Au pair How do you arrange good for your children?
You come home from work exhausted and plop down on the couch. Your boss seemed to think you had two pairs of hands and spread a strong sample of delegation. Your close colleague did not stop gossiping about Gerdy from the other department. Pff, what a day. But once you get home, you get ready. The children have been in the bath, the housework is on hand and the food is almost ready, your favorite meal still.
Even today, the au pair has not been idle. Smiling, she is stirring in the pan while humming a catchy tune from her homeland. Such a luxury.
Housemate from hell
Of course, an au pair in the house does not always have to be a rose fragrance and a moonshine. For the same money you get the housemate from hell. But if you know what to expect and what to look out for, an au pair can be a valuable addition to your family.
What is an au pair?
An au pair is a young person who helps with the care of children while he or she is introduced to life in another culture. Possibly the au pair also learns the language of the host country. An au pair is an equal member of the household and is regularly involved in family activities. You can expect an au pair to take this light household work for his or her account. These are activities such as washing dishes, doing the laundry, ironing, preparing simple meals, tidying up, feeding pets and exhausting, making beds and light cleaning such as cleaning and vacuuming.
An au pair is not a servant! He or she does not wear a uniform and does not follow orders. Also an au pair does not carry out activities such as gardening, window cleaning, scrubbing, washing the car and mopping large surfaces.
The rules may differ per au pair agency, but for agencies that are members of the Dutch Au Pair Organization (BONAPA) the same applies. For example, an au pair may not be younger than 18 and no older than 26 and he or she may work a maximum of 30 hours per week, spread over five days. A working day is a maximum of eight hours and the au pair can not watch more than three evenings a week. The exact working hours are arranged by the family and the au pair.
Furthermore, an au pair may work with a host family for a continuous period of twelve months. He or she will have an independent room with at least a window, a bed and a desk. There are no minimum requirements for an au pair in terms of training, but au pair agencies are obligated to screen both au pairs and host families. For example, au pairs must hand over a medical health certificate and at least two references, which are actually examined.
Why a branch organization for Au-pair agencies?
Some au pair agencies are affiliated with BONAPA and others are not. What exactly does that mean exactly when a desk is connected to one of them?
BONAPA is the only Dutch branch organization for au pair agencies. The IAPA works internationally.
You can actually see the membership of an au pair agency of the BONAPA or IAPA as a kind of quality mark. An agency must meet certain admission requirements before it can call itself a member. The umbrella organization ensures uniformity and standard standards. The interests of both au pair and host family are paramount. The organization is independent and guarantees a correct working method of every affiliated au pair agency. An extra guarantee for host families and au pairs.
A desk that is not affiliated with the BONAPA or IAPA is of course not automatically malicious. It can still be a very good agency. Inform yourself well about the rules and how they deal with any conflicts. Make sure you do not end up with unpleasant surprises. Finally pay attention to the costs and VAT: it differs per agency how high the costs are and whether the amounts are inclusive or exclusive of VAT!
Each month an au pair who works via a BONAPA member receives a minimum of € 300, - and a maximum of € 340, - pocket money. The exact amount is determined by the au pair agency. Additional items such as insurance against medical costs and medical expenses, travel to and from the home country and any course fees are also at the expense of the host family. If the au pair needs a visa, the host family must apply for and pay for this.
The au pair and the host family usually make arrangements for reimbursement of travel expenses in the Netherlands. The same applies to any reimbursement of telephone costs incurred by the au pair. Finally, the host family takes care of boarding and lodging of the au pair.
Pros and cons
An au pair at home can be a fun and educational alternative for regular childcare for both parties. Maybe you will close a new friendship. Because the au pair takes care of your household tasks, you have more time for yourself, your children and your partner. Condition is of course that it clicks, because you just suddenly have a stranger in the house. Even though the au pair will often retreat to your own room during the free time or go out outdoors: you have lost part of your privacy.
There is of course the opposite that you have a flexible babysitter, which is a lot cheaper than many other forms of childcare. Especially if you have several children. And that also in your own home, in the own environment of your children. But by no means all au pairs have been trained to receive children. Many au pairs can not provide first aid. And there is a maximum of the number of hours that you can call on the au pair.
If your au pair is very young, a teenager still, he or she may require extra emotional support. After all, it is a considerable step for a young person to go abroad for a year. However, it is interesting for all parties to raise something about a different culture. And in most cases the language of instruction is English, so both you and your children get thorough practice in English.
The opinions about the influence of the au pair on the command of the Dutch language in children are divided. For example, it was suggested in Bloemendaal that young children have a considerable language deficit and that their grammar rattles on all sides. But others qualify this and indicate that it could only cause problems for children who already have a language weakness. Furthermore, scientific research has shown that if there is a backlog during the primary school period, it will correct itself in the long term. The truth? It is somewhere in the middle. And of course you also have the necessary influence on that as a parent.
If it does not click
Although in far and away the most cases both parties start their agreement with good intentions, it can happen that it simply does not click. And then? Fortunately, in such a case it is seldom necessary to "sing" the agreed period. For au pair agencies affiliated with BONAPA, they will first make every effort to solve the problems that arise. If the problems are insurmountable, the au pair agency will try to replace the au pair. If this fails, the costs of the return journey to the home country of the au pair will be borne by the party that terminated the cooperation.