Help Your Au Pair Settle In
When an au pair arrives to a family, everything will be new and they will be far from home – perhaps for the first time – and can be feeling very vulnerable.
However, there are many ways by which you can help her to settle in and by using the following advice, she should soon feel at ease.
Meet Her on TimeSmall thing it may seem, but meeting your au pair on time is very important. He/She will have travelled alone from another country and will already be feeling tired from the trip and nervous about meeting you. You being late will only raise her anxiety.
Make sure you can collect your au pair in person and that you are there well ahead of her arrival and waiting with her name and a big smile!
Prepare Her RoomTake time to prepare your au pair’s room for her arrival. Make sure it is spotlessly clean, that the bed is freshly made up, that she has everything that she may need, that any appliances are in good working order, and that there is absolutely no clutter or stored items from your family in there.
A nice gesture would be to have some flowers in the room, a card on the pillow, or some other small indication that you’ve made an effort.
Have a Welcome Present ReadyIt would be a kindness to have a small gift ready for your au pair. Have the children make her a card or ‘Welcome’ sign or perhaps allow them to have party streamers at the ready!
Have a Meal PlannedA good way to break the ice is over a meal. Make sure your evening is free, that the whole family is home and prepare a really nice dinner. Make it into a bit of an event – perhaps with a nice desert, or ‘Welcome’ table decorations and allow plenty of time to chat.
Remember, your au pair may be unsure of her English at first, so speak slowly, and don’t let the conversation hurry along too quickly, so she has a chance to understand what is being said.
Clear Your DiaryAll families are busy – but do try to clear your diary as much as possible for the first week that your new au pair is with you. If you do so, the extra effort will pay big dividends later on.
Spend that time helping to show your au pair what to do and making certain she understands. Write things down for her, so that if she’s unsure, she can look up the words later on.
If you need her to cook, give her some simple recipes (such as pasta or baked potato dishes), to start her off and which she can follow easily. If you do this, it will help to prevent mistakes and frustration from both sides of the relationship and increase her confidence.
Show Her around TownDuring that first week, also show your au pair around the area. Show her where the nearest shops are, and how to get there, show her where the Library is (for free Internet access), the Post Office, a Bank she can use etc. She may also like to know if there is a cinema or theatre for instance, as well.
Take Her to the Language SchoolPart of being an au pair is to attend language classes and so you will need to take your au pair to the language school, help to enrol her in the right course and work out with her how she will get there.
Include HerYour au pair is meant to be living with you as a member of your family and this is important to remember. When you go on family trips out, ask your au pair if she would like to join you. When you go for dinner, include her as well.
Likewise, when you are with friends, don’t forget to introduce your Au Pair; there is nothing worse than not doing so, or referring to her as ‘the au pair’. Your au pair has a name and should be treated on an equal footing with your family. If you don’t regard her as such, she is very likely to leave.
Help Her to Meet PeopleYour au pair should meet other girls her own age through the language school, so the sooner she starts there, the better. However, it may be that you’ll need to give a helping hand to kick things off, in which case introduce her to other au pairs in the area; – either through friends or your local au pair agency should be able to help.
All in all, a happy and settled au pair is a happy and settled host family!