Homesickness is completely predictable
Homesickness is something that every au pair should anticipate, and that every au pair should make a commitment to work through.
If you’re signing up to spend a year in another country, in another family, then you are committing to working through any homesickness that occurs between month 1 and month 11.
It irks me when au pairs present ‘homesickness’ as a reason to break their contracts and go home, especially when everything else is working just fine. If we aim to screen out any au pair candidate who seems like s/he might be susceptible to homesickness, then we’ll be left with a pretty tiny pool of remaining candidates.
So even though MGHostMom asks for advice on screening out au pairs that could potentially experience homesickness, I’d like to ask:
Families, how have you dealt in advance with the threat of homesickness? Did you try to screen out au pairs who seemed especially vulnerable, and/or did you try some of the advice about socializing your au pair asap?
Au Pairs, what do you tell yourselves and each other about homesickness? Do you try to coach each other in dealing with it, or encourage each other to give up and go home?
Here’s MGHostMom’s email with her details– let’s reply to her and at the same time talk about the big picture of homesickness…
I’m a first time host mom. I read aupairmom in depth this summer in advance of searching for and choosing an au pair. Our au pair arrived at the beginning of September, and we hit it off. Everything was going well. We like her. She likes us. We’re very compatible. I had been prepared for all the various difficulties I’d read about on aupairmom.
But then last night, she tells us she is just too homesick and she has decided to go home. We have included her in family activities. And she has been social and made friends, but many of the au pairs she has met have also gone home! The kicker was that this past week two of her closest new au pair friends both left — one got rematched across the country and the other’s grandmother died and she decided to go home.
I have lived abroad and understand homesickness. My au pair was taken off guard by it; despite telling her it would happen, she wasn’t prepared for how emotionally terrible it feels. But she’s not willing to stick it out (in part because her parents miss her too, and have asked her to come home).
My question is simply: Is there a way to screen for those who can bear homesickness if they’ve never experienced it before? What sort of qualities do I look for? Is it a maturity thing?
Image: Dreamy, by Joshua Smith on Flickr