Welcoming a young person from overseas into your home is an exciting time, and it is important to give some thought and spend some time getting ready to welcome your first au pair into your home and family!
In particular, you should think about how you can prepare your home, yourselves as parents, and your children for this exciting addition to help make your transition to becoming a host family as smooth as possible.
Preparing your home
Before your au pair arrives, set up her/his room to make it look welcoming and as home-like as possible. Au pair rooms should have at least a bed, a dresser and a closet, as well as a locking door. You may also want to provide a phone, TV, mirror, desk, or other furniture depending on what your space allows and also how much time you expect or want your au pair to spend in her/his room versus in common spaces in your home. Other touches that can help make an au pair feel welcome are writing a welcome letter to leave on her bed, getting some fresh flowers for her room, or having your kids decorate her door with a welcome sign or collage.
Preparing the children
Kids need time to get used to the idea of having someone else in their lives and living in their home too. It’s important to start talking about the new au pair early and often, so your kids can ask questions and voice any concerns. Let your children know that your au pair will need their cooperation when taking care of them and in getting used to language and cultural differences. Familiarize your children with your au pair by using her/his name around them and involving them in the preparation of the au pair’s bedroom. Tell your children a little about your au pair’s home country and maybe even learn a few words in her/his native language. Specific areas you should discuss with your children (when age appropriate) include: cultural and language differences and how to work through communication issues, schedule and routine changes, and the role and authority that the new au pair will have.
Preparing as parent(s)
Before your au pair arrives, it’s a good idea to sit down with your spouse or partner, if you have one, and discuss each of your expectations and roles regarding communication with your au pair. You may also want to discuss your vision of when the au pair will be invited to be included in family time, and what role you want her to play in meal times. Finally, it’s a good idea to review your Host Family Handbook and go over your agenda for your first family meeting together so you don’t forget any topics that might be important to one or both of you. You will need to decide who will be available for the first three days to help your au pair settle in. Your au pair may need help with paperwork, such as obtaining a drivers’ license, setting up a bank account, applying for her social security number, and learning her way around the neighborhood. If possible, it’s nice for parents to both be involved in the process of getting the au pair settled so you both get to know her right away.
Additional resources to help you get ready for your au pair are available in your Cultural Care Online Account (if you are a registered Cultural Care host family). In particular, we recommend that you read over the Host Family Handbook and visit Infosource for more tips on preparing to welcome your au pair. Of course, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Joseph and Kathrin, your Cultural Care Local Childcare Consultants, with any questions you might have!
The more prepared you are, the easier the transition will be and the better you, your children, and your au pair will feel as you start this wonderful new relationship!
Monday, 16 June 2014 7:29 PM