There are pros and cons to every childcare option. What works for one family, of course, won’t necessarily work for another. The truth is, it’s up to each individual family to consider what’s most important to them and choose the solution that makes the most sense for their unique needs. And for countless families across the USA (and the world!), live-in childcare is the answer to all their scheduling and caregiving problems.
Live-in childcare means welcoming a caregiver to live in your home with you. In the case of au pairs, it means giving them a private bedroom and embracing them as a member of the family. Opposed to other forms of childcare like daycares or nannies, live-in childcare providers offer families several benefits, such as convenience, flexibility, and a stronger sense of trust.
The convenience of having your child’s caregiver in-home is unparalleled. Having them there means they’ll never be late or unable to get to their shift, and will maximize the time they spend getting to know your children. It also allows them to become better acquainted with the home, meaning they’ll know their way around without needing regular guidance. And if you ever need to get in touch with your childcare provider outside working hours to ask a question or confirm something, you won’t have to worry about calling, texting or trying to get ahold of them—you’ll be able to simply knock on their door, or ask them over family dinner.
Flexibility is also a huge advantage to having live-in childcare. When you have an au pair, you can schedule them to work up to 45 hours a week (maximum of 10 hours per day)—and since they’re in the home with you, it’s easy to adjust these hours on the fly. If there’s been a sudden school cancellation or sick day, you can ask your au pair to change their shift. The ability to make a schedule that is tailored to your family’s individual needs is one of the greatest reasons to choose live-in childcare—and one of the biggest reasons families continue it year after year.
Last but not least, living with your child’s caregiver helps you develop a stronger sense of trust sooner than you would with a daycare or out-of-home nanny. Au pairs and host families often go beyond the bond of trust and settle into a relationship that feels like family—one of mutual respect and understanding. When you see your au pair in the home every day—sharing a kitchen, bathroom, car, food etc.—it’s natural to form close ties. And those close ties help your au pair better care for your little ones!
Take it from Cultural Care host families, who report having higher degrees of happiness and functionality in their lives with a live-in childcare provider like an au pair:
“If you are open to having someone live with you it is a wonderful option for high-quality care. I needed reliable, cost effective childcare. All in all, Zuly (our au pair) has a big role and has performed wonderfully. She is sweet and loving with the kids, organized in the house, and open to making changes or to any of my requests. I appreciate her very much and my kids love her like an aunt.” —Murray family, SC
“How does taking care of newborn triplets AND a 2-year-old sound?! That’s exactly what our au pair, Gabi, signed up for a year and a half ago—and no, she’s not crazy! Gabi is efficient, engaging, warm, punctual, tough when she needs to be, and caring. It’s not as invasive as you would think to have an au pair living in your home. It’s actually fun and makes the home a warm, inviting place to raise children.” —Klidjian family, GA
“We had a lot of challenges with childcare in the U.S. We wanted more for our children, perhaps someone with a better background, more driven, and motivated. We have found that there is no comparison in the kind of childcare, the flexibility, and the family feeling than having an au pair. I would suggest that families not be fearful of having someone live in your home. This was an adjustment for us, for sure, with some resistance from my husband. But once we struck the right balance, it now works very well. And we couldn’t go back to any other way … it just works so well.” —Sharma family, MA