the car insurance costs were hurting with the second one.
If you follow the ethos of seeing the aupair as a big sister/young aunt to the children then you can't go far wrong. When deciding what she is going to be asked to do, consider what you would ask if it was your niece who was coming. They are young people who have come to the UK to have an adventure and do childcare in return for pocket money, and they can't be expected to be professional housekeepers or nannies.
Anything related to the children is obviously fine. Pushing a hoover around etc and making meals on a rota system with you and your DH is also fine. I wouldn't expect her to cook for you every day, or to do all the housework, make your bed or to iron the clothes for the whole family. An aupair is part of the family, not a drudge or a maid. Maybe get an aupair and use an ironing service (or do your own ironing). If you are going to use her intensively for cleaning and ironing, please put this on the advert so you get someone who is happy to do it. Remember, she should be allowed to eat with you and spend family time with you as well, unlike a nanny or housekeeper.
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