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Host Family Guide to a Successful Year
More than just an affordable and convenient child care option, hosting an au pair is the best way to enhance the cultural understanding of your children in the comfort of your home. Au pairs will look forward to learning the American way of life and immerge into your routine, however, this is not an easy process. We gathered in this host family guide a few tips to keep in mind when selecting your au pair and opening your home to her.
The key to a successful year starts long before your au pair arrives in America. Starting with the interviewing process, there are several points to keep in mind in order to make the right decision. Choosing an au pair means choosing the care giver for your children, but it also means choosing a young adult who will share your home and life for at least a full year. You will of course pay attention to the au pairs’ child care experiences and read her references, but matching personal interests and lifestyle should not be under-estimated. When interviewing au pairs and narrowing your search down, you may want to make sure all family members (including your children) meet the au pair on Skype before moving forward with your top applicant; you will see if the au pair asks questions about your routine, your schedule, your interests, etc. and how the rest of your family interacts with the au pair.
Host families often stay in contact with their future au pair until she arrives in America. Although they are many benefits to getting to know your au pair and bonding prior to her arrival, be careful not to start second-guessing your decision and be confident in the judgement you made that SHE was the best match for your and your family.
We encourage you to find small gestures that will help your au pair feel welcome and at home. For example, you can personalize her room with drawing your children made for her, you can get a small welcome gift for her or have the children draw a welcome sign to bring with you to the airport. Once your au pair arrives, it is important to lay out her schedule and the house rules clearly – yet make sure to have realistic expectations. Au pairs come from many different countries and leaving family & friends behind can make it a little tough to adjust to their life in America. Your au pair may not get everything right from the get-go – just like parents fine-tune their habits and routine with time – but with your help and support she will get there faster! Over the course of the year, chances are minor issues may arise. If that is the case, adopt an open communication and constructive criticism approach with your au pair. Be sure to address any concerns right away so it does not build up in a bigger issue. If you aren’t sure how to speak to your au pair about something, please seek the help of your Community Counselor or Area Coordinator. They can give you advice to make sure any issues are resolved as quickly and smoothly as possible.
With over 30 years of experience as an official United States government designated cultural exchange sponsor, we assisted thousands of families and au pairs enjoy some of the most memorable times of their lives! Don’t hesitate to contact us with any further questions!