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I am very very new to this Au Pair Malarkey

27 replies

UCM · 28/06/2006 21:54

I am having another baby in Jan and should be able to push my mate leave until sept so baby will be 8 months old. I also have a nearly ds aged 2.9 so he will be 4 by then. However due a monumental cock up on my side which involved me thinking that he will be going to school by then and now I realise that it won't be for another year, I am going to have to pay cm fees for both children. I am looking around the 750 per month mark which is going to kill the pair of us.

Recently some of the girls at work have been telling me that they are all using foreign Au pairs and not paying anywhere near that much.

We are not posh and live in a normal 3 bedroom house. I always thought live in nannys/aupairs were for the very rich, now I know they are not.

What do you wise people suggest. Is it worth it and am I mad to consider this.

I wouldn't expect anything other than they clear up after themselves & children. 10 weeks holiday per year and I don't work every week day as I often have days off during week.

OP posts:

FrannyandZooey · 28/06/2006 22:01

Au pairs should not be in sole charge of children IMO, esp not young preschool age children

They are not nannies or childminders, have no training and often no experience with children

They are just ordinary (hopefully pleasant) young women who may or may not have the ability to be good childcarers

You might have a good experience, then again you might not. Would you let a complete amateur try to fix something in your house, or would you get a professional in?


UCM · 28/06/2006 22:07

F&Z, ok got the point. Will starve instead

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UCM · 28/06/2006 22:09

Soon as they are at school though, I am getting one, cos they will be able to do some housework as not so many hours to childmind!! Counting off the days that I have a tidy house.

OP posts:

NotQuiteCockney · 28/06/2006 22:16

You can get an "au pair plus", at least, a friend of mine has one I'd describe that way. She was a nursery school teacher in Turkey. She does sole charge just fine. I expect she costs more than £50/week or whatever the standard charge is.

A bog standard au pair isn't meant to do what you're looking for, though. I think they're supposed to be 5 hours per day, 5 days per week, and not sole charge on little ones.


UCM · 28/06/2006 22:24

It's such a minefield isn't it? I have looked at the site and seen the aupair plus thingy which sounds great.

What does your friend think of this sort of care, is she happy with it? Sounds fantastic to have a nursery school teacher as your au pair? I am not so worried about the money as I know I won't be paying as much as I will a childminder and believe me my current CM is being more than fair with the 2nd one. It's just that we will be living on beans on toast for a year at least.

OP posts:

FrannyandZooey · 28/06/2006 22:44

Sorry UCM

I know some great lentil recipes


UCM · 28/06/2006 22:49

Well, F&Z, thats why I asked on here. It's an incredibly important decision and where better to ask than on here.

Now, about them lentils......

OP posts:

NotQuiteCockney · 29/06/2006 06:53

My friend is very happy with her au pair. She has four girls, oldest being 8 or something, youngest being about 2. The au pair only has the youngest during the day (rest at school), but she seems to always be doing work for other local women, minding their kids during the day, for extra ££. She does fine. I'm happy with her as an occassional help for me, and DS2 seems to like her just fine.

Essentially, you're looking for an au pair with more experience, for more money (but not a fully qualified nanny, for nannying money, as they're more pricy).

Are you in London? I think it's easier to get au pairs in London, as then they won't be totally isolated, iyswim. Their chances to pick up extra work are higher in London, too. (My friends previous au pair, who was a cousin to her kids, I think, did waitressing, locally.)


NotQuiteCockney · 29/06/2006 06:54

Oh, I suspect it also helps if you speak a second language, that an au pair's likely to speak, iyswim.


kitegirl · 29/06/2006 07:19

UCM, I had an 'au pair plus', actually three in 5 months, lured by carefully crafted applications from agency stating loads of childcare experience, smooth telephone interview etc... I thought we would manage, it sounded good on paper, I was naive and it all went tits up. My son was 18 months at the time and the au pairs was left sole charge of him for three days a week. Looking back I think we were very lucky the only problems we had were their attitude (one of them was stealing, one transpired to be completely uninterested in children and was looking for a 'proper' job in London as soon as her plane landed, the third sulked and watched MTV the whole time). With the third we installed a nanny cam and after reviewing the tapes we kicked her out. It is pure lottery with au pairs (au pair plus - often this is a tag that the girl gets as a result of a) being older than 18 and b) having babysat her cousin a few times), you might find an absolute gem, the odd one who can do the job of a qualified nanny for a fraction of a nanny's salary, but I think it is highly unlikely. I'd never leave one in charge of an 8 month old baby - school age kids maybe, but not little ones. Good luck with sorting out your childcare - I stopped working as the numbers just didn't make sense!


Patttsy · 29/06/2006 11:03

According to the British Au Pair Association (google for website), au pairs are not recommended for sole charge of children under the age of 3yrs.

Maybe you could put your wee one with a childminder and use the au pair to look afer the elder one and housework. She could even take your wee one to the childminder and collect for you so that might save time getting to and from work.


shimmy21 · 29/06/2006 11:14

The other aspect you mention - not being posh, 3 bed house. You are right that it doesn't matter (or shouldn't) but bear in mind the physical aspect of sharing your house in close proximity with a stranger.

