Candidates, Day to Day

Top 7 Unexpected Reasons to get an Au Pair

The typical reason for getting an au pair is “I go to work and need someone to care for my kids” and sometimes “I want my kids to learn a certain language”.  While these are great reasons that people get an au pair, there are some other benefits that people don’t always think about.

study

1. Your au pair can move with you.  One of the hardest things about moving is finding new childcare for your children, especially if you work odd hours.  We have several families who move a couple of times per year or have several houses that they split their time between.  They love that they can bring their au pair from location to location and have consistent, loving childcare.

2. Your au pair can travel with you.  If you go on lots of business trips or family vacations, you can bring your au pair with you so you don’t have to be away from your children or try to find childcare along the way.

3. Your au pair can tutor your children.  Many families get au pairs to teach their children a new language, but most of our au pairs have some college and a lot of au pairs have graduated with degrees in things like Economics, Physiotherapy, Law, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Political Science, Social Work,  Tourism Management, Environmental Science, Advertising Design, Medical Assisting, or Business Administration.  These au pairs have a lot of knowledge that they can pass on to your children.

4. Your au pair can coach your children in different skills and hobbies.  Many au pairs are experienced in different activities such as  violin, painting, tennis, dance, guitar, baking, piano, swimming, aerobics, and yoga.  Wouldn’t it be great to get a childcare provider and piano teacher in one?  Or maybe your au pair can teach you whole family about yoga or some other activity.  Most au pairs have many skills that they would love to share with your family.

swim baby

5. Your au pair can be a taxi driver.  Some families don’t need childcare as much as a taxi driver, especially if they have older children.  Whether it’s running kids to school, activities or appointments, au pairs can take over those responsibilities so you can focus on your responsibilities.

6. Your au pair can be the night nanny. Some families choose to have their au pair take the night shift so they can spend more quality time with the children during the day.

7. Your au pair can be a nurse.  Some of our au pairs are trained as nurses (Aliona, DeuRe) or speech therapists (Ju Yeon).  Others have experience with special needs children (Anna, Karen, and Thandeka).  If you have a child that has special needs, many au pairs are uniquely qualified to give your child the one-on-one attention that will help your child learn and grow.  Also, all au pairs can care for your children when they are sick so you don’t have to miss work.
What are some different reasons that you would like to have an au pair?

Au Pair Advice, Host Family Questions

HF Q’s: My new au pair is about to arrive. What should I expect?

Congratulations on getting your new au pair!  What an exciting time.  It is a good idea to have realistic expectations so your match can get started off on the right track.

Arrival – As excited as your au pair is going to be chances are she is also going to be wiped out.  The regulations state that au pairs cannot be responsible for the children during the first 3 days after arrival so that they can have time to acclimate to your home and the US.  It is a good idea to use this time to help her to get to know your home and family.  Don’t plan anything too big during the first few days and give her a chance to settle in.

Driving – Even the best of drivers can be intimidated by driving in the US.  Our roads and vehicles are bigger than they are used to and many countries don’t have the same standards of driving.  We recommend all au pairs get a US drivers license but many can drive on their country’s license.  Be prepared to ease your au pair into driving and don’t get frustrated if she doesn’t pick it up right away.

Homesickness – As you can imagine being away from friends and family isn’t easy for anyone.  Add to that being in a different country and speaking a different language and it can get quite difficult.  Encourage your au pair to get out and meet people.  Starting on her education is a good start, but there are a lot of other possibilities.  Churches, international student organizations, meet up groups, rec leagues and ethnic restaurants are good places to meet new people.  Your Area Director will have some ideas for your area.

A good piece of advice is to treat your au pair how you would want someone to treat your son or daughter if they were staying with them.  If you always keep that in mind, then you won’t go wrong.

 

*** ADVICE TO AU PAIRS***

Remember that while your host family, Area Director and agency are here to help you, ultimately your happiness is up to you.  You have an amazing opportunity to gain so many new and beneficial experiences.  Take advantage of every chance you get to learn and grow.  Remember that you are here to 1) help make your host family’s lives easier, and 2) learn about the US.   Don’t be surprised if families in the US raise their children differently than you are used to.  Find out how they want you to assist them in raising their children and then follow their lead.  Finally, although it will be an adjustment at first, if you give it your best you will have one of the greatest experiences of your life.

Host Family Questions

HF Q’s – I know I’m supposed to provide room and board for my au pair, but what’s included in the board portion?

