At the beginning I was against having an au pair living at home with us. But then I decided to give it a try. And started to interview a few until I found the person I thought we were looking for.
She came for 9 months, and I wish she was still with us! It was the best au pair experience we could dream of! Elisabetta was simply the best! We got along very well, from the beginning and… she left with a piece of my heart!
When she left we looked for someone else, but I bumped into a bunch of irresponsible girls. To give you an idea: we agreed with another one the date she would come, I bought the plane ticket for her… and she did not show up. So rude!
So I abandoned the idea of having another au pair until Elisabetta came back to visit… and made us wish to have another experience like that. So I started to look again and found more responsible girls this time around – maybe because summer period is approaching and more people want to try this experience.
And yesterday, Jasmine joined our family! We were so excited. So I prepared a welcome basket, with some sweets, a personalized gift for her, products she might need in the house, and few touristic information (maps, guides, etc).
I wanted her to have the best experience, also if she is staying with us for only 1 month… but her first 24 hours were a nightmare!
Today she took a shower and flooded the house!
I mean, yes it is a hassle for us. We will need to fix the ceiling and so on.. but to her it was also a shocking morning.. she arrived in a new country, with a new family, in a new home, in a new language, and first thing she does? Flood someone else’s house.
I run back home form work, and of course I was pissed and tried to remain calm. But when she told me “I will look if there is a plane for tomorrow” I felt very bad for her. I told her I did not want her to leave for this. That she will be more careful next time, and that it happens… but poor girl.
So here are the 5 important things if you want to host an au pair:
- It is one additional member of your family, and you need to take care of her (or him!) as anyone else. They will not be perfect – no one is, except Elisabetta (wink wink) – and there will be mistakes. You need to be ready to accept that.
- At the beginning it takes time to adapt. For you to a new presence in the house, three is a new adult in the house that you need to feed, and that will surely impact your privacy. But remember that she also has to adapt, and to way more things than you: to your entire family, house, country, language and habits. And this should not be underestimated – it has a strong psychological impact. She can feel alone.
- She will need help in a lot of things at the beginning, you will need to show the way around – be sure you plan for that! This also means you will need to become a tourist in your own city to show her around ! How to take public transportation for example… it is better you show her, not just explain!
- Spend extra time on communication. Be very clear on expectations, do not assume she knows your way of doing things, because nobody will do things your own way. I mean, when you ask your husband to take out the trash, does he do it your way? No, and he is married to you. So!!! But also open a big listening ear for her to tell you how she is and what her needs are – to avoid surprises and to adjust faster to each other needs. Communication always help. Always.
- Keep Calm and host an au pair. The cultural exchange that your kids will experience is unprecedented. Without considering the help you get !
I hope this episode, for how painful it can be, will not jeopardize the remainder of the month!