This is a question that many busy parents ask themselves when looking for childcare solutions.
An au pair is a young person, usually between the ages of 18 and 30, who comes from another country to live with a host family and help with childcare and household chores in exchange for room, board and pocket money. Au pairs are not professional nannies or domestic workers, but rather cultural exchange participants who want to learn about a new culture and language while providing some assistance to their host families.
There are many benefits to having an au pair, both for the parents and the children. Here are some of them:
- Flexibility: An au pair can adapt to your schedule and needs as long as you respect their working hours and free time. You can arrange with them when they will work, how many hours per week and what tasks they will do. You can also ask them to babysit occasionally in the evenings or on weekends, if they agree. This gives you more freedom and peace of mind than relying on daycare centers or babysitters that have fixed hours and fees.
- Affordability: An au pair is usually cheaper than other childcare options, especially if you have more than one child. You only have to pay them a weekly or monthly allowance, which varies depending on the country and agency you use, but is usually around €200-€300 per week. You will also have to pay for their travel, health insurance, private room and board. However, when you compare this to the cost of daycare or nannies, which can range from €800-€2000 per month per child, you will see that having an au pair can save you a lot of money in the long run.
- Cultural enrichment: An au pair can bring a new perspective and diversity to your family. They can teach your children about their country, language, traditions and customs. They can also expose them to different foods, music, games and activities. Your children will learn to appreciate and respect other cultures and people and develop a global mindset. You will also learn from your au pair and enjoy sharing your own culture with them.
- Personal growth: An au pair can become part of your family and form a close bond with your children. They can be a friend, a mentor, a role model, and a big sister or brother. They can support them emotionally, academically and socially. They can also help children develop new skills and interests, such as learning a new language, playing an instrument, or practicing a sport. Your children will gain confidence, independence and maturity from having an au pair in their lives.
Of course, having an au pair comes with some challenges and responsibilities. You have to be prepared to welcome a stranger into your home and treat them as a family member. You have to communicate clearly and respectfully with them and set realistic expectations and boundaries. You have to provide them with adequate training and guidance on how to care for your children and your home. You have to respect their privacy and personal space, as well as their cultural differences and preferences. You have to deal with any conflicts or issues that may arise during their stay.
However, these problems are outweighed by the benefits of having an au pair. An au pair is not only a practical solution to your child care needs, but also a rewarding and enriching experience for the whole family. Children love their au pair like a sister and learn a lot from her. Parents can get an extra pair of hands around the house, as well as someone to talk to and share their lives with. Even after the end of the au pair program, the family can still keep in touch with the au pair and consider her part of the extended family.
So, is it worth it to have an au pair? If you are looking for a flexible, affordable, cultural and personal childcare option for your family, then an au pair could be the perfect choice for you.