My latest ah-ha moment of when Mariia has truly become part of our family was when my 6-year-old, Mariella, needed to go to the hospital after an injury in gymnastics class. Imagine the worst happening in the middle of gymnastics class and your child comes out bleeding from her chin with a deep cut. I immediately decided it was time to go to the hospital to check it out in case she needed stitches. However, Mariella was so scared and hesitant to go to the hospital that she made me stop by home to get Mariia, our au pair, so that she could be there to comfort her. Let that sink in, a stranger that arrived almost 1.5 years ago is now the source of comfort and as important to her as her own mother has now become family. Instead of going forward with her evening plans, Mariia canceled without hesitation and came with us. She held Mariella’s hand and comforted my daughter the whole time we waited at the hospital and helped her get through her fear of doctors and hospitals. Mariella only needed medical adhesive to seal the abrasion, but if it weren’t for our au pair, it would have been a much more stressful experience for all of us. Mariia was there when Mariella, and frankly I, needed her the most. This is the type of connection that Mariia has formed with my children, that they will remember for a lifetime.
I have two adorable, at times stubborn, wonderful little girls – Eliana, age 5 and Mariella, age 6 – and I’m a single working mother. When I decided to get divorced 2 years ago, I knew that I needed help to take care of my kids. I feared having to get the kids ready in the morning to go to daycare and school and still make it on time to work, taking care of the kids and having enough “me” time for dating and my many hobbies and generally just doing it alone, as my parents live in another state. I knew having an au pair was the answer as soon as I met some au pairs from Go Au Pair when they volunteered at a local event. I interviewed many au pairs, but Mariia really stood out among the rest because her and I had so much in common. My family and Mariia instantly connected during our video call, as she chatted to the children. Mariia is a fun, outgoing, creative, responsible and amazing au pair from Ukraine. I can say without a doubt she is the best au pair! I instantly could depend on Mariia from her experience working at a kids club. I am also from Ukraine and speak Russian. My kids’ first language was Russian, and I wanted to make sure that my children keep speaking Russian at home. As Maria speaks Russian in addition to Ukrainian, my children get to speak Russian and not forget their roots. They even started to pick up Ukrainian!
My children, although they are adorable, are not the easiest to take care of because they are so close in age and often “team up against you”. Mariella is such a picky eater, and Mariia has the patience to make sure Mariella eats a proper meal with enough variety. With Mariia’s help, Mariella grew so much since her arrival because Mariia insists on proper nutrition. I really have to thank Mariia for that because Mariella has always been the smallest in her class, but now she is catching up to the other kids. Mariia also keeps my kids entertained without depending on the TV for entertainment. Some of the things she does to entertain the kids are dance parties, karaoke concerts, and dress up games! She will make up imaginary games and stories. She also does arts and crafts with them and makes sure they create artwork to give as gifts to me and our relatives. She has organized play dates with local kids and visited a local police station to meet a policeman! However, it is not all fun and games with Mariia, as she also helps my daughter do homework as well as her Kumon work. With Mariia’s help, Mariella learned to read and does math problems like a pro (for a 1st grader). She taught my kids responsibility like cleaning up after themselves after dinner and an important life lessons like “eat your food before having dessert”, or “homework/work before playtime.”
I love to travel, and with Maria by my side, I have been able to take my family on vacations without too much stress for me. One of my favorite memories with Mariia and my girls was when we went on family vacations together. We have traveled a lot including going to Florida, Mexico and Baltimore/ Washington. Normally I would be the one watching my kids, but this time with Mariia, I got to relax and actually enjoy the vacation. I would never dream of taking vacations as a single parent without help because it is just too hard to watch two when you are only one. Now with Mariia, we can team up and watch the girls with no problem.
In summary, Mariia really became part of our family and has made our lives richer, easier and more fun and this is why she deserves to get the best au pair award! As the 2nd year of Mariia being with us draws to a close, I’m saddened to think about how my girls will miss her when she leaves. We have formed an incredible bond with Mariia that will stay with us for a lifetime.
– Host Mom Alla