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pros and cons of using an au pair?

(40 Posts)
overthemill Tue 09-Sep-08 20:28:05

we need child care now every day after school as i am about to go back to work. thought an au pair might work out as there isn't a huge amount of care involved just after school being there and hope that one would also do light housework etc

so, if you have/have had an au pair what are the pros and cons?
we'd have to turf a child out of their bedroom and only have one bathroom so this would be a big step for us. my dh isn't keen on teh lack of privacy

Bettyboobird Tue 09-Sep-08 20:55:57

Our first ever au pair arrives a week today so I'll let you know in a fortnight lol!! grin

Millarkie Tue 09-Sep-08 22:14:14

We've had our au pair for about 3 weeks and she's marvellous. She helps out before school and looks after the kids for a short time after school, also does some cleaning, and walks the dog. She is doing far more than I expected (ie. simple but useful things like emptying bin because it's full) and is far more competent than I expected. In the evenings she prefers to be in her room (she has tv and computer there) or out with her au pair friends. She has spent most weekends out with her friends so we haven't had any issues re: privacy yet.
On the cons side - Au pairs are more expensive than after school club (although mine's saving me some cleaning costs, dog walker and babysitting fees). And you never know if they are a good'un or not until you try living with them.

overthemill Wed 10-Sep-08 09:14:06

thanks! we don't have an after school club at my dd's new middle school (covers yr 5 - 8, she has just started yr 5)

we live in a village so she would need to be able to get out and about under her own steam - we have a bike and its 1 mile to the next place where the station is.

do you pay for language classes? do you have lots of rooms? I'm a bit worried she may feel we're not 'posh' enough!!

Jessie179 Wed 10-Sep-08 10:22:18

I am also considering this as I work from home and once a week go into office and there are big demand for childcare in our area. Therefore no one can help me out few hours a week. I have just been registered as Childminder but only starting in January. In mean time im considering using Au Pair to entertain my 10 month old whilst i work few hours at home. Can someone also say whats the best way get one

Millarkie Wed 10-Sep-08 10:31:38

We also live in a village, but we have bus and train service, even so I am only looking for au pairs who drive (they can have use of my car during the day) since I was worrying about them feeling stuck here. (Having said that, my au pair does not like driving and has made friends with other au pairs who tend to pick her up and drop her off).
We have not offered to pay for language classes but we are thinking of offering something towards current au pairs language school fees because she is finding it difficult to find a cheap course which suits both her level of english and has sensible hours (there are a lot of evening classes but she would rather not be out on winter evenings). She is much more help than we expected which is why we are thinking about paying out more than we had agreed.
We live in a 5 bed detached house..not huge compared to some of au pairs friend's host family houses, but bigger than a 'normal' family home. ..on the other hand it is in dire need of refurbishment and currently has 2 bedrooms being decorated and the kids are shoved together in a third room.
Au pair's room has an ensuite shower and we spent quite a bit on making it pretty and cosy (new furntiture, bed linen, curtains, cushions etc)..but this is partly because it (like the rest of the house) had not been decorated for about 30 years (we bought the place last year).

Millarkie Wed 10-Sep-08 10:38:42

Jessie - we found our au pair using www.aupair-world.net.

HarrietTheSpy Wed 10-Sep-08 12:54:43

I am starting to think these au pair world girls are imaginary. We have friendly exchanges and then hear nothing again. I THINK I am finally talking to a real person tomorrow morning. But we'll see. I've just noticed there are many old threads about this.

millarkie it's great you got one that materialised and is really helpful. How long is she planning to stay?

overthemill Wed 10-Sep-08 13:04:37

i am asking around friends etc to see if they know anyone who might want the job. am lucky as we know several people who have families abroad so we get someone from romania/poland/spain that way!

maybe ask on mumsnet - there are loads of mners who live abroad

overthemill Wed 10-Sep-08 13:05:06

anyway, still want pros and cons
anyone??

Millarkie Wed 10-Sep-08 14:03:28

overthemill - not sure if Romanian au pairs have visa issues - might be worth looking into before you commit.. I stuck to EU countries to make sure that they wouldn't need visas.

Harriet - I'm not the only one with a real aupair world girl in the flesh! A couple of my neighbours and a work colleague have also used the site successfully. Having said that I was contacted by about 50 au pairs, rejected about 80% outright (due to not matching my profile), got into email discussions with about 10 of them, got to reference checking and telephone check stage with 3. Got turned down by 1 of the 3, got turned down by 2nd of 3, was about to offer to 3rd when the 2nd one changed her mind and asked to come to us...so it is a time consuming process with lots of 'wasted' time.
We suffer because it is a rural location and although we are commutable to London I don't want my ap's to go to London during the week (although weekend is fine) due to train unreliability..but on the good side, I made the job as minimal and enticing as possible ie. 17.5 hours, mainly supervision of school age kids, no cooking, no ironing, small amount of cleaning for extra money.

