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Question to mums who have used au pairs...

(10 Posts)
MizZan Tue 17-May-05 20:46:29

Hi all - am considering hiring an au pair for the first time in July and feeling quite nervous about prospect of inviting someone who I've only interviewed over the phone (or once in person if lucky) to live in with us and look after my 3 year old, and baby-to-be.

Would appreciate any insights any of you have re:
- has anyone had good/bad experiences hiring someone off an internet au pair website? would you only do this if you could check references on them? is there any advantage at all to going through an agency?

- does it make sense to get a "summer au pair" first and then look for a longer-term one, or is that just a waste of time and energy?

- any other tips or advice are very welcome indeed! thanks in advance...

uwila Tue 17-May-05 22:47:53

Shat duties are you looking for her to do? How many hours?

I would not hire anyone who did not have verifiable references. I would use an internet site for sure (as it proves they have some knowledge of the internet and how to use it, which is abasic requirement for daily life in my house). I definitely don't use agencies. Can't honestly see that the value exceeds or even meets the price.

I would recommend a book called "The Good NAnny Guide" I think much of the interviewing tips also apply to au pairs.

Good luck!!

uwila Tue 17-May-05 22:48:51

Oh sorry. That was meant to be "What duties..."

jura Wed 18-May-05 00:33:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Ameriscot2005 Wed 18-May-05 05:28:09

I've gone the agency route and the internet route and don't really see a lot of added value in the agencies. If you are an "attractive" family for an au pair, you might be inundated with internet applications.

I think there is a lot to be said for short-term placements, especially in the summer when the free language classes aren't available. Also, when it's your first au pair, you are finding your feet and if you are going to make mistakes, it's better if the consequences are short-lived.

MizZan Wed 18-May-05 10:17:01

thanks Uwila and Ameriscot, this is helpful. I suspected as much re agencies, and we have had a huge response to our profile on, so there doesn't seem to be a problem finding candidates.

Re the interviewing, we've had nannies (I work) so I am pretty well up on what I'd look for in a nanny, but want to make sure I'm setting my own expectations appropriately in an au pair situation. With the nannies it's been very much a case of showing them the ropes and letting them get on with it, not sure how much more guidance I will need to provide an au pair (the ones I'm talking with all have at least some direct childcare experience and have been au pairs before), and how ok they would be with sole charge of a 3 1/2 year old for some time every week.

Ameriscot, who offers these free English classes you mention, and how could I find out about them? I've rung around some English schools in our city but they all charge very high fees.

Ameriscot2005 Wed 18-May-05 11:00:04

Surrey County Council provides free basic English lessons to EU citizens as part of the adult education provision. I imagine other counties have similar programmes.

MizZan Wed 18-May-05 20:43:50

thanks Ameriscot!

Lasvegas Thu 19-May-05 13:47:40

I currently have my 1st AP, 3 months into a 6 month stint. I got her from site called aupair world. Cost 30Euros. I am in central London and have one todler and pay £60 a week. Must have been attractive as I had over 150 email responses! The girl I picked phoned me as well as emailing, I chose her as she had outstanding English language and was v organised in following up her email with a call. I didn't meet her face to face prior to her arrival but we spoke a few times on the phone and emailed each other. I use a child minder so AP only has sole charge of DD for 30 min 3 times a week and sits twice a week when DD is asleep. I didn't take up references as don't see the point as these can easily be faked I went on gut instinct. She is German and in gap year after Uni so I knew she was genuine AP not economic migrant. I have been V lucky when I look at the horror stories on MN.

MizZan Thu 19-May-05 17:51:21

thanks las vegas.

I have a 3 1/2 year old and the au pair would definitely have sole charge for significant time during the summer, so I will be looking for someone with experience and references. not sure what to do about the fake references thing. I'm hot on the trail of one who is currently working with another family in the UK - spoke to the mom of that family and she was very positive about the au pair, no idea on how to check if this is real or not but it certainly seemed real! she's getting more than £60 a week though...

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