June 20, 2014

How to welcome a new au pair

3 minutes
Advice for host families

Welcoming an au pair and bringing a new person into your home is a big change for everyone involved. It is important to take the time to prepare both your home and your family for your new arrival. Our recent Cultural Care Au Pair parent poll asked our panel, “How do you prepare to welcome your au pair?”

Communicate before the new au pair arrives

Some parents feel that regular communication between the au pair and the kids once the match is finalized is important. “I have my new au pair Skype with my kids every week—once before we match so they can all meet each other, and then every week afterward. One of my kids connects so well with the current au pair that he won’t even talk to the new au pair, but he will send little icons and sentences via chat. This made a huge difference with my latest match. We had a long time to wait before he came, and it gave the kids a lot of time to get to know him. We talked often about the au pair and what he had in common with the kids, and how he was different. I also encourage my kids (who are all school-aged) to email the au pair directly with their questions and to share their adventures, and I ask the au pair to be sure to email back.”

Prepare to say goodbye to your current au pair

One veteran host father said it was important for the kids to understand what their current au pair will be doing after they return home. “We’ve had 8 au pairs so far, so in advance we talk to our children about our current au pair and where she is going and what she is going to do when she gets home and we talk about the new young woman who is coming.” In preparation for the new year, one family has their kids reflect on how the past year has gone. “We talk about the fact that we had great experiences with previous au pairs and we talk about ways we will enjoy working with the new au pair.”

Help the kids get to know the new au pair

What is the best way for children to get to know their au pair before they arrive? “We check out library books about the country the au pair is coming from about six weeks before she arrives. We also Skype with her several times with the kids before she arrives so they can start building a relationship.” One host mother said, “I tell them about what I know about her—her likes and dislikes, things she has done, etc. I am really excited when I talk to them about her so they get excited, too. We make a sign, get balloons, and all go together to get her at the airport.”

Get the au pair’s room ready

Families had a number of suggestions for preparing the au pair’s bedroom for their arrival. One family said, “We buy presents for the au pair’s room, stuff from our local community, candy, balloons, and the kids make welcome cards.” Another family added, “Each year we add something new and unique specific to that au pair.”

Make arrival day special

After greeting your au pair at the airport or bus stop, it’s time to introduce them to your home and community. “The day she arrives we let our kids give her a tour of our home, showing her all of their favorite things. We are also home for a week with the au pair before leaving her with the kids. During this week, we plan family activities, take trips around the area to let our kids teach her where things are in our town, have our kids show her how to play their favorite games, and show her all of the things they like to do.”

Welcoming an au pair can be an exciting time and, as you can see from the advice of our host families, a little effort and preparation can make the experience more fun and comfortable for all involved.