This topic has caused a fair amount of confusion, and we are going to demystify this once and for all. The difference between the two is vastly different in South Africa compared to abroad. A nanny overseas is a broad term for someone who is employed to look after a child in its own home. An Au Pair is defined a young foreign person, typically a woman (but many families do hire guys!). They help with housework or childcare in exchange for food, a room, and some pocket money. In South Africa, we tend to make our own rules, and the two, although similar, have some important differences.
Whats is a nanny?
In South Africa, a nanny is described as someone who does both domestic housework and looks after the children. They predominantly look after children under the age of 3 or 4. Nannies are more often than not unable to assist children with homework as they get older (as they are better with babies and toddlers), and will not have their own car’s or a drivers licence. Nannies in South Africa often have first aid, childcare related diploma’s or short courses, but this is not always the case.
What is an Au Pair?
Au Pairs in the other hand, will not be expected to do any domestic housework, their focus will be 100% on the children. Au Pairs in South Africa are local girls and guys who are able to assist with homework, drive children to and from school and extra-murals, and manage children’s schedules. They will become the parent’s representative while the parent is not there e.g. by liaising with teachers, coaches, therapists etc. Au Pairs a have at least a matric and are often furthering their education while Au Pairing. A family will usually cross over from a nanny to hiring an Au Pair once their children start attending school.
The professional Au Pair
This being said, there are professional au pairs out there who work wonders with babies and toddlers. This type of au pair is a qualified, dynamic, an educated person who specialises in everything childcare. They facilitate developmental stimulation, create programs alongside Mom and Dad to optimise development of the baby, toddler, child and/or teen. They run the household. You name it, they do it. If you have a baby or toddler and you can afford it, then this is most certainly the best way to go. If not, there are amazing nannies out there who charge half the price and will work wonders with your tiny humans!
Whichever option you choose, at the end of the day what is most important is that the nanny, au pair or professional au pair connect and resonate well with your family, most of all your children. You need to feel safe leaving your children with them, and know that they are in good hands. Nothing beats peace of mind, and a child care provider that gives you that is a keeper.
So where do you find an au pair?
Starting the search for your perfect Au Pair can be daunting- here are 5 tips on where to look for an Au Pair