Pros and cons to having a Live-In nanny or au pair - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 8 Old 04-28-2007, 02:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I thought this might be an interesting thread.

I see Moms in this forum sometimes with live-in nannies or au pairs, and I also see others who feel they could never have someone living in with them. The pros and cons abound!

It might be interesting to list some of them, according to what you've experienced, so other Moms who are considering this arrangement can get a big picture. Anyone want to share?

Here's a few of my own - I've had both live-in and live-out childcare.

Pros:
1) When I get those nasty migraines at 6am, I can just knock on the nanny's door and she will help me with the children.
2) When DH gets a centipede bite in the middle of the night, I can take him to the ER, and know that our nanny will take care of the girls.
3) Having someone to chat with in the house, sometimes that is really nice when things are lonesome around here.

Cons:
1) I can't zip through the library naked to get a towel from the linen closet after my shower.
2) I feel like I have to keep the house in order all the time.
3) If I'm feeling irked with her, I can't just ask her to leave.
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#2 of 8 Old 04-28-2007, 11:33 PM
 
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I have never had live-in help (though I've been it), but my sister is thinking about going that route (she's in med school and her husband has a very intense job as a big-firm corporate lawyer). I'm eager to see what others have to say.

Beth
DS (7), DD (4)
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#3 of 8 Old 04-30-2007, 12:03 AM
 
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Good thread, we are getting our first au pair in June. I am curious what experiences have been. DH is very nervous about someone living with us, but I really needed the flexibility! And DS is currently in daycare, and always sick.
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#4 of 8 Old 05-01-2007, 04:40 PM
 
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Pros:
  • I got to see the au pair interacting with my children nearly every day. I felt like I really knew her in a way I wouldn't if I was dropping the girls at someone's house every day.
  • Not having to get your kids up and out of the house in the morning is HUGE. I loved it that the girls could sleep in until they were ready to get up and I didn't have to worry about packing a bag or getting lunches ready.
  • My au pair did the girls' laundry and kept the house very neat.
  • I had three au pairs from three different countries. We learned a lot. We are going to visit our last au pair in Panama in a couple of weeks. We love her and feel that we now have family in Panama. We would welcome her back into our home at any time under any circumstances. That was a long way of saying that it expanded our family.
  • I felt like I had more control over the girls' day--what they did and what they ate. I would pick out things for the au pairs to cook for the girls and she did!
  • We never had to worry about a baby sitter. The few times we wanted to go out, the au pairs were happy to take care of the girls.
  • Our last au pair did the dishes almost every single night! She thought it was only fair because I cooked. Boy do I miss her!!
  • I belong to a group of like-minded mamas and although I WOH, my girls were able to do a lot of the group activites with the au pair.

I could go on and on. I LOVED having an au pair.

Cons:
  • Sometimes I worried about the continuity of care. With the first two au pairs, they were only with us for a year each. The last was with us for two years. But it took my youngest a long time to adjust when the last one left.
  • Sex. We don't have a lot of options in our house. We had two bedrooms and during nap time the girls were in each room. So the rest of the house would be fine but not so if the au pair was roaming!! But she was usually out of the house all weekend!
  • Having crap in the house like coke.
  • The adjustment period of getting used to having a stranger living in the house, driving the car, etc.

My dh is a SAHD now but if that were to change, I would definately go back to having an au pair. It was a great experience.

Mama to two wonderful daughers: 02/03/03 and 10/19/05
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#5 of 8 Old 05-01-2007, 05:27 PM
 
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I've gone on and on about the pros - and most of the other posters have named mine.

The cons

- yeah, the lack of privacy (though she is gone nearly every weekend these days, and most evenings - and the evenings she isn't gone, she is usually in her room).

- concerns about continutity - we have had two au pairs, both for two years. On one hand, I worry about the transition at the end of the next one (next march) but on the other hand, I have heard more horror stories about nannies or babysitters who just quit with no notice. Not that this cannot happen with an au pair, but it seems less likely.
- there is more social/psychological support required, plus setting up a new bank account, ssn, driver's license, etc.
- the uncertainty of not knowing how it will work before she gets here, esp. around driving and language
- language and cultural differences - this can be a huge plus, but if you cannot understand each other, or she thinks you are insane for your parenting practices, it can be really hard to deal with. Luckily for us, we haven't experienced this too much, but I have heard stories from acquaintances in the area.

