Does having an au pair make you a bad parent?
Squashing the guilt.
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Gone are the days where all mothers were able to stay at home with their kids and where families could live off of one salary.

Read more: What you need to know about hiring an au pair

With many parents choosing to go back to work after the crucial newborn phase, some families choose to hire alternative childcare, if they can afford it.

While I was au pairing I came across a few other parents who’d ask me why I thought the family I worked for chose to have an au pair. Many of them would ask in such a way that made me wonder if what they were really asking was “are the parents lazy?” and “why can’t the parents look after the kids themselves?”

I guess it’s a fair question for those who’ve managed to make a living and raise their kids without any help. For most families having alternative childcare is a luxury.

The way I see it (and I’ve personally witnessed this for roughly ten years) having an au pair or a nanny can enhance the quality of life without so much of the pressures and demands that often hinder the opportunity to enjoy your children as much as you’d like to.

“Having an au pair makes you a bad parent”

I’ve heard a lot of parents comment that they wouldn’t want someone else raising their children and that they wouldn’t want their child to become more attached to the au pair than they are to the parent.

While there are cases where the child becomes emotionally dependent on their au pair, it certainly doesn’t amount to the assumption that all children with au pairs will disconnect from their parents. If you’re a parent who’s chosen to have an au pair, the relationship you have with your child depends entirely on the way in which you interact with your child when you are around.

For the most part I’ve been lucky to have been a part of some amazing families where even working parents have shown greater parenting skills than other parents I know who choose to stay home to look after their kids.

As an au pair there’s something rewarding about giving a parent the security that their children are being loved and taken care of while they’re at work. It's equally as rewarding to see the excitement from both parent and child at the end of the day when the parent comes home to their child.  

If you've opted to have alternative childcare, the relationship you have with your child doesn't have to change. Be mindful of some of the things that keep you and your child connected and take every opportunity you have with them to maintain that special bond. 

How to keep your relationship with your child

  • Take time to hang out with your child on the weekends and after work. Talk to them about their day, what they’ve been learning, what’s bothering them and what’s exciting them.
  • Don’t bring work home with you. Many parents tend to bring the stresses and pressure of their working day home with them. Avoid walking into the house talking on your cell phone or checking messages. Your child has probably been asking your au pair “how long until Mommy gets home?” for the last two hours. Make the most of their excitement the moment you walk in the door. 
  • Read with your kids. Reading is a great way to spend quality time with your child. Use the book as an opportunity to make conversation with your child by discussing with them whatever topic you're reading. 
  • Plan family outings for weekends and holidays. Talk to your child about the new places you'd like to take them to and tell them what to expect. This will get them excited and looking forward to spending time with you again.  

How do you feel about alternative childcare? Send us your comment to chatback@parent24.com or join our Facebook chat.

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