For some reason, we are a society that LOVE to judge each other on the parenting choices people make with their children starting with breastfeeding vs bottle feeding, controlled crying vs attached parenting, co-sleeping vs sleeping in their own cot, and of course stay at home mum vs working mum (the list could go on and on and on!)
Whilst I can appreciate everyone has an opinion on each of these topics, there is a difference in having your own opinion and making judgement on someone else’s personal choices. I personally couldn’t breastfeed my daughter due to a tongue tie and remember feeling so nervous about pulling out a bottle to feed my baby at my first mothers group meeting. I shouldn’t have felt bad about this! I was still nourishing my baby, however I know people judge and as a first time mother, I felt very vulnerable and uncomfortable bottle feeding my baby.
For working mothers, the judging eyes start all over again – not only are you going back to work, but you are then put in a position to choose a child care option for your child. This is a topic EVERYONE seems to have an opinion about. I am sure we have witnessed, experienced or heard statements such as:
- I would never go back to work full time, why even have a child in the first place!
- I don’t know how people put their children in day care 5 days a week, they are basically being raised by someone else!
- I think it’s selfish that she wants to go back to work, she has had her time, it’s about her children now.
Why do we want to judge each other like this? We need to be supporting each other and appreciating that every family is different and children are all raised in different ways - that’s what makes people unique!
As you know, my preferred style of child care is hosting an Au Pair. This works for our family, my daughter and our lifestyle. It is interesting to hear the comments that people make regarding what their perception of hosting an Au Pair is like. I have had comments such as:
- It must be great to have help 24/7
- You have a permanent baby sitter!
- How great to have a live in cleaner
- How do you trust your husband with a teenage girl living in the house?
- Are you worried that your daughter will get close to your Au Pair and want to go to her over you?
Whilst having help 24/7 would be amazing, this perception is not reality! Hosting an Au Pair is similar to day care hours. This is what my working days look like with our Au Pair (we have a shared Au Pair arrangement with our Au Pair living with us full time, and looking after our daughter 2 days per week):
My day starts with Stevie waking me up at 7am (sometimes 6:30am but that’s ok)! I change her nappy, we have cuddles and I get to watch about 3 – 4 episodes of Peppa Pig (lucky me!);
Our Au Pair comes in at 7:30am and takes over from here – she organises breakfast for herself and Stevie and gets her dressed and ready for the day;
I have until 4:30pm to work from home, do my housework (so much easier to do on the days I don’t have Stevie) and a few shop runs;
Once 4:30pm comes along, I get my baby back – Our Au Pair will go to the beach with friends, have Skype dates with her family or chill out until dinner is ready at 6:30pm;
When her daddy comes home we go for a walk as a family. Whilst I finish dinner off, he feeds and baths Stevie and we complete our night time routine;
Our Au Pair has dinner with us, we all do the dishes and then watch a bit of telly together – that’s about it!
When our Au Pair works with our shared family on the other 3 days of the working week, we will see her for dinner on 2 of the nights and that’s it! On the weekend, if we happen to require a babysitter we provide notice and book her in, and of course pay her for the additional hours. Otherwise we offer to include her in any activities we may have on as a guest, not for looking after Stevie.
It’s great to have another member of the family, but it is important to understand hosting an Au Pair is not like having a full time babysitter or someone to do your housework unless you are prepared to pay additional money for this service.
So to the people that may assume that families that Host Au Pairs have a 24/7 live in nanny, I can assure you that this isn’t the case. This isn’t to say our Au Pair doesn’t let Stevie sit on her lap when she is eating dinner, that she doesn’t read her a story on the weekend when she is in the lounge room, she loves our daughter! But this isn’t an expectation, this is a beautiful benefit of hosting an Au Pair.
If you have any questions regarding dealing with people's perceptions of working mothers who have Au Pairs, don't hesitate to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.