Au Pair vs. Nanny or Daycare

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions & Advice

Au Pair or Daycare for an Infant?

May 2014

Hi there: I'm a single mom working full time and getting zero dollars from my x partner until we go through the legal system. Oh happy joy joy! I've had an almost impossible time finding care for my gorgeous little 4 month old and am thinking of going the Au Pair route and having someone live in my home helping me while I'm at work. Makes me want to quit my job and open a daycare... seriously! There is one vacancy in a reputable daycare in the area starting in June but I'd like to know if anyone has any useful opinions on daycare vs. Au Pair as a new mom, I have zero experience with either. Of course I understand some of the pro's and cons; exposure to virus' and socializing my son at a daycare, but any helpful insight from someone who has used both, would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much for your kind responses. Cheers! Baby Needs Care

You should research the regulations for au pairs first. They are not supposed to be working full-time, and what you need is full-time childcare. Au Pairs are more like visiting foreign students who are helping around the house for a specified number of hours in exchange for room and board. These are often college-age kids who want to travel and experience life in the US and you should not expect they have any experience or competance in childcare. The people I know who have au pairs have them for kids in school, not babies. At a daycare on the other hand, you are getting a caretaker who is experienced, who is doing this for a living, who has taken classes in child development and safety, who has been inspected and licensed by the state. You could also consider a nanny share for a year or two - it can be more affordable than a daycare.

As a single mom myself, I found it very stressful to get my baby ready, do the dropoff, get to work on time and then make it back in time to pick up before day care closed. I would have loved to have an au pair or nanny and avoid all that if I could have afforded it. If you don't mind having someone live with you, an au pair might be a good option. You can still send your child to day care when they're a little older and get the benefits of socializing with other kids. I say make it easier on yourself if you can afford it! anon

I would highly, highly recommend an aupair or nanny over daycare. I work outside the home & have three kids we have always had a nanny. It is so nice to have someone come into your home, they can help with the house work, meals & shopping, the kids are not rushed around, they can sleep in late when then need to and nap in their own beds, play with their own toys. They can spend lots of time outside with a nanny and take classes for interaction. Honestly the socialization doesn't come until they are 3 and will be ready to start preschool. You could do a share at your house if you are really concerned about it. You will *love* coming straight home from a hard day at work to a happy kid & a clean house - this will allow you to focus on spending time with your child. Nanny love!

We similarly had a really tough time finding care for our son when he was 4 months old and I was going back to work. The system is set up in a way that there are simply not enough spots in daycare for the number of infants that need it. I suggest taking the middle road between daycare and an au pair with a nanny share! You'll end up saving money (we pay ours $11 an hour for shared hours vs. $15 for non-shared hours). Plus your baby will benefit from socializing with another child. Yes, they will pass colds back and forth, but not as much as in a daycare facility. Just be sure to find a family you trust since potentially half the time your child will be at their house, and of course a nurturing nanny. There are a ton of nanny share postings right here on BPN. Katelyn

Hi, I would love to chat with you about some of the pro's/con's to both as there are many. First, au pairs are a wonderful solution. When you invite them into your home you are allowed to schedule them to work for up to 45 hours a week at a much more affordable rate than a nanny, since you are providing room and board. The au pair can take your baby around town to local parks, library story times, to meet you for a lunch break on occasion, run errands, playdates, and overall stimulate your child in very different ways than a day care. And as an added bonus you'll get some help around the house, which I don't think anyone has ever complained about.

With that being said, all you can do is hope the whoever comes to your home is the perfect fit (as is all you can do whether it's a nanny, au pair, or day care teacher). Fortunately, there are MANY screening tools in place to ensure you get the right fit.

I have been a full-time nanny for years (live-in and live-out), I am a graduate student in Child Development, I have worked in a preschool, and I am also a contracted worker for a local au pair agency. Best wishes Lindsey

What is stopping you from opening up a daycare? You did mention it, and a friend of mine did this so that she could stay at home with her two children. She did have a nice backyard, but I know that people do this even without backyards. She cooked for the kids, took the on little outings, let them play outside, gave them their naps, and collected the checks. She was very good with children and quite loving. All of the children loved her.

