In today’s fast-paced world, young parents are juggling a lot: their careers, personal lives and the demanding responsibilities of raising a family. Recognizing the benefit of a personalized and flexible childcare solution, an increasing number of young families are turning to hosting au pairs as a childcare option that checks every box.
An au pair provides an enriching experience for both the host family and the au pair themselves. The benefits extend far beyond just childcare, as the arrangement promotes open-mindedness and creates a supportive environment for the children to grow and learn about a new culture and language.
We talked to host mom Kristin from Pennsylvania about her experience hosting an au pair as a young parent with a busy schedule, and she gave us some insight into why parents like herself are embracing au pair childcare:
Thanks for talking to us today, Kristin. To start off, can you tell us a little about yourself and your family?
So, I’m Kristin. I am 27. My fiancé’s name is Austin. He’s 28. We have three kids—seven, three, and one. I am by degree a registered nurse, but I now tattoo full time. Because we host an au pair, I have that flexibility. I also do a little bit of photography on the side. My fiancé has his own business and has a varying schedule being self-employed, so he basically is working all the time.
AJ is our youngest, and then Eva and Viv. We have had Angie with us…August will be a year, so I think we’re at nine or 10 months now. She just left today for her two-week vacation back to Colombia and we can’t wait for her to come back and be with us again. It’s only been a few hours, but I miss her already.
What’s Angie like?
Angie is 25 and she’s from Colombia. She is a psychologist by degree and she’s always trying to dig deeper into why our kids are acting the way they are. It’s fun to see. What else…she loves being outside—she actually just bought a mountain bike and has been riding and things like that. She loves tennis and soccer, and anything outdoors or sports related. Her favorite place is New York City. We went there during Christmas time.
What was most important to you when you were exploring childcare options?
We wanted someone that would go along with our parenting style—that was our biggest thing. Overall, positive reinforcement is big in our home, and we try to make most not-so-fun tasks into a game or challenge to keep the kids’ attention. We tried a couple different childcare options and fell in love with the aspect of having our kids at home and being with the same person every single day, so that kind of led us the au pair route.
We love that Angie lives with us and we can hang out with her, and she’s definitely become part of our family. We also like that it’s just the kids and her—all of her attention is focused on them, and she knows them so well. She knows what they do throughout the day, when they’re acting differently. So, it’s just nice to know that they have that personal relationship.
When Angie first arrived, what were some of the initial benefits you saw in your home?
The thing I noticed at the very beginning was how much more organized we could be. Before Angie, we would leave in the morning in a hurry and everything was a mess, and then come home and have that chaos when we got home to deal with. And now we leave, sometimes the kids are still sleeping, everything’s calm, and we can come home to a house that looked better than it did when we left.
And obviously they make a mess throughout the day, and it’s not always perfect, but it’s just, I don’t know, calming to come home to things in order. At the end of the day, we can just kind of pick up where the kids’ schedules left off instead of having to drag them home from being at daycare all day. Yeah, it just saves us a lot of time and energy.
And what benefits did you notice that you didn’t necessarily expect?
The cultural exchange part is amazing. My one-year-old—he’s basically bilingual, so our au pair only speaks to him in Spanish. And obviously this is different from kid to kid, so it’s been really cool to see how each kid accepts that and takes it and kind of does their own thing with it.
They are always trying to do things to make Angie happy or smile—like right now he’s upstairs, making a Colombian flag out of playdough. We have also celebrated all of the Colombian holidays, and she’s celebrated all of ours. We obviously haven’t gotten through the full year yet, so I think there’s a couple more firsts in store for us.
Do you think that hosting Angie has also influenced your children’s perspective on diversity and inclusivity?
Yes, definitely. One thing I’ve noticed is that Eva brings up Angie a lot in her schoolwork, which is awesome. Like at the very beginning, when Angie first got here, they did an assignment about people being different than you, and she put something in there along the lines of, “She’s different than me, but we love each other no matter what, and even though she speaks a different language that doesn’t change anything about our relationship.” It was cool that I wasn’t present and she was still expressing those things in a classroom setting.
Overall, how has your life as a young parent changed since you welcomed Angie into your home?
So, before we had an au pair, I was working 12-hour shifts at the hospital and my fiancé was working ungodly hours trying to get his business running smoothly. I felt like we never had the flexibility to do things that we enjoyed other than working all the time. Now that Angie is here, I am doing something that I’ve always wanted to do that I didn’t have the time to do before, which is tattooing.
We have also gone on more trips since Angie came and it’s given us this excitement to show her things that seem so normal to us. It’s like watching your child do something for the first time. Like, in New York, we took her up in the Empire State Building, and it was so cool. She was so thrilled about the whole experience—it made it so fun.
On a final note, how do you think you’ll maintain your relationship with Angie once she returns home?
Angie will always be a special part of our family. We are hoping that she can come to visit us, but we will definitely be traveling to Colombia. We would love to see the place she calls home and meet her family and friends who we have spent time getting to know through FaceTime. Austin and I were in Colombia before we started hosting an au pair, and we would love to take the kids to experience it next time.