With the ever-increasing cost of childcare these days, parents are exploring alternatives to traditional day-cares that fit in better with their often busy lifestyles. One of those alternatives is choosing to host an au pair. Hiring an au pair can be done directly or parents can choose to use an au pair agency
A few years ago, having a nanny was considered a luxury that few parents could afford. With the advent of cheaper travel around the globe and the rise of the two working-parent family, au pairing has become a popular option both for families looking for childcare within the home and for young girls (and guys!) looking to travel and earn at the same time.
While an au pair does not have the extensive experience that a nanny has, they also do not command the remuneration that a nanny can. Au pairs are usually young foreign girls, but sometimes guys as well, who enjoy working with children and have proven babysitting or childcare experience. They choose to live with a host family so they can experience living in a new country, learn about a different culture and have the chance to improve their English skills.
Most au pair placements are for around 6 months but can vary depending on the family and the visa restrictions of the country they are visiting. Au pairs typically work for 25-35 hours per week and their main responsibility is looking after the children of the house. They cannot, however, be left in sole charge of children under 12 months old though but can help out when parents are present. They can also help with light chores around the house when required and provide one night of babysitting per week so parents can get some quality time together.
A typical day for an au pair will involve getting the kids ready for school, making breakfast and school lunches and doing the school drop off. If the family only has school-age children, they will then have a few hours to themselves while the children are at school or perform some light housework. If the family has younger children not yet at school, the au pair will look after them and organise fun activities at home such as baking or craft activities, or take them out to the park, beach or on a playdate. At the end of the school day, the au pair will pick up the kids, take them home or to after-school activities and help them with homework. They will then get dinner ready for the kids and perhaps help out with bedtime as well.
An au pair will live with their host family and have their own bedroom. Pay is decided between the au pair and the family but not less than $170 per week, which is substantially less than fees for daycare, and even more so if you have more than one child.
Using an au pair agency has several benefits over finding an au pair directly. Au pair agencies have access to lots of screened candidates with working with children and police checks and sometime even medical checks. Going direct means having to do all this homework yourself and making sure the references the au pair provides are legitimate. An agency will also help you find candidates that match your family, taking all the legwork out of interviewing candidates that would not fit with your family. Smart Au Pairs is an established and reputable agency that assists families with finding their perfect au pair.