Request from a host mom:
How do you fellow host parents deal with the excitement your kids have for the new Au Pair?
We all know how it is, the new Au Pair arrives and the kids barely let them go to the bathroom alone!
I feel like I spend the first few days shooing the kids away from the AP. Is this the right thing to do, or does that hurt their developing relationship? If I let them follow the AP from place to place, will the AP feel overwhelmed? Am I simply over-analyzing things? I would love to hear how you all deal with this early phase of the AP-child relationship.
Mom– This is one of those "good problems to have". When your kids are excited about your au pair’s arrival, there are all sorts of ways to channel their energy … they can help her find things, show her around the yard, teach her the names of their special stuffed animals, and more. I like to get my kids involved in ‘orienting’ the au pair, so that they can be with her and help her at the same time.
I agree, too, that it’s important to give her a little space… and so I tell the kids explicitly "Please let Clara have some quiet time in her room. She needs to call her mom and tell her she’s here safely. We can all be together later."
Then, I remind the kids about our customs/rules, e.g, no going into her room unless you’re invited, knock on the door first, don’t barge into the bathroom if the door is closed, etc.
Not only does it help the kids, but also it tells the au pair that you are thinking about her and that you are managing the kids’ behavior. It helps set a tone of welcome and respect.
We have two additional challenges in our family. First, one child is very excited about cuddling and being cuddled, and so I often need to ask her to give our au pair her "personal space". I actually have to say things like "Please let Clara finish her lunch before you climb into her lap. Also, please check with her that she’s feeling like a cuddle."
Second, the other child is much more reserved, and takes her time to warm up to new people. This sets up an interesting contrast between the two, since it might look as though child one adores the new AP and child two dislikes her– when in fact they are both excited, each in her own way. I point this out as a way to start to show our au pair the differences and similarities between the kids, and encourage her to get to know each one on each one’s own timeframe.
How about you all? What do you do the first few days to manage the excitement of the "brand new" au pair? Please share…