When you decide to invite an au pair into your home, you can expect to benefit from more than just flexible, multi-cultural childcare. You’re choosing to welcome a new family member, share your family traditions, and learn about an entirely new culture!
Throughout the year, the best way to promote this bonding and cultural exchange is to include your au pair in activities with the whole family. Something as small as a dedicated family dinner can help your au pair feel like a real part of your household—and will be even easier to accomplish with an extra set of hands! Below, we’ve included 10 ways our host families have included their au pairs, along with some touching thoughts from our au pairs about each activity. Read through and start making your own memories!
At the end of each day, family dinners are a perfect time to reflect and talk over good food and good company. Try trading off between your normal family staples and your au pair’s native dishes!
“We love to cook! Most of the time my host parents cook and I enjoy the food, and almost every night we have different dishes. I like to show them Brazilian food and they loved Moqueca. My host dad cooks the best steak ever.” —Dara, au pair from Brazil
2. Holiday celebrations
Au pairs love to learn about American holidays, so make sure to include them in the festivities! You can also explore their native holidays as a family and bond over the different traditions.
“Thanksgiving was a very special time for me because my host family and I did everything together. Cooking, eating, playing games…when I sat down and my host family explained the meaning of Thanksgiving, I felt truly included. I was so grateful to be somewhere I could call home, with people I can call family.” —Jolina, au pair from Germany
3. Sports games
Sports games—both the professional and local variety—are a great (and often affordable) way to get the whole family together and show your au pair a truly American event!
“We went to a Red Sox game and I had so much fun seeing everyone rooting for the team, eating a hot dog and singing ‘Sweet Caroline’ after the 7th inning. Sharing an experience like that was amazing for my relationship with my kids since it gave us a fun memory to talk about and remember in the early stages of our time together!” —Magdalena, au pair from Austria
Family vacations are another great opportunity to bond with your au pair and rely on an extra set of hands if they are officially “on-duty”!
“It’s true when they say that Disney World is a magical place! Being able to experience my first time there with my host kids, which was also their first time, made it even more magical. I’m always going to remember moments like this, when I was the happiest living my dream with my second family.” —Mariana, au pair from Mexico
5. Family outings
Your au pair may not always choose to join in on smaller outings, but you can definitely extend an invitation to weekend activities like performances, restaurant trips, movies, or local events!
“Every single memory is a very special one but one of my greatest memories is going for a boat ride with the entire family. The kids were so happy, and it was just a very happy and peaceful moment. My host dad also showed me how to drive the boat since that’s an au pair tradition in my host family.” —Klara, au pair from Austria
6. Birthday celebrations
Birthday celebrations are a good excuse to come together and make lasting memories. On your au pair’s birthday, a cake and small gift will help them feel special and appreciated.
“My best memory with them was my birthday. They threw a fiesta! I invited some friends, we ate Mexican food, we listened to Mexican music, we had a piñata and a piñata cake! It was a special day. I felt very happy having my friends and my host family together, sharing and celebrating.” —Abigail, au pair from Mexico
7. Religious events
If your family is religious, it’s a great idea to include your au pair in some of your religious traditions! Most au pairs are open to exploring any culture, even if they may not practice in the same way.
“My host family is half Indian and half American, so we celebrated Diwali, the Indian festival of light together. My host mom lent me an Indian dress and we spent the day with the kids’ grandparents, cousins and other family members. Together we danced to Indian songs, cooked and ate Indian food.” —Sarah, au pair from Germany
8. Group Halloween costumes
Halloween is one of the American holidays that au pairs look forward to most, so many of our host families opt to organize a group costume.
“My host family is always introducing me to American traditions and customs. On Halloween day, we dressed in our costumes, decorated our pumpkins together and had a really good night eating, delivering candy to the kids in the neighborhood, and talking about the customs of that day!” —Bianca, au pair from Brazil
9. Children’s milestones
Including your au pair in your children’s special days—like their first day of school or a piano recital—can make for some unforgettable moments, and of course, pictures!
“As an au pair I got the chance to be a role model, a big sister, a listener and a safe harbor at the same time. It is such a pleasure to see my host kids grow in their personality every day—it makes me feel unbelievably proud. The first day of school was magical, because I never thought I could be so involved with them after such a short time. But I was and I still am.” —Sabrina, 20, Austria
10. Family photoshoots
Many of our host families choose to include their au pairs in family portraits! Even after their program time ends, these mementos preserve special memories till a reunion is possible!
“My host family had a picture day with everyone. I couldn’t imagine that I was going to be part of it, and I loved it! You can’t imagine how hard it is to take one picture of them together, but it was a very fun day! I loved being part of that moment with them and I really appreciate that they included me that day!” —Luli, au pair from Argentina