Another friend of mine did this and hated it. She went back to work after a year. Whatever you choose to do, I wish you well. Congrats on your baby

As a Nanny myself I have worked in a few ''NICE'' Daycares and independently. Even though there are good daycares out there, the babies do not get the proper care that they need. I recommend getting a nanny as Au Pairs are over price and its mostly just a title . There are many out there that you can find through agencies or places like or..BPN. Maybe a live-in would be better suited for you. Please, just make sure you do a good back ground check as many people i have worked for never seem to do (maybe I look trustworthy), but I am always surprised by the lack of. Also make sure that they are a citizen and get copies of there not take their word for it....Good Luck Nan

Wow - I feel for you. Our son is 6 months old.

We interviewed daycares. I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Not at that age... and my husband felt the cost of an au pair (nanny) was too costly vs. group care.

Anyway - I prevailed and we couldn't be HAPPIER! Our Nanny is a dream. She does not live with us, she arrives at 7 AM and stays until one of us gets home. We pay $18/hr and she does way more than just 'babysit'. She cleans, organizes, does the laundry (folds and puts it away) does pretty much anything I ask of her AND takes exceptional care of our son. She has been my lifesaver.

We (my husband is now a convert) are THRILLED with our choice to bring our Nanny into our family. I am so glad we didn't go the daycare route. Our Nanny will be taking our son to the park for socialization. Right now though, our feeling is he needs consistency and security more than socializing with 'strangers'. Happy with our Nanny Choice

Congratulations to your new baby! While I know this is an exciting time in your life, it is also a very exhausting phase. In order to find out if a daycare program works better for your family than a live-in au pair, I'd like to shed some light on the differences between these two options. As a Local Childcare Consultant in the East Bay I am familiar with the overwhelming decisions family have to make when it comes to childcare. Here are my thoughts for you:

(1)Au Pairs are an affordable childcare option regardless how many children you have. In your case you would want to check how much a daycare facility charges you per month. The costs for an au pair agency would weigh in with an average of $360 per week (per family, not per child)

(2)While your daycare hours or time with a nanny varies, an au pair provides up to 45 hours of care per week. It is a great and convenient option for working parents, especially if you are a single mom.

(3)Usually daycare facilities don't have flexible hours. An au pair enables you to create your own childcare schedule week-by-week.

(4)You cannot beat the low care-giver-to-child ratio you get if you have an au pair take care of your baby. Since your baby is only 4 months old right now, it would be very reassuring for you to know that it would get undivided attention all day.

(5)An au pair assists you with household duties and lends an extra helping hand with kids' laundry, meals and room pick-up.

(6)While it is very convenient to a have a live-in caregiver, you need to be able to provide a separate bedroom for an au pair. So if your house doesn't provide the extra room to host a young adult, you might have to choose a nanny who comes into your home during the day or your baby would have to be placed in daycare.

(7)Many au pair host families enjoy the opportunity for cultural exchange. They are getting exposed to a new culture, language and way of life. What a great benefit to have your baby listen to and learn a new language at such a young age!

(8)Depending on the au pair agency a host families chooses, au pair candidates are qualified in CPR/AED and First Aid. You will have the peace of mind knowing that your childcare provider is Red Cross certified in adult and pediatric CPR.

I hope this information is helpful for you when it comes to finding the right childcare option for your little family.


Here are some thoughts from an 8-times host parent. We are with since Jan 2006.

An aupair is definitely more cost effective with a work schedule around 40 hours than a quality (!!!) day care. Besides the pure cost, we love the intangibles that do not come with daycare: cleaning up your child's toys/room, doing the child's laundry and feeding. Plus no struggle to find a babysitter for a night out. In case we run out of time, our aupairs also complete small errands for us (i.e. pick up from the cleaners, small grocery shopping). We expect a lot from our aupairs but they can also expect a lot from us. We allow them to have our car on the weekend without any limitations (of course we coordinate and talk before), we give them free movie tickets, or a gift card or a pedi go the extra mile. Just to be clear: there are very specific rules issued by the US government for both host parents and the aupair: Aupairs are not maids, cooks, gardeners, or cleaning ladies.

We love to cook together with our aupairs and have family dinners with her/him almost every night. Yes - there are male aupairs - we are getting our first male aupair this summer but we have boys 8 and 10.

