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Let's Talk Au Pairs
We Help you Find the Right Au Pair from the Best Au Pair Agencies
There is so much to learn before you host an au pair and for new host parents, and you have so many questions:
What is an au pair and how is an au pair different from a nanny? What are the au pair's expectations when she joins the program? What countries do the best au pairs come from? What should I know about cultural differences? How do I interview an au pair? Will my au pair speak English? Do au pairs drive? How do I avoid costly mistakes when choosing an au pair? What happens if I don't like my au pair once she arrives?
Don't worry, at AuPairClearinghouse, we provide the best consumer information for host parents that answers all of these questions, and more!
AuPairClearinghouse's mission is to provide parents with helpful and timely ratings, reviews and trends in the au pair industry so you can make the best childcare decisions for your children and family.
5 Top Reasons Au Pairs Quit
You worked hard finding the right au pair for your children, she arrives and all of your expectations are met! She is smart, efficient, kind to the children, but knows how to discipline them, and she is very easy to live with. You and your spouse are very pleased knowing you both made a good match and that now you can both go to work feeling confident all will be fine at home - its a great feeling!
A month later, your top-notch au pair, the envy of your neighbors and friends, announces that she is quitting! You are shocked and dismayed and she sits down with you to tell you WHY. Don't wait for this to happen to you - find out the Top Reasons au pairs fire their families! Good au pairs know they have value and they can and will ask for a rematch if your family is not the "right fit" for them. If you know why au pairs quit, you can prevent this happening to you!
Au Pairs and Safe, Quality Childcare Choices
Hiring a childcare giver is one of the most important things you can spend time on - as a parent you want to ensure your choice is a safe one.
Why? Because your child’s well-being is your utmost concern!
You can choose from daycare, nanny services, private babysitters, and of course, from the au pair programs.
No matter what childcare arrangement you choose, you need to make sure that anyone who cares for your child has experience, certification and training.
Hosting an Au Pair - How to Get Started!
Hosting au pairs is not an easy task by any means. Finding a great agency, interviewing childcare givers over the phone (blind if you don't use Skype) and opening your home to a stranger for a year to care for your child is a huge leap of faith.
Thousands of American families take that leap of faith each year when they welcome a new au pair into their families. Why? Because the au pair program is affordable and it works very well (when all the pieces fall in place, like a puzzle).
Why do some parents get it right while others do not? Parents make bad choices every year and the family and au pair go into "rematch" - the word that strikes fear and consternation in every counselor's heart when she/he hears it!
How to Help Your Homesick Au Pair
by E. Snyder
Being an au pair can be a wonderful experience full of adventure and learning. Au pairs get to travel abroad to live in a new town, immerse themselves in a different cultural, have an opportunity to become fluent in another language, and they become part of their host family. For many au pairs, and really for anyone that has moved to a new country away from family and friends, the homesickness bug will eventually bite. So how can host families help their new au pair get over the hump and really start to enjoy the experience?
One of the best ways to try to fend-off homesickness right from the start is to welcome your new au pair with open arms and tour of her new home town. Take the whole family to greet her at the airport, maybe go out for a meal then drive the long way home so she can see your neighborhood and start to get a lay of the land. A welcome basket in her room is a great way to show your new au pair that you're excited she's arrived and you want her to feel at home. Some great little things to include are a map of the city, your area director's card, a public transportation pass for her first month, a list of names and numbers of other au pairs in your area, a picture that the kids drew for her. A little basket of toiletries is nice too, anything that will make her feel welcomed and special.
Male Au Pairs as Great Role Models for Young Boys
by Elyanna Snyder
Male au pairs frequently take on a brotherly role as caregivers and young boys in particular can benefit from these brotherly characteristics. For young boys male au pairs can be role models, playmates, someone they want to emulate, and as disciplinarians male au pairs have a unique advantage of not being in a parental role which allows them to transition fluidly from enforcing rules to joking around.
An AuPairCare host family, with a nine year old Sam, and an eleven year old, Henry, has a male au pair, Erik from Sweden. Erik strives to teach the boys how to be appreciative, respectable, helpful, and confident young men.
Erik has been helping the boys to understand a friend's recent behavioral issues as a possible tactic for getting attention and making friends. Erik says, "I've tried to explain to Sam that maybe the kid is not being nice to him because he wants attention, and maybe he just needs a friend." Erik encourages Sam to always react in positive and proactive ways, clearly asking the other boy to please stop the inappropriate behavior, asking a teacher to step in, using their words and their actions to show other kids how to act appropriately. He's told them, "You don't have to invite him over, but if you include him in games and are especially nice to him he might get tired of bothering you."
