Hosting an au pair: is a live-in nanny the right option for me?

If like many American families you are not quite familiar with the concept of “exchange students” or “hosting an au pair”, you may be reluctant to the idea of housing your childcare provider.
With childcare, there is not a “one-size-fits-all”, however, with thousands of au pairs placed each year encompassing many cultural and childcare experience backgrounds, we most likely have an au pair that truly “fits” with your family!

So let’s discuss a few points regarding the “live-in” aspect of the au pair program, to help you figure out if you are “host family material”!

From reluctant to passionate…

In my personal experience helping to place au pairs with families, I have observed that parents that expressed the most reluctance to the live-in aspect of the program became the most passionate about their au pair! There are many advantages with hosting an au pair that may not come to mind when first considering the program:

  1. They are always available and dedicated to your family >> no competition with other family or job and continuity of childcare for 1 – 2 years
  2. They are already in the home, so there are no traffic delays or snow days with no childcare
  3. They live, eat and sleep in your home >> participate in “roommate”/ family chores
  4. They can work split shifts, working hours can be changed week to week >> provide flexible schedule
  5. They come to know your children very well and become more than a childcare worker >> “big sister or brother” figure

Setting Boundaries

A big part of the success of the program for our families is communication. Setting the right expectation from the beginning about the level of involvement in your family life you expect from your au pair will be most beneficial for everyone involved, starting at the initial phone interview. These boundaries can be defined in time, opportunity and location.

“Homebody” vs. “Explorer” Au Pair

If you prefer an au pair that is mainly there just during her working hours, you can opt for an au pair older than our average of 20 years old, and/or that has already lived on her own, studying or abroad.
Important Note:Age doesn’t always determine maturity level (I was 18 but had already been an au pair for 3 months in London, and live in Belgium, Texas, Germany, Spain for 2 – 4 weeks at a time; so more independent).

Either way and regardless of personality, your au pair will quickly get “plugged in” to our au pair network, managed by your local childcare coordinator, and make friends quickly. You do not need to feel responsible for your au pair’s entertainment; friends, classes and local festivals/ activities will keep them busy.

Some families prefer an au pair that will get involved in families activities and stay around for dinner and games, because they truly enjoy the cultural exchange aspect in their daily, busy lives.
You may find that you really value the relationship you build with your new family member, beyond work and the benefit of childcare. Most of our families keep in touch with their au pairs many years after they have departed, and end up visiting them in their home countries once their children are older.

Contact me to discuss the live-in aspect of the au pair program and other questions you may have!


About FrenchNad

English to French Translator & Interpreter; blogging at about a French word of the day, the challenges of interpreting and translating, and my adventures in Oregon!
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