Can a single parent be an Au Pair?

by cv harquail on September 21, 2010

This question is from the UK, where au pair programs and expectations are a bit different– but maybe some of you parents and au pairs have information that might be helpful.

Niki writes:

I’m interested in becoming an au pair, however I do have a child of my own. I have read a few websites and some say they accept single mothers as au pairs, my boy is only 2.

Has anyone been an au pair and a parent at the same time? Has anyone had an au pair who was also a parent? Any experience to share?

It may be that what Niki is really thinking of is becoming a live-in nanny, maybe with fewer expected hours of work and/or a closer relationship with a host family. But then again, maybe other countries haveĀ  ‘au pair’ programs that explicitly include au pairs with children of their own. It will be interesting to find out more….


Natt September 21, 2010 at 6:23 pm

Hi Niki

I am in Australia, and as far as I’m aware, you can’t obtain a working holiday visa with a dependant child. “You must not be accompanied by dependent children at any stage during your visit to Australia on a Working Holiday visa. If an adult family member or partner wants to come with you to Australia, they must apply for their own visa to Australia” (Taken from

I have had applications from single Mums before, and am open to having a single Mum as an aupair (if we could find the right visa), but I would have a few concerns which you might want to consider yourself =)
* Will my children be the primary focus if the aupair has a child of her own?
* How will the dynamics change with my own children if there is a third child in the mix?
* What happens when the aupairs child (or the aupair) gets sick?

That’s just a few. I think ultimately I would choose an aupair on her ability to ‘mesh’ with my family, or blend in =) Then comes her ability to perform the duties. There would be alot to discuss when matching with a single Mum, but I wouldn’t automatically exclude such a candidate!

Hope that has made some sense!

giulia July 8, 2011 at 5:52 am

I would love an aupair with a child aged as mine!

PA AP mom September 21, 2010 at 9:29 pm

I don’t know about au pairs in Europe, but a lot of nannies in the US have their own children. That’s one of the benefits….being able to bring your child to work with you.

Taking a Computer Lunch September 21, 2010 at 10:36 pm

I can’t imagine our agency would permit a single mom to become an AP in the US, given their attitude toward pregnancy (a one-way ticket home). Personally, I would be open to a single mom, but both of my kids are older and not in need of constant supervision (in our community, live-out nannies are more likely to be foreign-born grandmothers than young women). When The Camel spent a year on Medicaid subsidized nursing, I had one fantastic nurse who had to leave her newborn with a babysitter to care for my daughter. I asked the agency if she could bring her baby with her, and they immediately jumped down my throat and asked if she had requested it (she hadn’t – I just wanted to find a way to keep her). I lost the nurse.

Gianna September 22, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Does your agency pay for the ticket home or does the aupair need to pay for it herself ? If you had an aupair you really loved and she ” turned up pregnant ‘
as my grandma used to say , wouldn’t they allow her to stay with you ? I imagine it would be very hard to be pregnant so far away from home from an emotional point of view. I guess medical insurance might not cover it. Has anybody out there had an
aupair who was pregnant ? I’v heard gossip over the years : a couple of abortions,
and one ” friend ” who went home at what I thought was probably four months.
So far as I know the agencies were never involved in these situations. The aupairs talked, though. I was asked to contribute to help someone who needed an aboriton
( which I declined to do for personal and religious reasons ).

Natt September 22, 2010 at 2:56 am

I just had another thought… in Australia, some people have what’s termed a “Mummy Nanny” ie: someone who is a mother, who also cares for your children in your home and brings hers along also. The mother isn’t necessarily a single parent. From what I have heard, the rate of pay is much less than a ‘normal’ nanny as the nanny brings her own child along during care hours.

Noga September 22, 2010 at 12:51 pm

I really enjoyed this blog during the last weeks. In Europe aupairs are on duty between 25 and 30 hours, but despite of this I can’t imagine how it might be possible that the aupair might create enough space for her own child’s needs in this framework.
HP expect her to have the children of the host family on 1st priority. How to communicate this to her own child? I think this creates a rather diffult dynamics. And when the child of the aupair is sick where does she get support?

The discussions in this blog gave me the impression that the role of an aupair is different in the US than in Europe – maybe a cultural difference.
My impression is that in Europe an aupair is something between the big sister and a housemaid – more a employer-employee relationship than being part of the host family.

CO Host Mom September 23, 2010 at 11:33 am

I don’t know of an au pair agency that allows it, but my first nanny had a daughter that she brought to work with her. Her daughter was two years older then my youngest, and it was never a problem. In fact, it provided an excellent playmate and socialization for my youngest.

Kathy March 14, 2011 at 7:34 am

I’m trying to investigate this issue as well, since we live in the Philippines, and I’m trying to help a single mother of two here, get a job as an au pair in a Western country. In the Philippines, it is very common that grandparents or an aunt will raise her grand children or her nephews or nieces, so my friend would not even consider bringing her children along. If you do not have a college exam here, you only qualify as a nanny or house keeper, and here a monthly house keeper/nanny would earn abut USD 70 pr. month, you guessed right, not enough to send your children to school…. In the west we think that a mother should be with her children, yes, maybe so, but if the same child would die from sickness due to lack of funds to take them to the hospital when needed, maybe it is still better that the mother goes abroad and earns money so she can help her family. Many western countries do not accept single mothers (even without bringing the children), but the fact is that these same single mothers then are forced to turn to the Middle East (where they work twice as much for half the salary and subsequently have to be away even more from their children), and where there is also little safety and where a nanny or house helper is basically without rights. I’m sure our countries mean well, but the system here is just different. Is it so strange that a grand mother who herself has spent 20 years abroad working to raise her own children, will expect that her daughter should do the same? What the visa restrictions in our countries lead to, is that people try to tweek the system, but those who are honest, cannot go. I wish that our countries would use some mercy at least in certain cases. It just feels so unjust that those who need it the most, are denied. My friend have recieved interested mails from people who really would like her to come and work for them, but visa regulations in their home countries make it impossible.

Taking a Computer Lunch March 14, 2011 at 9:42 pm

I don’t think it’s possible in the United States – but it’s a question to pose to the agencies – after all, if you intend to prematch, you’ll want to know that it is possible. It is very hard to sponsor a “domestic worker” as an employer, and probably more expensive than it is worth to your heartstrings. As someone who attempted to sponsor an AP as an employer, it took 3-years for her application to reach the top of the queue in the US Dept. of Labor – and that review had to occur before her application could be forwarded to Homeland Security. (And we were fortunate, a lawyer friend took pity on us because of The Camel, and did the application pro bono.) We have not been tempted to do it again.

Carlos July 8, 2011 at 4:36 pm

You’re right… for what I know, one of the requirements from Cultural Care is not having kids on your own… I guess in another countries that would be possible

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