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100 Tips for Au Pairs and Host Families

10 Advantages for Kids with Au Pairs

Having trouble deciding if you want to hire an au pair? Having an au pair for your child gives them some great advantages over other children. Here are ten advantages that having an au pair will have for your children.

  1. Undivided attention – Because it is her job, an au pair will be able to give your child her undivided attention. This is an important thing, especially to small children. Studies show that children who have an example of calm, attentive listening at a young age have lower incidences of behavioral issues in the future, including ADHD.
  2. Basic education – Learning your A, B, Cs and 1, 2, 3s are just a few of the perks your child will get with an au pair. By the time your child gets into Kindergarten, he’ll be above and beyond his peers.
  3. Homework help – Nothing is worse than having to come home and fight with your child to get them to do their homework. With an au pair there to help them, homework will be complete long before you get home from work. Whew.
  4. Tutoring – If your child is having trouble in class, than a private tutor may be just the thing they need. A qualified au pair can help them out with math and science, or any other class they need help in.
  5. Constant supervision – No latch-key kids here. Having an adult home at all times takes a lot of stress off of you. If your child forgot something at home or gets off of school unexpectedly, there is always someone there.
  6. Manners – Kids don’t pick up manners like they do chicken pox. They have to be taught. The more they are alone, the less opportunity they have for learning how to act properly around others. Having an au pair to correct them and guide them can be invaluable.
  7. Respect – Another thing that comes by being around others is respect. Respecting adults, other kids, and themselves. Respect is an important part of having a quality life, so any advantage in this is well worth it.
  8. Safety – Having an adult in the house means not having to worry about you child as much. If there is a fire or some other emergency, the au pair is competent and able to take the appropriate measures to get your child to safety.
  9. Transportation – If your child has practice, recitals, or other events to go to, then you know how hard it can be to arrange transportation. A well-qualified au pair can step in and fill that gap. Driving your kids to events is no longer a full time job for you.
  10. Less stressed parents – If you don’t have to worry about the day to day minutia, then you can enjoy more relaxed, fun time with your child. Less stress means more happiness, and that advantage is something no one will refuse.

If you are unsure about hiring an au pair, take the time to list the pros and cons. Quality of life is what is important here; for you and for your child. Only you can make the decision to make an au pair part of your lives.

10 Disadvantages for Kids with Au Pairs

Hiring someone to help out with your children sounds like a great idea at first, but when you really sit down and think about it, you might come up with a few issues. Here are some things you might want to think twice about before you hire an au pair for your kids. Listed below are ten disadvantages your children will have if you hire an au pair.

  1. Lack of independence – Having someone watching their every move can be stifling for some children. They don’t feel free to act or think the way they naturally would. This lack of independence can make them clingy and fearful.
  2. Lack of self-resilience – Always having someone else to rely on is great, in theory. However, kids can use this as a crutch and never learn to make their own decisions.
  3. Lack of responsibility – When a child is never left to make their own decisions, then they never learn responsibility. Someone is always there to pick up the slack.
  4. Lack of respect – If your child doesn’t respect the au pair, because of culture, intelligence, or economic status, then that lack of respect can transfer to other authority figures, causing many problems later in life.
  5. Less parent-child interaction – Having someone to help with homework and tote your child to and from activities sounds like a great deal, but you are missing out on important interactions with your child. The more the au pair does, the fewer opportunities you have to teach your child valuable lessons.
  6. Cultural differences – If your au pair is from a different culture than you are, you might run into difficulties. Different cultures have different ways of doing things, which may conflict with your ideals.
  7. Moral differences – Similarly, your morals and your au pair’s morals may differ in small but significant ways. If you really want your child to have one way of thinking, then getting a diverse au pair is not a good idea.
  8. Rebellion – Some kids feel abandoned by their parents when they get an au pair. This feeling can lead to rebellion. Most children with rebellion issues have a fear of abandonment, so think about that before you hire an au pair.
  9. Laziness – If someone is always there to pick up after your child, than that can lead to laziness. Kids need to learn to work hard to be successful. Laziness is something that no parent can afford to instill.
  10. Entitlement – If a child has been pampered all their life, they may have an attitude of entitlement. They may grow up to think they need and deserve undivided attention and more.

