In today's world of working parents, it has become increasingly popular for families to bring an au pair into their home. Germany is no exception. But remember that "au pair" means "on par" or "equal to" in French. The idea is that a young person (almost always female) spends time in a foreign country caring for children of the host family and in return has an opportunity to learn the host's language and culture. These days the vast majority of au pairs in Germany come from eastern Europe. Au pairs are not cheap labor and there are a number of regulations which need to be observed. An au pair must be between 18 and 24 years old, have a basic understanding of German and experience with children, and plan to stay for a period of six to 12 months. Au pairs receive a monthly allowance of 260 euros, health insurance, room and board, two vacation days per month, a public transportation pass and at least 1.5 days off per week. In addition, au pairs are required to take a language course in their free time. The language course fees, the visa fee and any additional paperwork fees are all covered by the host family. Employing an au pair often involves a maze of legal regulations, and there are numerous commercial agencies which can handle the paperwork. Because cultural exchange is the key component of the au pair experience, only German-speaking families are permitted to hire au pairs in Germany. This means that international families (i.e. non-Germans) will usually have to hire a professional nanny, which is considerably more expensive.
There are a range of options when hiring a nanny - full-time, part-time and temporary. Nannies can live with the family or in their own quarters. Live-in nannies require their own room and at least shared use of a bathroom. New mothers might also want to consider hiring a maternity nurse to help out in the postnatal home. Maternity nurses as well as nannies have more training and experience in childrearing than au pairs. For more information about hiring a nanny, visit www.felicity-nannies.de