Monthly Archives: May 2020

What families are looking for

Who is Elegible?

The greatest attraction of looking after children for many au pairs in Australia is that it is one of the easiest ways to fix up work abroad, since the demand for au pairs in Australia is so great. It has been estimated that about half of all women with children in Australia work full or part time. Most families prefer au pair candidates to have had some practical experience of looking after children, but most are prepared to consider anyone with a genuine liking for children, a positive attitude towards domestic chores and a reasonably mature character. We require at least one reference which simply testifies to your reliability and common sense.

An experienced au pair claimed that to do the job well you need a ‘sense of humour, the patience of a saint, a liking for children and the ability to leap over toy buildings in a single bound’. A love of children is an obvious prerequisite, and will cover up a multitude of sins. But other qualities which parents are looking for include a mature attitude to assuming responsibility. All parents want to feel confident about leaving their children in the care of another person, so they are looking for someone who is sensible, trustworthy, able to assume control, and who will report major mishaps as appropriate.

Australian Families want somebody reliable who will drive carefully, remember to lock up and who will not invite guests indiscriminately into the home. they also expect to be able to trust you, not only with their valuables but with money for shopping, children’s treats, etc. Any accidental damage in the home should immediately be admitted and an offer to replace it tendered. Most agencies have encouraged families to take out liability insurance on their au pair or nanny ‘s behalf which should cover major problems.

A cheerful disposition is greatly valued in family situations. All parents want a warm, healthy atmosphere in their homes, and are disconcerted by girls who are moody or volatile. A calm approach to life in general and little disasters in particular is what is called for. Live-in helpers who are reduced to hysteria by the sight of a spider or the squeak of a mouse won ‘t do their charges any good.

Personal hygiene is just as important as making sure the children are kept clean and tidy. Parents resent it if you don’t clean up after yourself, even if it is in your own room or on your day off, though none is likely to go as far as the wife of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who was reputed to make her nanny wash her hands up to 300 times a day.

A large number of agencies including our agency, and families absolutely prohibit smoking among their staff. Read more about the requirements to be an Au pair with our agency. If you are a smoker but serious about nannying, you might want to consider giving up. It is no good pretending that you never touch cigarettes when you obviously do. Even if you manage to bluff your way into a job, you will be climbing the walls once you start and are not able to smoke freely. If you try to do so secretly, there’ll be all sorts of tell-tale signs. Non-smokers have very sensitive noses.

All children have a tendency to be early risers so it helps if you are too.If you are a night hawk by nature, you will have to exercise self-discipline and resign yourself to reorganising your habits and your social life.

Au Pairs, Nannies and Mother’s helps

The terms au pair in Australia, mother’s help and Australian nanny are often applied rather loosely, so it is worth spending some time clarifying the varying roles. All are primarily live-in jobs in Australia, concerned with tending to the needs of children, contributing to their emotional and mental development and imposing discipline when necessary.

au pair caring babies

Australian Nannies are usually thought of as having some formal training, in particular the NNEB (National Nursery Examination Board) certificate. There are however ‘nanny’ positions open to women who have no paper qualifications but who have substantial experience of working with children. Nannies have sole charge of the children and are responsible for chores directly relating to them. They usually live in and command a full-time salary, since they will be on duty around the clock except on one or two days off per week. Daily nannying (i.e. live-out) is also a possibility after you have gained considerable experience. Salaries vary enormously at this senior level

Mother’s helps will sometimes have sole charge but more usually will work alongside the parents, usually the mother. They will assist wherever necessary and be expected to perform a variety of tasks, not only related to the children hut also to the household generally, including housework and/or cooking. They may be paid on a par with a trained nanny. The hours are normally eight hours a day, five and a half or six days a week plus several evenings of babysitting.

Au pairs in Australia are in a different category, though many of their duties overlap with those of a mother’s help. The official purpose of the arrangement from our agency Au pair Australia, is to provide single women and men aged 18-27 with the chance to study a foreign language and culture while living as part of a family. Technically that means it is not possible to be an au pair in your own country or in one whose language you share, though there are exceptions, as in the case of the Au Pair in America scheme which is open only to English-speakers. Au pairs are meant to work for no more than 45 hours a week over five days, plus two evenings of babysitting, and get pocket money of not less than $180 a week in most countries. Unlike nannies and mother’s helps, au pairs in other countries do not sign a contract since the arrangement is an informal one. All our Au pairs sign a contract with the Australian host family, prior to their arrival. Au pairs should be treated more like family members than employees. An au pair has much less responsibility for the welfare of the children than does a nanny, and is not normally expected to take sole charge of a newborn.

Holiday au pairs usually work from December to February and accompany the family on their holidays. Since the children are out of school, there may be less free time than during the academic year and often no chance to study a language. Otherwise the same rules should apply as for ordinary au pairing.

These are in broad outline the kinds of live-in childcare positions with which this article is concerned. The kinds of arrangement into which families and live­ in helpers settle are in fact infinite, and many of the guidelines and definitions set out in the pages which follow are open to interpretation and subject  to all kinds of  permutation.  Two  common  variations  are the  demi pair  and  au pair plus. The demi  pair in Australia  works  a maximum  of  three  hours  a  day,  plus  some babysitting, in exchange for accommodation and meals. The au pair plus merges with the mother’s help since she is often required by households with  two  working parents  who are away from home the whole day but she usually gets paid  less than a mother’s help because she may not have had much childcare experience. The average weekly pay depends on experience and working hours.

All of these definitions can very easily  become  blurred,  for  example  a number of jobs advertised as nanny positions in Australia are really mother’s help jobs  in disguise, i.e. there is more housekeeping than would normally be involved in a nanny job.

To simplify matters,  the  term  ‘au  pair’  is used  most  often throughout,  since this post is aimed primarily at those who want to go abroad to work. But much of what is said about au pairing is equally relevant to nannying either in Australia or  abroad.