Communicating with your au pair should be kept open and honest. It is essential to discuss how she will answer the phone and messages, her computer/online use during on-duty hours, and any other rules you might impose.
It’s also important to know how disciplinary measures work in her country as they may differ from the US.
Know Your Limits
When hiring an au pair, you can’t go into the process blind. You’ll need to choose an agency, pay a fee and provide family photos, personal references, and various forms to proceed with the application process.
After narrowing down your candidates, setting up a Skype or FaceTime video interview is essential. This can help you better understand how they interact with kids and whether or not you’ll click as a family.
You may also need to ask about childcare experience. Some agencies have minimum requirements for au pairs caring for kids under two. In contrast, others are more flexible, such as asking for no experience with toddlers and placing them with families with older children.
Other factors to consider include the home’s location (rural areas or suburbs tend to be more isolating) and if there will be travel opportunities for the au pair (either as part of the EduCare program or with the family during vacation). Additionally, you’ll want to know if the au pair is expected to join you on weekends or if she has a whole weekend off once a month.
Know the Culture
When becoming an au pair, they are essentially a family member. This means they must be aware of and respect the family’s customs and values. Likewise, a family must respect the au pair’s culture and language. The au pair program fosters a mutually beneficial cultural exchange.
Au pairs often need clarification about American culture. For example, au couples may be surprised that Americans use the first name of adults and that children are not taught courtesy and politeness. They also tend to be surprised that children entertain themselves for much longer than other children.
Many au pairs and host families form special bonds long after their programs end. These relationships can be challenging, but they are always worth it.
To be a successful au pair, it is essential to understand and respect cultural differences, be clear and consistent with communication, and stay open-minded about different behaviors.
Attend an info meeting near you to learn more about becoming an au pair. A former au pair will share their experience and answer any questions you might have.
Know the Kids
When it comes to child care, the options are endless. Families can seek out daycare centers, babysitters, and nannies for their children, but for some families, an au pair may be a better fit. Au pairs are generally young and energetic, making them a natural fit for children of any age.
Au pairs also tend to be more responsible than average nannies, ensuring your kids are in good hands when you are not home. In addition to a full range of childcare duties, au pairs can help with household chores like laundry, cleaning, and grocery shopping.
They can even run errands on behalf of the family, such as picking up dry cleaning or taking your kiddos to their doctor’s appointments.
Au pairs are also likely to be more familiar with cultural differences than many nannies, thanks to their previous experience living and working abroad. This means they will likely be more receptive to learning about your family’s customs and traditions. This will make for a more enjoyable and enriching Au Pair experience for everyone involved.
Know Your Host Family
When finding a host family, au pairs need to know their “non-negotiables.” If you are not comfortable driving or doing major housework, make sure that is made clear in your application. Also, if you don’t want physical contact with the children (such as hugs or handshakes), let that be known.
Once you’ve found a family, keeping in touch before your departure is essential. Use video chat to understand the family’s personality, communication style, and expectations. Ask the family how they raise their kids and how they like to be treated – this will help you understand their cultural values and expectations.
Another great way to learn about a family is to talk with their previous au pair. This is a great way to get an honest, first-hand view of what it’s really like working for them. Be careful not to take everything they say as gospel, though. A former au pair could have had a bad experience or a different personality.
One of the most significant issues that au pairs face is cultural differences. It’s not uncommon for one family to have different customs and expectations than another, and sometimes these differences can lead to disagreements.
For example, some families may have different ideas about how to raise children. This can make an au pair feel smothered or pressured to take on too many tasks. It’s essential to communicate clearly, so there are no misunderstandings.
It’s also a good idea to ensure your host family is someone you get along with. The best way to do this is to treat them like family, and this can include a warm welcome when they arrive, allowing them to join in on meals and family outings, and giving them the space they need for privacy.
This will also help you bond with them, which is essential to having a positive au pair experience! The more open and trusting your relationship is, the less likely conflicts will arise. Remember that, as with any relationship; both parties must be willing to compromise on some issues.