Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The newest member of our family…

D: January was a very busy month, full of changes for our family. Just days after New Years, our beloved Nanny left us to go back to school. With only two weeks notice, we were stuck searching for competent childcare during our busy holiday travels. We knew that it was not an option to enroll them in daycare; the enrollment wait-lists in our area are well over 6-months and even longer for 2 children at once. We thought maybe we might find another full time nanny, but I was skeptical that we would find someone over the holidays.

Knee deep into my search, another twin mom suggested getting an Au Pair and filled me in on the benefits of such an arrangement. We had never thought of getting an Au Pair, but once we realized the value and advantages of having an Au Pair it was only days later that I took my search worldwide.

For those of you who are not familiar with Au Pairs, a brief summary of what I have learned so far:

An Au Pair is someone who is recruited (by an agency) from abroad to experience American culture while living and working in a family’s home. In exchange for room and board, they provide 45 hours per week of childcare. All au pairs are proficient in English, carry full medical insurance for their year in the U.S., travel on a cultural exchange visa and have previous childcare experience. Every au pair candidate participates in a thorough screening process and background check conducted by the agency and spends a week at an Au Pair training school before arriving in the home where they will work.

Our agency provided us with a Recruiting Representative to help us in our search, as well as a Local Representative to help us get ready to welcome someone into our home. (It’s the Local Rep. who also checks us out to make sure we are not crazy people with a dungeon in our basement.)

Our search for our perfect ‘match’ was very extensive, and spanned several countries. For 3 weeks I felt like an HR rep, constantly searching through profiles (their education, family background, childcare experience, interests and goals, references) and exchanging emails with applicants…until finally we found her, in Brazil. After several emails, we spoke on Skype and knew instantly that it was going to be a good fit. On Skype she was able to meet the babies and the dogs, and we got to say ‘hi’ to her family. The next day we confirmed the match, and the following day our agency was preparing her Visa to come to the US.

It all seemed to happen so fast, but it also seems like such a natural transition for our family. W and I always enjoy welcoming newcomers to Seattle, and ‘Host’ is one of our favorite hats to wear. We are looking forward to having another culture represented in our household, and another language spoken around our children. We are looking forward to the enormous flexibility that this arrangement will offer us, not to mention the savings.

In the last month, through our Au Pair search, we have been fortunate enough to have hired a temporary nanny who we also love. Her amazing 20-month-old daughter comes with her to the house, and has quickly established her ‘big sister’ role with the Deuce. Luckily she has found another job just down the street from us and we look forward to staying close with them.

Establishing good, quality care for the kids has been an exhausting journey and I do not wish it on anyone. On the other hand, this experience has pushed us to expand our vision of what our family’s “plan” is. I am realizing, as parents, how critical it is to remain flexible and open to changes in the plan. Really, it’s best not to call it a plan at all…more like a loose set of possible options!

Posted by Walker Lockhart @ 10:35 PM

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Hi guys.

We've been thinking about an au pair for a few months now after realizing that, not only is the overall cost only around $1600 per month (after fees, plane tickets, etc.), but it just seems like a great situation for all parties.

To make this work, we are having to put our house on the market this spring and will hopefully find something with a little more space. But, I think this is really the direction in which we need to move towards.

As much as we like our daycare, there is always "something" that we're not thrilled with...and we're not being over picky. But when you get a gut-feeling, I guess you just need to go with it.

Anyway, just wondering which agency you went with and/or agencies that you would or would not recommend. So far, we've been most impressed with EurAuPair. I don't know a lot of families with au pairs in Anchorage, but I've talked to several friends-of-friends in Portland who've had some unbelievable experiences.


If you don't want to give me the low-down on Blogger, I can send you my email, just let me know.

Posted by Blogger Carrie & Brook @ Thursday, February 07, 2008 9:47:00 AM #

Congrats to you! We were looking for an aupair for several months before our twins were born, but our regular sitter decided to make the trek to our house each day, so we didn;t have to go that route. I have several friens with an aupair, and all have had great experiences. Good Luck and Congrats!

Posted by Blogger Mama Snyder @ Monday, February 11, 2008 9:54:00 PM #
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