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Any other families hosting an au pair or has anyone been an au pair?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Just wondering if there are other families out there hosting an au pair. I would love to share experiences. We have had our first au pair for about 6 weeks now and are having a great experience so far. Looking forward to chatting with others.

To the women who have been au pairs - what made you a happy, productive au pair? What suggestions would you have for host parents to make sure everyone has a great year?

To families with au pairs - how are things going? What have been your challenges? What would you suggest to new au pair families?
post #2 of 25
We intend to. Expecting another child next month, then 6 mos. maternity leave, then I hope we will have an au pair. Extremely interested to hear about others' experiences!
post #3 of 25
I just noticed our DDs are the same age!
post #4 of 25
Hello! May I join your tribe as a guest? I've been an au pair before and may be able to offer helpful advice.

KLM where is your au pair from? How has she settled in so far?
post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 
Glad there is at least a little interest! I really would love to talk to others who have been au pairs, who want to get au pairs, or who have/had au pairs, so thank you!

Ours is from Germany and she's just terrific so far. What I'm trying to do is to treat her as if I'd want my own daughter treated if my daughter were living with a family in a foreign country. So far that philosphy is working. She is also just a really great person all around - she wants to do well and to be helpful and she's great with the kids.

MamitaM - how was your experience? Where are you from and where did you stay while you were an au pair? Any advice or problems you had? Thanks again!
post #6 of 25
I love germany! that's where i was for most if it then a small part in switzerland. i had different families and traveled a lot. that was my 2nd au pair experience and i stayed for over a year. I was kinda all over in Germany,never in the big city but always very close. I was in Koln,Bremen,Wiesbaden and a little place just outside Hamburg.

The family in Wiesbaden was American and were also military. It was fine until the niece came to stay with them,then the mom treated me lower then they were and that was not good at all. I left shorty after that.

my first exp. was not that good. i spend just 2 horrible weeks in belgium with a family who lied about how far from the city they lived and they gave me sunday and monday off,most places are closed then and they also didn't help me get into the city or near the bus. The worst thing though was that they expected me to work the day I arrived!!! I left for a family in Holland who needed a short term au pair,then another in Holland who tried to convince me to give them my bank account info and have my funds transferred to them when I couldn't use my PIN there in the machine. I found another family after that and stayed until my return at the end of the summer.

i'm from canada.i can write more later since my son says he needs me now!
post #7 of 25
I was an au pair in Paris for seven months. It wasn't the best experience for me. I loved the traveling but had a very hard time with the family. I was barely eighteen, fresh out of high school, and they expected me to be as knowledgeable and skillful as a seasoned, professional nanny. There were big personality differences between the parents and myself - they were both very controlling and high strung, and everything needed to be done just so. I remember the mother standing over me in a rage, almost screaming, because I had not put a medication in the refrigerator (I had not been told it needed to be stored there.) I was almost in tears and she was just up in my face ranting about how much trouble I'd caused her because now she had to go back to the pharmacy, and how could I possibly not know it needed to be refrigerated. There were also times when I was somewhat taken advantage of as far as working hours.

The children were also extremely bratty and difficult, I think as a result of their parents. Both had very demanding careers and most of the time, they were exhausted and wanted nothing to do with the children. They would cry for their parents, desperately wanting their attention, and I'd be reprimanded for not being able to control them and keep them silent and tucked away in the playroom. It was definitely a challenge.
post #8 of 25
We have an au pair. She has been with us for about 6 weeks. She is from Switzerland. Everything is working wonderfully with her. I was worried that my two 9 month olds would be overwhelming for any normal person, but she is tough and tolerant and does well with them.

My only concern is that, for a 21 year old girl, we are not particularly interesting people. And we live in the suburbs, so no public transportation. She has frequent access to our cars, so she goes out with another au pair who lives nearby once or twice a week. I just hope that she is not bored. I suspect that she is too nice to tell us if she is.

Also, when you have hired/worked as an au pair, did you do it through one of the agencies? And, if so, which ones, and what did you think of them? We are working with Cultural Care Au Pair. Though we think our au pair is fantastic, we are not quite so enthusiastic about the agency.
post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 
JenChaffee - glad to hear your au pair is working out well! I too was concerned that my two young kids would be too much for her, and she does look pretty exhausted at the end of the day. I know I'm exhausted at the end of the day when I have both kids on the weekends and days off. But then I'm also worried about a million other things and tired from being up with them all night and work and whatever else too - so maybe it's easier for her?

We found ours through Au Pair in America, and so far, we've been pretty happy with them. The counselors have been great and I like the website for searching for au pairs. What issues are you having with Cultural Care?

I was also concerned that we are boring! Although we live right in a major city with tons to do and lots of public transportation, our lives are pretty boring - we get up, go to work, make dinner, go to bed pretty much every day I'm glad she's been able to find her own fun. Has your au pair made any friends? Are there other au pairs in the neighborhood? We've tried to set up play dates and activities during the day so she can meet other caregivers with young kids.

