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Preventing and solving potential Au Pair problems


You are currently living with your Au Pair / Host Family but something went wrong? There are potential problems that may occur during an Au Pair stay. We would like to share a piece of advice on how to deal with them! 

What kind of Au Pair problems might occur?

There might occur different problems related to language difficulties, cultural shock, misunderstandings, insecurities and disrespect to the Au Pair program definition from one or both sides. Below we are presenting specific situations that might occur and corresponding solutions. 
  1. The Au Pair takes advantage of the program to stay abroad in the economical way.
  2. The Au Pair agrees on his / her  stay with a Host Family but seems to ignore further emails and phone calls.
  3. The Au Pair feels verbally harassed or abused by the family in any way.
  4. The Au Pair is too exhausted after every working day because of too many working hours.
  5. The Au Pair refuses to speak in a foreign language and isn’t able to communicate.
  6. The Au Pair overuses the Internet and has always his / her smartphone, tablet or laptop around.
  7. The Au Pair spends most of the time on the phone and makes expensive international calls.
  8. The Au Pair seems to be different from what you have expected according to his / her profile.
  9. Au Pair's educational methods differ from the Host Family’s and the family doesn’t agree with them.
  10. The Au Pair is illegally using streaming sites or downloading.
  11. The Au Pair doesn't care about personal hygiene, the Au Pair room is dirty.
  12. The Au Pair spends every night out and is tired at work.
  13. The Au Pair has a driving license but no driving experience.
  14. The cultural differences seem to be bigger than expected. 
  15. The Host Family doesn't pay the required amount of pocket money. 
  16. The children don't accept the Au Pair.
  17. The Au Pair invites guests over.
  18. You have just discovered that the Au Pair has special diet requirements.


Problem: The Au Pair takes advantage of the program to stay abroad in the economical way. 

Solution: Before hiring an Au Pair, get a good idea about the person. Organize several Skype talks to make sure the candidate shows interest in the program, tries to get your children's attention and keep in touch with you. 

 
Problem: The Au Pair agrees on his / her  stay with a Host Family but seems to ignore further emails and phone calls
 
Solution: Due to the number of Host Families registering every single day, the chances of finding a suitable Host Family are really high. The same applies to Host Families, so if you happen to be searching for an Au Pair make sure you contact several candidates until you find the perfect match for your family. As an Au Pair, respect your promises and be open with the Host Family. If you have changed your mind, please let the Host Family know before they move further with the process.

 
Problem: The Au Pair feels verbally harassed or abused by the family in any way.
 
Solution: If you feel uncomfortable with the way the family treats you, try to talk about it with them so they get to know how you feel. If you feel unable to talk about it, please try to find a person you trust and who can help you. This may be an Au Pair agency or a 24h hotline of a social institution.Do not hesitate to report it to the police if you feel the family's attitude has crossed the line. Depending on the situation, you may need to leave the Host Family. Think about the consequences before canceling the Au Pair contract. Your visa might expire, if you do not find a new Host Family on time.

 
Problem: The Au Pair is too exhausted after every working day because of too many working hours, not enough free time, too many tasks.
 
Solution: Discuss the working hours with the other side. The Au Pair is responsible for tasks related to child care as well as some light housework. If an Au Pair feels overwhelmed, he/she needs to talk to the Host Family and explain his/her situation. The Host Family may think you feel fine if you don't share the problem. 

 
Problem: The Au Pair refuses to speak in a foreign language and isn’t able to communicate.
 
Solution: Encourage your Au Pair to speak! Involve the Au Pair in your conversations and ask questions. Show interest in your Au Pair's culture and life in her / his home country and find out what his / her favourite topics are. Keep in mind that you should speak clearly and slowly at the beginning and repeat if necessary. Make also sure your Au Pair has enough time to visit a language course to improve both grammar and spoken language.

 
Problem: The Au Pair overuses the Internet and has always his / her smartphone, tablet or laptop around.
 
Solution: An Au Pair should not use the Internet while working and taking care of the children. The Host Family should make this rule very clear. Nevertheless, the use of the Internet during the Au Pair's free time should not be forbidden. The Host Family has to understand the Au Pair's need to communicate with his / her people back in the home country. You can discuss this matter before Au Pair stay begins and note down in the Au Pair contract

 
Problem: The Au Pair spends most of the time on the phone and makes expensive international calls, because he / she misses family and friends
 
Solution: Talk to the Au Pair and make some rules for Internet and phone use. Skype could be a great solution for the Au Pair to talk and "see" his / her family during the Au Pair's time abroad. As a Host Family you can support the Au Pair by creating a good and welcoming environment in different situations. In order to keep her / him busy, the Au Pair could join some activities and meet new people. By joining a language course, the Au Pair will not only improve his / her language skills but also meet people who are in a similar situation.
 
