Once we’ve matched with each other, Host Families and Au Pairs usually have a good bit of time to wait before the Au Pair physically joins the family.
We’ve already shared a bit about how often we like to check in with each other between Match and Arrival. We agree that keeping in touch is smart to do.
It helps to have an easy way to ask and answer those random questions about getting prepared:
Do I need to bring a hairdryer? Have you ever taught someone how to ride a bike?
Send the handbook! Send a Google map of all the local playgrounds! Scan and send the manual for the washing machine!
Too Much Information is… Too Much
But the more I think about it, this more I believe that sending handbooks alone is a bad strategy.
First of all– your au pair isn’t “on duty” yet. Is it really smart to ask her to work already?
Second of all– it can be kindof hard for your host parent to start orienting a new au pair if she’s already fully involved with the au pair already under her roof.
Finally, it can be hard to coordinate schedules so that you can talk directly with each other.
I don’t want to add to the work of preparing for a new au pair relationship by suggesting that you make a huge effort to get to know each other before you’re on the same continent.
So what are some lighter, easier, asynchronous ways to begin to share with each other?
Both Pinterest and Instagram are lightweight, easy tools that send out gentle bits of information and self-expression via images. Images are easy to make, and they are SUPER easy to enjoy.
If you and your incoming au pair follow each other on either of these platforms, you can exchange thousands of words with just a few photos and hashtags.
Images of the wild turkey that showed up in your neighbor’s backyard? Photos of the cookies you just baked? Yes yes yes.
But not Facebook
It’s likely that what you normally share on Facebook is too personal (e.g., Why women over 40 should never wear flats!) or irrelevant to an au pair (e.g., your neighbor’s latest rant about the Board of Ed).
Some of your Facebook stuff also needs a whole lot of context before anyone else can appreciate the joke (e.g., how you and your college roommate swap pictures of Feminist Ryan Gosling –years after that meme has gotten tired). Your au pair may not even realize that you
no longer actually don’t have a thing for Ryan Gosling.
Stories on Vine and YouTube
Another option would be to use Vine or YouTube to share little stories. Stories have both a beginning and end. They can’t go on forever, so you can feel comfortable ending them, too.
(I can never figure out how to hang up politely on Skype. Can you?)
Stories have the added advantage of being kid friendly. Au pairs can video a little story of their favorite stuffed animal that they’re bringing with them, and put it up on YouTube for host kids to watch.
Au Pairs (and Host Parents!) can also use less English-dependent tools like Vine (or Instagram) to string together a few images that convey a story a child can enjoy.
See me buy ice cream! See me lick ice cream cone! See me drop ice cream on floor. See me buy another ice cream cone. Learn that nothing gets between me and my ice cream happy.
For their part, Host Kids can tell stories to incoming au pairs via Skype. If they are older, kids might use your smartphone to take a few photos of their favorite toys.
(Bonus: you can send these to Grandma too!)
Have you found other ways to ease into a relationship with your new au pair or host family?
Dear AuPairMom — I’m a future Au Pair in the US. Two weeks ago I matched with a beautiful family, the host parents are just so nice! I would really like to keep this amazing relationship we have created (since we have been e-mailing and talking in Skype for almost a month as we have been matching.)
The thing is that I don’t really know what to do now that I have to wait about two months to be with them, I was wonder if you can give me some advice to keep in touch without bother them.
I just want us to know better each and let them know that I’m really interested in create a nice relation. Thank you in advance!
Felt woodland creatures from YouGoGirl Blog.