Today we get to know Alena and Tommaso, a multicultural
Host Family from Naples
(Italy), who chose the Au Pair program as a childcare solution for their 5-year-old daughter. We asked them a few questions about their multiple experiences as a Host Family. Keep on reading if you want to know more about how to host an Au Pair from abroad!
Let’s start with some questions about your Family. Why did you want/need to host an Au Pair?
To help us in providing a catholic education to our daughter, develop the English language as a native speaker and help us at home with household chores.
Was the gender important for you in the research? Did you prefer a certain gender, or would you have hosted both a male or a female Au Pair?
Yes, we wanted girls only.
What about the language? Was it an important factor for your search?
Yes, it was. We only looked for English native speakers WITHOUT any accent.
Have you already hosted an Au Pair before?
Yes, 11 Au Pairs.
Did you have any fears and your doubts before starting the experience?
No one. Once they arrive, in about a month, we understand whether we want them to continue or not.
How did you prepare for the stay?
With a private bedroom and bathroom.
Let’s delve into your experience as a Host Family. What were your requirements as a Host Family?
Catholic Faith, intelligence, availability and responsibility.
How long have you looked for a candidate before finding the perfect one?
When did the stay begin? If it began in the last few months, did the Coronavirus situation affect your Family life?
It started on February the 29th. The Coronavirus didn’t change our habits except from the closing of the schools. But our daughter speaks and studies three languages, therefore the Au Pair kept doing the same things the previous Au Pairs used to do before her.
What is the Au Pair nationality? Where does she come from?
She’s Australian but she lives in South Africa.
Did she need a visa to get to the Host country? Was it easy to get one?
Yes, a Working Holiday visa. It was difficult because the Italian consulate in Cape Town (South Africa) was highly inefficient.
How was her relationship with your kid? Did she accept her presence right away?
It’s great. My daughter loves our Au Pair and she accepted her right away.
How was your relationship with the Au Pair?
Excellent, as with all the other 6 we confirmed after the first month. If we are not convinced, after one month we end the agreement.
What’s a typical day of the Au Pair’s life like? What are her tasks?
It starts every afternoon from 3:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The mornings are free.
She has one day a week free but not on Sundays (the whole family goes to Mass and it is considered work)
From 3:00 p.m. she starts with the game and the child development activities (scheduled by us at the arrival of the AuPair). At more or less regular intervals she interrupts the activities to teach English, mathematics and a few other age-appropriate subjects.
She teaches Catholic catechism from time to time (mainly taught by Daddy).
She helps with cooking and, during the lockdown, also with cleaning the house.
Changing topic… The Au Pair program is challenging from a cultural point of view. What would you say about the foreign language? How was the communication with your Au Pair at the beginning?
We are all English native speakers. Dad is also Italian and French native speaker and the mother is Russian.
The Host Dad speaks English with the daughter and the Au Pair, the Host Mum speaks Russian with the daughter and English with the Au Pair.
Has the Au Pair ever felt homesick or alone during the Au Pair stay? If yes, what did you do to help her?
Yes, at the beginning. She is introverted and didn't want to make us very much involved, so we respected her space.
Cultural shock: speaking about habits and traditions, was there anything difficult or weird to deal with the new member of the Family?
No, we have already had a dozen Au Pairs.
Was there something you didn't like about the experience?
No. This AuPair, with the 6 others who stayed, is a first class girl and our relationship was excellent.
After hiring all those Au Pairs, you have become familiar with all the aspects of the program. So how would you describe the hiring process?
Long and annoying.
What advice do you want to give to future Host Families?
Take great care and invest a lot of time in the selection. It is essential to be honest in order to avoid not matching each other's expectations. If the expectations match the relationship is excellent.
If some areas have not been discussed, the problem will inevitably arise during the stay. It is better to be very clear during the interview: religious ideas, politics, habits, vices, etc.
What do you wish somebody had told you before the Au Pair stay?
Nothing, we are experts now.
What is the most memorable moment you lived as a Host Family?
The tears at the departure and the continuous and repeated coming back of the Au Pairs for holidays or simply because the Au Pairs missed us and our daughter.
Memorable are the moments when, after returning home, they looked for us to ask for advice on very, very personal problems, to ask for help (also financial), to help in the choice of studies.
Memorable is that 5 of the Au Pairs decided to change their life and study programs after the experience.
Memorable is the most beautiful compliment ever received: "I would like to find a husband like you, I want to become a Wife and a Mother like Alyona and I want a family like yours" written on the goodbye letter, all soaked with tears.
One last question: would you do it again?
Yes. We have been doing this for 5 years and will continue as long as we can.
A special thanks to Alena, Tommaso and their lovely daughter! Do you have any questions for them? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!