My best friend Summer has two children, a rambunctious 4-year-old boy who manages to strip naked at some point every time I facetime with them, and a two-year-old girl who is already taller than her brother and has a defiant streak. 'She's going to be a handful when she's a teenager', Summer laughs. I've known Summer and her husband since we were all in college together and it's great to now see her as a mom of two beautiful kids. It's so far away from when our biggest concerns were finals and first jobs. Now she has two whole people to care about.
Whenever we've talked over the years I've told her that she should consider hosting an au pair. She counters with the typical concerns; someone else is living in our house, are they going to be a good driver, will my kids listen to her? The conversation always ended with 'someday.' That someday is coming up even sooner than she imagined. Her husband, a medical student, is a year away from starting a residency. He's hoping for a third child, and she's open to the idea as well -- but only if she has help.
Now that she's getting closer to hosting an au pair, our conversations are a little more nuanced. I explain to her the infant specialized program and recall to her how helpful it is to have someone that can watch your newborn so you have a chance to take a shower. She recollects how when her son displayed signs of jealousy after her daughter's birth, she would have loved to devote more one on one time to helping him process the change in their family dynamic. It also would've been nice to spend time with her husband, who was in the midst of medical school, without having to worry about incurring $50-$60 in babysitting fees on top of whatever they spent going out.
Another sometimes overlooked but also important factor I point out to Summer is that she won't just be getting childcare, but a cultural exchange experience as well. Her husband is a first-generation American who was raised in a Korean household. He annually returned with his parents to visit their extended family in Korea. When he and Summer were dating, she learned to make traditional dishes like Kimchi-guk soup. At their wedding, they had an American version of the traditional Pyebaek ceremony. She's always embraced the culture and it's important to instill that sense of pride in her kids. While her husband can speak Korean, their kids are having a little trouble picking it up. By choosing a Korean au pair, the kids would have more exposure to this part of their heritage " which is important to both Summer and her husband.
As the conversation continues in the next few months, I'll be her personal resource, answering all of her questions about the process of getting an au pair. By the time my next little nephew or niece enters the world, hopefully, Summer will have another set of hands in her household to help out!
Jennifer is a local Area Director for AuPairCare.
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