AuPair Experience

Keep Calm and host an Au Pair!

At the beginning I was against having an au pair living at home with us. But then I decided to give it a try. And started to interview a few until I found the person I thought we were looking for.
She came for 9 months, and I wish she was still with us! It was the best au pair experience we could dream of! Elisabetta was simply the best! We got along very well, from the beginning and… she left with a piece of my heart!
When she left we looked for someone else, but I bumped into a bunch of irresponsible girls. To give you an idea: we agreed with another one the date she would come, I bought the plane ticket for her… and she did not show up. So rude!
So I abandoned the idea of having another au pair until Elisabetta came back to visit… and made us wish to have another experience like that. So I started to look again and found more responsible girls this time around – maybe because summer period is approaching and more people want to try this experience.
And yesterday, Jasmine joined our family! We were so excited. So I prepared a welcome basket, with some sweets, a personalized gift for her, products she might need in the house, and few touristic information (maps, guides, etc).
I wanted her to have the best experience, also if she is staying with us for only 1 month… but her first 24 hours were a nightmare!
Today she took a shower and flooded the house!
I mean, yes it is a hassle for us. We will need to fix the ceiling and so on.. but to her it was also a shocking morning.. she arrived in a new country, with a new family, in a new home, in a new language, and first thing she does? Flood someone else’s house.
I run back home form work, and of course I was pissed and tried to remain calm. But when she told me “I will look if there is a plane for tomorrow” I felt very bad for her. I told her I did not want her to leave for this. That she will be more careful next time, and that it happens… but poor girl.

So here are the 5 important things if you want to host an au pair:

  1. It is one additional member of your family, and you need to take care of her (or him!) as anyone else. They will not be perfect – no one is, except Elisabetta (wink wink) – and there will be mistakes. You need to be ready to accept that.
  2. At the beginning it takes time to adapt. For you to a new presence in the house, three is a new adult in the house that you need to feed, and that will surely impact your privacy. But remember that she also has to adapt, and to way more things than you: to your entire family, house, country, language and habits. And this should not be underestimated – it has a strong psychological impact. She can feel alone.
  3. She will need help in a lot of things at the beginning, you will need to show the way around – be sure you plan for that! This also means you will need to become a tourist in your own city to show her around ! How to take public transportation for example… it is better you show her, not just explain!
  4. Spend extra time on communication. Be very clear on expectations, do not assume she knows your way of doing things, because nobody will do things your own way. I mean, when you ask your husband to take out the trash, does he do it your way? No, and he is married to you. So!!! But also open a big listening ear for her to tell you how she is and what her needs are – to avoid surprises and to adjust faster to each other needs. Communication always help. Always.
  5. Keep Calm and host an au pair. The cultural exchange that your kids will experience is unprecedented. Without considering the help you get !

I hope this episode, for how painful it can be, will not jeopardize the remainder of the month!

Mom's Life, Step Mother

Life of a single mom is not harder than the life of a traditional mom.

I am having a tough period at work, lots of responsibilities, lots of extra tasks and not enough time to finish them. Am I the only one? Hell no! I am aware of that.

With time, I learnt how to become more efficient and organize my time, and thanks to this I still do manage to stick with my self-inflicted rule most of the times: be home between 6-8 pm. These are the only hours I can spend time with my son, because before that he is in daycare and after, well I am lucky enough that he sleeps. But after I put him to bed, well I go back to the kitchen, pull up my laptop and start again to work.

When I go to bed, I am destroyed, with a mental charge like many other people – once more: I am aware of that! I am not the only one – and the morning after… well I wake up already tired with the to do list in mind. Let out the times in which the night does not go as smooth as you would believe. Does it feel familiar?

I still get up in the morning, prepare my son to bring him to day care, and then go to work. Do I get a medal for that? Of course not, that is my job. Do you believe people at work think I am having a tough life? No. They do not care. Here is what they see: you are happily married (well first you are still married, second the desk picture shows you are all smiley, so…), you have a nice house, you have a beautiful kid who lives on your desktop background who sleeps at night (of course otherwise you would complain during the day), so: your life is easy. Do I believe is hard? Again, no! I believe there are tougher times we need to cope with, but overall I am lucky. I am fully aware of that. So, I do not complain. It is not in my nature, and if I find myself unhappy with something I do everything in my power to find a solution and change it.

Anyway, at 9 I enter the first meeting of the day and the person in front of me tells me her story about how yesterday it was her day to take care of her daughter, so… she did not manage to finish on time… and I hear “I am a single mom”.

Oh. My. God. You got to be kidding me. I would have understood many reasons, but not phrased that way. I held my patience and went through the day.

Today I need to work late, so my husband is supposed to go pick up our son to day care.
But eventually he calls me and all of a sudden, I need to reschedule all my plans and at 5:30 sharp I run out – not to be late at daycare – and stuck in traffic I try to have few calls in the car.

Then I arrive and that is the moment when time stops. This is the best part of the day where the rhythm changes totally. It is no more about being efficient and bam bam bam do things one after the other. It is about me and my son. His time. I make room for him only, despite I try to concentrate everything in those 2 hours: playing time, cuddles, dinner, bath… I push out of the door all the stress of the day, and I dedicate myself totally to the mommy role. And I manage because that is very precious to me.

But that evening… miss ex has a problem and cannot go pick up his son at school, my husband is already busy… so – as I am already out – I go. I do not want him to be outside of the school like that time she forgot to go pick him up (yeah, WTF).

I drive 40 more minutes to go pick him up. Then I run home and cook dinner for all. My husband arrives and he tells me he needs to take a plane the day after for his urgent meeting. But that he does not have any shirt (our cleaning lady kind of disappeared) and if I could iron one for him.

That is where I snapped: What makes you believe I own the monopoly of the ironing board in this house? So we negotiated the tasks to be done: you clean the kitchen I iron your shirts.

And there, while I was alone ironing, I thought “is life of a single mom really harder?”. As a single mom, you are as alone as I am most of the week, but you get few days off and surely one weekend out of two for yourself. I do not. So how can your life be harder than mine?

This is specific to my case, because all the people involved here have equal opportunities. Of course, I understand there are other types of single moms, where they do not get any support from the father of their children, neither financially neither in time. But. That is not the rule. And I hate we make a rule just about single moms. Because my husband – who was also a single dad – did not have as much compassion from anyone around him. And my life is not easier than theirs either. And there are WAY WORSE SITUATIONS than any of these – that nobody pays attention to. And I have no patience for this any longer.

There. I said it.