The pros and cons of a live in nanny

For a variety of reasons including the flexibility it affords to busy working parents you have decided to have your child or children cared for in their own home. You immediately think of an au pair or nanny. Then to confuse matters you learn there are two types of nannies, a live in nanny or a live out nanny.

You must now decide which best suits your families circumstances so you need to understand the differences including cost between an au pair, live in nanny or live out nanny.

 

In brief:  An au pair is a young person generally aged between 18-30 unmarried with no children who moves to a foreign country to look after a host families children part time and who also performs some light housework. Babysitting on agreed evenings is also quite common. In exchange for this an au pair receives a private bedroom, meals and an agreed monetary allowance. In the UK au pairs generally work a 30 hour week and receive £75-£85 per week. In Ireland the hours range from 35-45 per week and an allowance in or around €100. Au pairs generally attend language classes in the evenings.

A live in nanny usually but not always has some childcare qualifications or at least childcare experience and will live with the family on a full time basis, consequently you will need to provide a separate bedroom for privacy. Nannies only tend to do whatever housework is associated with the children. Primarily they are a citizen of your country and work longer hours than an au pair consequently it is a more expensive option.

Journey of a live in Nanny
A good read for a Live in Nanny

Live out nannies have their own accommodation consequently choose to live out an present themselves for work at your home at an agreed time. They then perform the same duties as a live in nanny.

Weighing up the pros and cons of a live in nanny or an au pair as the main providers of your childcare is something you and your family should give a lot of thought to.

If you want a few reasons why a live in nanny can be the better solution – read below:

 

  • Most nannies applying for your childcare position will either be locals or from your or a neighbouring county, therefore, it is easy to arrange face to face meetings and also to determine how they interact with your children.
  •  A nanny will speak your language thus eliminating the language difficulties associated with an au pair and as I mentioned earlier you also have the opportunity to have one or indeed a number of face to face interviews.
  • Most au pair interviews are done by Skype or phone as the au pair lives in a foreign country consequently will not travel until they have secured a job with a host family. This can be a risk as it all depends on your judgement call based on Skype or phone calls. Much of this can be eliminated by going through an au pair agency but this can be costly.
  • Nannies tend to have a childcare qualification and references and other background checks are readily available.
  • With an au pair there can sometimes be a language barrier as au pairs are form foreign countries.
  • You can build into a live in nanny contract such as cooking for adults in addition to the children but it will cost you more. It is however an option.

Once you have made the decision to opt for a live in nanny over an au pair, day care or housekeeper you can go it alone or use a local nanny service. Once a short list has been drawn up and you are at the interview stage what exactly should you ask? The interview is the most important phase as not only will this person be looking after the welfare of your child or children but she will also be living under your roof, so it is of utmost importance that you can work and live together under the same roof.

When you and your partner have held an initial interview or have a good feeling about a nanny it can help to arrange a further interview at which your children attend. You can then gauge how both the prospective nanny and your children react to each other.Your first impressions are very important so don’t ignore your instincts or your children’s.

Before the interview you should have your mind made up about the basics and what exactly you require from the nanny – along the lines of:

 

  • The questions you want to ask – don’t just think on the spot – after all you are entrusting your children’s care and safety to this person.
  • Working hours plus babysitting requirements. Will she be paid for any surplus hours or babysitting duties? If so how much – iron all out in advance.
  • Nannies duties – go through a daily schedule of requirements.
  • Salary and holiday entitlements- will she be paid while off?
  • Eating arrangements and cooking duties.
  • House rules – do you impose a curfew? Visitors allowed?
  • Any additional add ons or benefits – mobile phone, some private use of the car.
  • Will she drive the children to school or games. If so has she a driving licence and ensure she is added to your insurance.
 What Is Your Greatest Strength?
Nanny services Interview

Interview questions:

 

  • Tell me about yourself
  • Tell me about your childhood, any siblings?
  • Why did you choose childcare as a career?
  • In your opinion what qualities make a good nanny?
  • How long have you worked as a nanny and have you had any other work experience?
  • Why do you prefer to be a live in nanny?
  • Previous work experiences – go through all this – try get a feel for the previous children’s ages.
  • If there are any gaps in the CV try to ascertain why.
  • If not find out her current notice period with employer.
  • When considering a job offer – what qualities in the family are important to her?
  • Why did she leave her last job?
  • Any training undertaken – first aid etc
  • What activities are you interested in or perhaps plan on doing in spare time? Try and ascertain will she be in the house during their free time.
  • What would you do on a wet or extremely cold day when you couldn’t go to the park?
  • How does she approach bad behaviours in children?
  • What are your views to children watching TV or on ipads or games?
  • Do you enjoy cooking? Any examples of types of dishes you would/could cook?
  • Do you have valid driving licence?
  • What activities do you do or perhaps plan on doing in spare time? Will they be around the house all the time?
  • Let them know when they will find out the outcome of the interview.
  • Let them also ask you questions – an interview like this should be a two way process.

