Apr 22, 2012

Having a foreign au pair in your house who doubles as a student

Having anyone strange in your house for any length of time can probably be the most important thing to adjust to as it entails giving up some of your space. Having an au pair to look after the children can be doubly so as you are responsible for her while she is with you. If she is a student continuing her studies, she will need time to do her schoolwork as well as do some light chores. If she cannot speak English well, you will have to learn to be patient. Your children will have to adjust to this new person in the house. There will be an extra person at the supper table. There will be more laundry, more to clean up and your student has to make it easier for you. Here are some ideas and things you can do to facilitate an easy relationship where everyone benefits.

• While your au pair is from a country where English is not the first language, your children have a chance to learn a new language and the au pair also peps up her English. Learning a new language together can be fun.

• Your children can also learn some new recipes by sampling food the au pair has prepared and broadening their culinary experience.

• Establish a clear time of the day when the au pair will have two hours to herself to relax in her room and study. If possible, let her have her own room. Everyone needs to be alone some time during the day.

• Introduce your au pair to your friends and neighbors so they know there is someone living with you and particularly if anyone has a daughter the same age. Help her make some friends.

• Take some insurance that will protect her while she is in your care.

• Take her along on some of your activities such as all of you going to the skating rink or the park or a local baseball court.

• The museum is also a good place to visit as your au pair’s stay is a learning experience. She will return home eventually and take her experiences in a foreign country with her.

• If your au pair seems extraordinarily quiet, talk to her as it is not easy to leave your family and live in another family’s home so far away. Remember, she is someone elses child.

• Let her make a call to her parents in Europe once a month. These small little things will make her feel more comfortable and at ease.