always a good start

Accepting applications for child care employment in the following experienced positions:











Nannies are employed by the parent to look after children in the family home either on a live-in or live-out basis. They should either be qualified childcare professionals  or should have at least two years experience caring for children.

Duties: A nanny is responsible for feeding, washing, clothing, educating and stimulating children. She should provide a safe and loving environment for the child and be expected to plan activities that help the children's learning and development. Nannies are not responsible for general housework or chores, although she should clear up after herself and the children.

Hours: Most nannies work a five-day week. Although many do 50 - 60 hours, nannies are covered by the Government's Working Time Directive which limits a working week to 48 hours. Generally a daily nanny will expect to work no more than ten hours a day and be paid extra for one or two evenings babysitting per week. A live-in nanny will have one or two nights babysitting included in her wage.

Pay: A live-in nanny can expect to earn at least £180 per week and more normally between £200-£250. A live-out nanny can expect between £250 to £350 per week depending on hours and experience.

  • Your tax and National Insurance will be paid for by your employer.
  • You can expect to review your salary once or twice a year.
  • You are employed formally and are therefore protected under employment law.
  • Your rights to sick pay, maternity leave and holiday should all be included in your contract in accordance with employment law.

Qualifications: There are hundreds of childcare courses currently available in the U.K. Nannies looking for placements generally have an NNEB (Cache) Diploma in Nursery Nursing, a BTEC National Diploma in Childhood Studies or NVQ level 3. Most take about two years of study. See Childcare Qualifications for more information and Childcare Courses for information on all the courses in your area.

Must I have qualifications to become a nanny? If you are a brilliant nanny or just love children and have experience but no qualifications, don't give up. Common sense and on the job practical experience can often be just as good as a paper qualification. There are many childcarers who rely on past experience as mothers, grandmothers, teachers and nurses etc. and are just as good as their CACHE qualified counterparts.

On the flip side some parents, however, prefer to look for a nanny with qualifications as they feel it shows a dedication to a career in childcare rather than just a job they have fallen into.

A live-in nanny:

  • Accommodation and lodging included.
  • Food bills should be met, within reason, by the family.
  • If you are asked to drive the family car, all insurance costs will be met by the family.
  • You could expect to have access to a phone line.
  • If you are using your mobile for work, the cost should be met by the employer.

As a live-in nanny you are part of the family, but also employed by them. The line is a lot less clearly defined than the arrangement with a live-out nanny. This means that you are expected to be a lot more flexible, and could be asked to help out in an emergency and babysit extra nights etc. It requires stamina, energy and flexibility. If you really want your evenings free, then this may not be the best option for you.

Similarly while it offers the opportunity of being integrated into a family and family house, it can mean you are slightly tied to the job. Again, this may or may not suit you and obviously depends greatly on the individual family. There are few jobs that compare with that of a live-in nanny when it comes to the relationship you have with your employer. You will see them at their most personal level - in the morning in their dressing gown, know about their personal hygiene, probably hear all their arguments and far worse. You are living with them everyday and that can be difficult. If there are constant arguments, for example, it can be unnerving. At times it will require more than a PHD in social skills to deal with the tensions of family life. Such an intimate relationship with your employer means that criticisms from either side are much harder to handle. Normally, you can walk away after a bad day at work. As a live-in nanny, both you and your employer can't run away. It can mean that at times criticism becomes more emotional than it should. The interview between family and nanny is crucial and remember that you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. The type of family you choose can really make a difference between a job from hell and a huge amount of fun.

A live-out nanny:

As a live-out nanny, the arrangement is much more business-like in the sense that you come and go at a set time everyday (more or less). This may suit you if you already have a place to live and would prefer to treat it as a daytime job, with your evenings free (although you will be expected to babysit once or twice a week). This is also a better option if, for example, you find it unsettling to live somewhere different each time you change jobs or if you are living with your partner but remember, you will have all the burdens of rent, household bills and travelling to and from work.

Male Nannies:

These are increasingly popular although still only a tiny percentage of the market. They can be good for families who may have two or more boisterous boys or for single mums wanting their children to have a male influence around them. Many parents are still dubious so it is well worth having good references.

