Carrie Kislin and her husband of New Jersey had five nannies in four years, and the stress of keeping up with them was incredibly difficult for her, and the family. They had a wonderful first nanny for their daughter, but after moving and needing to hire a new nanny, their luck fell flat.
Constant anxiety became a theme for Carrie came when the nannies were not dependable. “We had one pulled over multiple times on her way to work, another who was chronically stuck in traffic, and one who claimed her alarm clock didn’t go off due to a power outage.” Keeping a nanny for longer than a year just didn’t happenand that was so hard on the children. The family even kept a chronically late nanny for a year because the children really liked her, but when she was late to get their daughter off of the bus twice, she needed to be let go.
Because of the bad luck they had with nannies, the family decided to enroll their youngest in child care and look for a nanny for the afternoons only. Carrie needed someone after school from 2-7 p.m. These hours proved hard to find nannies because they often want to work more than just evening hours.
The biggest issue for Carriewas the fear of them not showing up on any given day, because she just didn’t trust any nanny enough, based on their previous experience. “I’m a doctor in an exam room with patients, so it is hard to get in touch with me—I can’t answer my cell phone while I am with a patient. Wondering if the nanny was there for the kids was really stressful for me.”
The final breaking point was when her current nanny let Carrie know she was going to go on a cruise for a month. The nanny brought this little detail up right before Carrie’s husband left for Khazakstan for three weeks with his job. Those three weeks were next to impossible for Carrie to work full time, manage the kids getting to school and off the bus at the end of the day, and to get them to their after school activities. “I spent each day on edge, jumping if my phone rang knowing that it could be the school saying one of the kids is sick and needs to be picked up.”
The family turned to au pair childcare. An au pair is a nanny from another county, and lives in the house. Carrie liked the idea of having an au pair, because she wouldn’t have to worry about a nanny not being home when she’s needed.
Even with the au pair, Carrie had some reservations. “It’s not easy for me to give up control, especially in the house. However, it’s so hard to be a working mom and also manage everything at home and for the kids, without losing your mind sometimes.” The family took the leap of faith and they have not looked back. The au pair cooks the kids’ dinner and puts together their lunches for school and does the kids laundry. Carrie has also been thrilled with the cultural exchange aspect and feels like she has a new member of the family. “Our Au Pair enriches our children’s lives every day with art projects, baking or simply by taking them to the park or playing games with them. We can tell that our kids have developed a greater appreciation for people of different backgrounds as a result of this experience. My four year old doesn’t know any different She has been around as long as he can remember and considers her as part of the family.”
The kids and parents havelearned about their au pair’s culture and Carrie has taught their au pair about the U.S. culture. The whole situation has been a big win for both the family and their au pair. “I am a much more calm, happy person and day to day life is so much better for the whole family because of the au pair program.”