Switching from a Nanny to an Au Pair

Rebecca Robinson, editor of national parenting site www.theworkingparent.com, has written this guest post for the Smartaupairs blog. The Working Parent offers advice and information to parents juggling work and family, covering a huge range of topics from pregnancy to childcare, mortgages to family holidays.

 

blogphoto

Switching from a Nanny to an Au Pair

There are many childcare options out there and parents will choose what is best for their circumstances and their family. While the most common forms of childcare are nurseries and childminders, these aren’t always suitable for everyone; some parents just need additional help with childcare in their own home, or want the flexibility of hours that a nursery or childminder can’t offer.

What can a nanny offer?

Nannies and au pairs offer parents the flexibility of childcare within the family home and both have different roles and responsibilities to each other, which is why many choose to switch from a nanny to an au pair when their children get older. Fully qualified nannies will have qualifications in childcare and work experience enabling them to care for children from birth and beyond. You can opt for live-in nannies or a nanny that doesn’t live with the family and just comes into the home during their contracted hours. For the additional experience and qualifications, you can also expect to pay much more for a nanny.

Why opt for an au pair?

An au pair on the other hand, will be coming into your family from a foreign country to learn the language, help out with childcare and earn a little money whilst doing so. They aren’t employed by you or paid a salary in the traditional sense, instead they’re paid ‘pocket money’ to reflect the duties and childcare help they offer in the home. This usually works out considerably cheaper than a nanny. Au pairs are expected to help look after older children and should never be solely responsible for a child under 2 or for children with significant additional needs.

Moving from a nanny to an au pair

Because of these differences and especially when children start school, many families switch from having a nanny to an au pair. There is no longer the need for specialised qualifications as children grow older and au pairs can provide the perfect combination of flexible childcare and help in the home, along with the opportunity for children to learn a new language. Au pairs are keen to brush up on their English and many parents are keen for their children to also pick up new skills from their au pair too!

As well as childcare, au pairs are also expected to help out in other areas a nursery or childminder could not, such as helping the children get ready in the mornings, assisting with homework, light house work duties or other tasks while the children are at school and assist with bath and bed routine.

More flexibility

Au pairs can also offer more flexibility as children get older and many families choose to host an au pair during the summer holidays. For many families, and especially those with several children, this can prove a much cheaper option than other forms of childcare such as summer camps or childminders. For working parents, this can be a great option which relieves the stress of finding suitable childcare that fits in around working hours during the summer.

Benefits of an au pair with school age children

For parents of school age children, having an au pair is financially a great option.

It’s clear that as children grow older and their requirements change, switching from a nanny to an au pair is a natural progression that can suit families both financially as well as with the needs of the children and parents. For more information on hosting an au pair, click here.

 

Advertisements

Considering an au pair as an alternative to a nanny?

Smartaupairs recognises that a number of our host families have employed nannies in the past, however as their children get older and the amount of care required decreases, they have found the au pair program to be a more suitable and cost effective option.

Smartaupairs has collaborated with Sara Dawkins, active nanny and freelance writer, in order to discuss the reasons why you may wish to consider hosting an au pair as an alternative to employing a nanny.

Image

1. Changing Roles and Costs

As your children become older and more independent, you will find that the hours and care required from your nanny will be reduced – you may no longer need a full time carer for your children.  However, if you are employing a nanny, you are still obliged to pay a full time salary. An au pair can provide the same set of eyes to watch your children whilst putting less strain on your budget.  Although you pay for an au pair’s room and board plus pocket money (beginning from £70 per week and in the vast majority of cases, below the tax threshold) this is by no means the hefty hourly wage associated with nannies.

2. Sharing Ideas 

An au pair is more than just a live-in babysitter. A great deal of cultural understanding and enlightenment can be brought into the home due to the nature of the au pair program. Whether you are learning new recipes or about festivals and traditions in your au pair’s home country, the sharing of information can help your family to discover different cultures in a fun and interesting way. As the majority of au pairs are non-native English speakers, there is also the opportunity for your children to learn a new language.

3. Different Attitude

Many families prefer more the more relaxed atmosphere of an au pair as opposed to the rigid professionalism of a nanny.  For au pair candidates, the program offers much more than just the chance to earn money – they have the chance to experience everyday life in the UK, perfect their English and become part of a host family. Many au pairs and families form a bond that lasts a lifetime and often visit each other long after the placement is over.  It is this relationship that makes the program special and for this reason, many families prefer it over having a nanny who may view their role as nothing more than just a “job”.

 

Co-Author Bio

Image

Sara is an active nanny as well as an active freelance writer. She is a frequent contributor of http://www.nannypro.com/.  Learn more about her: http://www.nannypro.com/blog/sara-dawkins/.