How expat families can benefit from hosting an au pair
Many expat families choose to host an au pair as part of their childcare solution. Here expat mother and author Catherine Miller outlines the advantages that expat families get from having an au pair…
Expat childcare is simply easier with an au pair
Raising a family away from your home country and support network is not an easy task. An au pair provides you with a win-win childcare solution in this challenging situation.
- You open your home to a young person from another country who's seeking an international experience.
- And in return, you receive their help with caring for your children as well as with other small household tasks.
Many expat families opt for an au pair as part of their approach to childcare as it provides a highly flexible solution. With the au pair living under your own roof, you have support for your family when and where you need it most. That support can also include light chores such as preparing food for the children or folding their washing, which all helps to make daily family life run more smoothly.
Your au pair is integrated into your support network
Au pairs become an integral part of the host families they are staying with. This is a huge asset when you’re an expat living away from your community. An au pair becomes a trusted caregiver who knows your family and can provide support when you need it most.
Although your children may be attending school or daycare, there will always be times outside of these regular hours that you need extra support. And au pairs are perfect for helping out with the daily necessity of getting the kids to school or kindergarten and picking them up, not to mention managing other regular appointments.
In many countries Sundays are typically a day spent with family. As expats, this may leave you at a loose end. Organised children’s activities and play dates can be harder to find on such days where locals typically turn to their families. But having an au pair living with you means you can have an extra caregiver with you in these moments. In effect, you build a bigger family network for yourself!
This can also work when the children have a school free day and you’re not in a position to take a day off yourself. Your au pair can babysit in these situations where other families might typically get help from a grandparent or other relative.
Choose the right au pair for your own family situation
As an expat family you're probably already familiar with the different cultural layers of raising children in a foreign country. Second language learning is one important aspect of this situation. With an au pair you have the possibility to choose a young person with a cultural background and language that support your family's specific circumstances.
You might consider hosting someone who speaks the same language as your family. And for bilingual families there are also obvious advantages in choosing an au pair who speaks more than one language.
If your children are struggling to adapt to life in their new country, the understanding and moral support an au pair can provide them as a fellow foreigner can be a great asset.
Again, you have the opportunity to host a young person who will join your family and enhance your children’s experience in their distinctive circumstance as child expats. Finally, this basic experience of cultural difference is something that you will share with your au pair, and there are many possibilities of mutual benefit in the situation.
As a host family, you should also be aware that in some countries (Germany and France, for example), there is a requirement that the country's national language is spoken in daily family life. More information is available about requirements in specific host countries in AuPairWorld's Info Host Countries section.
Discover your country together with your au pair
In addition to working with your family, your au pair will be interested in a cultural exchange and getting to know the country you’re living in. Here is an opportunity for you to explore together!
Inviting your au pair on family excursions has a double benefit of discovering something new together, while enjoying an extra pair of hands and eyes to supervise the children when you’re out and about. Plus, exploring new places is all the more enjoyable when you have company to share it with.
You might also find that as your au pair settles in, you can share tips and recommendations for different activities and outings. Getting to know your country from your au pair’s perspective can enrich your own experience as an expat.
- Want to know more about how an au pair can be a great fit for an expat family? Take a look at this Q&A with London-based expat Bethie and her au pair.
Making everything a little bit easier
Settling in to a new country as an expat family can be full of challenges. Bringing an au pair into that new mix might be exactly what you need to make it all work a little bit easier.
You can start to find out more about the host family experience and how it might work for you at the AuPairWorld homepage for host families.
About the author:
Catherine Miller is a native Australian and freelance writer who produces content for businesses, schools and other organisations. She currently lives in Belgium with her partner and two children. They have recently expanded their household to include an au pair from Switzerland.