The idea of welcoming an au pair into your home can be both exciting and scary. The first few weeks of getting to know each other personally and professionally is a very important time. Here are some tips for getting things off on the right foot and continuing to keep you, your au pair and your children happy!
1. Create a written list of rules/expectations.
Give the au pair clear direction on your childcare practices and your house rules. The handbook should contain everything from what to do with the kids (e.g., what they can eat, washing hands, how much screen time) to house rules (e.g., no shoes in the house, dishes should be washed after a meal).
2. Help with communication.
One of the biggest challenges with an au pair can be the language barrier. Take her to a local language school and help her enroll in classes. Teach her how to use apps like Munchkin Report and have her log children’s activities throughout the day. This is super helpful because it eliminates any confusion on what took place during the day.
3. Make sure she is comfortable with the area.
Take her around the local area so she can see where the kids can play (parks, playgrounds) and where she might like to go during her time off (coffee shops, movie theaters).
4. Include you au pair in family activities.
This will help her feel comfortable around you and the kids. It also gives her a chance to see how you interact with as a family.
5. Provide feedback.
Set time so you can provide feedback on what is going well and what areas might need attention. This is critical in the early days when you are still getting to know each other. You might start with weekly meetings and then move to monthly as you get more comfortable with each other.
What are some challenges you’ve faced hiring or onboarding your au pairs? Leave a comment below!
Everything in moderation. This is sound advice for most things and it is the adage that ran through my mind while reading The Quantified Baby by Anna Prushinskaya.
There is no doubt that in today’s society there are a number of distractions. The Quantified Baby describes the potential distractions of tracking your baby, but for me tracking has provided freedom. Tracking has not only given me the information needed to understand my child’s sleep habits and establish healthy routines, it has also helped me promote healthy eating and optimize play schedules.
The article suggests that tracking may take the human element out of understanding your child’s day. I feel quite the opposite. Because everything is tracked I can let our nanny go more quickly in the evening and get right to spending time with my children. In my pre-tracking days, I spent a lot of time asking questions about the day. Now I check Munchkin Report before I leave the office and know when I get home who has napped, who has eaten, and can even begin to engage right away with “Tell me about going on the swings that looked like so much fun!”
There is no doubt that technology can be a distraction. I know many parents who, in my opinion, spend too much time editing their online lives on Facebook and Instagram rather than focussing on the real life happening in front of them. They are the same people who might say that the 30 seconds it takes to write down the length of a nap is distracting, then provide their children with 2 hours of screen time while they read magazines.
I’ve even used tracking to help teach my 4 year-old things like organization, scheduling, time and numbers. She loves to help me log her little brother’s activities. We talk about the length of his nap (how many hours was that), food intake (how many ounces) and (her favorite) his moods (why was he so cranky!). And of course she loves to see her own tracking (both then and now).
Tracking is a “distraction” that yields positive benefits while so many other distractions (like TV or video games) have virtually no upside. For me, it’s all about incorporating tracking into my routine–like making my weekly shopping list because without I know my Sunday trip to the food store will be less efficient.