If you are thinking about hiring an au pair, then take these ten issues into consideration. None of these are unworkable; rather you just need to be aware of them in order to make the best decision for you and your family. An au pair can be very beneficial, but only if you are aware and dealing with the issues as they come along.

10 Reasons I Always Prefer to Hire an Au Pair

Before you start the hiring process for someone to help with your children, I strongly recommend looking into hiring an au pair over anything else. Au pairs are a wonderful addition to any home and here are 10 reasons why I think so:

  1. Easy: It is easy to find an au pair. You can work with an agency or even more commonly now, find your next au pair online. There are plenty of helpful sites to guide you in your search for the perfect au pair.
  2. Certified: Au pairs tend to be certified in certain courses pertaining to your child’s safety and some certified in working with children. CPR and first aid are common certifications you can depend on your au pair having.
  3. Experienced: Au pairs have the experience that most nannies don’t. They know how to work with children and how to respond to anything your child throws (sometimes literally) at them.
  4. New Culture: Hiring an au pair from a different country really exposes and expands your child’s mind to different cultures. It could be a great learning experience for you and your child.
  5. New Languages: This is a great way to learn a new language! Working closely and daily conversation with a different language is definitely cheaper and easier than any other language course you could sign up for.
  6. Helping someone: Most au pairs come straight out of school from other counties looking for work. Not only do you need their help, in return you would be helping your au pair. You can teach them a new culture and language.
  7. Less expensive than hiring a Nanny: Because au pairs live in your home and you provide them meals, you generally pay the au pair a weekly allowance. However nannies and babysitters will charge you more because of gas, meal preparation and other expenses.
  8. Great scheduling: An au pair lives with you and becomes part of your family’s daily schedule unlike hiring a nanny or babysitter. Living in your home helps tremendously when it comes to coordinating transportation and events with the children.
  9. Reliable: Because au pairs live with you, you can rely on them to be there when you need them the most. You build an honest relationship and know that you can count on the au pair.
  10. The Au Pair community: Au pairs are a very close knit of people. Au pairs have a community like presence and tend to lend each other support and help other au pairs.

10 Reasons I would NEVER Hire an Au Pair

If you are thinking of hiring an au pair, then think again. What’s wrong with you? Why would you want to subject yourself and your family to that? What am I talking about? Well, here are ten reasons I would never hire an au pair.

  1. Foreign – First off, most if not all au pairs are foreign. That means that they are not from here. This means a host of other problems come with them. Problems such as:
  2. Language barrier – Um, hello? Can they even communicate with you and your children? How will that affect your child’s lingual skills in the long run? How will you be able to tell the au pair what you need them to do?
  3. Cultural barrier – Different countries have different ways of thinking. What’s okay there might not be here, and vice versa. It is hard enough getting kids to learn and obey one set of social rules. Do you really want to confuse them more?
  4. Tax stuff – How is all this going to work? How does the taxation on her pay go? You’ll need to be a lawyer or hire one to figure this out. After all, you certainly don’t want to get into hot water with the IRS.
  5. Legal stuff – Beyond just taxes, what other legal quandaries are you going to run into? Can they drive? Will their license work here? Do they have a visa? For how long? Are they even here legally in the first place? How do you run a background check on a foreigner?
  6. Exposure – What are you exposing your children to? Do you know how the au pair thinks about important things like religion and ethics? Do you know if they did drugs or hated their parents? What lessons are your kids going to learn from them?
  7. Safety – Speaking of background checks, how do you know these au pairs are who they say they are? It is not like you can just set up a face to face interview before you hire them. By the time they are at your house, it is already too late.
  8. Responsibility – How responsible are these au pairs? Most au pairs are older teens and young adults. Everyone knows that those are not the prime ages for maturity and stability. And you trust them to take care of your children?
  9. Stupidity – Speaking of responsibility, you also have the sheer stupidity factor. Think about everything you learned between the ages of eighteen and thirty. Yeah. Now, is that really the wisest choice for a childcare professional?
  10. Care – Last but not least, does the au pair really care about your kids, or are they just looking for a way to get into the country and party? It’s not as farfetched as you’d like to think. Tons of families get duped like that. What makes you any different?

