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To au pair or not to au pair? That is the question…

Chloe Wheeler

It wasn’t until a recent, rather robust discussion with my partner that I had ever truly considered the concept of a live-in nanny.

Let’s be honest, as a formerly single 29 and ¾ year old with a myriad of failed relationships in the seemingly tidal wave-wake of my love life, I was convinced my future would have as much need for an au pair as a panda would a pair of underpants.

However, not-withstanding a few premature misfires, cupid’s arrow eventually struck and with it, reason for me to pontificate on the pros and cons of the great nanny debate.

My partner’s perspective is blazingly practical. He advocates the financial sensibility, flexibility and opportunity such an option affords. I, on the other hand, maintain that despite his logic I am, and always will be, a raging sentimentalist who would struggle entrusting the guardianship of my goldfish to an unknown tween, let alone would-be child.

In pondering such difference of opinion, I consider the age-old gender debate; cue sweeping generalisations and outlandish claims!

Could it be that all men are rational, pragmatic beings that despite their strongest admiration for Mr. Darcy’s sideburns, keep their own chops short and sharp for the sheer practicality of it? If that’s the case, let’s continue the stereotypes and assume my beliefs are born out of an overly romanticised tendency possessed by woman the world over, to throw caution to the wind where matters of the heart are concerned to satisfy our innermost needs, wants and desires?

I think not. Recent conversations lead me to believe it’s a combination of factors including personality, lifestyle choices, career, culture, goals, the couple and their relationship, finances, values and individual expectations – factors influenced by more than gender-based clichés.

While writing this article I was fortunate enough to encounter a chance meeting between myself and a ‘nanny-vocate’ (nanny advocate).

Understanding why Sarah and her husband called upon the trained and trusted professionals at AuPairWorld to provide numerous nannies over the years was fascinating, needless to say insightful.

For this successful, ambitious and spontaneous couple, their decision was born out of a desire to reduce stress stemming from the rush of maintaining full time work and caring for two children (one in daycare, the other at school), flexibility, convenience, affordability and peace of mind.

Sarah acknowledged the path to happiness isn’t always smooth sailing, referencing their own struggles with language-barriers, cultural differences, assimilation to new-found freedom – even a ‘bro-pair’ with little regard for clothing!

Cringe-worthiness aside, Sarah says they key to overcoming such obstacles is “accepting that things will be different”, while “remembering why you are doing it and the benefits it provides.” Failing that, a manual outlining mutual expectations and requirements, and engagement in performance management activities are also highly recommended.

While I am yet to relinquish on my sentimentalist ways and don the cap of ‘nanny-vocate’, writing this article has certainly given me the opportunity to consider alternative perspectives or experiences outside of my own, or those of my immediate network.

Sarah’s account not only opened my eyes to the value that options like au pairs offer in alleviating stress associated with balancing full-time work and family life, but forced me to think of extended benefits to the children.

For me the jury may be out, but I hope one day when the timing is right, this case may be re-opened and the prospect of employing an au pair will be music to my ears. “The hills are alive…” perhaps?

Just saying!

Image of ‘happy family…’ via Shutterstock

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Chloe Wheeler

In this day and age, there is such emphasis on occupation. While important to eventually settle on a chosen direction, Chloe is a big believer in first dipping a tentative toe in the murky and mysterious waters of career-city – neighbour to the nearby township of career-contentment. Like many, she seeks the El Dorado of the professional occupation space – pursuing what you love while earning a crust! In her time she has flirted with notions of pursuing piano teaching, only to be enticed by the bright lights and romantic notions of becoming an academia-inspired arts-appreciator-turned-psychologist, dabbling in physio, fertility treatments and finance along the way. Indeed, one could argue such knowledge and experience was of little use to an aspiring writer and ultimate business owner…wasn’t it?! You decide ;) More about the Author

  • Sarah MK

    Great article Chloe. You captured the dilemma perfectly.

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