For Host Parents: Helping Your Au Pair Beat Homesickness
Starting the au pair program is exciting for everyone but it does require an adjustment period. Even before your au pair shows any signs of homesickness, it's good to check in with her to make sure she's comfortable in her new surroundings. AuPairCare does a lot here to prepare au pairs and to help au pairs who are missing home, but there are some ways you can help your au pair as well:
Help your au pair make her room feel like home! You can start before she arrives or you can make this a family/au pair bonding activity after she's arrived. Either way take some time to let her know that shes going to be part of your family. Also, this doesn't have to be expensive! You can include artwork by your children, help her frame photos of her family and friends, pot some plants together that you can check in on as the year goes by.
Encourage your au pair to socialize with the other au pairs in your area. Au pairs will be sent emails from their Area Directors inviting them to monthly meetups. Try and encourage her to attend! It will be great for her to meet other girls going through the same experiences as she is. She may even meet another girl from her home country, giving her some to relate to while she's here. Just like you, au pairs need to maintain their work life balance!
Ask your au pair to share traditions from her home country. Sharing with you and your family the cuisine, music, stories and traditions she grew up with will remind her that home isn't really that far away! One of the reasons au pairs come to the USA is to experience our culture, but sharing with you and your family will lift your au pair’s spirits and strengthen your bond.
Invite your au pair to family events, especially recreational activities. Think about how cool it will be for your au pair to experience an American Thanksgiving, or to cheer for the home team that you love. We have several tips on our blog on integrating your au pair into your home and life!
Symptoms of homesickness can include: decreased motivation, anxiety, irritability, sadness and withdrawal. If your au pair displays these symptoms, or tells you outright she is homesick - ask what you can do to help! Also be sure to let your Area Director know and she'll work to address it with your au pair as well. If you au pair understands you're here to help her through her feelings and that your home is a welcoming place, you can increase your chances of a wonderful au pair experience!