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Help in finding the right au pair - nationality/age

(19 Posts)
tew Mon 25-Apr-05 10:53:42

Am having number two in Oct, and there will be a 14 month age gap between the two - dd will be 14 months old. To stop me going totally mad, and for another pair of hands, would like to get an au pair. Live in SW19 and the au pair would have the run of the house every weekend when we are away.

Would love advice on agencies, nationalities and which age works best. We had au pairs when we were growing up, so I know what's expected in terms of work load! Thx.

RnB Mon 25-Apr-05 10:56:36

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tew Mon 25-Apr-05 11:03:35

Thx RnB, slightly sooner than planned (!) and took a few weeks to get used to the idea. Not helped that much by dd waking up at 5am at the moment for no obvious reason, so pretty tired!

I would have thought it would get easier as they get older as they can keep each other company?

uwila Mon 25-Apr-05 11:52:36

I would recommend starting with I am becoming well versed in the role of domestic employer, but I work full time so I look for nannies, not au pairs. Great au pair seems to have a lot to offer, and they have the nest search facilities I have come across.

Good luck!

tew Mon 25-Apr-05 12:06:26

Thx Uwila, will definitely give them a go.

Ameriscot2005 Mon 25-Apr-05 14:39:09

You have to decide what kind of au pair you would like. Younger (ie 18-20) vs older (over 25), from Eastern Europe, including Accession States vs Western Europe, and a career minded person vs someone who is drifting through life. Each choice is very personal and has its benenfits and drawbacks.

You also have to decide what level of English you can put up with, whether you need the au pair to be able to drive, and how long you want them to stay with you.

My own point of view, based on experience of 3 au pairs, is:

1) to get someone younger since they are more likely to be energetic and willing to muck in;

2)a western girl, because you shouldn't have to explain as much

3)someone who is about to go to university so that you can maximise your chances of getting someone who is bright and has initiative (the downside of this is that they are likely to get bored and move on after a few months)

4)to get someone with a moderate level of English - bad enough that they qualify for free classes, and good enough that it is not too stressful to communicate. They need something to do during their free time.

5) to have the au pair stay for 3 months (school terms, basically) and that way they stay keen and interested.

An agency costs about £300 to place an au pair and it's not really clear what they do for the money. You can DIY by using Great Au Pair or I've used both and prefer Aupairworld, because their matches are more suited to my needs, and it's cheaper. GAP is a great site though, and it's well worth registering with each - you only pay the fee when you want to contact a prospective au pair.

Ameriscot2005 Mon 25-Apr-05 14:44:04

RnB - getting an au pair in July:

My first au pair started in July and it didn't work out. It turned out to be a bad time, because the language classes don't start till the end of September and it was a long time for the au pair to be stuck in the house, which coloured her attitude to the job. I have since learnt from experienced families, that they always get their au pairs to start in September so that they can go to classes and make friends straight away.

If you are looking for someone in July, you may want to consider a summer au pair (for July and August), then to get your more long-term one after that. It would also give you a good chance to make your mistakes without long-term repercussions. There are stacks of girls looking for summer placements.

majorstress Mon 25-Apr-05 14:59:57

I really agree with Ameriscot on the summer "practice" au pair-it is a steep learning curve for you as well as them and there are lots wanting a summer job. Also you need to be looking now for the Sept replacement, the sensible ones are already trying to sort out their placement.

I tried all of those mentioned and more for months and still ended up with a useless one, and having to ask our elderly overseas parents for lots of help to plug all the gaps, we decided we can't cope with another like that this year so are forking out for a "proper" nanny now who lives out, there were lots of those on gumtree responding to a carefully worded ad-local English schools might be a good source to ask. You still have to do hours of weeding out on the phone whichever route you try, don't waste your time arranging interviews face to face until you are sure you've got a real winner, half won't even show up.

