If you are considering a cultural childcare experience as part of the Au Pair Program and Go Au Pair, consider this – what will you do to make yourself a great Host Family to your new au pair? Keep in mind this young person, aged 18-26, has left his or her home and family in another country to live with and work for your family for a year or more! How can you make this a positive and rewarding experience for your au pair and your family?
Fellow blogger and mom, Summer Blackhurst, gives the best suggestion EVER in her most recent article – Go Read It! She makes the all-important distinction between just OK hosts and the really great ones. It actually sounds simple, but as life and reality shows, is not always so easy. Here is her big news – make them feel like a member of the family, loved and accepted. That’s it. Au pairs whose Host Families went to some effort to make the newcomer feel accepted, welcomed and loved into their new family.
Host Families don’t all do this in the same way, but the same feelings and outcome happen if they do it right. Make your au pair feel like they are not just an employee, there to do an important job for you. This is true, but even more so, they will be there after work, so then what? Making your au pair feel accepted and welcome is an ongoing job, but it starts even before he or she arrives.
One Host Mom in my cluster sent her au pair a gift, to the hotel where she was staying for the NYC Workshop. It contained a parka and gloves, since this young lady was coming to cold New England from warm Colombia (SG, you know you rock!). When she arrived to her new room at her Host Family home, she also found a small collage of pictures (which she had shared with Host Family during the interview process) of her family members back home. What a kind thing to do!
Another Host Mom told me she loves having her male au pair get to know other young men in the neighborhood, which happens to be filled with college-aged boys. She had the previous au pair introduce the new au pair to all his friends in the neighborhood before leaving, and all the numbers were still in the au pair’s cell phone, giving him an instant support group of his peers so that he would make friends and get out into the community.
Whatever you do to support your au pair, do it patiently and sincerely. Not every Host Family will do the same things. It may take place in a series of conversations where you simply express your feelings of gratitude and caring for the difficult task your au pair has undertaken. Just make them feel wanted, loved and accepted, even if and when (because they will) they make a mistake. Just like our own children, au pairs want our respect and approval. So just like you would with your own, be thoughtful and not fake, and give words of encouragement when needed, and just love sometimes.
Please contact me, Joan Lowell, your Providence, Rhode Island area representative for your live-in cultural childcare experience agency, Go Au Pair. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 401.309.1925; feel free to leave a message or simply register online for free today, and I will give you a call tomorrow! Visit us online to get started for free and with no obligation!