From an Au Pair mom.
How can a young girl with no children of her own be a good caregiver?
This is one of the questions that I pondered when considering using au pair childcare for my own children. However, this is probably the easiest question to answer about the au pair program. Au pair candidates have to show proof of documented childcare experience; and additionally, to be qualified to care for children under two years old, they have to have a certain number of hours of experience with children of this age.
Many au pairs are professional teachers, and have years of early childhood education, pedagogical education, and experience with babies, groups of children and babies, even infant multiples. I’ve seen au pair applications of young women who were nurses in NICU, who were daycare teachers handling ten babies alone all day, who were college graduate licensed kindergarten teachers with several years of work experience, and women who worked as nannies for years in their home countries.
But for me personally, knowing something with my mind is different than believing something in my heart. Despite knowing all these facts all along, it was still difficult for me to believe that a young woman could do a great job taking care of my baby. For me, it took personal experience and witnessing the experience of others to finally take the plunge into switching to au pair childcare.
When I was expecting my second child and first considering an au pair, I could not quite believe that I myself would be able to take care of a baby and a toddler; and I was already a mother myself.
I was more inclined to trust another mother, who already raised her own children. I had several nannies after my son was born, all in their fifties or older, all mothers or grandmothers. Through this experience, I understood that some of them probably didn’t raise their children themselves, or their talents were not in the childrearing area. One nanny who was mother of three herself, could only handle one of my children at a time, letting my toddler run free on the street. One nanny who was a grandmother of a six year old, thought for a whole month that my three year old was five, and only realized the truth after I told her!
Also, nannies who have had their own children, had raised them in another era, with different childrearing philosophies. Some of them had their strong opinions on how to do things right, that didn’t coincide with mine. Even though they were my employees, because they were older than me, it was difficult dynamic to show respect and at the same time to instruct them in how I wanted things to be done differently with my baby.
My personal experience made me realize firsthand that being a mother is not a qualification that can ensure that the childcare provider is competent.
Part two : The best proof of the quality of aupair childcare
An Au Pair mom kindly offers more answers to the questions you may interested in.