I am mother, a FIFO wife, and a lover of the Northern Suburbs. I enjoy cooking and anything to do with entertaining and the outdoors. Visit me at www.facebook.com/yiah.michellepratt
Published February 25th 2014
Why I have an Au-Pair
In the past 12 months, my home has undergone a major transformation. From being called anything from a zoo, a circus to a mad house; it is now proudly known as heaven. How you ask? I'll tell you my little secret. I have an Au Pair.
What is an Au Pair I hear you ask? The dictionary's version is very precise, "a young foreign person, typically a woman, who helps with housework or childcare in exchange for food, a room, and some pocket money".
I have two adorable (when they want to be!) Children. My daughter is 2 (and going through the terrible 2's!) and a boy who is 7 (turning 8) and in year 3 at school. I work full time and my partner works away for up to 4 weeks at any one time. Without my gorgeous Au Pair, I seriously couldn't cope.
After I had my daughter and was looking at returning to work after my maternity leave, I started developing anxiety about leaving her in a day care all day for 10 hours. My daughter and I had developed a wonderful routine at home. Each day we had something planned such as swimming lessons, kindy gym or just some time at the local park. My son also loved the fact I could take him to school and pick him and his friends up, so they could come for play dates. The thought of turning their world upside down, tore me to pieces. My son also started to wet his pants at school, which I believe was down to the stress of me returning to work and not being there. He was going to have to be placed into before and after school care, as we don't have any relatives who live close by. I thought there must be another option? That is when I came across the word "Au Pair".
I didn't take the decision lightly to hire an Au Pair. I mean, we were going to have a stranger live in our house and care for our children. At least at day care you knew they are experienced and that your children will be safe until you pick them up. However the cost of day care was another deciding factor. How could we possibly afford $625 per week! That is $32,500 per year with only $7,500 back from the Government (we don't qualify for any other rebates). So whilst researching the option of having an Au Pair, I discovered that the cost of the board you provide them, offset the amount of pocket money you give them. You could pay your Au Pair anything from $150 to $250 per week. Of course it did mean that our living expenses such as food, electricity and water would increase, but we felt that these costs could easily be absorbed in our budget. The idea that our children would still maintain their routines as well as having a big sister in the house and learning about a new culture finally sealed the deal.
There are many options for hiring an Au Pair. You can go through an agency whereby they undertake all the necessary background checks and provide you with a list of Au Pairs who they feel would be suited to your household. There are agencies such as AuPair Network, Smart Au Pairs Australia or Perth demi Pair that are all reputable and have wonderful networks. There is a nominal agency fee to have this taken all care of for you, but it does save you the time and the hassle of researching and Au Pair for yourself. The other option is to undertake the checks and interviews yourself, however there is some risk involved with this. We have utilised the website Au Pair World which we have found great, however our first scheduled Au Pair was not able to come at the last minute, which meant we had to contact all the Au Pairs whom we were speaking with and see if any of them were still interested in our family. We did in the end find a lovely girl by the name of Hannah. Not only is she brilliant at her job, but she has become a part of the family. We have taken her on our family trip to Sydney so that she could see more of Australia, as well as weekends away down south. She is thoroughly enjoying Australian life, and in the future hopes to return after her studies and live for a while longer down under.
What every way you choose, consider having an Au Pair. Not only are my children happy, but I am able to take up a hobby of an evening as I have a live in babysitter and my weekends are spent having fun with my children as my Au Pair takes care of the general housework during the week, which is why our home is now referred to as heaven!