Francesca Barbieri takes care of 4 little kids—a big job for anyone, but one she has loved since she arrived last January. Her host mom says simply, “Frannie is awesome”, and it appears that her host kids feel the same way. Her story in her own words is below.
I am Francesca, I am 20 years old and I come from Italy. I live in Manhattan and I take care of four children: 2 1/2-, 4 1/2-, 6- and 7-years-old. They call me Frannie—they have always called me that, even before I arrived here! I came to the U.S. in January 2015 so I’ve been here for almost 8 months. I would never regret becoming an au pair, and my host kids are the reason why. These are 10 reasons I love taking care of my host kids.
1. They care about me, they care about my home country and they try to speak Italian. They want to learn Italian words, they asked me to teach them my language. So far they know the numbers, the days of the week and some types of food. Even the little one, and she is just 2-and-a-half! Every time they see something related to Italy in a movie, in a cartoon or in a book, they call me so excited telling me “Look Frannie, Italy!”
2. I am so glad that they consider me as part of their family. Most of the time, when they draw family pictures, there’s a seventh person, and that person is me. Mom and Dad, four children, and me. It makes me feel so blessed to have found them. I do feel so loved. They are my “American family”.
3. With four kids you are never be bored—being with them all day long is kind of like being at a party everyday! We play lots of games together, of every kind, from hide and seek to board games. We always find a way to keep us busy, everybody has a role and we are perfectly organized. For example, sometimes we bake or cook something together and each kid has something different to do.
4. I like the fact that they are four and they work together as a team. They support and love each other in an amazing way, and they taught me a lot! Before taking care of them I couldn’t feel and know the importance of so many little things.
5. Being surrounded by them makes me feel so loved because they are very loving kids. They hug me, jump on me, climb on me all the time and every night, before going to bed, they come to my room to give me a hug and kiss goodnight, always.
6. They help and teach each other how to behave and how to be good kids, they explain each other when there’s something wrong without me telling them. They already know what could make me mad and how to make up for the mistakes they’ve done.
7. They know what respect is. I love the fact that they don’t bear a grudge for something they know it’s wrong, but they immediately say sorry and ask for forgiveness. When I put them in “time out” they don’t complain about it, they just understand that this is how it works, they don’t even dare to resist and not listen to me. They respect me as a person and as their au pair, they know I am here to build a long term relationship and that it’s not just for “fun”.
8. Maybe it would sound silly, but I feel so proud when I am at the park or at the playground with the kids and people look at me impressed, because I am young and I take care of four children. Sometimes some people come to me saying “You are brave, you have to be proud of yourself!” and I actually am! Taking care of four kids is a big challenge, the most challenging experience of my life!
9. I loved, and I love, seeing them growing up everyday! It’s magical seeing them growing up so fast and watch them taking life steps, like passing from the diaper to the potty or their first day of school!
10. Being an au pair of 4 kids, (or even one or two) makes you realize what being a mom is like. This experience prepares you for your own future child, and you appreciate your own mom more than ever! I understood how hard it is, and I will always thank my mom for doing such an amazing job and never complaining about it!
Taking care of my host kids makes me feel stronger and wiser. I’ve really grown as a person, and after this year I will certainly look at the world with different eyes.
Congratulations to you Frannie for being your host childrens’ activity coordinator, disciplinarian, playmate and friend every day. Au pairs: what are your host children like and why do you love caring for them every day? Share your story with us.