Hope things continue going well for you!
post #10 of 25
i was an au pair for 4 families in europe.
18 mos in switzerland
1 yr in germany
1 yr in ireland
and a summer in france

being an au pair was great fun, but only later have i realised how immature i was at 19, having sole care for 15month old twins! the parents worked in the airline industry, and would be out of the country for days at a time.
now, i can't imagine leaving a 19 yr old with sole care for infants for that long
post #11 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bremen View Post
i was an au pair for 4 families in europe.
18 mos in switzerland
1 yr in germany
1 yr in ireland
and a summer in france

being an au pair was great fun, but only later have i realised how immature i was at 19, having sole care for 15month old twins! the parents worked in the airline industry, and would be out of the country for days at a time.
now, i can't imagine leaving a 19 yr old with sole care for infants for that long
I don't think this is allowed if you are an au pair in the U.S. through an agency. We're restricted to 10 hours a day/45 hours a week - no overnights, and we must give at least one weekend off per month. Sounds exhausting!
post #12 of 25
I'm an American and I was an aupair in 95/96. I started w/ a family in Bergen, Norway and was there 3 months. It didn't work out very well w/ them because of communication issues. I had only talked to the dad prior to arriving and he stressed that they only wanted childcare and no housecleaning. The wife had other ideas but it took a lot of tense encounters before she told me. It wasn't a horrible situation, just not a good one.
I found another family outside of Copenhagen and that was a better fit. Both parents were very Americanized (dad had went to Duke law school, mom had went to college and med school in the US) so language wasn't an issue. They did want a lot of housecleaning done and I found it hard to do that to their satisfaction while watching a 6 month old and a 2 year old. They were also always forgetting to pay me on time and it sucked to have to remind them every two weeks. *sigh*
It was a life changing experience for me and I have maintained a love of Scandinavia all this time but I can't say I loved the job.
post #13 of 25
KLM99 -- Yeah, I have asked her if she is exhausted. A few times she has been, but she tells me that since she has a set number of hours, on days that they are really crabby, the end of her day is in always within sight. Whereas, for a parent, the end of the day is never within sight. And they tend to be better behaved for her than for me. I have one thing that they want and that no one else has: the boobs.

Issues with Cultural Care ... they are okay, and each individual who I have talked to has always been quite nice. But they seem slightly disorganized. When we chose our au pair (I'll call her D) I was given an arrival date by one person. Someone else gave me a different date (off by 3 weeks). We went around and around before finally straightening this out. The initial bill I was sent was wrong, so we went around about that. The local coordinator is nice. She is supposed to help make the au pairs' transitions smooth. She gave us a bit of info that wasn't quite right, so we had to grind through and find our own answers about things like drivers' license, insurance, taxes, medical insurance, social security number, etc. And D says that the au pairs feel like the company is not really out to help them. We know someone else who is using Au Pair America, and I have never heard them complain.

There are other au pairs nearby. D is welcome to use our car, so she and a couple of other au pairs get together at least once a week. On Saturday, the weather was beautiful, and they went to Washington, DC.

bremen -- wow, that does sound exhausting! My twins are 9 months. I can't imagine asking anyone to watch them for days at a time! It is really hard.

Yeah, we are limited to 10 hours at a time. Also, in my case, I work close enough that I go home at lunch. I nurse the babies. This frees her up to get herself some lunch and relax for a few minutes. And sometimes she does Skype with friends and family back in Switzerland. I guess the time zone difference works out such that our lunch time is their evening.
post #14 of 25
I still have great feelings about the countries I worked in. I love when I meet people from there or who have spent time there. I'd love to go back sometime!

I went with an agency one time,a smaller one that charged me money and they did nothing for me at all! They didn't even know the laws about the visa I needed and I got the right answer on my own. I ended up finding my family on the net and not getting any papers at all. I was there both times as tourist. None of the families seemed to mind this.

In some families I did work longer hours then most au pair would or are supposed to work. I kinda didn't mind that though as long as I had enough time off to get out and explore a little.
post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 
OP here - gosh, these responses are so different from our experience! I had no idea there was so many different ways to become an au pair and what they differences were between countries.

We live in the US and have a foreign au pair who we found through one of the State Department-approved agencies. They did all the background checks and interviews on our au pair and worked with us to find a good match (for both us and for the au pair). We have a counselor that represents us in case there are issues and she also helped with initial orientation, etc.

Our au pair attended a week-long orientation session at which she took First Aid and training on American families. As I mentioned, we are limited to 10 hours/day and 45 hours/week with at least one weekend off a month. She is also not supposed to do housework that is unrelated to the children. I think these are great protections - sounds like there is a lot of au pair abuse out there!

Is anyone else going through an agency like we did? I guess you do save a lot of money if you don't, but I like the assistance and legitimacy we've gotten so far.
post #16 of 25
Thread Starter 
To the women who have been au pairs: what suggestions would you have for host parents to make sure you have a great year?
post #17 of 25

Subscribing, we have an au pair from Columbia arriving in a couple of weeks.

post #18 of 25

I have never heard of an Au Pair? Is this a live in nanny? Do people have an Au Pair because there are no daycares? The idea sounds great to have someone help out with your children....do they also cook and clean?

post #19 of 25

Yes, an au pair is basically a live-in nanny.  We have daycares, here, but I have baby twins.  It is about half as expensive to hire an au pair as it is to put two babies in day care.  And her hours can be more flexible than daycare.  And I don't have to get everyone out of the house in the morning. 

 

The requirement is that you have an extra bedroom for the au pair.

 

The agency we hired her through did an orientation with us.  They were fairly adamant that during her scheduled hours, you only ask her to do child-care related activities to include cooking for kids, laundry for kids, etc.  But the idea is that she is assimilating with your family.  And you are providing her room and board.  It is reasonable to expect that she will help out with some cooking and cleaning.  This, of course, depends on the personality of the au pair and how well she fits in with your family. 

 

I find myself not wanting to treat her like a maid, so I am hesitant to ask her to do much outside of childcare.  I find myself thanking her emphatically as she ends up doing most of the dishes a few nights a week.  She rolls her eyes at me and assures me that she lives with us, so, of course, she is going to help. 

post #20 of 25

Any ideas for a Christmas gift for our au pair?  She is arriving in a week so we won't have much time to get to know her well first.

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