In my house we have a saying:
“Fewer, better things.”
This advice also works for the family handbook selections we send to prospective au pairs. Send fewer, better pages.
For a while now, we’ve been suggesting that host families send a copy of their family handbook to the au pair candidates we’re considering. The handbooks give specific, explicit information and they also communicate a bit about your family’s overall style. This is good, since the better these candidates know your family, the better they can evaluate whether they’ll be a good fit.
Notice that I say “the better they know your family” not “the more they know about your family” … when we’re in the process of selecting an au pair, we often work on the assumption that ‘more’ information is ‘better’. But for a candidate who is reading material written in his/her second or third language, and who may be looking at materials from two or three families, sending a candidate your whole (long) family handbook make overwhelm them. Instead of giving them enough information to make a good decision, it may seem like TMI– in a bad way.
West Mom recently reprised this concern, and shared the details of her new plan:
Aware that our family handbook had grown very long, I made a change this year. I split the guide into two parts: One to give to the Au Pair before matching, and one with all the inner workings of the gig, (that was) most relevant on arrival.
The 1st Part contains:
- Family life,
- Transportation (inc. car access/responsibility) and
- Family Rules (inc. out of town guests…).
I want to make sure the contract is crystal clear before we match with a candidate. [very important point]
The 2nd Part contains the stuff that is handy once she is actually in our home: Contacts, Phone rules and instructions,Home/appliances instructions, Meals expectations and Ideas, and Fun things to do. I’ll probably copy the car stuff in there too, since we always seem to need a reminder on that topic at some point during the year.