Another thing I liked with having an aupair was that our kids could and can enjoy all these activities a daycare or school does not offer: swim class, music class, soccer, karate etc.

How does your child socialize if it is only with an auapir? Our aupairs had plenty of play dates - either on playgrounds or with other aupairs who had children the same age. We had playdates in our house over numerous years - always the same kids but different aupairs.

Eventually we did a mix of daycare and aupairs (2-3 days/week in daycare).

the challenge for a daycare-only option would have been for us: - be on time for pickup - which we never can do as we have crazy work schedules, travel out of town and commutes - being organized in the morning and getting everybody ready including lunch for the kiddos (love the helping hand) - what when your child is sick and cannot go to daycare? Can you then stay home?

Hello everyone who posted a response.

Thank you so very much for taking the time and making the effort to respond to my post. I really appreciate the insight.

I posted an add on and I was overwhelmed with responses. I also took the little guy in for a couple of days into daycare and I was grossly underwhelmed and heartbroken when I saw him at the end of the day sitting in a little chair by himself not being held or interacted with. Truly heartbroken.

I ended up looking into the Nanny share option and the pro's are outstanding plus with the share it turns out only a few hundred a month more for the personal care than daycare.

So again, really lovely of you all to write responses. They really were very helpful.

Have a lovely day. Baby Needs Care


Nanny or Au Pair for 1-y-o twins?

April 2010


Hello Fellow BPNers, I have a two-part question abt our nanny situation. We have a very loving nanny who is not literate and does not have strong English skills. Our boys love her, as she does them. We had hired her when we saw how good she was with her previous family. The agreement was that she would help us with housework and care for the twin babies while I worked from home. Our babies are nearing a year now and I feel the lack of having literate help. The babies love to look at pictures in books, etc. but she can't read to them and does little other than sit with them, take them for walks, shake rattles at them, etc. The other thing is she is somewhat resistant to house-work. She comes in at 7 each morning and naps for a couple of hours every day with the children (which, is fine, she needs to rest too), but when I tell her about laundry that needs to be done, or folding, she gets upset and sulks. We pay her 17 an hr but as I am home, I help out a LOT with the kids, changing diapers, feeding them, etc.

1) Are we expecting too much from her? Is that fact that she's helping with some vacuuming, house-work more than what other nannies do? She tells me often about how all the previous familes used to pay her more and had a housekeeper to do chores.

2) We can't get a more-eudcated nanny who will charge more. As it is, what we're paying her now is bordering on being unafforadable. Should we consider an au-pair? What experiences have other parents had with au-pairs? I am concerned that a young person will not be able to handle 10-month old active twins. Any other suggestions? Thank you! FrazzledMomofTwins

Hello, As I read through your situation, I felt that your expectations are not at all high. I am a nanny myself looking for a job. In my recent searches, I saw that the usual rate is around $14/hour. Moreover, given that your nanny is illiterate, that you help her a lot, and that she resents doing some house choirs, I felt that you are being rather generous.

I agree with you that some younger nannies might not always be unconditionally loving to the children, but there are surely plenty who can be as caring as any experienced nanny. On the other hand, younger, well educated, and energetic ladies are generally able to engage your children much better. Especially, given the age of your kids, very different activities like talking and reading to them, letting them draw, playing with and experiencing different objects, and teaching them words are very important for their development at this stage. I would highly recommend finding someone literate because as the kids grow, you will see that your kids would benefit from it increasingly more.

Wishing best of luck, Nadya

This could have been me a few years ago with my son. Our doctor recommended that his speech delays (he actually did not have a speech delay when tested) were related to not being read to during the day. Of course we freaked out and put him in a home day care where he immediately began to talk a lot. Connection? I don't know. We get so many scary news as parents it's hard to sort through everything.

One thing I do know is that you don't have to settle for childcare because of price. Great childcare comes in all price ranges. Quote your price up front and start interviewing if you want to find someone and keep your mind open to all types of childcare--family day care, coop, nanny share, etc. been there.

