Communication is the foundation of a successful program year with your au pair. This foundation is primarily laid in your first month together. Here are seven ways to create clear communication with your au pair.
1. Be warm and welcoming.
It’s important to be mindful of how you welcome your au pair during their first few weeks in your home. Your au pair is an amazing childcare provider however they will need time to settle into an entirely new environment. Be patient, kind, and thoughtful to the adjustment.
2. Set your au pair up for success.
Whenever you start a new job, your employer provides training and resources to set you up for success. The same is true for your au pair. Your au pair undergoes excellent training at our InterExchange Orientation and Training Program immediately before arriving at your home. Once your au pair arrives, you can begin training on the things that are unique to your family. During your first month together, spend extra time leading by example and walking your au pair through the tasks that he or she will be expected to perform on a regular basis.
3. Be intentional with how you communicate.
Cultural background strongly influences communication styles. Before your au pair arrives, do some research on the communication subtleties of their home country. What you discover may or may not be true of your au pair but it can certainly help you understand their point of view. Once your au pair arrives, ask how they prefer to receive feedback and then observe what types of communication your au pair responds best to.
4. Meet often.
Schedule a weekly meeting throughout the first month with your au pair to consistently set clear expectations.These check-ins don’t need to be long- 30 minutes is sufficient. Cover how things are going with the kids, any challenges you both are facing, how you can better communicate, and so on.
5. Explain the little things.
Our host families and au pairs are often surprised by unexpected cultural differences. For example, a cold cup of ice water is refreshing to Americans while Europeans often prefer a room temperature glass. Examples like this will constantly pop up during your program year, displaying the richness of cultural exchange! It also means that you need to take time with your au pair to demonstrate how you like the little things done, such as loading the dishwasher. This may seem trivial but getting the details ironed out early prevents strife in the future.
6. Cover the big things.
Be sure to clearly communicate (and write down!) your house rules such as your au pair’s curfew, phone usage, and shared car schedule. Be mindful of the fact that your au pair is an adult, so your guidelines should be a balance of respecting their freedom and managing your household. If you need a sounding board on how to approach these topics, do not hesitate to reach out to your InterExchange Local Coordinator
7. Brainstorm with your au pair.
In any job, there are tasks that simply need to be done and tasks that we can’t wait to do. When it comes to childcare ideas and activities, get your au pair’s buy-in by brainstorming with one another on how to work with your little ones. You’ll have the opportunity to learn together and your au pair will be more passionate about the ideas that you both come up with.
There’s so much to look forward to throughout your program year and clear communication with your au pair is the cornerstone of success. Refer back to this blog whenever you need a refresher. Have a great year!
Joy is a huge advocate for cultural exchange. She's lived across the USA, then moved overseas to London and Sydney. She currently resides in Jakarta, Indonesia, giving her a unique perspective on working and thriving in a culture not her own. Joy graduated from the University of Sydney with a degree in Marketing and started her career in the au pair industry. She works on the blog and social media for the Au Pair USA program.