The choice of child care can be one of the most difficult decisions parents make. Having a live-in nanny or au pair means another person under your roof, caring for your children. In a recent Cultural Care Au Pair poll, we asked host parents if they, or their spouse, had any concerns about having an au pair live in their home and how they overcame these concerns.
Concern #1: Loss of privacy
A recurring theme in the poll answers from host parents was loss of privacy. It is a reality for any type of live-in care. Parents found several ways to overcome this concern.
“We made sure we have an au pair who enjoys being out with other au pairs, seeing the U.S.”
“We got over it by just deciding having an au pair had more pros than cons.”
“All of our au pairs have respected our privacy so it has not been a problem.”
“Gradually, you just get used to it. And find time for date nights.”
“We were pleasantly surprised how much our au pair likes to go out on weekends with other au pairs so we get more alone time than we thought! We love our au pair but it is nice to have family alone time, too.”
Concern #2: Another person in the house
For many parents, simply having another body around the house taking showers, using the bathroom, and staying in one of the bedrooms can be a concern. But in the end, it’s all worth it.
“The assistance our au pair provides with the dishes and children’s laundry and running errands has certainly made up for any inconvenience.”
“We were worried about having someone else in our house all the time, eating meals with us and sitting with us during down time. However, the moment our first au pair joined us we realized it was like having another member of the family around! It makes our meals, down times, and other times even better.”
Concern #3: Having the au pair feel like a guest
Another concern for families is finding a way to get past the guest phase and break down those walls in the first few months. Soon though, the au pair feels like a part of the family.
“We just decide to act ourselves from the first day to get everyone used to a routine.”
“It can feel weird to have a stranger in your house, but as long as you treat them as a family member, such as a niece or daughter it works.”
Concern #4: Internet use, guests, car use
Take if from this host parent: “We had general concerns about the au pair not being focused on the kids because she is texting or on the internet, not knowing what is safe and what is not safe, not knowing how to react in an emergency, bringing strangers to the house, posting private information on Facebook, drinking and driving, getting involved with drugs or bad company, etc.” Ultimately, it all came down to clear communication and expectations.
“We have very clear rules about car usage, internet usage and bringing people to the house and well as other things involving the kids’ safety. The au pair rules are written out and shared with the au pair upon arrival. We always address it immediately if any of the rules are not being followed.”
Concern #5: Having another woman in the house
Our poll found that often times, host moms were concerned that they woul dbe uncomfortable about the interaction between their husband and a young, beautiful, foreign woman. They soon realized, though, that wouldn’t hold them back from this form of flexible childcare.
“It has worked out all right for all the years we’ve hosted au pairs – I mostly manage them day to day, and there is always the right tone and appropriate balance in their relationship with my husband.”
Concern #6: Not having actually met
Parents can be understandably concerned about having a foreign person who they have never met before live with them and care for their children. But with a thorough matching and interviewing process, parents can feel safe in their choice of au pair.
“When we realized how detailed the application and au pair selection processes were and spoke to our LCC, we felt more confident. The ability to interview prospective au pairs via Skype was also very helpful, and made us comfortable with our decision.”
Conern #7: Following your rules
As with any form of childcare, responses to our poll indicated parental concerns about the nanny or au pair following their wishes with the children when they are not home. However, frequent check-ins and transparency between all parties can quickly alleviate those concerns.
“We daily review the plans and the expectations because times can change with moods. Also, there are many temptations for all of us, internet, down time, shortcuts, TV…all those things that have to be assessed and how they affect the function of the family. Teaching structure and planning helps. We believe in communication and honesty.”