I am an advocate of the US Department of State’s Au Pair Program, an exchange program for American families to host international au pairs to live with them and provide flexible childcare while both parties benefit from a cultural exchange experience. Go Au Pair is the designated agency you want to contact in the RI, CT and MA area, as well as all over the United States. When I am talking to potential Host Families, they always want to know what to expect. They all ask, “What’s it REALLY like?”
Host Mom Cyndi Frick has actually hosted and can tell you. Read about what her au pair really expected and what the experience was really like for her. Cyndi makes me laugh so hard – even though the new au pair smell has worn off and her au pair is beyond the honeymoon period, she plans to host again! Host Families sometimes have a “honeymoon” phase, where they are so excited he or she is actually there, ready, willing and able to cover the needed 45 hours per week of childcare, and then reality hits. This new childcare provider is a total stranger to your children and, like anyone else, kids and au pairs need time to get to know each other, warm up and open up. Host Families need to be willing to put a little time and energy into getting to know this new family member, make him or her feel welcome and at home, but also set the house rules and boundaries too.
You might be saying to yourself, this sounds like a lot of work – why? Host Families get much more than 45 hours of cultural childcare, but have to also be willing to be patient teachers to their new au pair. As Cyndi’s first au pair found out, this is the hardest job anyone will ever have; be patient with your au pair when he or she realizes the difficulty of the job, has second thoughts or maybe isn’t perfect at it. Your au pair has childcare skills and experience, but be sure to find out, during the interview process, your au pair’s previous work experience, including childcare and other jobs. Be sure to explain the duties you will expect and what that looks like in your home and community. Here in RI, au pairs who live outside the major cities all have told me they feel isolated at times, given our suburban and even rural communities. Host Families can help by involving their au pair in family and community activities and encouraging their au pair to get out there and socialize.
Au pairs bring so much to their new families and communities, like Cyndi, you may decide to host over and over again, choosing different countries and languages for your children to learn more about. Au pairs, and as Cyndi’s au pair reminds us, are “sold” this program as a cultural exchange party with new American friends and yes, childcare. In reality, your au pair may be responsible for many tasks other than actual childcare, such as driving to/from school, lessons, etc., supervising homework and chores, language (or other) tutoring, preparing healthy meals and snacks for the kids, and even cleaning kids’ rooms, play areas and doing kids’ laundry! Just like stay-at-home moms, au pairs need free time and friends too! Go Au Pair provides the structure for you, the Host Family, with our many tools. We even provide some leisure activities for your au pair, in the form of local cultural events (of which your au pair must attend 4 during his or her year).
This year, we have already gone ice skating in February and spent time at the zoo and kite-flying in April! This month, we plan on attending a PawSox game and next month, maybe WaterFire. Stay tuned to find out more details about these or several other fun, local adventures Go Au Pair Providence has planned for the summer and beyond. Contact me, Joan Lowell, your Providence area LAR (Local Area Representative) and Au Pair Program advocate, at 401.309.925 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Register for FREE to get started today at www.goaupair.com/Providence.