Teens and Au Pairs
What do you do when you need extra help taking care of your teenager but traditional childcare isn't really what you're looking for? They're still kids to you but they want to be treated like young adults and after the age of twelve they'll probably be opposed to the idea of having a babysitter, they may not be thrilled with a nanny either.
So what do you do when you work full time and your kids need rides to soccer practice, dentist appointments, and trips to the mall, homework help, someone to be around in the afternoon when they get home from school?
There's one option that you probably haven't considered: an au pair. Au pairs are great for older kids because they are young enough to be relatable and old enough to be responsible.
Top 5 Reasons You Should Not Hire an Au Pair
Not all parents and families are suitable for the au pair program. Hosting an au pair is very different than hiring a local college student to baby-sit or even hiring a nanny. These childcare choices are dictated by the employee-employer relationship. The childcare giver gets “paid” every week and may or may not live-in. You do not have to give the childcare giver a car, a cell phone or a computer to use! You will not be eating dinner with your babysitter and you certainly will not be sharing holidays with your nanny.
Au pairs are young women (or young men) who are between the ages of 18-26 who expect to become part of the family, audit college courses (that you pay for) and drive your car, live with your family and take care of your children like an older sister - compared to a salaried nanny or babysitter.
Here are the most important considerations you should consider before you hire an au pair:
What Is An Au Pair?
Au Pair, from the French on par means "equal" to indicate that the young woman living with a family and taking care of the children is on par or equal in status with the rest of the family. In other words, au pairs tend to be regarded as part of the family, like an older daughter, whose main responsibility is taking care of the children and chores related to the children. Au pairs originated in Europe when upper "crust" or wealthy families wanted "help" with their young children, but desired a more relaxed and fun approach to childcare, compared to the older and often times more reserved "nanny" they experienced as a child.
What An Au Pair Is Not!
Please keep in mind the girl you hire from abroad is not an employee and should not be treated like one. So, you ask - what can she actually do? Her duties can include very helpful family chores: preparing meals for the children - and cleaning the meal prep up; making the children's beds; doing the children's laundry; picking up after the children; driving them to school, play dates, sporting events, lessons, errands, etc. She is also expected to keep her room and her bathroom clean and tidy and to do her own laundry. Find our more about what your au pair can and cannot do!
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My American Life As A German Au Pair
by Anna Sophie Steffen, 2010
I am from Germany and I would like to tell you about my experiences as an au pair in the U.S. to give host families an inside view from an au pair’s perspective. I want to say that I had a great year with a great family and want to share my story with American host families.
Au Pairs - Are They Right For You?
Why Are Au Pairs A Great Choice for Busy Families?
I receive so many emails from parents who ask me, "Are au pairs really a good childcare option?" I always tell them "Yes!" - and then I send them a list of reasons why. I want to post this list for all parents who are sitting on the fence and wondering, "Should I consider an au pair?"
Au pairs are in high demand, despite the troubled economy. Parents have to work, and the majority of American families are two-income and two-paycheck households. Someone has to be home to take care of the kids! If Grandma is not stepping up to the plate and you don't like daycare (or, can't afford it), consider hosting an au pair! Find out why au pairs make such a great choice for busy, two-paycheck families...
Can Men be Au Pairs Too?
Although the role of au pair has always traditionally been that of a girl, it is becoming more and more common for men to also want to stay in the UK and work as an au pair. And why not? While it is understandable why some families, particularly those with daughters, might still prefer a female au pair, actually there are some huge advantages to choosing a man which are often over-looked.
Men are typically better drivers and have more energy for playing and sports. Men are often less homesick compared to girls and thus they usually assimilate more quickly.
Top 10 Mistakes Host Parents Make
When Choosing an Au Pair
A frustrating fact for host parents is that all the agencies tell you the same thing about their programs: it is safe, cost effective and they screen all au pairs carefully (with both a criminal background check and psychological testing).
The au pairs are described as drivers, with proficient English and excellent childcare skills. What the agencies don’t tell you is that au pairs can and do slip through the screening process. You have to carefully review all applications yourself and interview each au pair thoroughly – you must make the ultimate decision when matching with an au pair!
Read the entire article
Is Your Au Pair Experiencing Culture Shock or Depression?
Culture Shock is a phenomenon that occurs when a foreigner enters a new culture and experiences unpleasant adjustment symptoms that can range from problems sleeping, mental fatigue, a delay or refusal to speak the new culture’s language, a desire to return home and feelings of hopelessness.
Au pairs experience culture shock in varying degrees when they arrive. Most au pairs adjust quickly and are excited to meet the challenges of her new culture and all that is has to offer.
A significant number of au pairs never adjust and they usually return home soon after their arrival due to a number of reasons. Know the warning signs of Culture Shock, which is normal and the signs of a clinical depression, which can look very much like the former.
