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Talk to me about the pros/cons of an Au Pair
By Jessica M. on Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 2:12 PM EDT
Hi Rebecca, I think with your type of set up it could be great. Most do not drive so you need to consider that. Also, most au pairs ate strictly child care, no other responsibities that do not pertain to the children. For me, if someone is living there full time, I'd like them to help out in other areas. As long as you are clear on expectations, I have many friends that had very successful au pairs! Good luck!
- Jessica
By Jennifer H. on Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 2:27 PM EDT
We had an au pair this past year and it was a very positive experience. She was 22 and therefore very mature in her attitude towards her job, very reliable, and great with the kids. It is very different from a local nanny, however. You have to think of it as a cultural exchange; you are introducing her to our culture and are responsible for her safety and to some extent her happiness while away from her friends and family at home. We were unsure about having someone living in our home, but it was better than other "roommate" situations in that issues of how often the dishes get done etc. don't come up - it is your house and she is your guest.
By the way, you should know that there is a strict 45hour per week limit for how much they can work, with 1 day off a week, 1 weekend off a month, and 2 weeks off per year. They are allowed to do only minimal, child-related housework. Also, in addition to the fee charged by the agency (7K in our case), and weekly pay ($195), you also need to pay for her gas to go to au pair meetings, any child-related activities with a fee, and an extra mounth to feed for the year. In other words, unless you have multiple children ages 0-4, this choice may not be cost-effective. We worked with Au Pair in America, because it was the only available agency in our area. I do recommend them.
By Rosanne Z. on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 8:58 PM EDT
Hi Rebecca,
I think each situation is very unique. We have had both Au Pairs and Nannies. The primary difference is that the Au Pair really is more of an exchange student, someone that you need to treat like family, and the Nanny is more of an employee. The former requires a very welcoming family life and time to really get to know her as a person and also to be there for her when she is having a tough time with getting acclimated to a new culture or even just typical young person stuff. The Nanny will have her own family and support system so won't require this type of commitment.

I say it's individual because we've one long-term Au Pair who my children still remember and love. She was fantastic!! But we also went thru 3 others before and after her that didn't work out for one reason or the other. One of them actually left the baby in the car unattended in a parking lot! We have had 2 Nannies. One was great and the other is mediocre.

So as I say, it really is specific to the individual. My preference is for a Nanny now only because of how uncomfortable it is to live with someone when things aren't working out. Even though we had one beloved Au Pair for almost 2 years years, we had 3 Au Pairs that didn' work out and so my family had to endure th stress of having someone living in our house that was leaving. With a Nanny, if it doesn't work out, she goes home immediately.

Hope that helps - good luck
By Jennifer C. on Fri Jul 27, 2012 at 12:17 AM EDT
Sorry I just jumped into this, but just had to add my two cents. I actually just ended a contract early with an Au Pair agency because after having two different au pair's in our home taking care of our triplet daughters and neither one having "work ethic" as has been mentioned, my husband and I have begun our interviewing with Now my concern is will I find a "Nanny" with work ethic. I am a high school counselor and see the students graduate every year with less and less of this work ethic and it's scary. What I also did not mention with the Au Pair's is though it is cheaper, it ends up in the long run being more expensive with food bills, transportation, totaling of a vehicle, doing a hit and run with another vehicle, etc, etc, etc. And like has been mentioned earlier, your house will never be taken care of, your children's laundry won't be folded correctly, and your children themselves will never be cared for properly because you're not the one doing it. I just smile though and hope that interviewing and choosing a nanny will be our correct move this time around and I will find someone close to how I would take care of my girls if I had the ability to stay home with them.
By Tara F. on Fri Jul 27, 2012 at 8:46 AM EDT
I have had four au pairs to date and just went through "transition" to get rid of an absolutely ineffective au pair. Shortly after completing transition an article was posted on I recommend this article as I wish I had that advice while interviewing the last au pair.

The advantage of a nanny would be not having to share your home with another person. In all other aspects the job responsibilities are the same and the expectations must be high. The key is finding the right person.

Our first and current au pair have backgrounds in early childhood education. Both young ladies are very responsible and very responsive to our needs. We got both au pairs from transition because they did not fit the needs of other families. The au pair agencies we have used, Au Pair Care and Cultural Care, are very good at dealing with difficulties if they should arise. The ineffective au pair should not have been accepted into the program. I provided feedback to the agency and expect they will improve their selection process. I did not like having the ineffective au pair in my home during transition. I believe the agency would have taken her out if there were a safety issue. I like the support provided by the agencies.

Yes, the laundry won't be folded the way you like and the food will be eaten and the cheese will be left unwrapped and all kinds of other extremely annoying things. I try to focus on the quality of care. Three of the four au pairs we have had have cared very well for our girls and taught them Spanish.

Nanny or au pair, you must interview and be ready to cut loose if not a good fit. Have a detailed household handbook with all rules, including no food in room, use clean knife in butter, wipe up spills, etc. This tool will be useful for a nanny as well.
By Latoya C. on Tue Oct 30, 2012 at 3:34 PM EDT
Oh my goodness Tara you sound like me. I feel bad sometimes because I am so particular about the way people do things in my house. I just feel like if you see me do it a certain way, why wouldn't you do that as well. This is why I could not have someone in my house full time, I need a break so if someone is not doing things correctly I can put it to right. A household handbook sounds like a brilliant idea!