- sense of entitlement/rich assumptions. Some au pairs come from wealthy families, who have more stuff than we do. both our au pairs came from families where it is expected to have a full time, live in maid (more common in developing countries). And some au pairs do live with VERY wealthy families, and it can be hard for the host family to feel that they are giving their au pair "enough", especially when the au pair starts talking about the foreign holidays or expensive gifts other families give their au pairs.
- au pairs are expected to be treated as members of the family - it is closer than an employer/employee relationship. This can be hard for folks to understand. I remember one host family asking about whether it would be okay to not invite their au pair for christmas - and someone else on our list asked her "well, where is she meant to spend it then, if not with you?" The host mother hadn't thought about the fact that her au pair would be essentially alone at christmas if she didn't bring her along.

- educational requirements can be more than the $500 budget - in our state (VA), au pairs don't qualify for instate tuition, so even community college continuing ed classes are $600 per class - and she needs two per year.
- losing the use of one bedroom is kind of a pain.

That is enough off the top of my head.

But in general, we love love love the au pair program. It works very well for us.

You know the attributes for a great adult? Initiative, creativity, intellectual curiosity? They make for a helluva kid...
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#6 of 8 Old 05-01-2007, 07:21 PM
 
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I came here as an au pair in '98 and I'm still here!
As an au pair and especially as a mother who is having a (young) stranger in her house, it's so important to be able to communicate with one another.
-Don't let issues build up.
-Set up weekly meetings to get things out on the table.
-If, as a mother you feel you're not compatible, express this and move on to the next au pair...If you can't take it for a whole year, then get out...believe me, we know when things aren't right and I was made to feel like c**p for 6 months before we had a HUGE fight and I left. It wasn't the first fight and it wouldn't be the last. She always brought up issues from months back, didn't like my relationship with the kids, needed her house back etc...The stress for me was unbearable and I can only imagine the same for her..:
You've got to be able to communicate. I can't stress that enough...

I could never have an au pair for that reason. I hate confrontations and I would feel bad having to tell a girl to leave...If you can't do this, then a live-in babysiter might not be right for you...

Sorry to put a downer on it. My experience wasn't the best, (but certainly not a horror story) however I would never have met my husband had I left after the first fight and went back to England...

As for the pros...
-convenience of always having someone there when you need them (pro for the au pair who feels like they're always on call? hmmm)
-company, it's nice to have another adult around to talk to
-help running errands
-sleep in on the weekends maybe
-super bonus if you get along really well
-etc, etc...
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#7 of 8 Old 05-03-2007, 11:53 PM
 
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We have an au pair:

Pros
-Flexibility and convenience. We don't consider our au pair to be "on call," but with a bit of advance notice, she's accomodating when our schedules need to be shuffled around which is great. Also, it's not like she's got to get home to her own family each night, which relieves some stress.
-Cost. Though it's still expensive for us, it's more economical than a nanny in our area. Daycares wouldn't work b/c of our shifting schedules.
-Language! She speaks Spanish w/our kids.
-I agree that you feel like you really get a sense for how she interacts w/your kids.

Cons
-There is more legwork, as siobhang said. Going to the social securit office, teaching her how to use mass transit, showing her how to use appliances (some come from countries where washers, dryers, dishwashers, etc. are not the norm)...
-You can't interview them in person.
-"rematching," if it doesn't work out is a pain. You can be in the awkward situation of having to live w/one another for up to two weeks after you've decided (mutually or one-sided) that it's not going to work out. We had two bad matches before our current, fabulous au pair!
-Continuity issues. DD will be devasted when our au pair leaves.
-Lack of privacy, sometimes feeling like you don't want someone else in the house. But our au pair is fabulous, and generally a pleasure to be with.
-Cooking for, worrying about shopping for another person.
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#8 of 8 Old 06-03-2007, 02:23 PM
 
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This was a great thread for me to read. I just bit the bullet and got an au pair. She arrives in August. With my first child, I only worked when DH was home, which meant I parented my daughter all week (who has developmental delays and some special needs) and worked friday evening and all day saturday, and did my paperwork and phone calls during the week while DD was napping. Which actually was good for awhile but long term, got old. This time around I decided I'm going to do my work during the week, so I can have evenings and weekends. Which means I need child care, even though I only work part-time, my dh and I decided an au pair would be the best option for us. We just moved to a new state. I have a lot of continuing education units I need to squeeze in before the end of the year since I'm newly licensed in this state and we don't have any family in the state and no close friends. My husbands new job doesn't have any paternity leave like his old job had. I had considered trying to just keep work to a minimum and managing like I did before, squeezing it in here and there but now with two, i expect that will be harder, plus recovering postpartum etc I don't have any help. Anyway, it has been hard to decide how much child care I need and what type. Part of me just wanted to keep doing it without child care, but it is so hard to try to schedule personal and professional appts without child care. Anyway, The reality is that I do need help. I guess my image of the mom who needed child care was one who worked full time in an office. Since I only work part-time and am self employed I thought I could do it without child care, but it has been really hard and exhausting.
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