If you are still willing to hire an au pair after all these reasons I’ve given you, then good luck to you. You are a better man than I, Gunga Din. But, please, remember my warnings and be wise in who you choose to take care of your children.

10 Scams that Au Pair Families Should be Watching For

You think you are hiring a perfectly nice au pair and then something goes wrong. What happened? I’ll tell you what, a scammer happened. As thick as fleas on a dog; scammers online like to prey on needy people. Don’t let that happen to you. Here are ten scams that all families hiring au pairs should be on the lookout for.

  1. Au pair provides bank account information – No one gives away information as private as a bank account without getting to know you first. If the au pair is that laissez-faire with private information, then you really don’t want to hire her anyway.
  2. Asking you to open a new bank account – Especially with Wells Fargo or Bank of America. No one needs a new account. Your old one is fine. If they are making you jump through hoops, then something nefarious is afoot.
  3. Au pair doesn’t okay background check- Um, hiding something, are we? Like a Car Fax report on a used car, a good au pair should be happy to have a background check done. If not, then steer clear.
  4. No references able to be reached – No one they have EVER worked for can be contacted. Um, no. Just skip this one.
  5. Au pair takes job without interviewing – Interviewing the family is just as important as you interviewing her. It might just be through Skype, but face to face is face to face. Anyone willing to take the job without that modicum of effort is not worth it.
  6. Unbelievable salary demands or employment history- She’s willing to work 80+ hours a week for only $600 a month! Wow! Um… no. Life doesn’t work like that. You get what you pay for, remember?
  7. Tragic family history or needs – Yes, bad things do happen. No, that doesn’t mean you need to send her $1000 to pay off her dying mother’s medical bills.
  8. Needs a favor – Please forward money someplace for medical care/moving/plane ticket via Western Union. No. Just no.
  9. Payment – Why is the au pair paying you for anything? You are hiring her, remember? If she volunteers to send you money for any reason, run. Quickly.
  10. Stealing – Ah, the old tried and true scam. Get hired. Case the joint. And then run off with anything you can carry… in the family car. This is why background checks are so important.

Scammers typically target the au pairs, but now and then they will tackle families too. Be smart and stay alert. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true than it probably is. Keep control, don’t fool around, and watch what information you give. It might save you a bundle.

10 Expectations Foreign Au Pairs Should Have When Coming to the U.S.

Your first few days in the United States will be definitely be a culture shock from what you are used too. But have no worries the United States is a great country to settle into in. You can expect friendly and helpful faces to guide you through until you are comfortable. Here are 10 things you can expect when you arrive to the United States:

  1. Many Different Cultures: Coming to the United States an au pair, you should expect many different cultures. Every city and state contains a plethora of different backgrounds and ethnicities. Most large cities have culture organizations that you can join to make help your transition into the United States.
  2. More Freedoms: United States allows different cultures and religions to practice whatever they choose. United States prides itself on being open minded to others and expects all citizens to follow suit.
  3. Decent Pay: United States is a relatively successful country and can pay well. Be sure to do your homework and find what a typical au pair is paid to be sure that you are being paid fairly.
  4. Food: United States is known for the millions of different food restaurants and options. Of course American food does contain delicious hamburgers and hot dogs as well as practicing many other worldly cuisines.
  5. Education opportunities: The ability to get an education is easier in the United States than most countries. Your education opportunities are endless, you can take courses on a campus or online and study any subject. In the United States you are offered financial assistance and advice from helpful professionals.
  6. Airport customs: Just like traveling to any other country, you will always have to count on strict customs rules and regulations. Prepare for long waits at the airport when you are leaving and arriving to the country.
  7. Languages: The most common language spoken is English. English is relatively an easier language to learn and speak. However, because se of the many different other cultures here, most likely you can find others that speak your language.
  8. Driving: You can expect that United States drives on the right side of the road. So be careful and watch where you step. You will most likely need to join a driving course to learn the rules and regulations.
  9. Travel: Traveling within the United States is typically easier than other countries. There are many different forms of transportation and different places to visit. All you need to do is book a flight, take a train or bus, drive and have your proper papers.
  10. More opportunities for women: The United States prides itself on equality not only for all different races and background but on gender. Women have equal rights and have more opportunities to enjoy life and be successful in their jobs.