Hi! I'm a local representative with AuPairCare, a sponsoring agency designated by the US Dept. of State to place foreign au pairs with American families. Assuming your nanny works 40 hours per week, an au pair would cost about 1/2 what you're paying the nanny. Plus, the au pair can work 45 hrs. a week, the hours can be flexible, they're all high school graduates (so they are more than just literate) and au pairs don't take a 2 hr. nap on the job! I have worked with hundreds of au pairs and host families over the years. You may worry about your kids missing their beloved nanny, but from my experience, kids usually have no trouble getting used to a new caregiver who is loving and fun. The au pairs are young (18 - 26)so they've got plenty of energy for keeping up with two toddlers. Many of our au pairs care for multiples.

Au pairs are expected to do any household chores related to the children in the family. They can't do general housework like a house-cleaner would, but let's face it - most of the mess in the household is related to the children. She can do the children's laundry, but not the parents'. If an au pair is lax about this, usually a call from me will take care of that problem.

Keep in mind that an au pair has to have a private bedroom and you must provide her with meals. Both parents also must be US citizens or permanent legal residents. If you meet these criteria and would like to discuss the AuPairCare program further, please contact me. Julia

As a working mother of 3 kids, I've had nannies and au pairs for 6 years. I have a couple of thoughts for you:

1) your children have changing needs as they grow. As you said, your nanny is loving and sweet with the twins which was perfect for their first year. Now, they need more interaction and stimulation. It is perfectly appropriate to now look for someone who meets your current needs.

2) Housework. It is my experience that you either get someone who is amazing with your kids OR is good at housework. Most nannies will do basic stuff: vacuuming, dishes, laundry... pretty willingly, but the heavy cleaning is usually not the first priority. I break out the 2 functions, reducing the hours of the nanny a bit to cover the cost of a heavy clean 1 or 2x per month.

3) pay: $17 for twins and light housekeeping is about right in this economy especially.

4) au pairs: we LOVE having au pairs. they have enormous amounts of energy to play, be silly, teach, read, sing, go to the park, etc. you get to set the 45 hours they work each week. they are also young women here to explore the US so you need to be sensitive to that. there are hidden costs in au pairs: cell phone, car, classes, extra babysitter for vacations, food, wear and tear on your house. sometimes, it's like having a younger sibling live in your house with the drama, but can be kind of fun (my current au pair and I read all the twilight books together...) au pairs do NOT clean. i would suggest au pair in america if you are interested in au pairs. my experience is they are a bit more expensive, but have the best screening and support processes. best of luck finding the best solution for your family. aimee

These are tough times. Sounds like your nanny hasn't adjusted to the new economics.

Look at Banana's. There was a stack of caregivers 100 high when I was there in late Fall. We found one who cares for our 1 daughter and also does the laundry, takes out the trash, cooks 2 x per week, plus a few other tasks. We put it all in the contract and we explained our needs up front in the interview. Only one baby, but we pay less than you. ($13+ w/taxes and it's $12 take home for her)

When we were looking, we found that the nannies who had the parent's recommendation in BPN newsletter wanted more money and were willing to do less. Banana's was a better route for us. We wanted someone who would be happy doing what we wanted. happy with the extra extra help

Dear Frazzled Mom, It sounds like your needs are changing (children are becoming literate), and you shouldn't feel bad about making appropriate professional adjustments (like switching to an au pair, or hiring a more literate nanny). Some words on the transition: I was an au pair for over a year, and although they ended up being parents/mentors to me by the end, I had difficulty entering a household that had had a NANNY for 8-9 years previously. My family expected more from me than I had anticipated, and I had to come to my employer with the initial application to look over my listed duties and clarify what it was, exactly, they needed me for. Light housework? Fine. Picking up after the boys, practicing their English? Okay. Hanging all the laundry and doing dishes every night, staying in 3 nights a week? Um... wtf? We had to be extremely clear from the very beginning, on what her needs were (help with the boys, not the house) and what mine were (time to see the city, advance notice on babysitting nights, etc), so no one felt like sulking. I would encourage you to look into an au pair, as it can be a very rewarding experience for all parties involved. Lauren

Wow - $17 an hour and you are home to help out and she gets a nap! That's wild - I have 4.5 year old twins and I pay $17 an hour to my sitters (they are in school all day at this point) When I lived in Manhattan they were infants and I paid $15 an hour (though I was generous with rounding out numbers) For that my wonderful nanny tidied our apartment (granted it was tiny), washed all their clothes, cooked and fed for them (it was all focused on the kids) and I swear she never napped (though I often told her to rest when they were). $17 is a very good rate for twins (unless Ca is even more expensive then Manhattan); Join your local twins club (if you have not already). Mine are now too old for me to join here but these clubs are incredible resources for nanny shares, advice and rates everyone pays -- so you know if you are getting burned or not.

