An au pair is typically a young adult who comes from a different country to provide childcare. They are screened and qualified individuals you often hire through an agency to make sure they are well vetted. An au pair will live in your home to perform childcare and house tasks related to the children. Regulated by the government, au pairs can work 45 hours each week and 10 hours a day. They will receive an affordable weekly stipend from the family for this work. Although families do pay an agency fee for an au pair, in the long run, it ends up being cheaper than other childcare.
With all that being said, having an au pair seems like a great option, right? Well, for every pro, there's often a con. Let's take a look at some reasons you shouldn't hire an au pair for you and your family.
Since your au pair is coming from another country, it's highly likely that English isn't their first language. This can make communicating with your au pair more difficult. In the beginning, it may take some extra time to get to know each other. It will require patience on both ends to make sure the relationship goes smoothly while everyone is learning. The beginning will be the most challenging time of having an au pair. But, often, au pairs catch onto English quicker since they are living in a home that is regularly speaking the language. If you hire an au pair, knowing how well they speak English before they arrive will help set better expectations.
Because au pairs are young adults in a foreign country by themselves, they require emotional support throughout their stay. This ends up being the majority responsibility of the family since you are the only people they know. This will look like having an interest in their everyday life. It is also helpful to invite them to be a part of family outings and holiday celebrations. Once they start to adventure more outside the house, this responsibility becomes shared by others around them as well. Eventually, they will start to build other relationships. There are Local Childcare Coordinators in the area whom they will connect with. They will also meet students from the college classes they are required to take. Although building a relationship is something most people enjoy, if you do not have the emotional capacity to do so, an au pair is likely not a good fit for you.
Although au pairs have some childcare experience and are certified through an agency, it's important to know they are not trained childcare providers. They are also from a different culture that might raise children differently. These can make for a longer learning period and extra time to adjust to their childcare duties and learn what an American babysitter or nanny might already know. Also, when your au pair first arrives, an adult from the host family must be home with them for three days after they arrive. This time should be spent making them feel comfortable at home and helping them understand what their duties will be. It can take around a month for them to settle in and be comfortable with their new routine.
Lack Of Privacy
Any childcare personnel working in your home will result in a lack of privacy. Since an au pair will live in your home for up to a year or possibly longer, you'll need to get used to the fact that it's not just your family at home anymore. An au pair is typically viewed as a member of the family. This is an idea you'll need to be comfortable with. For some, the lack of privacy is a great trade-off for what they are receiving in return. But if you are someone who highly values privacy and doesn't like others in your space, then an au pair might not be the best option.
If the pros of having an au pair make it sound like something you would like, but the cons make you reconsider, there are some other options. If having someone live in your house is too much, then a nanny could be a good option for you and your family. They are at the house when you need them based on a schedule you create together and also help with household tasks and chores. If you just need occasional help and want to limit the presence of childcare in your home, then a babysitter could be a good option.
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