We are blessed enough to be able to afford help, but we also live no where near support as we have both moved away from the countries that we were born in. Accepting that it’s okay to have help at home was an internal battle, as I was so used to doing everything myself. However, now I couldn’t do half of what I do without the support of my extended family in Switzerland and that is our au pair. When we first got an au pair it went terribly wrong and we learnt a lot. The learnings we have is what I wanted to share:
· Go via an agency. Going via an agency cost more but it meant all the paperwork was supported, and certificates, criminal record and background checks · Interview with real life situations. In the interview we asked what would you do when you wake up the kids in the morning to go to school, and they do not want to go? One hits you because they still do not want to go. This seems extreme and our kids are actually well behaved but it happened once. It surprising the amount of people that said I will be able to make them come, but could not explain how, all to often people under estimate toddlers. It shows their lack of experience. · What would you do if you had the kids for an afternoon? Again this shows their experience. One girl told us she would play basketball with them. Our kids were 1 and 3, I explored this with her and she had no experience with younger children. The most important thing for me was to have someone who loved being with younger children, as the happiness of my kids was paramount. · Check the motivation and flexibility of the person, but be open and transparent on expectations. Why do you want to be an au pair, babysitter or nanny? We gave an overview of a typical week, and what our expectations were. We could see the attitude and motivation of the person, for many people it was just the money and we knew that would not work out. Being and au-pair is not easy and the money is not high.
· Check the experience you want. What experience do you have that is applicable? The agency that we use employ qualified nurses and teachers form the Philippines. Next to the happiness of my kids is their safety and our kids benefit from having a qualified nurse which puts my mind at ease.
· Look after your au-pair and they will look after you. Our au-pair is part of our family and as such she looks after us as a family.