Modern life is busy, and with families becoming increasingly dispersed, there is often little assistance available from relatives. More busy families are turning to paid childcare for help in managing their family life and domestic chores along with employment, study or other commitments.
All families are different and have different needs. A family with one child where both parents are working full-time will have different needs from a family with four children and a full-time stay-at-home parent. There is a wide range of services on offer which cater for the needs of different families, but it can be difficult to know which option will work best for you. The terminology can also be confusing. How do you know whether you need an au pair, demi-pair, a nanny or a mother’s help?
Whether you need round the clock live-in assistance, or an extra pair of hands a couple of afternoons a week, there is a service which is right for you. Here is a brief guide to the different types of in-home childcare help available:
Au pairs are young people from overseas who want to spend some time in Australia to experience another culture and improve their English. Au pairs live in as a member of the family and work in exchange for room and board, and a small hourly wage.
Au pairs are flexible in their hours and can accommodate your family’s needs. They usually have weekends off to go sightseeing or catch up with friends. As well as childcare, au pairs can also do light household duties and cooking. They may or may not have childcare qualifications, but they will be experienced looking after children and will be thoroughly screened before they start work.
There are certain conditions that employers need to abide by when employing au pairs. Most families choose to go through an agency, which can help ensure that everyone meets their obligations.
A demi pair is similar to an au pair except they are usually combining travel with study. This means they may have limited hours and only work part-time rather than full-time.
Like an au pair, a demi pair may or may not have formal childcare qualifications, but they will be experienced at looking after children. As a demi pair works fewer hours, they are often cheaper than an au pair, while still giving families the benefit of round-the-clock live-in childcare if they need it.
A nanny is a qualified childcare professional who can either live in the family home and look after your children, or be available for a certain number of hours a day or a week to look after your children in the family home.
Nannies have usually undergone specific study or training in childcare and may or may not have a first aid certificate.
Nannies are flexible and they can either work alone or alongside parents as an extra pair of hands. As nannies are in sole charge of children, they need to be trustworthy and it is advisable to undergo a stringent screening process before hiring a nanny, or go through an agency that undertakes thorough screening.
Because they don’t receive room and board, nannies can be more expensive than au pairs and demi pairs, but their standard of training and qualifications are often higher.
Mothers’ helps are less experienced or qualified than nannies and work a few hours a day alongside parents providing an extra pair of hands with childcare and household duties.
Mothers’ helps are ideal for helping busy families out after school and to take the pressure off parents who might be trying to prepare meals, feed children, do housework and supervise homework all at the same time.
As they aren’t left in sole charge of children and are usually less qualified, mothers helps can be an affordable solution for parents who need a bit of respite and some extra hands around the home. Mothers’ helps are often childcare students wanting to gain some extra experience, so the arrangement can benefit everyone.
Whatever your circumstances there is a childcare solution to meet your needs and budget. Whether you are a working parent, you are juggling other commitments, or you just need a bit of respite at busy times, you can find the right childcare option for you and alleviate the stress that comes with being a busy parent.