It is important that you follow up on all references and check the legitimacy of qualifications – try speaking to the references directly – don’t let the agency or nanny service do it for you if you can.

You have made a decision and the new live in Nanny has been given a start date, the children are excited and you are painting and planning her new living quarters. Then you think should you or should you not draw up some sort of agreement or contract for her? Will this be a deal breaker if you suddenly insist on this? In the long run no – a contract or agreement is beneficial to both parties. It will outline the duties and responsibilities of each party and may prevent any misunderstandings and miscommunication from happening. This will also establish a professional approach from the outset.

In the US for instance, Nanny Contracts may not be required by law, but are enforceable in a court of law so it is important that the agreement does not infringe any legal rights of the live in nanny especially when it comes to labor protections and tax laws.

OK so the interview is out of the way – One box ticked.

Contract drawn up – Another box ticked.

So what should you expect from your new live- in nanny?

 

Live-in nannies usually work between 10-12 hours per day, five days a week two nights babysitting are usually included or expected also. Babysitting requirements should be clarified at interview stage. Any additional babysitting will incur extra costs.

A live-in nanny will look after all nursery duties related to the children including, bathing, dressing and preparing nutritious meals. She will also wash, iron and sort all the children’s clothes and prepare school uniforms and lunches. The nanny will ensure that all play areas are kept clean and tidy at the end of each day. In summary have total control and care of the family home concerning the children when the parents are busy at work and indeed until the children go to bed if this is what has been agreed.

The live-in nanny should ensure that the children are kept active and social by organising play dates for the children after school or at weekends and keep up to date with what parties they have to attend. Take the children to the park or other after school extra-curricular activities.

Remember that your live in nannies main responsibilities are to care for YOUR children and not to do any heavy housework jobs, family cooking or chores in general around the house – if you require this from your nanny this will have to be discussed in advance and reflected in her salary.

Nanny Tax
The dreaded Nanny tax
On a rather boring but very important topic – tax and your live- in nanny:

 

In the UK all employers are required to operate a PAYE (Pay As You Earn) Scheme for their employees – deduct the tax and National insurance each employee owes to the state and hand it over to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on the employees behalf.

Nanny employers are no different and MUST deduct all relevant taxes whenever she is paid.

In the USA – Besides the weekly salary that families pay their live-in nannies, they also must pay the required employment taxes. Coined the “nanny taxes,” a live-in nanny employer’s tax responsibility includes paying the employer part of the Medicare and Social Security, federal unemployment insurance and state unemployment and worker’s compensation, or disability, where required. These out-of-pocket expenses add up to about 10% of the nanny’s gross annual salary. Fortunately for employers who pay legally, there are tax breaks and credits that can offset this cost.

According to www.care.com  Here’s an example: Assume you pay your nanny a salary of $600 per week ($15 per hour, 40 hours per week), you’ll need to withhold the following from her weekly pay:

 

  • Federal Income Tax: $75.77
  • Social Security: $25.20
  • Medicare: $8.70
  • State Income Tax (3.7%): $22.30 (note: we used New York State.)
  • Total withholdings: $131.97

The employee i.e. YOU will make the following contributions:

  • Federal Unemployment: $4.80
  • Social Security: $37.20
  • Medicare: $8.70
  • State Unemployment: $24.60 (note: we used New York State.
  • Total Additional Payments: $75.30

This means your weekly bill comes to $675.30 per week, and your nanny will take home $468.30. Over the course of the year, you can expect to pay out $33,991.30 — $2,791.30 more than if you paid a flat $600 per week under the table.

As you can see from the above having a live in nanny is like having a full time employee in your house so you have to pay all taxes relating to this. On top of this if you have used a nanny service you will have their fees also. However all these extra fees or costs can be cancelled out as you now  have your very own live in housekeeper where day care will not be needed as you have someone to permanently mind your children on a 1 to 1 basis, a huge saving, plus you will have a babysitter for at least 2 nights a week ( all included in the live in nanny salary and agreement you have drawn up) so no more paying up to $10 or £10 per hour for someone to babysit your children. No more clock watching when on a night out as its all included in the agreed weekly wage.