Do not feel guilty about looking for another nanny - ultimately you must do what is best for you and your family and a nanny should be a wonderful and stress reducing help for your family. I know this is not very eastbay-ish -- but she is an employee and if you are not comfortable with her then find someone else. And since you said she was great with infants you can easily recommend her for something similar...

Good Luck and do what is best for you and your family.... Good Luck

1. $17/hour is low, but ok for twins, not for housework too, except for picking up after kids, doing their dishes from meals, quick kitchen sweep. Good for you for letting her nap, she needs it!

2. Adult schools offer excellent ESL programs. Not sure about literacy programs, definitely libraries will have that sort of program. Please support your nanny by looking into these sorts of programs for her and nudge her to get enrolled in one. Reading to your children is important and would be the perfect way for your nanny to practice reading.

3. I think the au pair programs take advantage of young women to work for sub par wages. But, hey, if everyone is agreeing to the deal then everyone is consenting to the exploitation. former nanny (live-in and hourly live-out)

I can't believe how brazen this nanny is in the way she is taking advantage of you. I am shocked that an illiterate worker has the nerve to charge $17/hour in today's economy. I feel bad for you but I also feel you are being ROYALLY used by this woman. Have you considered a nanny share? Mom of a tot

IMHO, $17/hr. is a very fair amount, and you are absolutely not expecting too much. Since the fact that she naps while you pay her doesn't bother you, you seem to be a kind hearted, understanding person. Is she actually illiterate, or just literate in her own native language? I would agree that as the children get older, literacy becomes important, even if only for thr ability to read instructions on prescription meds, etc., never mind fostering a love of reading.

I would say that if she can get a job that pays better for less work, she should take it. I would. However, in my experience you can find literate (and loving) care for your kids at the same rate. I paid a nanny considerably less (I'm almost embarrassed) to do similar work, including light housework. True, she did not have to care for twins. She was able to bring her older child to my house after he finished school, so she got something ou of the deal. SHe is fabulous, and looking for a new family to work for, I believe. SHe doesn'tspeak English well, but is an avid reader in SPanish, has lots of common sense, loves my kids, thinks of fun little art projects to do with them, etc. You didn't mention your geographic location, but if you live around San Leandro, I'd be happy to refer her.

While I understand, and share, the desire to pay as much as you can for someone to care for your children (a very important and demaning job) the reality of life is that different families have different budgets. Some attorneys make big $$$ for corporate clients, and some make pennies working passionately for non-profits. The fact that some nannies make more and some less is a reflectiopn of that, and of varying levels of skill and qualification, for example: literacy, a driver's licence, CPR, higher education, etc.

Good luck! Michele

Hi twin mom! As a nanny to twins and a mother to three I was really surprised to read your posting! Wow, what a great easy job your nanny has! I have been a nanny for five years, the past year I have been a nanny part time for two sets of twins. I earn $16/hour and I would consider myself a well read well spoken woman. I also do household chores while the twins are napping such as, vacuuming, dishes/kitchen, laundry, or whatever else needs to do done! Since one of my twins family is losing me due to them no longer needing help, please feel free to call me!! You really need a competent nanny who can help your twins thrive with books, art projects, outings, play dates, and more. Do no put it off. This woman I'm sure was great for the first year of infancy but the twins are going to need much more stimulation now. You and they deserve it! Alicia