Points to considerif you are thinking about becoming a nanny:

  • Nannies offer the most flexible type of childcare. This can be good for both parents and nannies.
  • You can offer the child in your care proper undivided attention. This can be very rewarding. Childcarers in nurseries often feel that they are so bogged down with paperwork that they don't have a chance to do enough with the children.
  • If you fall into a great family you will really become part of that family and it can be a very satisfying feeling to watch those you have cared for grow up.
  • You are an employee in every sense and although there is a formal contractual agreement between you and the family, there is a sense of informality about the job which many find appealing. You also get to meet great people through the families you work for as well as the other nannies you meet.
  • It does require energy, commitment and stamina. The hours can be long and demanding. You have a great deal of responsibility in that someone has entrusted you with their most treasured possession - their child. It requires a degree of maturity and responsibility.
  • It can be lonely at times. Although chances are you will meet other nannies every day, through the child's playgroup or at the playground, it can sometimes feel a little solitary.
  • Some parents require a formal qualification and others would prefer practical experience. However, every parent will require common sense, energy, integrity and love of children. All references will be checked very thoroughly.


To share a nanny with another family makes sense to parents, especially those with only one child, because it cuts the costs. It is interesting for the nanny because it means that you can look after a few children, rather than just one and work for two families. It can also be fun because the children have a playmate and the atmosphere can be more stimulating for everyone. It can also cut the routine of looking after the one child everyday. Note that if a nanny takes on children from three families or more she would have to be registered as a childminder. How do nanny share's work: There are several different types of nanny shares.

  • Complete share: share a nanny five days a week with the children being looked after together.
  • Part time share: families share a nanny and children are looked after together for two or three days a week.
  • Split week share: families share a nanny and children are looked after separately - e.g. half the week with one family and half the week with another.
  • Main family share: one family employs a nanny full time and shares with another family for part of the week.

Nanny shares can operate in many ways. The share can take place at one child's house one day and the other's the next or operate on a week here, week there basis. Parents that work at home might want to consider a share where their children are mainly based out of the house.

Nanny shares generally work on a live-out basis unless one family decides to have the nanny living in and the other family pays half the wages and tax and contributes to the host families costs.

Choosing a nanny share: When choosing to operate a nanny share don't just assume that because the family you work for is lovely that their friends are too. Similarly with the child, the little angel in your care may not play all that sagely with the devil next door. Your contractual obligations and rights are the same as they would be if you were employed by just the one family. The contract you have should make clear your obligations to both families.

Finding a nanny share: There are several agencies and networks that help mothers link up with each other to share a local nanny Local noticeboards in toy shops and playgroups etc. are also a very good source for mums looking for shares.

Points to consider if you are thinking about a nanny share:

  • Nanny shares are great for providing a playmate for a child, hence creating a more stimulating and lively environment.
  • The logistics can be daunting. One family may have completely different demands from another. It is important that you speak up for yourself in a share.
  • Families may have different priorities and ways of doing things and it is important that you are treated fairly by both sides and never feel as if you are being pulled one side or the other.
  • Most nannies are responsible for the children's washing and ironing. This could be more difficult to arrange in a nanny share situation. Again, it is a question of logistics and needs to be well defined beforehand.


Mother's Helps are generally unqualified live-in nannies, working alongside a mother, rather than having sole charge of the children. Mother's helps may work well for parents who work from home or work part-time and want housework and childcare combined. As the mother's help experience increases they may be able to take more responsibility and ultimately sole charge. Some girls start out as mother's helps and gain enough experience to be considered for nannying posts in their next job.

Duties: A mother's help is expected to 'muck in' more than nannies and as well as caring for the children under mum's supervision they are expected to help out with light housework, shopping etc. Perfect for a mum who works at home or just needs another pair of hands but doesn't need full days of sole charge care.

Hours: Mother's helps expect to work about ten hours a day. For live-in the two nights babysitting are included in her salary and for live-out it is extra.

Pay: Mother's helps earn between £150-£200 per week.

Qualifications: A mother's help must be at least 18. No formal qualifications are required, but she should have good experience with children. She may have cared for siblings, done regular babysitting or helped out at a local play group.

Points to consider if you are thinking about becoming a mother's help.

