My wife and I had just found out we were having twins. To say that was shocking is an understatement. Childcare? I wasn't even thinking about it. I was mainly thinking about how we were going to juggle sleepless nights, buying a house, working full time and still trying to maintain a generally normal life. Thank goodness my wife is an organizer. She did the research and then brought up hosting an au pair. My initial thought? I wasn't sold.
You mean a stranger is going to live in our house? With us? What's that going to be like? Will I still be able to watch football in the den on Sundays? Will I feel awkward grabbing a midnight snack in my kitchen? Can I not drink from the milk container anymore?
She's from another country? Like, does she speak English? Are we going to have to learn another language to communicate with her? I'm not a language person.
I harped a lot on the privacy issue. A 23-year-old woman was coming to live with us. Was this socially acceptable? I'm 32 years old, my wife is 30. Is the au pair going to hang with us and our friends? Will she be like a younger sister? Are we all millennials? Is it just like a roommate? I haven't lived with anyone other than my wife since college. Could I really be comfortable with this?
We made our pros and cons list and my fear of roommates didn't measure up to all the other benefits this person could provide. So, we did it. We got an au pair. It was, different. But I will say, having twins was different enough. My life completely changed the day those two little people were born, so having another person living with us seemed so minimal compared to what we'd just been through.
Let me tell you what I like about having an au pair as a host dad (saying that makes me feel old).
- I like knowing my kids are being taken care of by someone who really, really cares about them. Our au pair is invested. I mean, she lives where she works, she clearly has more interest than someone going to a 9-5 and doing the minimum to get by. She likes us and we like her, so we all give it all we got.
- I like that she likes soccer. Yes, selfish I know, but my wife was never a sports fan, so having a buddy to watch the Euro cup with is fun.
- I like that she likes to cook. The program doesn't require her to cook, we don't expect her to cook, but she likes doing it and she's kind enough to share when she does. And let me just say, it is amazing. I mean my wife and I can cook, but I wouldn't call us culinary experts in Brazilian cuisine.
- I like that she has a ton more experience taking care of kids than I do, but isn't a know-it-all. She's not trying to show me how to parent, but she is making me feel confident that I can trust her with those important tiny humans I made. Before I had my kids, I held a baby once, at a christening, when I was the Godfather, and had to a take picture with my Goddaughter. That's the extent of it. It's nice knowing my au pair has taken care of multiple babies before and was even trained for a week on how to take care of babies in the USA through the AuPairCare Infant Specialized Program.
- And finally, I like that she's now part of our team. She's not around 24/7, but when she is, it's fun. My parents like her and invite her over whenever we go there. Our friends extend the invite when we're going to have dinner at their house. We've met her brother and Skyped with her parents. She's like our cousin who lives with us. When we need a favor, we ask. We she needs an ear, we listen. It's so much more than I would have anticipated I'd get out of this whole childcare experience.
Joeseph is a host dad and father of twins living in the Dallas Ft Worth Area