Tips for Host Families

WHEN YOUR AU-PAIR ARRIVES:

  • Have their room ready and clean with a waste paper basket, laundry basket, bulletin board, and a small arrival gift or basket (Perhaps something the kids made or bought). A framed picture of their family back home is always a hit.
  • A great way to welcome an Au-Pair is for the children to make a welcome sign and take along when you pick her up or have it waiting for them in their room.
  • Encourage them to call home to let their parents know they are now with their host family.
  • Ask about their room (do they have everything they need).
  • Spend the entire first week showing them everything in your home.
  • Show them how to operate all appliances, don’t assume they know.
  • Remember that the amount of time and training in the first month directly affects the type of relationship you have the entire year.
  • Ask your Au-Pair questions about their home, their country, their family, and ask to see the pictures they brought with them.
  • Ask them how you can make them feel welcome in regards to cultural differences, food, customs, etc.
  • Help them to get their Social Security card and bank account right away. (review the list I send upon their arrival as things change frequently) They will need this to get a driver’s license. 
  • Realize that the change of coming here is HUGE. Cultural shock is evident in most Au-Pairs, as is some amount of homesickness, some now, some later.
  • Spend the first weekend reviewing your Host family handbook together with your Au-Pair. Set safety rules, go over alarm system, cameras, etc. 
  • Try to get them out driving as soon as possible (during the first week is best). If desired, schedule a driving school to take them for a lesson.
  • Be sure to give your Au-Pair a written schedule for the first week and every week thereafter.
  • Present role-playing scenarios, i.e. what should they do if a stranger comes to the door, how would they react if the children were acting [x].
  • Model…set the example of how you want to see your Au-Pair fit into your family and interact with children and members of the family.
  • Introduce your Au-Pair to your neighbors and neighborhood.
  • Show them how to cook basic things for your children
  • Teach your Au-Pair what to do in case of power failure, severe weather warning, school closings, etc.
  • Support and facilitate attendance to ALL Au-Pair functions.
  • Make lots of lists and have them on view to help your Au-Pair throughout the day.

COMMUNICATION:

  • Good communication is the key to a great year!
  • Make a good host family handbook.
  • Use this web-site and www.culturalcare.com as a helping tool
  • Help your Au-Pair feel welcome and make sure they are truly part of your family.
  • Bond with your Au-Pair, as you want them to bond with your children.
  • Pick your battles: they cannot be perfect in everything they do, decide what is most important.
  • It is never acceptable to yell at your Au-Pair, talk to them as an adult with respect.
  • Show appreciation. Say “thank you” all the time even if they do not. Model.
  • Have weekly or bi weekly meetings with no interruptions of the phone or children. This helps prevent small problems from becoming big problems.
  • Read helpful updates from the Boston office and LCC, lots of helpful tips.
  • Your Au-Pair lives in the house too. Share with them what is happening in your home when they are working and when they are not (family illnesses, out of town guests, etc).
  • Stress the importance of family privacy, what happens in your home should stay in your home.
  • Let them know if they are being included in vacations, dinners out, etc.

AU-PAIR RESPONSIBILITIES:

  • Au-Pairs are responsible for tasks related to the children.
  • Au-Pairs wash the children’s clothes and their own, not the host parent’s clothes.
  • Au-Pairs are to HELP with dishes and clean up as a family member only. They are not responsible for doing the entire clean up alone.
  • Take the Au-Pair through each of the children’s rooms and explain your expectations, be specific and detailed.  What should the children do and what should the Au-Pair do. What the Au-Pair needs to encourage the kids to do.
  • An Au-Pair should only deliver the house in the condition that it was received. They are not required to clean up toys, dishes, nor the home from when they were off.
  • Show them how you want the counters left, food put away, microwave, refrigerator, stove, etc.
  • Show them how you sort, wash, fold, and put away clothes the way you like it done.

THE SCHEDULE

  • Please be on time or build extra time into the schedule. At a minimum, make a phone call if you are running late.
  • Post a written schedule every week, so that the Au-Pair knows when she is on duty.
  • Au-Pairs should have 1 1/2 consecutive days off per week (half day can not exceed 5 hours) and one full weekend off per month.
  • Vacation should be mutually agreed upon and it should be taken in 7 day increments, including weekends.  You can also have your Au-Pair choose one week and you choose the other. If you however give the Au-Pair more then 14 days vacation, you are still responsible for the weekly stipend.
  • Au Pair meetings are a great way for your au pair to meet others and the family is responsible to get the Au-Pair to the meeting if they are not letting her drive or pay for transportation.
  • If the Au-Pair joins you on vacation, provide a written schedule and make sure she has her own room.
  • ALL sleeping hours count. Example: if you leave for work at 5:00 AM and the kids and the Au-Pair do not get up until 7:00 AM, this is still counted as 2 work hours for your Au-Pair as they are the responsible adult in the home.
  • Pay your Au-Pair each week on the same day without them needing to remind you. It is always difficult when an Au-Pair needs to ask for money. You can set up a direct deposit, venmo, zelle, use a check, etc.
  • Decide at the beginning of the month what weekend will be your Au-Pair’s weekend off, preferably even before that.

