Oct 5, 2012

Is your au pair depressed?

Having an au pair makes sense when you are working parents and need someone to look after the kids but it should not be forgotten that au pairs are people too and should not be looked upon as maids to pick up after your children. They are mostly exchange students or young adults taking a gap year and are there to learn another language, enjoy the culture as well as care for the children. If your au pair becomes morose it is because she misses home and longs for her family. Make her feel comfortable and ask her if she wants to call home. Here is an easy way to integrate her into the family.

Introducing her to the neighbors
Finding a good au pair takes a little time as it involves research and registration as most au pairs are from Europe and other parts of the world. She has her own bedroom and is there to learn and look after the kids. Meeting the neighbors is important for her as she makes new friends and can go out and visit the sites in her spare time. Give her the phone number in the event she gets lost, and also a time by which you would like her to be home.

Feeling depressed
It is very normal for an au pair to feel down. She misses her family and her own surroundings. Let her call home once a week and speak for five or ten minutes. This will do her the world of good because she is in a strange country and far away. She needs to hear their voices and know how the family is doing. She will feel much better after the call.

Duties and responsibilities
Treat her like your own child and give her a list of duties to perform. Make sure that everything you agree upon is in a contract. An au pair’s duty for the most part is the care of the children; taking them to school, picking them up, cleaning the dishes and light duties to keep the house clean. She is not there to paint and wash the floor; her duties do not include washing dishes repeatedly.

Integrate her into the family
When you are at home, give her the evening off. Be generous with her free time. Going out with friends and having fun must be part of the deal. If she is good with the kids it is a huge plus. Go out as a family, introduce her to relatives, take her with to the park, and give her time to study. Have her understand that the kids are your first priority. Make her feel important and part of the family. If she appears sad and depressed, let her call home.  Always think of how you would like your own kids to be treated, and treat her with the same love and respect. Having a happy au pair in the house is a blessing when you have kids.