Au pairs popular in Gladstone homes
SOME Gladstone families are finding a new and viable option to balance their home and work commitments - in the form of au pairs.
Traditionally thought of as only servicing remote areas, a local Facebook site states there are 146 au pairs in Gladstone suburban family homes.
The Eastlake family have been hiring French au pairs to look after their children for 12 months. They say they'd be lost without one.
"Luke and I originally came from inland Mackay where the after-school care was non-existent," she said.
"My friends had au pairs and I tuned onto it after Luke and I were struggling with full time work as well as giving the kids everything they needed."
So the family sat down and sorted through hundreds of thousands of French au pairs who were looking for work in Australia.
After a series of Skype interviews, the pair decided that Charline Eustache, a 26-year-old first timer, would be perfect.
"Our main aim was to find someone with a high education background," she said.
"Charline has that and a love of kids. So far she has really added to our family.
"Not only with an added language but with a cultural experience. And the kids' school results have actually got better."
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Deborah works full time at Ergon Energy, and Luke works up to seven days over on the island.
So Charline does most of the motherly duties including taking the kids to and from school, doing arts and crafts and making dinner.
"She has become an extension of our family and the kids really love her and think of her as a role model."
Georgia Eastlake, 9, said having an au pair made life easier.
"I like to think of her as my big sister," she said.
"Having her around means Mummy gets to come home quicker to us and spend more time (with us).
"And I like her French cooking."
The relationship is just as beneficial for Charline, who came to Australia to improve her English.
"I'd just finished my masters in accounting at home and was working with an international hospitality company when I decided a change was in order," she said.
But all good things come to an end and Charline is leaving the family next month to explore Asia before heading home to family and friends.