A professional au pair is not just an employee – she is a temporary addition to the family who provides childcare support. While your au pair will be living with you 24/7 for at least a year, she won’t be working that entire time. Au pairs can legally work up to 45 hours per week and up to 10 hours in any day. In order to have a healthy relationship in the home, it is important to encourage your au pair to become part of the community and have a life outside of your family.
A good practice is to ask your au pair what she is looking to gain from her time in the U.S., outside of the specific professional experience she is gaining from caring for your children. For some au pairs, it is perfecting their English. For others, it is experiencing American life and meeting locals. For others, it is taking classes at the local community college to further their professional training. If you can understand their motivation, you can help to guide them in accomplishing their goals.
Here are some other tips to help your au pair adjust to life in the U.S.:
- Encourage her to take educational courses as soon as possible so she can meet new friends
- Put a bulletin board in her room so she can hang up photos from home as well as her new adventures in the U.S.
- Encourage her to attend local events organized by PROaupair
- Have her make a “bucket list” of everything she wants to do and see while in the U.S.
- Ask your local PROaupair area director to introduce her to other au pairs in the area
As a host family, the more you can do to help smooth the transition for your au pair, the happier she will be during her time in the U.S. – and the more focused she will be in caring for your children.