 

 

 

 

 

What are considered childcare jobs?

To many people the word childcare or working in a childcare jobs is synonymous with working in a crèche or nursery. There are however a whole range of jobs that fall under the umbrella of ‘Childcare’. It is important to appreciate the range of jobs on offer and what they entail if considering a job in childcare.

Whether you are returning to the work place full-time, planning a night out with your better half, or looking for an extra pair of hands to keep older children entertained while you take care of a toddler or new-born, child-care providers can help give you a break. But you may be overwhelmed with the variety of child care services and providers. Should you choose a nanny or an au pair? A mother’s helper or ask a trusted relative? Which type of child care is the best fit for you and your budget, remember childcare is not cheap -so it is important to understand what differentiates one from the other in the first place.

The good news: Whether you can spend a little or a lot, whether you need full-time care or you just an hour of help here and there, there is a childcare provider who can meet your needs.

Childcare answer book - all your questions answered -any childcare jobs?
Guide to help finding the best childcare solution or childcare jobs

Types of Childcare available and childcare jobs:

 

    • Childminders: A childminder is somebody who provides childcare for children in the childminder’s own home for more than two hours a day. A childminder must be registered in order to work.
    • Nannies: A nanny provides childcare for one or more children in the parent’s own home. Nannies can sometimes live-in with the family. Many families have a full-time nanny but it is also popular to employ a part-time nanny or after school live-out nanny. Some nannies will have a formal education in child development or related fields. Nannies who provide care for newly born babies during the night are known as night nannies. Nannies generally charge by the hour and rates are higher than a babysitter. There are many nanny services available to assist you in hiring a nanny and to do background and reference checks for you.
    • Babysitters: A babysitter usually babysits in the parent’s home for a few hours during the day or most commonly the evening while the parents go out. A babysitter is paid an hourly rate.

90 second Youtube video on how to be a good babysitter

  • Au Pairs: An Au Pair will live with you and your family, in return for board and lodging and a small allowance. They will normally expect to do some light housework and will care for your child or children.
  • Private midwives: A private or independent midwife will help with your pregnancy and also help with the birth of your child in the comfort of your own home as well as giving help and support for the initial weeks of parenthood. This type of care can be rather expensive.
  • Nursery/ day care or crèche and Montessori staff provide preschool structured day care service for pre school children.
  • Maternity Nurses: A maternity nurses helps the mother with all aspects of caring for a newborn. They are usually very experienced in dealing with not just the baby but also in supporting caring and teaching new or first time parents how to look after their newborn but also in giving the parents that all important rest period in what can be quite a daunting time of one’s life.
  • Private tutor: A private tutor generally is a teacher by profession who offers extra coaching in certain academic subjects or in cases where the parents both work or would be too busy to do homework the tutor can assist with the children’s homework or for prepping for upcoming school exams.
  • Housekeeper: A housekeeper comes to your house and does cleaning chores that you don’t want to do or unable to do. Housekeepers also help with the duties or responsibilities concerning the children of the house. Mostly associated with large houses or estates with considerable wealth.
  • After school care providers care for children of school going age after school until the parent finishes work.
  • Childminders: Provide a childcare services in their own home and are self employed.

As you can see there are many categories that fall under childcare so once you have some experience your job search does not have to just focus on a specific sector, in most cases as long as you are good with dealing with children and in some cases the parents ! You can fit in to plenty of the categories above.

Guide to daycare and childcare
Daycare and childcare options inside and outside the home

Most if not all childcare jobs will require that you are vetted in advance of employment – for the simple reason that you will be around children all of the time. This will be in the form of police vetting and past work references. Jobs like babysitting, nanny or au pair do not require any educational qualifications, but these do help, whereas if you are working in a nursery or crèche with children you will be required to have certain childcare qualifications. Then there are government jobs which will have more stringent employment criteria – but perhaps at the end of the day more job security.

The most common of all childcare jobs has to be babysitting – and most would not even consider or think to consider it as a childcare job but when you look at the job spec ‘ caring for the children while the parents are out’ it ticks all the boxes. A nanny on the other hand cares for children on a full time basis so the ability to relate to children is a key requirement. In addition more and more nannies today have some childcare qualifications. see this article on 7 step guide on how to become a nanny.

