Tag Archives: au

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.

No More FOMO: An Interview with Letitia B.

Letitia CollesumWe’ve all heard the saying, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” Right? Well what about, “You don’t know what you’re not missing until you return.” Through my experiences, I’ve noticed so often that young adults are afraid to leave their home, friends, family, boy/girlfriend because they think that they will miss out on some big event that will happen while they’re away. There is such a culture of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) that people don’t take chances anymore. Everyone is sitting idle by their phone waiting for the next best thing to happen but aren’t willing to take their own leap into adventure! Here’s the thing: when you travel and come back home, things usually stay the same. And if there is a major event, you’re only a Skype call away.

Recently, I’ve had the chance to talk to Letitia B who was just an Au Pair in Italy! Letitia is a 19 year old from a small town in South-Western Ontario. I was able to ask her a bit about herLetitia Italy experiences as an Au Pair, what the best/worst parts were and why young adults should take the plunge into traveling abroad!

1) Can you please tell us a little bit about your experience as an au pair?

I spent January  to May in Italy, living with the sweetest and most incredible family in Turin, a big city in Northern Italy, bordering Southern France. I was looking after and teaching English to two wonderful and very unique girls.

Valentina, the older sister, is a very independent, free-spirited and an intelligent 5 year old. While Viola, who is 3 years old, is a more affectionate girl who loves to joke around and make everyone around her laugh. The area they lived in was really great too, the mountains were an hour drive north and the seaside was an hour drive south.

2) What did a typical day look like for you?

Both girls had school from 9:00a.m. to 3:00p.m. Monday through Friday, so this required me to wake up each morning between 7:00a.m. and 7:30 a.m., have the girls up and dressed by 8:00a.m. and we’d leave for school around 8:30a.m. My family lived just outside of the city, on the hills in a beautiful little  area called Cavoretto, which had a small school that was only 10 minutes walking distance from home. After dropping the girls off, I would usually go with my host mother, Francesca, to the gym, to the market or shopping. I’d walk into the city on Monday, Wednesday and Friday’s for Italian courses, and then stay afterwards to have lunch or hangout in the park with friends I made in class. Having friends from all over the world definitely enhanced the experience, I miss each of them so much! Also an an Au Pair you have weekends free to travel or do whatever you feel.

3) What made you want to be an Au Pair?

My older sister was an Au Pair in Hungary after she finished high school, and I knew that I didn’t want to start University right after graduating. I realized in October that I wanted to travel during my year off, started looking at being an Au Pair in November, and left for Italy right after New Years. I realize how spontaneous everything was, and I think that’s what made it so exciting, I can’t stand the anticipation of waiting!!

4) What was the best part of being an Au Pair?

Being an Au Pair is easily the best job in the world. It allows you to combine travel with work, you get to  explore another part of the world, hangout with kids, make some pocket money for your travels, and live with a really awesome family (most families are awesome because they’re willing to invite practically a stranger to come live with them and take care of their children.)

My family went to Oman for vacation in April, and I was able to go backpack around Italy for the few weeks that they were gone. It definitely showed me what the rest of Italy is like, I saw cities like Verona, Venice, Rome, Florence and Bologna. There are no tourists in Turin like there are everywhere else. It’s a beautiful and timeless city and remains my favourite in all of Italy!

Letitia Child5) What was the worst part?

I couldn’t say there was a ‘worst’ part. I was homesick, which did suck. I’m very close with my family and it was hard being away from them, but making new friends who are going through similar experiences and feeling like you’re a part of your host family makes the experience and transition way easier. It’s strange realizing, now that I’m home, I’m actually homesick from living there too:  my friends, the foreign city and the feeling of being on my own in a way. I guess I wish that my experiences weren’t just stories and that my family could have been there to live it all with me.

6) What advice would you give to young adults looking to live abroad?

Don’t be scared! You will regret not travelling and seeing the world. Even being overseas for a short amount of time made me realize how much of the world I want to see. The truth is, and I was told this so many times: is that when you come home it feels like nothing changed while you were gone, you haven’t actually missed out on everything like you thought you would. When you go abroad you will experience culture shock, and that’s inevitable, but the best thing you can do it just accept it all. Coming home brings on the reverse culture shock, and its’s so weird.

7) Now that you’re home, what do you plan on doing?

Leaving. I’m doing a year at Wilfrid Laurier University, then I plan on going to Australia or New Zealand to Au Pair again, and afterwards to backpack through Southeast Asia. School can wait.

8) Was being an au pair everything you expected it to be?

Yes and no. All of the expectations were the same, although I thought it would feel more like a job. I felt more like a family member than anything, Valentina and Viola were, and still are, my little sisters.

9) Are you still in contact with the family now and will you go back to visit?

I still talk to my family often, we Skype and text as much as possible. The father, Antonio, is a Geographer and recently got a job in Bolivia, so they packed up their stuff and moved there in the beginning of September (cool right?). They’re a really great family and have such a surreal and spontaneous lifestyle, I was so lucky to be a part of it. I ABSOLUTELY plan on seeing them again, I’d love to see how the girl’s English will improve.

10) Looking back at who you were before you left for your year abroad, how have you changed since?Letitia mitten

Again, all I want to do is travel now. My mom had to convince me to go to school this year. One thing I’m very careful with is spending and saving money now. I’m definitely more keen to spend my money on travel than physical things.