Topic: Communicate Effectively, Set Expectations, & Ensure Success with Your Au Pair
In this interview, Host Mom Jennifer shares how she communicates effectively with her Au Pair, Danel. Jennifer has some great insights into how to set clear expectations and maintain consistent communication.
(Danel nominated her Host Family for the 2018 #LoveMyHostFamily Contest and they were voted the #1 Host Family in the USA this year! Congratulations!!)
Host Mom Jennifer’s first Au Pair placement didn’t work out due to a difference in expectations. Now, she says she is more thoughtful about communicating her expectations, as well as encouraging her Au Pair to communicate her own. This has been vital to their success.
These two factors are critical for first-time Host Families to understand and practice. Watch the video and/ or skim the timestamps to hear Host Mom Jennifer’s tips on how she communicates effectively with her Au Pair, sets expectations, and ensures a successful experience with her Au Pair.
Host Mom Jennifer wanted to share how she communicates effectively with her Au Pair, to help other Host Families understand what she’s learned from her experience.
For anyone experiencing a Rematch, Jennifer also leaves these words of encouragement, “If anyone is in it and it’s not going well, I would say not to give up.” Her first Au Pair was able to help her match with her second Au Pair, and Jennifer says she returned the favor by helping her first Au Pair find a new Host Family.
1:13 – Why Jennifer wanted an Au Pair
“My biggest reason why we wanted to get an Au Pair was for consistency. I have a 5-year-old, a 4-year-old, and a 2-year-old, and during the 5 yr old’s beginning of his childcare experience, we’d have a student that was home for college, and then they’d have to leave, and then we’d have to get a get a new student that would be in college, and then, second semester would change. And so it was consistently, like it was every few months we would be trying to find a new one, or we’d go back to an old one, you know, because of the seasons of their life, so for us it was consistency, that was a big thing.”
3:22 – Advice for finding a good match
“For us, I think values is important… Living in someone else’s home with different values can be really hard, I think. And then from there, I think experience is important. But also I think maybe even personality in the aspect of, we’ve had people before we had Au Pairs live with us, just because my husband is in an international mission organization. So we’ve had people from Brazil, people from Poland. And in all this experience, I think people that aren’t just like me, is actually better. [laughs]
“Which, you would think, ‘Well, don’t you want to get along? They’ll be just like you!’ But we’ve found that it’s easier when they’re not just like you, so you don’t butt heads.”
4:42 – Facilitating Bonding
“I think [with] the bonding, she’s done really well… I think also, being a little bit younger has helped. I was a little worried at first, cause she came to us at 18. And I think that you have to be careful not to just put her in a box, you know? If anything, she connects with the kids better because she’s closer in age to my kids than she is with me!”
6:28 – How Jennifer Communicates Effectively with Her Au Pair
“We used to meet every Monday night & we’d talk about things that we wanted to be stronger. And she would come with her concerns, if she had any. But now, we’re kind of at a ‘popcorn’ mentality, where I can just say it and she grabs it right away… The expectations, I try to keep high. In the profile, I maxed out the 45 hours, just from the get-go, so that there was no disappointment when she came. But, I mean, she probably works an average of 35.”
10:30 – Consistency in parenting style
“As a mother [can be] short and, you’re thinking, ok this is embarrassing. I just got short in front of my kids because three of them were asking the same question at the same time. You know? And so then, I’m embarrassed, and I’m just having to balance that all the time.
“But I think for disciplining, she does a good job. She also, at the end of the day, gets 15 minutes to write like, a log of how it went—the highs, the lows of each day with the kids. And so then, at night, I can also reinforce any of the issues she may have had with the children. So when I’m putting them to sleep, I can be like, ‘Hey, she asked you to eat this and you didn’t. Did you understand that you need to?’ … It allows me to communicate with the kids as if I was there, too.”
(It sounds like Jennifer might be onto something! Journaling about your day can be a great contributor to success).
13:09 –Host Parent- Au Pair relationship
“We are very comfortable with her, and maybe sometimes that can be hard… So, how do you keep that professional relationship, but also a family? You know? She’ll… My husband has his blinker on too much when he drives, and she’ll speak up and say that, and that can be hard. He’ll kind of just come back with a funny line
16:48 – Insights from previous Rematch
“I’m one of those, like, ‘I’m gonna fight for it’ kind of thing… I think the best of [my first Au Pair] and I want her to be happy.
“She was the one who asked to be Rematched. I think when that happened, I was scared. But, hindsight 20/20, it was the best thing for us. I was gonna make it work & think this was the best it was gonna be. But I’m glad it happened when it did.
“We wouldn’t have learned or known [what to ask] without having that experience. So, I don’t think it was a terrible living experience. I mean, it was hard going through it. But in the end, it was just fine.”
21:26 – Most important factor(s) for success
“Expectations is a big thing. What they’re expecting—to work, what they’re expecting from your family, what they’re expecting around you, what they’re hoping to get out of it. Do they hope to travel with your family? Are they coming here just to work? Or are they coming to make friends?”
“Communication, I think, is important. Personality, which I brought up, was key for us… Because, you want them to do it the way that you want to parent your children, because you aren’t able to be there.”
Are Jennifer’s insights on how she communicates effectively with her Au Pair helpful to you? Do you have advice for other Host Families? Message the Au Pair Sis on Facebook to share, or leave a comment below.