Between buying backpacks, books, clothes and running errands, parents agree the back-to-school season is a hectic time. For busy families, an important part of this back-to-school juggling act is finding the right childcare for their children during the school year. Families need a trustworthy caregiver who can offer the flexibility a busy family requires. There is one flexible and affordable childcare option that is gaining popularity throughout the country: hosting an international au pair.
The au pair program was designed with parents of school-aged children in mind. The flexibility of having a live-in au pair means many parents do not have to worry about leaving work early to get their children from one after-school activity to the next. This fall many mothers are breathing a sigh of relief knowing that the one thing they don’t need to worry about is their childcare.
“With two very active kids, it’s hard to balance our family’s busy lifestyle during the school year. But having a live-in au pair to care for the children during the school months has made it much easier to manage our family’s schedule,” said Samantha Janney, Cultural Care Au Pair host mother. “In the mornings, Malin helps the children get ready and packs their lunches, and in the afternoons she brings Emmett to soccer practice and Caroline to dance class. For working parents like us, the flexibility of having Malin help drive the children to and from school, appointments and after-school activities has really been a lifesaver.”
According to Cultural Care President, David Fougere, the Cultural Care Au Pair program was created to fill a pressing need for reliable childcare, especially for school-aged children. “I know first hand that parents can spend weeks before school worrying about after-school schedules and having to rush home from work to pick up their children from daycare or bring them to soccer practice in time,” said Fougere. “It is a tough transition into the school year when your nanny or daycare only works 9 to 5. The au pair program gives parents a better choice.”
For the past 18 years, Cultural Care Au Pair has worked with the U.S. Department of State to authorize qualified young people from abroad to live in the United States for one year at a time. The au pairs, between the ages of 18 and 26, provide up to 45 hours of childcare per week in exchange for a weekly stipend and the opportunity to experience American culture by living with a local family. Au pairs bring great enthusiasm into the home and are excited to teach their host children about a new language, culture and music.
In addition to the flexibility an au pair provides, the benefit of cultural exchange is often the deciding factor when choosing the au pair program over daycare or a nanny. “Daycare centers and American nannies do not expose children to new cultures and languages. An au pair can open your children’s eyes to the world beyond their reach.” Janney adds, “Malin is from Sweden and teaches our girls about her culture and traditions."