Making your au pair feel at home
Welcoming an au pair into your home is like welcoming a new member of the family. It's important to make them feel at home, as they will play an important role in your children's lives. Laura Carrasco explains how to make your au pair feel happy from day one.
1. Communicate before arrival
Pre-arrival communication is a great way to establish a connection with your au pair before they come to live with you.
You can make video calls to familiarise your au pair with you, your children and perhaps your pets or other people close to your family. Your au pair will certainly enjoy getting to know everyone before moving into your home. And when everyone gets to know each other better in advance, there will be less nervousness or doubt for everyone involved about the upcoming stay.
You can talk in a relaxed way about your family routines and schedules and also about topics that might be important to the au pair: favourite foods, allergies, if they need help with a visa or travel insurance, if they want to do a preparation course in advance of the stay or a language course - to mention just a few possible topics.
More information: What questions should you ask your au pair during an online interview?
2. Preparing your au pair's room
An au pair shares a lot of time and energy with their host family. That's why it's so important to give your au pair a room of their own. Your au pair deserves a cosy environment to rest and to enjoy on their own at the end of the day. Preparing a comfortable place for your au pair shows respect for their privacy.
Find out more about their personality and style to prepare a room where they will feel comfortable and at ease. Involving your children in the preparations will increase their excitement about the new au pair's arrival and show that you really care about making them feel welcome.
3. Organise a small welcome party
A welcome party will help the new au pair to feel like part of the family right from the start. It doesn't have to be big, just a family get-together with the people closest to you will suffice.
A relaxed family dinner is the perfect setting to introduce everyone in person and will make your au pair feel welcome and special. With the help of good food, music and a bit of chatting, you will create a comfortable and cosy atmosphere.
If you feel like it, you can give your au pair a small gift to show your appreciation. For example, something useful for their stay: a tourist guide, a museum pass or some other practical or educational gift.
4. Help your au pair get orientated quickly
Good orientation is very important for both practical and emotional reasons.
From a practical point of view, your au pair needs to know where things are in their new home, how to find your children's school, where to go shopping, where the hospital is and other information relevant to their role.
From an emotional point of view, orientation can help alleviate anxiety and boost confidence for both your family and your au pair. The more comfortable and grounded everyone feels, the better things will go in every respect.
More information: How to welcome your first au pair with the AuPairWorld Family Handbook
5. Include your au pair in family activities
It is important to include your au pair in family activities. This increases their attachment to your family and makes them feel more relaxed and welcome in the new situation.
By including your au pair in family events such as birthdays, holidays or other family occasions, you will show your confidence in him or her as an individual. In turn, your au pair will naturally be more trusting and relaxed towards your family.
More information: Bringing your au pair on board
6. Make sure the new au pair understands your expectations
When hiring an au pair, you should be clear and direct about what you expect from them. You should be honest about your expectations and revisit them from time to time.
In any other work environment, making expectations clear is an essential part of orientation. However, some families forget to make this part of the welcome. You and your au pair need to regularly talk about what you expect from your au pair and how your au pair is coping.
Explaining expectations shouldn't be a tense or overly formal thing. You can see it as a working tool and a normal part of the exchange between you and your new family member.
More information: How to tell your au pair what to do
7. Be kind and patient
If your au pair comes to you with a question, problem or concern, you should be receptive and listen with an open heart and an open mind. Understand that your au pair may feel homesick, lonely or afraid. Moving away from home and into another family's home can be a big step, especially for a younger au pair.
It is totally normal if your au pair feels insecure or anxious in their new role and it is your responsibility to be understanding and kind. If they come with any problems, do what you can to help them.
8. Organise a farewell party
When the day comes for your au pair to return home, organise a small party to thank them for their stay. Apart from family members, you could invite some of the people who were important to your au pair during their stay and prepare some dishes or drinks that your au pair enjoyed.
A farewell party is a fantastic way to say thank you for the time and energy spent with your family. You could also give a gift that will remind your au pair of the time spent with your family. An album with photos, for example, can make a perfect gift. Another idea would be to create a memory book, personalised jewellery or a handwritten set of recipes to take home as a souvenir.
About the author:
Laura Carrasco, an author of creative pieces, is a lost romantic and curious about life. With pen, ink and heart, she mostly covers topics related to festive events, family, yoga and wellness. When she's not fighting over the keyboard with her cat, you'll find her at the municipal swimming pool doing laps.