Herewith a case study detailing our experience as a host family: When I had my second child and moved in to a bigger home, I started to investigate getting an au pair to help with looking after my children. As a child, my parents had many au pairs over many years and we'd always had such a great experience meeting different people and getting exposure to so different languages and cultures.
With this in mind I liked the idea of my children being looked after in our home environment. I will admit it was daunting taking the leap of faith, my children were very young, my eldest 2 and my youngest just 5 months. It was important we found the right person with experience of young children.
The leap of faith paid off, we found Sabrina who was kind, enthusiastic and wanted to study education. Her time with our family would give her the English language skills she needed and the experience of working with children. Sabrina very quickly became like a member of the family and the children adored her. After seven short months she returned home to start university but not before I'd enlisted her advice finding the right person to take her place.
Our time together meant we'd built a mutual trust and respect as well as genuine love and concern for the welfare of the children. Sabrina helped me chose Paula who has equally become a friend and vital part of my family.
I would wholeheartedly recommend au pairs to anyone, as an experience and as a host. Sabrina was from Switzerland and Paula from Germany. They both have had very full but different experiences during their stays but both also been able to meet and socialise with other locals and au pairs in the same situation. They've also spoken in their native tongue to my children who a such an important stage have been exposed to a different way of speaking which will affect them forever.
You get out of the experience what you put in and I would recommend being as open and honest as you can be right from the beginning, both in the details what you want/expect of the experience but also what your town/area has to offer. That way the host family know what to expect but also the aupair knows where he/she stands.
Our first au pair regularly keeps in touch and has even come to visit and stay with our family. With two positive experiences under our belt I envisage that we will have au pairs for many years to come.