For me though if I could choose a childcare job to dip my toes into the industry it would have to be that of an au pair. Going to a foreign country to live with a host family and learn their cultures and language while getting fed and paid for it! …oh and of course minding the children sounds rather appealing. Pick a country, say South Africa …..Look up au pair jobs South Africa, do a little homework on the country and a job search and see what you can get. Even if you did not want to go for a prolonged period you could consider summer nanny jobs for the experience and then if you like the country and the people and so forth you could dabble further into the au pair world. It is a perfect way to determine if dealing with children is for you while being exposed to a new culture and exploring the country in your spare time.

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What is au pair world? is it the world they live in or just a website? Our experience

What is au pair world?

 

…….mainly it is a website but it could relate to the world of au pairs that exist out there and it is not until you require an au pair and experience the process like we did that your eyes are opened to this whole new world – au pair world!

I am the father of FOUR young boys aged 9, 7, 5 and 20 months. My wife and I are both in full time employment, she a teacher and he in sales. For out first two children we were lucky enough to have both sets of grandparents firstly live close by and secondly to be retired and in good health and willing and able to look after the children when required. The first three children then went to a child minder in her house. Some days their grandparents would keep them. As childcare is very expensive especially near where we live we felt this was the best option for our pockets and for the care and attention the children got. The minder had a max  of 3 other children in her care so they got plenty of individual attention and also got to interact with other children of similar ages, which was essential.

First school bus ride
All aboard! the school run.

My wife teaches in a primary school and her day finishes at 14:30 so she picked the children up before 15:00 which was a major plus so she got to spend some quality time with them plus as it cut the cost of childcare and she got to spend quality time with the children until I returned after work. My wife had the option to job share which meant that she worked every other week which was a tremendous bonus as the children got slightly older and had some after school sports plus they were getting homework!

Things were getting busy busy plus our parents were getting older and looking after the children was proving difficult for them on the week my wife worked full time. When number 4 came along things changed, my wife was back full time again, I had started a new job and I wasn’t as flexible as I had been in terms of dropping the kids to the minder. We reviewed the whole child minder situation and after much debate decided that an au pair would be best for us, or was it opair! We were so green on this topic we didn’t know where to begin.

My wife spoke to some colleagues at work and some of the parents in the school whom she knew had au pairs and she began to pick their brains. The general consensus was that getting a good or the right au pair was just sheer luck! Great – not what you want to hear when she will be more or less raising your little treasures.

My wife and I huddled around our laptop and searched au pairs. We were simply overwhelmed by the sheer number of websites related to au pair. We focused in on a few but were not hugely impressed. Following further extensive research and discussions with parents who had au pair experience it began to emerge that www.aupairworld.com was the site of choice for most of these parents and this is what we focused in on.

It was only when we went on the site aupairworld.com and registered – at a cost of  €39.90 for which we got premium membership for six weeks- that we realised how unprepared we were and needed to put down on paper and refine as necessary the nationality of the au pair, what her exact duties would be, time off, weekly pay, privacy, babysitting (big bonus), non smoker and other factors important to us.

 

We posted our profile, which was a little bio on us as a family and a job spec! sat back and waited …with fingers crossed . Then you start to doubt your self – what if no one replies or enquires or if they do and you answer their questions and you never hear from them again.We began to worry as we were on a deadline as school was starting back in 5 weeks which meant my wife was back. The clock was definitely ticking.

We got some replies alright – time wasters but the beauty of au pair world and I guess a lot of other sites out there is that once you pay up and are a member you can message other people. So for the au pairs it is free to post a profile and we were like the voyeurs who screen them and then message them if we liked what we saw. We had chosen our nationality to be Spanish- age bracket from 23-29 with some previous childcare job experience. We sent lots of messages got lots of replies which was a relief!

My wife wanted to see what was out there but we quickly discovered that an email exchange is not an ideal way to get to know or judge someone. The big issue was that most of the prospects were still in Spain so you couldn’t arrange to meet up for a coffee and a chat. She did meet up with 2 Spanish young woman who were in the country who had very very poor English and she just did not click with them. In fact one of them assumed she had the job already and was wondering where we lived so that she could call around later with her bags!!!

We eventually whittled it down to a short list of 2. Then we got busy on Skype and had some meaningful conversations which helped enormously – we treated it like a job interview and had a list of questions and in turn expected them to ask a lot of questions. Our Au pair was picked ahead of schedule so pressure off- phew. Room ready, her flights booked (which she paid for). D-Day came and we all went to the airport to meet Marta our new 23 year old Spanish au pair. She was clearly as anxious as we were and pretty nervous. When she arrived her English was I suppose poor and we had to speak slowly but having attended English classes this improved considerably over time.

