This time next week, our family dynamic is going to look very different. It’s been something we’ve thought about and prayed over for a long time, and it took a leap of faith to decide this is what’s best for us.
Most of you know that my husband Orlando plays professional basketball. He’s played in Xalapa, Cancun, and Haifa, Israel, not to mention tournaments all over the world. For the most part, we’ve been able to travel with him. Cora went to her first little “school” in Xalapa. Issa had her first birthday party in Cancun. They have more stamps in their passports than I had by the time I was in college. We have been BLESSED to live this life.
But with Cora starting Kindergarten, it’s time to make some tough choices. Orlando will leave for his season in Mexicali this year, and we will stay behind. We’ll go visit of course, and he will come back as often as he can. It’s just a six-month season, much shorter than many oil or military families are away from their loved ones. Shoot, I have friends whose husbands travel just for business about that much a year.
But it will be a challenge. On Orlando, missing waking up to the girls’ smiling faces every morning. And on me, solo parenting essentially for a solid chunk of time. I was already starting to dread the thought of having to get the girls ready for the day, on my own, for six months straight. Not to mention bedtime by myself every night. Everything would be on me, and I started to feel the weight of it on my shoulders almost immediately.
Then one night, I stumbled across a post on Facebook about the au pair program. I had heard of the concept of au pairs before, and knew a few friends of friends who had one, but only from a distance. It had seemed to work for some families, others not so much. The flexibility it would offer me as a work-from-home mom was intriguing enough to investigate the matter further. An au pair can help out in the mornings, afternoons, or evenings – whenever we need an extra helping hand that week. While I am the only parent in the house, it will be so great to have help with driving the kids to activities, cooking, and organizing crafts for them.
The next day, I received a phone call from the local Cultural Care Au Pair consultant in my area, . I am not kidding when I say she sat on the phone with me for an hour going over every single detail of how an au pair works, her family’s experiences with their au pairs, and answering every ridiculous question I could throw at her. She encouraged me to take a look at their au pair profiles, all available at different times of the year and from countries all over the world.
Right off the bat, we knew we wanted someone Spanish-speaking for our girls. With Orlando being gone, we didn’t want them to lose that influence, and my Spanish skills will only get them so far. 🙂 We interviewed young women, each one amazing in their own way, educated, vibrant, and with a passion for kids. But it still took us a few weeks to find our perfect fit.
And now she’s coming! She’ll be here Friday! Just enough time to get her on board before Orlando takes off, and then I cannot wait to see how much the girls love her. As the Cultural Care team says, we hope they see her as a big sister. I, no doubt, will see her as a saving grace! And we’ll keep you updated with the whole process so you can see firsthand what having an au pair in your home is like.
I know it’s not a solution for every family, but I wanted to share our story because it’s important families know this a) is an option for their family and 2) other families choose an au pair for all different reasons, and we shouldn’t judge! I truly believe the ideal that this is a cultural exchange program, and an opportunity for my girls to learn as much as it is for our au pair.
If you’ve been impacted by an au pair or considered one for your family, leave me a comment! I’m learning all about the process as we go, and I’ve been saddened to hear the current administration in DC is considering getting rid of the au pair program. If you feel as strongly as I do that this would be a horrible idea, there is a petition here to sign and show your support for this highly regulated program that provides invaluable childcare and support for families of all shapes and sizes around the country.
P.S. This post is a sponsored collaboration between Haute in Texas and Cultural Care Au Pair. Don’t worry though, all opinions are my own!