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Hiring an au pair for pre schoolers (2+)

(9 Posts)
Cornwall73 Sun 10-Apr-16 07:54:37

I wondered if I could pick your brains about this? Since our twins have been 6mths old we have had a very part time live out nanny (two afternoons a week and she did full days when needed and some weekends if needed). She has left as she is pregnant and moved out of London. We have struggled to find someone to replace her and we think that maybe an au pair would be the help we currently need as the kids (now 2.5yrs) are at nursery and we need wrap around care as well as someone to help me out when I'm not at work.

I was wondering if you could tell me about your experience and also answer a few questions:
- how did you find her?
- how did you word your advert?
what are her hours/duties?
- do you offer any extras other than the weekly pocket money (they won't need to travel to pick up kids)
- does she do much with you and your partner e.g. eat all evening meals together, watch TV together etc..
- what house rules did you set out?
- is it okay to have their days off as Friday and Sunday and once a month swap so they get the whole weekend free?

anotherbloodycyclist Sun 10-Apr-16 09:46:57

I think they key is how much sole charge the au pair will be doing. With 2 year old twins I think you may struggle to find someone who is mature and capable enough to cope. All my au pairs were 19 when they joined, doing a GAP year before university, and I still remember the difficult transition of going from a qualified, capable nanny to someone who needed telling exactly what to do. My kids were 7 and 9, I don't think I would have been happy with that age of au pair if they had been younger. So I'd definitely go for someone older, with proper childcare experience, and pay more. I don't know how common that sort of au pair is though.
I used an agency to recruit. I think be absolutely clear exactly what you are looking for, lay out a timetable for the week so they can see what their duties are, and then there will be no suprised looks if you ask them to do a pile of ironing or walk the dog. In terms of hours standard au pair hours are 25 per week, plus a couple of evenings babysitting. Mine were lighter, about 15 to 20 hours, as I only used them for wraparound on my work days. We're London based, and 3 years ago I was paying £90 a week, plus phone sim, and a contribution to travel each week. We provided a large bedroom with telly. The au pair ate with the kids on my work days, and then sometimes with us on the others, but they mainly preferred to either heat up something I'd made or cook themselves as they were often out and about. I always tried to recruit indipendant types. One of the questions at interview a asked was what their plans for the year were, and then I helped them to achieve that by organising their classes, arranging meet ups with other friends au pairs etc.
Main lesson learned is to be very clear about your expectations. By au pair 4 the house rule book had expanded from an A4 sheet with a few polite suggestions on it to a small booklet. Be clear about guest policy, how often/how many, cooking requirements, noise levels, house security, door locking, alarm setting, bung anything you can think of in there. My highlights include getting home to find the kids eating raw bacon (I'd pointed to a packet in the fridge whilst leaving the house and said "give them that with pasta for tea" not realising I'd have to add the words "and cook it."!) and the day I got home to discover we had gained a cat as the au pair had seen it in the street and decided it was going to come and live with us (it belonged to the neighbours 3 doors down). Positive highlights were they were all lovely girls, it's a bit similar to gaining an extra child, and they still all keep in touch and visit.
Hope this helps, and good luck!

Jinxxx Sun 10-Apr-16 13:52:01

I'd say working weekends would put off most potential candidates, so you may need to offer something extra to compensate or attract someone. Swapping days/hours is also unpopular as it makes it difficult for au pair to pick up extra work such as waiting or babysitting.

Crasterwaves Sun 10-Apr-16 23:16:34

I've had an ap for dx same age though not twins. If you go on so world you can search by keyword now and you will see there are quite a lot of au qualified nursery nurses on there. I would pick someone with quite a bit of childcare experience and get them over for a trial weekend so you know if they are right.

Crasterwaves Sun 10-Apr-16 23:16:50

Au pair world I mean

MissSmiley Sun 10-Apr-16 23:23:22

Our fully qualified nanny struggled with two year old twins and I was at home a lot of the time working. Au pairs are great for older children (if you can find a good one) but they are no substitute for proper qualified child care no matter how much you like the idea of the lower bill at the end of the month.

Cindy34 Mon 11-Apr-16 06:25:35

You need to find the right person. Someone with experience of 2-5 year olds, someone with experience of twins. At age 19/20 I would have been fine caring for children of that age but not everyone has a lot of experience due to having younger siblings, community youth work, lots of babysitting.

Cornwall73 Mon 11-Apr-16 10:02:57

Thank you, this is helpful. The children go to nursery three full days a week so it would be someone to help before and after nursery, and throughout the days that I'm at home. Sole childcare would not be for many hours as myself or my husband will be around but we occasionally would like to have another pair of hands to help out and take them to the park behind the house for an hour or look after them during the day if we need to go out shopping for example. I was certainly looking at 21yrs+ and with some childcare experience.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Tue 12-Apr-16 00:21:59

Everything anotherbloodycyclist has said. Looking after 2-3yrs is the hardest ime because there are lots of extra things to deal with like tantrums and personal care where you need someone with proper experience. Although you may have a young person who thinks they're up to the challenge unless they have direct, hands on experience that's unlikely to be the case.

I would ask questions about what sort of activities they would plan to do with the children/how would they manage a whole day? Also gauge what their cooking abilities are (we had one who would make the most revolting bread but couldn't make a sandwich!). If it is limited just to heating stuff up you have to plan for that.

It really is like gaining a child in so many ways.

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