For any au pairs who are hesitant to consider a single father family, please read the feedback below from two au pairs, who had a very positive experience with a single father family who ensured the aupair received a warm welcome as a true member of the family.
From Carolin – Germany.
I felt totally at home, the minute I entered “The Boathouse”, no, actually even already when I got into David’s car at Heathrow airport. When he and his then 15 year old daughter Robyn picked me up, I immediately felt comfortable and although we had, apart from some telephone calls and webcam conversations, just met for the first time, we talked during the whole 2 hour drive from the airport to their home in Stamford.
When we arrived, my first impression was very good, I liked the family (I met Guy shortly afterwards), the house and the town very much and I didn’t have the slightest feeling of homesickness, which might otherwise have been quite likely.
My host father took me around the house and showed me were everything was and told me, that from now on, everything that belonged to the family would belong to me as well, as I was part of the family. I was introduced to everybody at once, relatives and family friends, and I felt as if I had been with them for much longer.
I really liked the atmosphere within the family; after what happened to them, you would not expect to see such a happy family full of humour about nearly everything. They are very close and affectionate to each other, and I loved having meals with them in the evening, when everyone was telling about their day and we were all having a laugh most of the time. It reminded me a lot of my own family which made me very happy.
Furthermore, I was very overwhelmed by the amount of trust I got from the family, especially the father. He gave me guidelines on what I had to do when he had to go off to work again for 2-4 days, for example when to send the kids to bed, but he told me that, after all, whenever he was away, I would “be the boss” and could make my own decisions.
He would also leave money for me in the kitchen, but didn’t insist on me leaving any receipts.
I knew how much responsibility I had caring for the children while he was away for days, but the whole family made it so easy for me and I never thought of it as a burden or weight on my shoulders.
I also enjoyed the time being alone with the children, it gave me much time to get to know them better, and as the three of us have very similar interests, it always worked out very well. I didn’t feel as if I had to be a strict au pair, I was rather like a bigger sister having a good time with the younger ones. As Robyn and Guy are both already quite old and independent, I didn’t have to be around all the time, but it was always a lot of fun just hanging around with them. They were always very kind and polite and offered their help ever so often.
For me, it never occurred as a problem, that I would be staying with a single father, as David sounded really nice when I first spoke to him on the telephone. He also offered me and my parents to speak to his sister and a female friend of the family apart from only talking to him, as he knew that it might be harder for a girl to stay just with a male adult. But looking back, my experience could not have been better with a single woman or even a couple. I had so much fun with my host dad and he reminded me so much of my own father.
It was clear from the beginning that I would have a lot more free time than other au pairs, not only because, as a pilot, David didn’t have normal working hours from Monday until Friday, but also because even when he was away, Robyn and Guy would always be at school from 8:30-16:00. David was quite worried, that I might get bored very quickly, as I didn’t take classes at any of the language colleges and it was therefore not as easy to make friends. So he asked at the school for me, whether there were any foreign language assistants, and found out the telephone number of a German girl in my age, living only two minutes away from our place. I’m very thankful for that, because otherwise I might not have found anybody to go sightseeing and shopping with and I might not have met other friends either.
He also helped me setting up my own bank account and went with me to the medical centre so that I could register myself there.
When I went home over Christmas, we still kept in contact by having webcam conversations, and it was really nice to see them on the screen. Even though I hadn’t been away for that long I already missed them quite a lot.
Shortly after, my sister was allowed to come over for a week and she really enjoyed her time with the family and felt as if she had been with us for much longer.
When I finally decided about going home again, Dave was really supportive and could understand completely that I could not stay longer. I think we are all a bit sad that my time here ends soon, and I will miss the life with them here so much, but I am absolutely sure that we will keep in touch afterwards, they have already offered me that I could come back any time I want, and I definitely will. But I hope that they might come and visit me and my family in Germany as well, it would really make me happy.
My time as an au pair in a single dad family:
I am Natasja from Belgium and since 6 months I am an au pair for two girls in a single dad family. I have to admit that some of my friends and family would have preferred me to go to a “normal” family, but I can’t think of any reason why I shouldn’t have gone. My host dad is a really nice guy, sometimes he is a bit of a workaholic but that is his only fault, if you can call it a fault. One time when he thought he was actually sick enough to take a day of, he was still walking around the house asking me if there wasn’t anything he could do. He is really well organised. He is not the kind of guy that will call you up during the day because he suddenly remembered something else that has to be done. When he is not at home I am the boss, he doesn’t try to check on me the whole time.
I can organise my own time as long as the children are picked up from school in time. I also have a lot of free time. The only downside is that I am sometimes alone with the children for a few days because the father has to go on a busyness trip. I actually don’t really mind that because the rest of the time, he is really careful not to give me too much work. The grandparents also are a great help, to take care of the children one time a week, and try to stay around whenever the father is on a busyness trip. And if they’re not there I have a list of at least ten other people I can call if something goes wrong.
The children are great, they are not perfect of course, but I never really mind looking after them because they’re fun to be with. I never really have the feeling I am working when I am with them.
I have a lot of friends who are also au pair and they always laugh with me because “I don’t have to work”. I really get the feeling I have the best job. It is sometimes even annoying when they are complaining about their hard work, or overprotective host mother I can’t really join in… I would recommend every-one to become an au pair in a single dad family, especially mine.
NOTES FROM SMARTAUPAIRS on family ‘screening’. We speak in detail with every new family who would like to host an au pair. This way we get to know our families and have a chance to ensure they understand that the au pair experience is a cultural exchange program. It is important to ensure every au pair receives a warm welcome as a family member and has a change to learn from the experience through maximum exposure to the children rather than being overloaded with (boring!) housework.
We ask all new host families if any future au pair may contact their current au pair for further information and an ‘insight’ from an outsider!
In case of a single father family we always need this re-assurance. We want to give a prospective au pair (and her ‘real’ family) the maximum comfort prior to departure. We therefore ask the father to involve a female referee who is close to the family to be contactable by future au pair and parents of au pair. This female referee can ideally be a current au pair or babysitter, or a close family friend or relative for example.
Photo Source: MessyCreation/Deviantart