Our family began our journey with Go Au Pair in 2015 after our second child was born. We’ve had the joy of hosting five young women from across the globe. I am writing to nominate our current au pair, Cherel du Plooy, for the award of “best au pair.” We cannot imagine our life without her in it – she has become part of our family.
Cherel joined us from South Africa in October 2018 and has extended so that she will be with us until our youngest begins kindergarten in fall 2020. Our kids, Scarlett and Rory, tell everyone that she’s their “third parent” and run out of bed in the morning to give her hugs. She always greets them with a warm embrace and then makes them breakfast….anything from eggs and bacon to “human face” frozen waffles thanks to clever Reddi-Whip and fruit toppings. We don’t know how she manages to get our kids fed and ready on-time for school every morning without ever needing to raise her voice.
During the day, Cherel is like a magic elf in our house. When we return home from work, the kids’ beds are made, rooms tidied, and bathroom sink devoid of dried up toothpaste. I’ve never once had to ask her to wash the kids’ laundry or change their bedsheets. Most recently, Cherel began helping us prepare family meals. We weren’t sure how it would go because her first creation involved using leftover meat mix from Asian lettuce wraps in lasagna. It turns out that Asian lasagna is pretty good! She has mastered cooking the kids’ favorites, including spaghetti and beef tacos. When we rush in the door at 6:30 pm after long days at work, we feel so lucky not to stress about the kids’ dinner and enjoy our time together as a family. Friday nights, which used to be the hardest night for us after a long week of work, have become a night we all look forward to. On Friday afternoons, Cherel and the kids prep ingredients for homemade pizzas. Then when we get home from work, everyone puts on pajamas and makes their own custom pizza to eat while watching a movie or playing a game. We have so much fun we’ve begun to invite family or friends (including other au pairs) to join us. While cooking isn’t part of her “official” job duties as an au pair, Cherel volunteered to help us because she could see that dinner was a stress point for us and she wanted to help. This is just one way she always goes above and beyond.
See Also: Cherel & her Host Family were featured on NBC for helping their Au Pair cluster donate 70+ toys to Toys for Tots!
After school, Cherel takes Scarlett and Rory to their activities. It can be hard as a working parent to miss gymnastics or hockey practice, but Cherel is our eyes and ears. She takes short videos and posts them to our family shared album so we can feel like we’re there, and makes sure we know when the kids accomplish something new so we can celebrate with them at home. When there are no scheduled activities, Cherel makes sure our kids have something constructive to do. Weekly trips to the library near our house ensure they have plenty of new reading material, and during the summer she and the kids made a list of adventures to do together. One of the highlights was the private tour she organized at our local fire station for a group of au pairs and their kids. Our son didn’t stop talking it for weeks.
Having someone in our household that truly loves and cares for our kids is a blessing – we welcome her love for our kids with open arms. It’s hard to capture “love” in a short essay, but Cherel’s actions – especially those during her time off – speak louder than words. Every couple of weeks Cherel picks up food and joins Scarlett, our shy first-grader, in the cafeteria at school for lunch. Scarlett feels like royalty eating Chick-fil-A or Chipotle while others have brown bag lunches or cafeteria food. Cherel also picks up Rory early from school every now and then (he’s in Pre-K and it’s optional to stay after 1 pm) to play cars and floor hockey before my daughter gets home. What au pair gives up her free time just to play floor hockey with a 4.5-year-old boy?!
Every so often, my son Rory will look at Cherel, tilt his head to the side, and bat his long eyelashes to ask her, “Cherel, can you please stay with us forever?” While she won’t be able to stay forever, she has forever impacted our lives and will always be a part of our family.