Ever dreamed about having a live-in nanny who looks after the kids and helps out around the house?
It may sound a bit 'posh' and even a bit expensive, but Close Up found that having an au pair in your home may be more affordable than you think.
It’s becoming an increasingly popular form of childcare for families with both parents out at work, with the number of Kiwi families with au pairs doubling in the last year.
Au pairs provide home based care where the family has a dedicated au pair who lives in the home and provides education for the child.
One mum Angela Hogg and her husband have been using au pairs for four years for their two young children.
She explains the advantages of having an au pair over the more traditional day care arrangements.
“It’s great to have an extra pair of hands around the house when you’ve got two parents working full time to help with the care relating to the children and chores.”
Hogg also prefers the relative flexibility of having an au pair in the home.
“It suits us because it allows us to keep the children at home in their own environment on a day to day basis while we’re at work. It also offers flexibility.”
Some might find it uncomfortable sharing their living space with their child carer, but American au pair Jessica Aguilar says that it doesn’t take long to become part of the family.
“You get to know [the families] really quickly. It definitely takes a lot of communication and compromise but it’s only as awkward as you want it to be.”
While au pairs are often in the country on a working holiday, Cecilia Robinson from New Zealand’s largest agency, Au Pair Link, says that the au pairs are focused on doing their job – looking after your kids.
“The girls always come out with the best intentions, with the families’ best interest and the children’s best interests at heart.”
But the bottom line for many parents when deciding on childcare is the cost and having an au pair is not as expensive as you might think.
According to Au Pair Link, families can pay approximately $200 per week on average for a dedicated Au Pair, which can be comparable to day care costs in some city centres.
However this home based approach to childcare does have its critics.
Peter Reynolds from Early Childhood Education Council points out that au pairs aren’t able to deliver the same standard of education as day care centres.
“The au pairs themselves are not qualified EC teachers,” says Reynolds.
While having an au pair may not be for everyone, it’s handy for parents to know there are alternative childcare options out there.
And as Reynolds points out, it’s always up to parents to decide what is best for their child.
“At the end of the day, we trust parents will make a judgement call on quality and where that child is going to get the best possible start.”