  • It can be a great way of starting your childcare career. If you want to become a nanny in the future it can be a good stepping-stone.
  • You might find working as a mother's help inspires you to take a childcare qualification.
  • You do a bit of everything. You are helping the mother in her day-to-day life in every way.
  • You can be indispensable to the household and to the children and as such be an integral part of the whole family's and especially the mother's life.
  • You are not a cleaner and you are not a nanny, nor are you a slave. You are exactly what your title implies, a great help. It's important to remember that this is not slave labour (which it could be if you fell into an awful family) but that you are part of a team, helping to run a household more efficiently.

Where can I register as a mother's help? Most mothers' helps are available through agencies - look at our childcare search to find a recommended agency that deals with mother's helps to register with. Alternatively you could place an ad in your local toy shop, post office or playgroup to tap the local grapevine.


A maternity nurse is on duty 24 hours a day seven days a week. Her role is to help new mothers in all aspects of caring for the newborn from breast feeding to establishing a routine, bathing and helping mum get back on her feet. Maternity nurses generally sleep with their charges and either bring baby to mum for breast feeding during the night or bottle feed the babies themselves so that the mother has a chance to recover from the birth. The maternity nurse is there to provide the mother with a sense of security during those physically and mentally exhausting first few weeks after childbirth. For those mothers who don't have family support close at hand or who have had twins or a caesarean it can be an invaluable help. A comforting presence and a willing pair of hands at 3a.m. can make an enormous difference.

Duties: A maternity nurse provides total care for mother and baby. She advises on breast feeding and any problems arising from it, teaches first time mothers how to bath and become comfortable with their baby, helps establish a routine and provides moral support for the mother when she most needs it. The maternity nurse will deal with all the baby's laundry, sterilize bottles and prepare light meals for the mother if she is not up to it. The maternity nurse should involve any other children in the house with the baby but shouldn't be expected to look after other siblings - she is there for the care of mother and baby.

Hours: The maternity nurse is on duty 24 hours a day six days a week. However they must be given at least one full day off a week.

Pay: Maternity nurses earn anything from £450 upwards per week. (It can be even more for twins). Daily maternity nurses earn up to £75 per day. They usually take care of their own tax and National Insurance contributions because they are self employed. If the baby hasn't arrived by the time the nurse is due to start work the nurse should be paid half pay for the first week and full pay for the second week of waiting.

Qualifications: People tend to assume that maternity nurses are nurses with some kind of specialist qualification in the field of newborns. This is rarely the case, most maternity nurses tend to be very experienced nannies. However some are registered nurses, ex-midwives or health visitors.

Points to consider if you are thinking of becoming a maternity nurse:

  • It seems ridiculously obvious, but you must love newborn babies to do this. They have their fair share of problems and are extremely demanding.
  • You need to have the patience to mother the exhausted and daunted mother who may feel exasperated at the screaming and permanently hungry angel she has just spent hours painfully bringing into the world.
  • It can be an unsettling job in that you are on call with a family 24-hours a day, in their house for anything up to three months. Every time your job changes so does your home and if this would unnerve you then this is probably not for you. Others may find this exciting and challenging.
  • Although you are there for 24 hours a day, it does not mean that you are awake and working every second of every day. It does, however, mean that you are pretty much on call for that time. It can be arduous and although it's only for a limited amount of time, does require substantial stamina.
  • The mothers who employ maternity nurses either do so because they really need to help or often because they are first time mothers who need your guidance, help and reassurance. It can be very rewarding to guide a first time mother into motherhood to the point where she feels ready to cope on her own.
  • It requires a large degree of sensitivity. This is a hugely important time for the family and they need time together to get used to their little addition. You need to respect their privacy and the emotions they will be experiencing at this time.
  • It can be disruptive to your own life. When you are working it is difficult to maintain a social life. On the flip side, it means that since you choose when you work, you can fit your time off to suit you, your partner or your family (e.g. during school holidays).
  • As with childminders, maternity nurses are self-employed, which means you are responsible for your tax and National Insurance and you do not have the same rights as you would as an employee i.e. sick pay, holiday pay, etc. You have to decide whether this is realistically suited to you as it does require a lot of self-discipline and organisation. It does of course mean that you choose whether or not you want to work.

