I don't need an au pair handbook! I'm able to communicate properly!Posted by Family Germany • January 31, 2018 • 4 minutes read
When our second child was born, we realized that we needed some help
If I wanted to stick to my plan of getting back to work very soon, we definitely needed to think about how to organize child care. One kindergarten we examined didn't meet our expectation, the other didn't accept kids younger than three years, so my husband and me finally agreed that an au pair might be a good solution (How we searched and found our au pairs is a different story, which will for sure be the topic of another blog post...).
Our first au pair came from Russia, let's call her Antonina.
She was very nice with the kids, but generally very unorganized, not only with the kids but especially when it came to housework.
With our first au pair, there were many misunderstandings
Antonina spoke quite good English, in addition to her rather basic German, so whenever we felt she didn't understand us in German, we switched to English. Still my husband was often very upset when I came home from work in the evening and told me "I've asked Antonina, if she understood me, she said yes - and then did something completely different".
I tried to make him understand, that Antonina of course thought she understood him, so her answer was honest, but due to lack in language skills, she didn't get it right - or sometimes probably simply forgot about it again, as it didn't seem important to her.
We set up a weekly "jour-fixe"
So, I set up weekly "jour-fixe" meetings with Antonina, where we went through the week's misunderstandings and clarified them - first just by talking, but soon I realized it worked out much better, when I did it in written form, so that she could read through it again when she was at her room, eventually using her dictionary.
After some weeks I realized it would probably make sense not to do this in handwriting (I felt I was sometimes repeating the same things time after time), but rather set up a document on the computer. So I set up a "manual" for our kids, the first version comprising of how to comfort the kids, several safety tips, rules regarding eating, drinking and discipline, as well as some tipps for games to play with the kids (which both still didn't speak back then, so they weren't able to tell her what they want).
Our second au pair came from Mongolia, let's call her Tsetseg.
This time we were already prepared much better, so we had a printed version of "Tips for Tsetseg" prepared and handed it over to her right from the beginning. Whenever we identified new fields of struggle, we added them to the file and printed the updated version.
Over time, also my husband agreed, that setting up a "handbook" made sense, although we still think that we're able to communicate properly :-)
Now, we have an "au pair handbook"
In two weeks, Visola, our 6th au pair will arrive - it's the first time we'll welcome an au pair from Africa, and we're already very curious to get to know her.
This time we already sent her what we now call "au pair handbook" in advance. For sure, we will find new stuff to add to it over the next weeks and months, as on one hand things change on our side (our kids learn new things every day, daily routines change,...) and on the other hand it's totally depending on the au pair's cultural background, what seems anyway logical for the au pair to do and what needs to be explained...
If you're curious about our au pair handbook, you can find it at https://connectaupair.world/au-pair-handbook/samples/
Have a great day with your family and your au pair!
PS: I'd love to get your feedback about our au pair handbook and also hear about how you communicate your rules and solve misunderstandings - just leave a comment below!!