What does it really mean for your au pair to be "part of the family"?
What do you do in your relationship with her that is different, if you treat her as "part of the family" versus if you don’t?
Have you had the opportunity to compare the experience of a live-in caregiver who was ‘part of the family’ versus one who was not?
As I sat down to write this post, I realized that in my family we have no hard and fast criteria that would explain what ‘part of the family’ means to us.
We include our au pair in meals– but only when she wants to join us. We include her in trips to casual restaurants on the weekend — but only if she wants to go. We protect her privacy inside and outside the house, being as loyal to her as we can (which, in my book, is treating someone like a family member). She can eat anything she wants, use anything in the house that the other ‘people who aren’t mom’ can use (yes, some things are just for me, the mom-diva). Then again, there are things that we don’t ask her to do that other people in the house do, like chores in the yard or going to church.
What are the host family behaviors that show she is "part of the family"?
What are the host family & host parent attitudes that show she is "part of the family"?
I’m really at a loss for words to describe how we try to help our au pairs feel welcome in our home, like normal everyday members of the craziness, and not like a ‘guest’. We don’t expect her to always somehow be ‘on duty’. We share with her the emotions that are going on, my concerns about the girls and their growth, and so on. But also I give her (and myself) personal space. She can use lots of the family stuff, like CDs and tools and snowboots, but not my iMac or my clothes. Honestly, I’m at a loss here.
So Host Parents:
What about you? Are you able to describe just what it means to have your au pair be ‘part of the family’?