We would like to introduce Julia Schenkel from Plauen, Germany. She currently lives with her mother and her pug Alvin in this small village central east Germany near Prague, Czech. She is studying to pass her A levels at Gymnasium, and swims and coaches swim team in her spare time. She has also cared for her 3 year old nephew Toni on a regular basis since he was born. She will be arriving to our home here in Seattle on 24 July 2019, after landing in New York on the 22nd and having a few days’ crash-course orientation (don’t drink while on duty, don’t do drugs, and don’t shake the baby!) and a brief, but exciting tour of the Big Apple.
Julia will be our third German au pair for Lake and our family! We love working with our agency Au Pair in America, as well as our regional coordinator Terry. Nevertheless the au pair search can be nerve racking process. Not only are we searching for the perfect match for our family, and for the au pair, but we are navigating a 9 hour time difference, and juggling three different work schedules to schedule the video conference interviews. We tend to offer a first as well as a second interview for appealing candidates. We’ve gotten better over the years, but it can be an imperfect process. We have oscillated between being overly enthusiastic about the Seattle au pair lifestyle (it is simply the best city with the best families for au pairs, but it doesn’t always sound believable or authentic), and being overly overbearing (we send four pages of “house rules”). For Julia we focused on letting her lead the interview by giving her room to ask all her questions first, instead of us delivering an hour long infomertial. Luckily, it worked really well for her since she had a bunch of great thoughtful questions (how would you describe Lake’s personality? what’s your parenting style and what kind of parenting style are you looking for in your au pair?)… Later, we tried it again since it went so well with Julia, and it fell flat… the interviewee had no questions. Needless to say, Julia quickly became our top choice!
Lake was with NanaBaba this go round, which freed us up to really dive into researching and interviewing the candidates, however then Lake wasn’t present for the interviews, so after vetting them, we’d refer them to Nana to set up a “meet and greet PlayDate.” Then, there are the various modes of communnication to set up and confirm: Skype, WhatsApp, or Facetime? Which is the au pair comfortable with? Also, do they wish to speak with one of our former au pairs? Then we get feedback from Jo or Luisa. When the appointed time arises (typically super late for you, or super early for them), you grab your coffee, try to look presentable and cross your fingers and hope for a good internet connection! The work pays off. It’s a real pleasure speaking with these lovely bunch of mature women aged 18-26. We enjoy it quite a lot, in spite of the roller-coaster feeling. In the end, we’re always very pleased with our selection.
We have never before had so much lead time to choose our au pair, which made it more relaxing, in spite of the rigorous interview schedule. This time the matching process lasted about 2 and 1/2 weeks with interviews almost every day. With Jo, we weren’t totally decided that we were going to have an au pair. We thought perhaps Lake would be going into the Bright Horizons daycare at Harborview full time (which he did for the 7 weeks between end of maternity leave, and until Jo arrived, but it was never guarenteed that he would gain entrance, so ultimately we couldn’t count on it, and Michael wasn’t a big fan.) With Luisa, we were holding off too long, optimistically hoping Jo would extend 6, 9 or 12 months with us. Not so lucky! So for both Jo and Luisa, after we matched, it was a big flurry of activities for them: getting the visa, flights/documents in order, packing, good bye parties, etc. We made great matches ultimately, however it was like a big rush to find someone from Germany before it was too late. The big worry was always that Lake would be sitting home alone with no one while we were all at work. Especially when he was younger and still breastfeeding he needed to be nearby and have someone devoted to his care. Now that he’s older and more independent, we can be a bit more relaxed since he’s happy as a clam to be with NanaBaba for weeks on end. So, actually we’ve planned in a summer vacation for Lake to spend with NanaBaba for a few weeks between when Luisa returns to Germany and Julia arrives.
Meanwhile we have a full six months still to get to know Julia, as well as to continue enjoying Luisa being here without the stress of wondering what’s next after she leaves. We are thrilled! Thank you so much for choosing our family, Julia! Match day was a perfect day, I’m glad we matched with you!