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Outside of your immediate family, there is nobody more important than the Au Pair you bring into your home. After all, not only will your new hire be living with you, but, most critically, will be taking care of your precious little one(s). It never fails to amaze, those parents who treat Au Pairs as anything but members of their family. Yes, they will be helping you around your home, and, maybe, taking on light housekeeping duties. But their primary responsibility will be to your child(ren).
That said, there are critical things you need to know before taking on an Au Pair. Typically, an Au Pair is a domestic assistant from a foreign country who lives with, and cares for a host family, and also receives monetary compensation for his/her personal needs.
You can budget shop for designer goods, but, for all that is good-and-holy, do not budget shop for an Au Pair. This means, do not rely on ads placed in questionable publications or websites. Start with a reputable Au pair agency in London. An agency will do all the initial vetting “legwork” for you.
Still, you should come armed with a set of questions – first, for yourselves; secondly, for the agency, and thirdly, for the Au Pair interviewees.
Do you have sufficient room in your home, including a private room for the Au Pair’s exclusive use?
Do you have sufficient funds to provide a regular allowance?
Are you (and all others in the home) prepared to welcome and incorporate a new person?
Are you financially stable enough to provide all your daily meals?
Do you have the finances to allow you to take your Au Pair with you on outings and holidays?
Do you understand that the Au Pair’s evenings should primarily be his/her time, that they need to study, relax, and see friends?
For the Au pair agency in London (or other major cities in the UK)
How long have you been in business?
What kind of vetting process do you have?
Do you have recommendations for your agency?
May we contact a family you’ve worked with?
May we call former and current customers?
Can you guarantee that anyone we interview has a criminal-free background?
What do your contracts entail?
What is your finder’s fee?
What are any and all clauses of your contracts?
How many Au Pairs have you placed?
How many Au Pairs do you currently have working?
What happens if things do not work out initially?
What are all our financial obligations to you?
Can we contact you with any questions, concerns, or issues when the Au Pair is already working in our home?
What is your Youth Mobility Scheme point score?
For the Au Pair
Are you available for a video-phone (Skype) or in-person interview?
Have you cared for children before? Tell us about your experiences.
Do you want children of your own?
What is an ideal schedule for you?
How many hours of study time do you require?
Are you comfortable helping around the house, doing light housework: cooking, cleaning, ironing, saving money where you can, tidying up, and babysitting?
Are you prepared to take our children to school, pick them up and take them to after-school activities?
How qualified are you to help our children with homework?
Do you think you could teach our child some of your (native) languages?
Are you prepared to incorporate both childcare and light housework in your daily schedule?
What is your discipline philosophy?
Are you comfortable with our discipline philosophy and applying it to our child(ren) even though it may differ from yours?
Discuss potentials and possibilities with your spouse/partner/parents. This is not a decision to be made in haste, but one with careful consideration. Anytime you bring a new person into your home, the dynamic changes. When you are bringing in someone to take care of your child(ren), someone who will also be doing light housework, there’s no equity but will be responsible for the care of the person(s) who means the most in the world to you. And that is definitely worthy of your time and attention.