How many times have you wished you had another set of hands? It might have been nice to be able to be in two places at once, especially when you cannot seem to find a way to get everything done. Then, just when you think you have a grip on your life, you have children, and the rushed, frazzled feeling only gets compounded. With all our modern technology, shouldn’t there be a way to be able to do it all without falling down from exhaustion? Actually, there is – but the answer does not involve technology at all. The answer may be in hiring an au pair.
An aupair is a live-in nanny, or babysitter, that takes care of your children when you cannot be there all of the time. The benefit to the live-in sitter is that it cuts down on the traffic of strangers coming in to care for your kids. It is always better to have one trustworthy person that you can count on, rather than a plethora of teenagers talking on the phone or watching television instead of supervising your offspring. The aupair becomes like one of the family, and your kids feel safer knowing their caretaker on a more intimate level.
Hiring an aupair can be a trying process because sometimes time constraints get in the way of interviewing and weeding out the undesirables. There is an official website called aupaircare.com that provides a service for finding and matching nannies with suitable families. The service is strict and they have certain requirements for their aupairs as well as their host families. All of their aupairs come from over 40 countries, speak English, will work a guaranteed 45 hours a week, and they are fully screened. In order to be a host family, you must be U.S citizens, speak English (as a primary language in the home), provide a bedroom, complete an application and supply 2 references, and be able to do an in-home interview. The benefit to going through a service is that they provide all of the tax work for you, and they contractually provide you with an aupair for one year (until you have had a nanny quit without notice, you do not know how invaluable this can be).
The services are not as expensive as you may think. The aupair is required to work for 45 hours and you are charged $277 a week for their services. There are two programs to choose from: The yearlong program, and the two-year elite program. There is an application fee of $300, a placement fee of $3600, an annual fee $3295, and an aupair stipend with is $7,230.60. The total costs for the year will average out to be approximately $14,425.60. There are additional costs for tuition, auto insurance, and room and board. Legally, the service is the best option.
If you decide to hire on your own, you need to be careful of the legality issues. When you employ a nanny, you are now an employer. You must get employer identification numbers from the IRS. You will also need to fill out a SS-4 form to submit with your taxes. The aupair that you hire will need to fill out a W-4 form, while you are responsible for receiving an I-9 form from her which verifies that she is legally able to work in the United States. Sometimes it is easier to offer to fill out the W-4 for her and submit it yourself to cut down on confusion. Paying your aupair under the table can seem appealing, but if the IRS finds out, you will be liable for employer wages present and past due. You can also be prosecuted for paying and not reporting.
Sure, we all want to do everything on our own and take care of our kids at the same time, but trying to be Superwoman means that your children are not getting quality time with you. They are dealing with someone frazzled, stressed and sometimes overwhelmed. Hiring someone to come and help out with caring for the kids means that you’re still the primary caregiver, but you’re smart enough to know that if you have an aupair, the time you spend caring for your kids is far more quality.