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Mother's help / AuPair - please help me decide which to use!

(14 Posts)
SquiffyHock Fri 25-Jul-08 19:22:35

I may waffle a lot here grin

We are expecting a surprise 3rd baby so DH thinks that we should have an aupair. I have huge reservations about sharing our home though - we have got a separate annexe with a bathroom and studio type space but I assume that I can't expect some young girl to be forced off to be on her own every night at 7 o'clock.

I have heard the term Mother's help used and wondered if that might be better. I'd just like someone for a few hours to help me keep on top of housework and to play with the children while I make dinner. DS starts school in Sept so it would be nice to have half an hour to read with him etc.

Any thoughts? What is life really like with an au pair in the house?

RachieB Fri 25-Jul-08 19:28:00

I haven't had an au pair or mothers help,but i have worked as a mother help

i dont think i,like you could have someone else living in the house TBH !

try advertising for a mothers help with the hours,duties you require and see how much interest you get ?


QuintessentialShadows Fri 25-Jul-08 19:28:53

What life is like with an au pair in the house depends very much on the au pair.

If you want to encourage her to stay in the annex, you may put a tv in there, let her bring her own laptop or provide a pc.

If you want to encourage her to go out, you may want to sponsor her a buscard, which will also be necessary if she is to take your son to and from school. Recommended so she gets to know other nannies and au pairs and will go see them in the evening rather than stay home. Ensure she gets out of the house by doing English classes, etc....

I have encouraged our au pairs to eat with us, and watch tv with us. If they are around, they usually by default mind the kids and keep them company while you natter on the phone, shower, read the paper, etc. I have also sponsored a bus pas, and a mobile phone and let them use MY pc when I am not using it, and arranged their gym memberships.
The results has been au pairs that feel welcome in the family, have a social life outside they enjoy, so it has really worked out well.

Good Luck! smile

SquiffyHock Fri 25-Jul-08 19:48:42

Thank you both. I have got two friends with au pairs at the moment, one gets on brilliantly and the other is having a bit of a nightmare! I'm just concerned that with a new baby I don't need someone else to look after. I hope that doesn't sound unkind - I would hate for someone to feel they couldn't be part of the family, I just think we'll be getting used to being a family of 5!!
Maybe the way forward is to start with a mother's help and aim for an au pair when baby is older.
Where do you advertise? We live in the South East.

QuintessentialShadows Fri 25-Jul-08 20:03:01

I used aupairworld

We got a summer au pair when my youngest was just 1 month old. It made such a difference. She stayed 3 months. It did not take us long to realize we needed somebody "permanent".

SqueakyPop Sat 26-Jul-08 12:36:30

We have had loads of aupairs, and I can't remember any that have hung around in the evening after supper. They have been more than happy to either go to their rooms or go out. We've never really felt to awkward with having aupairs - the most stressful bit has been getting up to make morning coffee in just a teeshirt and knickers, but we have found that our aupairs have always been the type to get up at the last minute, not at 6.30am. With an annexe, that's not an issue for you. You can also have faddy or restricted eaters - but can screen those out or at least be prepared for them.

I think an aupair would love to have a separate annexe, but you might not know whether they are in or not, as you won't hear the key in the door at 4am.

Before I worked, and when I had under-3s at home, I had a few aupairs. You really need to work out what your job is and what her job is. It is very easy for you to relegate all the cleaning jobs to her by looking after the children yourself. You also need to work out her 5 hours per day work time - for example, if DS is in school half-days, it is not really reasonable for her to do both school runs as it would make her free-time very bitty.

SquiffyHock Sat 26-Jul-08 19:36:28

To be honest, I'm happy with my mornings as we go to classes, coffee mornings etc. I thought I could get her to do some light cleaning in the afternoon then stay at home with DD and baby while I get DS from school then play with them all while I make supper.

I've read that they shouldn't have sole care of under 3's - is that right? I really enjoy picking DS up from school but it would be great to leave the little ones at home.

I don't think the au pair will have too many opportunites for 4am hometimes as we are in a smell village!

Dh just wants them to get up with the kids in the morning but I'm guessing that won't happen grin

Thanks for all the responses, I'm warming to the idea! Do you think that it would be better to get someone before baby arrives so that DS and DD can get used to her?

catepilarr Sat 26-Jul-08 20:53:55

regarding solecharge, depends on the aupair. some are capable some arent. the same is for the evenings - depends on the personality, homesickness...

SqueakyPop Sun 27-Jul-08 08:46:54

You have to know the aupair to decide if you are comfortable leaving the baby. If it is only for half an hour, then it will probably be fine. Ditto if you are going to the dentist or hairdressers.

I think that 'sole charge' means that they are having to make a lot of decisions about what to do, which wouldn't be the case if you are just popping out - you would still be calling the shots.

It would be a good idea to get the aupair before your baby arrives. She will be able to take the little ones off your hands when you are tired, and would solve any dilemmas you might have about how to get your kids looked after when you are in labour.

You should keep in mind that you are not signing your life away - you could just do it for 3 months if you like. Lots of aupairs like short placements so there are plenty to choose from. If it doesn't work out for you, you haven't lost very much.

imananny Sun 27-Jul-08 10:40:46

congrats about the baby smile

if you have the space and dont mind someone being around at weekend, then an au pair is prob the best bet and will cost less

still not sure than an au pair is allowed sole charge of very young children, even if for an hour while you nip to school etc - sure Nick will clarify

* calls for Nick*

it may be worth putting an ad on gumtree and netmums saying that you want some help maybe 12-7 and see if any Mh or nannies striaght out from colllege,who need some experience (3 children, including a new baby would be a fab start) to help with children/light housewrokk, tea, bath and bed time

whoever you get,if you can get them to start before baby so that other 2 children get used to her, then that will prob make your life easier

nannynick Sun 27-Jul-08 11:05:29

Bia.Homeoffice: Au Pairs - What to expect

An au pair may read the above document, and from that get an impression of what the role involves. The document mentions taking older children to school.

Au Pair agencies often say that an au pair is unsuitable for the care of children under age 2. However, I am not aware of any actual legislation regarding this issue.

However, you could be charged with neglect if you knowingly leave you child with someone unsuitable. So it would depend a lot on the actual au pair - and I would not suggest leaving them for very long.

If you want someone to care for young children, then may be better having someone with some childcare experience - so au pairs may have that.

nannynick Sun 27-Jul-08 11:08:27

Getting someone before baby arrives may be a big help to you - as you could allocate them to doing a lot of the laundry, housework. They also get to bond with your two children and may help them with the transition to having a new sibling.

SqueakyPop Sun 27-Jul-08 16:47:26

Even under this awful Nu-Labour govt, we haven't quite got to the state of them stipulating who can babysit for us solely based on nationality.

Millarkie Sun 27-Jul-08 17:06:19

For what it's worth - people who want to be au pairs range in their ability so although most may be good intentioned teenagers who need a lot of guidance, but a few are more suited to helping out with younger children. eg. our au pair who starts in 3 weeks is 22 years old and has worked in a nursery for 18 months and is 2 years into a primary school age teaching degree..that's actually better experience than my 21 year old nanny! So you might well find an au pair that you could leave the younger children with while you do the school run etc.

Disclaimer: My kids are 5 and 7 yrs and au pair will only have sole charge for 1.75 hours three times a week (before someone accuses me of using an au pair for a nanny job)

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