Homeroom teacher? Check.
New pencils and binders? Check.
Lunch box full of tasty snacks? Check.
Before-school, after-school, sick day, snow day, and holiday childcare? Must be a trick question … how is that even possible?
For many families, it can be hectic and time-consuming to find flexible coverage during the school year. There are late drop-offs and early dismissals, soccer practice after school, piano lessons at the neighbors’ house, mid-week professional development days – and of course, the ever-present lice or chicken pox that keeps kids stuck at home for days.
So how can parents combat these back to school scheduling hurdles that threaten to turn a family’s everyday lives upside-down? Enter the au pair.
For all types of families – dual-working, single mom or dad, military, traveling spouses, the list goes on—hosting an au pair allows them to not only spend more quality time with their children, but it also immerses the entire family in an empowering cultural exchange experience. Kids have the chance to learn about different cultures and unique customs, while also gaining a new member of the family.
But let’s get down to the basics. When it comes to back-to-school, hosting an au pair means …
Lunches packed. If you’re tired of waking up at the crack of dawn to get both yourself and your kids ready for the day, an au pair can lend a helping hand by packing healthy lunches and maybe even adding some flavor from his/her home country to the mix. Who knows, they may also sneak in a few encouraging notes!
Drop-off and pick-up duty covered. An au pair can provide up to 45 hours per week of childcare on a schedule you decide, including early morning, evening and weekend coverage. For drop-off and pick-up, au pairs can be flexible and be on-duty, for example, from 6-9am and then 2-7pm to cover all school schedules.
Homework help. As parents, maybe sometimes we don’t want to be knee-deep in geometry or biology questions. Maybe instead we want to play dolls with our youngest child when we get home, and have time to make a big dinner for the family. Au pairs can provide homework support and encouragement when kids need it most.
A snow day buddy. We’ve seen it happen time and again—every school in the district is closed after two snowflakes hit the ground, but you still have to go to work. Fortunately, an au pair is a built-in snow day buddy. When daycares close or babysitters can’t drive because the roads are too slick, the au pair is already living with you so she can truly take the wheel (figuratively, not literally).
Teri, a long-time host mom living in Chicago with her husband, au pair and three children, put it simply: “We are an incredibly over-scheduled family with our children involved in many activities, both before and after school, which makes it logistically necessary to have an extra person on deck. We believe hosting an au pair is a fantastic learning experience for both au pairs and kids, and we truly appreciate that our children get to learn about other areas of the world.”