Congratulations, you finally found your perfect Au Pair / host family! Visa, Insurance, Flight – everything is set. But as the Au Pair finally arrives, both Au pair and host family have to realize, that conflicts and problems appear and everyday life isn´t as easygoing as thought. What can you do now?
It is helpful, if Au Pair and host family discussed and agreed on all the important points before the Au Pair´s arrival.
Often false hopes in the time abroad/ with an Au Pair lead to problems and conflicts. To avoid that, you need to get an exact impression of the other person and make sure, that you´re pursuing the same goals and expectations.
An Au Pair contract will help you to regulate everything, so make sure, that all aspects that are important to you are mentioned and that both parties signed the contract. AuPair.com shows you what this contract should look like and which aspects it should cover!
The new situation, which the Au Pair is in right now, is very unusual and therefore it needs time and space, to settle in. A new country, a new culture, new duties and responsibilities , that is much to process and for the host family those aren´t easy circumstances, either.
This tense situation quickly leads to disagreements and misapprehensions and these need to be clarified. AuPair.net can give you advice, so that you can enjoy a successful Au Pair experience.
Which conflicts may come up?
There are a lot of points that can induce problems:
- difficulties in language: The foreign language competence of the Au Pair is not sufficient, so that communicating is difficult and leads to misunderstandings.
- Settling-in-period: The Au Pair, but also the host family, need time to adjust to the new circumstances. The Au Pair has a lot of questions and isn´t familiar with the processes yet.
- cultural adjustment: One slowly needs to approach the new culture with its rules and manners, in order to adapt to it step by step
- Arguments and misapprehensions according to duties, principles etc.: The Au Pair doesn´t pursue its tasks the way the family would expect it, due to lack of knowledge and experience.
- Overload: The Au Pair cannot manage the tasks and duties in household and childcare and is overworked.
- Uncertainties, because tasks aren´t exactly defined and the procedures have never been explained
- Mistrust: Host Family and Au Pain can´t trust each other, because they aren´t honest or decisions are made without joint knowledge.
How can those arguments be avoided?
You can easily prevent these misapprehensions, but therefore Au Pair and host family need to be willing to work for this.
The host family should:
- talk with the children about the upcoming changes with an Au Pair
- accept the Au Pair´s difficulties with the language and keep in mind to talk slowly and clearly
- allow and consider the settling-in-period at the beginning
- determine rules of the family , so that one has guidelines for everyday life together
- encourage direct and sincere conversations and discussion, not only when conflicts occur
- demonstrate the interaction and behavior with the children and make clear, which educational methods are applied and how the education by the standards of the parents look like
- not give the Au Pair too many house chores
- stick to the regulations of the Au Pair program concerning working hours and freetime
- create an exact plan of the week, in which all of the tasks are described in detail
- be interested and open towards the culture and the habits of the Au Pair
- be considerate and open-minded
Keep in mind: An Au Pair is no experienced nanny! This young person never participated in an professional training for childcare. It has interest in children and the foreign culture, but probably it is its first time abroad alone. You should think about that, before you search for an Au Pair for your family.
The Au Pair should:
- be patient and allow itself and the family some time
- act with concern about the family and their needs
- hold back its habits and customs in order to adapt to the new culture
- ask directly, if there are any misapprehensions and uncertainties
- be clarified about the education of the children by the host parents and follow their instructions and regulations: You have to ignore your own views, if different opinions appear
- consider the requirements and demands of the family when you´re working, but suggestions for improvement are welcome, too.
- talk with the host family about difficulties and overloads and also about your feelings and emotions: every little thing that results in discomfort should be addressed immediately
- always be open and sincere, because honesty leads to trust
- not neglect tasks and duties
- respect the privacy of others: nevertheless the Au Pair should be inform the host family about its plans
- agreements and decisions should be made with the family
- use the meetings, the family sets up once a week, to pass criticism and praise
Only the ones, who are HONEST and OPEN can expect trust!
To pass on criticism correctly, you should consider the following advices:
- Concrete phrasings and examples (references to specific situations) help to make the make the criticism clear
- The criticism should include “I”- Perspectives
- The qualities that result in criticism, need to be described and shouldn´t be judged
- The criticism addresses the behavior and not the person
- Objectivity and positivity make statements credible, even if wishes are addressed
- don´t forget praise
Moreover, how to handle criticism is important. You need to practice objectivity and attention, if somebody passes criticism on to you. You need to allow him finishing his speech. If you do not see yourself in the positions to improve your behavior, you should work on a compromise.
Rejecting criticism is okay, nonetheless it needs to be passed with objectivity and reasons. And if the criticism helped you to improve, you can thank the critic for that.
In order to have an effective conversation you need to consider the following points:
- attention while listening
- no long monologues
- everyone should have the same amount of talking time
- no negative attitude towards the conversational partner
To quit the Au Pair stay and dissolve the relationship should be the very last consequence. In conversations and discussions you should try to find compromises and solutions. Both Au Pair and host family need time to get used to everything.
Changing the Au Pair can be very complicated and stressful, moreover it could afflict the children.
If you see no other possibilities, you still need to consider the period of notice, you should have agreed on in the Au Pair contract.