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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: Mgmny on September 13, 2019, 02:11:12 PM

Title: Anyone Host Au Pairs?
Post by: Mgmny on September 13, 2019, 02:11:12 PM
My wife and I are considering hosting an au pair when we get pregnant and about the time we have our second child. Does anyone have any experience with this?

Right now, we have childcare 3 of 5 workdays from our moms (1 day my mom, 2 days her mom) with my wife pretending to "work from home" on Thursdays and Fridays (before people get excited, her boss and his boss are both aware of her working situation, and as long as her sales and metrics stay high like they are, they don't care). My wife is finding it harder and harder to juggle work and caring for an ever-increasingly mobile child. We want to grow our family, but we aren't convinced our grandma-daycare system will be sustainable with 2 little hellions (just kidding!! sort of :) ). My wife has a really flexible, well-paying job ($70k + free car and gas and $0-20k in annual bonuses), so her giving that up would be tough for us - especially as we try to grow our stache.

Has anyone hosted an Au Pair? What is your experience? Pros / Cons? Things to look out for?

Title: Re: Anyone Host Au Pairs?
Post by: SKL-HOU on September 13, 2019, 04:41:06 PM
I have looked into it before but it gets very costly and most of them are very young. I wouldnt let someone so young take care of an infant. Also, i believe most of them either donít drive or they may have a license with no experience driving.
Title: Re: Anyone Host Au Pairs?
Post by: Freedomin5 on September 13, 2019, 05:04:38 PM
Instead of an au pair, consider hiring a nanny. Growing up, we had a Filipino nanny who was in her thirties. While she didnít drive, she was experienced and emotionally mature, and she also helped with the cooking and cleaning. After a long day at work, you really do just want to hang out with your kids. You donít want someone else playing with your kids while you cook dinner, wash dishes, and vacuum. My cousins currently use nannies/housekeepers from Indonesia.
Title: Re: Anyone Host Au Pairs?
Post by: seattlecyclone on September 13, 2019, 07:59:54 PM
We've had two au pairs over the past year-plus, and are working on finding another one to take over when our current au pair moves back home at the end of the year. I have mostly good things to say about the program. The help watching kids is great, and so is the opportunity to get the kids exposed to a foreign culture and language.

I wouldn't say "most of them" are very young. The program is open to young adults from 18-26, and we've gotten au pairs from toward the upper end of that age range so far. Seems pretty common for the candidates to have just finished university in their home country and then they want to spend a year or two abroad getting some new experience and improving their English before embarking on their real career.

It's not exactly cheap, but at least around here the going rate for nannies is more than double what an au pair costs. You can find some day-care centers that will take care of one kid for less than an au pair, but once you have two kids an au pair is easily the cheapest option for full-time care. The trade-off, of course, is that the au pair is living in your house and is generally (though not always!) less experienced with child care than a nanny would be. Our first au pair had several years of professional child care experience back home, and our current one has less but she's pretty great with the kids nonetheless.

Driving does seem like a common issue that families have with their au pairs. The agencies tend to require their candidates to obtain a driver's license before applying, but we've talked to so many who literally just learned to drive right before applying in order to tick that box. We don't mind because we live in a walkable neighborhood and have no need for our au pair to drive our kids around, but this does seem to be a common problem for families who need a safe driver. In fact we snapped our current au pair up from a situation where the family loved her except for the fact that she's pretty bad at driving and it just wasn't going to work out there given the more suburban/rural location she started out in.
Title: Re: Anyone Host Au Pairs?
Post by: FiguringItOut on September 16, 2019, 10:59:16 AM
In my pre-FIRE days I hosted au pairs.  All together we had 5 au pairs, with two of them being excellent, one being good, and two were disasters.
The two bad ones were our first ones, and to be honest I didn't know how to properly interview them and such and to figure out a good fit for us.  Of those two, one was truly a bad au pair, and one was just a bad fit for us.  She went on to another family who were very happy with her.
Our au pairs (good/excellent) were all older, they were 25-26 when they came to us, with extensive child care experience, driving skills, and good conversational English.  They were from Brazil and Colombia.  One of them is now, 11 yrs later, our close friend.  We still keep in touch one other.

