Picking out your au pair is exciting on both sides. It’s similar to dating, where you put your needs out there filled with hope and love! And then, small things come up, and you try to work them out with communication, clear expectations, spending more time together, and possibly a support meeting with your LCC. But alas, there are situations where the relationship just isn’t working anymore. In the business, we talk about going into transition. I know it’s heart breaking, mostly because of all the time and effort you have put into the relationship. I get it. Boy do I get it!! Read about my heartbreak here.
When the “psychological contract” is broken, it clouds our day, makes us feel disappointed or sad, and starts to eek into our daily life. The concept behind this psychological contract is that we spend our efforts to give our au pairs certain perks, services, attitudes, communication, directives, and also offer her financial compensation for her efforts regarding childcare. There are also smaller things, like pleasantries, cooking her favorite foods, or providing her with a brand new phone, buying her a coffee on the way home, small gifts, both tangible and intangible. But when attitudes, work ethic, or personalities change, we feel like we are being taken advantage of. This is the worst feeling. Feeling under appreciated or not having a balance for the “goods” we are providing, and the “services” she is providing, quickly dissolves the relationship.
Here are my steps to keeping the derailed train intact.
1.) Identify the exact issues you are having. Is it timeliness? Is it cleanliness? Is it work ethic? Is it driving? If it is driving, try these ideas.
2.) Check in with your au pair! Did something happen in her life to completely change? Did these problems always exist? Is she ok? Is there something you can do to help? This will cause the au pair to relax into the conversation. The last thing you want is to sound accusatory rather than supportive. You may find that she is going through a difficult time. Is she homesick? Can you help her with homesickness?
3.) If that isn’t the case, then choose a time to talk openly with the au pair. Lay it all out. Here are the problems. Here is what we need. Here is what we are expecting. Again, take emotions out of the conversation. Instead of saying, “Nothing is how it is supposed to be!” start with saying, “we have talked about getting the kids to school on time for a few days. Is there something in particular that is keeping you from being able to do this? I have noticed that you are able to get dinner on time, but for some reason, you aren’t able to get them ready in the morning.”
4.) Come up with a specific plan to help address these issues and reach out for help from your LCC. Your coordinator is there to help you through every step of the process! Use her and don’t wait until it’s too late.
5.) Ask for a support meeting. Your coordinator will make time for both of you to have a conversation together and reset expectations. Just because you are having a few problems, doesn’t mean all is lost!
6.) Make changes of your own if necessary. I have to believe that there is ALWAYS something you can do as a host family to improve the situation. Like my mom always says, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem!
7.) Ask for an exit meeting. Some things are not easily fixed. Remember that your kiddos are the ones who will suffer if you turn it into a huge dramatic situation. So, keep it courteous, positive, and move on. No one likes a break-up, but unless it is completely one sided, there is always something to learn from this experience. Think about how your au pair can say goodbye to your kids and how you will phrase it to them. You want to ensure that they aren’t jaded by the experience! Prep them for the next au pair, too!
Chin up, Buttercup! It’s not the end of the world! You can get through this and you will come out stronger in the end! Stay positive, learn from this experience and carry it with you until the end!
Thanks for reading! xo, pooja
Friday, 26 January 2018 6:04 PM