What makes an exceptional au pair? As one host mother beautifully explained, it is “assimilating into a family, a community and a town in such a deep and meaningful way that it becomes your own. It means opening your heart and becoming part of a family, not as an abstract notion, but in a genuine and sincere way. And it means taking care of kids you never met before and caring for them like they were your own siblings.”
Our au pairs do an amazing job of blending seamlessly into their American host families’ lives, as this host mother can attest. Her au pair, Vanessa, hit the ground running upon her arrival from Germany and quickly became an integral member of the family, caring for five active children and supporting her host family in ways that they didn’t even know they needed. Read on for a first-hand account of this host family’s experience:
“To be honest, we had no idea what to expect when we signed up with Au Pair in America. We had hired nannies for many years, but were ready to try something new. The first day we met Vanessa, we knew that she would be a responsible caregiver for our five children (yes, five!) who at the time ranged from 2 to 14 years. However, we did not anticipate how enriching a relationship this would turn out to be.
Of course, Vanessa does all the typical childcare chores including waking up the kids, getting them changed, fed and dropped to school. She spends hours driving to multiple soccer practices, karate, cross-country, after-school clubs, play-dates, and doctor’s visits. She has never missed an appointment or forgotten a pick-up, even with five kids with different schedules, often changing from one week to the next. After school she makes sure the kids do their homework, practice piano, read, and sleep on time. She was instrumental in potty-training my toddler and solving many of his issues over the past year, including finding creative solutions to the ‘I don’t like to eat eggs’ phase and ‘I don’t want to go to school’ phase. And finally, she makes sure that the kids’ laundry is done every week (not a small feat with five kids!).
We have peace of mind when the weekly schedule doesn’t go as planned, as Vanessa is always flexible and willing to adjust her schedule. She is constantly coming up with new, creative and educational activities and outings to do with the kids. She also takes time out of her personal time to do fun things with the kids like baking, celebrating birthdays and spending time with the family. As a birthday gift, she even took my teenage daughter to her first music concert!
Vanessa does the things that we don’t always see, that are not specifically listed under ‘Au Pair responsibilities.’ Like talk lovingly and patiently with my toddler, who asks ‘Why?’ perhaps 200 times a day and repeatedly says ‘Nessa’ another 300 times. Or gives valuable advice to my teenage daughter who, when not moody, just wants someone to talk to. Or explains to my 7 and 8-year old girls why it is not a good idea to fight with each other and helps them come up with creative ways to compromise and work with one other.
We are lucky to have Vanessa share her cultural perspectives and educational experiences with our children. She has taught them words in German and stories of her childhood and where she grew up. Her family has sent us gifts from her home country, and we have had the privilege of hosting her family.
We will be sad to see her leave one day, but we know that we have gained a new family member and will always have her in our lives.”
Meet more of our exceptional au pairs and learn more about how an au pair can enrich your family!