Au Pair or childcare
Here’s what I did
Let me just start by saying that this blog is a piece on my personal experience and my families experience. This isn’t me trying to tell you what is best for your family because as we all know, you are the only person to know that.
I wanted to share with you the experience that my family have had with Au Pairs and why I ended up opting for an Au Pair instead of day care and after school care options. It seems to be a consistent topic of discussion amongst my friends so why not have a chat about it on this forum.
Firstly let me start by saying that I have had two Au Pairs in my time. The first was about 4 years ago when I was pregnant with my third child and working at our then restaurant Beluga. The second has been for the past 5 months and this time as a single mother. I’ve been in very different places in my life during both times and both times we have loved it and it has worked perfectly well for my family and our needs.
I get a lot of questions about Au Pairs and why I have chosen this as my childcare option and the simple answer is, it works perfectly well for me and my family. Granted some of you reading this have had Au Pairs and some may not have had the best experiences. I can only write from my personal experience and why it works for us.
As a working single mother of three I often feel like I’m drowning, not doing the best job I can, not spending enough time with my kids, not giving them the best meals, not putting my washing away fast enough, when you look at the mountain of clean washing in your lounge room and beg yourself to do it but 4 days later it hasn’t budged. And my absolute pet hate?! Constantly asking friends and family for favours. I have nothing against asking for favours as I’m a big believer in ‘it takes a village to raise a family’ but when it becomes often and I’m not feeling like I’m returning the favour frequently enough, it’s just another thing I feel anxious and guilty about.
For me, having an au pair live with us goes two ways. First of all, I actually feel like I’m having an impact on someone’s life. We house her, feed her, make her part of the family and take on the responsibility of giving her the best Aussie experience we possibly can. She gets to join our family and extended family and as I personally think my kids and family are pretty bloody great, I feel like it’s a privilege to be able to offer that experience to someone.
In return I get to have someone live with us and help me out with the kids and housework. Everything from cooking to house work and homework. It gives me the freedom to make the choice to go outside and kick a football with the kids, or fold the rest of the laundry that’s been staring at me for days. It gives me the piece of mind to know that if for whatever reason I can’t make the kids dinner, I know they will still be fed well anyway.
As a working mother it affords me piece of mind. My work is very spontaneous so I need to be able to take on jobs as soon as they come up and I also need to be able to spend extra time at home when I’m not working.
But the best part of this whole experience for me is that my kids absolutely love it. They relish in the fact that we have brought someone into our family. They love the consistency of knowing who will be with them, there is something very settling for all of us in that. They get to really know each other and in our last experience, Lesley was so kind as to really include the kids and entwine them in her German culture. They made German cookies at Christmas, learnt about Lesley and her family and by the end of her stay they were even asking for their breakfast in German (not to me, I have no clue what they were saying).
The down side is that they leave. Yes, the kids were broken hearted and to be honest, so was I. Lux only said to me the other night that he misses Lesley and wants to see her before he turns 10. Was so sweet. But as hard as saying goodbye can be, isn’t that still such a beautiful thing in itself! To have the opportunity to make a beautiful connection with another human being, even if it was for a short period of time.
I often think how wonderful it will be when the kids grow up and go travelling. I think about them reconnecting on their travels with their au pairs from all around the world. How awesome would that be!!
I have an agent, Aussie Au Pair Services, who source au pairs from around the world. They provide one on one support for both au pairs and host families.
They write the contracts and manage not only expectations but also outcomes. Aussie Au Pair Services make sure all parties are happy with the placement and if not, they are responsible for making the changes. Something that I would hate to do myself should I not have the best experience one day.
For me, I wouldn’t do it any other way. It’s comforting to know that the agency is there to look after both party’s especially when things like language and customs can be a significant barrier.
You can also find au pairs yourself through numerous Facebook pages. Personally I haven’t tried this option as if things don’t work out then I’m not sure I would be strong enough to handle it. Eek…
This is a really interesting subject so I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or hit me up on Facebook with any questions you may have and we can have a good chat.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences too!
To Au Pair or to not au piar…. what would you do??