On au pair's Facebook groups, you may have observed the amount of complaints and bad stories lately. It is crazy to see how things can go messy with some host families. I was an au pair in the UK and I decided to share with you some general advice and the reflexes you must have when :
1 - You have issues with the kids
First, try to talk to them and talk about it to the parents either, it' about teaming up.
Just remember that it’s hard for the kids to accept a new member in their family overnight. Time and patience are definitely keys.
Also, your education might be different from the American or the UK (for example) education. Try to accept it and don’t try to change it. Of course, manners and respect toward the au pair are limitless no matter where we are from.
2 - Your host family talks to you in a disrespectful way
If you feel attacked by the way your family talks to you, you should organize a meeting only with the parents first and with the kids later (if they are concerned). Remember that you must be treated as a family member and not as an employee. It’s okay if they give you orders or ask you to do something. But there is always a nice way to ask something to someone. For example, instead of « Do the dishes », they can say « Could you do the dishes ? ». As for the kids, manners are not an exception, respect too.
3 - You get insulted by a family member
If it comes from the kids, you should talk to them and if you are allowed to, punish them as agreed with the parents. After, you need to report it to the parents so they can also talk to them. Being insulted is not okay.
If it comes from the parents, don’t ignore it, don’t tolerate it. As I said before, you are supposed to be a member of the family and you should be treated fairly, no matter if the mother/father is exhausted or annoyed that day for some reason.
Of course, try to sort it out in a calm and reasonable way but do not let people walk all over you. If this happens again, please consider reaching out for your agency or contact us to have some personalized advice. Talk about it to your close friends or family to have other opinion. And if you feel like leaving because of it, it’s ok. EYA will also be here for you to help and support you through the rematch process.
4 - They don’t pay you on time or don’t pay you the right and agreed salary
An oversight can happen to anyone. If your host family forgets to pay you once, just kindly remind them. However, when it happens multiple times, don’t hesitate to tell them and remember them your initial agreement. Ask for a regular payday, on Friday for example so they can’t forget it. After that, if they don’t fix the problem, consider calling your agency or leaving the family. Of course, you are a member of the family but being an au pair is also a job. A job that must be paid.
Generally, if your family doesn’t respect the agreed terms when you arrive, don’t let it flow.
We recommend you to always try communication first. Sometimes it’s just a misunderstanding. If a conversation doesn't fix the problem, reach out to your agency, close friends, family or us to have some more specific advice depending on the situation.
Remember that your au pair experience is not supposed to make you feel stressed and that you should not be uncomfortable with your host family. Otherwise they might not be the right host family. You will need to leave them.