An au pair is an affordable, flexible solution to childcare. And unlike daycare, au couples work in your home!
During the coronavirus pandemic, visa restrictions slowed down au pair arrivals. Young foreigners preparing to spend a year or more on cultural exchange in America were suddenly left without a caretaker.
Benefits of Au Pair Programs
An extra set of hands can be an invaluable asset to busy families. Unlike traditional childcare centers or nannies, au pairs live in, and their schedules can work around yours to help keep things running smoothly throughout the day.
The term “au pair” is derived from the French words for “on par” or “equal to.” This means that au pairs and host families treat each other as equals during their placement, creating a unique cultural exchange opportunity for both parties.
Many au pairs also choose to study in addition to their childcare responsibilities during their stay. This allows them to gain valuable academic experience while enjoying a life-changing and enriching cultural exchange with their host family.
Usually, au pairs are paid a weekly stipend equivalent to the minimum wage, which covers a room and meals. This is much less expensive than the costs of full-time nannies or daycares. Plus, it’s a great way to introduce your children to a new culture and language. This makes the entire experience more than just childcare, often leading to life-long connections beyond their stay.
Au Pairs Offer Live-In Childcare
When finding child care that works with your family’s schedule, au pair programs are the most flexible option. While most caregivers work at out-of-home locations like daycares, family day care, or babysitters that come to your home, au pairs live with their host families and provide in-home childcare services.
Families enjoy the flexibility au pairs offer while still having time for errands and getting to know their children’s friends and classmates. Many families also love that their au pair will introduce their kids to a new language and culture through stories, pictures, music, and recipes from their homeland.
While there are similarities between au pairs and nannies, it is essential to note that au pairs are placed through specialized agencies that meet Federal, State, and local employment laws, pay payroll taxes, and provide detailed pay stubs. Families typically pay a program fee to cover the costs of recruiting, screening, and training au pairs and provide year-long support from their local childcare consultant and central office staff.
Au Pairs Are More Than Child Care
While au pairs are often considered a childcare solution, they can do much more. In addition to a weekly childcare stipend, au couples can assist with household chores and other responsibilities like cooking, laundry, and cleaning that pertain to the children. They also have the freedom to adjust their schedule weekly and are not bound to a certain number of hours a day, like nannies and babysitters.
Families with au pairs can also save money on expenses such as extra sick days and daycare costs. Additionally, au pairs can reduce financial stress by allowing parents to work from home when needed.
For families with special needs, au pairs can help manage day-to-day activities for children with autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and diabetes. Many au pair candidates have extensive experience and training in physical therapy, pediatric nursing, medication administration, feeding tube care, and more. These skills are vital for managing the care of children with complicated health conditions. For more information, visit our website here.
Au Pairs Offer a Helping Hand Around the House
If you’re a busy family, having an au pair is an excellent way to get help with chores and other tasks around the house. You’ll be able to spend more time with your kids and take some of the pressure off your shoulders.
Your au pair may also be able to offer help with your children’s homework. Since au pairs come from different parts of the world, they can introduce your children to strategies, teaching styles, and ways of thinking they might not encounter at home.
While there are stories of families mistreating their au pairs, they believe much acts in good faith. Agencies often make it challenging to reassign au pairs if they’re unhappy with their placement, which obscures the employer-employee relationship and leaves au pairs feeling vulnerable. However, by communicating expectations clearly from the start and providing ongoing support, you can ensure that your au pair has a positive experience with your family. This will benefit everyone.
Au Pairs Offer Cultural Enrichment
Many families bring an Au Pair into their home for a cultural exchange experience and childcare. This allows children to connect with another person from a different background and helps them become more open-minded in their worldviews.
Au pairs come from all over the globe, so you can find one that suits your family’s interests. For example, if you have children learning to speak another language, you can select a caregiver from another state.
When selecting your Au Pair, ask her about her culture and traditions. Invite her to share her favorite foods and activities with her family. You can even start a cookbook with recipes from her home country and new favorites. She may also be able to teach your children her language. This can be an excellent bonding activity that will last long after your Au Pair leaves.