FAQ: Preparing for the au pair stay
Good preparation is the basis for a successful au pair stay – for both au pairs and host families. Here are questions and answers all about getting ready for the au pair experience.
What should I ask in an au pair interview as an au pair or family?
You can ask whatever seems important to you. But of course, the more you know in advance about a prospective au pair or family, the better your decision will be in making a final choice. We've prepared a list of questions that are useful to find out more about candidates:
We recommend to split these questions in several interviews.
How do I plan my trip?
You have found your perfect host family in your favourite host country? So now, you can start planning your trip. Here are some useful tips so that you can be best prepared for this exciting adventure!
First, get to know your host family by chatting on the phone or on Skype and do not forget to sign an au pair contract with them. Have you also checked whether you meet all the official requirements of the host country you have chosen? Then, it's time to carefully plan your trip. We have summarised the main aspects you should consider to the following points. The following tips will help you be well prepared:
1. Get through the red tape
- Now that you have signed a contract, go through all the administrative steps you need to take before starting as an au pair. You might need a visa or a working permit to be allowed to stay and work in the host country. But don't worry, AuPairWorld provides a good overview of the necessary requirements for the different host countries.
- You should also make sure that you have all the insurances needed for your stay abroad. Usually, the host family should help you with this point. Discuss this aspect with your host family beforehand so as to be on the safe side!
2. Book your ticket and get to know your host country
- It's time to book your flight! We would recommend you buy a so-called open ticket. It might be a bit more expensive but it's worthwhile – it allows you to choose your return date and could therefore be useful should you have to return home in case of a family emergency or if you do not get along with your host family. It is usually the au pairs who have to bear the costs of their travel.
- How good are your foreign language skills? Do you feel comfortable with the language spoken in your future host country? Bear in mind that you will need to be able to understand the children of your host family. You might want to improve your language skills by attending a language course before your departure and should also start looking for a suitable language course in your future host country.
- How much do you know about your host country and its culture? Be curious and discuss the cultural differences with your host family. They will probably be pleased to tell you more about their habits and traditions. There will certainly be much for you to discover and many exciting places to visit!
3. Now it's time to pack!
- Bring some cash money with you to cover your first daily expenses and any unexpected situations.
- Don't forget your mobile phone. Check out the best way of handling mobile phone access in your host country. You can also ask your host family if they have a mobile phone that you could use during the time of your stay. With this phone you can perhaps buy a prepaid card so that the costs are not so high.
- Don't forget to pack all your important documents such as your identity card, passport and driving licence.
- Write down the telphone numbers and email addresses of your family and firends. This way you can stay in contact with them and call if you have problems on your trip.
- Write down the number of your embassy and also information on possible accommodation in hotels and hostels in your host country. That way you'll be well prepared if something goes wrong on the journey and you need a place to spend the night.
- Don't forget to ask your host family for their contact details and to give them yours! And why not take the AuPairWorld contact details with you as well? We'll be glad to help you should you need some advice during your stay!
- Don't forget to pack your medication, (if needed), and to ask your host family whether you will have the possibility to buy the same in their country if you can't bring enough for the duration of your stay.
- And last but not least, why not bring along a small present for your host family? A speciality from your host country or a bag of sweets for the kids? Not only will it help to break the ice but the children will probably also warm to you straight away ;)
How to prepare for your first au pair
Your first au pair will soon arrive at your home and you probably wish to be well-prepared. The following information provides some tips.
Being well prepared is the most important thing to ensure your au pair settles in to your home quickly. Here are some tips for what you can do before your au pair arrives:
- Furnish the room for your au pair as comfortably as possible in order to make sure your au pair feels good from the beginning. You might like to decorate it with a welcome card or a welcome drawing made by your children.
- Tell your au pair not to forget to bring along all important documents, such as passport, identity card, au pair contract, invitation letter and driving licence.
- Check one more time the entry regulations of your country in case you have forgotten some important procedure.
- Prepare your children for the au pair adventure. Explain to them that an older sister or brother will come and will look after them and play with them.
- Take some days off to help your au pair settle in. During the first days, avoid asking too much of your au pair. Show him or her around instead. Best practice would be 1-2 weeks of holiday which would enable the au pair to become accustomed to the new surroundings. Your children also need time to get accustomed to the new family member.
- Be prepared to take out au pair insurance. Ask your au pair whether his or her health insurance is valid in your country. There are special au pair insurance policies that are structured to the needs of au pairs.
- Check our safety tips for the preparation and au pair stay itself to be on the safe road all the time.
Have The AuPairWorld Family Handbook ready for your au pair:
Premium Members receive the AuPairWorld Family Handbook as a PDF document per email. This document lets families collect all the important information that a new au pair needs to get off to a good start as part of the family team. Families can then print it out so – a useful tool and a great part of your welcome package to your au pair!
Help your au pair organise the au pair stay:
- Your au pair should also know your daily routine and special needs or characteristics of your children. In the Handbook you can tell your au pair what he or she should bear in mind when looking after your children: When do your children get up? When do they go to bed? When do they take their meals? Do your children have any allergies? If your au pair is not accustomed to household appliances, you should write simple instructions for use.
- Following the prompts in the Handbook, fill in the relevant information for your own situation in sections such as "Welcome", "Safety", "Behaviour and Discipline", "Food and Meal Preparation", etc.
Family routine and basic schedule:
- Draw up a detailed schedule for your au pair. It should include all appointments, duties and the scheduled free time. In this way, your au pair always knows when to take the children to their piano classes and when he or she has time off. Do not forget to enter evenings when the au pair is supposed to babysit.
- Prior to your au pair's arrival, enquire about suitable language courses near your home. Get information on quality, schedules, language level and costs. In this way, you can help your au pair find the right language course.
- Obtain a map of your city as well as time tables for public transport, such as buses and trains. Consider how your au pair will get to the language course: by bus or car? Show him or her the way to the nearest stop, or pre-programme your navigation system. However, be sure to accompany your au pair in the beginning.
What you should keep in mind!
- Do you know all relevant details about your au pair that might be of importance during the au pair stay: Does the au pair have any allergies? Is he or she vegetarian? By reading our most important questions you should ask your au pair you can check out whether you have asked all the important questions.
- Would you like to provide your au pair with a mobile phone including a credit? Will your au pair bring along his or her laptop? Will he or she have their own Internet connection? Consider how you will deal with telephone and Internet access in general. For instance, in case you do not have a flat rate for the Internet, your au pair should be made aware of this. In most countries it is normal for young people to have the opportunity to surf the web around the clock.
Mobile phone use in your future host country: What's important?
Before you travel, find out from your mobile network provider whether your current plan will work in your future host country. Perhaps there is another plan available that makes sense for you while you're abroad. If you come from an EU country and are travelling to another EU country for your au pair stay, then no extra roaming charges will be made for voice calls and messages. There may, however, be extra charges for data when you are outside your home country.
Talk to your host family about their recommendations for mobile phone use in their country. They should be able to give you some good advice. And maybe they will also make a smartphone available to you for the time of your stay to make sure that they can always reach you.