I have had a local nanny and three au pairs. My nanny was paid much less than yours, and she also felt strongly that her profession was childcare. She would pick up toys and clean the kitchen after their meals, but would not do more unless it was a separate agreement for more money. The BPN nanny survey is helpful on the ''package'' that most local nannies negotiate for. My first and third au pairs were great, well able to take care of my two kids. The middle one wasn't a great fit, but the agency helped me make the change, which is something you don't get on your own. I started working for the agency, so I am speaking now from my professional experience. Many twin families get au pairs precisely because they have the energy to take care of twins, and are far less expensive than the locals. I have seen in my own house and in the nearly one hundred au pairs I have managed that these young people are quite different than your local Berkeley 20 year-old. I have found the great majority to be responsible, hard working, and honestly fond of children. IMO you should make a change, because it sounds like your original agreement is not being adhered to, and you feel like your children would profit from more active, engaging care. Check the Better Business Bureau ratings if you do decide to go with an au pair. Not all are highly rated. Kim


Can't afford our nanny - au pair?

Jan 2005


Hello Fellow-Parents:

We\xc2\x92re expecting our grand finale \xc2\x96 a baby girl in late April. We\xc2\x92ll have our two boys and our little princess \xc2\x96 all under the age of three. With that said, we cannot continue to employ our incredible day-nanny. She has been with us for around 2 years and believe me, the thought of not having her makes my stomach knot up. However, in order to have some help around the house and eventually return to work (on a flexible work arrangement); we must look into \xc2\x93other\xc2\x94 childcare options.

We have space to provide a person with her own living space (bedroom, full restroom), small sink, refrigerator and microwave in her own bar area, and offer her 40-45 hours of week in exchange for room, board and salary.

I wanted to reach out to all of you first to see what thoughts you may have for us? Any advice, recommendations and/or referrals will be greatly appreciated. It\xc2\x92s daunting for me to think of not having our day-nanny with us, having a new childcare provider, and inviting a stranger in our home but my options are limited.

We've been told to look into the Au Pair USA or the Au Pair of America Programs.

Do you have some advice for me?

Warmly, Nervous Mom in Lafayette

We had a horrible experience trying to get an au pair. We wanted a Spanish-speaking au pair, and went through Cultural Care.

The candidates they had available had very little experience with children for the most part, and mostly come from very upper-class families. We did find one that we liked and invited her to come live with us. She was extremely depressed for the 2 weeks she was here, and wanted to go home immediately (it was Winter and she was from the tropics!). Then after looking through many, many applications, we found 3 different candidates that we liked, but each of them in turn was denied a visa- they were all from Peru. Apparently the US Embassy in Peru does not let out working-class to middle-class, educated young ladies with experience in childcare come to the US. The poor ladies we selected told us they had each been asked to spend considerable amounts of money to the agency in Peru, and for appointments at the US embassy, only to be rejected (in two cases they even paid for a second appointment, only to be rejected twice). There is no refund for the candidates the US embassy rejects.

Finally, they sent us a Czech au pair who was already ''in country''. Well, she was a player who had been rejected by her initial family, she was very demanding (wanted her room redecorated, wanted full use of my cell phone immediately, etc) and we did not feel we could trust our children with her, so we asked that they relocate her or send her home after 1 week. We were fortunate to have our substantial deposit (more the $5K) returned, but woe be it to you if for some reason your au pair disappears after 5 or 6 months of a 12 month program, you will not be entitled to a replacement or a refund.

We gave up looking at application after application of inexperienced, bourgeouis, often untruthful (look carefully at applications and call references, you will be surprised at how many of the references, supposedly checked in the home country are flat-out false) young women whose main objective in coming to the US is to go to the clubs on the weekends (this was on the tip of the tongue of the Czech au pair nearly at all times).

We wanted a young woman from a modest background (who would appreciate the opportunity of coming to the US, and have had experience actually holding a job), with at least 500 hours of documented child care experience. This did not seem like too much to ask for, but in fact, only a very few of their candidates fit this profile.

If you don't live in walking distance of BART or don't wish to give the au pair a car, the au pair will not last long, either (this is what the Czech au pair told us).

Basically, we found that the supply of good au pairs seems to be very low, and the agencies (at least Cultural Care) misrepresent (1) how well the candidates are screened, (2) how many of their candidates actually have experience. They also tell the au pairs that the main objective of the year in the US is for them to study English and other classes and to travel, while at the same time telling families that the main objective of the au pair program is childcare.

