Nanny or Au Pair - Which is best for me?
Au Pairs are very popular in Europe, but are only slowly being introduced to Australian families. Nannies, on the other hand, are far more familiar.
Both, however, can perform significant amounts of childcare for a family, and often become very closely integrated with the family. So which one should you choose?
There are two major differences; one being experience and qualifications and the other being cost:
- Au Pairs are often young women who are travelling from abroad, potentially for the first time, possibly with some experience but unlikely to have any childcare training. Because of their lack of qualifications and the benefits they receive by staying with a family, Au Pairs generally charge a very low hourly rate.
- Nannies, on the other hand, are often childcare professionals, with qualifications, experience and things like insurance and Working With Children Certification, various security checks and may even be registered carers with the Department of Human Services (enabling some families to claim Child Care Benefits). Nannies usually charge the highest rates, and will often also require additional costs like Workers Compensation, domestic workers insurance and Superannuation.
An Au Pair, as mentioned, is usually a young woman travelling from abroad. An Au Pair will live with a family, receive room and board and will look after the children in the family for a set number of hours every week, normally having the weekends to herself. She may be doing some studies while in Australia, or may just want to explore the locale while she’s there.
An AuPair will often work for somewhere between 20 to 40 hours per week, looking after the children and performing light household chores, which are mostly associated with the children e.g. food preparation, cleaning, tidying and laundry.
Their weekly income is offset by the cost of room and board, resulting in an hourly “rate” that can sit around $8 per hour. This is not the actual rate, which needs to be above the National Minimum wage, but it is the virtual rate once costs have been removed, so it is the most useful number and the one traditionally used for Au Pairs.
An Au Pair will have their own room and potentially a living space, and will often sit with the family for meals. They will often have a probationary period of 4 to 8 weeks, after which they can stay with a family for anything between 3 and 24 months.
It is critical to set expectations VERY clearly, up front. Do not be shy – state exactly what’s expected, where the boundaries are and what the benefits are. You must also be prepared to have someone else living in your space, with your family, for a long stretch of time. It is generally wise not to engage an Au Pair unless she’s in the country already, and prepared to be interviewed before the assignment begins. She should have as many references and referees as possible, and you should contact the referees directly.
An Au Pair can be a lovely addition to a family, taking a huge load off the primary caregiver and bringing a breath of fresh air into the household. The children will often enjoy this lovely new person and you may well find that you’ve got a friend in another country that you can visit at some point in the future.
A Nanny will also take on the care of children for large slabs of time, either living with the family or living out. She will be far more highly qualified and can usually take on all parenting tasks immediately, and proficiently. A family might hire a nanny if both parents work, or if there is only one parent, and that parent is working. This may be for a couple of days every week, or it might be a full-time appointment, five days per week.
As mentioned, Nannies usually charge more than other child carers, as they bear the greatest responsibility and they have the most training. Rates can range from averages around $25 to $35 per hour. As a Nanny is a part-time or full-time employee, there are other responsibilities you will bear, which are mentioned above.
A Nanny is someone you should feel absolutely confident in. They should present well, with impeccable references, referees, checks, certifications and qualifications. You should feel comfortable around them, as should your children. A good Nanny will make your life SO much better, if you’re struggling to manage everything while working.
WHICH ONE DO I CHOOSE?
Au Pairs are perfect for many families, and Nannies are the obvious choice for others.
If you need to leave your children in someone’s care during the entire working day, you should get a Nanny. They have the qualifications, training and focus that you need to nurture your children and keep them safe.
If you are at home for most of the week, and can accommodate a young traveller in your house for a few months, you might find that an Au Pair is exactly what you need while your baby is in the infant stage, or just to help you cope with the demands of parenthood.
AND HOW DO I FIND NANNIES & AU PAIRS?
BABYSITTERS NOW brings Parents together with Nannies and Au Pairs across Australia in a site that is safe, powerful and easy to use.
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