Your Au Pair is Young, Gorgeous and Blond
"I hired a very pretty, blond German au pair and she has been with us about 3 months. She is tall, slim and, well, gorgeous even without make-up at 6:30 am in the morning! Maria is fantastic with the kids who love her and even my grumpy husband (who was against having a live-in) lights up when she walks into a room.
She has always been professional in her behavior towards me and my husband (there is no flirting or fooling around at all) but I feel old around her. I am only 39, I play tennis to stay in shape, but I can't help feeling middle-aged when I am in her presence.
It is not the au pair who has the problem, its me - old and frumpy from CT!"
Read the entire article
The Problem Au Pair
Once your new au pair arrives and settles in (or not), you may find issues with her driving, English or maturity. You may question her true reasons for coming to America, one of which is not caring for children all day! Or, you and she simply do not get along - there is a personality mismatch. She may be great, but your personalities clash. She is quiet, shy and prefers to read while listening to piano sonatas while your three rough and tumble (but adorable boys) are outside playing touch football! You like things done quickly and with efficiency. Your au pair prefers to poke along and after 3 weeks, you come home from work and still find toast crumbs on the table.
Or you find her simply dreadful, and you feel annoyed by countless little things, from her stringy, dirty hair and pungent body odor, to her poor attitude and that damn broken side mirror dangling on the car (yes, she was told not to back out of the garage, but she did anyway).
She stays out late during the week, is often sleepy and yawning when she comes downstairs in the morning to get the kids and she drives insists on driving them to school in her pajamas. Whatever the problem is, you may decide you cannot put up with her for 12 months. What is a host mom to do?
Au Pairs and Not Nannies?
There are a number of differences between an au pair and a nanny that you should be aware of before making a decision either way but here we discuss the advantages of an au pair over a nanny.
Benefits of an Au Pair over a Nanny: Training Au pairs that are recruited from U.S.A. government sanctioned programs are required to be trained in CPR, first aid, child development and to show documented proof of childcare experience by a third party. Nanny training varies greatly today.
The term "nanny" used to refer to a woman who was professionally trained in all aspects of childcare and whose skills were highly valued and sought after. Nowadays, anyone can call themselves a "nanny" and their training can be very inconstistent from agency to agency. Usually they are older women without any other occupational training except babysitting.
What is an Overlap? This is when your present au pair is still in your home and you have the new au pair arrive, so their time together will 'overlap' from a few days to a few weeks or so.
Many host parents plan on this so their experienced au pair can 'train' the new au pair and get her settled in. This is very helpful if you are very busy and cannot take off a few days to do the orientation yourself. This can work out quite well if your present au pair is mature and understands why you are doing this.
However, we have seen even the most mature and pleasant au pairs sink into a funk once the new au pair arrives on the scene. Then, you can have trouble!
Here are our Top Five Reasons not to overlap au pairs.
Do's and Don'ts When Hosting An Au Pair
You spent a lot of money and time interviewing and matching with the "perfect" au pair for your family. She is arriving in a few weeks and you think you are now "off the hook" and can relax!
Not so fast! Before you retire your vigilance, read the following list of Dos and Don'ts when hiring an au pair and take that extra time to make sure your au pair is off to a good start. Even if you consider yourself a seasoned host parent, you may find a thing or two of value in our list that you may not have considered before!
U.S. Government May Raise Age Limit Au Pairs
The State Department is considering raising the age limit on au pairs from 26 to 30. This new statue, combined with the 2007 law that allows au pairs to stay an additional year (from 12 months to 24 months) could expand the pool of au pairs by 40%.
This new age limit may be good news for host parents. However, it is important to consider both sides of the new law that may go into effect in the next year (pros and cons) and how they can affect your au pair and children.
Read the entire article
Language Differences - What's In a Name?
Au pairs arriving in America are dealing with cultural differences and, yes, language differences! Their primary reason for joining the cultural exchange program is to improve their English.
As your au pair struggles with her English, be patient and support her efforts. Your au pair may find her English is not as good as she thought and she may be upset about this, even embarrassed!
Encourage her when she tries to pronounce words and finds new words she has not encountered before. Here is a list of words that we translate for you to help you and your au pair communicate and find common ground!
Nanny Cam - Right or Wrong?
We have all heard stories of childcare workers abusing young children they were hired to care for. Perhaps you have given some thought to this and considered a "nanny cam" yourself. Working parents worry about their children and particulary their babies, who cannot tell them they are mistreated by their au pair. After all, your new au pair is a stranger, from a foreign country, young and perhaps inexperienced!
Do you have the right to install a nanny cam and record her during the day? What are your rights, as parents? What privacy rights does your au pair have not to be recorded without her knowledge and approval? Find out in our article on nanny cams.
