You may find that your au pair experiences some degree of homesickness during her year with you. Adapting to a new culture, living with a new family, and adjusting to different daily routines can make an au pair focus on what she misses about her home and her family.
Cultural Care Au Pair has some suggestions of things that you can do to help your au pair if she does become homesick. First, let her know that what she is feeling is common. Tell her that almost everyone misses something about home no matter how old they are. Homesickness is normal. It means that there are lots of things at home that you care about. The good news is that there are things that you can do to make yourself feel better if homesickness bothers you.
Work with her to become familiar with her new environment — take her around town, give her brochures and websites about the area, make sure she knows how to get places where she can meet au pairs and other young people. Becoming more familiar with your community is going to make her more comfortable. Also, really encourage her to make new friends. This will help a lot. Your local childcare consultant will give her a list of other au pairs in the area and she can reach out to them. She can also make friends through the classes she is going to take or get involved in something fun in the community like volunteering or activities with your kids.
Talk to her about how she can pursue some of her hobbies and interests here – sports, fitness, crafts, church music. Help her find ways to get involved with these kinds of things locally. Or even suggest that she try something completely new that she has never had the opportunity to do before. Some of our au pairs have tried camping or skiing for the first time with us. Veronica, our au pair from the Czech Republic, volunteered at a local animal shelter because she really missed her dog and we didn’t have one at the time. Just that one little thing really helped her.
She should continue to talk to family and friends back home but not to the extent that it limits her from getting involved with new people and new experiences here. If you feel like she’s spending a lot of time on line or on the phone, suggest some of the things that I’ve talked about – making friends, and getting involved. Ask her what her mom or dad or friends would say to help her and encourage her to follow their advice. Also, be sure to let your local childcare consultant know that your au pair is feeling homesick so she can reach out to her and facilitate some connections to other au pairs.
Most of the time homesickness is temporary and au pairs find life with your family and in the United States to be all that they hoped for.