Hosting an au pair is an enriching experience that gives families countless benefits. It provides families with a loving caregiver that their children can look up to for years to come; it gives host parents and host children a glimpse into a new country and new culture, widening their world view in the process; and it gives families the flexibility and reliability they need to keep life at home running smoothly and happily.
More and more parents are choosing to experience au pair childcare every year – it’s especially becoming an increasingly popular option for families with multiple children, and the pricing structure for hosting an au pair is fixed regardless of number of children in the home.
But more importantly, it’s emerging as a welcomed alternative to nannies or daycare providers because of the consistent and personalized care an au pair can provide. Take it from Andrea Birkel, host mom to Mexican au pair Jessica: “When my husband is working late, having an extra set of hands enables me to be able to sit down and connect with my kids while Jessica puts together a little dinner for them. Or, if I’m feeling in the mood to cook something, I’ll make dinner and she plays with the kids. The daily routine is just so much easier.”
Thanks to her au pair, Andrea now has the opportunity to make her own schedule with her childcare provider – who has become an extended member of the family. She has a rapport with Jessica that is filled with care and mutual respect, and gives her the freedom to choose how she wants to spend her evenings with her family. It’s a win-win, and according to host parents around the nation, it’s one of the best parts of hosting an au pair.
Becoming a host family also affords the unique opportunity to experience cultural exchange – right in your home! Because au pairs come from all over the world, families are able to soak in new languages, new cuisines, new traditions and even new people. Many of our host families have shared stories of meeting their au pair’s family from their native country, and have said that they remain in contact with them long after their au pair’s program year has ended. In many cases, host families will visit their former au pairs and their loved ones overseas – in turn, creating a global family based on connections built during their time together in the USA.
The benefits of cultural exchange on children are undeniable – it opens their eyes to different parts of the world, and fosters a sense of curiosity in them that they carry with them for the rest of their lives. Again, host mom Andrea remarks on the cultural impact her au pair Jessica has had on her children: “Our once shy daughter now turns up the music to dance around the house with Jessica. And my son, once a very picky eater, will now eat just about any fruit and vegetable if it has chile pepper and lime on it.
“At the end of the day, I feel incredibly grateful to have Jessica,” says Andrea. “She is our newest family member, and someone who will always be Lucy and Oliver’s big sister.”
Perhaps the number one reason to choose au pair childcare is the precious trust that develops between host parents and their au pair. Having an au pair means welcoming them into your home and your heart, and giving them a safe and secure place to live. With your children’s caregiver living in your home, you’re far more likely to form a special, trusted bond with them than you would a nanny or daycare provider who isn’t around as often. Your au pair becomes a part of your family – and who better to care for your little ones than someone like family?
Host parents Dana and Obi are both working professionals – and they love having an au pair for many reasons. One of the greatest, however, is that they can trust their au pair Paola with almost any task at any time. “Paola has truly become a member of our family,” Dana shares. “Because she is closer in age to our children, she is someone the kids can relate to and look up to. My daughter, in particular, is very attached to Paola and loves having a ‘big sister’.”
There’s no greater feeling than seeing your children bond with their au pair – it’s a special relationship that usually transcends the one program year they’re together for. And as parents, there’s nothing more reassuring than knowing your children are in good hands when they’re with your au pair. Hosting an au pair is a way of life – it’s a transformative experience that gives peace of mind and a whole new outlook on what it means to have a childcare provider.
Host parents Gillian and Toby – who have welcomed a total of 5 au pairs during their time with Cultural Care Au Pair – perhaps say it best when they talk about their male au pair Josef, who their two young boys have absolutely fallen in love with. “Josef is a consistent, calming presence in our household – someone who is also able to discipline the boys when they need it,” shares Gillan. “Our boys have loved all our au pairs who we keep in touch with regularly. They will always be part of our family!”