Hi Tutter... lol phraedd that was my initial response too. there's some really great threads on here Tutter if you do a little search..but basically Think about what you need an AP for... most are not suitable for sole care of small children, but can clean,iron help at dinner, play with dc's How many hours...AP's are 25 a week for about £70 in London AP+ are 30 for 80+ You can use a agency but it will cost you about £300-400 a placement and if they don't work out they will charge you again. That said I used an agency for my 1st few...they will police check, get references. I use Au Pair World now, but it is a major effort trawling through thousands of applicants. AP's should be European really to be part of the scheme, most common at the mo are the E.Europeans Germany etc Ok..what else do you want to know?
V.mixed experiences, watch out for the young and clueless who just think they're on holiday at your expense. If you've got sep accommodation I'd agree that a mother's help - an older lady - would be a good option. Stacks of Poles and Romanians around. Might not be good at English so you wouldn't nec want to leave them with sole care too much, but will do all the housework and cook and babysit. My best experiences are with those who are mothers themselves, so know how to deal with kids. 19 year old au pairs tend not to have much patience with 3yo ime.
I've heard quite good reports about Almondbury agency.. if you're going to use one, try and find one that is affiliated with aupair2aupair which is about 8 agencies who put their ap's details on a website so they can make friends...friends help a lot IME.. (by the way don't use smart!) also,.(disclaimer: just my experience ) .make sure they actually have some childcare experience...most say they've babysat their niece or something. it usually means they've visited once or twice don't go for someone under 21 try and pick someone who actually wants to go to college for language lessons they're usually more dedicated make sure you speak to them before they arrive to make sure they actually have some English, Tell your agency exactly what you want and don't let them fob you off with someone unsuitable because they haven't got much on their books make sure you check out 'the agencies "exchange" policy.. don't spend days bending over backwards to please AP... jaded? moi?.......nooooooooo
I've used Almondbury - helpful, not too expensive, and have a lot of girls on their books. But in the end they don't really know the people they're sending to you, so you need to chat on the phone to likely candidates, exchange lots of emails, and make sure to get and check their references.
I really recommend writing out precise details of what you're expecting her to do, what she's not allowed to do, and what kind of things would not be accepted in your house. Then call and make sure she's actually read it and agrees with it. Or even write a contract and get her to sign it. It might not make much difference to how she behaves when she arrives, but you will then feel more comfortable telling/reminding her houseguests aren't allowed/she's to eat with dcs not you and dh/she can't do a language course that starts at 9 because won't be back from taking dcs to school in time/whatever. You also won't risk ending up with someone who is offended that you're asking her to hoover the living room - if that's what you need.
can i just gatecrash a second and ask when people are recommending "aupair world" (I assume .com as opposed to .co.uk which is a dodgy-looking dating agency ) do you then mean any of the links - ie aupairinengland or findaupair.com ?? Au-pair virgin here and haven't a clue, thanks! OP hope your search is going well.