More than a year ago I promised to write a post about au pairs, but then a year passed, and in that time my beautiful au pairs (3 in total now) kept our lives running and I didn’t find the time to write.
This weekend is one of our last with our third au pair, Marina, and tomorrow we pick up our fourth, and as always it’s a mix of panic, sadness and excitement.
Not that I have ever internet dated (and funny how I had to make sure I said that in here!) but to me I imagine finding a new au pair is a lot like internet dating. You put a profile up on a website and the site finds “matches” and you get contacted by au pairs wanting more information and then you have emails back and forth where you provide more information and find out if they have the talents and characteristics that suit your family. If it progresses to the next stage, you do a Skype interview or two, and ensure they can speak basic English, relate to the children, cook and “fit” with the family. Then you have to take a huge leap of faith and invite them to come and live in your home and be part of your family for months or even a year (this is the bit that’s not like internet dating, unless you are the type who gets straight to moving in without meeting face to face first…). Even when I put on our profile we had 7 children we had 70 applicants for the last job!
When Loz our second au pair was here and I started searching for the third, I really felt like I was cheating on her. I’d chat about the girls I was writing too, and their characteristics, get excited if someone replied quickly or had extra special talents and worried she would think I was comparing them to her. Loz is from the UK and “Mornin’!” (Big cheery Pommy accent) is the mark she left on our household. In the end I had to fess up that I felt like I was cheating and she laughed. I think the cheating thing may have come from the first time I interviewed her by Skype, which I thought went well, but when I got off the call my oldest daughters teenage friend was sitting in the kitchen giving me a wry look. I said “That went OK hey?” and she said “You spoke about Alex (our number one, French delight au pair) ALOT. Like, talking to your new boyfriend about your old boyfriend for the whole time”. Embarrassing. Luckily, Loz still took the job.
Having an English au pair was a delight compared to the first time I met Alex and said “Hello, welcome, how was your flight?” or something equally simple and she looked at me and I realised she couldn’t understand a word I said. We communicated a lot by notes at the beginning (she could read English but could not understand my Aussie accent). Her most classic text message read “Is (your guy) one sushi eater?” He always called her One French after that.
When Marina arrived from Spain, her English was pretty good, but as usual our accent and the speed in which we talk threw her off. She used to say “I am off to mate with my friends” and we would laugh (behind her back of course) so much, until she caught us and made us tell her the correct pronunciation. The pronunciation that was “typical for every people” (ha ha, she said that a lot too!) Now she meets with her friends, but mating was much more entertaining for us!
I have written an (almost) instruction manual on getting an au pair, and honestly cannot think of a better support system to work with our family at this point in our lives. We have experienced three very different but beautiful girls, their personalities, their talents’, their love and things they have taught our children, the great meals that have cooked (and the crazy things due a to mix up in understanding a recipe), and the joy of having another person as part of our family. They have all folded clothes better than I can, kept the kids in order and taught them new things that we would have never thought of and all seem to have more patience with my girls than I do. Marina will sing (and she is a self-confessed terrible singer) for half an hour or more until the girls go to sleep. I think it’s because she sings tonelessly in Spanish and they have to give up, but they always request she sings another song. I sing The Owl and the Pussycat and they never go to sleep (and my guy sniggers in the hallway when I get to the part “Oh lovely pussy, oh pussy my love, what a beautiful pussy you are, you are, what a beautiful pussy you are”).
Life is sweet, and the au pair affair is definitely part of the sweetness.
Thank you lovelies three, we are planning the grand tour of Europe when the kids have all left home (we only have a few more countries to find au pairs from and we will have the European full house!).