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My Summer with the Au Pair
Parenting Parenting
My Summer with the Au Pair
November 23, 2018
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Parenting Parenting
My Summer with the Au Pair
November 23, 2018
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We hired an Au Pair for the summer. I think it was about early May that my panic about the school holidays began to descend. My two (wonderful) kids had 61 days off school/ pre-school. The only thing they liked to do together was wrestle. My husband was away a lot with work and I desperately needed to finish a course that I’d been studying hard all year for. I raised the white flag.

An Au Pair seemed like the answer to our prayers – we found a lovely 19-year-old Spanish girl with outrageously good English and everyone was excited, if not a teeny bit apprehensive (the kids were obviously too busy wrestling to care). Was it a success? Would we do it again? One month on and I still haven’t decided, but here’s what I learnt:

  • Spending time with a 19-year-old will make you feel old.

It dawned on us that my husband was over twice her age. After this sunk, in I decided that, actually, I would much rather take the life experience over the chance to be in my early twenties again. She didn’t know who Aretha Franklin was – I still find this staggering!

  • Spending time with a 19-year-old will also make you feel frumpy.

Hanging out with someone who is completely at ease in a crop top and hot pants is potentially not that appealing a prospect for a mum of two. Similarly, the thought of her nights out that ended at 5am were a reminder of a life that I no longer led. (A reminder that was quickly followed by a feeling of significant relief).

  • You need to be mindful of cultural differences.

Spain clearly isn’t a million miles away and I’ve travelled there a lot. I still wasn’t expecting her to genuinely need a two-hour siesta every day. Without it she was a zombie version of herself, she stood no chance of surviving an afternoon with the kids. Maybe I was just jealous when she headed upstairs for a nap but ultimately you have to let this stuff go…

  • You will be the parent of a teenager one day!

It’s a long way off I know but, having a 19-year-old join our family made me think about the kind of young adults that my children would turn into one day and what I should be doing to help them with this journey.

I’ll confess that whilst our Au Pair drove me crazy on several occasions (she ate all the kids Yoyos – what kind of grown adult does that?!), if my teenage kids have the same desire to explore the world, the same sense of adventure and the same keenness to better themselves by learning something new in their summer holidays then surely that’s not a bad place to start. That, and she helped this tired mama have some respite over the summer. There’s a lot to be grateful for in that!

Laura-Jo McClintock
@ljmcclintock
Mama to Benjamin, 5 and Annabelle, 2.
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