Families seeking cultural exchange
Spotlight: The Bauer family in Massachusetts
Host parents: Sheila and Andi
Host children: Elena (8), Alex (5)
Host family since: 2003
Current au pair: Melanie from Switzerland
The Bauer family has always been interested in cultural exchange. Sheila spent a year teaching English in Poland and has traveled extensively in Europe. Andi was born in Augsburg, Germany, came to the U.S. as a student at 17 and returned to attend school and get his Master’s degree. Because it was important for their children to speak English and German, they opted to host an au pair. With the exception of their first au pair from Peru, all of their au pairs have been German speakers.
Besides the cultural exchange, what is the best part about au pair childcare?
The flexibility. I love that we can change the schedule based on the school year, snow days, sick days, etc.
Biggest concern about hosting an au pair?
I was worried that I would always feel like I had a house guest that I had to entertain. But, our au pairs are part of our family. So they do things with us, but they also make their own friends and develop their own lives here.
Best advice for families considering the program?
There is no such thing as being too specific with your instructions for your au pair. We have a very detailed Host Family Handbook and we spend several hours reviewing it with our au pair, and then I always spend time training her myself. Au pairs (and families) want to succeed here, but it’s a host family’s responsibility to explain the specifics of her role in the family—you can’t expect your au pair to be just like you. Also, every au pair has her strengths and weaknesses. Over time, I’ve learned to compensate when I have one who might be great with crafts, but not a good cook.
Meet other families seeking cultural exchange:
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