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Inside: If you’re considering hiring an au pair, this article is for you, power-packed with everything you’ll need to know, including the things to consider for your family, frequently asked questions, the benefits of hiring an au pair, and so much more.
“This post is a paid promotion by Go Au Pair and all opinions are my own.”
I never realized how vulnerable I would feel the day I first held my daughter. My children are these little beings walking around, holding a piece of my heart. They are my most precious gift.
I’m guessing if you are a parent, you might feel something similar.
That’s why finding the best person to care for my children is critical. There are so many options a family can choose. However, if you’re here reading this, maybe you have been considering the pros and cons of hiring an au pair.
Let’s Start with the Basics
An au pair is a woman or man who comes from another country to live with a host family to provide childcare.
There is so much more to know about what an au pair is and does, but that is the most fundamental building block.
Also, the family and au pair benefit from a “modest wage and receive up to 45 hours a week of childcare, while the au pair receives your help learning English, receiving a bit of education, and having an American cultural experience.” 1
So, now that we’ve got the basics covered. We can jump into some of the detailed information regarding hiring an au pair, such as:
- Things to Consider When Hiring an Au Pair for Your Family
- Benefits of Hiring an Au Pair
- Questions About the Au Pair Hiring Process
Things to Consider When Hiring an Au Pair for Your Family
There are three critical questions you’ll want to consider when deciding if hiring an au pair is the right decision for your situation.
- Are you comfortable with the obligations required of the host family?
One of the most pressing topics is the pay rate, which is a preset amount determined by the State Department. In 2019, the minimum price is $195.75 per week and up to $500 education stipend. (2) In return, the au pair is allowed to work up to 45 hours per week, with a maximum of 10 hours per day or five and one-half days per week. It’s helpful to know that this rate can be negotiated.
Also, as part of the experience, au pairs are to be included in family activities like meals, outings, and vacations.
2. Are you comfortable with having someone live in your home?
As part of hiring an au pair, the host family provides a private space for the au pair to live. So, it is essential to consider not only if your family has the room needed, but also if you are comfortable with having another person live in your home and shared living space.
3. How do you feel about cultural differences? Are you willing to embrace other people’s differences?
An au pair coming from another country will likely have differences from your family. It may be as simple as different tastes in food, or something more complex like lifestyle and habits. Besides, personality differences are to be expected, as well. This is part of hiring an au pair, which can lead to a rich cultural experience.
Benefits of Hiring an Au Pair
Once your family decides to pursue hiring an au pair, there are five key benefits that you can expect:
- Flexibility and Affordability
Hiring an au pair is often the same price or less than a daycare setting. This is because daycare pricing is typically a set price, no matter how many children are in the family. The cost for an au pair remains the same, regardless of the number of children. Additionally, au pairs are often more flexible than a nanny because they don’t have as many obligations and commitments in the local area.
2. Help with Childcare-Related Household Chores
Au pairs can help with child-related chores such as sweeping, cleaning toys, doing dishes, making beds, vacuuming, and more. These chores can be an excellent way for young children to learn responsibility as well by having the au pair model and encourage the children to complete simple tasks. This printable toddler chore chart, complete with au pair tips for making cleaning fun, is a great resource for ideas. 3
3. Meaningful Relationships
It’s not uncommon for au pairs to build lasting and loving relationships with their host kids and families. In fact, families often stay in touch with their au pairs after the program ends.
4. Cultural Exchange
As one of the perks of employing an au pair, the host family gains potential exposure to other languages, cuisines, and more.
5. Help Driving Kids
Another added convenience to hiring an au pair is that they can drive kids to and from school and activities.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hiring an Au Pair
After analyzing the benefits of employing an au pair, you may still have lingering questions. In the section below, you will find the answers to the following questions:
- Nanny vs. Au pair. What is the difference between a nanny and an au pair?
- Experience. How much childcare experience does the agency require for au pairs caring for children over the age of two?
- Expectations. What is an au pair expected to do?
- Host Family Interview. What is the host family interview?
- Au Pair Interview Questions. What interview questions should I ask an au pair?
Frequently Asked Questions
- Nanny vs. Au pair. What is the difference between a nanny and an au pair?
An au pair is an individual who:
- Is between 18-30 years old (depending on the country)
- Has working hours regulated by the State Department
- Receives a stipend (see rate above)
- Is from another country
- Must have the opportunity to attend educational courses
- Duties include childcare and light child-related housework
- Has childcare experience, but not certified (hence lower cost)
A nanny is an individual who:
- Has no age barrier or limit
- Working hours negotiated with the family
- Is paid a salary that must meet the minimum wage requirements of the country
- Responsibilities negotiated per family based on their needs
2. Expereince. How much childcare experience does the agency require for au pairs caring for children over the age of two?
According to State Department regulations, au pairs are required to have 200 hours of experience with infants to take care of children under two years of age. If your children are older than that, then there is no minimum experience requirement. Although some agencies will have higher standards in experience than what the state requires. 5
3. Expectations. What is an au pair expected to do?
An au pair is expected to spend up to 45 hours per week taking care of the host family children over the age of three months old. In addition to this, the au pair can perform child-related chores for the family. In return, the au pair receives board, weekly payment, and a once a year educational stipend.
4. Host Family Interview. What is the host family interview?
The host family interview is when the adult members from the host family and the local area representative have an in-person interview. It is “part of Host Family screening required by U.S. Department of State regulations. The main objective of the interview is to determine if your family can provide a suitable environment for a cultural exchange experience.” During this interview, the family home will be toured and inspected. Additionally, the present parties will discuss “regulations and requirements for the Au Pair program, (and) your expectations for your Au Pair and what to expect during the experience.” 4
5. Interview Questions. What interview questions should I ask an au pair?
If you are ready to interview an au pair, you likely have a few questions you’d like to ask. If you’re like me, you won’t want to miss anything important. Here are some interview questions to get started:
- What are you hoping to get out of the au pair experience?
- What is your experience with children?
- What activities would you do with children X years old?
- What do you like best about working with children? What do you like the least?
- What is your discipline style?
What has been most helpful to know about hiring an au pair? Share in a comment below!