Having an au pair can be a great experience for a family. Your children may be able to learn a new language and you’ll have live in childcare, as well as someone who can potentially become like a member of your family.
There are logistical concerns and things to keep in mind before you make the leap, however. The following are some things to consider and weigh before making the final decision as to whether or not an au pair is the right childcare option or your family.
In some cases hiring an au pair may actually be more affordable than other options but you have to look at the full scope of possible costs.
There is a set salary requirement determined by the U.S. Department of State, and your au pair’s cost may also include grocery and utility bills that may increase if you have someone else living with you. You might also have to think about meals out, travel expenses and if your au pair will be driving, the additional costs associated with that.
You’ll want to help your au pair get financially settled in her new country if you do hire someone. Many au pairs use services like Remitly to send money back to their family in their home country, so you want to ensure you’re making this easy for the person you hire.
Be Realistic With Your Requirements
Sometimes families will hire an au pair, and as they become used to her being part of their lives they start to have her work more than what’s outlined by the State Department. Yes, an au pair is a great benefit because they live with you therefore there’s a sense of flexibility. This is especially good if you have a crazy schedule or have to travel for work.
However, an au pair is only supposed to work a maximum of 10 hours a day, up to 45 hours a week.
Most au pairs only stay with a particular family for a year. A year can go by quickly and then you’ll have to find someone new. That can be logistically challenging, and it can also be tough personally. Your children and your family may become very close to your au pair, and when she leaves, it can be a tough time.
Is this kind of transition you and your children are prepared for?
If you do have an au pair that you’d like to stay longer, it may be possible to extend her visa an additional 12 months, but most au pairs don’t come on for long-term jobs.
Finally, a lot of families don’t know that there are certain requirements not just regarding things like visas and working hours, but also who’s eligible to be a host family.
Some of the requirements to host an au pair include going through an interview process, a background investigation and showing that you are going to be able to afford to provide all the required things for your au pair once she arrives.