How can I register as a maternity nurse?:  Maternity nurses are registered with our agency and are booked up months in advance. If mothers want a maternity nurse, they will start looking as soon as they know they are pregnant. check the agency search on   for a list of recommended agencies which you could register with. It is possible that mothers who are finding it hard to cope or who have delivered early and want help until their proper maternity nurse starts can call the agencies to find them an 'emergency'. This means that you would work for maybe one or two weeks, possibly more. It could fill in a gap, if for example, your booking hasn't delivered yet.


Doulas of North America, one of the biggest doula associations, describes a doula as "a trained and experienced woman who provides continuous physical and emotional support to a woman before, during and immediately following childbirth". If you are expecting and don't have extended family on hand (mother, mother-in-law, sisters) or if you prefer not to have to rely on them at this time, a doula may be the perfect option for you. They are ideal if you want to look after your new baby yourself but would welcome support and advice from an experienced mother. This relatively new option is becoming more and more popular in the U.S.

Duties: Essentially doulas help pregnant mothers before, sometimes during, and after the birth of the baby. A doula functions in the same way as a member of an extended family. She takes the role a mother or sister would do in the same situation.

  • During labour they provide support for both the mother and father, keeping them calm, advising and giving general moral support. They are there in addition to the midwife and do not have a medical role.
  • After the birth they are on hand for mother and newborn care - often dropping in for a few hours every day.
  • They provide breast feeding support and advice.
  • They will look after the older children, whip up some meals, run errands and help keep the house clean so that the mother can concentrate on recovery.

Hours: Doulas usually work a minimum of four hours per day. Doulas can be hired for a couple of weeks or several months, depending on needs.

Pay: Doulas earn between £7 and £10 per hour. A birth doula can be hired for £200.

Qualifications: Doulas are generally women who have had children themselves so understand the traumas of childbirth and those crucial first few weeks. Doula training adds to this real life experience so that the doula can provide emotional support during labour and proper post partum care.


Childminders are one of the most popular forms of childcare in the UK. There are over 80,000 registered childminders in England alone.

  • A childminder is paid to look after a child in their home.
  • Childminding appeals to many parents because they see it as the least expensive option, but the cost has crept up as the quality of childcare provided and expected by parents has become more exacting.
  • The 1989 Children's Act states that anyone who is paid to look after a child under the age of eight for more than two hours a day in their home must be registered with the local authorities. (This does not include close relatives, aunts, grandparents etc.)
  • The Children's Act allows a childminder to look after no more than three children under five with only one of those children being under a year. If the children are older a childminder can look after a total of six children under eight, as long as no more than three are under five years old. This figure includes the carer's own child or children. The local authority has the right to set a limit to the number of minded children over the age of eight.
  • Childminders do not have to be trained in childcare.

Childminder Checks:

  • The childminder has to be interviewed by social services who check their home is safe, secure, warm, clean and has suitable equipment such as fireguards and stair gates.
  • The childminder, and anyone over the age of sixteen living with them, will be interviewed with regards to their health and whether anyone has been involved with violence, child or drug abuse.
  • The police run a criminal check on anyone in the house over sixteen but someone who is married to an ex-offender will not be automatically turned down. The assessing officer (the Under Eights Officer) will assess the relevance of the offence and its effect on the childminder's suitability.
  • The local authority inspects childminders annually to make sure they are keeping up their standards of safety and hygiene. But remember, registration does not mean the childminder will provide a certain standard of childcare. It may simply mean that they have passed police and household safety checks.

Qualifications: Registered childminders do not have to have any childcare qualifications and, although they are often mothers themselves it, it is up to parents to determine their suitability in this area. The Children's Act does not define what makes a person 'fit' to care for a child, however the Department of Health has issued guidelines to local authorities. They suggest officers should take into account the applicants experience, any qualifications or training, whether she can give consistent care, if she is mentally and physically stable and carries no record of abuse with children.

The National Childminding Association tel: 020 8464 6164 or visit their website on

  • The National Childminding Association has worked hard to develop good quality affordable childcare. They have consulted closely with the Government to formulate the NCMA's Approved Childminding Network.
  • To belong to the network the childminder takes two training courses called Developing Childminding Practice (DCP1 and DCP2). The second development course involves educating three and four year olds which enables the childminder to be accredited by OFSTED and to be an 'early education provider' thus offering her charges the same sort of education they would receive at a pre-school nursery.
  • NCMA network childminders receive regular visits from their co-ordinator.
  • Parents looking for a certain level of commitment from the childminder would do well to look for an NCMA member. You can ask your local authority's Under Eights officer for a list of NCMA members along with the others registered minders.

