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"Help me, I can't get childcare, but I don't want to do what everyone is recommending."

Many Australian families are now using this form of childcare but I don’t know if it’s for me.

Like so many other Australian mothers, I’m stuck.

For the past six months I’ve been on the childcare hunt for my youngest son. My eldest has entered pre school and it’s just me and my mini man at home. After looking for what seems like an eternity, my list of requirements for childcare have narrowed dramatically. Forget inspirational and educational, now I just want somewhere (anywhere) that has a god damn vacancy.

I’ve done the tours, I’ve spoken to the directors of the centre and the end result is always the same. A wait list exceeding 12 months and no guarantee. That’s not even talking about the $120 per child per day. Yes, there are rebates but they are capped and it’s still a lot of money to part with.

In the next few months, we will be moving to a new area and that means straight to the back of the queue.

My list of requirements for childcare is getting a lot narrower. Now I just want a vacancy. Image via istock

Luckily for me, I have the option to work from home while I wait for a childcare position to become available. I know a lot of working mothers don't have that flexibility. But I'm hoping to go back to the office soon. However, with childcare, it doesn't seem like it's going to be any time soon.

An alternative to childcare keeps popping up. Almost in hushed tones.

Au pair. A live in nanny. Someone who, in some cases, moves in with you and looks after the kids. They may even take on the cooking and cleaning.

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And before you think au pairs are for the Kardashians and Beyonces of this world, they aren't too pricey. In the Daily Telegraph, the writer claims how she believes au pairs could actually be the answer to the growing childcare crisis in Australia. She claims her family has used various au pairs for more than ten years and explains that actually, it's the cheapest form of care going round - "for at most $300 a week".

Isn't an au pair just for risk people? Uh no anymore. Image via istock

$300 a week is pretty cheap. But with board and lodging on top, it can be pretty attractive to foreign travellers - who are the main gropu.

But I don't know if I could do it.

I can see the upside to having an au pair. The flexibility to have someone look after you children when you need them - during work hours, on date night.

But, the idea of having someone else live in our home doesn't sit well with me. Honestly, at the end of the day all I want to do is put the kids to bed (get chores done) and sit on the couch without my bra on to watch trashy TV. It's highly likely I'm in stained track pants and probable that I'm shoving some sugary treat in my face. I'd feel a bit awkward if there was someone else there with me to witness this spectacle.

Then there's the notion of trust. To me, trust takes a long time to build. It's not something that can be found on an internet site from someone on the other side of the world. How do I trust that the person living in my house, with my family is really who they say they are?

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The thing that bothers me the most about an au pair though, is that because they are there all the time, in a lot of ways they can replace you. I don't know how I'd feel if my child cut their leg and went running to someone else or when they're scared in the night and seek out the arms of another person to comfort them.

I don't know how I'd feel if my child scraped their leg and went running to someone else for comfort. Image via istock

And they whole cheap pay isn't attractive to me (in an ethical sense). Cheap childcare is great but is paying someone $6 an hour really the answer? Is it fair and just given the responsibility these people are entrusted with? I think I'd feel uncomfortable paying someone so little when I'm asking them to be responsible for the most important things in my life.

And besides, childcare comes with the benefit of socialising my little guy.

But, even with all those opinions...I'm still stuck. And people are still suggesting getting an au pair.

What do you think? Would you consider hiring a live in au pair?

Want more? Try:

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Confessions of a modern day working parent.

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