Introductions and Communication

You’ll enjoy meeting and spending time with your fellow au pairs!
You’ll enjoy meeting and spending time with your fellow au pairs!
Photo courtesy of Amy F.

Unspoken Rules

There are many house rules that everyone who living in the home will just know. There is going to be a period of time where you will need to take note of these unspoken rules in your host family’s home. To prepare, try to make a mental list of what these rules might be. Here are some examples:

  • Can people enter a room with a closed door or should they knock?
  • Are pets/shoes allowed on the furniture?
  • Should you use coasters for drinking glasses?
  • What topics are off limits to the children?

Neighborhood Tour

  • Ask if your host family is available to introduce you to the neighbors. Whom can you contact for help? Does a neighbor or friend have a spare key?
  • Is there public transportation? Where are the stations? How does it work? Where can you get a schedule?
  • Ask if your host family can drive you around. Where is your host family’s house in relation to the grocery store, school, or playground?
  • Where are the nearest parks, playgrounds, outdoor sports fields, or pools?
  • Where are the places you will be going to the most? Schools, supermarkets, malls, or parks?

Host Family and Au Pair Relationship

Clear, open communication between host families and au pairs is the key factor for having a successful program together. Make sure you start out on the right foot and discuss the following topics with your host family.

  • What is your host parents’ preferred communication style? Are they upfront and direct? More passive?
  • When would your host family like to schedule regular weekly meetings with you?
  • When you have problems or concerns, when should they be brought up? Immediately or at weekly meetings?
  • When can you go to your host family for advice or guidelines? How might they plan to give constructive feedback?
  • How might your host family define your role in the family: Mentor? Parent’s helper? Older sibling?
  • How might your host parents describe their expectations for the personal relationship they want to have with you?
  • How and/or when would your host family like you to spend time together as a family member?

An Au Pair’s Social Life

Our host families are aware that as a young adult, you will want to go out and spend time with age-appropriate friends. This will help keep you happy and more content! With this in mind, here are some guidelines to help you make good judgments in continuing to respect your host family’s home while still maintaining a social life:

  • Are you allowed to have other au pairs and children over while on duty?
  • When off duty, how many friends are you allowed to have over at once? Are there any off-limit areas of the house?
  • Are overnight guests allowed? Of the opposite sex?
  • What are your host family’s rules on having guests from your home country?
  • Is smoking allowed in the house, on your porch, or in the yard?
  • If you are of legal drinking age, what is your host family’s policy about alcohol in the house?
  • Are there any areas of the community that would be unsafe for you?
  • What are some tips your host parents would give to a young adult moving to your area? Where does your host family recommend hanging out during free time? Are there good places to meet people, volunteer, or join clubs or meetups?
  • Any additional social advice?

Next: Transportation and the Car »

U.S. Department of State-Designated J-1 Visa Sponsor
Alliance for International Exchange
The International Coalition for Global Education and Exchange
European-American Chamber of Commerce New York
Global Ties U.S.
International Au Pair Association
WYSE Travel Confederation