When I came to Orientation in New York, they asked us how many kids each of us would have. Most girls stood up with 2-3 kids. If I remember right, I was the only one with five kids.
With this blog post, I want to give you an impressions of the different kinds of responsibilities I have in regards to the different age groups of my host kids. I can only speak for my kids and my experience since every family is different. But I hope this post gives you some ideas on what to expect with a big family.
MY TWIN BABIES
When I arrived. they were four weeks old. The main reason for the family to get an Au Pair in America was to get an additional pair of helping hands for the babies. If you’re looking after babies, your daily routine can change with every month, so be flexible. My duties with them were/are:
- Feeding them breast milk / formula bottles / real food
- Cleaning their bottles
- Giving them a bath
- Changing them
- Making sure they stick to their sleep schedule (now 1pm and 7pm)
- Going for walks
- Entertaining the babies or do physical activities with them
It all depends on the child’s needs. The good thing about babies is that you ‘grow into it’, and that’s why taking care for my babies is my favorite thing to do. They change so fast, need a lot of cuddles and don’t argue with you – and that, of course, is very relaxing.
MY FOUR YEAR OLD
… is wild and funny. If I don’t hear or see her, she is probably doing something she isn’t supposed to do. Things like that happen, but for me, it is important that the kids learn to take responsibility for their actions. Therefore I always tell them: If you make a mess, you clean it. My duties with her are:
- to sometimes pick her up from preschool
- prepare her lunch
- help her with her with daily tasks
My host family teaches their kids responsibility, too. Everybody has to clean up after eating, they all have chores to fulfill during the day and they need to keep their rooms clean. Keeping their rooms clean is a hard task for children, Au Pairs and pretty much everybody involved. It took me a while to figure out what to do with their rooms. We’ve now agreed on sorting the stuff for them/with them, so that they can then put it away themselves. The older boy mostly does it on his own.
MY FIVE YEAR OLD
… girl is mostly calm and probably the most easy-going child you can wish for. With her, I have almost the same duties as with the four year old. She goes to elementary school along with her brother, and I pick her up and prepare a snack when they come home. Girls that age mostly like arts and crafts, and to play the ‘pretend’ game. My main duty with her is helping her do her homework.
THE OLDEST BOY
… has a strong will and loves Pokemon right now. I prepare snacks for him and play board games with him. He is pretty independent and does most things alone. He just needs reminders to do his chores, as well as some supervision when he’s doing his homework. With older kids comes the need to develop your patience, since they love arguing with you – they know exactly what they want and what they don’t want.
I just taught him how to play the Pokemon card game with the real rules, and this is a good opportunity for us to bond. And it’s also really fun! Bedtime routine starts around 7, and I’m mostly responsible for the older kids. I read books to the girls and play a game with my host boy. Here’s a few other things I have to keep an eye on for all my kids:
- doing laundry
- changing their bed sheets
- clean their bathrooms every week
In the beginning, I struggled with those tasks on top of everything else that was going on with the kids. But now I know that it was all because of poor time management. My host mom and I had a little talk, and she asked me how things are going and I told her that laundry days are the worst for me. She completely understood and gave me some tips. I learned that everything is just a matter of timing. I’m not making time for laundry, I do the laundry when there is time for it. Kids always come first and I’m not stressing myself anymore because there are four loads of laundry waiting to be washed, dried, and folded. After a while, I started to enjoy these things because folding laundry gives me some alone time where I can listen to music or a podcasts. Every now and then, it is also good to get the kids involved.
My boy puts his laundry in his dresser and starts folding parts of it, too. My girls enjoy laundry time, too. Mainly because every time I put all their fresh laundry into one big pile, they get their bathing suits on and dive right into it to enjoy the ‘laundry pool’. I pretend to be the lifeguard, and that keeps everyone busy.
To be honest, now that I’ve written everything down, it looks more than it actually is. There is still enough time for me to rest and I’m never too tired after a day with the kids!