Caroline left today. She stopped back in for a few days after her travel month, then flew home to Switzerland this morning. Saying goodbye to our first-ever au pair was difficult. My emotions swelled, in particular, as we approached Denver International Airport. As a busy mom, it has meant so much to me that Caroline found her way into our lives this past year. What an unexpected gift!
Last Spring, after 9 ½ years of motherhood, I found myself run-down, unusually tired and facing health issues. After hearing of a friend’s success with an au pair, I decided to broach the subject with my husband. This conversation was continued a few days later over a 4 page Powerpoint lunchtime presentation in his office –since the initial discussion didn’t yield my desired results. Now, he was on-board!
In my Powerpoint presentation, I outlined my Bonus Year goals in 3 Parts:
1.) Restoring my health
2.) Having more fun
3.) My next step in life
Caroline arrived ready to work, pitching in wherever she could. Soon, we got on a routine which included helping the kids prepare for school in the morning, Laundry Mondays, Wednesday Date Nights, kid coverage during doctor’s appointments and meal preparation certain nights of the week. I even planned a few trips away on my own. We were into the swing of things!
Over the next few months, I noticed a bond building between our children and “Care-Bear”. My husband and I also grew fond of her as well. In time, she was just part of the family. We created many memories this year, below are just a few.
Caroline’s Contributions and Fond Memories:
- Life was easier. I had more bandwidth to be a better mother
- Great, independent role model for our girls
- Maintaining Family Dinners most nights of the week
- We all could have individual time with each of our girls
- Sharing cultural experiences with each other
- Sharing mom’s Flank Steak Recipe (and others) with Caroline. She’s now a proficient cook!
- Fun Halloween costumes for ALL family members. My husband and I dressed up for the first time! (photo below)
- Meeting each other’s families
- Swiss cookies at Christmas
- Swiss chocolate
- Caroline teaching snowboarding lessons to our girls
- Soccer in the backyard
- Planning and enjoying our daughters’ 10th Birthday parties
- Easter egg hunt in the backyard
- 4-day girls road trip to Mt. Rushmore
- Caroline surfing in California
- Our girls learning to do more on their own
- Establishing a meal-planning process for our week
- Creating a “job wheel” for our family to assign weekly chores in a fun way
Of course we had some bumps along the way. Keeping our initial commitment to talk it out, we discussed the issues as they came up. I’ve learned that having an au pair is a give and take relationship. She improves our lives while we provide unique experiences for her as well. Work hard, play hard.
Now that Caroline is on her way back home, I realize that I’ve made good progress on my Bonus Year goals. I have an improved grip on my health, I had a lot of fun last year and I have a list of ideas of what my next step might include. While I don’t have all the answers and everything didn’t unfold the way I expected (i.e. my husband’s job becoming twice as demanding and my father’s unexpected illness), I had more flexibility to handle life as it unfolded.
Life in Our House goes on today with a bit of a twist compared to a year ago. Our lives have been elevated from this experience thanks to what Caroline brought to our family. While she’ll be back in Switzerland soon, she remains a part of this Colorado family. She’s welcome anytime.
Monday, 16 May 2016 11:21 AM