An Au pair? What’s that? Why would you hire an Au Pair? Generally speaking, an Au pair is a boy or girl from another country that comes to live with your family for a specific period of time. You will offer him/her free room and board, pocket money, and language lessons, in exchange for them taking care of your children and helping around the house.
To me, an Au pair is more than just someone you hire to look after your kids.
I live in France, in a French family and French environment. Some days it is really hard to teach my children English all by myself. The main reason we hired an Au Pair was to help me with the English teaching but it provided me more: our lives changed for the better! Here are five reasons why you should definitely hire one too:
1. The Au pair can speak a second language with your kids
If you are like me and the language you are teaching to your children is not your first language, you know it can be hard to communicate effectively. You are unsure of word pronunciation and your grammar isn’t perfect at all. Every day, you are wondering if it’s a good idea to do that…
When you choose an Au pair, you can choose someone from a country speaking the target language. In my case, that’s English. So I searched for people from the USA, Canada, Ireland, UK, South Africa, Australia. We were lucky to welcome two different girls in our house and family. The first one, Caitlin, came from Canada and the second one, Ela came from Slovakia but lived in the UK when she was younger.
When I contact an Au pair, I am clear from the beginning: they will have to speak only English with the kids, not French. But when we are all together, we speak French or a mixture of English & French. That’s the deal!
2. Learn a new country, a new culture
Before Caitlin, we did not know anything about Canada. But after a whole summer talking about her country; the system of education, sports, music, food, politicians, healthcare, we fell in love with her country! Also, the kids got very interested in another culture! They drew lots of Canadian flags, tasted maple syrup, learned about native animals in that country like beavers or bears and heard a lot about hockey. If you ask my boys, they can now show you on a map where Canada is!
With our Au pair from Slovakia, we also learned about landscapes, skiing, the education system. She also brought some cookies and candies from her country. Because she arrived at the end of June, a few days before the end of school, she did a presentation of Slovakia to my son’s class! And of course, now my kids are able to locate Slovakia on a map and how to draw the flag!
So, as you can understand, it was very interesting for the kids but also for us, the parents.
3. The Au pair takes care of your children while you are not home
There is another reason I decided to hire an Au pair. Summer holidays last two months (July and August). Most of the time, we, parents can take only take three weeks of holiday during the summer. So for the last five weeks, we must pay for private childcare or take the kids to grandma’s house.
Every year, it is the same nightmare. “Where are we gonna put the kids during the summer? Do we ask the grandmas again? Do we send them to childcare? How many weeks? How much is a week? That’s the price for only 1 kid, wow! When is the registration? Oh, it’s already done and now it’s too late! Oh gosh !”
It is simply more cost-efficient to hire an Au pair.
One tip for you, when I write the contract, I always include the fact that during the summer, I will ask the Au pair, to look after the kids during 1 or 2 evenings only, to go to the movies or restaurant with my husband. And that is a great moment for us!
4. The Au pair organizes lots of activities with the kids
More than you would probably do! When I am home with my kids, I have to be honest with you, I don’t always take the time to play with them. Sometimes they spend the day watching TV or playing football and I always feel guilty about it.
But that’s different for the Au pair. Because that’s her job! She comes to your house with many ideas. She can plan at least 1 activity per day. My kids love to be busy and this summer with our Au pair they were so happy to have a different activity every day.
To give you some examples, Ela brought big colored chalks and she let the children draw what they wanted on the road a few times. She organized treasure hunts, built a village with papers or masks in paper mache. They also raised a colony of ants!
5. The Au pair can help parents learn too
That’s true! Even she is here to teach a language to your kids, you will also benefit from her. Ela had quite a good level of French but because she was not fluent, we mixed French and English during all summer. I learned new expressions and new vocabulary.
It also felt good to be able to speak a little bit of English with a native speaker every day. The rest of the year, I am wedded to speaking French.
As you can see, taking an Au Pair was one of the best ideas for my family. I have been lucky to have 2 wonderful experiences with 2 different Au pairs. We are still in contact with both of them and they are now like family. They know they are welcome home anytime and we will always be in touch with them.
I hope you and your family have similar great experiences!