Becoming a host family in Italy
Communication is the key to a good relationship between au pairs and host families

Samanta, like many other Italian host mums, flits between working and family life. She tells us of her experience with American au pair Quston; and by making the doubts and difficulties that she faced well known, her story shows us how communication is key.

Experienced host family takes on au pair Quston from America

We have had au pairs for many years. It's an interesting and useful experience which allows our children to learn a foreign language and some good tips about another country's lifestyle. In August 2013 a new girl, Quston, arrived from the USA. My maternity leave came to an end and I was supposed to go back to work whilst Quston helped out with our 8 year old boy, and our two twin girls, aged 18 months when she first arrived.

The difficulties and doubts host mum Samanta faces

Strangely this time our new au pair took a while to understand the family's rythm. We began to doubt she could do it, and that she was the right one, which was unusual for us, as our interview procedure, that we have used for years, always worked out very well. I admit I was worried, but I couldn't invest any more time looking for someone else. I had mixed feelings about her, my heart was telling me that communication was the problem, but she was doing great with the twins.

Getting over language barriers and finding solutions to tricky situations

Talking to someone that doesn't speak your mother tongue is difficult for both parties. In such scenarios it is important to speak clearly to make yourself understood. So I decided to write her an email, telling her that we were happy with her efforts but that we needed to make some adjustments. It was hard for me to write openly and difficult for her to find out that things weren't going as well as she thought.

One of the best au pairs we've ever had

Many months have passed since then and I can truely say that she is one of the best au pairs we have ever had. She is close to our children, absolutely respectful of our home and our lifestyle, and independent enough to have her own social life, spending time with people her age. What did we learn from this experience? Talking openly with one another is the key to having a good relationship with your au pair. Although problems may arise, they often change the family dynamic, allowing the au pair to become a part of family life and take on the role of a big sister, which Quston will always be for our children!

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