Welcome Your Au Pair With A Custom Google Map

by cv harquail on March 19, 2014

HostMom Pippa takes advantage of easy online tools, and comes up with *surely* one of the greatest ideas for helping your au pair visualize her/his new surroundings (aka your world).

She recommends creating a Custom Google Map:


 An easy way to share information with your incoming AP before he or she arrives is to create a custom Google map. You can add pins for your house, the kids’ schools, after school activity locations, cafés, recreation centers, Costco, Starbucks, parent workplaces, restaurants, etc, many of which can include links to websites associated with those locations.

Many locations have pictures already associated with the maps. In addition to visualizing the spaces, the AP can also get a sense of distance and direction of frequently visited locations (or appreciate just how long your commute really is!)  Through control of share settings, the map may be as public or private as you wish.


Image: Heart Map Puzzle available on Etsy at Guest Book Puzzles


TexasHM March 19, 2014 at 8:39 am

This is awesome. I usually send a snapshot of the area beforehand and I printed a map off mapquest and marked all the relevant sites and it’s the size of a bulletin board in the APs room. The APs have loved it and reference it all the time (esp as seasons/sports/activities change). This idea improves upon that because you can essentially send that same resource digitally before they come. Love it!! I will still definitely have a printed one, but this is great!

Momma Gadget March 19, 2014 at 9:08 am


WestMom March 19, 2014 at 10:08 am

What a great idea! And I actually already created one for when we do home exchanges, so I’ll just repurpose!

Should be working March 19, 2014 at 11:49 am

How did I never think of this?? Great idea. And, uh, why don’t the agencies think of things like this??

SingleHM March 19, 2014 at 12:55 pm

This is cool…so addictive!! Thanks for the tip.

NNTexasHM March 19, 2014 at 2:45 pm

As I said before, HMPippa this is an awesome idea. Now I think I have a good idea too – have the Au Pair do something similar showing her house, where she went to school, the grocery store, library, fun places to go, etc. We had our Au Pair show our daughter her house on Google Earth but I can see it being a lot more interactive if you show all the pins and the Au Pair describes her daily activities.

Seattle Mom March 19, 2014 at 3:46 pm

I’ve always printed out a neighborhood map and penned in the important places, but this is so much better! Great idea!

Anna March 19, 2014 at 5:08 pm

I already do that!

Taking a Computer Lunch March 19, 2014 at 8:08 pm

My LCC does this for our cluster – she includes all the locations of APs in the cluster, colleges, places to take kids, hospitals, etc.

hOstCDmom March 19, 2014 at 8:10 pm

You have a great LCC! I have never heard of an LCC doing this!

WarmStateMomma March 19, 2014 at 9:54 pm

HD and I each spent 10 minutes on this today and already have something really useful. Love it!

Host Mom in the City March 20, 2014 at 11:16 am

We do this. I will say I am fairly technically savvy, and I do have some difficulty with it each year when I try to update it. They also don’t seem to look at it after our initial training. We also use google calendar to create our schedule (we’ve used it for our own calendar probably for almost a decade), but have found that none of our three au pairs use google calendar and still ask me to hand them printed schedules (we do our schedule months in advance). So although I am all for technological solutions and ideas, I haven’t found these things to be all that useful from the au pair’s point-of-view. But maybe I just haven’t had very IT savvy au pairs? :)

Should be working March 20, 2014 at 11:40 am

I have a “tutoring session” with Google calendar and they usually figure it out well enough. I also make it part of their job to fill in kids’ appointments and playdates. The AP gets a “work calendar” that I set up, and her own account for inputting her commitments so that we can see when she has a plan or a vacation. That alone motivates them to learn the system.

Gretchen March 20, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Great idea! Just spent the morning putting one together for our incoming au pair.

Important note about this: In order to send the link to them, they need a Google Account. Very easy and free to get, but just keep that in mind!

MommyMia March 25, 2014 at 10:18 am

Another thing that you’d think the LCC’s would be advising APs and families to do. But then again, in our cluster, I seem to be the only HP who even schedules her AP (one of the reasons I was reluctant to return to current agency was this LCC who has been doing this for many years yet is so clueless!) Some APs in our cluster can’t make plans until the “night of” when they are suddenly told they have the evening off after 8 p.m. or find out on Sat. at noon they are needed to work, although they bought tickets weeks ago to a concert, etc. I even introduced our LCC to this site after I found it, but she never recommended it to other HPs to my knowledge. So frustrating!

LookingForwardToBeAP(made it!) March 20, 2014 at 8:14 pm

Great idea!! I would have loved to receive something like this before coming!!

And as an au pair I would love to use it during my year and add things for the next au pair too.

Busy Mom April 8, 2014 at 8:22 pm

I send our custom Google map as a link in our intro email that we send out before interviewing. I include on it our house, schools, activity locations, local college for classes, malls, orientation hotel and famous sites in NYC. Helps the AP see where she will be. Plus, they can look at street view and get a good sense of our town.

I print maps to regularly visited locations (e.g., friends houses, doctors) and keep them in a binder. However, in general I find that two most recent au pairs relied on the GPS. Map reading is becoming a lost art…

Should be working April 9, 2014 at 12:44 am

I say during matching that I consider map reading an important skill and expect APs to at least try. I also give directions verbally using cardinal terms (“it’s 2 blocks west of State Street”) and if they ask which way is north I say, “the lake is always east, does that help?” GPS doesn’t always work or isn’t always correct. Map reading matters.

ChiHost Mom October 27, 2014 at 11:38 am

Also there are dead zones thanks to buildings in Chicago. So if you can’t read a map you might be in trouble.

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