What’s in a name? Au pair?

Alright, I’ve given an idea of what a mother’s helper, babysitter, and nanny are in previous posts and here is the finale…Au pair!

I’ll be honest, as I have a ton of personal experience in the first three names they were easy for me to address. Au pair is a name I had to learn about. I heard the term in books and movies but it wasn’t until I began my nanny career that I was face to face with a (gasp) real live au pair. I would run into people my age, doing what seemed to be the same thing as I was but they called themselves au pairs. I found this fascinating. What the heck was the difference between them and me?? I had to find out, after all, a name means a lot to most people. What was an au pair if not a nanny?

Well, here is the long and the short of it, they are pretty much the same thing with a few very key differences.¬†Au pair means on “par,” a “visitor” who must acquire a specialized Visa and live with a single family caring for the children of said family for one year, acting as an equal in the family. While living in the home, an au pair would typically have quite similar tasks as a nanny such as household chores, childcare, and meal prep. Some families might like an au pair to teach their children the language and culture of the visiting au pair. Au pairs often work a slightly longer week, unless also involved in an education program paired with employment.

The income of an au pair is something I don’t fully understand. From a little internet research, it seems to me, that depending on how a family obtains an au pair for employment the rates change slightly. I was seeing government stipends, agency fees, reference to “type of visa.” If any one understands this part better then I, please please share it with me!! I’m just curious, is it as confusing as it seems on google search?

My best advice is to do diligent research if you go this route. It is easy to see that if one isn’t careful, the combination of “being part of the family” whilst still being professional could get blurred for the family and au pair. To ensure everyone is happy, the best way to enter into this sort of relationship is with as much clarity of needs and expectations beginning at the first stages. I find its always easier to avoid confusion by explaining up front, often very appreciated.



What’s in a name?

What’s in a name? What is the big deal and why do people care so much about their name? Like when you meet someone and before you even have a chance to forget their name, they tell you “my name is Jennifer…not Jenn, or Jenny…don’t call me anything but Jennifer!” Whoa, why so bothered? How many times have you introduced your self this way, I wonder. I’ve actually been overhearing this as my work place is on boarding new staff, during my time volunteering at the zoo, or just sitting at the local bar . I suppose since it’s pretty hard to shorten Laura, I find this whole thing slightly interesting and I obviously haven’t had the experience of those with long names but the all of it got me think, what’s in a name?

What does this have to do with anything relevant to nanny consulting you might being asking yourself (or shouting through your screen at me)…here’s how. If we consider names are also job titles, in the world of child care there are so many different titles people use: babysitter, mothers helper, nanny, au pair just to name a few.

It’s confusing for those looking to find the right fit for their families when you aren’t sure which “name” to use when on your search. Do you need help Monday-Friday 9-5? Do you want to be able to run a few errands in the afternoon and maybe a date night once a month? Do you need some one to help entertain your little one and fold some laundry while you unload the dishwasher? Or are you looking for some who can live in and is also fluent in another language or culture then English? ¬†Finding your fit is as easy as remembering the right “name.”

This week I’m going to give you my spin on each of these different names/titles.

Today’s name to think about is Mother’s helper.

Mother’s Helper: Ideally, a neighborhood preteen looking for a little cash and babysitting experience. Not quite old enough to be left home alone with children but responsible enough to be in different parts of house/yard to allow parents time to do some chores, get dinner started, get into the garden, etc. Usually will need transportation assistance if beyond short walk to and from home. There are varying degrees of a mother’s helper, some can be left home alone during a quick errand to the store, or run around the block. This is up to the parents of all involved (the child who is being looked after and the helper’s) based on safety and comfort levels of both parties. This may be revisited as helper ages. Usually paid day of service or as arranged by parents.

*A mother’s helper could of course also be an adult but may be looking for less then part-time (think in school, has a desire for second job/additional income, retired but still active). Beyond that I would begin to consider said person to be more along the line of babysitter/nanny which “names” I’ll ponder later this week.