Guest post from Nanny Parent Connection member Wendy Poleski who is an Educational Consultant focused on connecting families with that special au pair.
Where do culture, conversation, family, food, and laughter come together? Right at your dinner table! Bring the world to your doorstep with an au pair and watch your child experience the world at her fingertips. Are you intrigued by learning about people from different countries? Do you think it’s important for your family to learn a different language? Although there are countless benefits to hosting an au pair, these are just a few of the things that you will gain from hosting an au pair!
Families all over the country have latched on to this form of childcare and while it has been around for many years, the idea of an au pair is becoming more and more mainstream. The word au pair is a French word meaning “on par”. This means that your au pair literally becomes part of your extended family. While they…
- Provide childcare
- Handle household tasks relating to the children similar to a nanny
- Help with homework
- Prepare meals for your kiddos
- Teach about their language and culture
- Brainstorm activities to keep your child engaged
…they also immerse themselves in your family’s culture.
Screened and Trained Childcare
Every au pair embarks on an adventure to discover America, better their English, travel our amazing country, to help a family just like yours feel comfortable with a childcare provider that feels more like family. Au pairs travel to the United States on a legal J1-cultural exchange visa to help provide childcare and take a course at a true American college or university. Au pairs are personally screened, interviewed, supported, and educated by our in-house staff in over 27 different countries. Au pairs are required to provide references, take an English proficiency exam, and participate in a health screening prior to communicating with a host family. With our award winning training school in New York, you can rest assured that the American Heart Association has trained and certified each au pair for both CPR and First Aid.
Flexibility. Opportunity. Affordability.
As a host mom myself, I can attest to the benefits this program has offered my family of five with the flexibility of childcare hours, the opportunity for my children to learn another language, and the affordability of hosting an au pair, make this a perfect choice. Whether I choose to have my au pair work a traditional 9 to 5 schedule, or do morning drop-offs and after-school care, my au pair can work up to 45 hours per week, and she is solely dedicated to my family alone. This means she is able to dedicate the time getting to know each of my children on a personal level and truly tailor her efforts to fit my needs. Since an au pair is able to rest during her 1.5 days off per week, I can change her schedule each week to fit our busy life, and she is always well rested to fully engage with my family!
About $1,600 per month
Hosting an au pair costs less than most people think. There is an annual program fee to the agency, also a weekly stipend to the au pair. Other fees include an educational allowance, and transport fees. In total, the cost averages about $1,600 per month. This is a per family cost, not per child cost. It’s very affordable if you have the space in your home to host!
Although most au pairs are female, there are a number of male au pairs available who range from infant experience to camp counselors who work with teens on a daily basis! Bro-pairs have become so popular, that about 5% of our au pair applicants are young men. The energy level they bring is proving to be a great fit for families with all boys, and what better way to show your young men what a great role model looks like when you have one at your fingertips who is excited about doing math problems while also practicing free throws?
Hosting an au pair is really a gift to your family. Your childcare needs will be met with flexibility and affordability. Your family will become culturally enriched, and you will have so many different countries to visit as you reconnect with them over the years.
The World Around Us
One of my favorite aspects of hosting an au pair is being able to learn and celebrate so many different customs and holidays. From Children’s Day in Brazil, to learning about Mid-Summer festivities in Sweden, and even Christmas, it is a wonderful way to embrace old traditions and create new ones along the way. Here are a few of my favorites:
St Lucia Day in Sweden – December 13
Girls in Sweden dress up as “Lucia Brides” in white dresses with a wreath of candles on their heads. They bring coffee and buns to their families.
New Years in Thailand – April 13-15
Releasing of fish into rivers, and young people throw water onto each other.
Day of the Dead in Mexico – November 1
Eating Bone candy, remembering those that have died, eating a meal with the dead to honor their life.
Sinter Klaas in Holland – December 5
St. Nicholas comes! Kids leave out their shoes. St. Nicholas is sure to leave a gift. This is a feast day in Holland.
New Years in Spain – December 31
To celebrate the New Year and ensure it has a sweet beginning, you must eat 12 grapes at midnight! 12 LUCKY grapes!
Easter is a major holiday here, and similar to the way we paint Easter eggs, they have painted eggs! Beautiful.
Hosting an au pair is about embracing their culture and sharing yours. You can try to incorporate something new into your holiday tradition which will make the year more memorable.
Bianca and the Stollen
The story of my German au pair, Bianca will stay with my family forever and is the perfect depiction of what hosting an au pair might look like for your family. Sweet Bianca had planned to make this traditional dessert called a Stollen for Christmas Day as part of her family traditions. She collected the ingredients after asking her grandmother, spent time preparing the whole thing in order to share it with us and it was beautiful! One bite of this beauty quickly revealed that she had subbed lemon curd for cottage cheese (thinking it would be the same) and it tasted horrible! The whole family, including Bianca, still laughs about it today, and even though it was four years ago, we remember her with such fond memories. She wanted us, her American family, to enjoy the traditions of her natural family and home country, and her pure heart is what we think of whenever we see a Stollen or cottage cheese in the grocery store!
This holiday season, while you are sitting at the dinner table, see if you can imagine one more smiling face at your table. Ask yourself if you think that hosting an au pair is the right childcare choice for your family. The greatest thing that we can give our children is an opportunity to empower them with knowledge, culture, arts, support, and a more worldly view of life, success, triumph, and how to build better relationships. An au pair who has left their host family to join yours and experience a new part of the world, overcoming challenges, supporting your child, and also overcoming the challenges they face is the perfect role model for a child. Give your family and yourself, the gift of au pair childcare. There is no better gift than welcoming the world into your child’s heart and home! (and help with the laundry!)
Wendy Poleski is an Educational Consultant working nationally with families looking to host an au pair. This year, she won the Gold Leadership award for her work with families. As a host mom to six au pairs, and a mom of three, she loves to help people find the right fit for their family. To work with Wendy, connect on https://www.facebook.com/Aupairservicesnow/ or http://www.culturalcare.com/wpoleski.