Making the exciting decision to welcome an au pair into your home and your heart is about far more than simply childcare. When you host an au pair, you gain a new member of the family – a trusted caregiver who becomes more like a big sister or big brother to your children than anything else. Of course, being a host family means embracing a foreign culture in various parts of your life; and in return, it means sharing American culture with your au pair. Together, the cultural exchange creates understanding, perspective and beautiful new relationships.
There are so many aspects of the Cultural Care Au Pair program that make hosting an au pair so special, but we’ve narrowed it down to our top three favorites.
1.) Your Relationship
Our host families tell us all the time that having au pairs enriches their lives in ways they had never considered. Often times, parents will sign up for the au pair program expecting to simply take care of their childcare needs and nothing more – they’re then pleasantly surprised when their au pair becomes a best friend and extended member of the family!
Because an au pair lives in your home with you, you spend much more concentrated amounts of time with them than you would a daycare provider or nanny. This means you come to develop a relationship with them much faster – and you learn their individual characteristics and habits soon after meeting them. You quickly discover their likes and dislikes, what makes them happy, and how to best communicate with them. In turn, you grow to love your au pair, and look forward to welcoming them to family functions, holidays and sometimes even vacations! We’ve heard stories time and again of host families and au pairs staying in touch for the rest of their lives, often visiting one another in their home countries. The au pair and host family relationship is a truly unique one – and one that only grows stronger with time.
2.) Sense of Trust
When it comes to choosing a caregiver for your children, there are countless factors to consider – but none are more important than finding someone you can truly trust with your little ones. Cultural Care Au Pair host families have discovered that when they choose an au pair, they’re choosing childcare they can trust like family.
Mutual trust with an au pair happens fast – the relationship is one built on respect and care. With an au pair in the home, it’s easier to see the kind of rapport they have with your children, and it’s usually simple to see what areas need improvement and what they could be doing better. It’s then easy enough to communicate that feedback, and help the au pair grow from it. This open and honest feedback cycle contributes to a sense of independence for the au pair; they see themselves as a competent and confident caregiver, and therefore do better during their time with the children. When host parents see their au pair putting in time, energy and effort to get to know the children, take constructive criticism and help the children feel at home and at peace with their new caregiver, they develop a deeper sense of trust. After an initial period of adjustment, our host families describe feeling a true sense of comfort knowing that their children are cared for by someone they know and respect – someone who has worked with the host parents extensively to settle on the right childcare plan for the entire family.
3.) Cultural Exchange
Simply finding quality childcare in an au pair would be enough; but another reason au pairs are so special is because they bring a foreign, interesting culture with them to your home. If you are interested in exposing your children at a young age to foreign recipes, languages, traditions and people, then an au pair is the way to go.
Au pairs revel in sharing things from their home country with not just their host children, but the entire family! They often cook meals that they grew up cooking back home with their own families; and they’ll find ways to incorporate their culture into everyday life with your kids. It’s a wonderful way to introduce your children to the concept of being a global citizen – and to spark a passion for travel at an early age. Nothing fosters cultural curiosity more than having a role model – an au pair – to look up to when they’re young.
In addition, you’ll have the opportunity to share American culture with your au pair. The spirit of the au pair program centers around the idea of cultural exchange; and anyone who enjoys sharing things about their home and their everyday life with someone new will embrace the chance to welcome a visitor from abroad and show them what makes America great. Whether it’s cooking a traditional Thanksgiving meal for them, or taking them to their very first baseball game, having an au pair is a reminder of all the things that make America a special place to be.