As far as costs, we paid agency fee (around $8-9K if I remember correctly) plus $200/week stipend directly to au pair.  We provided them with cells phones with reasonable plans, and obviously room and board.  In our case, we had a room with a bathroom in our walkout basement where au pairs lived. 
We had a car for au pair to use for kids and for herself on the weekends/evenings.  We gave them gas money to cover gas needed to drive kids around to where we needed them.  They had to pay for their own gas.  Adding au pairs on our car insurance increased costs very minimally but I don't remember amounts.
I remember having to buy a winder coat for one of them when she first came in November because she didn't have any warm winter clothes.  That year she saw snow for the first time in her life.  I'm sure there have been some other costs along the way, birthday gifts, year end bonus, etc, I don't remember all of them.  I think we gave them an extra week pay for Christmas and bday gifts in the $100 range.  But they also made/bought gifts for my kids for their birthdays.  One of them gave me a scarf for my birthday that I still love and use 8 yrs later.  With good match au pairs it really can be a good situation for all, au pairs, kids, and parents. 
My two excellent au pairs were with us for 2 years each, we happily extended with them for the second year.  My good au pair was with me for her second year.  She spend her 1st year with family in the DC area and that family did not extend with her.  I grabbed her and she spend her second year with us.  She was good au pair, responsible, did everything she was supposed with kids, etc.  They just didn't bond as much with them as the two excellent ones did.  But at the same time, kids were a bit older by then too so that may have been a factor.  In any case, I had no complaints with her, but once her year was up we parted way and never stayed in touch.

Title: Re: Anyone Host Au Pairs?
Post by: Mgmny on September 17, 2019, 10:17:22 AM
Thank you all for the great info! Do any of you have program recommendations - right now we are looking at Cultural Care only because we knew an au pair that used that program when we were in college.

It sounds like age is a good factor - hiring older vs younger. My wife is only 25 herself (i just turned 29). I don't think this would be weird, but would you anticipate any weird dynamics if the Au Pair is the same age as the host mom? If we hosted a 24 year old au pair, then she would be basically my wife's age. Is that weird or just what we make of it?

Title: Re: Anyone Host Au Pairs?
Post by: red_pill on September 17, 2019, 11:45:49 AM
We have had three au pairs from Germany, all in the 18 to 19 year old range.  No big issues at all and they all drove and had good English.  It takes some getting used to having someone else in the house.  But it is so much easier than juggling child care.

One thing we have learned is to have very, very clear boundaries and expectations.  Personal use of the car, house guests, chores, etc...  You need to spell it out and you'll save yourself all sorts of hassle and drama.   I suspect it might be more difficult to do so with an au pair the same age as your wife.   
Title: Re: Anyone Host Au Pairs?
Post by: Freedom2016 on September 17, 2019, 05:56:32 PM
We have a 27-year old au pair (AP) from Brazil for our two kids. She had years of driving experience in Brazil, and spent a year as an AP in another state before coming to live with us -- so she had a US driver's license and experience driving in this country before joining our family.

I ran the numbers and it costs us less to do AP than hiring a nanny or sitter for the 30-hours/wk we need. Beyond that, every week is different and it is SO MUCH SIMPLER to have live-in help than to have to juggle ever-changing logistics with varying morning/afternoon/evening/nighttime hours that would require 2 or 3 or 4 different providers to cover.

Our AP is diligent and reliable and I never worry about the kids when she is on duty. DD has bonded well with her; DS is having a little harder time but it's not terrible. Good communication, clear expectations, and clear boundaries are critical.
Title: Re: Anyone Host Au Pairs?
Post by: rufflina on September 22, 2019, 01:03:33 PM
Our first au pair was 18 when she arrived and I was 27 (husband 35). She extended with us and has taken great care of our 10 month old (now 2 years). We do supplement the 45 hours/week with additional childcare as 45 hours would be tight with both parents working full-time, and that gives us extra breathing room for couple and me time. Ours is from Germany, drives well, and is extremely mature - everyone is always really surprised when we say how old she is. Actually, she probably looks the same age as me although I'm Asian so maybe it's hard to compare...Anyway, our second au pair (age 20 when he arrives) will start in January so fingers crossed we continue to have a great experience hosting!