How nice that you are considering hosting an au pair! My name is Willemijn Sneyder and, together with my husband and two daughters, I have hosted four au pairs so far from the US, South Africa, the Philippines, and Zimbabwe. The decision for our first au pair was quite big and exciting. Of course, someone from another country will come and live in your home, but there will also be someone who brings a lot of positive things. It is important that everyone in the family really wants an au pair and welcomes the au pair with open arms. I would be happy to tell you about my experience with au pairs and also give you useful tips!
3 tips for looking for an au pair
If someone comes to live in your house, it is important that your characters match each other and personal values agree. So talk about this in detail when you meet someone via a video call.
In addition, it is also good to know what you do and do not want. Discuss this at home, because a new family composition is being formed in which everyone must have a good relationship with each other so that all kinds of nice things are done for each other and relationships flow naturally. It is then a good idea to discuss the family routine and expectations with the au pair before he or she comes to the Netherlands.
Finally, it is smart to invest in communication. If your children do not speak English (yet), it helps enormously to make practical manuals so that you understand each other’s language. For example, make booklets with Dutch and English words and share them with each other. This also ensures that the au pair quickly feels at home and of course, we really want that!
Are you a parent looking for an au pair? Then register and we will help you!
How do you approach the introductory conversations with the au pair?
Do you have someone in mind that you would like to meet? Then video calls are the best way to get to know each other better. In any case, have several conversations with someone where you discuss practical matters, such as light household chores and the family routine. Of course, also look at the person on the other end of the line:
- Who is the candidate?
- Which values does that person find important?
- Why did that person choose to become an au pair?
- What does your potential au pair want to do after the year?
Above all, try to sense what someone finds important, how someone approaches life, and why someone has made certain choices. If you know this, the chance of a successful match is very high!
What’s something you had to get used to?
With every au pair we’ve had so far, there have been new things we’ve had to get used to. That is of course very normal, because every person is different. For one au pair, doing a mountain of laundry may be a chore and for another au pair this may be the perfect task to relax.
I have learned that every au pair has her own qualities. For example, one was very good at helping the children with their homework and another had an affinity with something completely different like cooking, so you can discover that together. What do you need as a family and in which tasks do the au pair’s qualities come into their own?
What are the advantages of an au pair?
You have a lot of practical help at home that is very regular. There is always childcare available for the children, creating a lot of freedom and peace for both parents and children.
When the children come home from school, we like to have someone at home who can keep an eye on them while they play. We also discuss with the au pair in advance what they like to do and what they don’t like to do and we then coordinate this well. The extra help with cooking is also very nice especially if both parents have busy jobs.
We also enjoy celebrating birthdays together and going out with the au pair. In addition to celebrating Father’s, Mother’s, and Children’s Day, for example, we have created Au Pair Day. On this day we will go out with the whole family!
How do you find the balance in the family’s privacy?
We have never given up our privacy when an au pair arrives. We think it is important that someone is part of the family and feels completely at home. Watching TV together is normal for us and fun to do with the au pair.
Of course, it is also nice that everyone has their own time and takes it if that feels good. In this way, privacy finds its balance. That has always gone well for us so far. You have to be prepared for someone else to come and live in your home, but the positive returns have been so worth it.
What does a day with the au pair look like?
We think having breakfast together is very important. The table is set in the morning with the au pair together, after which the children get up and sit at the table. The day is discussed at the breakfast table because things often change. We then discuss who, what, where, and what needs to be done.
Then the children go upstairs and get ready to go to school. The au pair will help clear the breakfast table in the meantime. When everyone is on their way, the au pair starts her own day. For example, she will study, go to the library, walk, or run.
An hour before school ends, she starts her working day again and looks at the schedule to see what needs to be done in the afternoon. She then picks up one of the children from school and coordinates with the eldest about what will happen that afternoon. For example, they go skating, swimming, to the library, or to a museum in Haarlem.
Everyone comes back home around 5 o’clock. We ask the au pair if she can cook a few times a week and then we have a nice meal together with the whole family. Her working day is then over.
What about speaking English?
We have chosen to always speak English when the au pair is present. The nice thing about this is that the children have learned to speak English and in turn, they also teach the au pair Dutch. This is a super fun exchange to see.
What are you looking for in an au pair agency?
It is essential that the au pair agency knows that the au pairs are coming here to realize a dream and are not coming here for a job. They are looking for change in their lives and as a family, you are part of that change and dream.
We were initially at another agency where we felt the process felt like a transaction. The values therefore did not match each other. That’s why we looked for another agency that understood this, which led us to Nina.care.
As you read, there are many components to take into account and it is a process that requires your attention. You get a lot in return for that. Peace, freedom, flexibility, and attention for the children are aspects of hosting an au pair.
Clear communication is essential so that your values and expectations match. Is this all okay? Then it is inevitable that you will have a successful au pair year full of new, cool experiences that will make everyone happy. It really enriches everyone’s life!