Parents, we got this email from an active commenter, who doesn’t really have a “problem” we can fix — but she does need us a little bit. Can you share any wisdom that might make this hard situation a little easier for her and her Au Pair?
We love our au pair. She came to use through rematch, and extended. Things are so easy with her. Not perfect, but stable, loving, and easy. She loves both our girls, they love her–and they listen to her. She is smart, talented, trustworthy, and an overall good egg.
She has asked us to help her get a student visa. This topic has been discussed a lot on the blog, but because my DH and I both work for the government we can not take any chances skirting the laws. If she got the visa and then walked the kids home from school for us regularly, that would be “work” even if it were bartered, and she is not allowed to “work” for the people who sponsor her student visa. (If I’m wrong, please somebody tell me!) We cannot in good conscience skirt that “work” issue, even though we could reduce her work week down to only about 15 hours.
(Those are 15 hours I don’t feel comfortable warehousing my kids in the after-school program for; yes, I’ve thought about it, it would be cheaper than a full time au pair, but I’m not ready to do that yet. And since we don’t have the latch-key option anymore, we need an alternative. The summertime hours problem kills the educare option for us. Ultimately no cost savings there at all, since you have to buy camp and other babysitters to keep their hours down.)
So I’m sitting shiva with the impending end of this very lovely thing we have going.
Sadly, we can’t afford to sponsor her student visa, pay for her to go to college until she finds adequate other income, and also host another au pair to take care of the kids. (For us, the cost of sponsoring and sending her to college here would be basically equal to the cost of hosting an au pair.) If we had an extra room, I’d happily house her and feed her but I can’t even offer her that. Also, the idea of being so responsible for someone who has no job or other income is intimidating.
I just dread telling her that there isn’t much we can do for her.
I dread several parts of this:
– telling her the bad news,
– knowing how letdown she will feel after the conversation sinks in, and
– wanting to spare her feelings from seeing my screen or hearing me on the phone while I search for her successor.
And we have to tell her soon, so this will be looming around the house as she finishes out her year. It seems disloyal, when she has been so loyal and lovely to us. Any ideas on how to make this less painful for all of us?
Parents and au pairs, the lines are open. Send in your suggestions!