Read the entire article
10 Safe Driving Tips for Au Pairs
Here is our tried and true Top Safe Driving Tips for Au Pairs, starting with: 1. Speeding: Always observe the posted speed limits! If you are from Germany, you may have a "heavy foot" meaning you are accustomed to driving fast. Don’t speed! Speeding tickets are very expensive and your host parents will be upset because their insurance rates may go up if you get a ticket. You are responsible for speeding tickets, and fines can be between $100-$400 and more, depending on how fast you were going.
2. Passing: Do not ever pass another car, no matter how slow they are traveling. Most towns in America have much more traffic on their roads compared to even 15 years ago and passing is dangerous.
3. School Buses: Never, never pass a yellow school bus when it is stopped and flashing its yellow or red lights! This is the law in 50 states to protect school children who are getting off the bus and crossing the road. If you break this law, you endanger children’s lives and can get arrested, lose your license and end up paying a very steep fine. Read the rest...
5 Tips for Welcoming your Au Pair
by Christine Harrell
Choosing an au pair is a huge decision for any family. Introducing her into an already established family routine may seem a bit awkward at first. However, there are a few things that a family can do ahead of time to make an au pair’s transition easier for everyone.
Stay At Home Moms and Au Pairs
Stay at Home Moms and au pairs can and do work well together. However, a stay at home mom has to understand the psychology behind what makes this unique relationship work well.
Most au pairs are expecting a certain kind of situation and family when they sign up for the cultural exchange program. They expect two parents who work outside of the home. They expect to be in charge of the house and children during those hours and they are typically independent, responsible and mature enough to make good decisions during that time.
What kind of personality would make an ideal "mother's helper" for a Stay at Home Mom?" We answer this question for you here in this article....
Read the entire article
Education Requirements for your Au Pair
All au pairs registered with a legal au pair agency are required, by USA Dept. of State law, to take college/university courses while they are with their host families. They typically "audit" courses and do not receive matriculating credits (i.e., they cannot be transferred to a college back home).
Sometimes host families discourage their au pair from taking courses - you should not! They not only have to take these courses, they often look forward to them and having these college courses listed on their resume. Find out what your responsibility is regarding your au pair's educational requirements....
Psychological Screening of Au Pairs
We received an email from, Germaine, a host mom from NJ. She said: "How can I tell my au pair is not suffering from a mental disorder, like depression? How can I know she or he will not abuse my child?"
I can understand Germaine's concern - parents worry "Will my au pair be of sound mind?" "Does she have mental health issues, like depression, anxiety or an eating disorder?" "Will they be pedophiles (sexual abusers)?"
Parents should know how effective screening tests are in pinpointing mental health problems.
First, let's take a look at the issue of psychological screening. If the agency has been designated by the Department of State, then yes, the agency is required to do both a criminal background check and a psychological screening. How are the agencies doing?
Top Tips for New Au Pairs
How Can Au Pairs Combat Jet Lag and Cultural Shock?
Jet lag and Cultural Shock can compromise your ability to adjust to your new family and to do your best as an au pair! Making sure you get enough sleep at night, eating nutritious meals and drinking at least 6 glasses of water a day will keep you healthy and full of energy to carry out your childcare duties.
After a few days, jet lag should be gone and you should be feeling better. If you are experiencing continued fatigue or depression, you may be suffering from Cultural Shock.
Here are our Top Tips to cope with adjustment difficulties:
Russian Au Pairs
by Carol Lima
Host parents enjoy Russian au pairs because many have good driving skills and are learn similar driving rules and laws as we do in America.
They also have great linguistic abilities and it is very common for Russians to speak multiple languages. Turkish, German, French, Danish, Finnish and even Arabic are among the varied languages Russians learn.
Find out more about Russians and their motivations to become au pairs.
Are German Au Pairs In Scarce Supply (and Getting Scarcer)?
German au pairs continue to be the most popular au pairs since the early 1990s and are in high demand by American parents! This is because German au pairs have what American families need and want in an au pair—for example, reliable driving and good English.
However, we are starting to see a downward trend in the numbers of available German au pairs. What does the Au Pair ClearingHouse have to say about this troubling development and its implications?
Au Pairs Cut Family Childcare Costs!
One of the top expenses for families today is childcare - after the house mortgage, paying for childcare is the largest payout in most family budgets. Coupled with lay-offs and higher food & gas prices, parents are scrambling to find affordable childcare.
What can parents do?
Au pairs are a very affordable option today for parents who are trying to cut childcare costs without reducing the quality of those who watch their children every day when they are at work
However, if you have never hosted an au pair before, you need to know the basics first. This article presents several important tips to help you get started.