A summer au pair for our family: True life reports
What's it really like having an au pair in the summer months? A German-Spanish family based in Barcelona shares their story.
Erica lives together with her husband and their young daughter Marlene in Barcelona. Both of the parents work – which makes the lengthy summer holidays in Spain a real challenge for the family as far as arranging childcare is concerned. The summer camp that Marlene visited in 2015 wasn't such a big hit, and this made the parents look for a new alternative in 2016. They decided to register at AuPairWorld and look for an au pair to spend the summer with the family.
"A friend told me about AuPairWorld because she had used it and had good experiences with au pairs that she found there," recounts Erika. "Besides, we had recently moved and had space in the apartment to host an au pair, which isn't always the case in Barcelona where the apartments tend to be smaller." After some searching on the AuPairWorld website, various email exchanges and Skype calls, the family finally selected Sarah, a 25-year-old student from Germany.
"During our Skype conversations we already had a good feeling about Sarah. She had already spent time abroad, and basically she knew what she was getting into. And she had a very nice way to communicate – very honest and clear."
Another advantage for the family was the fact that their daughter Marlene and Sarah the au pair could speak German together (which is the father's native tongue but not the mother's who speaks Spanish). "Of course, we know that an au pair doesn't join the family as a language teacher," says Erica. "But we arranged it with Sarah in advance that she would speak German with our daughter and Spanish with me and with her contacts outside the family to work on her own language skills." It worked out as an arrangement that was good for everyone – a classic au pairing win-win situation.
Sarah spent three months with Erica and her family, and it was a great time for all four of the persons involved. For Marlene, Sarah was like a big sister and they developed a strong and fun-filled relationship. For Erika and her husband, there was more time for them to spend together as a couple. As Erika explains: "My husband and I don't have any family here in Barcelona and thanks to Sarah we were able to have time just for the two of us." Of course, there was some adjustment to having another adult involved in everyday family life. "One needs to come up with new structures for some things," says Erika, "but I saw that as a chance to make some adjustments and improvements in our family routines."
In the meantime, the family has found a new au pair for this year's summer holiday period. They are expecting a young woman from Italy, and the whole family is looking forward to beginning the next chapter in the au pairing adventure.