I think the au pair concept may work for families with school- aged children, but we have much more peace of mind with an experienced nanny taking care of small children. We might actually try again later on when our kids are older, but with a different agency. I really believe in the au pair concept, but I don't think many of the candidates are equipped to care for babies or toddlers. You want an experienced caregiver for children under 5. I hate to bring it up, but remember that British au pair who shook the baby to death in Boston (OK, they didn't convict her, but let's face it, an experienced caregiver would be much less likely to shake a crying baby).

A live-in nanny might be an option for you, but if I were you, I WOULD KEEP THE NANNY YOU DESCRIBE AS ''INCREDIBLE''!!! They are hard to find. Also, with a new baby and two other children under 3, you will probably need to take more time off from work than you were planning (just a friendly suggestion). Good luck!!

Mom who has been there too

We have twin boys who just turned one, and have an au pair through Au Pair in America. We also have twin neices, and my brother-in-law's family used Au Pair in America for 5 years. The limitations of having an au pair is that they can only stay with the family for 2 years (a change from the previous one year limit), but the advantages seem to outweigh the disadvantages. Our au pair is fabulous, is completely a part of our family, and because she lives with us, knows the children's rhythms in a way that a day nanny usually can't. Also, because she lives here and is always eager to earn more money, we can pay her for extra hours beyond the 45 she's supposed to work so, for example, on Monday nights we pay her to stay home while the children sleep and my husband and I can have a dinner date :). The other great thing is that the hours are flexible so that we can shift hours from her regular schedule to another day if for some reason I have the boys out with me alone for part of a day. There are some hidden costs you should consider, however...For example, we provide our au pair with a car and pay her car insurance so that she has more independence, we pay for her meals when she is out with us even when she's not working, we take her with us on family vacations and pay for her expenses, etc. Also, in the beginning, it's a bit of work to help them get their US driver's license, social security card, and bank account set up. If you do decide to go with having an au pair, it's also important to make house rules and expectations very clear. I'd be happy to talk with you if you choose this route and would like more info. Good luck with your decision! alesia


Au Pair instead of live-in nanny

February 2003


Re: Live-in Nanny Rates

If you are looking for a live-in situation, by far the most affordable is to get an au pair--approx $250 a week for 45 hours worth of childcare and household help. The au pair program is a US Government regulated program that needs to be done through an agency. Two that operate locally are Culture Care Au Pair (formerly EF Au Pair) and Interexchange. Work conditions and pay are all clearly defined--no more than 45 hours a week, no more than 10 hours a day, at least 1 1/2 days off on the weekend and one full weekend a month, two weeks paid vacation and major holidays off. Beyond this, their schedule can be very flexible and change from week to week. The au pair actually only gets about $140 a week, the rest of the money goes to the agency and covers things like Visas, au pair training, au pair airfare, and once a month au pair meetings with the local area coordinator. Also averaged into the cost is the up to $500 the host family is responsible for paying for the au pair's enrollment in university level course work (all au pairs are required to take 6 units during their year in the US). The au pairs fill out an extensive application (about 16 pages) and include references. They tend to be young (early 20s), but all have experience with children (and list the ages of children and number of hours of experience on their applications). You can review all of their materials as well as speak to them on the phone before deciding if it is a good match for you. You unfortunately cannot meet them in person--except in the rare instance that you request an au pair who is ''in transition'' (ie. already in the US and placed with a family that is not working out for some reason) and happens to be local. If your au pair does not seem to be working out, you talk to the local au pair coordinator who tries to mediate--if after 2 weeks, it is not resolved, you can terminate their employment. It is also worth noting that au pairs can only stay with a family for 12 months. Their Visa does not permit a longer stay and cannot be renewed (though some find other ways to get new visas and stay in the country, as a student for example). anon

I think the rate depends in part on how many kids you have and how many hours you need. I believe that many live-ins get weekly, rather than hourly rates. Also, other things can affect the salary, such as whether you provide a car, phone, health insurance, etc. Depending on how many hours you need, you may want to look into getting an au pair. They are generally cheaper, but are limited in the number of hours per week they are permitted to work. Also, they only stay for one year. If you email me, I'll be happy to share my personal experience with having a live-in (which has been a fabulous experience for us). Stephanie