Ameriscot2005 Mon 25-Apr-05 15:07:34

I haven't had as hard a time as Majorstress. Perhaps the difference is that I am a SAHM, therefore my standards are a bit lower in that I don't need to be able to know that I can trust the au pair 110%

I've had an au pair from an agency, with whatever pre-screening they do, and that didn't really work out very well; she didn't really match the description in her profile. My next one came via GAP, and I exchanged emails, chatted to her on the phone and she started a few days later - she was fab. My current one came via APW, and I chatted to her on the phone, met her along with my previous au pair, who showed her the ropes, then she started the week after the other one left. I didn't check references given that they were both young (19), so couldn't have much "history" - this would be different for a WOHM, of course.

RnB Mon 25-Apr-05 15:09:39

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RnB Mon 25-Apr-05 15:11:18

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Ameriscot2005 Mon 25-Apr-05 15:14:07

You can carve up the hours in any mutually agreeable way. Try not to leave the au pair with bitty amounts of free time - try to give her long blocks so that she can go out and do something decent with it.

It's normal for the au pair to do 2 nights of babysitting in addition to the 25 hours per week.

tew Mon 25-Apr-05 17:00:32

Thx for all the advice, particularly that I should starting looking now for an au pair to start in Sept. Fingers crossed we find someone nice!

Ameriscot2005 Mon 25-Apr-05 17:15:58

I don't think it is crucial to look for a September au pair now, especially one that doesn't need a visa.

I have an ad up on APW and GAP - just my regular profile that I've had from the start, updated with new dates (end August - December); I get 5 - 10 applications a day, and even though I've seen a few that look great, I couldn't expect to engage them at the moment - both of us could change our minds, and then the other is left high and dry. I really should take my profile off until July - about 4 - 6 weeks ahead of when I want someone.

Unless you are looking for a very specific person, there are plenty of girls ready to be au pairs in September - there are more au pairs than families. It could be that the au pairs are chasing the "good" families (central London etc.), and I wouldn't put our situation into that category .

mishmash Mon 25-Apr-05 17:35:33

I've just signed up with APW and have had loads of replies so far (I will be looking for an Au Pair when nanny is on mat leave). It is my first to actually use an internet agency so wasn't 100% sure what to put on it. What do you generally put in Ameriscot or anyone else for that matter? Don't mean to be intrusive just curious

Ameriscot2005 Mon 25-Apr-05 17:45:39

I tried to CAT you my profile number, but you are not receiving messages from Mumsnet .

My profile is fairly brief. A description of the family, and a description of the job.

majorstress Tue 26-Apr-05 11:10:19

I don't think it is essential to sort out the Sept one now, just that I noticed that lots are planning ahead and putting Sept as start date-I wondered if the best organised ones might be committed well beforehand.

Next time I do this (IF) I won't bother with email correspondence or automated "I am interested in you" rubbish, it is too slow-if I see a likely one I will go straight to the phone to do an interview. No phone number no job.

I found it doesn't matter much what you put, just try to make it accurate and keep it up to date if anything changes from your end. You get more applicants if there is a photo. You will get lots of applicants anyway, many of whomdon't fulfill what you asked for as essential/don't really understand where you live and that, say, Surrey is not in fact right next to their (boy)friend's job or home in Barnet/won't know which one you are when you talk to them, because they have applied for 1000s of jobs willy-nilly.

You can't assume: they have read your profile and know which job you are talking about, but most pretend that they DO know, or that their own profile is actually up to date either. You need to start at square one with each one you actually contact and reconfirm all the stuff like identity (some are really speaking or providing email addresses for friends who cannot speak a single word of English-honestly, I've had 3 of those), immigration status, desired location, and start date-this will cut out most of them, I found, WAY before you get to experience, and actual willingness to do the individual list of tasks you need doing, etc.

tew Tue 26-Apr-05 11:48:53

Thanks Majorstress and Ameriscott for your really useful advice. I think as long as there's a fair amount of give and take it should work out, and if it doesn't then back to square one! Can you tell me how much it costs to register with the two agencies?

Thanks again.

majorstress Tue 26-Apr-05 12:02:06

There will definitely be lots of give and take-just make sure that one party doesn't get assigned "give" and the other gets to do "take" lol.

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