HarrietTheSpy Wed 10-Sep-08 14:15:38

Overthemill - I don't mean to hijack, I am an au pair novice and currently recruiting our first au pair for January and am as interested in this as you...it's just that I have to say one tiny thing to Millarkie...

Okay, got an email back regarding the phone call..."This time might be good, if not, an hour later, just not sure what is happening." No further explanation, it was as if I were her mate or something. Oh dear.

I'm thinking of switching to Almondbury or using one of the (few I know) agencies recommended on here. But then maybe leaving it to October? Is that too late or too early for Jan? There's the rub.

HarrietTheSpy Wed 10-Sep-08 14:15:40

Overthemill - I don't mean to hijack, I am an au pair novice and currently recruiting our first au pair for January and am as interested in this as you...it's just that I have to say one tiny thing to Millarkie...

Okay, got an email back regarding the phone call..."This time might be good, if not, an hour later, just not sure what is happening." No further explanation, it was as if I were her mate or something. Oh dear.

I'm thinking of switching to Almondbury or using one of the (few I know) agencies recommended on here. But then maybe leaving it to October? Is that too late or too early for Jan? There's the rub.

overthemill Wed 10-Sep-08 14:36:43

no problem. all i want to know is how does an au pair score over other types of childcare?

Millarkie Wed 10-Sep-08 14:38:13

I think it's a bit early for Jan recruitment Harriet - I am meant to be recruiting for jan/feb start now and I'm getting poor candidates compared to my aug/sep start lot.
I recruiting for aug/sept in may (because I was told to get going before the good ones were gone but tbh there was a flood of applicants about end of June time (ie. after I had found my au pair) which were fine. I think that maybe October time might be better for a Jan start. (I'm logging on to apw once a day in case a fab. ap appears but not stressing too much yet)

jurahasfoundthehiggsboson Wed 10-Sep-08 14:40:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

jurahasfoundthehiggsboson Wed 10-Sep-08 14:43:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

overthemill Wed 10-Sep-08 14:47:01

well i want au pair for after school care for a child that frankly needs little input because she plays out/in with her mates all the time/goes to brownies etc. i want someone here to be with her rather than 'care' for her. wondered about sensible teenager but finding them hard to source!
want tea made/snacks/company/dog walking maybe some cleaning
we have 4 bed house but only 1 bathroom (but 2 loos) what do you think?

overthemill Wed 10-Sep-08 14:49:09

btw, previously we have had live out nannies and mothers helps/childminders

Millarkie Wed 10-Sep-08 15:01:10

(Sorry overthehill - hopefully this will bump thread at least)

Pros and Cons of au pairs please......

overthemill Wed 10-Sep-08 15:02:41

ahem! overthemill not hill

Millarkie Wed 10-Sep-08 15:13:15

blush but - sorry, what a typo!!

becks5109 Wed 10-Sep-08 15:49:18

OTM we haven't an au pair for a year now (our first one ever) and we got her off a MNer and she's been great. She leaves in 2 weeks but she's lined up a friend neighbour to come over and be our new au pair and they're doing a week hand over together.
Pros are - your house will be tidier and in an emergency they're usually around to help out, for the kids its like having a big sister around
Cons - not too many really, but obviously slight lack of privacy and another mouth to feed (our food bills have increased alot as you need to remember you're feeding them for 3 meals a day).

We only have one bathroom but 2 loos and its been fine for us - she just gets dressed in the morning and then showers I assume when we have gone to work and kids are at school/nursery.

Pria Wed 10-Sep-08 15:52:30

Over the mill

Would recommend using an agency as references have at least been checked, plus if you are not happy within the settling in period you can say no and they can be relocated elsewhere.

Pros
Children can come straight home after school

Extra help with household chores freeing up your time.

If your really lucky like us they stay for years and become "one of the family"

Cons
Not all au pairs speak great English in my experiance most don't that's what they come over to U.K for!

Extra hidden costs of extra person in your household, food, utilities phone!!

If house space ltd lack of privacy.

In my case having some-one with a great "never had a baby" figure coming out of the shower each morning- can make you feel a bit shitty!

Most au pairs only intend to stay for a limited period.

If young au pair can need a bit of parenting themselves.

Wish you luck as with all child care can be a bit of a lottery!

goldenoldie Wed 10-Sep-08 18:08:08

pros - an extra pair of hands around the house, opportunity to rediscover your social life with a live-in baby sitter, someone to run those essential errands like collecting parcels from sorting office or drop offs at the dry cleaners, an extra playmate for the DCs

cons - they rarely stay longer than 6 months/1 year, can be disconcerting for DCs with new arrival every 6 months.
English usually poor, frustrating for you and DCs trying to communicate with her. Not good for young children who are starting to learn the language themselves.
Expensive - will eat you out of house and home, and they always eat the expensive chocs, steak, juice you were saving for yourself or a special family meal
boyfriends - strange bloke in your house while you are not there, but maybe your kids are

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