The Childcare Struggle
Like many families today, we are both working parents with young children who desperately needed reliable childcare. With our shifting schedules, it was hard to find babysitters who were regularly available – add to that the unpredictability of daily life and it was just too stressful. We knew we needed help, but many of the full-time nannies we interviewed seemed uninterested and their hourly rates were astronomical. Daycare wasn’t an option for us so that left us considering an au pair.
We needed to find someone who had infant experience and could also engage our oldest child who is really into gymnastics and art. We liked the idea of a live-in … the idea of having flexible childcare for sick days, school closings, and date nights was the dream!
Traditional Au Pairs
Like many families who look into an au pair we found the process confusing and filled with too many administrative barriers. Agencies were charging $8-10k up-front in fees and the ‘wage’ of $195 per week seemed incredibly low. It was clear that most of the money we would pay would go to the agency – this didn’t seem fair and we questioned how motivated and happy the au pair would be.
A one year commitment seemed like an expensive gamble. When we factored in things like cultural and language barriers, their ability to drive safely on our roads, and what benefit aside from babysitting they would bring to our children, we were unsure what to do.
We were introduced to Sara-Claire, an American student studying elementary education at the University of Mississippi. She was looking for a new experience for the summer between her junior and senior year. She had infant experience, a US drivers license, her own phone, had taken years of gymnastics which thrilled our 6-year-old, and as an education major we knew we were getting a lot more than just a babysitter. We bought her round-trip ticket and from day one (much to the envy of our friends with au pairs) we had an instant fit.
At Homepaired our mission is to simplify finding live-in childcare and make it more affordable, accessible and ethical. As the only online marketplace connecting families with motivated and talented American students, there is an opportunity to completely reinvent the traditional au pair model for the 21st century and build a new sense of community for working families and America’s youth.