Note: Please bear in mind that this is a discussion board, not a place to advertise childcare vacancies or recruit childminders/nannies etc. We don't mind the odd mumsnet regular mentioning that they're looking for a job/mindee (although you're probably better off in MN Local) but repeated job "ads" and posts from nanny/babysitting agencies aren't fair to people who are paying for small business ads. Do feel free to report any you see. Thanks, MNHQ.

Would this be a suitable role for an Au Pair?

(26 Posts)

I've donned my flameproof suit as I know these threads rarely go well grin

DH and I are considering hosting an Au Pair. We'd want him or her to drop DS off at nursery for four mornings a week and look after him for two afternoons per week (sole charge, but DH and my parents would be very very close and able to be called upon in any emergency) We'd also want him/her to do light housework while DS was at nursery.

There'd be no babysitting, three full days off per week and obviously a nice room, all food provided, English lessons if s/he wants them...

Does this sound reasonable? Or is any 'sole charge' element totally inappropriate for an Au Pair?

Thanks thanks

MummytoMog Wed 09-Jan-13 14:26:37

We don't have an au pair (yet) but DH works from home and our current temp nanny has no problem with that. DH works in his office and comes out for lunch and the occasional cuddle. Nanny stays in living room with DCs, takes them out when she feels like it etc etc.

LittleCloudSarah Mon 07-Jan-13 17:31:56

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

MrAnchovy Mon 19-Nov-12 21:42:56

you are unlikely to meet them before they move into your home.

.. unless you fly them over for a trial weekend; budget airline flights costing what they do, why would you not do this? For less than 2 weeks wages (or a third of an agency fee) you remove 90% of the uncertainty.

PostBellumBugsy Mon 19-Nov-12 14:24:04

I'm not sure if the under 3 guidance exists any more, because technically there is no au pair programme in the UK anymore. However, as an old veteran of au pairs (we had 6 over 7 years), I would say that some of mine would have been great with an 18 month old & others hopeless.
The thing with an au pair, is that it is very difficult to find out exactly how much experience they have. Unless they are already over here in the UK, you are unlikely to meet them before they move into your home. All you have is a CV & probably a stilted, awkward telephone conversation.
I'd be a bit nervous about leaving my DS or DD of 18 months with a foreign language student I may have only recently met.
However, that's just me - you have to do what feels right for you.

We have had APs since DS2 was about 15 months old. The sole charge for under 3s wasn't a big issue, as the boys were in full time nursery....so it would be from about 5pm to 6pm that she would have full charge. However, having an AP have sole charge for 2 afternoons a week would be a big change. Some APs would have been fine - others (including our first) would not have worked at all. I would be wary to be honest. The problem for me is that an 18 month old cannot tell you if there are problems.

Perhaps put it on hold for a year or 2? DS2 is now 6 and we've had a succession of APs and his understanding of French is now pretty good. DS1 is no linguist, but has also got a lot out of the arrangement.

StillSquiffy Mon 19-Nov-12 13:05:00

I had my first AP when DS was 18mths. My parents also live 10mins away so were there if ever needed, so it all worked absolutely fine (and far better than any other option). I took my time to make sure AP was very confident with young toddlers and had some prior experience and spoke almost fluent English (in order to be able to deal with an emergency should it arise). Big advantage over nanny-shares and CM was that if child was poorly, AP could stay at home with him easily - invaluable with a first child IMHO (I understand that subsequent kids seem to get less bugs because they are surrounded by their siblings bacteria from day 1 and so develop immune systems quicker - that was certainly my own experience - DD has never once had a day off nursery/school, DS had them fairly often each winter for first few years)

Once I moved onto 2 children the AP solution stopped working even for wrap around care, etc, then it started working again when the youngest was around 3. Between that time either baby was too young or it was too much for AP to look after toddler & older child and juggle different drop-offs pick-ups etc. I switched to a full-time nanny at that point.

MrAnchovy Sun 18-Nov-12 22:43:07

It sounds reasonable for the right au pair - prior toddler experience (probably sibling or proper care of a cousin/family friend, not just babysitting) and a trial weekend probably vital. I'd be inclined to throw them in at the deep end a bit during the trial and see how they coped.

But why not a nanny share?

MrAnchovy Sun 18-Nov-12 22:34:59

I've donned my flameproof suit as I know these threads rarely go well

You must be thinking of some other forum grin

McPhee Sun 18-Nov-12 21:59:35

Looking after a child with a working parent in the house is a living nightmare. Take it from one who knows....

Newtothisstuff Sun 18-Nov-12 21:49:51

Our aupair will be looking after my 8 month old and a 6 year old. We were very choosy on who we had, we had over 30 applications on aupair world and set out what we needed clearly, if they don't want to look after young kids they won't apply.
We also went for an older aupair (she's 25) so not a young kid !! I think an aupair would land on her feet living with you

fraktion Sun 18-Nov-12 21:39:19

They can have sole charge of under 3s but it's not generally advised. Remember APs often aren't trained in childcare and unless you have them speak their language to your DC you risk your DC picking up any grammatical or pronunciation errors. There's also the issue that small DC are rather accident prone and the AP may need to have a good enough command of the language to deal with the emergency services.

