Everyone has had experience living in a family, so becoming part of a new family ought to be easy, right?
Well, yes, in a way that's true. And this basic fact is definitely one of the building blocks of the au pair experience. It's what makes it possible for au pairs to set off for new destinations far away from home and take on serious responsibilities in families that they hardly know.
The challenge of a new family
But every family is different and integrating into a completely new one is not a simple task.
- When an au pair joins up with a new family, she (or he) is an outsider entering a new world – with a new culture, a new language, and a new set of rules and practices that are unique to the particular family that she has joined.
- Getting a feel for this new situation and finding the right role in this existing structure can be very tricky for new au pairs. And the expectation is that the new au pair will not only fit in to the family structure that she finds, but that she will also take on an important role in helping her new family function successfully.
- This depends on the new au pair learning a lot and also learning it quickly. Families of course shouldn't expect perfection from a new au pair. But they can be sure to get better results when their au pairs know as much as possible about what is actually expected of them.
The Family Handbook: A targeted tool for better communication
This is the idea behind the AuPairWorld Family Handbook – a targeted tool for promoting clear and effective communication between a host family and its incoming au pair.
AuPairWorld's new Family Handbook tool is a customisable interactive PDF document. Host families should fill in the relevant information in sections such as
- Behaviour and Discipline
- Food and Meal Preparation
When all this information is brought together, the new au pair has a comprehensive reference document that provides all of the most important information she (or he) needs to fulfil the new role in the family and find a satisfying place in the community.
When the family has entered all the relevant information, it's simple to print out a professionally formatted Family Handbook – a highly useful resource and a great part of a welcome package for an incoming au pair!
A free benefit for Premium Members
All families who purchase a Premium Membership at AuPairWorld receive the Family Handbook tool as an extra free benefit.
It has many possible uses:
- The idea, of course, is not that the au pair needs to memorise your Family Handbook. It is there to give new au pairs a basic orientation and to open up the different dimensions of your family life to a newcomer in a manner that is simultaneously friendly, welcoming and effective.
- The Family Handbook is also not there to replace face-to-face communication. Very often it can serve as a starting point for communication about important aspects of the au pair's job. It can also stimulate questions from au pairs when they read about a certain aspect of life in your family and need to find out more.
- Once you have prepared a Family Handbook that accurately reflects how things are organised in your family and what your expectations are, you can also use the Handbook in your discussions with prospective new au pairs. It helps to focus your thoughts in the interview process when you want to give a clear description of your needs and expectations and have an informative and detailed discussion about what an au pair position in your family would really entail. This can help a lot in avoiding misunderstandings and in finding an au pair who fits well with your family and all its unique characteristics.