For many people, an au pair and a live-in nanny amount to the same thing and they use the terms interchangeably. However, there are differences between the two and if you’re considering hiring someone to care for your children, you may find the following discussion very useful.
A nanny (or as the male version is referred to, a manny) describes any individual—whether professionally trained or not—who cares for children in their own home.
An au pair is typically a young person who comes from overseas to live with an Australian family for a cross-cultural experience. They aren’t generally trained as professional nannies or childcare workers but rather come to Australia as domestic assistants with the aim of improving their English and discovering more about the culture and the country.
Most of them come from a wide variety of foreign countries and require a visa – with the exception of New Zealanders who are allowed to live and work in Australia lawfully.
An au pair is provided with accommodation and meals and paid pocket money for looking after the children and doing some light domestic tasks.
Let’s look in more detail at some of the things that an au pair does.
Their primary responsibility is taking care of the children – but having said that, an au pair shouldn’t be put in sole charge of babies under a year old unless they have the appropriate training and experience. Obviously as time goes on and their confidence improves and the family’s confidence in them strengthens, they can be given greater independence in terms of their childcare responsibilities.
Their daily tasks could be anything from waking children in the morning and helping them get ready for school or day care. They may prepare meals, drive children around, do light housework like laundry or vacuuming, take children to extramural 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 study, take time out or pursue their own interests.
An au pair is part of the family. After all, they live with you. And they’re entrusted with caring for your children. That’s why it’s so crucially important to make the right choice of au pair. Which brings us to another question – how do you go about finding an au pair?
To find the right host family or au pair in Australia, you need to search in the right places. Websites. Facebook. Gumtree. Backpacker job sites. Employment marketplaces. There are many different resources which bring aspirant 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 for 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.
The phrase ‘au pair’ comes from French and literally means ‘on equal terms’. Whilst it’s now commonly used as a noun, its original meaning goes to the heart of why making the right choice of au pair is so crucial. They’re part of the family and in many ways, they’re sharing the parenting.
Going through a professional au pair agency like Smart Au Pairs can save an enormous amount of time and hassle because they have the experience and the resources to find the best match possible for both the host family and the au pair.
Whether you’re looking for au pairs in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane – or anywhere in Australia for that matter – Smart Au Pairs is a trusted au pair agency with a reputation for gold standard screening and professional support. If you are considering hiring an au pair or are interested in learning more about becoming one, visit their website, www.smartaupairs.com.au or call their friendly team on 02 9451 3888.