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Renting room in exchange for childcare

(37 Posts)
Oakmaiden Sun 16-Nov-14 20:13:44

Mulling over a few options for childcare when I start my new job in January, and wondered whether mothers of uni students thought this would be a good idea or not. I have posted about this is childcare too, although from a slightly different angle.

I was wondering about the idea of finding a student who would like to live in my spare room rent free, in exchange for doing some childcare.

I have 3 children - a 16 year old boy, an 11 year old girl and a 9 year old boy. The eldest is on the autistic spectrum - he is pretty good really, but he cannot be responsible for his siblings at all, and does need someone pointing him in the right direction in the mornings.

I will be leaving for work at 6:30am - I would need someone to get the children up at this time, make sure they eat breakfast, and walk the younger two to school for 8am. I also won't get home until about 6-6:30 pm, so someone would need to pick them up from school, walk them home and keep an eye on them until I get there. Their school day finishes at 3:30, although they could stay in after school club until 5:30 if the student had lectures until 5. Their school is across the road from one of the uni campuses. So I am basically looking for someone responsible to supervise my children for either 2 1/2 or 4 1/2 hours a day altogether. I can be a bit flexible with this - the children are capable of walking to and from school on their own, but I really don't want them in the house on their own with their elder brother.

In exchange for the child supervision I would offer a rent free room (student rooms in this area are about £60 per week) with food and bills included. If the student was doing more than 2 1/2 hours a day I would also offer an appropriate amount of "pocket money".

Do you think this is something some students might be interested in, or is it a stupid idea?

Parietal Sun 16-Nov-14 21:10:03

this sounds like an au pair job. you need to pay the au pair (£60 - 100 per week, I think) and you get a set number of hours childcare per week (all year, not just university terms.

Oakmaiden Sun 16-Nov-14 21:20:15

Oh yes - that was the other thing - I don't need all year... only term time...

But yes, I am looking at an au pair sort of idea - just not sure I want an actual au pair... I don't really want someone doing 30 hours a week and all the other tasks that au pairs do, I really just want someone in the house supervising a bit, and walking them to school...

natsukashi Sun 16-Nov-14 21:21:15

It sounds pretty unappealing and niche for uni students.

However, I knew a 6th former estranged from her family who did something along these lines. Sort of a UK born au pair. Otherwise, yes, perhaps a traditional au pair.

KatyMac Sun 16-Nov-14 21:25:31

i had this idea for DD (I run a nursery from home so she has lots of experience with children)

But she leaves the house at 7:20 & doesn't get in until after 5 and is the most exhausted thing I have ever seen

So it didn't work as an idea for us

Good luck tho'

Mrsgrumble Sun 16-Nov-14 21:34:25

I was a very sensible student but no way would I have liked this arrangement. That said, it could work with the right person.

Uni is so expensive, they may be gad of it. What about boyfriends and the like???

UptheChimney Mon 17-Nov-14 09:40:59

just not sure I want an actual au pair

But you are asking for an au pair job, but you want it for free? I don't get it.

FinallyHere Mon 17-Nov-14 09:51:38

Wondering why you don't want an au pair?

There may be someone out there, perhaps a mature student, who would be prepared to do this in exchange for lodgings. It doesn't scream out 'student job' to me, though, what with the fixed hours and responsibility. For lodgings in a house not really likely to be conductive to study: how would the all night sessions to get an essay done , followed by crashing out to catch up on sleep, work?

Or any social life, even getting to know others, when you have to be back at set times for these responsibilities. So much of student social life happens spontaneously, there would be much to miss out on. It feels like none of the fun and benefits of living away from home would be available for the student.

Even if you happen to find someone prepared to try it, what backup would you have in place, if it starts to go wrong.

If it looks like an au pair role, and quacks like an au pair role...

leeloo1 Mon 17-Nov-14 10:18:08

I did this as a Masters student (I was about 24) - and it lasted 1 term. The parents had had similar arrangements in the past, but with the students sharing family meals etc, but had put a kitchenette in the (big) attic room, as they wanted their own space more. I had my own bathroom too.

