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Au pair host virgin questions

(7 Posts)
charleyfarleycat Sun 30-Aug-09 17:13:12

We've heard of a girl through a family friend who's interested in coming over to England to improve her language. She has never been an au pair before and as such only has experience with relatives.
How much should we be looking to pay her? We live in West London and she will have her own en-suite room. There is also a ESOL course down the road.
I would expect her to work 5 afternoons a week and 1 babysitting night a week and the occasional Sunday which could be swapped for a day off during the week. I would not expect her to have sole charge at any point as I am at home, though I have seen some posters using au pairs almost like nannies. Is that possible?

I'm also a bit confused about the number of hours a week au pairs work. Do the lines ever get blurred as I imagine that as they are pretty much always around there are times where they may help which are not the times we necessarily mapped out. Does that make sense?

Any advice welcome.

limonchik Sun 30-Aug-09 19:34:16

25 hours for around £70 a week is the norm I think. You should make clear what time is work time and what time is off time, but things like clearing up after herself in the kitchen, helping to set and clear the table for a meal she eats with the family, her own laundry, taking out a full bin are things she may need to do in off time but wouldn't be considered "work" in my opinion. Asking her to watch the kids while you nip to the shops or cook a meal for the family in her off time is work.

Millarkie Sun 30-Aug-09 19:45:57

I agree with Limonchik, £70 for 25 hours is ok. And same as Limonchik re: activities in non-work time. Our au pairs tend to take themselves off to surf/watch tv in their room or go to gym when 'off duty' when we are at home so not dragged into helping with the kids etc. Latest au pair does come and play with the children for short times 'off duty' but I am clear with her and the children that she should be given space and it's up to her if she wants to be with them (e.g. this pm she spent an hour or so curled up with dd on her lap watching kids tv /playing cards)
As to using au pairs for sole charge - yes a lot of people use them for sole charge for a hour or so after school and before parents get home from work (that's what we do). Personally I am very fussy when recruiting au pairs and they must have previous sole-charge childcare experience and a CRB. This rules out the majority of applicants but means that I am happy leaving them with the children for an hour and a half at a time.

BoffinMum Sun 30-Aug-09 22:35:30

It's normally OK for au pairs to have sole charge of school age children - this is their biggest target market in fact, and a role it is nigh on impossible to find nannies for in some areas. However it is not normally recommended to leave very young children alone with them for very long at all unless they have had some training or relevant experience (I have had one or two au pairs who were qualified nursery nurses back home, for example, so were fine doing this).

BTW you can't usefully get a CRB for someone who is new to the country, so you have to rely on police reports from their home country which may or may not be legit.

WRT hours, I always got mine to keep a timesheet to ensure they weren't overrunning. Sometimes they do like to hang out with the kids or come on a family trip out during their spare time, and we did this on the same basis as we would have done with a niece.

Millarkie Mon 31-Aug-09 10:28:29

Yes, when I said CRB I meant the CRB equivalent from their home country - sorry. I find German au pairs tend to be very organised and have their police check ready to show us.
Charlefarleycat - one of the things to think about is whether you would take that particular girl as an au pair even if she wasn't a friend of a friend. Personally I wouldn't want someone who only had experience of 'looking after their little cousins' but then I would want someone happy to do sole charge for afterschool. Also ask lots of questions of her before you agree (if you search MN there will be a list somewhere!) I generally try to ask a couple of 'if the children did XXXX what would you do?' questions, 'what do you normally eat? (au pair's eating habits can be a real stress if they are too wacky/expensive), and 'do you drink, if so how much' (not so much because of the drinking but to get a feel for if they will want to spend every evening clubbing or are more stay-at-home-ish). And if you can, get them a tv and broadband access for their room, that way you will probably get some time to yourself in the evenings!

BoffinMum Mon 31-Aug-09 10:57:13

Yes, I am with Millie on this. Some of them spend a hour a month with relatives' children while the family is around to pick up the pieces, and think this prepares them for life as an au pair, but it doesn't. They can get a real shock when they have to do it week in, week out. It's good to have someone who has held down a part-time job of some difficulty for a reasonable period of time. For example, my best au pair spent 10 hours a day selling ice cream at a swimming pool for two summers. That's pretty arduous and the more mundane aspects of the au pair work seemed pretty straightforward to her after that.

charleyfarleycat Mon 31-Aug-09 19:15:45

Thanks. That's all great advice. The main reason we would like to see her is she only wants to come over for a few months and we want our daughter to improve her Spanish (half the family is Spanish).
We're still mulling it over, but I'll bear in mind all that you have said.

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