With the Christmas holidays just around the corner – that old familiar feeling is coming back… I think they call it madness. Not only do we need to wrap up a number of major projects at both My Food Bag and Au Pair Link, but we’re also planning on heading down to Hawkes Bay for the Christmas period before dashing back to Auckland to enjoy summer in the City of Sails.The lead up to last Christmas was slightly manic.  With our little one just a few months old, I found myself balancing my newfound responsibilities under the pressure of needing to be seasonally festive – as I’m sure new mums will attest, not easy!  So, what’s getting me through this year is my present… the gift of help!  What I mean by that is that we will have our lovely Swedish Au Pair, Fanny, with us in the build-up to this year’s Christmas, so I literally have another set of hands there to shake me into sense if I start to lose the plot a little bit!

The greatest thing about having an Au Pair for us is the combination of one-on-one childcare during the days and the having a fourth family member in our home outside of her working hours. Fanny has slotted into our family much like the eldest daughter. And for Christmas this year she will (thankfully) be part of our crazy rush towards the finish line (Christmas Day). I’m already beginning to plan our schedule for the drive down to Hawkes Bay and I know I can be assured that all Tom’s important things will be packed and organised for our trip down to the Bay – thanks to the wonderful Fanny.

My husband joked with me the other day and said that all I focus on is creating businesses that make my life easier – and this is certainly true! For this year’s Christmas we’ll be enjoying a My Food Bag’s Christmas menu which will be prepped by yours truly and our amazing Fanny. No frantic last minute dash to the supermarket to pick-up Christmas food.

I must admit I am slightly dreading Boxing Day when we’ll most likely be waving our goodbyes to our gorgeous girl while she escapes on a well-deserved girls’ road trip around the South Island. Fortunately, the pull of a beach holiday on Waiheke sees Fanny returning to us in mid-January to spend some quality time with the family at the beach before going back to work… we want to give her a taste of a real Kiwi summer!

Families often ask if it’s appropriate to bring your Au Pair with you on a holiday trip and my resounding answer is always ‘Yes’! As a parent you never have a break and the ability to have another person there, lending you a hand and possibly allowing you to sneak off for a walk on the beach or reading a couple of pages of your favourite book during the day can be absolutely priceless.  Not only that, children develop such a bond with their Au Pair that it’s a lot of fun for them to have their best friend around during the summer!

The reality is that all of us need a moment to re-charge and Christmas should really give us the opportunity to relax, enjoy our family and friends in the few weeks after Christmas.

January is usually the busiest time for us at Au Pair Link as this is often when parents realise that they need an extra set of hands in the New Year. However, I would recommend any parent to get this sussed far before January and ensure you head into the New Year with your childcare and new family member locked in for the brand New Year – and even better if possible having an extra set of hands for Christmas this year.  I must say, we have a few absolute gems on the books looking to start work in January – treat yourself to a Christmas gift which might just last all year round!

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Cecilia Robinson, founder of My Food Bag, and Au Pair Link, is one of New Zealand's most successful female CEOs. Cecilia's business awards include: 'Her Business Best New Business award' in 2009, 'Businesswoman of the Year 2012’, ‘Best SME 2012’ and 'Supreme Winner of the Woman of Influence Programme' in 2017.

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