April 11, 2013

Why consider a male au pair?

3 minutes
Advice for host families

We asked host mom Tessa Holcomb about her experience hosting male au pairs to care for her three boys.

You have hosted seven au pairs—a mix of female and male au pairs. How has the au pair program benefited your family overall?
The au pair program has provided my family with consistent and reliable childcare that doesn’t require taking my children out of their home environment. As I often work from home, being able to hear them laugh and play, and knowing that they aren’t missing after school activities or play-dates due to our work schedule, is very important to us. As I also travel for work from time to time and my husband leaves for work before 6am each day, it’s crucial to us to have a dependable caregiver who is able to get my boys up and off to school while I’m away.

What helped you decide to start interviewing and welcoming male au pairs? What was the process or shift like for your family?
Once my oldest son got to a certain age, I noticed that he wasn’t as excited about playing with or interacting with our female au pair anymore. Maybe it wasn’t because she was female. It could have been that their personalities didn’t mesh or the fact that she wasn’t athletic. However, there is nothing worse than seeing your children come home from school and not being “excited” to play with their caregiver. A friend of mine who had a male au pair suggested that we give it a try. To be honest, I was a bit nervous about the idea but came across the perfect application, trusted my instincts, and decided to go for it.

What has the experience with male au pairs been like for your sons?
Having male au pairs has been a great experience for my sons. Not only have they had a “buddy” or “big brother” type presence around to play and interact with, it’s also been great for them to see that it’s ok for a boy to be a caregiver. My husband is very involved in parenting and does a lot of housework. I have a career, so I like the consistency of my boys seeing that there doesn’t have to a big difference between a Mom or Dad’s role in a household.

What is your favorite aspect of hosting male au pairs?
I love seeing my kids happy and having fun while keeping physically active. Because I have a pretty demanding job, I’m not able to spend the summer or school holidays taking them to the park, zoo, swimming, bowling or mini-golf. It makes me happy that I can plan a variety of fun activities for them and I don’t have to send them off to all-day camps in the summer or worry about after school care, etc. It’s not like a female au pair couldn’t share these activities with them but I find that male au pairs are a bit more excited about the physical activities themselves and when they are having fun, it shows and reflects on the way they care for my children. I also love the fact that my five year old has been playing soccer since he was three (as both of my first male au pairs were huge soccer players), so he’s a star soccer player now and we really do owe it all to them!

Are you still in touch with any former au pairs?
Yes! There are three of our past au pairs that I speak with quite consistently. Two have already visited (one several times) and we often have Skype calls to stay in touch. I always involve my current and past au pairs in the interview process as I feel it’s important for them to get a real sense of what being an au pair with our family is like. It’s so great to get updates from former au pairs and we look forward to being able to visit with some in their own countries over the next few years!

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