When you host an au pair in your home, it can take a while to get used to having a new person in the sanctity of your family space. As strange as it may feel for you, it can also be a very unsettling experience for your au pair. Most au pairs have not yet moved away from home, or perhaps even left their home country before, so to fly half way across the world to live in a new country, a new home and with a new family can be very daunting for them as well. There are some really simple things you can do to try and help your au pair to feel welcome and at home with you and your family.
Let Them Keep In Touch With Family & Friends
Upon their arrival at your home, it’s a good idea to let your new au pair Skype or FaceTime with their family. They will more than likely want to have a quick video chat with their family to let them know they have arrived safely at their new home and are ok. Seeing a familiar face can help to ease your au pair’s nerves about being in a strange new place and help with their transition from their home to yours. Remember to set some simple ground rules about internet usage at home but never let your au pair feel like they can never call home, especially when they are feeling a bit homesick.
Make Their Room Homely
When you host an au pair, you need to be able to provide your au pair with their own bedroom. A shared bathroom is perfectly acceptable but a shared bedroom is a no-no. Au pairs need to have their own space to retreat to when they are at home but not working. By adding some homely touches to their room, you can really help your au pair to feel welcome and wanted. Something home made by the children is always a winner, such as a picture, hand-written letter or colourful banner. A travel guidebook about your home city would also be much appreciated or perhaps a welcome basket with some tasty local treats and some handy toiletries.
Draw Up A Weekly Family Schedule
Write down your typical family schedule for a week and pop it on the fridge or the family noticeboard so the au pair has an idea of what needs to be done and when. It should include details like timings for your children’s school drop off and pickups, any after school activities or evening babysitting (if it’s going to be a regular part of their agreed hours). Having a handy schedule will make it easier for them to get into a routine and know when things need to be done.
Let Them Know What Your Children Are Into
Being a newcomer to your family, your au pair will not know very much about your children when they first start. Giving them a helping hand with some tips about what your kids are into will go a long way to helping them settle in and it will also help your children to feel comfortable and happy with their new caregiver. Whether it’s their current obsession with learning all the Frozen lyrics, drawing endless pictures of Toothless (dragon fans will know what we are talking about!), baking cookies or just going down to the local park, it all helps. You could even get a notebook for your au pair and jot some of your ideas down in there. Pop a couple of maps of the local area in it as well – very handy for any journeys they may be undertaking regularly. Meal ideas are another great source of information if your au pair is going to be making lunch or dinner, especially if you have a fussy eater.
Take A Little Time Off
One of the best ways to help your au pair settle in is to take a few days off at the start of their placement with your family and do things with them. This way your au pair can learn all about you and your children without the pressure of having to know what they are doing from the start. It will take a few days for them to get to know your kids so by doing this together they can get a feel for your style of parenting and hopefully try and mirror it when you aren’t around.
If you are interested in hiring an au pair, get in touch with Smart Au Pairs, an Australian-based au pair agency, who can help you find your perfect au pair for your family. Browse our website where you can find out everything you need to know about hosting an au pair in your home.