and the 2009 Au Pair of the Year is … a “manny!”

Yes, this year’s au pair of the year award from Cultural Care went to a young man from Brazil, Ricardo Silva de Ara├║jo, who works for an American family living in Richmond, Virginia. So yeah, I admit, when I first heard that a guy one the award, which is not easy (this year there were 50,000 nominees), I had to wonder just how great this guy could be that he deserved the award. But this guy does seem great and really does deserve the award.

Ricardo works for a family who has a handicapped 16-year-old boy who is nonverbal. According to the host family, Ricardo has been an excellent caregiver and has treated their son as a normal teenager, which is something no one had really done before. For more about Ricardo and the Au Pair of the Year award, click here.

Hats off to Ricardo – way to represent the male au pairs!

can guys be Au Pairs too?

This site – and others as well – are admittedly very girl-centered, so the boys out there might be wondering where they fit in. While taking care of children tends to be a female dominated field, there are young men who work as au pairs, and they apparently do a very good job. Some governments, such as in the UK, are even working towards encouraging more guys to take on the au pair job.

There are many benefits for choosing male au pairs. From what I’ve seen, male au pairs (or ‘mannies,’ as they are frequently called) are actually easier to deal with than female au pairs. Are we surprised? We probably shouldn’t be. Apparently they are more flexible, more practical, and don’t run home as quickly as the girls do if things aren’t going perfectly. They also are happier with simpler accommodations and are willing to do more of the housework without complaint.

That said, there are families in which male au pairs fit in better. Host families with younger children prefer female au pairs, as they tend to be more nurturing and better prepared to deal with the demands of infants and toddlers. But for families with older, more active children, males work very well. The male preference for action and physicality makes them perfect for kids who need to get out and play. They also help with their sports practice, and are surprisingly creative, according to some of the families out there with male au pairs.

Although female au pairs still ‘dominate the field,’ more and more families are turning to guys. Male au pairs are becoming especially popular among single moms, who appreciate having male role models for their children.

Of course, the benefits for the ‘mannies’ are the same as for the girls. They are motivated by a chance to live in another country inexpensively, learn or perfect a foreign language, and get to know another culture firsthand. Many are also looking for an interesting way to spend a gap year, taking a break between studies or career changes.

So for the guys out there wondering – perhaps secretly! – if they can be au pairs, the answer is a loud, resounding ‘YES.’ Give it a shot!