There are several times each year, and several times in each AuPair year, when it makes sense to reset your expectations with your au pair.
The start and end of school, the start and end of summer, when there is a big change in your family’s routine (like the end of maternity leave), or when there is a significant event in your family or community (broken leg, car accident) are all good times to sit down with your au pair and talk about what you need from him or her.
The neat thing about the New Year (as well as so many of those other markers) is that it “makes sense” to have this kind of reset conversation. The air is rife with talk of resolutions and changes, and you can sneak in a few adjustments to your family rules or a few clarified expectations under the guise of “starting off fresh in the new year.”
What’s a Reset Conversation?
A reset conversation is like a focused, more in-depth family/au pair meeting, where the point is not to discuss the past week or the upcoming week, but to discuss the ‘big picture’. You might need to go over a certain set of rules (like car rules) that need to be followed more closely, or ask your au pair to do something new (cook the kids’ suppers as well as make lunches).
Suggestions for a Reset Conversation:
- Keep the conversation focused. You might not be able to make in through your entire au pair handbook (and let’s hope you don’t think you have to!). And, you many not make it all the way down your list of the crazy annoyances that you wish would disappear. So, pick the 3, 4 or 5 that matter the most.
- Frame the conversation about learning and growing, not about ‘fixing’. Remember that your au pair, and you kid(s) have continued to grow and change over the year. Frame the change requests that you make as outcomes of this growth. For example, ‘now that Toddler2 is having playdates, let’s go over the handbook section on playdates so that you know what to expect and how to organize them.”
- Add more ‘positive’ changes than requests for corrections. We hope that our au pairs have gotten more confident and more competent, and it might be time for you to relax a few rules and to offer an additional privilege. For example, if your au pair has become a great driver, you might let her/him have a larger driving radius, so that s/he can go to the fancy mall 15 miles away instead of the crummy one that’s just down the road.
- Before you ask your au pair to reset, reflect on your own expectations. You might need to refresh your assessment of your au pair’s skills, attitudes and interests, to incorporate the ways s/he has grown and changed. Sometimes without a reminder to update, we keep on thinking our au pair can’t find her ay around, can’t use a map, doesn’t really understand English, etc. Make room in your beliefs about him or her for some of that growth.
Are you planning to have a Reset Conversation withy our au pair? What will you focus on? Please share your thoughts, below.
See these posts:
Take Advantage of Your Summer Re-Sets: Revise expectations
After the Honeymoon: Seasons of the Au Pair year
4 Ways to Reduce “Seasonal Schedule Shift Syndrome”
Au Pair Asks: How can I gently decline my Host Mom’s advice?
Image: Owls 2012 Calendar by SusanBlackDesign, available on Etsy