Here are my best tips on how to make your au pair term a successful part of your life:
Communicating is key to a good relationship. This also counts for your host family. Your host parents cannot read your mind—so tell them if there is something wrong, whether you think one of the kids has some problems or you would love to have a specific food. Without communication, your relationships will not work as great as they could. If you need help talking to your host family, you can contact your LCC, an ambassador, or Cultural Care directly. Everyone will help you to feel better, you just need to tell them or ask for help.
Your au pair year depends on two factors: Your host family and your friends. Try and make friends with a lot of people—and who knows? Maybe your future bestie is among these! Go introduce yourself, whether it is to another au pair or to a local. You do not have to be shy, because everyone is either in the same situation or has once felt the same way, about making new friends. You do not have to love everyone you meet, but try and make the best out of your year! Friends will travel with you, help you to get out of the house, and listen when your host kids are driving you crazy once in a while.
This is your year! Do not spend the possibly best year of your life in your room, watching movies. Go out with your host family and friends, go to the gym, find a new hobby or even join a club! With being lonely comes homesickness, so try and stay busy and you will see—you will feel better already! Make the most out of this adventure and do everything you wanted to. Travel to all the places you always wanted to see, make new friends from all over the world, or become part of a new family.
You will be gone for a few months. One year (or even more) is a long time to not be at home with your family and friends. You might get homesick or not. Test out which way works best for you and friends and family back home. But even though you have an exciting life here, you should not forget your home that you will be coming back to. Some friends might get jealous of your experience or lose contact to you. Try your best but do not stress out—this is a new part of your life and most things back home will be right where you left them.
Your priority should be your host kids. Make sure they are safe and happy and talk to your host parents if you feel like something is wrong. But that does not mean that you have to miss out on being happy yourself! If you do not feel good, whether it is physical or mental, tell someone and make sure you get better. It does make a difference in your attitude and, therefore, work. A happy au pair will most likely have it easier to make sure the kids are happy too!
I do not believe that the perfect host family or the perfect au pair exists. But what I do believe is that the perfect match exists! Make sure you and your host family are on the same page and get along with another. You will spend a lot of time with your family no matter what—and if you’re with the wrong family for you, your year is going to be a lot less fun than it could have been. Do not be afraid to say no to a match or go into rematch. Rematch should not be taken easily—so make sure you tried everything you can to improve the situation—but do not be afraid to go into rematch if it’s the right thing to do!
The media shows you a lot of great parts—but do not forget that there will be harder days, where your kids do not seem to listen at all, you are homesick, or simply are having a bad day. These days will happen and there is nothing you can do about that. Try and laugh about it with your friends, tell your host family how you’re feeling, and talk to your family and friends back home! Hard days are normal—but do not let them bring you down!