This post is also available in: Deutsch (German)
A new country, a new language, friends and family are far away and new friends have to be found first. All this can lead to a homesick au pair. Especially host families are asked in that situation to listen to the au pair and to try to help.
The au pair has arrived and the first weeks are filled with joy and motivation. So many new impressions, a new area to explore and new tasks are waiting for them and it’s time for something new in the au pair’s life.
But after a few weeks all this excitement can become less and the au pair starts thinking about friends and family at home more and more everyday. “What are they doing?”, “Am I missing anything?”, “What if they forget about me?” – so many questions come to the au pair’s mind and leave them sad and in a bad mood. The moment of homesickness has come and the au pair needs someone to encourage and motivate them and to tell them to keep their head up, because the time abroad is going to be amazing.
If the au pair is spending a lot of time in their room, sleeping or on the phone it’s very much possible that she/he is missing her/his family.
Host Family as the person of trust
After a few weeks it’s not likely that the au pair has already found good friends, so the host parents will be the ones the au pairs would talk to in case there is a problem. It’s unlikely to prevent the au pair from becoming homesick, but there might be advice and strategies that the host parents could give her/him.
For them the situation might be difficult, because they don’t know how to motivate the au pair. Let’s shed a bit of light for situations like that one.
Firstly it is important to listen to the au pair. Maybe some situations at the host family’s home have also led to the au pair’s homesickness. So both parties can use a calm conversation now to also solve some problems the au pairs hasn’t talked about yet.
It might also help to talk to the au pair about family and friends and life in general at home. To talk about home could help the au pair to appreciate everything that is back there and also see the positive things that are happening in her/his host country now.
Secondly, distraction is always a good thing. If the au pair is done with the tasks and wants to disappear in their room, invite him/her to a family activity or a movie together, so the new family member will actually feel like one. Plan something together. Find something that will keep the au pair busy. Not cleaning windows but rather an art project or a new hobby.
Thirdly, since the au pair is already sad it would be better to avoid moody music and sad movies. That won’t help with the current mood.
Homesickness is normal and never easy. But with the right company and some distraction it will become easier and the au pair will start to see the positive things of the stay again.