If it is the first time you are thinking about hiring an Au Pair and you are wondering if hiring an Au Pair is a good idea, it will be worth your while to continue reading.

How do I know whether hiring an Au Pair is a good idea?

Before starting to search for an Au Pair you should do your own “homework” and check if having an Au Pair is a good idea for you and your family. To help you with this decision, you can go through the following list of questions and facts about living with an Au Pair. Be honest with yourself and also discuss this list with your partner or anyone who lives in your household.

Do we know everything about having an Au Pair?

  • Why could an Au Pair be a good idea for my family?
  • What do I expect from having an Au Pair?
  • Do we really have the space for an Au Pair, even when we have other visitors staying overnight?
  • What concessions are we willing to make in the house and the family to accommodate an Au Pair?
  • Do we know other families with Au Pairs to have talk about their experience?

And another important question is, how the person should ideally be like. The Au Pair will live in your house, hence you should discuss with all family members how the Au Pair should be like.  

What characteristics and qualification should the Au Pair have?

  • Are we looking for a female or male Au Pair?
  • What age would suit us best?
  • What level of english language proficiency is least expect? Do we want the Au Pair to teach our children another language?
  • What educational background should the Au Pair have?
  • What family background would be acceptable?
  • Do we want the Au Pair to drive? What would it cost to buy insurance for her/him?
  • What happens, if it doesn´t work out with the Au Pair? What emergency options do we have in case the Au Pair quits on short notice?
  • Are we willing to get help from and pay an Au Pair agency rather than looking for ourselves which can be time consuming?

Do all family members support the idea of an Au Pair as a child carer?

  • Are our children old or “well behaved enough” for a – normally – less experienced Au Pair compared to a qualified child carer?
  • Will the children listen to someone who is only a couple of years older?
  • Will any of our children still be under the age of two? If so Au Pairs should not have sole charge as per the Au Pair laws
  • Is every household member willing to integrate a young, but unknown person, into the family and treat her/him as a family member?
  • Can you live with the fact to lose some privacy in our own house?
  • Who is willing to share the bathroom with the Au Pair if she doesn’t have one for herself?

Does an Au Pair fit into the area we live in?

  • Are there other Au Pairs in the neighbourhood so that it is easy for the Au Pair to make new friends?
  • Is there a language school nearby or in commutable distance?
  • Are there acceptable and affordable transport links to get around?
  • Can the Au Pair get to and from the closest Airport on her/his own?
  • Are there enough leisure facilities like parks, cinemas, library, sports facilities, cafés and pubs, museums etc. in the vicinity?

What support can we offer an Au Pair?

  • Can we accept, that a young person who might have never lived alone requires a lot of support in the first couple of weeks for doing things your way with the children and in the household?
  • Do we have time to show her around in our area, straight after she arrives to make her feel more comfortable?
  • Are we available to be contacted throughout the first couple of days to answer questions?
  • Do we have the time, understanding and patience to come up with ideas to improve the Au Pair’s situation if she is e.g. feeling homesick, lonely or bored?

In addition to the above, there are some financial aspects that you should consider if you are thinking of hiring an Au Pair.

What are the costs associated with an Au Pair?

  • Be prepared that your phone, water, heating and grocery costs will go up because of the extra person living with you
  • When you take your Au Pair out to a restaurant, day out or even holidays you will have to pay for the Au Pair
  • Most likely you will not be able to benefit from childcare vouchers or tax credits to cover the Au Pair´s pocket money (unless the Au Pair is Ofsted registered which is expensive in itself)
  • In addition to the costs for lodging and food the Au Pair will be paid pocket money. Pocket money is higher in cities than in rural areas. In London, for example, pocket money varies from about GBP 75 to GBP 120+ per week. Depending on the hours, tasks and experience.

If you believe the idea of hiring an Au Pair is well thought through, we recommend to do some research and to look for experiences from Au Pairs and Host Families. This will help you better understand, what you can expect from an Au Pair and what the expectations of Au Pairs are. You will get a feeling for the expectations of other Host Parents and Au Pairs and what happened in cases where expectations deviated and the Au Pair or Host Family was not happy.

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