Be prepared for anything and don’t be afraid to ask your au pair family for help when you arrive to adjust to your new life. You can expect a great new start to a new life and welcome to the United States!

10 Expectations Foreign Au Pairs Should NOT Have When Coming to the U.S

Some foreign au pairs unfortunately have unrealistic expectations when it comes to the United States. The United States is a wonderful country with lots of opportunities but before you head this way be aware of common expectations that are not necessarily true:

  1. Easy driving: Driving will not be easy. United States is one of the few countries that drive on the opposite side of the road unlike many other countries. Watch your step and look into take driving lessons before you hit the road alone.
  2. Complete freedom: United States is known for being the land of freedom, which is completely true. However, this can be misleading. We do have rules and laws that you must follow. Before you arrive, review them and educate yourself on the basic regulations.
  3. High Pay: United States does have an improving economy and most families do pay well when it comes to working with au pairs. But be prepared it’s not going to be the highest amount you think.
  4. Languages: You can expect to meet many different people from many different cultures but you may have to really do some research before you find others that speak your language. English is the language spoken and Spanish a close second. Speak to your host family about taking English course to help you transition into America.
  5. Work to be easy: Work is never easy, especially working with children as you may or may not know. Just be prepared to work hard but to be rewarded highly.
  6. Constant contact back home: Depending on your host family, you may not be able to make many phone calls back home. The cost of international calls is very expensive. However you can count on doing things like Skype and video chats via the computer.
  7. Easy transportation: Depending on what city you are headed too, transportation can be tricky. Not all cities have trains or bus systems.
  8. Safety: No matter what country you are in the world, you need to be aware of your surroundings at all times. United States is relatively safe but never put your guard down.
  9. Perfect weather: The United States is so large that weather during the seasons is different for almost every state. Example: It can be snowing in West Texas and 75 degrees in East Texas.
  10. Drinking age: Before you sip on some wine, be aware that the legal drinking age in the United States is 21 and not 18 like most other countries.

Do your research before you accept a job in the United States and don’t be afraid to ask your host family for help during the transition. If needed you can make a visit to the United States before you accept the job offer to get a better idea of how you would fit in. Good luck and safe travels!

10 Ways to Decide Which Countries of Origin May be Best for Your Next Au Pair

Deciding which country of origin you want your next au pair to come from can be a sticky situation. On the one hand, only looking at a person’s country of origin can vastly skew your perception of someone; on the other hand, however, it is important to make sure that their backgrounds are compatible with your own. If the country of origin is important to you as you look for an au pair then these ten questions are ones you will want to consider as you narrow down your choices:

  1. Are there customs similar to yours? The difference in customs amongst some countries can vary so vastly that it can create discord in the home. You don’t want to hire someone who was raised with an entirely different set of beliefs and values to the point that the harmony in your home is disrupted.
  2. Do they have similar religious values? If religion is something that is important in your household then this is something you need to seriously consider. Are you OK with exposing your family to a different religion, or do you want to keep everything as aligned as possible?
  3. Do they have similar views on discipline? The way that you approach discipline in your household needs to be respected and followed by the au pair as well. Hiring someone who comes from a background of corporal punishment where you have none – or vice versa – is something that needs to be taken into consideration.
  4. Is the country reputable for having good au pairs? Not every au pair can be judged based on their home country, and each experience is certainly unique, however looking into a country’s success rate with au pairs can give you some base level idea of what to expect.
  5. Do you want your child to learn a particular language? Are you interested in your child being exposed to a certain language or culture? If so, picking an au pair from that culture is a great way to expose your child to that particular language and to the customs of the country.
  6. Is there any emphasis on family in the country? For some families it’s imperative to pick an au pair who comes from a background where family is put first and foremost. Research how different countries raise their children, and then narrow down your options accordingly.
  7. Do you want someone who is stricter or someone who is more laid-back? Depending on the approach you’re looking for from your au pair you should look into which countries are known for having au pairs that are either  more laid-back or have a stricter approach to handling situations.
  8. Are their food preferences similar to yours? Bringing in someone to your country for the first time can be a bit of a culture shock, and certain countries can have entirely different diets. Being exposed to a slew of new foods can be a bit of a dietary disaster if they – and you – aren’t at least somewhat prepared.
  9. Do they have similar modes of transportation? If you want your au pair to drive your child around then you should make sure that they’re coming from a country where public transportation isn’t the only means of getting around.
  10. Do their work visas correspond with how long you are looking for employment? Different countries have varying laws detailing how long someone can work in another country. Make sure that the au pair you’re hiring will be able to stay for the duration of the employment and not have to leave early.

