Often we're so caught up in our own lives that we forget to look at things from the perspective of others. But taking this small step of shifting our perspective can make a huge difference in deciding how successfully the time goes with an au pair in the family. Hopefully, the following tips can be useful for you in managing your family's next au pair stay:
1. Explain the customs of your country to your au pair so that she (or he) can fit into the new situation more easily
It's very likely that your au pair is used to different types of food and also different meal times than in your country. Therefore it's very helpful if you introduce the habits and customs of your country to your au pair right at the beginning of the stay, so that she can adjust to them more quickly. It might also be a nice possibility if your au pair also showed some recipes or customs from her culture to your family so that she could also feel more at home. Remember that your au pair is a long way from home and is certainly missing her own traditions and food and especially her family and friends.
2. Give your au pair some privacy in your home and set up a schedule for her
Your au pair needs to attend a language course; probably this will be scheduled in the morning. It is quite possible that there will be several hours each day during which your au pair is at home when you are not there. Set up times during which your au pair can take care of small household chores or help the children with their homework. It is very important (indeed absolutely necessary) that the au pair has a room of her own. This is a place where she can withdraw from the family and enjoy some privacy and quiet time.
3. Right at the beginning of the stay, let your au pair know which duties she will be responsible for
It's important to find a way to coordinate your family life with the life of your au pair. This is important so that your share life together functions well and the varying needs on both sides can be fulfilled. Here are some examples of tasks that au pairs can take on in the family:
- Filling and emptying the dishwasher
- Making the beds, tidying the children's rooms and picking up the toys
- Making breakfast for the children, helping with dinner preparation, bathing the children
- Bring the children to school and picking them up
And it should be clear to every host family – an au pair is not there as a maid or a cleaning person but as a real member of the family.
4. Agree on a fair amount of pocket money for the au pair
The pocket money that your au pair receives also depends on your particular needs. Perhaps you need extra help, more hours per day in a given week or fewer. If your au pair also does babysitting for you in the evenings, then she should receive extra pay for that or have a free day as compensation. Make sure that the amount of money that you pay fits to the city or the region where you live so that your au pair has enough money available. Perhaps you can also pay for a ticket for the local public transport or make a car available to your au pair.
5. Help your au pair find a language course
You have more knowledge about the distances in your city, the prices and the various language course offerings that one can find. Possibly friends or acquaintances can also help with recommending a good place for language training. Keep in mind that your au pair has come to your family with the aim of learning the language of your country, even if you have the wish that she (or he) helps your children to learn her own native language. You should seek a good balance in such a case. For example, you might arrange that the au pair speaks her native language with your children and the national language with you as the parents. In this way you have a real language exchange. The daily exchange of family life will help everyone to improve their language knowledge quickly.
6. Talk with each other
To make sure that things work well, you should talk frequently with your au pair. Your au pair is taking care of your children as well as she can, but as a young person who hasn't yet been a parent, the au pair doesn't have the same experience as you. If something isn't working so well, you should talk with each other and work together to find a solution. This will certainly improve the life you have together in the family.
7. Put your trust in your au pair
When your au pair joins your family team, give her (or him) your trust. After all, your au pair is taking care of what is most precious to you – your children. As soon as you notice that something needs to be handled differently or could be improved, communicate that directly to your au pair. Make it clear to the au pair how important her role is in the family and the responsibility she has for the children. On this basis, your advice and tips will certainly be taken seriously and put into effect in your family life together.
Thanks for reading!
My name is Steffi I work in a purchasing department and in February 2019 I will go to the university to study "Communication and the culture industry". I was an Au pair when I was young and I enjoyed it a lot. I am a mother of 2 boys and I loved having an au pair last summer. My husband is from Germany, he speaks German at home with our kids, I speak Spanish, Catalan, English and some German too. I have an Instagram account and a blog.