Is an Au Pair the right childcare solution for your family?

Our Host Families must buy into the Pebbles Philosophy.

At Pebbles we are proud of the strict selection process we apply to both our au pairs and our host families.  Au pairs should be welcomed by their host family and considered as a member of the family.

You should help them learn English and spend time getting to know them. You should help them discover the UK and in turn, take an interest in them by learning about their  culture. An Au Pair is there to help you, but it remains a cultural exchange. Your Au Pair will be looking to you for support – helping them settle in, find friends and get the best out of their gap year.

An Au Pair will not be as experienced or professional as a nanny. It may take them several weeks to adapt and learn how you want things done. You need to make sure you are 100% happy with the Au Pair before leaving them at home with the children on their own.

  1. Ask yourself what you are really expecting in terms of childcare?
    An Au Pair will have some childcare experience, maybe babysitting for family friends or an activity leader in a children’s summer camp.  They may be used to entertaining children coaxing them to eat their dinner or reading them a bedtime story. This is very different to ensuring 3 children are up and out of the house, dressed with all their school bags and packed lunch on time! They are not nannies and definitely not parents – they won’t be able to manage things as well as you do.Do you have the time to show them everything, explain the weekly routine, write everything down and make sure they’ve understood. Check up with them weekly in the beginning to ensure they’ve understood everything?
  2. An Au Pair is not a recommended alternative to a cleaner
    Most candidates have a good academic background and are looking for an educational and cultural experience. As young graduates or high school students, au pairs are looking to learn English and further their careers. They are not keen on doing anything more than child-related housework/ironing and giving a hand around the house in the communal areas.Asking an Au Pair to do more than a few hours cleaning a week is a fast track to them leaving before the end of their placement.  They’re also not brilliant at it, we recommend sticking to a professional cleaner.
  3. Is your home a suitable environment for hosting an Au Pair?Our Host Families must be able to provide adequate board and lodging for their Au Pair. They should be provided with their own room, which is nice, has sufficient storage, a window (!), an area to sit and read or study or use a computer. An Au Pair must have her own room but may share a bathroom. They should have all meals provided and eat with the family.Ideally your home would have 2 bathrooms – one for the parents, one for the Au Pair who can share with the children.Is there enough room for everyone to have their own space? If the living areas are small, the Au Pair’s room should be comfortable enough for them to enjoy spending time there.
  4. Are you ready to bring a new person into your home?
    The timing must be right – if your family are going through any kind of stressful situations, we would recommend seeking external childcare help in the interim period.
    (Including but not limited to : Major renovations, marital issues, fertility difficulties, serious health issues of close family members, bereavement, financial/work related stress)They are looking to become a member of the family and take part in some activities. It may take some time to adapt to having someone living in your home – unlike a live out nanny, they will be still be present outside of their working hours.Think about how your Au Pair will fit into to your family life outside of their working hours – you’ll bump into them at breakfast, will they watch tv with you after dinner? Are they going to join you when your friends come over for a BBQ ?
  5. Where do you live?
    We arrange placements in London and the home counties. We are unable to source candidates for rural locations and more than 1 hour from London. You would ideally live within safe walking distance to a train or tube station or be able to provide a car for the Au Pair’s use during their free time (see driving guidelines).You should live within easy access of a school providing language lessons for Au Pairs.
  6. Can you provide the right environment for your Au Pair to learn English?
    All of our Au Pairs are coming to learn English.  Candidates tend to have between basic and intermediate level. Improving their English is their number 1 goal and providing an environment where they can improve is an essential part of all successful placements.  All families must speak English to a near-native level in the home. Families should only ever use a language that the Au Pair understands in her presence.The only exception would be for French-English families, as we are specialised in French Au Pairs, some of our candidates with weak English would be reassured by the presence of a French speaker at home.Where families request the Au Pair to speak to the children in their native language, we would recommend financing a significant part of their English studies to ensure they’re progressing.
  7. Are you ready to train your Au Pair ?
    An Au Pair will not be as experienced or professional as a nanny. It may take them several weeks to adapt and learn how you want things done. You need to make sure you are 100% happy with the Au Pair before leaving them at home with the children on their own.You need to invest time with your Au Pair.  Unlike nannies, Au Pairs will not be fully operational on day one. The more you explain and set expectations for your Au Pair, the better chance of the duties being carried out as you wish.
  8. Will you be able to support your Au Pair in every area of their new life? 
    Your Au Pair will more than likely be experiencing their first time living abroad, they won’t yet know anyone or understand how everything works.   As well as training them for the job, you will need to help your Au Pair adapt to life in the UK.This will include things like showing them your neighbourhood, the local transport, introducing them to other young people you may know, helping them get their phone working and enrolling in a language school/gym, registering with the local doctor, opening a bank account etc.