When I started au pair momming 11 years ago, there was no such thing as an Au Pair Handbook. My au pair agency never recommended that I create a family manual, and my LCC actually laughed when I told her that I’d put together a printed list of guidelines for our incoming au pair.
My, how times have changed.
Now, on the website of (at least) one au pair agency, you can find suggested guidelines, rules and procedures. There are some books out there on hosting au pairs, one of which comes with a downloadable master family manual! And, there are hundreds of us host moms and dads who have recognized what we need from our au pairs, translated this into guidelines, and written them down in our own Au Pair handbooks.
I have sent copies of my family’s au pair handbook to over 3 dozen host parents over the years. At one point, when I was talking with a friend of a friend of a friend about her getting an au pair, she told me she’d been given a example Au Pair handbook and she’d send it to me. Can you imagine my surprise at discovering that it was an edited copy of my own handbook !
Over the course of my au pair mom career, our family guidelines and handbook have expanded to cover more and more situations. They have been revised to reflect the changes in our children’s routines and ages, and they have incorporated much of what I’ve learned "the hard way" by breakdowns, accidents, and ineffective au pair – host family communication.
Our family handbook is now kind of rangey. The writer in me looks at it and winces, since there are many repetitions, awkward categories, and so on. Our handbook is even in two pieces– a set of Guidelines (which are more or less the ‘rules’) and a Handbook (which is more about principles and strategies) , with lots of overlap in between. But even so, both in the actual words and what is between the lines, you can get a sense of my family’s priorities and values.
We have a great opportunity to learn from each other and to share our hard-earned wisdom, simply by sharing our au pair handbooks. Although no handbook can tell you the ‘secret’ to a great au pair relationship, a good handbook helps you set a foundation of expectations of the au pair and of your family that you can help you establish and build a good relationship.
So here’s your invitation — send us a page of your Au Pair Handbook.
– Send a page that covers either one particular topic (cars, food, childcare strategies), or
– Send a page that reflects some unique wisdom from your experience.
– Be sure to remove any information that is too personal (e.g., kids’ names, AP names, code for your burglar alarm).
– If you want to copyright your page, please do.
Email these as either MS word attachments or pasted into an email. Send them to mom at aupairmom dot com. I will gather these together in some kind of organized way on a Resources page that everyone can access.
Let’s see what we can learn when we take a page from each other’s books!
Images from Etsy: Watermelon Wishes