Problem: The Au Pair seems to be different from what you have expected according to his / her profile. There might have been wrong references in the profile. 
 
Solution: Before choosing an Au Pair, organize several calls to get a broad impression. Interviews play an important role and references may help to decide whether the candidate may be your perfect Au Pair or not. Don't hesitate to ask specific questions and express your expectations and requirements in detail.

 
Problem: Au Pair's educational methods differ from the Host Family’s and the family doesn’t agree with them.
 
Solution: People usually tend to follow the methods they know from home, school, etc. Even though the Au Pair may have different educational methods in mind and he/she could bring some new ideas, the Host Family will always determine the way they would like to educate the children. Discuss this question with the Au Pair and share your methods that he/she has to follow. An Au Pair is NOT allowed to use corporal punishment on children, even if the Host Parents use this method.

 
Problem: The Au Pair is illegally using streaming sites or downloading.
 
Solution: The Au Pair might be unaware that it is illegal and prosecuted in some countries. As a Host Family, make sure you communicate this point to your Au Pair so she/he knows how to respect the country's law. 

 
Problem: The Au Pair doesn't care about personal hygiene, the Au Pair room is dirty.
 
Solution: Personal hygiene differs from country to country. Inform yourself about cultural differences and talk to your Au Pair about this problem. Maybe you can also establish some house rules to avoid certain behaviours.

 
Problem: The Au Pair spends every night out and is tired at work.
 
Solution: The Host Family should respect the way the Au Pair chooses to spend his / her free time. Nevertheless, it shouldn’t affect the way he / she performs daily duties. Discuss this situation with your Au Pair and try to find a solution together. 

 
Problem: The Au Pair has a driving license but no driving experience.
 
Solution: Take your time to drive the Au Pair around and let her / him practice so that the Au Pair can get used to the car. Provide your Au Pair with the security he / she needs. If it doesn't work, think about public transport.

 
Problem: The cultural differences seem to be bigger than expected. 
 
Solution: Read and discuss about the culture of the host country and Au Pair’s country before the Au Pair’s arrival as well as after. The idea of the Au Pair program is cultural exchange so you should be open-minded and willing to learn about a new culture.

 
Problem: The Host Family doesn't pay the required amount of pocket money. 
 
Solution: The pocket money sum should be noted down in the Au Pair contract. If the Host Family doesn't respect the contract, the Au Pair needs to discuss this problem with them. 
 

Problem: The children don't accept the Au Pair. 
 
Solution: The situation is new for the children and they will need some time to adapt. It can be really difficult for them to accept a new person if they are used to spend a lot of time with their parents or with any other person they really like. Skype with your future Au Pair so your children can get a first contact and an impression. Once the Au Pair is living with your family, do incorporate him/her in as many family activities as possible. This way your children will experience the Au Pair as a family member, not as a substitute for the parents.As an Au Pair, give the children some time to get used to your company and try to communicate with them more often. Spend some quality time with your Host Family. It will build trust in a shorter time.  

 
Problem: The Au Pair invites guests over.
 
Solution: Make it clear whether the Au pair is allowed to invite people over or not so the Au Pair gets to know the family's rules. The Au Pair must respect these restrictions and talk to the Host Family in case of any disagreement.
 

Problem: You have just discovered that the Au Pair has special diet requirements. 
 
Solution: Many young people nowadays follow vegetarian/vegan lifestyle or have certain allergies that lead to food limitations. Generally, we recommend indicating this information in the profile or discussing it during the Au Pair interview. We advise to mention details about meals and diet requirements in the Au Pair contract as well. Despite the Au Pair's food preferences, if she / he decides to live in a non-vegetarian family, the Au Pair should be ready to prepare meals with meat for kids.  E.g. sausages in hot water or nuggets in the oven. The Host Family and the kids got used to these eating habits and don’t want to exclude meat or other animal products. 

Tips for effective feedback

While discussing the issues, listen carefully to your Au Pair/Host Family and try to avoid monologues. Below are some tips that can help you express constructive feedback
  • Your statements should be substantial and include examples or refer to specific situations
  • Use the “I”- Perspective
  • Describe the qualities you want to criticize without being judgmental
  • Criticize the action and not the person
  • Stay objective and positive
  • Talk also about positive aspects and express praise 
Remember, that terminating the relationship should always be the last option. Give your Host Family or Au Pair time to adapt to the new situation. If you can’t work it out, do not forget about a notice period written in the Au Pair contract
 
If there are any other questions that have occurred during your Au Pair stay, check our FAQ page or Au Pair WIKI
 

See also







Pro Aupair