Entering a new home and position as an au pair can be a nerve-wracking experience. You want to make a good impression and form a bond with the family, but it can be overwhelming to embark on this new journey.
The key to making a first good impression as an au pair is to be yourself and prepare for the assignment ahead of time. Learn how to mold with your new family right away with these tips.
Present Yourself Professionally
Part of presenting your true self is to be comfortable yet professional. Be sure to dress in comfortable, yet presentable attire, especially if you are traveling for long periods of time. Ensure your clothing is tidy, tucked in, wrinkle free and not revealing in any way when you meet your host family. Even if you have been on a long flight, freshen up before you leave the airport, tidying your hair, skin and personal hygiene.
Share Your Culture
It’s important for you to do your research prior to your first meeting with your host family. Learn about the family’s background, culture and customs so you can express interest and knowledge about their lifestyle. Read up on the cultural differences and modes of communication your host family may partake in. For example, learn how they greet one another, signs of politeness and religious differences.
Be prepared to share your culture as well. Many au pairs bring a gift that has a story behind it, such as a small symbol of their home country, to share with the family. This gesture may also help spark discussions about you, your country and your customs with the parents and children.
The travel to your host family may have taken a toll on you, but it’s important to push through the exhaustion and socialize for a bit when you arrive. This day signifies a big change for both you and the family, and your excitement and enthusiasm about this new opportunity should shine through in your initial discussions with the parents and children. Those first few hours can be a crucial time for you and the family to bond.
It is likely the host family will want to treat you with a meal during the first few hours, so be sure to show good table manners and offer to help with serving or cleaning up to show you are willing to be an integral part of the family.
If you are feeling shy or intimidated during this first visit, divert your attention to the children. Begin by asking them questions about their likes, dislikes, interests and hobbies to begin forming a bond. Even if you are not completely comfortable conversing with the parents, they will see your efforts to get to know their children, which can be comforting for them.
Learn the Household Routine
Since you will be living with the host family for a significant period of time, make the effort (and a good impression) by asking about the family’s routines. Show that you are eager to get started in your new position and ask the family about their expectations of you. As you outline the expectations and learn the family’s routines, take notes to ensure you will become acclimated to the family environment quickly.
Remember to be positive while discussing your duties, expectations and preferences. If you feel uncomfortable with a request or duty, express this in a positive manner and offer alternatives to show you are willing to cooperate and make this the best experience for everyone involved.
When orienting into a new home, the Au Pair in America organization recommends the following:
- Ask for a home tour with instructions on how to use all of the appliances
- Make your room your own by decorating with your favorite mementos
- Review childcare expectations with your host family, including the daily schedule, preferred discipline strategies, food allergies and each child’s favorite toy, food and activity
- Request emergency contact information and provide your own while outlining safety measures for medical situations
- Ask for a tour of the neighborhood and inquire about au pairs in the area you can build friendships with during your time off
- Discuss educational opportunities and preferred days you can take classes
- Inquire about the host family’s extended relatives and expectations for family get-togethers
The more time you take to get to know the host family, the better you will become accustomed to the environment, thus making a first good impression.