Monthly Archives: November 2015

Top 10 Ways to Communicate With Your Host Family

Thelpful-tipshe relationship between a host family and an Au Pair is a unique one because a balance needs to be found between being a part of the family and being an employee. The best way to find this balance and to make a successful placement is by having open communication. Frequent open communication between you and your host family allows for any issues to be resolved early and to help build a stronger relationship.

1)      Take the Time to Get to Know Each Other: Ask lots of questions, engage in conversation, and be curious! The best way you can build a relationship with someone is by getting to know them better. Both you and the host family need to be able to respond to one another in a way that fits both your cultural habits and your individual personalities.

2)      Don’t Wait: In order not to appear pushy, demanding or needy, some people try to be patient about their wants. As a result, they wait to ask for what they want until there is a lot of pressure built up behind the want. It’s always better to ask whenever you feel a want rather than saving up and asking only for the really important things.

3)      Choose the Right Time: Although we want to talk about our problems right away, we need to respect the other persons time as well. Ask the host parents when an appropriate time to talk would be. You want to choose the right time to have an important conversation so that there won’t be any distractions and it will be quiet.Au pair and child

4)      Practice Active Listening: This goes beyond just listening. Active listening means being attentive to what someone else is saying. The goal of active listening is to understand the feelings and views of the other party and to give them our full attention. So, make eye contact, use non-verbal hand gestures, restate to show that you are listening and give feedback.

5)      Do Not Assume: At the root of every misunderstanding is an assumption. We assume that people interpret things the same way we do. We assume when people communicate with us, relying on our past experiences and on our own limited frame of reference. We have equal responsibility to understand and to be understood.

6)      Don’t Generalize: Avoid using words such as “always” or “never”. These overstatements, or exaggerations, are usually inaccurate and they tend to provoke other people to “destroy” your argument. There is usually no factual evidence when someone overstates or generalizes.

7)      Be Specific: If you want to clearly get your message across to someone, you must be specific when talking to them. A big mistake that many people make when asking for what they want is asking in a way that is so vague and general that the other person has no idea how to fulfill your request.

Of-non-professional-nannies8)      Use “I” Language: Using “I” at the beginning of your sentence allows you to stick to what you know and take responsibility for what you say. “I think..”, “I believe…”, “I feel…”. These statements allow you to focus on what you are thinking and feeling rather than trying to get someone to guess how you are thinking or feeling. Remember: you cannot get in trouble for feeling something.

9)      Watch Your Body Language: When communicating with someone, be aware of your body language. You want to be standing/sitting with your arms and hands uncrossed, keeping your body facing them and maintaining eye contact. Standing/sitting straight up shows you’re alert and try to resist the urge to yawn, finger/foot tap or fidget around.

10)   Use Key Phrases: Try to use phrases such as “When you do this…I feel this…”or “I have some feelings to clear…” or “I appreciate you for…” These phrases can help you show gratitude or concern in a specific way. Again, using “I” at the beginning of your sentence shows that you’re taking on responsibility for the situation.

Spending the Holidays with Your Au Pair

The holiday season is a great time of year where we can enjoy family time, celebrate the season of giving and eat way too much pie without feeling guilty. This year will be even more special for you as your Au Pair may be celebrating her first Christmas in North America! Throughout our experiences in the Au Pair industry, we have come up with a couple of tips to help you get through the holidays relaxed, stress-free and all with a cup full of cheer!

Talk About Holiday Schedules Earlystockings

Your schedule may be filling up quickly due to another work party, school Christmas concerts or skating with the grandparents. We ask that you be mindful of your Au Pair as her schedule may be filling up just as quickly. She may even have plans to go down to Hawaii to celebrate Christmas on the beach. You won’t know what her plans are until you ask, and it’s never too early to plan out the holidays. So pull out the family calendar and, over a cup of tea, go through each day of the holidays. You will both need to be flexible during this time of year to accommodate each other’s needs. Your Au Pair should understand that their job comes first but in the spirit of the holidays, and to make your placement successful, you may need to work together to find a compromise so that both of you have an enjoyable holiday.

Christmas OrnamentInclude Your Au Pair in Your Own Traditions  

The holidays may be a tough time for your Au Pair as this may be her first time away from her family for Christmas. It’s always best to go into these scenarios with the mindset of, “If she can’t be with her own family, then she can be with her Canadian family.” Invite her to join in on your traditional Christmas morning skate or if you’re sending out a Christmas card, include her into the picture. Fill a stocking for her to make her feel included or get her to write a letter to Santa with the kids. Anything to make her feel at home and that she is wanted in your family.

Help Your Au Pair Adjust to the ClimateLetitia mitten

Holiday seasons are usually followed by harsh Canadian winters. Help your Au Pair adjust to the changes in the weather by getting her prepared. She may be use to having a warm, sunny holiday where she can open presents on the beach. If this is the case, go shopping with her to get her proper winter attire: scarf, winter mittens and a proper Canadian toque! This is when we need to remember the old Scandinavian saying, “there is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”

Follow Some of her TraditionsGingerbread Man

This is also a great opportunity for you to learn about how other cultures celebrate the holiday season. Ask your Au Pair about some traditions that her and her family have. Try to include them into your holiday season as well! Ask her lots of questions about how she celebrates the holidays, any special songs she likes to sing, any traditional meals she likes to make. This will make her feel more welcomed and perhaps you can get a sweet treat in the process!