Julie and Michael Larkin, dual working parents in a suburb north of Boston have hosted Cultural Care au pairs since their twin boys were just babies. Their au pairs—from Germany, Switzerland, South Africa and Nicaragua—have helped care for their three active boys: Samuel and Dillon (5 years) and Ryan (3 years). We asked Julie to share a little bit about why her family has hosted au pairs for so many years and this is what she had to say.
What other forms of childcare have you used besides au pairs?
We did the traditional day care facility when the twins were 3 months old.
Why did you switch?
Both my husband and I work full time and when one of them had a cold or was sick, one of us had to take a day off of work, not to mention the cost of day care each week was $750 for both of them. I was basically working to cover day care.
In your opinion, what are the three biggest advantages of having an au pair over other childcare options?
One big advantage of having an in-home au pair is the convenience. As the kids get older, they’re starting to have more and more after-school activities. It’s nice to know that they’ll get to their activity safe and on time. Another advantage is that it is nice to have someone from another culture to educate the kids. Its fun to hear them learn new words in another language. They get very excited as well. The twins will be six in January and we’ve been using au pairs since before they were one. We’ve made lifelong friends from all over the globe. Also cost. The cost of childcare in America is outrageous. Making the decision to use an au pair was easy when you break down the costs for three children. Using an agency as reputable as Cultural Care is great too because you know that they take the time to interview each candidate before they’re presented to your family.
What was your biggest concern about hosting an au pair and how did that work out?
At first I was concerned about the privacy but in our experiences our au pairs have always made friends fast and were always out going places and enjoying their time in America. I was also concerned about having to be “friends” with them. In the age of Facebook and Twitter, I make it a rule not to “friend” our au pairs until after their year is through. Also, you have to remember that they’re taking care of your children, so if you like things done a certain way, don’t feel bad about it, just make sure you communicate those details to your au pair. It will make everything easier in the long run to be open and to communicate things clearly.
Anything else to add?
We have had some au pairs that haven’t worked out but we have also made some great friends. We talk about the time when we might not need an au pair and to be honest, that will be no time soon. This works for us.
Thank you Julie for sharing your experience. If you are a host family and would like to be profiled, please email us and let us know!