An au pair is not a fancy nanny. Well it could be a fancy nanny, if I were in fact a fancy lady. But I’m not a fancy lady. I’m just a woman, with kids, who wants to work on some amazing shiz as well as be a parent and a girlfriend and an aunty and a daughter and a sister and….well you get it. A pretty normal kind of person. A goddamn motherworker. Because I want to and choose to. Because although I love my children and can do housework and generally juggle everything, I don’t want to ALL the stuff ALL of the time. I love my job. I’m freaking great at it, but to be really magic at it I need to have space and time and focus and not be worrying about the next school pick-up or trying to fit everything in 2.5 hours before Kindy finishes or dinner or the state of the house when I walk back in there after work. The thing that makes me freaking great at my job is my support system. I don’t do it all. I have at various times tried to do it all. I can. I was a superangrycrazylady (YES that IS a word).
When I was newly separated from my husband I was feeling anxious a lot of the time. Queasy even. My beautiful, wise friend insisted perhaps I should get a pregnancy test because my queasiness seemed very familiar to her (having witnessed a couple of my other pregnancies). Let it be known that in my life I have only ever done 1 pregnancy test that wasn’t positive. So I wasn’t feeling that pumped about doing another one. Especially when I was newly separated and felt queasy. I believe I howled from the toilet. The two pink lines collapsed my life in front of me. Again. Because although I didn’t have a post-separation plan (I had a 14 year old, a 7 year old and an 18 month old) another baby was not anywhere on my deep-in-denial radar.
It took a few months to get over the crippling morning sickness. To deal with the fact that my ex-husband did not want to support me in my choice to have another child (I really couldn’t for the life of me fathom the other option of not having her, not for any other reason except she seemed inevitable – the child that was always coming whether or not I planned her in). To figure out how it could work with my job and my life and my dream. My fucking dream. The whole life coach dream that I had systematically been working towards for about 5 years that seemed at least another 5 years away.
Long story short, sometime that year I decided that I would not give up on that dream and that somehow woven into me and the possibilities of life and how I was as a mother and who I was as a person, I needed to find a way to relentlessly pursue that dream. Without it the superangrycrazylady ruled our house. The one who could not cope with the kid mess or the spilt cereal or the never-ending washing or the mess they made when their friends came over or having to decide on another meal or having to cut up another sandwich. I really tried. I really, really did. I berated myself for not being more gracious about motherhood and the blessing of my children. I tried to swallow the resentment when I didn’t get an undisturbed night sleep for like YEARS. I juggled like a motherfucker and sometimes threw those balls in the faces of the little people who I believed were keeping me from my dream (sorry my little people, I know this is not true now, but right then I couldn’t see any other barrier except the need to de-nit another head and wipe up more Weetbix that had dried under the kitchen bench).
Isn’t it funny that I can’t remember exactly what happened to make me decide to pursue my dream that year? I just kept at it. I think a coaching course popped up in my email feed and I worked out how to find the money to do it and I found some beautiful people to teach me. I think I kept making time to work at the 3 day seminars that took me away from my children and simultaneously exhausted and filled me up, and people from that kept asking if I would work with them. A friend had a complete breakdown one day and pushed every single boundary that existed and I recall calling one of my teachers the next day and saying “I have to do this. I have to know how to handle situations like that properly, so I can actually help people, instead of letting them walk all over me”. And so I did.
I kept working too, because that was safe and brought in some money to keep us ticking over. I got some financial support from my family to take some of the pressure off (for which I am forever grateful). But the main thing that changed everything was when I decided to get an au pair (which is just a fancy name for “a young foreign person, typically a woman, who helps with housework or childcare in exchange for food, a room, and some pocket money”. It’s pronounced O-PEAR. That’s important to me).
Let me be clear:
I did not know how it would go. My very first au pair and I attempted a phone interview but she couldn’t speak enough English to understand a word I said so I had to trust the translator who spoke to her and said she sounded “nice and enthusiastic”.
I did not know if I would like her. She would be living in our house, sharing our bathroom and generally being with us most of the time. She would see me first thing in the morning and hear me say things inappropriate to my children and know how dirty my bathroom was. In her first week I would go to the Melbourne Cup and come home a bit late and bit drunk and pretend to be sober and she would have to make of that what she would.
