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A travel nanny’s insight on what it takes to be an au pair.

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Introducing Lollaby’s first guest blog with Jacqui Campbell.

Jacqui has been a nanny for over three years and has travelled often with her families.  She also runs a very popular Facebook page called Melbourne based babysitters & families that connects families to a wider babysitting community.  Thanks to some very itchy feet, Jacqui is about to make very exciting a career change. She has set her sights on the bright lights of New York City and will leave Australia for the next 12 months to try her hand at being an au pair.  Jacqui will write home to us all (via a guest blog with Lollaby) to share this incredible journey of an Australian nanny’s transition to being an au pair in The Big Apple.

But wait… what is an au pair? Why not just go overseas and be a nanny?  How does it work?  We had Jacqui sit down and tell us how her new role differs from a nanny role and give us an understanding on how au pairs work.  Over to you Jacqui…


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Jacqui Campbell | Nanny/ traveller

IN A NUTSHELL:

Au pair is French for ‘on par’  meaning they are treated as a member of the family.  The idea is they live in the family home, help with the kids and offers light housekeeping.  An au pair is typically a traveller, usually untrained in childcare and can hold little experience.  While they are  perfect for many families, an au pair generally will not have same level of experience, training and qualifications as a nanny.


 

HOW IS AN AU PAIR EMPLOYED?

There are currently no set laws or guidelines regarding the use of au pairs in Australia. Travellers on a working holiday visa can only stay 12 months with each employer (something to consider if you are looking for someone long term) or face deportation. An au pair usually lives in the family home and as a result the family takes care of their living expenses (board, food, bills, WIFI, etc).  Instead of a salary/ hourly rate, au pairs are paid ‘pocket money’ (cash in hand) by the family. The rate is commonly disputed but the general consensus is $6-$10 an hour, depending on the au pair’s experience.

WHAT IS AN AU PAIR’S ROLE?

Au pairs were originally intended to be a ‘mother’s helper’, an extra pair of hands if you will.  They are there to help out and are usually not to be left in sole charge of children under 2 years old. Suited more for school age children, au pairs are there to care for the children and tend to light housework.   The experience is meant to be a cultural exchange. The family learns about the au pair’s culture while showing them around their country and shares their customs and culture in return. Due to the unregulated nature of the industry,  au pairs are increasingly being used as a full time-nanny (under an au pair wage) while both parents go to work. With no laws or guidelines to fall back on, and being new to the country, they often don’t realise they are being underpaid and taken advantage of.

ADVANTAGES OF AU PAIRS

– The chance to learn about different cultures and customs.

– Offers a great working holiday to those who love working with children.

– Affordability.

– Au pair is treated as a family member rather than an employee.

– Au pairs can help out with light housework, e.g. tidying up and washing children’s clothing.

DISADVANTAGES OF AU PAIRS

– Generally au pairs are untrained and have minimal childcare experience.

– Very low pay rates

– It is hard to reference check people from overseas.

– It can be difficult to adjust to another person living in your house.

– Communication can be challenging (if english is their second language).

– Au pairs who are on the Working Holiday Visa need to change employer’s every 12 months, to avoid breaking the law and being deported.

I have personally chosen to be an au pair because it is a great way for me to travel the world while I work.  I am so excited that I will get to experience New York City with a regular income, a place to live and all my living expenses taken care of.  It would take a lot longer to find work as a nanny and that would be stressful as well as a financial strain.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN AU PAIR AND A NANNY?

An experienced nanny is someone who has chosen childcare as their full time career. They should be passionate, educated and have experience with a wide variety of age groups. Nannies should have their current first aid certificate and a recent police check, as a minimum. Currently there are no nanny-specific courses in Australia, but nannies may study early childhood education or teaching. A nanny charges hourly, generally $20-$35 Australian dollars depending on their experience, qualifications and the role they are required to perform. Nannies can work alongside the parents in caring for the children or work in a sole charge capacity. Most nannies perform a live-out role, however some nannies can live-in.

Jaqui's 5 tips for those consdering the

WRITTEN BY JACQUELINE CAMPBELL.

Jacqui will touch base with us again soon when she has settled in NYC.  In the mean time you can follow her journey on her newest project, “She who wanders“.  Here Jacqui will share her passion for travel, food, culture, photography and more as her journey unfolds.  We are so excited to have you on board Jacqui!  Travel safe and we can’t wait to hear from you very soon!

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