Your au pair is supposed to live with you like a member of the family, so if you are treating your au pair like a brother or sister who is coming for an extended stay, then you are following the intent of the program.  Au pairs should have at least 3 healthy and balanced meals per day.  Some families tell their au pairs that they can eat whatever they want; others feel more comfortable having a certain shelf in the pantry or fridge with food that is reserved for special occasions; and others label food if it needs to be saved.  Almost all host families have a grocery list and the expectation that if something is low or gone, it needs to be added to the list.

It is also a good idea to talk with your au pair about his normal diet.  You are not required to provide special food for your au pair, but most families will ask their au pair if they would like to add certain foods to the shopping list.  Remember, au pairs’ bodies are often still developing, so their appetite might be bigger than you expect.  Also, many au pairs are not used to the variety of foods that are available in the US.  It is ok to discuss with your au pair the amount of food that should be consumed per day (i.e. please don’t eat more than 3 pieces of fresh fruit per day so it can last until I go shopping again.)

If you invite your au pair out to dinner with your family, you should plan on paying for your au pair.  It’s also OK not to invite your au pair out, but you should make sure that your au pair can make a meal for themselves at home.  Lastly, if you go on vacation and leave your au pair at home you need to stock up on groceries for your au pair before you leave.

 

*** Advice to au pairs:  Remember that even though you are to live with your host family like a member of the family, you are still a guest in their home.  Try to match your eating style to that of your host family’s.  If you like to eat food that the family doesn’t  feel free to purchase it yourself.  If you are still hungry after a typical meal, ask your family what foods they are OK you eating afterwards.  In my home my four growing boys know that they are welcome to as many vegetables they want after dinner.  Many families in the US consider treats like ice cream, cookies and such to be occasional food that shouldn’t be eaten every day.  If you don’t know what is acceptable, please ask.  You might feel a little uncomfortable at first, but it will be better for everyone in the long run if everyone is on the same page. Finally, remember that all personal items are your responsibility to purchase.

Host Family Questions

HF Q’s – Do all au pairs expect to have a car?

Not many families have a car that is just for the au pair’s use and no au pair should expect to have free reign of a car.  Even if an au pair does have their own car, the au pair should always ask before using it and let the family know when they will have the car back.  Host families need to feel comfortable with their au pair’s driving skills, so they might require that the au pair get a US driver’s license first.  Host families also can limit the distance their car is driven and how long their au pair has their car out.  Au pairs need to remember that access to a car is a privilege, not a right.

Many au pairs cannot drive, or do not want to drive in the US.  Our cars are much bigger than they are used to, the roads are faster and have more people on them, and their English might not be great.  While most au pairs who don’t drive use public transportation, get rides from friends, bike or walk; it’s still a good idea for host families to offer them rides, especially to school or on the weekends.  No au pair should be stuck at home all the time because he or she doesn’t have a way to get out.

Talk with potential au pairs about their driving experience and what expectations you have for driving.  Don’t expect your au pair to be comfortable with driving in the US right away and plan on helping them get used to driving in the US.

Fun Stuff

Au Pair Adventures – Caren’s cute kids!

Caren, an au pair in New York, takes care of 5 year old twins: C and S.  This is Caren’s story:

“My host family has two boys.  They are twin 5 year olds. C is 1 minute older than S. The boys need to go to the potty before going to school in the morning or going out with their parents. C takes a very long time to make a poop poop, and he always refuses to sit on the potty after a few minutes. He comes out and said in a very sad voice, “I can’t make a poop poop, Caren.  I don’t want to make a poop poop.”  At that time, S will go the toilet and check the poop poop and speak like an adult. “C, that’s not enough. Try again. You need to believe in yourself and then you can make a big big poop poop.”  They make us all burst into laughter.”

Caren has another story that shows why she loves being an au pair.

“S once said to his grandmother, “Grandma, I fall in love with someone.”  His grandma was so surprised and asked,”Who?”  He said “Caren.”  And grandma asked him how much he loves Caren, he said, “I love Caren from the earth to the moon and come back to the earth – that much.”

Host Family Questions

HF Q’s: Should I get a male au pair?