We have just had a foreign guest live with us for 6 months. She is a family friend and so wasn't officially an Au Pair, but she did work for us in return for board and lodging. Our house is small (3 bed, 1 bath) and sharing a house with literally only a thin bedroom wall between us and another person, the bathroom queue in the morning, what to watch on TV, being sure to cook proper family meals every day, not being able to have a private converstaion with dh - all these tiny minor things really got me down. We decided that having constant babysitting and help when needed was fantastic but we would only ever do it again when we have a house big enough for us all to have some space.


Bugsy2 · 29/06/2006 11:32

I've had great experiences with au pairs. I live in a small 3 bed terrace & the children share a bedroom & the au pair obviously has her own room.
I pay £80 per week for 35 hours help.
I am a big fan, but I do think that you need to have realistic expectations. They are not really suitable to be left in sole charge of very small children. Mine were 2.10 & 5 when I started with aupairs and I think from that age most girls can manage fine but it was still only sole charge for a couple of hours each day - just between school/nursery finishing & me getting back from work.
Ask away though UCM, there are a fair few of us on here who have had good experiences with aupairs.


MrsRecycle · 29/06/2006 11:53

My au-pair has loads of friends (Dutch) who are qualified school teachers who have been looking after babies from 6 months and are getting next to nothing but are perfectly happy. But it is a lottery. I had exactly the same experiences as kitegirl BUT with my Nannies who I was paying over £70 a day for! In the end dh gave up work to be a SAHD.

I am planning on going back to work after ds is born and I really wouldn't consider an AuPair suitable to look after him until he was 3. Having said that, if our old AP who is now Nannying for a 10 month old, were available, I would have her back tomorrow (and she's only 19 but very very mature for her age).

As for being for the rich - I would say the opposite. All of my APs friends accommodation tends to be in a 3 bed semi (one even has a tiny room in the attic that you can't even stand up in). BUT they are extremely happy with this.

Personally, if I were in your situation, I would speak to your colleagues at work and maybe get their positive and negative experiences. They may even know of someone.

One other thought - your ds is entitiled to 2.5 hours a day nursery care free of charge - could you not get him a nursery to reduce the CM fees?


Bozza · 29/06/2006 12:14

I had thought that too MrsR. That the nursery grant could maybe harnessed to reduce childcare fees. I think when DS was 3 I was working 3 days a week and had 5 sessions and it saved me about £1200 a year. I think it is even more now as the terms are longer. In fact because I still work 3 days/week I have not noticed much saving now DS is at school.


UCM · 29/06/2006 12:22

the problem with this is the CM will be dropping off and picking up and will be on call whilst DS is at nursery, so I will still pay her.

OP posts:

MrsRecycle · 29/06/2006 13:32

My CM did the drop off/pick up (and an 2 mile walk there and back) and didn't charge for the time whilst dd2 was at nursery. Try and negotiate.


CarlyP · 29/06/2006 13:48

we had 2 aupairs.

first one when boys were 6mth and 18mth. she had some childcare exp and was fab. we paid her more than standard aupair money, but less than a nanny. she had to go back (boyfiend wanted her home) and we still keep in touch.

2nd one was awful, just functioned with the boys, didnt really want tob e looknig after them at all.

we now have a nanny.

imo, if you find the right one it can work.


goldenoldie · 29/06/2006 15:52

UCM - I would never leave a baby in the sole care of an au-pair. They are not trained, and a fair number are not really interested in children at all. For some, being an au-pair is just a way to get cheap accomodation.

Very hard to check au-pairs qualifications and references. They can tell you they were a nurse/teacher/carer in their own country, but their certificates will be in another language, so unless you have them (expensively) translated, how will you know?

References are a minefield too - unless she has already worked in the UK. And it is not unknown for families to give au-pairs a glowing ref. just to get rid of them!

Agencies, on the whole, can't be trusted, as they charge, and will tell you whatever you want to hear, to get a fee out of you.

Can't you get child-care tax credits, or whatever they are called? To pay for some proper, registered, child-care?


NotQuiteCockney · 29/06/2006 17:37


goldenoldie · 29/06/2006 22:05

Yep - hope to be first in the 2nd hand uniform que, and then straight on to the Pimms tent! And you? Shall we wear something identifiable so we can meet up?


NotQuiteCockney · 29/06/2006 22:24

I decided to do things properly, and started a thread for this, here: here .


thewomanwhothoughtshewasahat · 29/06/2006 22:38

UCM - any chance a nanny share might work? they're a logistical minefield and I'm not sure how the costs would work out but might be worth considering


MadamePlatypus · 29/06/2006 23:49

I think Kate Konopicky (sp?) was quite accurate about au pairs in her book whose name I have forgotten. She said that au pairs are supposed to be the equivalent of having a helpful older child or niece living in the house. The problem is that they aren't your child or niece so you still have to be polite to them when they are as annoying as an older child or niece might be.

I would be concerned about an au pair looking after babies and toddlers. I au paired for older children collecting them from school and doing the evening quite a few au pairs who thought they would be able to look after toddlers/babies because they had a nephew/once saw a baby on a bus, and they didn't really know what they were letting themselves in for. They usually left after a few weeks.


MadamePlatypus · 29/06/2006 23:51

oops, deleted a bit of my post - should read "I au paired for older children collecting them from school and doing the evening routine, but I came across quite a few au pairs..."

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