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think I may need an au pair

(10 Posts)
halia Thu 29-Oct-09 13:04:12

At the moment DS (4.5) has a childminder who comes to our house 2 times a week.
Situation is DH works away sunday evening - thursday/friday evening.
I work p/t but need to do 2 evenings so DS goes to afterschool and/ or CM.

Now I pay CM £7/hr and my total hildcare is around £50-£60 a week. £7 feels like alot when after7pm she is just watching TV.

I've been wondering if I should think about an Au pair next year, my hours may increase amd it really is those awkward times that a normal CM isn't good for. The other thing is that I want to see if I can go up to f/t with the idea that DH would then go p/t. But there will be a period when we are both working f/t an I'd DEFINITLY need more help then.

But I'm not sure I can cope with someone else in the house.

Millarkie Thu 29-Oct-09 13:18:18

Au pairs are not a very cheap option. They generally get 65-90 pounds a week for 25-30 hours of child-watching and light cleaning but there are other associated costs eg rise in heating/power bills, food (one of our au pairs doubled our family food bill) car costs or bus pass, and often incentives like a uk mobile phone, gym membership. And they take time to recruit and time to train. We've estimated our au pair costs between 700 and 850 a month and that's on top of the money we have spent getting her room nice (pc tv etc).
On the other hand it is good to have another pair of hands when dh is away and the kids get to chill out after school in their own home and the cleaning gets (sort of) done.
I recruit using au pair world.net and there's lots of advice on mn about hiring au pairs and their employment rights.

halia Thu 29-Oct-09 17:32:14

I will want about 15 hrs - can I reduce 'wages' to around £50. Happy to give a PAYG phone and £20 top up a month (au pair to cover extra's)

Its the fact that I work some evenings and so I want DS in his own bed and evening childcare is so expensive.

It's only a small room and we're in a rural town - would those put off people? On the other hand they can have Friday - sunday off completly 3 weeks out of 4 and I'm happy to work around someone who had another job/ college course in the daytimes as long as it fitted in between school hrs.

How is this list of 'facilities'
Share bathroom with DS
Single bedroom with ......
armchair, desk, TV, DVD player, Freeview, laptop, PAYG phone loaded with £20 each month by us, own kettle, toaster + mini cooler fridge so they dont' have to come downstairs first thing for a cuppa.

Weegle Thu 29-Oct-09 17:52:44

I personally would make the pocket money £60 and reduce the mobile allowance per month - we provide a mobile and put £10 on it to start with and then it's up to the AP entirely. I would also 'contract 20-25 hours for that even if you don't necessarily use them.

I think her room sounds absolutely fine. Our have shared the family bathroom, which from next year will involve not sharing with DH&I but will involve sharing with DS (3.5) and 2 babies.

We also are a rural town - make this upfront at recruitment stage as you definitely don't want a townie. We don't provide a car (too expensive) but we do pay for a YP railcard (they pay all their fares on top of this) as we have 2 local stations enabling them to get to most places. We also previously have paid their entire college fees but we had decided as we recruited next one that we would only contribute 50% from now on - it's actually turned out to be not necessary as next one is an English speaker.

The real hidden costs are part of them being your family - days out can easily add an extra £30-50 with their food and entry fees yet we very much feel they should be welcomed along.

Millarkie Thu 29-Oct-09 18:13:31

'Facilities' sound good - we don't let them have a toaster/kettle - partly because there is a smoke alarm in their room (in case they are secret smokers as well as in case of house fire) and partly if they didn't come down for a cup of tea sometimes we wouldn't see them
I would also increase the 'pocket money' and decrease the phone allowance - we give them £10 a month on the mobile and ask them to use a skype phone for other calls (on pc in their bedroom). The au pairs I have come across do not relate to working less hours = less money, most would rather work more hours and get standard money. I would offer the £60 minimum and have up to 25 hours as work hours so you can ask for a little more than the 15 if you need it (we have '25' hours in the contract but only normally need 15).
We are rural and have found that we pay more than cities to get a 'good' au pair (good standard of english and previous childcare experience, checkable references).
As for coping with someone else in the house - if they have pc/dvd/tv in their room we don't tend to see ours past 7pm. They have better things to do than hang out with old people. Some of it is a personality thing, current au pair is not at all irritating to live with, previous au pair was annoying but not incompetent.

FourArms Thu 29-Oct-09 19:14:46

Without meaning to cause any offence, I think you'd need to v.careful about which ap you employed. If your son, (who will be 5 by then?) comes home to an ap every school night, and is put to bed by the ap, will you really see him for much waking time? By then he's going to be doing more spellings, reading and other homework. Will a semi-English speaking ap be able to help him with this to the same degree as a fluent English speaker? I suppose if it's only a stop-gap measure... but what would p/t mean for your DH?

halia Fri 30-Oct-09 19:01:19

He wouldn't be coming home with/ to an AP every night FourArms o being put to bed by an AP every night so no worries there.

(not sure how on earth I could have had him looked after from 3-8pm 5 nights a week and it only come to 15 hrs?)

Good idea about decrease phone and increase pocket money.

Ideally I'd want an independant, mature AP who maybe wanted to get a p/t job or study as well. I'd prefer someone from an english speaking country or with a VERY good standad of english.

frakula Fri 30-Oct-09 19:11:40

Do you have a local uni? If so a postgrad student may welcome the room/board in return for a bit of childcare in the evenings. Or you can use a local college as a draw for English speaking au pairs wanting to study further. If you want a good standard of English you may have to pay more - Aussie/NZ 'au pairs' are comparatively expensive.

The other thing to consider about employing an au pair is the legal/tax side. Now you're paying under their tax and NI threshold but if they get a second job then you need to make sure that they're not using their tax free allowance on that or you will end up paying tax on what they're earning from you. They're also entitled to 5.6 weeks holiday a year (which you can choose), which is basically 4 weeks plus bank hols.

Millarkie Fri 30-Oct-09 19:21:36

The spoken english of my german au pairs has been at a fantastic level, more than adequate to help ds (yr 4) with his homework if required. European au pairs are 'easier' to employ since they don't need visas. There are a lot of new (well, from last November I think) visa requirements for aussie, kiwi, canadian au pairs now (tier 5 visa IIRC), including them having to prove they have a certain amount of savings etc.
I like to take on au pairs who are working towards a particular degree eg. our first was doing a teaching degree but needed to pass an english exam to continue the degree, our second was doing a degree in international tourism management. I am not so keen on the more mature (over 23 yr olds in my book) who seem a bit aimless. But rest assured that you can get applicants with excellent english within Europe. After a few emails with my potential au pairs I always do a phone interview to check their spoken english.
Agree with Frakula about watching out for NI/tax responsibilities if an au pair gets a second job.

DadInsteadofMum Sat 31-Oct-09 20:46:47

I have the kids do phone interviews with potential APs, if you can have a conversation with a six year old on a phone your spoken English is going to be good enough to survive.

Our current German and our previous Dutch au apir both had excellent spoken English more than capable of helping with homework and spellings.

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