Once you’ve had the opportunity to orient a new Au Pair, you realize how much work it is to teach an Au Pair all of your family’s systems and personalities. When you imagine doing this again in only 11 months (!), you may start looking for opportunities to reduce the amount of work for you– sometimes by streamlining (or shortchanging) training, and sometimes by turning it over to someone with a lot of experience– your outgoing Au Pair. Often, families consider scheduling their new Au Pair to arrive before the old Au Pair departs, so that the old Au Pair can train the new one.
Although it is not possible — nor is it wise — to completely turn over the job of orienting your new Au Pair, it can help you to have your old Au Pair help to teach your new Au Pair the ropes.
The idea of overlap is compelling, but not all overlaps achieve what we’ve hoped. When I asked readers to tell me about their experiences with overlapping au pairs, I got an earful of the pros and cons of overlap. In this post and the next two, we’ll consider:
- 6 Reasons to have Au Pairs Overlap
- 6 Potential Downsides with Au Pair Overlap
- Tips for Making the Overlap Work
6 Reasons to have Au Pairs Overlap
1. Overlap keeps your systems at home running, without you having to take too many days off from work. When your old Au Pair is still on duty helping to train your new Au Pair , your kids can get to school on time, get their naps, be fed, and everything can keep running while you are still at work! Otherwise, you or another adult is taking at least one day off from work to train your Au Pair, to make sure that the day unfolds as it should while the new Au Pair is learning.
2. You get help with orienting your new Au Pair. I don’t know about you, but I find orientation kind of exhausting. I get tired of hearing my own voice. I get tired of repeating our family rules and procedures over and over. And I love it when my husband steps in to do some of this work. It really makes a difference to have someone else help.
3. Having your Au Pairs overlap allows your old Au Pair to introduce the new Au Pair to the circle of Au Pairs in your community. If your new Au Pair has someone to talk to and someone to hang out with her first few weeks, it can help her to get comfortable socially and start to have fun. And, if she’s met a few girls her very first week, she has at least someone to call while she makes friends that are just right for her. Your old Au Pair can show your new Au Pair how to get to the coffee shop hangout, the favorite discount clothing store, the safest way to drive to and from the mall, and all those other things that twenty-something year-old girls want to know when they get into a new place.
4. Having your over pairs overlap can help your new Au Pair with homesickness. Having someone else to talk to, especially someone who’s been in this very same situation, can help your new Au Pair come to grips with the strangeness of her new environment and with homesickness.
5. Having your over Au Pairs overlap can help your outgoing Au Pair feel like you value her work and trust her to teach the important things to someone else. It may give your old Au Pair a heightened sense of responsibility to be the one who gets to teach and to impart knowledge. Taking on the role of teacher/trainer may even help your old Au Pair transition out of the Au Pair role herself.
6. Au Pair overlap can be especially helpful when it comes to advising an Au Pair about working with your children. Children have very different relationships with their Au Pairs than they do with their parents. Even though I think I know my daughters well, I know that our Au Pair knows something different about them that I can’t teach a new Au Pair and that it might be useful for a new Au Pair to know.
For all these reasons, and maybe some additional ones you can share, below, overlap can be a really good strategy. Or not.
Stayed tuned for the “4 Potential Downsides of Au Pair Overlap“…