I could not afford an au pair. I couldn’t wait until my business made enough money to employ someone to help me find the time to work my business so it could make money to pay her. I had to GET HELP FIRST and work the rest out later.
I did not actually have a room or a space set up for her before she came. I was mid renovation of a studio. 2 of my girls had to share a room so she could have her own room. They were fine. They were all fine.
I did not have a second car for her to use. We have had to negotiate the one car. Sometimes I walk, sometimes she does. Rarely will my children walk, but that’s another story.
And this is what happened.
I got someone who helped me with childcare, cooked some of the meals, helped keep the house in order and did the washing and the grocery shopping. She worked 30-35 hours per week for $200 and food and board. It created an additional 15-20 hours for me outside of “work” (my existing job) for me to create my business, exercise, see clients and get paid, attend training and seminars while the children were cared for at home. Now I work entirely on my own business, but all the same is done so I can work a couple of longer than school hours days, travel for work, and we are fed and well looked after and we have experienced new and beautiful people in our home and as part of family. Win/Win/Win/Win. Did I say #winning?
My business grew from nothing to $45K to $120K.
I get to do what I love and what I’m good at EVERY DAY.
I had time to coach lots of people and then time to create and run a program that is transforming the lives of other people to do their dream. And it all starts with the support system.
It is possible to create your own business without it, but I promise you, you will burn out, you will at time throw balls in the faces of your children or your husband (and who really wants to be that superangrycrazylady?). It is possible to do many things, but why would you? When you could do it in a way that was so less stressful and overwhelming and actually added to your home and your life?
I know an au pair is not for everyone. But not for the reasons you might think. Many of those reasons are excuses, which keep you away from actually doing what you love in a really magnificent way. Busyness is like that. It’s just a distraction.
I promise you (from my experience and those around me who have also found a way to use the au pair system well) these things are mostly excuses:
- Not sure if you want someone to live in your home – create boundaries and systems so you all have the time and space you need. You have to live with your children most of the time and often they are not as nice, interesting or helpful as someone who is part of your family to help out.
- Don’t want a hot young thing living in your home – if this is a legitimate worry perhaps it is time to get a new husband? Or have a look at your own insecurities? Those insecurities are stopping you being amazing lady! And once again, create boundaries and make sure that some of the help you get from your au pair is time to spend together child-free (OMG LIKE A REAL DATE NIGHT ONCE/WEEK)
- Not enough room – get creative with this one. Spare room? Junk room? Can kids share? Caravan? Studio? Share an au pair with a family who has room?
- Not enough money? I’m sorry. Really???? How do you make money? You do things that make you money. Like work. Or work on marketing your business. Or going to networking events. Or seeing clients. Or writing really cool blogs that make people call you and say “you get me lady I want to work with you!”. You can’t do any of those things with your children trying to touch the computer, feeling neglected by your obsession with your phone, doing the laundry, driving around doing sport drop-offs. But you can do all those things while someone else does them. And surely, in there, you could work out how to bring in an extra $200 a week with that extra time? Right? I know because I did it BEFORE I had the money. I have done most things before I had the money, but then because I was sure and taking committed action the money came. Every time.
So there you have it. An au pair is not the only thing that changed my life, but ‘how the right coach changed my life’ is the next blog. But the support system allowed everything to happen that needed to happen for me to get where I am.
And funnily enough even the time the au pair didn’t work out (in the most awkward way, which is also another story) and I tried to do it without an au pair for 8 months I NEARLY DROWNED. I nearly, almost lost my dream because I was buried under clean but unfolded washing and the superangrycrazylady kept dropping in. So I sucked it up, found a new and perfect au pair or two and then the right coach for the next step and here we are.
You might not need an au pair, you just might need a house-keeper or a cleaner or some childcare. If you’re not sure I’ve created a planner for you to sort it out, simply and easily. Just pop your details in here.
If you think an au pair is for you I’ve written a How to Guide, a kick-ass manual and all the stuff you need to know to get started. Invaluable tool. If you know and au pair is for you and you want to save time and money choosing the right person, setting the system up properly and generally having the know how then keep an eye out for how you can have it all for a small investment. You can get it here.
Good luck lovely. Hope you’re ready to change your life.