You have a beautiful home. You are very welcoming people. You believe you are raising respectful children. You think you could really be successful hosting an au pair. But your life is insane. Your schedules change frequently. You have three or four children. You can’t get an au pair to even schedule a Skype call. The matching process is beginning to feel hopeless.
This is a concern I hear more and more with each passing year. Yet, I continually see my larger families have successful relationships with their au pairs. I decided to reach out to the au pairs and see what led them to be open to speaking with their host families from the beginning. There was a reoccurring theme in each of their responses.
In one way or another, each au pair who had had a successful time with their host families said it all started with honesty and transparency from the very first interaction. The host families applications were very transparent with their needs and lifestyles. The first emails and skype interactions revolved around what the families needed and what their daily life was like. The parents took the time to help the au pairs see what their reality was and what level of help they needed. They took the time to let the au pairs see what the kids were like and skype with them, as well. This helped the au pairs feel like the family was honest and there was a great deal of comfort in that.
Sabri shared her experience saying that, “(They) had by that time a 2 year old and the pair of twins on their way. From the very beginning when I read their application I realized it was going to be a crazy experience, specially because of the ages of the kids. But I agree with the rest of the girls and It happened to me also: they were honest and they told me from the very beginning that they were going to need a lot of help with those 3 kids. They used to work both of them full time but they always tried to arrange their schedule to give me more breaks from the kids or to go home early so I could be done. HONESTY is the key I think. Or if the kids are not really well behaved the families should tell the au pair also cause it’s really frustrating for the au pair to realize that the kids are not what the parents said. And that happened to some of my friends also. To make the au pair feel comfortable and part of the family team is really important too. I had an awesome experience.”
Many of the au pairs went on to say that how the host family interacted with them was just as important. When the host family made a point to get to know the au pair, as a person, it made her feel like she would be comfortable living with them. Talking as friends relieved some of the pressure for the au pairs during the interview. They are nervous and anxious about leaving home. It’s a huge undertaking to move around the world and walk into a new home and become part of a family you’ve just met.
Maria is finishing up her extension term with her host family. When she reflected back on the interview process, this is what she had to say. “For me it was very important that they showed me from the beginning how they really were and how crazy their family was. They introduced me the kids from the first time I saw them by Skype. I loved that my host talked to me in the interview like friends so I did not feel uncomfortable or the pressure of a job interview. They were interested in getting to know me better and I liked that. Also when they emailed me they were so nice and very descriptive, it seemed that they took time to write everything. I knew that taking care of 3 little kids was going to be hard but my host parents made me feel very welcome and included.”
Get out there and be transparent with those au pairs. Let them know the real you. Let them see that you are human and want them to join your family. Make them feel valued and important. Yes, some might turn you down. But, the perfect match is out there somewhere. Patricia summed it up best. “From the very beginning it felt like we’re going to get through whatever happens as a team.” Best of luck finding your next team mate!
Thursday, 4 May 2017 6:05 PM