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Welcome to My Blog

Life with young children can be challenging, but with the support and advice of friends, we can feel empowered and thankful for the blessing of being a Mom.

My musings are those of a self-proclaimed attachment-parenting Tiger mom, who juggles full-time mommying with a small (but growing!) baby-related business. I hope some of my thoughts help you
Enjoy your day, Enjoy your night, and Enjoy your kids!!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Why an Au Pair?

I grew up with au pairs, so I'm biased. I think opting for an au pair is by far the best way to get quality childcare for your kids. But many of you may not know what an au pair IS and WHY it's so different and much better than live-in help/nanny or any other high-school babysitting help.

According to the "Au Pair in America" website (one of the leading Au Pair agencies):
“Au pair” means “on par” or equal. Au pairs are international visitors who travel to the United States on a J-1 Visitor Exchange Visa to acquire a better understanding and appreciation of American life while living with an American family and caring for their young children.
Au pairs and companions become full-fledged family members, sharing a cultural exchange experience that often leads to a lasting relationship with the host family.

The benefit of having an au pair is that she is typically:
-experienced with childcare
-comes with solid references
-eager to learn English
-eager to learn about America, your family, and generally to experience cultural exchange

It's a relatively economical way of managing childcare, but be aware that the agencies vary a LOT in both their costs/fees and their services.

Au Pairs are paid according to US Dept. of State regulations, and they work up to 45 hours per week for the flat weekly rate. The hours are flexible, depending on the family's needs. The au pair lives with the family, so she often interacts and enjoys being with the family on weekends, vacations, etc. She can become another adult member of the family, getting to know both the kids and their personalities and the house and its organization.

There are a few challenges in working with an au pair:
-you cannot meet the au pair in person, in advance. While there is a lot of information available on each candidate, personalities don't always match, and sometimes the agency will have to replace your first choice with someone else, if it doesn't work out.
-the arrangement is for a year, maximum to be extended to 2-years.
-the agencies are pricey and require a lot of the money up-front.
-they cannot really work with infants - I'd recommend from age 2+.
-they only take care of things related to the children: laundry, cleanup, meals, etc... they are NOT responsible for deep cleaning or cleaning up after you & your husband enjoy a late dinner (for example).

Generally speaking, I think the cultural exchange can be fantastic and the quality of the au-pair is much higher than other nanny options. If anyone has more questions or comments, please share.


  1. Hi Kira-
    Glad to see you recommending au pairs! Parents who are interested in the au pair hosting experience might want to check out AuPairMom.com, a blog I coordinate, that offers advice from and to host parents.

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  3. Dear CV,
    I just surfed your site (aupairmom.com) and must say it is VERY helpful and filled with wisdom! Frankly, I wish I knew about your site 2+ years ago, when I started working with au pairs :) Kudos to you and those who comment.