I just had to pick the 3 kids up after school (I think they got off a bus near the house? Can't quite remember, but I didn't have to go to the school itself) and walk them home and stay with them til 5.30ish, when the parents got home. For that I got free accommodation, bills etc, but bought my own food (I wouldn't have wanted to share that anyway). Kids were 6,7,8 I think.

The parents got pissed off with me being there - I think they wanted me to be more 'part of the family' - which definitely wasn't what I wanted (or what they had said that they had wanted when I took the place)! I was friendly & polite (I hope) but wanted my own space. They got fed up with me receiving occasional calls on their phone (pre-mobile days) and with my (very sedate, well-behaved) boyfriend staying over occasionally.

I got fed up with the parents popping up and disturbing me 'just to see if you were in or not' hmm but called it quits when over the Christmas break they unscrewed the lock from the door, so they could use the microwave and check I hasn't left the heater on hmm - they also turned off the radiator and in the process killed my hamster - thanks for that!! I got back a day early - otherwise I'd never have known as they'd planned to reattach it before I got back! shock It felt like a violation of my privacy - to them I imagine they felt it was their right to go into part of their house.

I wish I'd never gone in for it, as even without the parents' oddities, I was in a new place and never really made friends, as when the other students were having coffee after lectures etc I was leaving at 2.30 to go and meet the kids from school. I think they'd have been better off with an au pair - where the roles are more clearly defined.

I'd say, if you want to go ahead then really think about the realities of someone living in your space, sharing facilities and what you want/need from the situation.

ChippingInAutumnLover Mon 17-Nov-14 10:24:02

If I were you I'd go for the live in student for the mornings, but only one or two afternoons and get a different student for the other afternoons. I think every afternoon is too much of a tie for a student to do happily.

rocketjam Mon 17-Nov-14 10:30:35

My gut feeling is that it's an au pair job but without paying... an au pair is not expensive.

Needmoresleep Mon 17-Nov-14 10:54:23

I knew a couple of students working as "nannies" from the school run. One was a terrific success and the lovely Antipodean girl stayed with the family not only through a degree but through a Masters as well. The other equally lovely French girl had a tougher time, but this was a family who probably got through 30 au pairs in a decade or less. She lasted longer than most.

It can work but probably worth thinking about what you offer from the girl's (or even boy's) perspective. Privacy, defined hours and tasks, and appropriate payment. We were lucky with our au pairs, a recent graduate wanting to learn English and then her cousin, both of whom were studying quite seriously. We gave them the standard au pair wages and kept strictly to au pair hours, with additional payment for babysitting. We did not ask them to do housework, as I suspect living in someone else's house was enough, without being treated as a domestic servant. We covered the small things like having a phone contract which allowed them to phone home free, a bus pass, a desk and TV in their bedroom, and buying European type food in Lidl.

There will be students who are struggling to make ends meet. There is scope to find an arrangement that suits both, but really make sure whatever is on offer appeals to the student, rather than focus on what you need.

ChippingInAutumnLover Mon 17-Nov-14 11:00:48

No, it's a mutually beneficial arrangement. Why would you go to the hassle of getting an au pair from overseas when you live on top of a UNI campus? That would be mad.

Using a local student instead of an overseas student.
No cooking or cleaning
Term time only

Adjust the hours as I said above and it's a perfectly good option.

Needmoresleep Mon 17-Nov-14 11:21:07

Not sure why you would focus on a UK rather than overseas student.

Surely the campus has both, and both groups will have representatives who are hard working, responsible and struggling to make ends meet. A lot of Malaysian Chinese, for example, come to the UK because it is relatively difficult to gain a place in their home country. Many are on "family scholarships" which mean the extended family chip in and they do their best to earn as much as they can alongside their degree. Similarly some of the students from poorer EU countries wont get much family support and so be looking to save costs.

The French girl we knew took the au pair job because she hated the drinking culture in hall and thought she would be happier with a family. Right idea, wrong family.

