Au Pair Addition: Halfway Point
By Kathy Zucker
Now that I have had an au pair for five months, what is the first thing I think when I wake up in the morning? Laundry.
With three adults and three children ages five months to six years and an experiment in cloth diapering, my family generates mountains of laundry each week. My germ phobia does not help with Mount Laundry – when my kids come back home each day after school, I immediately remove their school outerwear and put it in the washing machine.
During the course of the day, I add in dish towels, hand towels, and the ubiquitous oversized washcloths that we use to clean up spills, wipe faces after meals and hands after fingerpainting. At bathtime, I add the kids’ and my clothes plus the baby’s cloth diapers, fill the dispenser with powdered detergent and white vinegar, and run the washing machine.
Before Jana arrived, I would wake up each morning to a dryer full of wrinkled clothing, a filter stuffed with lint, and a washer-load of wet clothing. I am starting to think we have a household Brownie because it’s like magic to groggily walk over to the laundry area only to find it gleamingly clean and empty. And when I turn back to the living room, I do a doubletake to see laundry baskets full of smooth, folded clothing neatly divided into groups destined for individual rooms. Jana even separates out my laundry from the kid stuff – my marketing clients have been pleasantly surprised to see me in pants that actually look ironed.
Every weekend I make up the child care schedule for the coming week. With the advent of the school year, it looks something like this:
Monday to Friday: 7am-9am, 1pm-7pm
On weekdays Jana helps get the kids out the door to school, a Herculean task, and then spends an hour folding and putting away laundry, emptying the dishwasher and tidying up the living room. During her break she goes to TOEFL class, walks to the grocery store, cooks for herself or takes a rest. On days when the kids have afterschool activities, she takes the baby for afternoon walks while I work. And her schedule changes to accommodate my work schedule. This week I had two morning meetings – Jana took care of the baby in the bedroom while I held meetings in the living room.
Living in an urban area means that I do not have to drive Jana everywhere. An outdoor enthusiast, she walks and bikes around the Hoboken and Weehawken waterfront and takes the kids on the Light Rail to visit old trains and nature trails at Liberty State Park in Jersey City. I keep a supply of tickets on hand – the kids prefer the train to car travel and continually beg to ride the Light Rail to afterschool activities.
Halfway through Jana’s stay with us, my husband and I are discussing what we will do when she leaves – a lot depends on the progress of our individual careers. But even if we never have another au pair, we will be forever grateful to Jana for making life with a new baby so easy and plan to stay in touch via Skype and future visits.
- Country Save laundry detergent, $19.35 at Amazon
- Household Essentials Rectangular Krush Laundry Basket, $12.99 at Amazon
- “KRAMA” oversize washcloths, $3.99 at Ikea
- AuPairCare website, use code “APCFRIEND” to apply for free
- TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) at Baruch College
Kathy Zucker, serial entrepreneur and mother of three young children, writes about juggling career and family in an urban setting. See what Kathy is up to at her blog and on Twitter @KathyZucker.
Tags: au pair, child care