What do you do when your closest family member lives 1200 miles away?
What do you do when you start work at 7 AM with a 40-minute commute, your husband travels for work and daycares don’t open until 7 AM?
You get an Au Pair and you never look back.
How is an Au Pair different than a nanny?
I am not here to give you a formal definition of why a nanny and an Au Pair are different, but I can let you know my own thoughts. A nanny (most of the time) lives in their own home and comes to your house at a predetermined time, cares for your children, and then goes back to their home. They often have their own personal restrictions on when they will or will not work.
An Au Pair lives in your house with you, they have their own private bedroom and can work any time of day or night, with restrictions on maximum hours per day (10) and maximum hours per week (45). Which increases your schedule flexibility if you or your spouse works odd hours or travels frequently.
Nannies are primarily from the United States whereas, Au Pairs are typically from other countries. Having another adult in your home from a different country provides opportunities for cultural exchange through food and customs. The Au Pair can also expose your children to different languages. So far we have learned some Portuguese, Afrikaans, and German. It providers us with a cultural experience you cannot otherwise obtain in the United States and opens up our family’s eyes to international differences.
It’s like world travel without the sites.
Au Pairs are often more affordable than nanny services and local child care centers, as their wage takes into account that we, as the host family, provide room and board, meals, and all standard household items (cleaning supplies, toiletries, etc…). You can do your own research on dollar-per-dollar cost comparisons but we have found hosting an Au Pair to be more financially advantageous.
But as mentioned above the best difference is the cultural exchange and the ability to teach another about American customs while learning so much about the traditions and customs of another country. (Brazil, South Africa, and Austria for us so far)!
I have a lot of people ask me how you even get started with the Au Pair process or how I know they are safe to care for my children.
The good thing about hosting an Au Pair is that you work directly with an Au Pair agency to help you find the perfect fit for your family and ensure everything is legal for them to work in the United States and that they have the experience, training, or health to perform the job effectively.
The Au Pair agency will verify the Au Pairs childcare exposure with both written and verbal references confirming they have adequate involvement in caring for children. The agency also verifies they have a legal driver’s license in their country of origin and performs both mental and medical background checks before the Au Pair can even begin talking with potential future host families (that’s us).
The agency also works with the Au Pair to get the appropriate travels documents including a J-1 visa to legally work in the United States and they organize all travel at both the beginning and end of the Au Pairs’ stay.
After three-plus years of hosting Au Pairs, we have not had any questions about the safety or competence of the young women we have had caring for our children.
It’s like a friend, older sister/brother, or grown daughter/son all in one.
(Yes Au Pairs can also be men or “Bro-Pairs” if you prefer).
I have never had a nanny myself but I would stand to guess the relationship with a nanny is different than with an Au Pair. Our Au Pairs are another member of our family. They spend holidays, birthdays, and family vacations with us. We laugh together, cry together, and create the most unique bond.
It seemed weird to have another non-related adult living in our home when we first began hosting an Au Pair but now, I honestly do not know what we would do without these young women in our lives.