Any mom who is a practicing doctor knows finding the right childcare is unbelievably difficult, especially for the overnight shifts and sudden trips to the ER.
As a single mom starting medical school, Irene of Ohio, had a lot to think about. Babysitters and day cares were just not going to be the right fit. She needed some afterhours help and she needed someone who can step in at a moments notice if she had to run to the ER. After Irene did a lot of research she knew getting an Au Pair was the right childcare for her situation.
Overall Irene says the Au Pair cultural childcare experience has been good, even though she had a few bumps along the way – like having to switch Au Pairs in the middle of medical school after she realized her first Au Pair was not going to work out…Eek! Talk about stress! Luckily she stuck with it and rematched with a new Au Pair. The flexibility of the Au Pair program offers is a unique option and often it is just what the doctor ordered. Irene has advice for other MD parents considering Au Pair childcare:
Advice on knowing how to choose the right Au Pair
“The key is to acknowledge you are bringing an adult into your home not just for childcare, but as a fit to live with. Match with expectations for child and your house—when get all of that then there is a match.”
“The Au Pair is like an employee because they are taking care of kids and I also think of them as a roommate. It is important you like them. If you are not going to like the Au Pair, it is going to be really easy to treat them like hired help.”
“Moms might want to ask the Au Pairs ‘How they rate themselves on how clean they are?’ If you have someone who doesn’t care, and you are a clean freak, they will drive you crazy.”
What it is like living with an Au Pair?
“The idea of not treating them like hired help makes for better greasing of the wheels. It’s just like the career world; the people that get fired don’t play nice in the sandbox. If you extend love and like kindness things will go better.”
“For the first month, or two or three, I meet with them weekly and I ask them what can I do to support them and if I need anything change.”
“I take the attitude of big sister. I would rather the Au Pairs party at my house and drink and I can watch them and take care of them. This way I don’t have to worry about my Au Pair getting in a car accident after they drive home.”
Learning what works and what doesn’t work with a live in nanny
“Specifically spelling out what you need and what is important to you is critical. This way they are more able to respect rules of house.”
“I told my first Au Pair “I’m not going to give you a curfew and I expect you to be a respectful adult,” but that didn’t work out well. A 21-year-old’s idea of what it means to be a “respectful adult” is different than a 28-year-olds. Now I am very specific, I tell my Au Pairs ‘you have to be home by midnight the nights you working and 2 a.m. other nights, otherwise I start to worry about them.”
“One Au Pair had unlimited access to my jeep and drove more miles than I intended, for the next Au Pair I limited personal use of the car. I try to be stricter at first. It is easy to get more lax later, than change the rules mid match.”
“With my second Au Pair I picked an Au Pair who cooked, but my son wouldn’t eat her Thai food, so she feed him crackers with cheddar cheese chunks everyday. With the next Au Pair I gave her recipes and ideas and then let her move forward. We would plan the menu so I would know what to get at the grocery store.”
Things are booming at Irene’s home right now as she is just coming off of maternity leave with her second child and has recently placed with her fifth Au Pair. Irene says her Au Pairs come to the US and work hard and play hard. The Au Pairs get a lot of support from Irene’s siblings and parents and practically become part of the family. On top of it all the Au Pairs have a safe place to lay their head at night, in the home of a doctor.