How can I register as a childminder? Councils carry lists of available childminders - see the  childminder search for the number of your local council and make sure that you register with them. Register with the National Childminding Association as they may be able to help parents find an NAMCW registered childminder in their area.

Pay: Costs vary enormously as childminders can set their own rates. As a childminder, you are self-employed so you are responsible for your own tax and National Insurance. Charges range from between £1.70 and £3.00 per hour. Some childminders will charge less for a second child. Make sure the parent knows what you include in your hourly rate and what you consider extra. If, as a childminder, you are a member of an approved childminding network, you can receive government funding, which means that if a child in your care is three or four they may be eligible for a free part time place.

Points to consider if you are thinking of becoming a childminder:

  • You are vetted by the local authority but just as it is up to the parent to make sure they make their own enquiries, so it is up to you, as a childminder, to ensure that your home is safe, warm and welcoming, has plenty of toys, is well kept but not too tidy (children need to be able to make a mess), has enough light and fresh air and a garden or nearby parks for outings. Then tackle issues such as discipline, television, nutrition etc. The key is in understanding yourself and re-assuring the parents that the child/children is/are your priority above the demands of the households.
  • Ensure that you are clear about what your methods are. This avoids any disagreement with the parents later. It's fine if your way is different from theirs and they will probably accept that you know what you are doing.
  • Be clear about what kind of experience you have with children. For example, if you have only ever minded children over three, don't assume that a one year old is going to be easy.
  • Although it is not a requirement that childminders are qualified, it is always advantageous if you have taken a child related course. It not only shows a reassuring level of commitment to the parents, it also makes you more marketable and ultimately, makes your job more rewarding.
  • Ensure you have an up to date First Aid Certificate.
  • You should always have a good idea about what's going on in your area - e.g. playgroups, kids clubs and so on.
  • You should always be able to produce all original documentation relating to registration with the local council. This should be shown on request.
  • Make sure you have a contract with the parents of the child/children in your care. This should outline pay, hours, holidays, what to do in cases of sickness, and so on. This protects you as it does the parents.
  • On the plus side you can create a safe, homely environment for children whilst staying in the comfort of their own home.
  • You are able to interact with children one-on-one, without having them in your care the whole day.
  • You could mind children after school until their parents come back from work in the evening. This allows a degree of flexibility for you to do other things during the day.
  • You are respected as a minder and parents have to accept your way of doing things rather than the other way round.
  • Because you are self-employed, you effectively do not have the same rights under the Employment Act as an employee would have. This means that you are not entitled to holiday pay, sick pay, maternity leave and so on (at least from your employer). Being self-employed also requires a degree of self-discipline. Before deciding whether childminding is suited to you, you have to be realistic with yourself as to whether or not you are suited to being self-employed.


Day nurseries take children from 3 months to 5 years.

  • They generally operate between 8am and 6pm (private nurseries may have more flexible hours) and are open most of the year except for Christmas and bank holidays. Some take summer holidays.
  • Children in nurseries are cared for by a selection of adults. Most operate on the key worker system where the parent and child are allocated a key nursery worker. This is the staff member who builds a special relationship with the child and is the parents' main point of contact for discussion on their child's development and progress within the nursery.
  • Nurseries are governed by strict regulations and are checked every four years by Ofsted who publish a report on their findings. You can contact Ofsted on 020 7421 6800 or visit their website on
  • There are also guidelines laid out on the ratio of adults to children in a nursery. From one to two years it is one adult to three children. From two to three years it is one adult to four children and from three to seven years it is one adult to eight children.
  • All nurseries must comply with the Children's Act of 1989. For more details check out
  • Local councils have lists of nurseries in your area.

Types of Nursery:

  • Council nurseries: Places are free but are generally reserved for children with special circumstances i.e. one parent families, etc.
  • Nurseries in the workplace: Places in these nurseries are reserved mainly for children of employees but if there are any extra spaces, non-employees are considered.
  • Private nurseries: These are fee-paying nurseries and although they are the most expensive option, they are springing up everywhere. Some private nurseries are more flexible than others over hours. Some have extra services such as internet access so that parents can log on and see their child during the day and some offer organic food at meals. If you want to work somewhere that offers something a bit different, the private sector is your best option.

