Becoming a host family to an au pair is a great solution for highly flexible childcare in your home. But it does more than just that. It also opens up the distinctive living experience of bringing multiple generations together. Obviously parents and children are from separate generations, so inviting an au pair into your home adds a third generation to the mix.
- Multigenerational living is generally defined as three generations living under one roof. For example, Gen X or Gen Y parents, Gen Alpha children and typically a Gen Z au pair.
There are a range of benefits to be gained from multigenerational living with an au pair.
What each generation brings to the mix
Multigenerational living is about enhancing the support individuals can give to each other at various stages of life. It's one of life's most basic examples of a win-win situation!
In our family, as a Gen Y mother and Gen X father of a toddler and a newborn, opening our home to an au pair was a no-brainer. We desperately needed someone young and lively who could keep pace with our toddler while we fed the baby and caught up on sleep. Our twenty-year-old Swiss au pair was looking for an economical way to travel and experience new cultures. She was very happy to join us in Belgium, where she’s been able to travel to neighbouring Holland and Germany on her weekends off.
- Bringing an au pair into the family enables parents to gain support when they are typically time-poor due to balancing work and family responsibilities.
- Au pairs enjoy seeing a new country and culture at the same time as gaining experience with children.
Learning from each other
Each generation has unique traits and life lessons to share.
Our Gen Z au pair was born into a digital world and her access to social media means she’s had wider exposure than previous generations. Due to this experience Gen Z is more likely to model tolerance and adaptability, which are traits that we as parents definitely embrace as input that can come from our children’s caregivers. This generation is also well placed to relate to the challenges facing today’s children, as they too have grown up in the smartphone era.
Au pairs also have a chance to learn new skills from their host families. I was happy to share my experience as a mother with our au pair, giving her a more realistic view of parenting than I had before I had children. Each generation can benefit from sharing their unique perspective on family life.
Making your household multigenerational
An au pair is more than just a babysitter. Hosting an au pair is like adding another family member to your home. Making your home multigenerational with the addition of an au pair has advantages for everyone.
- All family members benefit from additional help. An au pair can help care for children as well as performing light housekeeping tasks, giving parents more time to meet other needs.
- Adding a third generation to the mix can improve your family’s relationships. As home management runs more smoothly with an au pair, making the home multigenerational improves the family dynamic.
- Au pairs can provide friendship and support for the parents and vice versa. Many parents enjoy being able to share recipes and household hacks with their au pair. Or the insights that come when comparing different cultural backgrounds and life experiences.
- If you’re a stay-at-home parent you will definitely know the relief of having a conversation with another adult after a day of talking with a toddler!
- Au pairs also provide friendship and support for children, often acting like an older brother or sister and participating with the children in activities.
- Au pairs appreciate learning from their host families and seeing how a generation different from their own parents approaches the work and family balance.
Multigenerational living makes sense
Host families and au pairs are uniquely positioned to develop special and rewarding relationships, learning from each other as they pursue a mutually rewarding adventure in creative living. Including an au pair in your home is a smart way to meet your childcare needs and provide your family with the diverse benefits that come from living in a multigenerational home.
Interested in au pair availability? Do a first search here.
About the author:
Catherine Miller comes from Australia originally and works as a freelance writer producing content for businesses, schools and other organisations. She currently lives in Belgium with her partner and two children. They have recently expanded their household to include an au pair from Switzerland.