Working at home without interruption, scheduling date night with your spouse, or attending an important meeting during after-school hours can be a challenge for working parents. The endless juggling of a work schedule, organizing child care and running errands leaves many parents exhausted and frustrated.
For working mom Christine Gage, hosting an au pair provided her a newfound work-life balance. Gage works at home as a community counselor for Au Pair in America, the first au pair agency in the United States. She helps other families discover what her own family found with an au pair: reduced stress and increased productivity in their personal and professional lives. Plus, the entire family benefits from the added support and cultural enrichment.
Wondering how an au pair could help your family? Gage answers some of the most common questions about hosting a young international visitor eager to learn more about life in America while helping a family care for their young children.
Q: How does hosting an au pair help parents achieve a work-life balance? How does it work for you?
A: Working from home, which is a very popular thing in our community, can be very hard with children in the home. Having an au pair who can tend to the kids when you have a lot going on is huge. She can take them out of the house to play so you can focus. The balance between getting work done and your kids enjoying life is improved because you know your children have someone available at all times. That takes a huge load off.
Also, my husband travels every week, sometimes six days, so having the flexibility of an au pair with his schedule is a great aspect. I’m able to socialize with friends after work, and we can set aside a date night regularly. We never did that consistently before having an au pair.
Q: What are some of the biggest benefits of having an au pair in the family?
A: With an au pair, I appreciate having my children in their own environment to enjoy their own toys and play in the neighborhood with their friends. Having someone there to engage them in activities and projects is so much better than worrying about them getting too much screen time waiting for mom to finish up work to go to the pool.
Another benefit of having an au pair is adding another role model to your family. Our au pair has fun with the children, encourages them, instills in them our family's values and oversees daily chores – that is very comforting. An au pair living with the family is keenly aware of how she affects the children versus a sitter who is only there a few hours a week.