This Working Mom’s Secret Weapon- My Au-Pair

I’ve talked before about building your team, and how critical that is for working mom success.  It is also critical for surviving an MBA, as well.  This working mom’s secret weapon is her au-pair.

What is an au-pair?  An Au-Pair is a foreign born national who comes as part of an intercultural exchange program to help care for your children.  In the USA, the requirements are quite different from other countries.  I frequently describe an au-pair as being a cross between a foreign exchange student and a nanny.  I frequently call my au-pair my better half.

Currently we are hosting our 21st au-pair in our 15th year as a host family.  We have had a few that didn’t work out in that time, and there have been times where we’ve had two au-pairs in the house as well.

Why do I call this my working mom’s secret weapon?

  • Having an Au-Pair eliminates most of the issues of drop-off and pick up in the morning and evening.  They are there, in your home, helping take care of your children.
  • Sick days are few and far between.  First of all, my kids seem to get sick less often than others. Second, if my child has a minor sniffle, or low grade temperature, or the 3rd ear infection in the last 3 months, I know that I can safely leave them with the au-pair, and that she will monitor the situation, and let me know if there are any issues.
  • Hours are Flexible, up to 45 hours/week, 10 hours per day.  Which means that when the school has early release, or we have another teacher work-day, or another snow day, I have it covered.  (Provided of course that she’s not in class, and that there are no significant scheduling conflicts).
  • I end up taking fewer vacation days and other days to deal with stuff at home, which means that I get to use my vacation (mostly) when I want to.  What a luxury.
  • Having an au-pair is a cost effective form of childcare., at approximately $350/week, if you have more than one child, and in many parts of the country is still worth considering even with one child, due to the costs of daycare.

I could go on and on, but I truly believe that having an au-pair has been one of the key reasons that I’ve been able to do so much, and stay relatively sane in the last few years.  My au-pair helps with after school care, Track-out, driving kids to activities, hair appointments, and even helping my daughter figure out how to get her rabbit to the groomer.

This morning as I was getting ready to go to work, my 5 year old was sitting in the middle of the blanket fort that they had built in the living room with the au-pair.  They were reading books together with a flash light.  That is why, at the end of the day, I think that it’s worth it- that special caring time.  Hugs, and kisses, and fun.

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