Choosing an Au Pair for Teens

by cv harquail on November 3, 2009

If you’re choosing an au pair for teens, what are the qualities you’d look for?

sureshot coffee.jpg

I’m assuming that teens have different childcare needs, and we’ve thought about these in our earlier post… so how do we find au pair candidates who can do all this?

I have no idea. My guess is that you’d want an older au pair, someone with a bit more life experience, someone who is older enough to be an authority figure an not a partner in crime.

What what else would you look for?euvie.jpg What questions would you ask to help you discover if a candidate has these qualities?

Sureshot by MartinCron on Flickr

{ 4 comments }

CV November 2, 2009 at 8:32 pm

My crazy friend Mike shoots this off from Facebook:

“Let’s see . . for a teenage boy, what would be his first priority in an au pair . . . think, think, think .. .”

OlderkidMOM November 5, 2009 at 10:26 pm

My kids are 12 and 13. My wonderful au pair is 26. She is a friend, chauffeur, tutor, talker, instructor, game player, sports fan, etc. She is also a referee at times. She makes sure the sleepy heads wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, remember everything for school and that they get on the bus. This is key. Sometimes the kids need to go in early, etc. After the kids are on their way, she tidies up the kitchen and does some laundry. Then the rest of the day is hers…………etc. holidays that parents do not get (most of them), vacations, conference, teacher development days, half day, early dismissal, late opening, etc. etc. There is no way I could ever take all this time off from work. I know that many parents leave their kids unattended, but I will not do this. Kids at this age still need direction and help and someone to be the referee as well as a role model. There is no public transportation where we live and my husband and I both commute a far distance. We do not have relatives in the area. Someone needs to be home to watch over everyone.

I would definitely recommend an older au pair, who has great English so that she can help with homework and the kids can understand her. Not listening can’t be………….I didn’t understand.

Older au pair know what it is like and can be compassionate.

Just remember bigger kids…….bigger problems …boyfriends, girlfriends, the temptations of drugs and alcohol. Cell phone usage, texting, getting homework done, etc. etc. Kids have tons of social issues…who is my friend… who isnt’…and it changes every day.

Talk to the au pairs that you interview about how they grew up and what it was like and what issues they faced. Make sure they speak English well, are excellent drivers, older and very mature, and think like you do. You will want someone that has good organization skills and makes sure that the kids get their work done. They don’t have to know the answers to the homework, but they have to know what is due when and make sure it gets done. They have to know where to send the kids for help and let me know if there are any issues. I also make my kids read out loud to the au pair for 1/2 hour every day. Their reading schools improved significiantly.

The job is different than taking care of little ones and the au pair has more freedom. Make sure they understand the responsibilities. It is not for everyone. Big kids talk back and have their own opinions. It requires a lot of patience as I am sure you know as parents.

Hormones really change our babies.

I hope this helps.

Calif Mom November 29, 2009 at 7:18 pm

CV–Tell your friend Mike I’m now more glad that I have two girls! ;-)

OKM–Thank you for your comments!

My “babies” are still in elem, but even a 4th grader has a lot of homework, and when both parents are working full time, it just does not work out for me/Spouse to delve into the backpack every night to review all the work brought home by two kids. By the time we have people fed, have reconnected about our days and then ready for bed, it’s too late for stressful homework conversations–and much too late for a kid to have brain enough to tackle a page of math problems that they “didn’t remember”.

I have tried to have our au pair make sure that homework gets done after school, but as you say, the kids have their own opinions and, frankly, are crafty little buggers.

In the meanwhile, we are in process of “doing the math” on sticking with an AP vs using an after-school program that just started at our school. Our current extension AP leaves us in July. :-(

All those ‘weird’ days that you listed above — the early release days, snow days for school but not for work, the day after Thanksgiving, the holidays that don’t match, the early rehearsals for drama club, etc… Not to mention the really long days on the bus to summer camp, the stress of leaving the office exactly at X:XX or else wearing the dreaded mantel of Last Mom To Pick Up. Date Nights for under $100! Can you tell I’m still learning toward an au pair? :-)

But since we also want to buy a home we’re not bursting out of–which will improve our entire family’s lives and reduce a lot of our collective stress (which ain’t good for any of us)–it’s tough to see how we can do both.

Do you use the program where the APs take more college units but work only 30 hours? What happens in the summer? Do you have to hire a babysitter for the extra hours? Send them to camp? (Ouch–there goes the budget! I don’t mind one or two specialty camps, but end-to-end camps times two kids gets spendy!)

Allison February 1, 2010 at 6:12 am

Hi host moms,

I’m 26 and I’m looking to be an au pair for teens/pre-teens. I totally agree that kids at this stage do not need a carer but more of an activitiy partner+chauffer+homework supervisor. I think I would fit comfortably into this position as compared to caring for kids below 7 years old. I have 8 years of driving experience and I’m into baking, racquet sports, swimming, hiking and guitar playing(still picking up skills). I have no problem caring for both teenage boys and girls. I’m currently an office exec in a dairy manufacturing company. I shall be available from as early as 1st Apr and latest by mid of May 2010.

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