Some are extremely competent, others aren't. I'd definitely recommend flying them over for a trial weekend to see what they're actually like with very small children, insisting on prior experience and checking refs (which realistically means getting an AP from somewhere you can speak enough of the language to communicate!). We actually had an AP this summer - DS was 15/16 months, while we were moving, and she was delightful. She was supposed to just be an extra pair of hands/eyes but ended up being able to take him off to the park, swimming, letting us go to Ikea alone... because she was very competent and had a much younger brother so was used to the level of vigilance needs for small children. It's not something I would have chosen for FT care but I would have considered an AP/nursery combo. It's nice for them to have that 1-1 time and get out and about.

Could you be flexible on the mornings for housework or afternoons off nursery? It would be a PITA for the AP if you instigated on Mon and Thurs for housework when classes were Mon/Wed/Fri for her level. Or Wed/Thurs off nursery and the classes were Tues/Thurs afternoons.

SamSmalaidh Sun 18-Nov-12 21:29:42

If you have a non-English speaker, you can ask them to talk to your child in their native language.

SamSmalaidh Sun 18-Nov-12 21:28:30

There aren't any rules/legal requirements around au pairs - many agencies will recommended au pairs don't have sole charge of pre-schoolers but there's no reason why you can't employ one to.

All "au pair" really means is someone who lives in and does 25 hours a week childcare and housework. The details of who you hire and exactly what you get them to do is between you and them.

you may find the language courses fall between 11-2pm - all the ones around here do because they are designed for the classic au pair who is free during the school day.

I also would be a little wary having a non-English speaker for such a young child who is learning to talk - I would be maybe tempted to ensure a high level of spoken English or an English speaker e.g. Australian

I've had 6 au pairs - when it's involved younger children the sole care has been considerably more limited e.g. an hour to cover school runs so I didn't need to take toddler twins with me and then built up gradually as the children and the au pair gain confidence up to a maximum of maybe 3 hours.

The thing with au pairs is it can really vary. Some I have trusted more with my children than I would trust myself (!) but others are slightly careless or simply not mature enough or experienced enough to be expected to be that trustworthy for a young charge. This is probably why most au pair websites and agencies don't recommend an au pair to have sole charge for under two's. And you simply won't know this until they are there living with you. So I would strongly recommend a long induction process with you/your DH being around a lot to begin with.

Also in our experience you can break down an au pair's success in to three parts: relationship with the children; ability at housework; what they are like to live with. We have had some lovely au pairs but only one who fully ticked all three boxes. It's been rare for us to find one who's very good domestically AND an absolute natural with the kids. We've found we've shifted around housework/childcare according to the individual au pair. But we have the flexibility to do that as I'm mostly around and don't work outside the home.

just some things for you to think about!

I think that's why I'm asking Fliss. The threads I've seen on MN have always suggested that they couldn't, but I couldn't find anything on Au Pair world and similar websites that gave limits. DH works full time from home so would be on hand in an emergency; we're wondering if that would make the sole charge of a toddler a bit more realistic.

Floral - it worries me too, but I'd like to give it a go smile

Floralnomad Sun 18-Nov-12 21:21:36

It's the living in bit that's always put me off , but I'm probably a bit anti social !

Flisspaps Sun 18-Nov-12 21:21:31

Can an Au Pair have sole charge of an under 3? I didn't think they could but could well be mistaken, I looked into it a while ago...

Possibly Floral, but we like the idea of the 'hosting' element too. DH and I both travelled quite a lot in our twenties, and hope to do a lot more travelling when DS is a little bigger, so we'd like to support someone in their travels; we'd also quite like to improve our own language skills if we could find a French/Spanish au pair; and we'd like DS to grow up aware of other cultures etc. It started as a genuine 'oh an au pair might be a good idea' conversation rather than a 'how can we find the cheapest solution' idea iyswim.

I haven't actually looked into times for English lessons, but I doubt it would be a problem. S/he'd be doing a maximum of five hours work, four days per week for us (maximum one hour for drop offs, and then max three hours housework on two days and four hours sole charge on another two days). Au Pair would have at least four hours mon-thurs to themselves, plus all day Fri-Sun.

Floralnomad Sun 18-Nov-12 21:12:21

Would an early morning childminder and a cleaner not be better ?

Sorry, missed that key information out! He'll be around 18mo by the time we would actually try this. He currently goes to nursery for four days per week, but in order to afford an Au Pair (initially discussed as we need help with drop offs and housework) we'd need to cut his hours at nursery so we thought an au pair might also be able to look after him for two afternoons.

fraktion Sun 18-Nov-12 21:06:52

How old is your DS?

Is there time for the au pair to take English lessons? Drop off plus housework plus sole charge in the afternoons is practically FT for those days which may make fitting in with a language school complicated. I would explore that first.

As with many things it depends very much on the au pair and the arrangement t you come to.

maybetimeforachange Sun 18-Nov-12 21:05:46

How old is DS? My slightly older au-pair (24years old) does this with my 2.9 year old and my 10 year old. We built up to it over time and pay her over the normal au-pair rate.

madrose Sun 18-Nov-12 21:03:04

And she does light house work

madrose Sun 18-Nov-12 21:02:38

Sounds good. Mine drops off dd at school and picks her up everyday. She has sole charge until I get home which varies between 4 - 6 and the occasional 9pm. She has her for inset days and sits twice a week. Sometimes she do more than her twenty five hours but, she gets the school holidays off whilst bing paid.

We do try and be as flexible as possible, communication is key. Hth

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now