Friends and acquaintances often ask how I like having an Au Pair living with us. I understand they are not everyone’s flavor usually due to the fact that once the children are in bed they want privacy. To me this is a sacrifice we are willing to make.
We have had three Au Pairs in 3 years (1 a year) and they have been wonderful and we are lucky enough to have kept in touch with them. I think you know after a very short period of time whether it is going to work (I have omitted the 2 day Au Pair that went home as quickly as she arrived due to ‘homesickness’. I actually think she realised what she had let herself in for!)
Hubby and I have a list of questions that we ask our shortlist of girls that I often wing over to friends when they have a shortlist from which to choose. We use aupair-world.net and filter down our search as follows
- Age between 21-28 (Too young they can be homesick and I imagine myself at 18… but that’s a different matter!)
- Spanish. All of ours have been Spanish. I strongly disagree with the stereotype that Spaniards are ‘lazy’. They have all been so hardworking.
- Experience with children the same age as yours. So they know what children are like/doing at that age.
- Kind. This is a sixth sense that is usually conveyed in the candidates humility and keenness. Anyone asking too many questions about pay and time off straight away is a no no.
- What they want to do after they are an Au Pair. Childcare/teaching or a nanny is brilliant as then the Au Pair is helping them gain the necessary experience.
- How long do they want to be an Au Pair for? A year is a good time frame as long enough for the children to create a bond but short enough that they don’t become stale.
- Do they have a boyfriend? 1 of ours did, 2 didn’t. I think the most important thing is you don’t want someone who is on the prowl. I have heard of Au Pairs that use tinder when they come over. Recipe for disaster!
- What hobbies do they have and how often do they go out? Ideally, not partying as you don’t want the key in the latch too late!
- What do they like to do with children? Do they have creative ideas?
- Are they happy going out in the rain and cold? This is the UK after all.
- Do they have contacts in the UK already? A few is good, but if there whole class is here they may not be as willing to meet new people.
Above all, you want an Au Pair that is honest, keen and likes children. Believe it or not, some Au Pairs appear not to!
Once you have chosen one and they arrive, it is important to be kind to them, include them and treat them like part of the family and put down the ground rules up front as it is easier to do at the beginning rather than when cracks start to appear. Remember ultimately – respect begets respect!
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