Reasons why your family should Host an Au Pair

This week I had the opportunity to chat with @aupair.graham and one of his questions for me was why we chose to become an au pair host family. That fit in perfectly with this week’s post because I’m going to share our own personal reasons why becoming a host family was the right choice, but also some of the general benefits of hosting an au pair. 

If you are interested in watching my interview with Graham or any of his others, you can head on over to his YouTube channel here. I’ll also post the video on the homepage if you want to check it out and watch it later.

Why host an au pair?

girl, water, sea

My partner and I have had friends tell us on multiple occasions that they would never be able to open up their home to a complete stranger, and while it’s true that essentially that’s what you’re doing, if you have done a thorough interview and pre-arrival getting-to-know-each-other process, you won’t really feel like it is a stranger who is arriving. I’ll get more into what our process is for that in a future post.

So, why would a family want to open their home to someone they have never met in person before? 

family, holiday, portrait

For each family the answer to this question will vary slightly, but for us, one of the main reasons was the cultural and language benefits the au pair experience provides. Our children were already growing up in a bilingual home, but adding a third language was something we felt to be a priority. Some might argue that we could just as easily have sent them to language lessons instead of bringing someone to come live with us, but an au pair gives a unique alternative to traditional language lessons. This way the kids would have complete immersion in the language while playing, eating, bathing and doing their regular, everyday activities. For us, this was one of the most motivating factors in choosing to have an au pair come live with us. Not only do the kids get this cultural immersion experience, but so does everyone else who lives in the house, including the au pair. This is such an important aspect in the au pair program.

Another really important reason that having an au pair live with us was such an enticing option was the personal connection it provides. Having a live-in caregiver allows that person to become part of the family. This was really important for us because it meant that the kids would be spending time with someone who they were used to seeing around the house and who they trusted. We always search for au pairs who are interested in becoming an integrated part of the family – an older sister for the kids. For us this is important for two reasons. 

One: the au pair learns about our family from the inside and sees how we do things and handle problems and discipline so he or she will be able to do things similarly during his or her time with the kids. 

Two: the au pair spends more time with our kids during the weekdays than we do, so it’s important for us that the kids see him or her as a family member and not just a caregiver. We want them to be comfortable with the au pair and to see him or her as a role model and not just a babysitter.

A final reason for choosing to have an au pair versus traditional childcare methods -aside from the cultural benefits and the integration in the family- is the flexibility it provides. One misconception is that with an au pair, the family has 24/7 childcare. This is not true at all! Anyone who treats their au pair this way is abusing the system. What is true, though, is that in an emergency situation or a pre-arranged situation, you can rely on the au pair to help out. For us, it is useful because although my job is quite predictable, my partner’s job might require him to leave on a business trip with less than one day of warning. As per our original arrangement, I know that on the days when he is out of town, I can count on my au pair to provide a bit more support than on days when we are a two-parent household. 

child, winter, snow

more reasons to host an au pair...

Aside from the other reasons that I have already mentioned, one more reason that many people in Europe choose the au pair option over other more traditional childcare options is the cost effectiveness of it. In general, having an au pair (at least in Spain and Germany) isn’t much more expensive and it is sometimes even less expensive than other childcare options. This makes it an attractive option for many families. Of course there are costs involved (not just the weekly pocket money), but if you add up all the costs of having an au pair compared to the benefits it provides, it isn’t difficult to see why more and more families are choosing this alternative.

money, home, coin

The au pair isn’t the only one who might grow or learn things about him/herself. We all know that parenting isn’t a cut and dried science, and nobody is perfect at it. Bringing in an au pair can help take the load off a little bit and, who knows, you might even learn a thing or two about discipline or raising children in another culture. As long as we as host families keep an open mind, having someone from another culture live with us can also benefit us and help us learn and grow. 

together, earth, human

In addition, it’s not solely childcare that you can ask for help with, you can also usually count on them for a bit of help with light housework. This is always a tricky subject because light housework for one person might seem like full on house cleaning for someone else. But, even having some help with the menial, everyday tasks that would take you an extra half hour at the end of your workday makes a huge difference. Make no mistakes, an au pair is NOT a housekeeper or a maid, but it does usually fall under the au pair’s duties to help out around the house to some extent.

I hope you can see that the au pair program can be beneficial for all parties involved and although it doesn’t come without some sacrifice, like giving up some of your privacy and personal space, in my opinion it is really worth considering whether this option is right for you and your family.

What do you think?

As always, if you have any suggestions or you want to share your story, feel free to comment on this post or message me privately here. I look forward to your feedback!

10 thoughts on “Reasons why your family should Host an Au Pair”

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