Wednesday, February 18, 2009

To Au Pair or not to Au Pair?

I started this blog about an Au Pair on 2/18 and am just getting back to it on the day we decided on an Au Pair 4/28. Not a procrastinator or anything.

I mentioned in several blogs ago that we are considering an au pair but I was too tired to go into the details of it. So here is the scoop: Our one year contract with Tamara (our current nanny) is up in August. Although we have been very happy with the care she's given the children, the complexities of managing a nanny with 4 children of her own (2 of which usually come to our house as playmates for our children) and a single mom, have been challenging. Her older daughter also will be going to Kindergarten in the fall, and though I haven't really discussed it with her, we've all but decided that we will need another type of childcare in the fall. Since we have been at this crossroads several times in the last few years, we know the pros and cons of many different types of care.

Since Lily was born, I have worked from home 2 days a week, caring for her, then them, on my at home days. This has become increasingly difficult, especially given the non flexible nature of Lawrence's job. It has saved us thousands and thousands in child care. When Addie was born, we kept Lily at daycare, but the cost of 2 kids at a center, even part time was insane, so we opted for a Nanny for Addie at home. This was a good option, and also saved us a few hundred per month. When that nanny told us she was moving, we again looked at the option of putting Addie in a daycare center, but the cost went up another $200, widening the gap and leaning us toward keeping the girls together, at home, with a nanny, 3 days a week. We only need 7 hrs per day of care, but we use 8, just to give Lawrence an hour if he desires, to do an errand, go for a run, or just relax before taking on the afternoon, and evening of playing, dinner making (with 2 helpers) and bath, pjs, and occasionally bedtime, alone. This was a great decision. We didn't have much time so we hired someone for the summer only at first to allow me time to look for someone more permanent. Katy was a student who was going to grad school for education and would begin student teaching in the fall. So I had 3 more months to look. It was awesome. Gone were the rushed mornings, of Lily dragging her feet. And hello personal wonderful attention for them both to spend their days together.

And here we are again...
An Au Pair is an exchange student who comes to the US on a J-1 Visa. They live with you and care for your children for a weekly stipend plus room and board. You also pay a program fee that covers their airfare, insurance, and visa fees. Overall it will be about $150 more per month than what we pay now, but it will be for 45 flexible hours per week rather than 24 fixed hours per week. I work from home 2 days a week, and it isn't easy without any help. Especially when there are deadlines. I'm definitely not super mommy on those days and I always end up feeling very guilty. So we saved our tax return this year, used that for our program fees and the cost will be equivalent to what we pay now. For almost DOUBLE the hours. So when I started writing this I was planning to go into all the pros and cons of Au Pairing. We were still deciding if it was the right program for us. But now, today, we've made the decision and we are excited that we found a match. Fast forward to current day entry and meet Sabine!

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