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.
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.
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!