Hours: Nurseries have set opening and closing hours and are generally not that flexible. This means that as a nursery employee, you know exactly what your hours of work are, unlike other childcarers who have to be much more flexible e.g. nannies.

Pay: Nursery fees range from between £120 and £200 per week. Nursery staff usually earn around £8,000 per year.

Qualifications: If you want to work in a nursery you should have NVQ Level 3 certificates, although some nurseries will not require it.

Points to consider if you are thinking about nursery work:

  • Nurseries are very reliable - they are always open and you are not running the ship single-handedly. If you are ill, you are not letting anyone down as you perhaps would be if looking after a child in the home.
  • As a member of nursery staff, you have interaction with a number of other like-minded carers as well as with a variety of children and their parents. It is much less solitary than being a nanny or a childminder and you may prefer to care for a group of children rather than one or two children on their own.
  • Nurseries can give children early confidence and be a great starting block for school as they are used to being away from mum and have learnt to operate in an environment with other children. You would also be helping shy children come out of their shells and ease them into the company of other children.
  • If you are interested, there are many opportunities for promotion within a nursery. For example, you could go from becoming a nursery nurse or officer to a manager.
  • There are loads of jobs available. Nurseries all over the country are crying out for good staff.


The chief characteristic of an au pair is that they are from a foreign country. They are aged between 18-27 and their chief purpose for being in the country is to learn the language and assimilate the culture. Many people tend to lump nannies and au pairs into the same category but they are totally different. Au pairs are NOT nanny-substitutes, and usually have no formal childcare training. R.E.C (Recruitment and Employment Confederation) stipulates that au pairs should never have sole charge of children under the age of three. Au pairs are often seen as the 'Cinderellas' of the childcare industry. Agencies are often faced with problems of au pairs being treated as cheap labour by people who should be employing qualified nannies. Frequently they are left alone with young children for long hours and given heavy house work duties far in excess of what they should be asked to do.

  • An au pair lives with the family and should be treated as part of that family.
  • Au pairs earn board and lodging and a small amount of money each week in return for childcare and light housework.
  • An au pair should have their own bedroom and be allowed proper time to study English.

Duties: Assist with light housework, help in the kitchen and care for school age children. They should also be available for babysitting a couple of evenings per week.

Hours: According to Home Office rules on the employment of au pairs (visit they should work for 25 hours per week and have all their weekends free. Au pairs stay for six months and this usually means the employer does not give them a paid holiday, the rationale being that the au pair only worked part time. However if the au pair stays for a longer stint there is a case for the employer to give them paid and perhaps some unpaid holiday (one week's paid holiday for each six month of stay).

Pay: Au pairs are paid approximately £60-£90 for the first 25 hours, then at £3 per hour for any time above that. Some agencies offer 'au pair plus' workers where they are paid between £80-100 per to work full time, however this is a questionable practice which is not in strict accordance with home office rules (see below). National Insurance contributions are not required for au pairs, since the amount you earn is not high enough to qualify.

Qualifications: Au Pairs have no formal training in caring for children and usually have little or no experience in this area.

Legal Requirements and Visas:

  • Girls who don't come from Commonwealth or European Union countries must apply for work permits, they must also register with the police within seven days of their arrival. They should take their passport and two passport size photos to their local police station or, if in London, the Alien Registration Office.
  • Nationals of a commonwealth country (e.g. Australians) can work outside the work permit scheme under the Holidaymaker scheme. The scheme allows them to stay for up to two years as long as they have sufficient funds to make their way home. Work is supposed to be incidental to their 'grand tour'.
  • Non-EC au pairs can stay in the UK for a maximum of two years.
  • Au pairs are not employees and as such are not covered in any way under employment law.

What you can expect from your host family: When you are employed as an au pair the host family has a duty to make your stay as happy as possible. They are required to:

  • Facilitate the au pair to attend courses.
  • Provide a comfortable, private room and meals.
  • Agree on free time and days off and stick to it.
  • Help the au pair settle in and find his or her bearings and not just leave them to get on with it.
  • Treat you as part of the family.

