What is an au pair and how to find an au pair?
For many, the terms "au pair" and "live-in nanny" are often used interchangeably, leading to confusion. However, it's important to note that there are differences between the two roles. If you're considering hiring someone to take care of your children, the following will provide valuable insights.
Meaning of a nanny
A nanny (also known as a "manny" for males) refers to an individual who looks after children in a professional capacity. Most hold some childcare qualifications and have been caregiving for several years.
Meaning of an au pair
An au pair is typically a young person who comes from abroad to live with an Australian family, aiming to gain a cross-cultural experience while assisting with the children. They are not professionally trained in childcare and have limited experience. Au pairs are motivated by improving their English language skills and living in an Australian family. The phrase ‘au pair’ comes from French and literally means ‘on equal terms’. Whilst it’s now commonly used as a noun, it is original meaning goes to the heart of why making the right choice of an au pair is so crucial. They’re part of the family and in many ways, they are part of your parenting journey.
Where do au pairs come from?
Au pairs come from all over the world, but they must be able to get a Working Holiday or Work and Holiday visa. A lot of our au pairs come from Europe (e.g. Netherlands, Germany, Sweden or France) and are excited to explore the beautiful landscape that Australia offers and improve their English skills. Many of them take a gap year to enjoy the program to the fullest.
What does an au pair receive?
An au pair is provided with accommodation, meals and pocket money for assisting with the children and providing assistance around the home. The au pair needs to have a private bedroom and must be provided with 3 meals per day, 7 days a week.
What does an au pair do?
Their primary responsibility is taking care of the children – please remember that au pairs shouldn’t be put in sole charge of babies under one year old unless they have had the appropriate training and experience. Obviously, as time goes on and their confidence improves, they may be provided with additional childcare responsibilities.
Their daily tasks typically involve waking children in the morning and helping them get ready for school or day care. They may prepare kids meals, drive children around, do light housework like cleaning up the kids’ room or kitchen, take children to activities, play dates and outings, supervise homework and play activities, bath them and get them ready for bed – but they do need to be given time off during the day to relax, take time out or pursue their own interests.
An au pair is part of the family
An au pair is part of the family. They will live with your family for 6 months and will be an dedicated family member that participates in family life. That’s why it’s so crucially important to make the right choice of au pair. Which brings us to the next question…
How do you find an au pair?
There are several places where you could find an au pair yourself such as via Facebook (groups), Gumtree, backpacker job websites or employment websites. There are many different resources which bring aspiring au pairs and host families together but finding the perfect fit isn’t as easy as it sounds. Your au pair will be living in your home and caring of your children. It’s a deeply personal relationship and finding one whose personality suits your family’s dynamic and who shares your parenting approach can be quite a challenge – especially when there are so many different places to look.
Why choose an agency?
Going through a professional au pair agency like Smart Au Pairs can save an enormous amount of time and significantly minimises the risk with inviting a stranger into your home.
All our host families and au pairs are thoroughly screened to ensure your family’s safety and encourage the correct match for your individual family’s needs. All our au pairs provide substantial paperwork including: application forms, pictures, childcare + character references, a letter, police check and a medical check. It is a timely and costly exercise that all au pairs going through our agency subscribe to. This screening is not available if you recruit an au pair directly yourself. Further, if your au pair arrives and it does not feel like the right match, Smart Au Pairs will assist in rehoming your existing au pair and finding you a free replacement au pair as soon as possible (30 day guarantee period).
Au pairs also need agency support. They are young individuals living on the other side of the world, away from family and friends. We organise events, connect them with other au pairs via our exclusive WhatsApp and Facebook groups and check in with them regularly.
Where can Smart Au Pair place au pairs?
At Smart Au Pairs, we take pride in offering exceptional au pair placements in some of Australia's most vibrant cities, including Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. These cities all offer iconic landmarks, beautiful nature, cultural diversity and a vibrant social scene which makes it very attractive for au pairs from all around the world to live in these places while au pairing.
While our current focus is on these larger cities, we understand that not everyone resides in these areas . If you live outside of Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane and are considering welcoming an au pair into your home, we encourage you to get in touch with us. We genuinely value the interest and enquiries from families across Australia, and we are dedicated to extending our services to as many regions as possible.