Keep Calm and Host an Au Pair or Demi Pair!
If another pair of ‘adult hands’ to help you maintain the ‘calm’ at home sounds good, then perhaps you are in the market for an Au Pair or a Demi Pair? We spoke to Natasha Brown, founder of www.hostanaupair.com.au and a number of host families who shared their experiences with us…
The Au Pair industry – including Demi Pairs is growing rapidly in Australia. The cost and availability of mainstream childcare can make it inaccessible for many families. Hosting an Au/Demi Pair can be an affordable solution for families, whilst providing flexible childcare options.
Tracey says ‘Our children are happier because they are cared for in their own home by someone they know.’
The labour market requirements of extended working days, casual employment and unexpected travel often mean traditional childcare options are not suitable. Shift workers, mining, defence and rural families have high representation in the Au/Demi Pair industry. These families enjoy the benefits of extra support the Au/Demi Pair provides particularly when many families are not near extended family, as well as child care options that suit the families’ individual needs.
Ruth says ‘I am much happier as I no longer feel that after working a full and long week running my company that I have to spend all weekend doing household chores and get to do enjoyable things with the kids!’
What is an Au Pair?
An Au Pair is someone who is (usually) from overseas, has a working holiday visa and provides childcare and light housework to a family. The family provides accommodation, meals and board and other incidentals which differ from family to family – such as access to a car, mobile phone, wifi. The family also provides pocket money to the au pair. Au Pairs can work from 20 – 45+ hours a week. This option is often suited to those who have smaller children not at school and who have an au pair care for their children full-time or with a mix of childcare.
Pete says the best thing about hosting an au pair is ‘the opportunity to feel confident that my girls are safe and gaining a new big sister at the same time!’
An Au Pair can wake children, get them ready for their day, play with them, take them to activities, do craft and art activities, get them meals, baking, sports and anything that children get up to. Also, they can undertake light household duties and cleaning up after children.
Beth says ‘I’m happy as house is kept clean and orderly and my daughter has all her homework and chores done by the time I get home (so we get) much more quality time together.’
What is a Demi Pair?
A Demi Pair is similar to an Au Pair except that they don’t get paid. They don’t get paid because they do less hours and have less responsibility. Demi Pairs do between 15-20 hours work for the family per week in exchange for their food and accommodation. They also usually have other obligations outside the family home such as language school, other education or part-time employment. Demi Pairs may not be as flexible as Au Pairs with their availability, they are often more suited to school age children. There are instances where a family may only require Demi Pair hours but provide small pocket money so that they have some flexibility from a Demi Pair.
Lauren says ‘I am a MUCH happier wife and mother now that I don’t have to be Superwoman.’
What does a family need to provide to an au pair or demi pair?
As a minimum families need to provide a furnished room and three meals per day to their Au/Demi Pair. Many families offer extras such as: ensuite, study desk, free wifi, use of a car etc. It depends on what you would like the Au/Demi Pair to do for you and how comfortable you would like them to be, as well as how long you might like them to stay. Ideally, you also need to include them as part of your family; a bit like an older sister (with some responsibilities) and treat her with the same respect and openness as you would a family member. You need to consider how you might feel about someone else living in your home and how well you communicate your family’s needs and what your expectations are of the role.
Au Pairs and Demi Pairs usually come to Australia for a cultural experience and to travel with the safety net of a family environment. Long term host families will attest that good Au/Demi pairs become not only lifelong friends but part of the family.
Bek says ‘I love that we are inviting someone to join our family. We all learn so much about their home country, my toddlers more so. We now have extended family all over the world.’
Simon says the best thing for him about his family hosting is ‘A dinner night once a week with my wife got us talking again like we did pre-children.’
For more information and to find an Au/Demi Pair we recommend:
About the author: Natasha Brown runs www.hostanaupair.com where members can use an online site to register and look for au pairs. This site is new and is free until August 2015. A full service agency is also available – fees apply – this may be particularly useful for first time host families. Natasha can be contacted on 0409 830 099 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was published in Issue 9 of our print magazine, April/May 2015.