COVID-19 has turned the world upside down seemingly overnight. Suddenly, families are struggling to create new routines and maintain a sense of normalcy. And the limitations the virus has imposed on Cultural Care au pairs in the USA are making daily life—and fulfilling goals like traveling and making friends—a whole lot more challenging. But, over and over again, we’ve seen our host families and au pairs rise to the challenge and—together—make the best of the situation. Here are some of our favorite stories shared by the Cultural Care community during this global crisis.
The Lamping family & Brazilian au pair Ana
Virginia host mom Moira is a nurse and her husband is military—two jobs that definitely are not in jeopardy during these crazy times. “Ana has stepped up to the plate and embraced social distancing. She has pitched in and been totally a part of the family. We appreciate her additional help so much. It can’t be easy being away from family during these uncertain times. She is the epitome of what makes this program work.” Moira’s advice to host families during this time is to take advantage of the opportunity to truly embrace their au pair as family. “Try some of their cultural foods. Skype with their families together. Learn their language. Sing their songs.”
The Garlough family & Italian au pair Enrica
Italian au pair Enrica and her host family had their portrait taken in front of their house as part of their local #frontporchproject, a U.S.-wide initiative to capture photos of families during the COVID-19 crisis and to raise money for coronavirus relief. Enrica admits this is not the easiest time but “my host family helps me a lot with everything and also with seeing things in a good way. I know I’m gonna be part of the family no matter what, so I try to find positive vibes in the little things.” @donnagarlough
The Borst family & Spanish au pair Maria
Soon after COVID-19 started to impact the U.S., host mom Christine Borst found herself fielding a whole lot of questions about the virus from her 6-, 4- and 2-year-olds. So many, in fact, that she decided to write and illustrate a children’s book about it. Her au pair Maria, from Spain, translated the book into Spanish! A pdf of the book is available online and is a great resource for helping children understand what is happening in the world right now. Maria, who just celebrated a birthday during the quarantine with her Colorado-based host family, says: “I am really attached to my family and to my three amazing kids. I arrived when they were just 7 months, 2 years and 5 years. They changed a lot, and that is a part I enjoy the most—watching them grow and being part of that.”
The Weaver family & Dutch au pair Nadeche
During stressful times, an important part of self-care is exercise—but what to do when the gym is closed and the kids are home? For Dutch au pair Nadeche, whose host mom describes her as simply “the best!”, the answer is to incorporate her host children into her workout routine. Dead lifts, squats and planks become even more challenging with the additional weight of four kids!
Dutch au pair Martine
Dutch au pair Martine has been tirelessly helping her host kids stay busy during the COVID-19 quarantine. Together, they have written letters to her family back home, baked cookies and taken a virtual field trip to the Cincinnati Zoo. Martine shares: “Lately, we have grown even closer and enjoy the days as they are. By being positive and making the best out of it, the kids will do the same.” @thedutchaupair_
The Miller family & German au pair Birte
Isabeau Miller, host mom in Tennessee, says her au pair Birte “deserves all the awards” for the loyalty and commitment she has shown as her family’s au pair. “This couldn’t be less what [Birte] signed up for when she decided to do an au pair year in America. But she has been an absolute dream in, bar none, the hardest time on EARTH, literally. We’re cherishing the big sister she’s become to our boys and the third adult in our home. So grateful for her bright spirit, her kind heart, her supreme patience and her light and love. And can’t wait for this weird time to be over so she can explore and see more of our country.”
Italian au pair Andres
Italian au pair Andres and his Colorado host family were supposed to be heading to Hawaii during this year’s spring break for some fun and sun. When they were forced to cancel plans due to the coronavirus, they brought the Aloha spirit home instead with matching Hawaiian shirts and leis!
The Biffer family & French au pair Oriane
Arizona host mom Jennifer relies on her French au pair Oriane for help during normal circumstances, but especially in the middle of this global pandemic. “I am blessed to have Oriane. She is for sure my lifesaver as I navigate how to support my family as a single parent during these tough times.” During the quarantine, Jennifer and Oriane have teamed up to create a YouTube channel featuring adorable twins Wyatt and Aiden—Jennifer is the singer/songwriter and Oriane is in charge of filming and editing. We think they may be on their way to super-stardom soon!
The Cafiero family & Italian au pair Martina
Italian au pair Martina just arrived to her host family’s home in February, and she’s fitting right into her new California lifestyle—quarantine and all! She and her adorable host boy start every weekday morning with a “Namaste” and an episode of Cosmic Kids Yoga to keep the stress at bay. Her host mom Rebecca says, “We adore her!”
The Taylor family & Colombian au pair Paola
The coronavirus is challenging au pairs to add even more fun projects and activities to the daily routine and Colombian au pair Paola is exceeding all of her host family’s expectations. Host mom Liz shares, “Some of Paola’s most popular quarantine activities have included: planting seeds in the yard, playing ‘car wash’ (cleaning toys in the water table), baking banana muffins and organizing a ‘surprise of the day’ when we surprise the kids with something small. We are so appreciative for her attitude and the love she is showing our children during this unforgettable experience that will forever bond us. Mil gracias, Paola!”
The Mostafa family & Brazilian au pair Stefani
Brazilian au pair Stefani, who arrived to her host family’s home in Virginia at the end of January, did not expect her first three months in the USA to unfold as they did. “I expected to travel more, see more places, meet more people. I expected a different routine, a different experience. But I can’t even say that I’m sad here. In these two months I made friends with people I know I will always be able to count on. I’ve seen wonderful places I know I want to return to. And I had the opportunity to get to know my host family better. Things are not always as we expect—but for better or worse, staying at home with the kids has allowed me to see another side of them and to learn more from them too.” Stefani’s host mom Kathy adds, “Stefani has really bonded with our family and we have shared many evenings cooking, baking, eating together, exchanging pictures and much laughter. We are making the best of the situation.”