For the first week to 10 days she would sit with us in the evenings watching TV or just hang with us which was at the time I suppose awkward and you felt obliged to talk (slowly) and make her part of the conversation when all you wanted at the end of a day’s work was to put your feet up and stare at the TV …no talking! Once she went to classes and mingled with other au pairs this quickly stopped, for whatever reason. She would stay in her room and watch movies or chat to her family on Skype and eventually she had a huge circle of friends so was out and about most evenings. So much so we had to tell her well in advance when she was needed to babysit.

One frozen au pair! au pair world great find
Our Frozen au pair!

Marta was a warm friendly young woman and quickly became almost an extension of our family – she turned out to be brilliant. Her key role when she arrived was to look after our youngest child, Harry, who was 7 months. The other 3 boys were in school as was my wife until their return at 15:00 hours. Marta worked from 8 am to 3pm, 5 days a week and babysat on average once a week – but would do twice if required as this is what we had agreed in advance. The beauty of it all was the morning time when we didn’t have to get our youngest, Harry,  up dressed and fed and dropped off to the child minder – we could just let Marta take over. A huge time saver in our busy mornings.

She fitted in perfectly and all the boys loved her as did we. She became part of the family. She would just blend in and even did house chores without being asked, empty and fill the dishwasher, ironed.  She was so bubbly and good humoured. Her friends from Spain came to visit and stayed with us as did her Mum (her real Mum!) by the way who had not a word of English …odd but funny. She ended up staying for 10 months and our youngest Harry grew up with her which was a very special time for her to experience his first words and first steps.

She eventually had to leave us as she got a job in childcare back in Spain at a time when Spain was in ‘a crisis’ as she kept referring to it and also when childcare jobs where slim on the ground. What got her the job? You guessed it her spoken English. She gained from it – we certainly gained from it and it was a win win for all. The drop off to the airport was full of tears the boys were inconsolable. We still Skype her every fortnight so Harry can say hi and my wife is constantly on Whattsapp to her and her mother. God bless translation technology! Yet best of all we still needed a new au pair for the following school year and she sorted us out with a cousin of hers from Spain – who is proving out to be simply great. This was our au pair experience and quite honestly it was hugely facilitated by using au pair world initially.

www.aupairworld.com started in a similar manner back in 1997 when the founder was searching for an au pair and disappointed with the outcomes from a traditional agency so he turned to the internet. From there on he never looked back and had more and better options and choices on line. The then founder saw the bigger picture and an opportunity to bring host families and au pairs from around the world together in one common place – Au Pair World was born.

We all know what an au pair is; I have written about it in many of my articles and also the various types of childcare jobs or opportunities that are available to you, so in reading this I take it you are looking FOR or to BECOME an aupair. A great choice may I say. In terms of au pair world it is not unlike many other sites out there but it is the one we used and hugely popular and as I said we clearly found it the best site for us and would recommend it.

So how do you use it?

 

  • Create your profile – You can register as a host family or an au pair FREE of charge. Build you profile and enter your search criteria.
  • Search – View matching criteria delivered to you from your search options or you can do individual searches.
  • Start Messaging – you can send messages and start exchanging personal messages with au pairs. As I said earlier this comes at a cost – you must become a member in order to exchange personal messages with au pairs.The cost is €39.90 one off payment which gets you access for six weeks.
  • Get to know each other – don’t rush – go into detail on job requirements and benefits and also Skype each other or talk on the phone.
  • Compile a contract – au pair world and most other sites and nanny services or agencies recommend signing a contract and most importantly to include EVERYTHING in it e.g; duties, pocket money, babysitting jobs, time off, holiday pay just to avoid any misunderstanding down the road. A sample contract can be seen here

So if you want to search for au pair Paris, au pair SA, au pair Canada or whatever country you live in or need to know what is au pair? au pair world will help you find one that suits your requirements. If you are looking for a nanny or nanny jobs or any babysitting jobs this is not for you – it is a niche website which differentiates itself from others out there who offer all types of childcare services even dog minding!  They specialise in one sector au pairs in a multilingual website and put all their energy and resources into this sector which benefits au pairs and host families at the end of the day as they are the end users.

Happy hunting and I hope you have as good an experience with your au pair as we did with Marta and are currently having with our new au pair – plus the freedom to get out and about again with a guaranteed babysitter!