“I’m not sure if I want a stay-at-home-mom, I’m afraid that she will look over my shoulder and that I don’t get along with her!” These were my thoughts in the beginning of my application process, before I even had one interview. I think that this a common prejudice and in some cases it can be true. But I also believe that if you choose your family wisely and talk to the family about any concerns you have, it will turn out good for you.
When the first families started to contact me, I saw that there are actually many stay-at-home-moms, or at least different family types where the mom is at home.
Sometimes, the mom is a ‘full-time mom’ for the kids. Other times, she works from home and you see her only occasionally. And then again, she may has a split schedule and is only home some days a week. There are probably more options, but these are the most common ones, I think.
My host mom is at home for the children ‘full time’, and I work with her in a team. No one can guarantee you that it will work out with your host mom, and sometimes the reality looks different than previously described in their host family letter or during the first Skype calls. For me, it all worked out, and it was the best decision for my au pair year. Here are a few of the benefits of having a stay-at-home-host-mom I can vouch for:
1 | Flexibility with vacation days
If you have a mom who is at home full time, you are more flexible than other au pairs in certain ways. I was able to choose my vacation time how I wanted, since try host mom is at home anyways. Another way I’ve been able to experience this kind of flexibility is in some daily tasks with the kids. I have some fixed tasks like homework with the kids or putting them to bed or doing household duties like the kids’ laundry. Those normally don’t change, but there are also things like pick-ups, lunch and other little things that can be different each day.
2 | Support
When my host kids throw a tantrum or are in a bad mood, it can be really hard for everyone. In really tough situations, my host mother takes over. And that helps a lot, since she knows the kids best. When I am going through a stressful situation with one of my kids, I can always talk to her about it and ask for advice. She supports in whatever I decide to do. We share the tough moments, but also enjoy funny things the kids do.
3 | Having an adult around during the day to talk to
This is a good thing for both of us, and it’s something I really like. During the day we can chat, and I can show her when the kids did something great. And it’s just really nice to have another adult with you that keeps you sane. One friend of mine talk about everything with her host mom, and I’m always laughing when she tells me about something that she already talked to her host mom about. At this point, I genuinely want to know about her host mom’s views on some of the topics we talk about.
4 | I learned a lot about parenting
I really like the way my host family raises their children. They share so much love and their family is a huge value in their lives. Being with my host mom together showed me positive parenting hacks and a different perspective on the kids’ behavior. My host mom stays calm in the most stressful situations, and they almost never get loud. Even when one child has the worst attitude towards her, she keeps it together. What I learned is that there are no hurt or hard feelings as a parent; you need to take the high road and be the better person. Because if you get an attitude when your kids have an attitude, everything just gets worse. I saw that it is possible, and my host mom is a good role model, especially in terms of how to handle stressful situations.
For me, having a stay-at-home-mom turned out to be a great opportunity, that helped me get new insights on how to handle kids. Even though I had plenty childcare hours before I came to the US, nothing prepares you for living with a family 24/7. Because of my host family, I am fortunate enough to witness a good example of how to raise kids day by day, and I experience a great family life.