Like many parents, you get to a point with your childcare needs where you might need an au pair. A sometimes daunting and challenging process, it’s so important to find the right au pair that will be a part of a family unit as well as someone who will help you with your many needs, Meet Carleigh Fraley, a mama of two boys in Norther Westchester who decided to use Cultural Care Au Pair when she changed careers in 2015. In our recent Meet a Mom interview, she shares more about her experience with Cultural Care, including how you don’t have to be wealthy to have one.
Interview with Carleigh Fraley
Describe your family, where you live and how long you’ve lived there?
My husband, Matt, and I have lived in Northern Westchester for the past nine years. We have two boys; ages seven and four.
What do you like to do with your family in the area?
We love to swim and canoe on our lake. We also enjoy hiking, and skiing/snowboarding. Having worked in fitness, we both enjoy jogging, yoga, and anything that gets us moving. We enjoy living so close to New York City. It is fun to take the kids to museums or to visit friends.
What made you decide to host an au pair for your childcare needs?
I decided to change careers and go back to school in 2015 to become a dental hygienist. We looked very carefully at our childcare options in terms of the hours required, the care we desired for our children, and our finances. Finding an au pair made the most sense, was comparable money-wise to other options, and provided the level of consistent, reliable care we needed to ensure my husband could succeed at his new job and that I could successfully complete my degree.
What made you decide to use Cultural Care Au Pair as your agency?
A friend recommended Cultural Care to us. She really felt that the company did a great job taking care of their host families and doing their absolute best for them.
Why is hosting an au pair the right choice for your family?
We really needed a childcare provider that was going to be part of our team to accomplish our goals. Finding an individual that would feel that caring for our boys was more than just a job was really important to us. We also enjoy meeting people from other cultures and wanted to inspire our boys to do the same.
What types of families could really benefit from an au pair?
I think it is a misconception that you have to be wealthy to have an au pair. While you obviously need the space to accommodate their privacy, you don’t have to have a wing of your home just for them. How welcome and comfortable they feel is entirely based on how you all get along as a family. Also, if you do the math, an au pair is comparable to other childcare options, especially in Westchester.
What has the cultural exchange aspect of the program looked like for your family?
We actually have a history of cultural exchange in our family. My parents host a college student in their home from Rwanda and open their home as host parents to minor league baseball players during the summer. We have always enjoyed getting to know people from other countries and cultures. We love hearing about our au pair Leonie’s home country, South Africa, and sharing our culture with her. Our younger son is really cute learning to count in Afrikaans, and I have adopted a couple of funny Afrikaans phrases that make Leonie laugh. We go out of our way to make sure she feels like one of the family.
If someone is considering an au pair, what should they know going into it?
Obviously, it can be daunting to think of someone living in your home. However, if you find the right person it can be pretty easy. Being as open as you can during the interview process is really important. Finding an au pair that can blend in with your family vibe is a top priority, and part of that is being honest with yourself (and prospective au pairs) about what kind of personality you have. Also, don’t skimp on the interview process. I interviewed 5-6 prospective au pairs and liked several. But I knew we found the right candidate when her availability matched ours and it felt like I was talking to someone I had known for a long time already.
Anything else you would like me to know about your experience on the program?
I feel intense gratitude toward our au pair, Leonie. Our family would not have accomplished our goals this past year or so without her. After three years of working incredibly hard I was able to graduate with my degree, at the top of my class. The only part I have yet to experience on this journey is saying goodbye to someone who truly has become part of our family, and while I know that time will be hard, I am so thankful to have had her with us.
This interview was sponsored by Cultural Care Au Pair.