The majority of our host parents are dual-working couples who rely on their au pairs for coverage while they are at the office. But there are also many Cultural Care host moms (and dads, too) that are stay-at-home parents. They typically work as a team with their au pairs during the day and split up childcare and household responsibilities.
Of course, there is much debate over why stay-at-home parents with au pairs need them to begin with. After all, isn’t it their job to take care of the kids and manage stuff at home? A lot of people imagine such parents taking days off at a time to play tennis, get their nails done, go shopping and otherwise avoid childcare responsibilities altogether. However, the ones I spoke to paint a very different picture.
Nicole, Cultural Care host mom from NY
“Do I realize that it is a luxury to have an au pair as a stay-at-home mom?” asks Cultural Care host mom Nicole from NY. “Yes, to an extent. I know a lot of SAHMs don’t have the money to hire extra help, and so I do feel very grateful.” Nicole has three children between the ages 7 years and 6 months and has hosted Cultural Care au pairs for the last three years. “But don’t for a moment think I’m off doing my own thing every day while our au pair is at home with our children. My husband works long hours, and he is often travelling for days at a time and having to go into the office or work from home on the weekends so I often don’t get much of a break. Sandra [my au pair] and I work together to make raising 3 children more manageable and more enjoyable. While I’m feeding the baby, my au pair’s taking the other ones to get some fresh air at the park. While I snuggle and read books with the kids, she can get some laundry done. Plus I have another adult in the house to talk to, which definitely helps keep me sane. I would rather spend some of our disposable income on an au pair who will allow me to be a happier, better mom than on fancy cars or expensive vacations.”
Alanna, Cultural Care host mom from CT
Parents who are craving more time together as a couple but don’t have a network of family members who can help out also benefit tremendously from the program. While babysitters often charge upwards of $12-$15 per hour, the cost of an au pair calculates to less than $8 an hour (when families use all 45 hours a week). And, an au is a familiar face for your children and someone you can schedule when you need her most.
Says Cultural Care host mom Alanna Thompson, a SAHM to three kids ages 4, almost 2 and 5 months, “Derek and I decided to host an au pair when we were pregnant with our second. We both like to golf and go out on an occasional date and we don’t have family close by to help us out. We didn’t want to use babysitters as it was stressful not being able to find someone who knew our kids and us well.
It has been truly life changing for us. I, for one, am not constantly being pulled in a million directions. My au pair and I work like a well-oiled machine and my kids get all the attention they need and more. My husband comes home to a wife who is not completely frayed and actually has a smile on her face after a long day. Also my husband and I can do things together instead of one of us staying home. We are golfing together, shopping and having date nights again.”
Sarah, Cultural Care host mom from MN (pictured above with her family and au pair)
Exposing your children to cultural exchange is another reason many stay-at-home parents opt to host au pairs. There really is no better way to help a child learn a second language or appreciate other cultures than to welcome a foreign visitor into your home as part of your family.
Sarah Kallal is a SAHM mom in Eden Prairie, MN. She and husband Simon are parents to four children under four, and their household is a busy one to say the least. But beyond the childcare and household help their au pair Nathaly provides, she also shares her Spanish heritage on a daily basis, the very reason the Kallals joined the au pair program.
“Simon and I love travel and culture, and we knew it would be beneficial for our children to be exposed to someone of a different culture and upbringing. My kids benefit from having an au pair because they are learning a different language, they are learning about different cultures. They are beginning to be aware that there are different countries out there besides just the U.S., which I think is great. I don’t want my kids growing up being ethnocentric and small minded, and [with an au pair] they are exposed to different ideas of teaching and skills.”
Sarah adds, “Staying at home with my kids is so incredible, something I really do feel so blessed to do, but it can also be a lot sometimes. Having an au pair is great because I can skip out for a lunch date with my friend, go run errands, get some “me” time when I need it. It’s the best of both worlds!”
Raising children is a huge job—one that can always benefit from an extra set of hands. Regardless of whether parents work full-time, part-time or as stay-at-home moms and dads, the extra childcare coverage and household help an au pair can provide often means the difference between a family that is stretched and stressed out to one with a little more peace and harmony.