Ultimately that is a questions that only you can answer, but there are a lot of benefits to getting a male au pair

  1. Having a male in the house.  We have had single-mom and single-dad host families get male au pairs.  The single-moms like having a man in the house to give their children someone to look up to and the single-dads often feel more comfortable with another guy in the house.
  2. Easy-going personality.  Most of our male au pairs are really easy-going and they don’t let much upset them.  They also tend to be fairly independent, which can be very nice for a busy family.
  3. Grateful for the opportunity.  The amount of families wanting a male au pair is very small, so most of our male candidates are very happy for the opportunity to speak with an interested family.  Many agencies don’t even offer male candidates, but we at Au Pair International want to give everyone a chance to find a family if they meet the requirements.

I suggest being open to the possibility of having a male au pair.  We have had host families who originally never even considered getting a male au pair, but then saw a profile on our site and decided to give a male au pair a chance.  They said it was the best decision they could have made.

Host Family Questions

HF Q’s – Do I have to get my au pair a cell phone?

The answer to this question is… it depends.  Specific, I know, but each situation is different.  Really, host families are not required to get their au pair a cell phone but they also cannot require that their au pair get a cell phone either.  Most host families do provide a cell phone for their au pair because they want to be able to get in touch with their au pair throughout the day.  I recommend to host families that they talk with their au pair about what both they and the au pair would like to do before the au pair arrives in the host families home.  Some au pairs might have their own phone they would like to use and others might want to upgrade the phone or the plan that the family was planning on getting.  I also recommend not putting your au pair on the family plan unless you have a lot of minutes and texts (especially texts!)  You can get a prepaid cell phone for a pretty reasonable rate and then your au pair can top off the minutes if she runs out.  Finally, if you do not have a home phone, you really should have some way for your au pair to call during the day.  This is both for safety reasons and so Au Pair International can reach your au pair if we need to.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Host Family Questions

HF Q’s – Can my au pair take care of my baby during the night?

Yes, your au pair can take the night shift.  ImageMany new moms love the fact that they can schedule their au pair at night.  You still need to give your au pair a schedule with a specific start time and end time and you cannot ask your au pair to work more than 10 hours per day or 45 hours per week, even if the baby is sleeping for the majority of the shift.  An example of this would be if you would like your au pair to be on duty from 2 am until 6 am so you could get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep.  Even if the baby slept that entire time, you could only schedule your au pair for 6 more hours that day and she would need 8 hours before the start of work the next day in order to rest up and relax.  Finally, remember your au pair cannot be left alone with a newborn younger than 3 months old.

Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons.

Au Pair Advice

Three great ways to meet new people when working as an Au Pair

One of the hardest parts of being an au pair can be meeting people and making friends. Even though you are living with a family, being an au pair can be very lonely, especially at first. Most au pairs who are brand-new to a country don’t know anyone outside of their host family.

Even those who did their homework, asked all the right questions, and landed with a really great host family, getting to know people outside of your new home can still be tough. Especially at first.

For me, I was fine when I first moved to Germany as an au pair. I had a few friends in the country (although none nearby). I also had a great host family who took me out to see the area and introduced me to their family and close circle of friends, which was fantastic and very kind of them. But at some point I was ready to make friends of my own, especially close girlfriends. You may be in a similar situation and wondering how to meet people.

If you are, here are three ways that I made friends as an Au Pair:

  1. Language class – I can’t recommend this enough. My closest friendships were made through my German classes. The courses I signed up for were pretty crappy (my German teacher was actually Russian, if that tells you anything). But I made some great (and lasting) friendships during my classes. Granted, once you make friends you may spend more time skipping class than attending (consider yourself warned!), and you will quite likely have to step out of your comfort zone to meet new people, but language school is a GREAT way to meet other people.
  2. Go to church – Seriously. I met some really great people through a church in Stuttgart and through Bible studies at one of the universities in the city. And believe it or not, some of these people were really cool, and not crazy Bible-thumpers. (For those who do not attend religious services, maybe you could look for groups/meet-ups on things that interest you – either hobbies, sports, or something similar).
  3. Just get out there – Sometimes you just have to get out and talk to people. And although it can be intimidating, you can meet some great people by getting over yourself and talking to strangers. One of my best friends and I made some great friends by going out and talking to people at our favorite hangout. We didn’t have time to wait around to meet people, so we took it upon ourselves to talk to people who looked like fun, and we made good friends this way, even in Germany, where people tend to be a bit more reserved than what we were used to.

(Guest post from Talya at the Best AuPair Guide)

So here’s one au pair’s suggestions, what are yours?  What’s the best way to meet people in a foreign country?