Want to Hire an Au Pair? Ask These 5 Questions First
Questions to ask yourself to find out if hiring an au pair is the right decision for you.
Are you thinking about hiring an au pair but not entirely sure what it entails – or even if it’s the right childcare solution for your family?
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Au pairs are generally young people from a different country who are looking to go abroad for a year to work in childcare, improve their English language skills (or the language of the host family) and experience a new culture and way of life. It’s as if they are one-part nanny and one-part exchange student. An au pair lives with a host family, cares for their children and, in return, the hosts provide room, board and a weekly stipend.
The term "au pair" is French for "on par" or "equal." They are supposed to be an equal part of the family, rather than someone you simply hire to help out.
While many parents love hosting au pairs for the cost-effective childcare or cultural experience that it provides, they are not necessarily the right solution for every family. If you’re trying to decide if hosting an au pair is right for you, here are a few questions you’ll need to ask yourself:
1. Are we comfortable having someone live in our home – and do we have the space?
If you hire an au pair, you'll usually agree to host her in your house for 12 months. Make sure you are OK with sharing your home in this manner, and ultimately adding another person to your family.
You also must have the required space as au pairs must be given their own private bedroom.
2. Can we afford an au pair?
While an au pair is usually cheaper than conventional childcare, there are still expenses you must consider. In the UK, a minimum of £80 is to be paid for 30 hours work per week, although, a higher wage is recommended. Families must also provide room and board, which includes three meals a day, for the au pair. Host families must pay an additional £20 per week as a contribution towards the au pair’s language course.
A detailed payment plan should be laid out in your au pair contract before the au pair comes to stay.
3. Do our schedules change often?
If you're a parent who works odd hours or travels for work, au pairs can help cover those times when your career keeps you away from home. Au pairs are great because most are available and willing to work around your schedule. Keep in mind that au pairs should only work up to 30 hours per week.
4. How long of a commitment do we need from a childcare provider?
Typically, au pairs stay with your family for one year. That means if you choose an au pair, you'll likely have to find a replacement for her 12 months down the road. Transitioning to a new caregiver can be tough for your kids, so you'll have to decide if you want a childcare provider to be a part of your family for a longer time period.
5. How important is the cultural experience an au pair can bring into our home?
Every au pair brings her own country's heritage, culture and history with her. It can be exciting to have someone from another country live in your house and help open your family's eyes to the world outside of your home country. Plus, showing your au pair how you do things can be so much fun! But you'll have to think how these cultural experiences will impact your family before making your decision.