Living Together With An Au Pair: 5 Tips
This post is also available in: Deutsch (German)
Communication is important in general, but when talking about au pairs, it is even more. An au pair is a person who will spend several months in your house, so a key factor in order to have a successful communal living is communication with the au pair. In this post we are going to give you 5 tips that will improve the relation between the au pair and the family.
1. Be Welcoming
In the first weeks or even months the au pair will be in a phase where he or she must get used to a completely new way of living, so it is only normal that the au pair appears to be somewhat introvert or shy in the beginning. What you have to do is to keep up a welcoming attitude, trying to help the au pair with everything, and being patient until the au pair feels comfortable in the house.2.Teaching household tasks
2. Teaching Household Tasks
It might be surprising but many au pairs don’t know how to deal with certain household tasks. Despite the fact that they mainly have to take care of child-related tasks, it might be a good idea to write down the instructions regarding the usage of certain devices such as the washing machine, the dryer etc. Also, you can teach the au pair how you normally handle other tasks like preparing the kids’ lunch, so the au pair will know how it should be done. Remember that kids need routine, so if you teach the au pair your routine it will benefit the kids.
3. Create a Timetable
It is important that the au pair knows your daily routine like at what time the children have to wake up, at what time school starts, which activities they have after school etc. A timetable hanging on the fridge is a good idea in order to make sure that nothing will be forgotten! Moreover, you can create an additional timetable where you can write down, for example, how many extra hours the au pair worked on the weekend if she had to look after the kids on her/his free day. Organizing such issues beforehand prevents misunderstandings and chaotic situations.
4. Explain your Culture
Even the smallest cultural differences can become a problem in certain contexts. For example, in China leaving the chopsticks stuck in the bowl of rice is considered very rude. Therefore, it is a good idea to explain and show the au pair aspects of your culture like eating manners or how to greet someone you just met so the au pair can adapt better to the local customs. Try to understand the au pair’s culture too. It is not about imposing your culture on the au pair. Mutual understanding and cultural exchange is the key.
5. Feedback Meetings
As we said at the beginning of this post: communication is important. A weekly or monthly meeting can be the perfect way to see how the au pair is doing and if the relation between you and the au pair is working. Do not try to attack the au pair by only focusing on the less positive things and criticize everything you don’t agree with. Be understanding and talk about the good things the au pair is doing, too. Everybody needs a friendly tap on the shoulder every once in a while. This way your relation will be better, improving your living together and thus enhancing the overall au pair experience.