In this article you will find tips to help you decide whether to host an au pair to look after your children.
What is an au pair?
An au pair is a young woman or young man (yes, there are male au pairs too!) from another country who comes to live with you to help you with the children.
In the rest of the article we will use "she" because most au pairs are female.
1. You offer room and board, "pocket money," and often language classes
2. She takes care of your children every day
The au pair can pick your children up at school, help them with homework, keep the baby during the day, or do some childcare-related housework (prepare meals, do laundry, make beds).
For the au pair, it is an opportunity to live in a foreign country, get to know the culture of the country, and improve her knowledge of the language
Why choose to host an au pair?
It may seem a funny idea to welcome an unknown person into your home!
I think this concept is not for everyone
It can be interesting to consider if:
You want to make your family aware of the diversity of languages and cultures.
It's a real exchange with someone from abroad. You can even ask the au pair to speak to your children in a foreign language
... But beyond the linguistic question, it is an enrichment for everyone
, to open oneself to another culture. it is as well an opportunity to think on our values, habits and learn new things. It's a real asset to be a little less selfish!
You really don't know how to find someone to take care of your kids because your daily schedule is complicated.
Don't know how to manage the nanny who needs a specific commitment, the babysitter who is never available when needed, the children who are always sick at the worst moment?
The au pair is someone who can be available more easily and at irregular times
Of course you have to take into account that she has the right to have a personal life too!
Bed and full board must be provided.
Which means that you have to have an extra room, and have no problem with the idea of having a stranger in your home every day. Yes, even on Sundays when you like to stay in pajamas all day long!
You are not recruiting a professional.
In general, people who apply to be au pairs have experience in babysitting, but that's it. Being an au pair is not a job!
If you're a super-stressed mom who wants someone specialized in children's education, an au pair is not for you. When you host an au pair, you must not forget that you may need to give her a little training
so she can take care of your child.
What to do or not do with children also depends a lot on the culture!
You can not expect your au pair to take care of your children fifty hours a week.
An au pair is a helper, who should not work more than a certain number of hours
(depending on the legislation of your country) and must have time to discover the country and take language courses
. She must also have at least one free day a week
, and a vacation if she stays more than six months
How do you make it work?
The idea tempts you, but you are a little afraid. You wonder if you can be a good host family.
There is no magic recipe for being THE perfect host family for an au pair.
It's a human relationship
, and so for it to work, it depends on the character of the people involved: you and your family, but also the person you are going to welcome.
If there is one thing to remember, it is the importance of communication,
as in all human relationships.
You will need to communicate with her even more knowing that she does not have the same culture
, and therefore not necessarily the same way of thinking. What may seem logical to you is not necessarily logical for her, and vice versa.
You have to have a discussion as soon as possible during the recruitment process
, to establish a real relationship of trust, so that both sides can ask their questions and state their expectations.
For example: Some au pairs will want to be truly integrated as a member of the family and will want to participate in all family outings, while others will prefer to escape to travel, or have time for themselves when they aren't working. It's the kind of details that can create tension if you are not on the same page!
How to find an au pair
- The safest option is to pay a private agency. Do a Google search to find one near you.
If you have a problem they are there to find you a new au pair; and the au pairs are rigorously screened.
- With free websites like AuPairWorld.com
, you must do your own research and get in touch with the persons. Do not hesitate to ask them for a lot of information.