As a working mother of two young children, ages seven and nine, I know how difficult it is to balance life, family and work. Since we are a family of four I need an extra set of hands to help give my children the care and attention they need. Finding the right childcare, however, is one of the most challenging decisions my husband and I face. We need a trustworthy caregiver that can offer the flexibility and affordability a busy family, such as mine, requires.
One flexible and affordable option available to busy parents like us is hosting a live-in au pair. Au pairs are adventurous, educated, young people from abroad who choose to leave their life at home for one year to share their love for children with an American host family. Au pairs are excited to become part of an American family and experience American culture by living in our communities, volunteering and taking classes at local colleges. We welcome the enthusiasm an au pair brings into our home.
An au pair is the perfect childcare solution for my family, since we love to travel and learn about other cultures. Like most families, we want to educate our children as early as possible about the world beyond their small grasp through travel and cultural exchange. We welcomed an au pair from Poland this year— Malgorzata Swiercz. We have learned so much about her Polish culture and traditions and she has introduced my children to a new language, new foods and music!
With an au pair, my family is more easily able to balance our busy lifestyle. My work hours can be unpredictable and I travel often. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that I have flexible childcare. If I need to stay late at work or go on a last minute business trip, I know that I will not also need to worry about picking my children up at daycare by a certain point. I also have great peace of mind knowing that the children are safe and in the care of someone who I trust and truly think of as a member of our family.
The U.S. Department of State regulates all au pair programs in the United States, offering my husband and me the peace of mind that our children are in trusted, qualified care. Au pairs live and study in the United States for one year on a J-1 cultural exchange visa in exchange for providing 45 hours of childcare per week. The U.S. Department of State requires that au pairs are between the ages of 18 and 26 years old and speak proficient English. Each au pair completes a comprehensive application, including childcare references, non-family personal references, an essay about why they want to join the program, a medical examination, a background and criminal check and an extensive interview.