Back in December, I let y’all in on a little secret of mine. We have an Au Pair living with us, taking care of our children, and totally upgrading our lives.
Having another adult living in our home helps to keep the playing field even now that we have three boys five and under. She is that extra set of hands that most families desperately need. She provides that extra dose of patience when the last straw has broken the camel’s back. And she gives so much love to my boys and our family.
But you basically have a stranger living in your house!
I know, I know.
For some, the thought of having another adult in your home is a little odd. You get worried about your privacy. You wonder if they are always around. If it feels uncomfortable to have someone you just met living in your home.
The short answer, no.
The long answer…
It’s true you may have just met your Au Pair in person, but if you have done your due diligence in the interview process and the time leading up to their arrival, they will not feel like a stranger at all.
I am very meticulous in my Au Pair search and carefully read the entire profile of Au Pairs I am interested in. I never base my decision on English speaking level alone but rather on the person as a whole. When starting the interview process I am sure to ask a lot about their personal lives with family and friends and not just work experience. All Au Pairs are vetted with childcare experience but not all have the family values that align with ours.
After we match with an Au Pair I video call with them once a week and also text every few days to keep in touch and get to know them even better. By the time they arrive at our home we are pretty good friends and the kids know who they are. Honestly, I feel we know our Au Pair more than most parents know a daycare provider or teacher at school, which makes the transition of them caring for our children full-time easy.
The first few weeks
When hosting your very first Au Pair, having another adult in the home can seem weird. After the first week, you begin to become accustomed to each other’s routines – when they talk with family, how much of their off time they like to spend with you – and it becomes more normal.
A requirement of the Au Pair program is to provide a private bedroom for the Au Pair so they always have somewhere to have privacy for themselves and you to have privacy from them. This adds a level of separation between you and them that maintains healthy boundaries and allows everyone to feel at peace with the new living situation.
When the Au Pairs first arrive they typically do not know anyone, which means they will be spending a majority of their time with you. As they meet other Au Pairs in the area (the greater Charleston area has close to 150) and locals from activities such as church, joining a gym, or going out, they begin spending more and more of their off time away from the house. Before you know it you might be thinking how you never see your Au Pair when they are not working.
The average week
An Au Pair can work up to 10 hours each day with a maximum of 45 hours each week with at least 1.5 consecutive days off each week. There is a lot of flexibility when it comes to schedule!
Our Au Pairs typically work nine hours each day while we are at work. Most Sunday evenings we have a family meeting where we can let the Au Pair know what she is doing well and where she could improve if needed. This is also her time to let us know if she has any issues and to share with us her weekly plan with the children.
Depending on what time I head out the door each morning I may or may not see our Au Pair. If I do see her we discuss her plans for the day with the children. When I arrive at home she will give me a rundown of the day and head to her room until dinner. Unless our Au Pair is out with friends she eats dinner with our family every night and often helps with after-dinner clean-up before turning in for the night.
While she is working, we can also have her help with any other tasks related directly to the children such as doing the children’s laundry, keeping their bedrooms and the toy room clean and organized, and cleaning up all the dishes used by her and the kids throughout the day. (The laundry is honestly a lifesaver!)
On the weekends, they often hang out with friends or travel. If they are not doing their own activities we always invite them to spend time with us going to a local park, heading to the beach, shopping, or traveling as a family.
If you have ever wondered what it is really like to live with an Au Pair, this is my take on it.
Easy, flexible, and no more of an invasion of your privacy than having three little humans running around.