Repost: Domestic au pair and homemaking program

It could be more or less formalized, but training young women in the domestic, homemaking arts and giving them practical experience in childcare would be amazingly useful.

There are a number of avenues by which this could conceivably be enabled, not least as part of a general program of supporting women in their women’s work.

A model to start with would taking the system of the current international au pair program, and figuring out how to adapt it to the needs of young women who’d like to be keepers of hearth and home for their families and future husbands and families who could use the help of energetic girls in their late teens and early 20s.

 

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16 thoughts on “Repost: Domestic au pair and homemaking program

  1. There was a documentary on a training program in England for au pairs. The program required extensive study and practice into childcare and homemaking skills. I found it interesting, because the young women took it seriously and getting licensed was like a rite of passage. Are you talking about a program like this, minus the occupational aspect?

    I know most young women growing up didn’t focus on childcare– it’s always assumed a woman will learn as she goes after marriage. It’s not unheard of to hear of new mothers not knowing a thing about caring for children– or know how to change a diaper. Is that a big deal? At the end of the day, does it matter if a woman knows how to care for other people’s kids, or hers? I used to think it was important for young women to have some childcare knowledge, but I’m not so sure anymore.

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    • It’s more about getting back to the idea that it’s ok to have other people around as part of a normal domestic life and centering the home. Currently there’s this idea that it’s a woman and some kids at most, if anyone is even at home at all. More and more people do barely use their homes and it makes developing stable community harder when nobody feels like they can meet up at private homes anymore.

      When I was a single girl 15+ years ago, I remember people coming over and I’d go over and it was more loosey-goosey and people were ok with you around while they were tidying up. Now people in their 20s, there’s just so much less of that, and it doesn’t improve when you’re bringing in being married and then having kids.

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      • Yeah, people aren’t comfortable with other people in their homes uninvited these days. What you describe is what occurred as a normal thing in my family structure/culture, actually.

        More and more people do barely use their homes and it makes developing stable community harder when nobody feels like they can meet up at private homes anymore.

        A lot of it’s due to people feeling like they have to schedule everything like playdates, formal gatherings, etc. As sad as it is, in my generation the idea of an unscheduled get-together or hanging out with families is unheard of. Most people are too busy for that– coordinating it all with work and school schedules is hard, and if someone doesn’t have a vehicle or is a 1-vehicle family it makes it more difficult.

        And also, there’s helicoptering, for good or ill.

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        • It’s counterintuitive, but i think we’re at the point where one has to formalize specific forms of community in order to create the mental space for something more organic down the road. If a demi pair or au pair hanging around who was safe and sane was the norm, as an example, playdates could slowly get more and more informal, along with other social-ness.

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  2. It’s counterintuitive, but i think we’re at the point where one has to formalize specific forms of community in order to create the mental space for something more organic down the road.

    Replying here because the threading will get crazy.

    To your point, yes I agree we’re going to need to formalize specific forms of community. The question is how do you keep doing that and work away from it being regimented, to a natural way of spending time with others?

    I also think people like the scheduled nature of things because (and these are based off observation):
    -A lot of people have anxieties about spending time with others
    -People want predictability
    -People conflate losing one’s privacy with social decorum.

    Going back to the childcare focus, many parents aren’t comfortable with the idea of someone else’s daughter getting schooled in a different parenting style than their own. In today’s culture, people are very tied up in their parenting styles to dissociate it from their character.

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  3. I’m with. You, TPC–the lack of ability to have real community these days totally sucks. I hate it every day of my life. We have only ever known 1 family with kids, when our first was a baby, that was up for actual spontaneity. She’s 9 now, so…yeah, hasn’t happened in years. And our close-knit church community that struggled getting together that we left nearly 3 years ago is pretty much turning out to be impossible to replicate.

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    • And our close-knit church community that struggled getting together that we left nearly 3 years ago is pretty much turning out to be impossible to replicate.

      Communities that formed organically over time took commitment. People just don’t want to do that anymore, with how mobile the world is now. It’s ironic because these are the same people who are going to bemoan the lack of other families with kids, while they did nothing to promote these kinds of communities. Few people want to put in the work, but they want the benefits.

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