It is something we are asked very frequently and it is very understandable. When you invite an au pair to come and live with your family you would like them to stay as long as possible. How can you achieve that?
It is important to understand first of all the au pair’s motivation for going abroad in the first place. Au pairs choose to come to the UK within a programme called a ‘cultural exchange based around childcare’. They are motivated by sense of adventure (gap year) by the desire to improve their English skills (for the benefit of their future careers) and because they like working with children and enjoy the family environment. They expect to be paid fairly and treated well (on a par with the rest of the family – they are not employees and they are not soley money motivated).
Au Pairs are usually aged 18-20 and they set aside 6-12 months to be an au pair. Candidates usually stay for the time they have committed to at the outset. However, in practice, if they are not happy, then they will be tempted to leave sooner. Many will make up an excuse, if they wish to leave, however we feel it is important for the families to know if their au pair has not been happy, as they might be able to make changes in order that the next au pair placement is a great success for the au pair too, so that she/he will stay for the duration expected.
Au Pairs who are already fluent or very good at English will not be au pairing for this reason, so they (even more so than other au pairs!) need to be happy and feel their time abroad is worthwhile. They need to be able to meet others and explore what the UK has to offer or neighbouring countries in their free time.
Au Pairs who are older than the usual au pair age of 18-20 and who join the au pair programme after attending university are far more likely to be less committed to staying for a year. Most au pairs love children but are not looking to enter into a career as a nanny. If they are offered a long-term career position, as a teacher for example, they might need to leave at shortish notice to take up that position. Younger au pairs who have set aside 6-12 months as their gap year abroad, will often stay longer than older candidates, as long as they are happy.
Therefore, the au pairs who are most likely to stay for the expected length of time of up to a year, will be those who
- need to improve their english,
- are having a very rewarding time in the free hours/days
- who are treated well by and are happy with their host family
- have set aside the time of 6 -12 months as their gap year abroad
We have lots more tips; please get in touch for a discussion relating to this topic.