With loads of lived experience, we know what you're going through.
When I had my first baby in 2015, I felt stressed, and under significant pressure. On top of all of the challenges of becoming a first time Mum, my husband was moving interstate to live for a year, and following what suddenly felt like very brief maternity leave, I knew I would be left at home with an 8 month old, and back working full time in a very demanding corporate job.
My research left me underwhelmed by the lack of affordable, accessible, flexible and high quality child care options available, and the prospect of being plunged into the exhausting juggle of childcare and full time work was daunting to say the least.
Given the demands of my role at work, and the fact that I couldn’t afford to deal with the seemingly continuous illness that seemed to plague very young children in group care settings, the only real option we had was live in help. We researched the prospect of an au pair and it seemed like something that would work well for us.
We engaged an agency and luckily, we ended up with the most remarkable, caring, and capable au pair imaginable, from England. She was genuinely a lifesaver for the 9 months that we had her – I cried buckets when she left; feeling like she was more integral to my daily wellbeing than anyone else during that time!
Despite hosting a number of other au pairs after that initial experience, who were wonderful as well, we started to experience real challenges. Issues around visa restrictions (which meant a seemingly endless cycle of recruitment, settling in, and departure just when everything was starting to work), communication issues (thanks to English as a second language hiccups), and trying to support new au pairs with the acute brand of homesickness that can come being so far away from home, left us feeling exhausted.
Four years on, we were ready to give up on the idea, and were looking for a viable alternative, without any luck.
Then, something happened which revolutionised our thinking - we were lucky enough to meet our current au pair through word of mouth. Originally from regional NSW, she was keen to try out au pairing in the city during her gap year, before starting university. With no concerns around visa restrictions (which would have been impossible during a global pandemic), English as her first language, and a network of local friends already established, it was an incredible solution. We couldn’t be more thrilled, getting access to all of the benefits of having an au pair, without the challenges we’d experienced in the past.
The global pandemic, Australia’s border restrictions, and the issues we confronted started me and her thinking – maybe the answer to problems like ours was connecting young country people with city families, and vice versa…HomeGrownHelp was born!