Your time as an au pair is coming to an end. Being an au pair is a unique experience and you’ve most likely developed a really close relationship with your host family. But as your last day gets closer and closer, you know you’ll have to say goodbye soon.
While there are a lot of practical steps you need to complete before you leave the country, there are also some emotional steps. Here are 6 tips to help you prepare emotionally for a successful goodbye.
It’s important for you to plan ahead of time what your next move will be when you finish au pairing. Having a plan when you leave will help you transition into the next chapter of your life.
Whether you are going back to your home country, au pairing in a different country, studying, working abroad, or whatever adventure is next, many of these things require taking action ahead of time. By planning ahead you can make sure to meet deadlines and have everything ready for your next step after finishing your au pair year.
Tell the Children
The children you’ve been watching will be sad to see you go. For some of them, this is a difficult concept. It’s important for them that you sit down and explain to them that you’re leaving. Telling them when you’re leaving and what you’re going to do next can help them conceptualize what is coming. This gives the children plenty of time to get used to the idea of saying goodbye to you.
Take time to share some of your favorite memories with your host family, including pictures and videos you took along the way. It’s great to ask the kids as well what they remember about their time with you. It can be a fun and funny experience to hear what made an impression on their young minds. Sharing these memories might make saying goodbye a little easier because you know you’ll all remember the good times you shared.
Lots of au pairs will make a photo album or print some photos to share with their host family as a gift when they leave. It’s great for the kids to have a physical item to remember you by. And for those kids who love reading time, pictures of you together might become one of their new favorite books.
Sharing photos or a photo album will help the kids to remember you and the memories you shared with them, even after you’ve said goodbye. If you print one for yourself, you can also take home a physical album to help you preserve and remember those memories.
Cherish Your Last Moments
Being present in your last moments with your host family can help you prepare to leave. If you have favorite things to do with your host kids, make it a goal to do them each one more time before you say goodbye. Whether that’s going to the park, getting a pastry from your favorite bakery, watching them jump around monkey town, or anything else. You and the children will enjoy getting to do your favorite things together again before you leave.
Enjoy the little moments in addition to the bigger moments. You might handle lunch time, school pick-ups and drop-offs, nap time, reading time, etc. All these little moments are what made up your year with your host family, cherishing them as well can help you feel like you made the most of your last weeks with your host family.
Help the New Au Pair Settle In
When it’s possible and the host family has an adequate amount of space, some families will choose to have their new au pair overlap with their previous one. This time together allows you to help both the children and the new au pair adjust to the change.
One of the main advantages of overlapping is that you can help train the new au pair. You can be a great asset in showing the new au pair what your routine with the children looks like. You can also show them how to get to the children’s school, the park, the supermarket, the public transit stop, and other things they may want to know. However, it’s also very important that the host parents take part in this transition, so make sure you aren’t taking on all the responsibilities of getting the new au pair settled in.
This time of overlap can also be an advantage to you. Maybe you split the responsibilities so you have a bit more time to pack your things and say goodbye to the other friends you’ve made. Then you can take the kids for some special activities when they’re finished with the more routine parts of their day.
Overlapping with the new au pair also requires you to have the right attitude. Make sure you allow the new au pair space to shape their own perceptions and settle into their new environment. It’s important for all the parties involved (you, the new au pair, and the host family) to set expectations for this transition. Set boundaries for your space, time, and emotional well-being.
Keep In Touch
Of course, after spending so much time with your host family, you will want to find ways to keep in touch with them. Technology gives you a lot of easy ways to communicate.
The first couple of months can be the most difficult. As you’re getting settled into wherever you go next, you might find yourself missing your host family a lot. Consider setting up a couple of video calls for the first month after you leave. As you start to get more comfortable in the next chapter of your life, you might reduce the frequency of your calls. While you’ll always hold a place in each other’s hearts, this is healthy for you and your host family. You don’t want to be hung up on the past.
While it’s important to be present in your current situation, you’ll still want to hear from each other. Set up a group chat where you can receive photos and updates from your host family. They’ll also want to keep up with you and your next adventures!