Looking into an au pairs country can be a good way to get an idea of what to expect from them. However, keep in mind that you shouldn’t solely base your decision for an au pair on their nationality because each individual person won’t line up exactly with the stereotypes associated with their country.

10 Tips for Being Eligible to Work in the U.S.

Becoming an au pair in the United States requires meeting certain eligibility requirements prior to acceptance. There are several logistics that need to be taken care of and verified before an au pair will be allowed entry into the country. If you’re wondering what makes you eligible to become an au pair in the U.S., you will need to make sure you meet these ten requirements:

  1. You must have a DS-2019 – The DS-2019 is one of the most important documents you will obtain because it details the dates you are allowed to work in the United States. As long as you are within those dates you are allowed to stay in the country.
  2. You must have a J-1 Visa – The J-1 Visa is a document that verifies that you have been approved for the au pair work-study program in the United States. However if your J-1 Visa expires before your tenure is up, your DS-2019 will still allow you to stay despite the visa’s expiration.
  3. You must be able to speak English – Each au pair applicant will be tested for their English speaking skills before being approved as a U.S. au pair, so making sure that you are sufficiently able to speak English is of the utmost importance.
  4. You must be between the ages of 18-26 – Because the U.S. au pair program is a work-study exchange program the age group for eligible au pairs is limited to the 18-26 age brackets. If you fall outside of this age range but are still interested in travelling to the U.S. you will have to look into the other options available for working in or visiting the U.S. as a foreigner.
  5. You have to agree to a 12 month stay – There is a one year minimum commitment for prospective au pairs travelling to the U.S. If you reach the end of your stay and want to extend it there are extension options available.
  6. You must sign up and complete at least 3 semester hours each semester – As an au pair you are required to complete six semester hours during your yearlong stay, with three hours each semester. This law is in place because of the work-study nature of the au pair program. If you don’t complete these you will incur penalties.
  7. You must have at least 200 hours experience in childcare if working with a child under 2 years of age – With the precarious nature of working with children of such a young age there is a staunch requirement of having at a minimum 200 hours of childcare experience.
  8. You must have no criminal record – Each au pair that is applying to participate in the U.S. au pair program is required to pass a criminal background check before acceptance of their application.
  9. You must be willing to provide up to 45 hours per week of childcare – Au pairs are required to work a maximum of 45 hours a week and up to 10 hours a day during their stay. If you are unable to meet this requirement then you will be deemed ineligible as an au pair.
  10. You have to have completed your secondary education – Since the program requires a completion of six semester hours during the duration of your stay it is imperative that you have previously completed your secondary education.

While it may seem like there are a long list of eligibility requirements, the requirements are in place to ensure that both the au pair and the host family receive the most from their involvement in the program. Once these requirements are met, however, the pathway is paved for a very rewarding experience in the U.S.

10 U.S. Laws Foreign Au Pairs Should Know

Before you enter the United States to fulfill an au pair position it’s important to brush up on any U.S. laws that will inevitably affect you during your stay. Being aware of these laws will ensure a more successful trip and help you avoid any legal mishaps:

