How to make it work “better”…..
Au Pair – noun a person, usually a young foreign visitor, employed to take care of children, do housework, etc., in exchange for room and board, entering the country on an education visa:
It was our plan all along to bring this young woman into our home and into our family. She gave us an excuse to tour our area and see the sights like we never typically did. Our family outings were so fun and we got to know her very well.
Monthly Au Pair meetings are required attendance and they gave her the opportunity to meet people her own age to enjoy her free time with. We also welcomed her friends into our home and that required new rules (no boys in her bedroom, hats off in the house (one boy said, “really?” and I said “YES”). They were all very nice young adults and showed respect to us. We even took a few of her girlfriends on weekend trips and family vacations. Our Au Pair was “working” for us but she was really like a teenage daughter with “no attitude” when we asked her for help.
However, we found that some families treated their Au Pair like “hired help” and made zero attempt to get to know the girls. Keep in mind, these are young adults that may be leaving their homes, families and friends for the first time and there will be homesickness about a month in from when they arrive. By the way, treating an Au Pair like “hired help” made for a tumultuous relationship for both the Au Pair and their host families; not a good combination. That was another reason we were glad to welcome other Au Pairs into our home. We did, however, require our Au Pair to fulfill her responsibilities with our kids and our home. We had a few minor issues when we had to parent our Au Pair when she slacked off of her responsibilities in our home. But they were minor. And, it did give us a little insight to having a young adult in advance of our children becoming them.
During our year she had two visitors from Germany, her boyfriend and her Mom. Having a young man in our home was interesting to say the least but he was very respectful of our rules and values once we let him know what our rules were and where he would be sleeping. And, her Mom was delightful; she couldn’t speak much English but we were able to converse quite well and she was thankful we were taking such great care of her daughter.
Did we learn her language – no. She was here to learn English. Aside from a few words “Wassermelone” Watermelon and “Guten Morgen” Good Morning….we didn’t learn a lick of German.
We quickly became her USA family and we absolutely love her to this day. It has been one of the best decisions we have ever made. Was it difficult sometimes? Absolutely! But, we wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. Our Au Pair and boyfriend visited us two years after she returned to Germany and two years later we attended their wedding and they recently visited us and shared the wonderful news that they are beginning a family of their own. We are excited to send our kids over to visit them during the summer without us in a couple of years. And, we fully anticipate our Au Pair and her family will be in our lives forever.
AUTHOR BIO: Au Pair ~ A Childcare Daycare Alternative Series is authored by working mom, Jeanne Petershagen. In this six part series, Jeanne shares her incredible experience with her AuPair and the life long impact her choice has made upon her family.