June 13, 2014

The key to success with live-in au pairs

3 minutes
Advice for host families

As a host family and au pair get to know each other, the communication and understanding established from the beginning will form the basis of a successful relationship for the year ahead. Read advice from our very own Cultural Care host families on the topic of setting expectations, communicating, and building trust to ensure a successful working relationship and a great year ahead.
Be very clear as to what you expect and what you will require.  While deciding to host an au pair is a significant decision, we feel deciding to be an au pair is even more significant.  It is very important to ensure that your needs as a host family are met and that the au pair considering staying at your home is fully aware of those requirements.  The more information you provide, the more likely you will be to find an au pair that is suitable for your situation. -David Schaefer, NY
Take your time to get into the nooks and crannies of what you need the au pair for. Be clear with expectations and house rules so everyone knows what they are doing before joining as team members in caring for your children. It is worth every minute invested and penny you spend. – Tracy McGrath, PA
Put yourself in your au pair’s shoes and think about living in someone else’s house a long way from all of your friends and family in exchange for a small stipend and a chance to see America.  Be reasonable in expectations and appreciative for good work and try to build a win-win relationship.  Look at what you need the au pair to do and try to find an au pair whose personality fits well with the tasks (For example, do you need someone who is creative and craft oriented to entertain young kids all day or someone who is organized and efficient at getting a lot of discrete tasks done?  If you say “both” are you being reasonable?) -Gary Steele, host dad in VA
Your au pair is still a young person and so consider what his or her needs also will be.  Set expectations early, establish trust, maintain a culture of respect, and be flexible. -Jennifer Fischman, host mom in NY
Incorporate the au pair into your own family (they are not domestic help). Aid them in establishing their own network of friends early on during their stay. Treat your au pair with respect, and ensure that you provide clear guidance and instructions. -Michelle and Bernt Ullmann,  host parents in CT
Our advice would be to make sure you have excellent communication with your au pair, both before their arrival and while they are here.  Make your expectations clear, yet give them the space to show their strengths and joy that they can bring into your children’s lives. – Lauren Alon, host mom in CA
Set your expectations and rules from the start.  Listen carefully to your local coordinator’s recommendations, and involve him/her early if any problems arise.  We have found most “problems” are just misunderstandings, and are easily remedied.  The time you spend initially helping your au pair to acclimate is invaluable.  Slow down at first, and give the au pairs time to adjust to you, your kids, and your home life.  We have all been enriched by our experiences with the au pairs. We thoroughly recommend Cultural Care Au pair. -Kathy Piston, host mom in PA
It’s clear than an intentional and organized effort to communicate expectations for roles and boundaries will prevent many concerns, while providing a solid foundation for any issues that do arise.  As with any working relationship, it takes time and effort – but the time invested is worth it due to the peace of mind you gain with the convenience and comfort of welcoming a live-in au pair.