Is there such a thing as the ideal au pair? The true answer is that there is an au pair who is a “perfect fit” for your family rather than the “perfect au pair.” Finding the right au pair for your family is dependent on your specific childcare needs, lifestyle, and expectations. All of these you should consider and be aware of before beginning your search for an au pair. To get the right answers, we consulted some experts in the field.
What kind of space should the host family have prepared to receive an Au Pair?
When hosting a house guest such as an Au Pair, it’s important that the guests feel like they’re at home and part of the family. Hosts should be aware that it’s usually the Au Pairs’ first time away from home for an extended period of time, so it’s important that they’re made to feel welcome from the get-go. As they’re overseas and in a foreign country, a happy and welcoming home is a great way to help them settle in and of course, relieve homesickness. Privacy, comfort, and self-space are important. The hosting family should provide the Au Pair with their own private bedroom, preferably with an en suite. When the Au pair is not scheduled to help with family tasks, they’ll require this space so they can enjoy their own personal time. Room furnishings don’t need to be lavish but should include a comfortable bed, storage for clothes and belongings, adequate room lighting, and a desk and chair for studies. A good WiFi connection is a must for having a happy Au Pair. Remember, they’ll need it for their studies, and so they can be in regular contact with their family and friends.
Shay from HelpStay
What questions should you ask an Au Pair during an interview?
When interviewing an au pair, you want to be sure you are interviewing candidates from government-approved au pair agencies. Asking about their childcare work experience and how they have handled emergencies, how they have spent their day with children of your children’s ages, and what their childcare priorities are will give you insight into their background, experience, and philosophy. You’ll also want to understand their motivation for coming to the United States and what their expectations are surrounding their duties and responsibilities. An au pair who is coming to see the world may have very little interest in providing the type of childcare you are seeking and may prioritize socializing and network building over her childcare responsibilities. Since au pairs are often marketed as an affordable childcare option, when the program is one of cultural exchange, it’s important to really understand if the au pair wants and is capable of providing the type of childcare you need.
Michelle LaRowe from NannyMag
How can you prepare yourself and your family for the arrival of an Aupair?
I always advise our host families to set their expectations appropriately
The program is incredibly successful when both the au pair and host understand their roles accordingly.
I absolutely loved hosting, and I am still very close to most of the 6 au pairs we hosted. I run the Miami marathon with one another, I have done iron man training runs with my Danish au pairs husband, stayed with my Polish au pair and her family last year, and helped them with their twins. Families who think the au pair will come in and solve all their tantrums with their 2-year-old or get their 5-year-old to sleep through the night are in for a rude awakening. Au pairs that have this palatial home idea and drive fancy cars with all these fringe benefits have the same. Being an exchange visitor is hard. They miss their family/friends/food. It’s everything new. The host kids can be challenging, and it’s a very hard first 30 days. Same for Hosts. There is someone new in the home with different habits. Different thoughts on how to feed your kids, fold their clothes, and disciplinary ideas. It’s a 360 ‘ learning curve. But, with proper expectations, it’s taken slow and steady with lots of help along the way. Then the curve starts to straighten, and you have this wonderful partner who knows your babies cry, knows your children’s favorite snack, and develops this special bond just between them. This is the goal. To allow your Aupair “inside.” Give them permission to be in the family with everything that comes with that.
It’s like having your first baby and saying, “ I am going to do this all-natural, no meds!”.
My thoughts on that are you have never done this before, why be so rigid? Have a plan, an idea of what you would like, but be flexible to what comes and open to new ideas. Especially from those who have gone through childbirth.
Jodi Erricson from Agent Aupair
What should an Au-Pair ask their host family?
To make sure that everyone will have a pleasant intercultural experience there are a few important questions an Au Pair should ask the future Host Family before his/ her stay abroad. First of all, it is important to obtain details about the family’s place of residence and in which area it is located. Some Au Pairs might prefer living in the countryside while others might enjoy being in big cities. In addition, the number of Host Children and their age group plays a role in the decision of the Au Pair depending on what previous childcare experience he/ she has. Besides, the Host Family must mention if one of their children has special needs in order to prepare the applicant for specifically required tasks. If the Au Pair does not feel comfortable living with a single parent he/she should inform himself/ herself about the family structure as well as if there are any pets living in the household. Some Host Families might require their Au Pairs to walk the dog from time to time, for example. As far as different diets are concerned, the Au Pair should make sure that his/her diet is compatible with the Host Family’s. For example, if the Host Children eat animal products and the Au Pair follows a vegan diet, he/ she should ask himself/ herself before the stay if he/ she is willing to prepare dishes with meat and dairy. Finally, the Au Pair should make sure that the language level he/ she has in the Host Country’s language is sufficient for the family’s needs.
Alice from AuPair.com
What’s the best age for a girl to be an Au-Pair and why?
In all honesty, there is no perfect age for a girl to become an Au Pair – and no obligation for Au Pairs to be specifically female, either! Rather than being on target with a specific age or gender, becoming an Au Pair is perhaps a role best suited to aim and mindset. Do you love working with children? Are you ready for adventure? Do you want to expand your horizons and have an experience in a new family? If so, Au Pairing could be for you. If you feel that you are ready to travel overseas and work with a family, living with them and building a special bond – that is the right time to become an Au Pair.
Many people indeed choose to become Au Pairs between finishing school and starting university or higher education, but this is by no means a hard and fast rule. Just make sure that your obligations allow you to travel for an extended period, make plans to be in touch remotely with your friends and family, and take the plunge! Whatever stage in life you are in or whatever gender, Au Pairing is in essence, best done when the time feels right.
James from Jobs in Childcare
What differentiates a Nanny from an Au-pair?
A Nanny and an Au Pair both provide in-home childcare and may have many similarities in job duties. There are many differences between them as well. An Au Pair is an individual from outside of the country they are working who lives with the family and has very specific rules to follow as to how many hours a week they are permitted to work. Additionally, they are required to be enrolled in continuing education while they are in the country they travel to. They are typically young, with limited childcare experience. Nannies can be any age (18+) and may live with the family but generally live outside the family’s home. They can work as many or as few hours as they agree to work with their employer. While nannies just starting in the field may also have limited experience, there are many nannies with 10, 20, or 30 years of experience or more.
Laura Schroeder from International Nanny Association
What makes a good Au-Pair?
What makes a good au pair is someone who cares about children and the welfare of a child’s needs. For someone who is au pair abroad, it is a chance for them to immerse themselves in a different culture, so they need to be open and willing to learn from a cultural exchange point of view. Someone adaptable and easy to get along with and learn from the family.Having lived with a host family, it is important to be flexible. Cultural norms can differ from their home country, and being overseas can be a culture shock if they aren’t prepared and haven’t researched family values and the culture within the country that they are traveling to. They also need to be flexible in terms of evenings and weekends in case the children need to be looked after outside of their allocated hours. They become part of the family, especially if they are on a long contract, so they need to be comfortable with being away from their home country for a long period. But the most important quality that makes a good au pair is someone who loves children and who has an open and caring approach to the child’s needs.
Lisa Imogen from Girl About The Globe
To choose your au pair, you must enter into contact with several people until you find the profile that is the best match for you. Take time to talk and to introduce your family, to discuss your children and the rules of the house.
Sometimes, you will have to allow your instincts to prevail and listen to your feelings. Often, it is better to choose a person about whom you have a good feeling, even if you have other candidates who appear to have more experience but with whom you feel no rapport. We cannot overstress that your au pair will be sharing your home and your daily life. You will be living together for a long period, so getting along, and even a certain amount of closeness, are essential elements in your final decision!