I have been a summer au pair in Ireland on two occassions and know I can feel homesick after the first 6 weeks. Over the time, I have developed strategies to help me cope with this feeling. These can probably help other users, as well.
My tips for au pairs:
- When you feel homesick, go out and see other au pairs.
- In case you have not established a contact outside your family yet: bear in mind that a contact outside the family helps you let out your frustration. Other au pairs certainly have similar problems.
- Do not call home when you get a homesickness attack! That only made things worse for me.
- A regular daily routine with a fixed schedule helps you better plan and relax in your free time.
- You wish to break out of your daily routine with the kids? Doing something special with the children for the sake of variety will help. Why not go on a picnic or to the zoo together? This is not only fun for the kids, but also a good distraction. It will remain a great memory, as well.
- Make your room your own small oasis. For example, a previous au pair of my host family had a map of Ireland on the wall. On this map, she charted all the tours she had already made in her host country.
Host families can also help their au pairs overcome homesickness. Here are some tips:
- Prepare a rough schedule defining when your au pair should start working and until when. Create an overview about any additional duties for the coming week. Making the plan as precise as possible helps your au pair a lot. Why? Knowing that he/she will be meeting with a friend in the evening helps him/her tolerate whining kids.
- Help your au pair establish contact with other au pairs. It is good for him/her to know that the others feel the same as himself/herself. Suddenly, they will find themselves laughing at the quirks of their host families, who were getting on their nerves just an hour ago!
- Offer your au pair the possibility to have 2 or 3 days off at a stretch in order to travel around and see something new.
- Ideally, you would even encourage your au pair to do so. Maybe his/her friends have some time off, as well.
Interested to know more about Monika's placement? You can find the complete version under our section Au Pair Stories.