Sunday, January 16, 2011

A good book for au pairs

I recently purchased the Best Nanny Handbook and was very impressed with the information in it. I thought it would be a light reading, however it is full of useful information. Even though it's not a thick book with hundreds of pages, the author hit the topics right. If you don't have much time and wanna crash course on childcare, keeping a good relationship with the family and basically how to work as an au pair/nanny I recommend you check it out. This is where I found it:

Best Nanny Handbook

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Bad experience

I got an email yesterday from an au pair who had a bad experience with her host family. She was asking my opinion about what to do. Some of her friends told her to go back home instead of changing the family.

I understand her friends' point but as I understand this family was just not a good fit for her and vice versa. That's why it is so important to do a very thorough interview beforehand.

I would recommend not to give up after a bad match or experience. As most of us know there are too many great families out there to try out only one and give up. It is important to try to find a good match and make the best of this experience.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

How to choose the right au pair

Some families believe that au pairs cannot give the same level of care nannies can provide for their children. It might be true for some cases. But I believe if the families put some effort into choosing the right au pair rather than just expecting an agency to do the matching, it might be well worth it. Every family and their lifestyle is unique. Every kid is different and so are the parents.

Being open and honest about what is expected of an au pair is the most important thing in my mind. If I were to be told something during the interview and came across a different situation, I would be dissappointed no matter what. Good or bad, both sides should be open.

Some girls are party animals and see this as an opportunity to be away from their parents and go out most nights. Although everyone is entitled to do whatever they want on their free time. It should be made clear beforehand that late night outs during the work week are not a good idea. Even though au pairs are young, everyone needs their rest to handle active children.

Some families may assume that some things don't need to be discussed. They might assume anyone with some commonsense would know certain things. However, most au pairs are young and some of them are really young. They are not professional nannies and probably this is the first and last time they will be taking care of someone's children. Family needs to be able to assess how much the au pair candidate likes the children and is willing to provide them good care.

Friday, July 10, 2009

How to screen families

Finding a good family is every au pair candidates first concern. Many of us refer to the various au pair web sites nowadays to find families because it is fast and easy thanks to the easy Internet access most of the world is enjoying. I found my families at and I was lucky enough to be matched with great families.

There are still some precautions to take during the interview process to make sure the family is who they say they are. My personal favorite is to ask the family to send a family photo holding a big piece of paper with my written on it. I also like to do the interviews via my webcam after emailing each other couple of times. Webcams are so popular and there free services such as msn and skype where everyone with a webcam and internet connection can do a live interview.

There are scammers on the internet and we need to protect ourselves. You are the first person to make sure that you protect yourself.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Ages of children

It is very important to pay special attention to the ages of the children before taking any au pair job. Children under two years of age need constant attention and it might be little overwhelming to take care of a young child for a young au pair. Make sure you have experience in the age group you are signing up for. Child development is very important and the caretaker should know the needs of the age group. Read some books or articles. Find out the characteristics of the age and assess yourself to see if you are able to care for a child of a particular age group.

Monday, February 23, 2009

How to change host family in the US

Changing host families while in the US should be done through the agency au pair is working with. Only the government approved au pair agencies can help you change families. They find the new family which is also a member of the agency. They introduce and help the au pair move to the new host family's house. If the agency does not make these arrangements, au pair will be breaking the immigration laws and may not be able to enter the US again. US has certain rules that apply to au pair visas and do not let them do whatever they like once they are in the country.

These agencies also have local coordinators who help the au pairs when they have problems with the host families. If you have a problem with your current host family, you should contact your local coordinator to help you with the situation. They know the legal procedure and can be very helpful when needed.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Flexible hours

Being an au pair is not for everybody. It takes certain characteristics to make the au pair adventure work for both parties. Families hire an au pair like having live-in childcare as these parents usually work long hours. That doesn't mean au pair should work constantly or irregular hours. However, an ideal au pair for such parents is flexible and willing to help out a busy household. Au pair should expect the same from the family as well, especially if she is trying to take classes and improve herself. It's a give and take relationship and may require some compramises.

Some au pairs are concerned that they are taken advantage of. If this is the case, you should expect some flexibility when it comes to your needs and plans.