ABOUT THE CHILDREN

  • Empower your Au-Pair. Back them up on all discipline in front of the kids, even if you disagree. The host parents and Au-Pair must be a team and have consistency with the kids.
  • Never discuss an Au-Pair’s decision nor issue you have with your Au-Pair in front of the kids.
  • Be consistent: things that you expect your Au-Pair to do are the same things you should do, set an example.
  • Ask about what happened during the day when you come home. Use open-ended questions vs. “yes” and “no” questions.
  • Understand that American children are different than children are in other countries. Find out how they are different.
  • Set limits for the children and teach them to respect when your Au-Pair is not working.
  • Include your Au-Pair in IMPORTANT children’s activities.
  • Do not allow the children to call you for little decisions. Your Au-Pair should make the call to you if it is necessary.

YOUR HOME:

  • Make sure there is enough food in your house for another person.
  • Be sure the fridge is stocked with foods for an adult to eat, not just for kids.
  • Buy some of their favorite things to eat (within reason).
  • If you get carry out for dinner, make sure there is enough for them to eat too.
  • Include your Au-Pair in family dinners.
  • Things may not always be done as you would like them, but there is more than one way to do things.

YOUR AU-PAIRS ROOM

  • The Au-Pair’s room is their private place. No personal belongings of the family can be in the Au-Pair’s room.
  • Children are often very excited to have a new Au-Pair.  Help them to understand your Au-Pair’s “off time” and privacy, especially the Au-Pair’s bedroom which must be private and off limits to kids.
  • Do not go into the Au-Pair’s room without permission unless it is an emergency and then explain it to your Au-Pair.
  • Au-Pair is responsible for cleaning her room and bathroom and keeping it tidy. Set expectations in regards to this.

DRIVING THE CAR

  • Provide them with a driver’s manual. I send it to them before arrival as well.
  • Practice driving with them many times and get driving instruction if necessary.
  • Have them drive you to places where they must take the children.
  • Make sure they bring their International license from home.
  • Take them for both the written test and driving test if they cannot drive on their own at least one time. (Rules for this change all the time, refer to my email)
  • Show your Au-Pair how to put in and take out all car seats for children and then have them do it or set a rule that those can not be moved at all.

 

ABOUT YOUR AU-PAIR:

  • Do not ask them to work extra hours or do extra work for pay. This is against State Department Regulations.
  • Talk about your expectations for out-of-town visitors, romantic partners, other Au-Pairs coming over.
  • Your Au-Pair may be cold since we have typically keep the temperature lower. Provide them with extra blankets or a small heater.
  • If you have had a bad day, it is common for an Au-Pair to think they have done something to make you angry.
  • Understand that Au-Pairs can have bad days too.
  • Introduce them when your friends visit so they feel valued.
  • Au pairs need hugs too.
  • Ask your Au-Pair about their off time: Did they have fun? What did they do? etc.
  • Help your Au-Pair find the most inexpensive way to keep in touch with their family. Skype, Facetime and Facebook are great tools.
  • Realize that it’s important for them to spend time with age-appropriate friends.
  • Remember: this is another adult in your home. Remember how you or your friends were at this age. But it is also important to remember, that this is someone’s child and they should never be treated in any way you would not want your child to be treated by someone else in a foreign country.
  • Be fair about your curfew. Most Au-Pairs have a 12:00 AM – midnight curfew during the week and none on the weekend if not working the next morning.
  • Help them to take care of their educational requirement. Each Au-Pair is required to complete 72 class hours and host parents are responsible to pay $500 for classes. Remember to tell your Au-Pair when is the best time to take classes as you cannot schedule them to work during the time they have class.
  • Good ways to show appreciation for your Au-Pair; gift cards, small gifts, or perhaps pay for their next Au-Pair meeting they need to pay a fee for.
  • If you are using a weekly train pass to get into the city, it would be great to share that with your Au-Pair so she does not have to pay for the train ride on the weekend.

REMEMBER TO CELEBRATE THE AU-PAIRS BIRTHDAY – POST IT ON YOUR CALENDAR. 🙂