A New Paradigm: Parenting in Partnership with a Nanny / Au pair.
Unlike parenting in the 1960's when relatives and neighbors supported parents to raise children, parenting in the 21st century often means hiring a complete stranger for childcare assistance — someone parents meet through a friend, acquaintance, an online bulletin board or mothers' group newsletter. She is not a relative or a neighbor. She is someone parents trust enough to leave their children in her care. She is someone who supports them in raising their children, whether for a few hours a week or many hours a day. She is their trusted Nanny / Au pair.
The term "Nanny" describes a person who cares for others' children in their home. Depending on the exact responsibilities she performs, she could be called a nanny, mother's helper, family assistant, Au pair, personal assistant, babv-sitter, special needs therapist or tutor.
A Nanny / Fille Au pair also embodies the characteristics parents want in the person caring for their child. She is someone who is nurturing, attentive, knowledgeable, intuitive or young at heart. She can be trustworthy, engaging, perceptive, respectful, loving, stable and playful. A Nanny / Au pair defines the essential qualities parents look for in the person who helps them care for their children at a certain time in their family life.
A Nanny / Au pair is the modern day version of Mary Poppins. She is someone who fits in seamlessly with a family to make the difficult work of parenting easier. Are today's parents prepared for this new paradigm in parenting? In both emotional and practical terms, the data suggests they may not be. Also, unlike parenting in the 1960's, the vast majority of mothers today work and the role of fathers is no longer relegated primarily to "bringing home the bacon," but requires them to share equally in the care of the children while working. Or, they may even choose to be a stay home dad and take on the daily responsibilities for raising their children.
It should come as no surprise that many parents feel conflicted about their decision whether to continue to work or stay home after their child is born. Shouldn't a parent be home to nurture and raise their child just as their mothers did? Isn't that their role as a parent? if they decide to return to work and hire an Au pair , are they abdicating their role and sending the wrong message to the next generation?
Another change in the area of parenting and childcare is a diversification, in the kinds of childcare arrangements parents create. The cost of childcare coupled with the lack of openings in quality chiidcare centers or family childcare homes for infants and toddlers has created a new demand for share care arrangements. Parents are partnering with other parents ho hire a Nanny / Au Pair who provides care for both children in either one or both of the families' homes, thus sharing the cost of care and increasing parenting support. Some families decide to job share the care of the children. One parent will care for both children part of the time swapping days with the other family and hiring a Nanny / Au pair for backup care or additional care on evenings and weekends. Some families who have achieved a considerable measure of economic success add one, two or even more Nannies / Au pairs to their household staff to manage their hectic personal, family and work lives.
How to Use this Information
This sections provides building blocks giving you all the tools you need to conduct a professional search to hire the right Au pair for your child and you. Each section is a separate step and subsequent sections build on the work you did in the previous. The worksheets at the end of every area personalizes your search. You should complete the worksheets along with y our partner or spouse before moving on to the next section. Also in the sections are links to download important documents that will assist you in organizing die information you gather and ensure you have all the health/safety and background check requirements necessary for your desired candidate. The resources section at the end supplements and supports the information contained throughout this pages.
This research starts with the basic assumption that all parents need help caring for their children at different times in their child's life. Some parents have family and friends - people they know and trust - to lend a helping hand. Others do not. Among those without family or friends available, many hire Nannies and Au pairs.
The second assumption is that the type of childcare assistance parents need can be quite different among families and it can change over time. Some parents decide a mother's helper or family assistant is best for them at a particular time in their family life instead of a full-charge Nanny / Au Pair. Others need only a baby-sitter to lend a hand for a few hours a couple of days each week. Many families start with a Nanny when their child is an infant and then need a different form of care during the preschool years.
The third assumption is that all parents want the best care for their children and that every Nanny / Au pair wants to work for parents who respect what she does and the care she gives. In this way, parents and Nannies/ Au pairs create a partnership to care for the children.
The fourth assumption is that there are different parents, different families, Afferent children and different Nannies / Au pairs. While a particular Nanny or Au pair might work beautifully for one family, she could be a poor match for another. In this way, it is also about the right fit.
The fifth assumption is that finding a Nanny and Au pair is not always an easy task. The market for Nannies / Au pairs is unlicensed and unregulated. There are few government supports assisting parents in finding and keeping honest, trustworthy and competent Nannies. In this way, the burden falls on parents to separate the legitimate, loving Nanny / Au pair from the rest.
The sixth assumption is that finding and choosing a Nanny / Au pair is both a pragmatic and an emotional process. How you feel about asking a complete stranger to care for your child can influence when you start looking, how you conduct the search and which Nanny - Au pair you choose. In this way, there are expectable worries and common misperceptions that can prevent parents from choosing the right Au pair.
Look back to your family life
Did one of your parents stay home to care for you during your early years?
Did they seem to enjoy this part of their parenting lives?
Are they a role model for how you want to parent? Why?
If you were raised with the support of a childcare provider, what was that experience like and how does that influence your decision to hire someone to care for your child?
Among your friends and colleagaes, is there anyone using a parenting style different from how you were raised? If so, are they a role model for how you want to parent?
Is it possible for you to parent in the same or similar way as your role model (parent/friend/colleague)?
How would you make this happen?
How do you feel about asking a complete stranger to come into your home and care for your child?
How might this affect your decision to hire anyone or to choose the right Nanny / Au pair
How did you imagine parenting would be before you became a parent?
What have you discovered about being a parent since you became one?