Six and a half years ago, I was pregnant with our third child. The understanding that we were about to be outnumbered sent my stress level through the roof. My husband works long hours, leaving all of the kid planning and driving to me. And while my job is much more flexible, I still needed full-day child care and honestly, help.
The difference with my third was that, while I was able to balance being in two places every day with my first two, the prospect of one in daycare, one in preschool and one in elementary school was overwhelming. Could I even be in three places at once?
I knew we needed a change and started to look at hiring a nanny. The challenge in my nanny search was that I needed someone who could drive. I also needed flexible hours to help me in the evenings when I had plans or meetings out of the house. I felt stuck. Which led me to warm to a solution that my husband had been proposing for a while. I began to look into Au Pair programs.
Why an Au Pair Works for Us
Long story short, we realized that the au pair program was the perfect fit for us. It was much more affordable than a nanny with a lot of built-in flexibility. It also allowed us to expose our children to a different culture. After our research, we were excited to welcome an au pair into our home and family.
Having an au pair during the years before my youngest was in school was fantastic. I had someone who had become a member of the family and who I trusted completely not only taking care of my baby, but also doing the kids’ laundry and helping keep their rooms clean. Plus she was there after school to play with the older kids and available to take on some of the driving responsibilities. It truly was the complete package.
Premier Care for ALL Ages
Fast forward six years, and my youngest is now in kindergarten. For many people, all kids in school would be the end of their au pair journey. I want to share why we continued to host an au pair. They say “big kids, big problems.” I say “big kids, more driving.”
I now have three kids in activities and I am still one person. Having someone I trust and I know cares about my kids to help schlep them around has been incredible. Our au pair remains in the role of caretaker. She still plays with the kids and helps with kid-related chores. However, she can also take on some of the burden of the work that goes into big kids.
Another huge plus of having an au pair while all of the kids are in school is that with a big break in the middle of the day, they have extra hours in their workweek to help in the evenings and on some weekends. Au pairs can work up to 45 hours a week. This lets me make plans with friends, and my husband and I can have date nights. Yes, you heard that right, I can actually have a social life!
After six years and four absolutely wonderful au pairs, I am proof that this program can be the answer to what many busy parents need. From the affordability to the flexibility to the privilege of bringing someone else into your family and learning about a new culture, our au pair experience has changed our family for the better.
The Au Pair in America Program
While there are several au pair programs, Au Pair in America stands out as the premier one and is the first legal au pair program in the US. They have served families for over 30 years and truly have the matching process down to a science. Be sure to check out their site and follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.