Tag Archives: relationship

Host Family Hints for Success: Better Communication

Au pairs often reach out to me to discuss concerns they have. The first question I always ask is whether they have brought it up to their host parents yet. The answer is normally no. I suggest to them to bring it up at their next routine check-in meeting with their host parents, because host parents can’t help with problems they don’t know about. A surprising number of au pairs tell me that they have no such check-in meetings with their host parents and many say they never even had them in the beginning of the match. 

A lot of communication takes place via text. It is difficult to understand the intended tone of text messages and this can lead to miscommunications. This is especially true when you add in the fact that English is not the first language of most au pairs. There are subtle nuances in language that have positive and negative connotations and it takes many years to learn those things. When speaking face to face, we can see someone’s facial expressions and body language and that helps us understand what they are trying to communicate.

I realize many host parents have demanding jobs and are stretched thin, but these check-in conversations are important for a successful match. The biggest thing is putting that time on the calendar and sticking with it.

With au pairs living in their host family’s home and in many instances having two host parents, they often feel outnumbered and powerless. Many au pairs have a very hard time bringing up concerns to their host parents. And when host parents don’t ask how an au pair is feeling or how things are going, they often think the host parents don’t want to know. 

Why is it important to create this open communication environment?

  • Good communication strengthens your relationship with your au pair. 
  • It tells your au pair that her feelings, wants, and needs matter to you.
  • It’s easier to address problems when they are small.
  • It creates a less stressful/awkward environment in the home.
  • It reduces the chances of a rematch.

Bonus Tip: If you cannot say yes to an au pair’s request or need to ask them to deviate from their normal schedule or duties, it’s always a good idea to give a brief explanation. Without any context these kind of situations can lead to assumptions and hard feelings, when there may have been a simple, reasonable explanation. 

Image: John Benson (Flickr)

Host Family Hints to Help Your Au Pair Match Flourish

Host parents have many responsibilities and are often very busy. Hosting an au pair can provide help with a large part of the childcare related responsibilities. Below are a few simple things you can do to help your au pair match flourish.

Treat Your Au Pair Like a Family Member – Au pairs who feel appreciated and included as a member of their host family tend to see their host children as family members and feel very invested in their happiness and success.

Stay on Top of Payments –  Au pairs can feel very uncomfortable if they need to ask for their weekly stipend payment. This can also make them feel like their work is not appreciated or you are unconcerned about their needs. Add a recurring weekly event on your calendar, use payment apps or automatic bank transfer to schedule your au pair’s stipend payment and give yourself one less thing to remember.

The same is true for their transportation costs to cluster meetings and classes. Au pairs let their host family know about the costs but some host parents don’t always follow through and reimburse them. Here’s a blog post with information and tips on how to handle transportation costs.

Communication – Make time every couple of weeks for a check-in conversation. This provides your au pair a time to bring up questions or concerns which she may be hesitant to bring up when she see’s how busy you are day to day. It’s also a good time for discussing any concerns you have as well as planning for upcoming events or schedule changes. 

Photo: Shared by an APIA Host Family