Points to consider if you are thinking of becoming an au pair:

  • Being an au pair means that you can look after children, take them and pick them up from school and spend time with them before the parents get back, but at the same time have most of your day free to do what you are here for - to learn English.
  • It can be a pleasant way of earning your keep.
  • Au pairing is a great way of getting integrated into a country and staying with a family is the best way of getting to know customs and ways of life in Britain (or abroad if you are British).
  • Many families take on summer au pairs to help out during the long school holidays -agencies generally have good supplies of summer au pairs. It's a great way for an au pair to spend time abroad without too heavy a commitment.
  • Au pairs often speak basic English (or another language if you are abroad) and for many it is their first time away from home - so problems such as homesickness and loneliness have to be confronted.
  • If the family has very young children, looking after them should not be your responsibility, especially if you have no experience of childcare.
  • Au pairs from EU countries are eligible for NHS health care. Those from non-EU countries may be entitled to emergency NHS care. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have adequate medical insurance.
  • It is the responsibility of your hosts to ensure that you are insured to drive their car if you are required to do so.
  • Remember that being an au pair is not a cheap replacement for a nanny.

How to get placed: Most au pairs find work through agencies. Use our au pair agency to find a recommended family in the area in which you want to work. Agency will take your details and try and match you up with a suitable family. Unfortunately you don't have the opportunity to interview the family in person first and, other than a phone call, you have to hope for the best when you arrive at the family's doorstep.


A babysitter is someone who occasionally looks after children, perhaps an afternoon here and there or in the evening so that parents can have a night out. The NSPCC recommend that a babysitter should be older than 16. Anyone younger than 16 cannot be charged with neglect or ill treatment of children in their care. This means that if kids are left with someone under 16 the parents are still responsible for them and if something goes wrong and the parents are found to have left their children with an unsuitable babysitter i.e. one who cannot speak adequate English to cope with an emergency or one who is underage, the parents could be charged with neglect.

Pay: Cost for employing a babysitter differs around the country - prices range from £3 to £8 an hour. You are not responsible for your travel costs and if it is late when the parents return you should either be taken home or they should pay for you to go home in a taxi. If you are asked to stay all night, negotiate an overnight fee in advance.

Qualifications: The British Red Cross run babysitting courses and have a booklet for anyone who wants to be a babysitter (tel British Red Cross: 020 7235 5454). The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents also provide information and advice on babysitting (tel: 0131 444 1155).

Points to consider if you want to be a babysitter:

  • It's an ideal job if you want to earn some extra pocket money. For example, if you are a student and need to earn some cash during the week, it is ideal to spend a few evenings a week looking after some children in their own home.
  • Although you do not have to be experienced or qualified, you have been entrusted with a great deal of responsibility. Looking after a child/children should not be taken lightly. Do it because you like children and you want to earn some extra money not just for the money. No-one has fun otherwise, least of all you.
  • Don't agree to babysit for a newborn baby if you have no experience of one. Be honest about what you think you can and can't cope with.

Where do I find babysitting work? Check "Find a Job" babysitter search which will be able to provide you with a recommended babysitting service near to you. Some babysitting agencies provide a service for parents where, for a yearly fee, they can choose three babysitters, often nannies or teachers, who live nearby. You can meet them and their children and if you like them and they like you, you can babysit for them over the year. This means that you build up a relationship with the children and you don't have teething problems every time.

Basic code for becoming a babysitter:

  • You should know basic first aid and how to cope in an emergency.
  • You should always know where the parents are going and if possible be left with a land line contact number as well as a mobile in case there is a signal problem or they do not hear it.
  • Make sure you leave contact details and an address for the parents, in case one of the children is ill or upset after they return and they need to talk to you urgently.
  • Make sure the parents spend time with you before they go off to show you around. You need to be shown where they keep bottles, nappies etc. If there are older children you need to know what they are and aren't allowed to do with regard to watching television and eating snacks and what time they go to bed.
  • You will not know the children. The parents should inform you of any special words or favourite teddies and blankets that get them off to sleep.
  • Get a contact number of someone nearby who the parents trust - perhaps a neighbour or relative, in case you need on the spot help urgently.
  • It is unfair of parents to leave you with a sick child if you are a new babysitter - unfair on both you and the child.
  • Respect the house that you are in - the privacy and the rules. i.e. don't smoke in the house if neither parents are smokers and don't sift through their CD collection when they are not there.