When your au pair arrives in your home, the way that you’ve prepared for their arrival can say a lot about how excited you are to get to know them.
We’re all away of the basic things we should have ready — a clean, happy bedroom, a freshly printed handbook, a personalized map, a training schedule, a phone, and a driving lesson.
There are lots of ‘optionals’ too, that depend on your own particular family situation, such as a poster from the kids, a trip to the local ice cream store, or a little gathering of other au pairs in the cluster.
The general idea is that we want to offer our Au Pairs whatever they need to get started, and to feel welcomed and wanted.
We also want to make sure that we begin as we intend to continue. Do you pay for your au pair’s ice cream treat on day 3? Then you probably should pay for her ice cream treat on day 308. Do you want your au pair to empty the entire dishwasher at once or is it okay to do it over the course of 7 hours? Show him right from the start that it’s all at once, or beware a sink full of mess.
First Time Host Mom Lauren is thinking about all the little things, because (of course) she wants to set things up so that her family and her au pair succeed. She asks:
Our first AP is arriving in a few months (we’re so excited!), and I’m not sure what is standard in terms of who pays for certain things. For example, when she first arrives I’m sure she will need a lot of things – toiletries – bathroom stuff like shampoo, conditioner, soaps, feminine products, as well as a hair dryer, and I’m sure lots of other things.
I’m planning on paying for her sheets and towels (because we’ll keep them), but who pays for the other stuff? I don’t want to take her on a big shopping spree when she comes here and send the wrong message, but I also don’t want to be rude and have her put out all this money when she gets here especially if she doesn’t have much.
What’s the standard practice here?
My rule of thumb is that the Host Family should provide whatever non-perishable, non-consumable things a normal person would need, such as a hairdryer, bathroom scale, alarm clock, and the random organizing tchotchkes that you can find at Bed, Bath and Beyond.
As for toiletries, I’ve put together baskets of hotel samples to tide an au pair over until she gets paid and can go to the store to choose her own products (with all her favorite fragrances).
But sanitary products? I’d probably suggest that she bring a month’s supply so that she has time to figure out which of the millions of options in Walgreens’ Aisle 6 might work for her.
What sorts of small supplies have Host Parents offered that seem to make a difference? Or efforts that turned out to be a waste of energy?
What To Do About Au Pair Bath Towels: Folks want to know (Poll)
Ways to start orienting your New Au Pair: Some advice for the first two days
Your Au Pair’s Room: Advice
Too much excitement for her first weekend?