Nannies vs. Au Pairs: What’s Right For Your Family?

Nannies vs. Au Pairs
Hiring an au pair can be a wonderful experience for the whole family

Nannies vs. Au Pairs? Many families are interested in the difference between hosting an au pair and other childcare options. Here are some of the highlights that Smart Au Pairs think parents should know about.

As an agency, Smart Au Pairs have learned so much about ‘what works’ over the years. Here are their most important do’s and don’ts:

Remember, an au pair exchange is not a work program and may therefore be a great solution to some families…but  the wrong choice for others.

Au Pairs and the Family Relationship

The defining difference in working with an au pair is the relationship formed between you, the family and the au pair.

While a nanny (or a ‘man’-ny) works for you, charges by the hour and is qualified in the profession, she is employed to arrive on time and leave at the end of the day, to go home to her own friends and family.

On the other hand, an au pair joins your family for a defined period of time.  She leaves her own family and support network behind to become a big sister to your children. She lives with you, eats with your family and shares your home and heart including family joys and challenges.

DO invest time in getting to know your au pair and invite your au pair to family outings, birthday parties or social events – or just hang out in front of the TV as any family member would!

Nannies vs. Au Pairs

An au pair becomes part of the family and lives with you

Au Pairs Experience vs a Nanny

Expect a nanny to ‘know the ropes’ and to have worked with different children or different age groups before. A nanny won’t need any training from you, just a general idea of your routines.

Expect an au pair to have some prior experience with children, mostly from casual babysitting. Your au pair will learn all about your children’s routines and her tasks in the family from you. We recommend that you take some time off work and prepare a handbook for training and reference throughout. Include easy meals, favourite toys and some house rules.

DON’T expect too much too soon, but DO encourage her, guide her, check in to see how’s she’s going.

Au Pairs Backgrounds

Often a nanny is from Australia, educated in Australia and familiar with all things Australian – from food to common expressions and etiquette.

Your au pair will be from overseas and may be intrigued or shocked by daily life in Oz. Many countries are stricter with their children, have different approaches to raising  children,  are used to another dress code.

DO learn from and embrace cultural  differences, this is part of the cultural exchange! Perhaps ask your au pair once a week to share something Australian she has learned and let her explain how and why this is different in her country.

Living arrangements

Your nanny will clock off at a certain time each day (or charge overtime accordingly). She leaves your home at a time determined between the two of you. She goes home and comes back for her next shift.

An au pair can help with childcare for up to approximately. 35 hours per week. And when her on duty time is finished, she’ll have dinner with your family, help clear the table and then you may play a game or watch tv together. She lives with you as a member of the family and stays in your home.

DO agree on a few house rules for successful sharing. You may want one weekly evening dinner to be just with you and hubby and your au pair may not like the kids running into her bedroom on a Saturday morning at 6am…

Rates of Pay

Your nanny will charge in accordance to her experience, the hours worked and the duties agreed. She receives holiday rates, Super, weekend loading and sick pay.

Your au pair receives the same pocket money each week and relies upon this to fund her weekend excursions and sightseeing whilst in Australia. Although we understand that hours may vary in rare cases of child illness or holidays, the au pair generally assists for the same hours each week. Her full board accommodation, a chance to perfect her English and be part of your family is all part of her reward. She is permitted access to the fridge and pantry as any household member would be and is expected to participate as a typical family member.

DO try to be generous, it usually works both ways!


Smart Au Pairs

Smart Au Pairs (as seen on TV) makes it easy to find the right au pair for your family. From start to end they provide all the prep work, screen candidates, and provide ongoing support with orientation plus organise social events for your au pair!


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