Hosting an au pair in your home has many benefits including flexibility, consistency and the opportunity for your children to learn a different culture. There are several things you can do that will help you find the perfect au pair for you and your family.
Working out some of the must have’s and logistics up front can help ensure you get the au pair who will slot in to your family the best.
Finding a suitable au pair can take some time. Generally au pair’s, especially those from overseas, are organised 2-3 months in advance so try to plan ahead as much as possible. The busy season for au pairs is in July, when school/university breaks up – so March/April is a great time to start interviewing.
If you are a quiet family with modest habits and quiet inside voices, having an au pair who is bright, bubbly and loud might not work well. Conversely if you are heading in to this journey looking for a young adult to become part of your familybut your au pair prefers to keep themselves to themselves when not working, you might feel a little disappointed. Interviewing a selection of au pairs will give you a good feel for who will work for your family, trusting your instincts is the best way!
Other things you could consider include:
- age – do you want someone with more life experience or will a young person straight from school work better?
- do you need someone with previous nanny or au pair experience? Remember au pair’s are generally not trained as a professional child carer, but if selected through an agency they are mentored by a qualified ECE teacher who meets regularly with your children and offers childcare advice and support. Au Pair Link au pairs are all First Aid certified and must follow the ECE curriculum.
- if you have a child with special requirements, do you prefer someone with experience in that area, or do you prefer to train them yourself ?
- do you need skills such as a full drivers licence, capable cook, or comfortable in a rural or urban environment?
- do you run your household on a tight leash or are you more comfortable with a more relaxed approach?
- do you have a set of religious, cultural, moral, or lifestyle beliefs that need to be taken into account?
- Is there a culture you would really like to introduce to your home? Au pairs in New Zealand are usually young people from overseas. Having someone from a different culture in your home can be a fantastic way for your children to experience that culture, language and cuisine.
Now consider if these are ‘must have’ or ‘nice to have’ remembering that you will need to be a bit flexible in your choice. Many people say their gut instinct has proven to work well when selecting an au pair.
You will be expected to provide your au pair with their own bedroom and suitable bathroom access. If you live rurally they will need access to a vehicle. Open communication is key, if you need space say so! Au pairs generally spend their weekends off travelling and meeting up with friends, so this isn’t usually an issue.
Although having an au pair can be a more cost-effective form of childcare than the pay-per-child-per-hour model, especially those with more than one child, there are additional costs that you need to accept. Having another adult in the house means your power and food bills along with internet usage will increase. The internet will be their lifeline to home and you can expect they will use a lot of data – unlimited fibre is probably your best bet!
Remember you can access 20 Hours ECE government subsidy for children aged 3-5 years as well as WINZ and OSCAR childcare subsidies.
In order for your au pair to be able to contribute to the household quickly, they will need to have some idea of your daily and weekly routine. Write it down! Get a wall calendar so you can map out what is happening that week, who is doing meals, who is doing pick-ups and drop offs.
Au Pair Link have a comprehensive Communication Book where routines, comments and expectations are all addressed up front. Your au pair will fill this out every day, with food/naps and a day to day overview of how things went.
Get help with the process
Hosting an au pair is covered under New Zealand law so any licenced service provider must meet minimum standards of care and education. If you source an au pair through a licenced provider, your carer will develop a learning programme especially for your child that takes into account their age, development and interests. They will receive on-going training and support from their agency, and often will also be able to access further resources.
If your au pair is from overseas they will need a Working Holiday Visa. In addition you will need to sort out the PAYE, ACC and leave records and to organise to receive the 20 hours ECE, OSCAR or childcare subsidies that you are eligible for. An au pair employment agency can take care of all of this for you, as well as help you with choosing your au pair, and conducting a police and reference check. All the candidates they present to you will have been pre-screened.
Au Pair Link whisks all of their au pairs away on a three day orientation before starting with you. This is where they learn child first aid (through St John), theoretical driving lessons, they learn how to cope with culture shock, along with childhood education and behaviour management strategies. They also organise plenty of weekend au pair trips away too!
Au Pair Link helps with settling your au pair into the New Zealand way of life; provide you with support and mediation. They can help place another au pair with you should your first choice not work out (which can happen, but is rare!)
Written by Robyn for Au Pair Link
Robyn creates content on Kidspot NZ. Her hobbies include buying cleaning products and wondering why things don’t then clean themselves, eating cheese scones with her friends, and taking her kids to appointments.
Favourite motto to live by: “This too will pass.”