When I decided to go back to work one of the first tasks on my plate was childcare. After being home for 5 years, it was nerve-wracking to consider leaving my three children, who were 2, 3 and 5 years old at the time, with a complete stranger. Daycare was not really an option – the cost in the Philadelphia area is phenomenal (average monthly cost for just 2 kids is $2043), and I wasn’t ready for them to be away from home all day. Ultimately I found a job that allowed me to work from my home office, but I still needed full-time care; working around the kid’s naps and the preschool schedule was not an option.
Camden Children’s Garden
We tried patching together a schedule of college students – yes, more than one, because we had to schedule around their classes and many breaks (did we have hat amount of time off when we were in school?). My family helped. But it involved so much juggling and wreaked havoc on my kids’ routine to be shuttled around from one caregiver to the next.
Camden Children’s Garden
The funny thing is I work for an au pair agency, Cultural Care Au Pair, but was still hesitant to take the plunge. I didn’t think we were highbrow enough to host an au pair, although the cost was perfect; $345/week for 45 hours of childcare AND light housekeeping.
While initially a little hesitant about the live-in aspect, after further thought, I decided this wasn’t really an issue. The idea of another adult in the house was more than appealing; it was really an answer to my prayers and a means to keeping my sanity intact. Then I considered those two magical words, “light housekeeping”; the au pair could take care of the mountains of kid laundry, the unending vacuuming, the toy tidying and book re-shelving that seemed to dominate my evenings and weekends. Better still, she could supervise my kids and get them to clean up. I was sold!
So we started hosting.
Since the arrival of our first au pair we haven’t looked back. They have been as young as 19, as old as 23 and all of them have been fabulous. Two highlights would be our first and third au pairs. Sarah from Austria, our first au pair, had a plan for every day. The kids did arts and crafts, played games together, visited the pool and playgrounds and cooked Austrian food. Sarah developed the most lovable habit of bringing me coffee and whatever treat they’d been baking up to my office in the afternoons. Truly amazing!
Nicole from Switzerland arrived shortly before the birth of my 4th child. She jumped in feet first and kept the kids running, and my home humming as I went through those early, foggy months of post-baby sleeplessness. Nicole was always upbeat. No matter what the challenges, and there are many in a house with 4 kids age 7 and under, she worked hard, kept order and created smiles.
When I returned to work, she helped transition Jane to bottles with considerably more finesse than I felt and became a full-time caregiver to my entire gang without missing a beat. Our year with Nicole was filled with wonderful memories. In fact, her help after Jane’s birth made things so easy, that when I found out we were expecting our 5th (due this May) I knew that with the extra hands of a good au pair, I could manage 5 kids, 8 and under, and a full time career, with confidence.
To say this is the best option for my family is an enormous understatement. In some ways, au pair childcare is the only option that would allow me to focus on my career with peace of mind. Our au pairs feel like family and my kids benefit from that relationship. Plus, Jane gets to nap in her own bed every day and my big kids get to unwind at home after school and enjoy activities they like and I would take them to myself. Bilke, our current au pair, works as an extension of my presence, while adding her own creative spin to the day to day. Best of all, when my husband and I schedule a date night, I don’t have to do the walk through with a sitter and wonder if the kids are getting to bed on time. Our au pair knows the routine; knows who needs what toy, what story, to sleep. We can head out and enjoy ourselves, knowing the kids are doing the same at home.
Financially, it is an amazing thing to have live-in, customized care at such an affordable rate. And it’s become even easier to budget hosting with the new monthly payment plan Cultural Care offers. To compare, in PA, the average monthly cost for a Nanny is: $2305, for 1 toddler and 1 infant in daycare: $2043, and for a Cultural Care au pair with the Monthly Payment Plan: $1608. This savings makes a huge difference in my family’s budget, and the quality of care my kids are receiving can’t be beat.
For more information on how your family can benefit from au pair childcare, seasonal discounts that may be available, or our payment options, please fill in our form or contact your Chesco Moms account manager, host mom and Philly area native: Sierra Rix, 1-800-333-6056, extension 5575 or email@example.com.
Sierra also blogs about life with 4 kids, a husband, an au pair and too many pets at Actual Mom.
*This post is sponsored by Cultural Care Au Pair.