As in most aspects of life, one’s experience brings wisdom. This is true in careers, relationships and yes, au pair childcare. The cultural exchange experience with Go Au Pair is unique because your au pair comes for both cultural exchange as well as to provide your family up to 45 hours of flexible and reliable childcare each week! Cyndi Frick, fellow mom and blogger, has been brave enough to share her experience of the first month being a Host Mom: Read about Cyndi’s first month as a Host Mom!
I would like to reiterate a few points made by Cyndi. Please take care to get the housekeeping started right away. That is, sign up for Social Security ASAP. This will get the ball rolling for many other things, like a bank account and signing up for classes. That is another task I advise getting started sooner than later. Make a plan for meeting each of the program requirements so nothing creeps up on you.
Of all the advice Cyndi shared, I most agree that communication is the oil that keeps her family unit running smoothly. I appreciate her honesty about affordability and conflicts in the beginning. She has found that hosting an au pair has allowed her to reach a level of balance she could not find before. Life is never perfect, but why not get the most out of it if you are able?
I am lucky enough to have several Host Moms in my group who were willing to share some of their wisdom. I have some great au pairs who will share their wisdom and personal learning in another entry! One Host Mom with two very active kids advises other families to involve the kids in the final choice of au pair. It may be the difference between a great match and a re-match. When the kids feel invested, and also have a strong concept of au-pair-is-boss-when-mom-leaves, a better match is bound to happen.
Another Host Mom with several children who have varied levels of special emotional needs has advice for before and after the match. She feels it is extremely important to be honest and let your au pair know what to expect from your children, and provide them the proper tools or skills to deal with specific behaviors. We all know our kids are great, but they can be truly terrible at times, and au pairs need to see what to do and how a situation can be successfully resolved. After all, they will be left alone with your child and the tantrum is bound to happen. This same Host Mom who believes giving your au pair the tools to handle the behavior is as important as time off from the kids. She makes sure her au pair has the proper time off, as well as a vehicle to get out and explore the community.
Another Host Family with two very active young people believes, as our second Host Mom, that honesty is the best policy. They also believe in providing real opportunities for cultural exchange; family members take turns making a meal once weekly, which allows their au pair to create dishes from back home, spend time daily in the kitchen as a family, and experience many different foods with her new American family. This opens the door for conversational practice for both the children learning a language and the au pair improving English, in addition to bonding as a family.