  1. You will need a J-1 Visa – To enter the United States under the au pair program all au pairs are required to have a current J-1 Visa. The J-1 Visa indicates that you are participating in an educational and work exchange program where you agree to work and study during your stay in the United States.
  2. You must be proficient in spoken English – Acceptance of your au pair application is contingent on your ability to speak English. To ensure this, there will be a mandatory screening to test your English speaking abilities ahead of time.
  3. You have to be in the 18-26 age range – The acceptable age to be considered for being an au pair is 18-26. This is non-negotiable.
  4. You must attend at least 6 semester hour courses during your stay – Because the au pair experience is that of a work-study program, the educational aspect of the program is mandatory. If you don’t complete the required course hours then you will be held responsible for paying your return flight home. You also risk the host family being punished by becoming ineligible for hosting.
  5. You must have a minimum of 32 hours professional childcare training – The United States J-1 Visa program requires that all au pairs coming over have obtained at least 32 hours of previous childcare training before allowing them to be eligible for being hired as an au pair.
  6. You will need a DS-2019 – Your DS-2019 is not the same as your J-1 Visa, and you will need both to be an au pair. The DS-2019 provides the dates that you are eligible to legally be in the United States, making it an imperative document to have.
  7. You may have to file taxes on your earnings – If an au pair in the U.S. earns over $3,300 in a year it will subject you to paying federal and state taxes on the earnings. You will need to track your earnings and stay on top of your tax returns so that you don’t violate any U.S. tax laws.
  8. The drinking age is 21 – Unlike most foreign countries where the drinking age is 18, the U.S. will not allow legal drinking until the age of 21. This can be hard for au pairs who are used to being able to obtain alcohol at a younger age; however the punishments can be quite severe.
  9. If your J-1 expires your DS-2019 supersedes it – If your J-1 Visa happens to expire while you’re still fulfilling your au pair contract then as long as your DS-2019 is still current you will still legally be allowed to work in the United States until the end date on your DS-2019.
  10. You are required to have medical insurance – Under the J-1 Visa program au pair participants must carry medical insurance that has at least minimum benefits afforded to them. This is for your own health and safety, and the insurance will need to be verified by the host family.

Having a good understanding of these laws is essential to guaranteeing you get the most out of your trip to the United States as an au pair. However violation of these laws can leave you in varying levels of trouble, so be sure to be aware of any document expiration dates and rules and regulations.

10 Ways Countries to Choose Your Next Au Pair from

Hiring someone from a different country to come into your home and watch over your children can be a very stressful task. Everyone looking into hiring an au pair has heard one horror story or another telling of au pairs that left suddenly or had less than desirable characteristics once they reached their host’s home. However some countries rank higher than others when it comes to providing excellent au pairs. The next time you’re looking for an au pair, keep these ten countries in mind:

  1. Brazil – Au pairs hailing from Brazil have many of the same values as Americans, thus making them typically good matches for families in the U.S. They are also known for being easy-going and personable, two qualities that make for a happy household.
  2. Germany – German au pairs are widely renowned as fitting into families well and maintaining great relationships with the families, even after they are no longer employed by the family. They adapt well to the United States.
  3. Venezuela – Most au pairs from Venezuela are known for being very loving toward the children they are watching and open with the families. Because they are known for having very family-oriented values in their home country it paves the way for the same affections toward a host family’s children.
  4. South Africa – Families in South Africa are usually large families with several children, and because au pairs coming from there are used to a very family-focused and hard-working mindset they usually do very well adapting to host families in the U.S.
  5. Columbia – As is typical of other South American countries, au pairs from Columbia generally have very strong family values which make them a good fit for being an au pair. They also are known for being mostly conservative and good drivers.
  6. Sweden – Many Swedish au pairs come to the U.S. already knowing English, which is a huge benefit because you don’t have to allot time for sending them to English classes. By already knowing English they are able to focus more on your children and less on adapting to a new language. They also typically integrate well into families.
  7. Canada – With their close proximity to the U.S., au pairs from Canada are usually well-received. To be in au pair in Canada you have to go through extensive training so you can rest assured that your au pair is likely extremely knowledgeable about their job duties.  
  8. France – Au Pairs that come to the U.S. from France are usually more than willing to teach children about their country and cultures, thus broadening your children’s knowledge of other countries. Plus many are required to learn English ahead of time.
  9. United Kingdom – Because British au pairs speak a form of English there is less of a language barrier than with those who speak an entirely different language. This can make the transition easier for both the au pair and your family.  
  10. Spain – Most au pairs from Spain don’t believe in corporal punishment, and will pick a stern talking to over any sort of physical contact, which is a good quality to have in someone you’re hiring. They are known for having open, loving personalities. Many already speak English.

Choosing an au pair is a very individualized decision. Despite some countries being known for having a better selection of potential au pairs than others, each individual au pair is different. It all comes down to who your family feels most comfortable with.