Hiring an Au Pair: Things to Consider

By Ashley Paskill on July 13, 2021

Hiring an au pair is a huge decision to make, and one you should not take lightly. This is someone who is going to live with you and help you care for your kids. Au pairs are typically from other countries and work as an au pair for a year while studying. They are part student, part nanny, and they work for a year in exchange for a place to stay and a weekly stipend. This is a huge commitment for you and your family, so there are things you should take into consideration.

Their personality

When hiring any kind of childcare, you have to take into consideration the caregiver’s personality. You need someone who is trustworthy, patient, kind, and creative. You know what kind of personality would be the best fit for your kids, and finding someone who will work well with your kids is super important. If possible, try to involve your kids as much as possible in the au pair selection process. Every child is different, so you will need to find someone that matches your child’s personality and needs.

Also, you will have to accommodate the au pair’s lifestyle. This can be tricky if their lifestyle is different than yours. You and your family may eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, but your au pair may not. You may not like smoking, but your au pair may smoke. Make sure you are aware of these things before finalizing the match to be sure you and your au pair are a good fit. Their personality may seem different from their initial interview, especially as they are adjusting to living in a new environment.

Assess your needs

Before hiring an au pair, consider what your family’s needs are. Au pairs typically work for 12 months before they move on. If you need childcare for more than one year, you will need to find a new au pair or childcare provider, which can be tough on your kid(s). Au pairs can only work a maximum of 45 hours a week, so if you need someone who can work more, you will need to consider other options.

Also, take a look at your schedule and see where you need childcare. Au pairs are typically flexible to work with your schedule but keep in mind that the au pair will be studying, so they will need time to get their classes and assignments done.

Image: Gabe Pierce via https://unsplash.com/photos/mLqWFEtlIEs

Cost of the au pair

Not only are you required to provide free housing for your au pair, but you also have to pay a set weekly stipend and a one-time fee towards the au pair’s educational costs. Outside of this financial cost, the U.S. Department has a list of things you need to provide the au pair, such as food and transportation among other things. Basic necessities such as toiletries, laundry facilities, and bedding are also required. If this is too much of a commitment financially or otherwise, hiring an au pair is not for you. Keeping in mind what you are getting into is crucial for avoiding unexpected costs down the line.

That said, au pairs are typically less expensive than nannies and daycares, depending on where you live. Many families feel like the benefits of hiring an au pair make the costs affordable and worth it.

Cultural experience

Not only does living with your family give the au pair a great cultural experience for learning about how you live, but you and your family can also learn about your au pair’s culture. Many childcare providers such as au pairs plan activities for the children, and having cultural activities planned out can be a great learning experience for your kids. Being able to learn about how others live is crucial for expanding kids’ minds and allowing them to be more open-minded. Not only can au pairs teach them activities, but they may also be able to share stories or different aspects of their culture. This can enrich your life as well as your kids’ lives.

It is also recommended that you give your au pair a chance to consider your culture. This can be as simple as sharing your favorite meal or as big as taking them on family outings to museums, trips, and other experiences. You will also have to enable your au pair to get out of the house for free time, allowing them to explore their interests and learn even more about the culture.

Housing requirements

Au pairs are required to have their own room, and one with a lock is recommended. A private bathroom is also suggested but not required. An au pair may share a bathroom with the kids, but not the parents. If you do not have these kinds of accommodations available, an au pair is not the best fit. These rules are set by the U.S. government to make sure the au pair is properly taken care of.

Hiring an au pair can be a huge decision for you and your family, but it can be a worthwhile experience if you hire the right person and are prepared for all that is in store.

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