Oakmaiden Mon 17-Nov-14 21:08:32

I guess because typically an au pair works 30 hours and is expected to do light housework. I only really need 12 1/2 hours and no housework. The childcare isn't looking after small children as an au pair typically does - just being in the house making sure my slightly older children don't burn it down or murder one another. And I live in the middle of student central, so not exactly isolated.

However - interesting thought looking for just mornings and just a couple of afternoons, and finding something else to cover the other afternoons. It is the mornings that are my worry, so that could work.

LuckyLopez Mon 17-Nov-14 21:17:24

No au pairs don't look after small children, it's usually school aged children just as you are seeking.

Kez100 Mon 17-Nov-14 21:38:13

Also think about sickness. What will happen if the children are ill and the student has lectures and/or work to do.

I also agree that it sounds a good idea but the lines need to be drawn and the benefits to both obvious. Just having somewhere rent free is not necessarily the greatest offer - they could earn £60 with 10/12 hours work elsewhere and with no ties.

murderedinkent Mon 17-Nov-14 22:03:11

Whilst I would certainly trust DD to do such a thing, her tutorials are all over the place and some don't finish until around 6pm, and on many other night she has to do a sort of group discussion. I think the au pair thing would be best, although as many of them try to combine it with college even that may now work.

So, I am here to tell you that I did it for a year when I left my alcoholic Ex, together with DD. We moved in with a family where the OH had moved out and the mother of three wanted to go back to college. I did all the caring while she went to college, while I was sorting out what I wanted to do. I loved it and she is now my best friend.

Unexpected Mon 17-Nov-14 23:17:27

Good luck with finding a uni student who will be prepared to get up at 6.30 a.m. every morning and be out of the house in time to get your children to school for 8 a.m.! The overall number of hours might not be a problem but the timing of them will be.

BackforGood Mon 17-Nov-14 23:22:59

I was thinking the same as Unexpected grin

I don't think that's just my dc...

TheAwfulDaughter Mon 17-Nov-14 23:33:51

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

CantBeBotheredThinking Mon 17-Nov-14 23:48:07

School term and uni term dates don't match up so how would you envision it working when the uni was closed.

SoonToBeSix Mon 17-Nov-14 23:52:26

I doubt a student would want to get up that early. Also am unsure why your dc need walking to and picking up from school age 9 and 11, do they also have additional needs?

JeanneDeMontbaston Mon 17-Nov-14 23:57:22

I don't quite get how it works financially (for the student). Say the student does 4 hours a day, five days a week, and is 20 or under. S/he earns 100 per week. Are you in London?

Cos if not, you can get a room in a house share in Cambridge (which I understand is the next-most expensive university town according to the Guardian a few weeks ago) for 355pcm (and actually, I think you could get them cheaper, only obviously I am looking on rightmove now, and most places will have been booked up before term began).

A student could therefore choose their own hours (less unsociable ones!) and be able to live with friends, if they got any other minimum-wage job for the same amount of time.

Admittedly you're subbing food and bills, but I still don't see quite what the draw would be. And if you're anywhere where rents are more reasonable, you'd actually be making the student worse off really. Looking at (say) Leeds, there are rooms in shared houses for 200pcm including bills.

sashh Tue 18-Nov-14 09:23:32

Not sure this is legal.

Apart from that when are you expecting a student to attend lectures? What if they need to go to the library? I had lectures that ended at 8 and 9pm, sometimes I needed to be in at 8am.

There is a scheme for people to rent their room out to care leavers, a 16 - 19 year old who is still at school might be a better bet than a student.

There is a scheme called 'supported lodging' - the council would actually pay you. The young person has to have their own room and key, and you must provide one meal a day. Other house rules are negotiable. Ideally you will help the young person learn to cook, budget and generally live independently.

So you could offer supported lodging, you would be paid for that, but pick someone who wants to work with children and make some pocket money, but this HAS to be about the young person leaving care.

Could you offer someone a place to be a 'big sister/brother'? It could be a disaster or it could be the best thing for your children and the care leaver, it could be anywhere between the two.

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