Forever AuPair offered this as a comment to the earlier post13 Things Your Au Pair Wishes Host Families Knew, by Janine Snyder (AuPairSis). I thought it would make a great post of its own!
What I Wish My Host Family Knew
1. Support your Au pair when she disciplines your kids, even if you would have done it differently:
The worst that can happen is when an Au pair tries to discipline a child because he or she wasn’t behaving well, but the parents don’t support her. She might say that the child can’t have any screen time that day only to discover that the parents said it would be ok after all when they got home at night.
I understand that there might be things you would handle differently, but please don’t put the authority of your au pair down in front of the kids. I know that kids can pout and scram and demand to get that I pad back, but think about what your au pair has to deal with the next day. “Mom said it was ok to play on the I pad even though you said no” etc. kids are great at playing you, playing us.
This is a complaint I hear almost every day from my au pair friends, and it puts them into a position of not feeling valued or appreciated for the work they do. If you do believe her judgement of disciplining your kids was wrong, you can always talk to her about approaching it in a different way, but still, respect the punishment she put in place for that one time. Your child will not die because he didn’t get screen time for one day.
2. If you have to work from home and want me to work, please let me do my job:
So many times when my host Mom decided to work from home, she set herself up in the kitchen. Please don’t do that. There are plenty of other rooms you can work in and I can do my job the way you expect me to.
Your kids behave differently when you are around and I am on duty. Sometimes they misbehave in ways I taught them to be better, or they fall back into habits we worked so hard on to get rid of. “Au pair can you bring me a spoon, you didn’t give me one” (9 year old) If Mom would not be there, I would kindly say: “look honey, you are 9 years old, I believe you are very able to get your own spoon” but Mom might jump up before you even have the chance to say something.
It is hard for us to do our job when you are around. We feel watched and judged. We usually have a pretty good handle on your kids. (I know this does not apply to everyone, and some moms are really good about letting the au pair work while she is home) We want to do our best, but we can’t if you don’t let us.
3. Your mood actually does impact our life:
Everyone has bad days, and I do not judge you for that. But please do not come home, slam the door and let us know how bad your day was and that everything sucks. Sometimes you have to suck it up too and talk about it with a friend or your hubby later that night. You expect us to be cheery and happy when we start work because your kids deserve that, but your mood (and I mean a bad mood more than 2 times a week) does actually impact the family dynamic and sometimes I don’t want to have dinner at home after all.
4. Tell your au pair when she is off work:
Especially in the beginning you might have to actually tell us that we are off. I remember when I started, I didn’t know if I was allowed to leave when my host mom got home, or if she wanted me to stick around. It is really hard for us at first.
5. Give us privacy:
When you come home after we spent 10h with your kids, all we want is to relax, and that in our rooms, by ourselves. We understand that you worked as well, and I am not saying by any means that your work is less hard, but while you left your job to come home to your kids, we do think that this is relaxing time for you, and most of the time it is based on my Host Mom’s statements.
Don’t get angry if we don’t come up to chat until dinner, or help with prepping, I never did, but I did ask my Host Mom if it would be a fair trade if I cleaned up after dinner if she cooked, and I mean everything. I sometimes spent up to 45 min washing pots and pans and stacking dishwasher, wiping up table etc. But I loved doing that after I had a little break, and she sure did not mind. She always said this was the greatest deal for her, since she loved to cook, I on the other hand didn’t.
6. While on vacation, tell us if you want us to help you with your kids:
This is what we know and see– you are gone most of the week, we see your kids during the day more than you do, we think that you want as much time with them as you can while you are on vacation. So if you want us to help, or play with them, we are happy to do so, but we don’t want to take that time away from you either.
7. If you have a problem with us, or something is bothering you, please let us know, don’t write it on a post it note for us to read the next morning:
We want to work with you, be loved by your kids as well as you and your hubby. We want to do a good job, and that means that you have to tell us in person if we do something the wrong way. It is really hard to start work and seeing a note saying please don’t do that, please don’t do this. Most likely we don’t do this intentionally, so please tell us in person.
8. Last but not least, understand that it is hard for us to leave :
Incoming au pairs can be a really hard and sad situation for us. We shared 1-2 years of our life with your family. Your kids have most of my heard that I will never get back, respect that this is not just someone taking my position, it is someone taking “my” kids, room and host family that I grew to love so much over the past year. If your au pair was valuable, tell her that she always will be, and you will remember her as her, and not just a number in the au pair line. This goes a long way, because we will miss you very much.
I know that some of those points don’t apply to everyone. I just gathered some info from my own experience and some of my friends. Those were the things I wish my Host Family knew before I started. This blog is great, and I loved my relationship with my family. They will always be in my heart, no matter what happens.
Host Parents, did any of these ring true for you?
I winced at #7 — I’ve done that a lot myself. ~ cvh
When Host Parents Start Working ‘At Home’: Helping your au pair make the switch
Tip for the Work-At-Home Parent with an Au Pair: Have Rules for Interruption
Invasion of Privacy: Time for rematch?