Life with an Au Pair

Life for us now is very different, living in one place, in South Africa, while I have internships and classes and Jacob is doing film extra castings and trying out an app idea for South African clubs and Ryder is attending the same school he went to the last time we were here but with new friends. Yet the biggest change is the fact we have two more people living with us.

It was Jacob’s idea to get live in help. I resisted for years. Now that they are here it is hard to imagine life without them. Our house is now nearly always tidy instead of nearly never tidy. That’s pretty huge. Ryder happily plays all day with his sister—he calls her his sister—instead of begging me to play with him or sitting downloading apps on his ipad. The ipad pretty much only gets used on the weekends now. I’m thrilled about that. But perhaps the most amazing thing is that I am also living with a good friend who I can chill with, share secrets with, and essentially just have female emotional support right in the home. It’s a good thing we get along so well—because obviously we hardly knew her when we hired her. It could have gone either way, I guess. We both got uncertain vibes from each other at the beginning actually. She said she thought I was so weird because I was silent a lot. I really got along instantly with the third person I interviewed, but ended up hiring Zim anyway, so it’s amazing how it all worked out. Anyway, we can’t picture a better fit now.

I read books with Elithle and then Ryder before bed. Zim is the one who gives them a bath. Ryder often took showers before we lived here, because many places didn’t have tubs; now he always bathes with Elithle and they have a blast. Both of them fight to hold my hand and race to come see me when they come home from school. It’s fun to have a little girl around who wants red in her hair like mine and who dons a fanny pack to imitate my style.

Zimkhitha helps me to cook dinner, but even more exciting than the help is the fact we are feeding two more people so we have dinner at a regular time every day.There’s an excuse to make plenty of food, and if there are leftovers that’s great, we can have it for lunch. She is excellent at chopping food into aesthetically pleasing pieces, not my strong point.

It is great to have another pair of eyes to notice things. She is the one who noticed Ryder had a hole in his tooth—since she has had teeth problems herself—and we got him to the dentist straight away. I do my best to treat Elithle and Ryder equally financially—if one gets a treat, the other does too, so we are all looking after each other and giving feedback on raising children together and disciplining together. It’s a lovely system. It also feels good to know we are supporting a family in Khayelitsha. All of my old clothes go to Zim’s 13 year old sister. I guess I dress in the style of a middle schooler. Nevertheless it’s nice to know we are mutually beneficial for each other.

We go on family outings all together. They have now been to two water parks—first time. They have now flown on an airplane—first time. They will be crossing borders into new countries with us—first time.

We still have Sundays alone. That is Ryder and I’s baking day. Ryder says he wants to be a cook when he grows up so we have to practice.

I struggled at first because I knew it would be hard to ever part from them. Now I have accepted to enjoy it as it lasts, and hopefully everything will fall into place in the future, as it has in the past.

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Kalli Hiller

Article by Kalli Hiller

Kalli Hiller is a voluntary vagabond who, with her husband Jacob, has traveled full time for the last eight years.

Kalli has written 365 awesome articles for us.

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