It might take a village to raise a child, but in the case of Kelly and Bill Gitzke of Cary, it takes the assistance of a stellar au pair to raise their lot of five.
Three-year-old fraternal twins Billy and Joey, 4-year-old identical twins Gracie and Samantha and 7-year-old big sister Katelyn – the self-appointed ring leader – are the Gitzke children that make Sarah
Bachor’s daily life and chosen occupation quite a challenge.
The challenge, however, is a pleasure, not a burden, Bachor said.
“I feel like a part of this family. I’m like a big sister,” she said, Katelyn perched on her lap, listening intently.
The sets of twins made their rounds through the living room climbing on and off Bachor, as well as the couch she sat upon, adding personal jungle gym as a credential to her resume.
A resident of Weil am Rhein, Germany, Bachor is the family’s fourth au pair and has been in the United States six months. She lives in the Gitzkes’ home, while the parents works two jobs each.
Kelly Gitzke hired Bachor through Cultural Care, an exchange-based program which screens and places au pairs with families in the United States.
The mother of five nominated Bachor for Illinois’ 2014 Au Pair of the Year, an award given by Cultural Care and the International Au Pair Association to recognize the achievements of an au pair.
The family learned recently Bachor has been awarded the title. It’s well deserved, Gitzke said.
“Look at all of these children,” Gitzke said. “She’s patient, kind, entertaining and always comes up with creative activities and never complains. She’s very brave.”
Gitzke, a full-time Huntley firefighter and part-time nurse at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital, said she picked Bachor because of her previous experience and age, as well as the exposure to a different culture she would bring.
Bachor is 21, as opposed to many of the 18- and 19-year-old candidates, which Gitzke said might not have been able to handle five children. She also favored hiring an au pair versus a nanny because they needed live-in help to accommodate their demanding work schedules and even more demanding children.
In the beginning, Gitzke said it was challenging, but she was developed a system that has worked very well for her.
“In the beginning they were testing me, but I used some of the ideas I received from working with the kindergarten children and made charts for the children with rewards,” Bachor said.
After a certain period of time, if the children display good behavior based on their chart, Bachor takes them on an outing of their choice.
“I do something with them instead of just buying them something,” she said. “It’s more rewarding for everyone, and it’s something they can learn from.”
The biggest challenge is balancing the family life she has now with the Gitzkes and her family life back home, Bachor said.
“I like to be busy all day and I don’t like to be alone so I don’t think about my family in Germany,” she said.
“I don’t know how I will feel when I go back home. I will be happy to be back home with my family in Germany, but I will miss my family here.”
Bachor said it was somewhat odd to receive the honor because of the many au pairs today. But being responsible for five children is a bit different thatn most.
Bachor is not sure if she will stay in this country or go back to Germany after her one-year contract, but regardless, she said she will miss the Gitzke family and feels very lucky to have been their au pair.
“They are really open and open to my culture, and I’m very free with them and appreciate that,” she said.By LINDSAY WEBER firstname.lastname@example.org