Here is the second most voted topic on which you want more in-depth analysis: our initial difficulties and how we related with the family.
As you probably now all know I take care of two kids whose age is 5 and 8 years old.
Once arrived in the family, my initial difficulties were getting used to the routine and understand what the kids can or can’t do.
With the help of their previous au pair, the routine was easy to understand and, since I’m a very schematic person, I wrote down a weekly schedule with all the things or activities they have to do each day. I have to admit that time to time I forgot something anyway (one day I forgot to pack them the snacks), but it is true that people learn from their mistakes, so in one week I perfectly learnt everything. Moreover after a couple of times that I was getting out of the house without being ready, I adjusted to my family schedule.
Learning what kids can or can’t do took me longer. This because they came out with the most absurd requests when we were alone and I didn’t have anybody to ask. To give you an example, in the first days my kids were eating snacks any time they wanted, therefore they were skipping dinner because not hungry. I was always in disagreement with all these snacks, but after all I am nobody to arrive in a new family and say: no! from today no more snacks. Well, you know what happened? One day my host dad came back home and saw that I was serving milk at cereal at my girl after 5,00pm. Obviously she didn’t eat dinner, so he said, at the table, in front of everybody, that all snacks after 5 were forbidden (I admit I felt so bad for having allowed them to have something they were not supposed to have). Anyway, I understood that they took advantage of me because I was new and I didn’t know all the rules, so from that day on, no more snacks after 5,00pm, even if they come bagging me on their knees. I can assure you they stared finishing their dinner more often.
And this is only an example because the same thing happened with tv and videogames. In about a month I have, more or less, understood how things work and now they can’t fool me anymore. Now is me saying if you want this you have to do that first and 90% of times it works.
Another “problem” I had, and sometimes I still have, is having them listening. I can’t tell you if depends on the character, on the age, or somethings else, but at the beginning is very sad when you nicely ask the kid to do something and he completely ignores you.
Now that my English got a little bit better, I’m able to tell them: you have to this, because otherwise this is going to happen or, the reason you have to do so is… Unfortunately this technique doesn’t always work and sometimes when I have to forbid something or scold them, due to language problems, words don’t always come out of my mouth properly and I end up saying some ungrammatical sentences that lower my credibility.
And my host parents? Personally I have nothing to say. They are amazing and I never had a problem with them. They are kind, helpful, give me plenty of free time, etc
As you all know I had lots of problems, but the main one was with just one kid. Unlike Susa’s family, mine wasn’t very strict, actually to be more precise, they didn’t have rules at all and in fact on my first day they only rule they gave me was to not raise my voice with the kids.
I didn’t have a schedule, so it was impossible to write down on a planner the things I was supposed to do and very often plans were changed the last minute and my host mom didn’t tell me anything! For example I knew that on Thursdays they had karate, but a couple of times my host mom told me 5 minutes before leaving (with the kids ready) that they had baseball instead!! Nothing wrong if it wasn’t that baseball gear isn’t the same as karate. Plus one activity was in one city and one activity in another one and clearly, for one of them, the drive was double the time!
Moreover Susa had some help from their previous au pair, whom told her all the most important things and could see how she was working, meanwhile I was there alone and I even had to welcome the kids ALONE on my first day without HOST PARENTS! My host mom told me “ah you arrived, in two hours they are going to be there with the school bus, you will recognize them, you saw the pics, welcome them and then prepare them a snack”… Imagine my shock…
About the relationship with the family, we suggest you to always be sincere and kind in order to get the proper support you need.
If you want a specific day off, ask to maybe switch with another one, before organize something ask if they are ok with it or if there are problems, if you did something you are not sure about say: I did this, is it ok? Should I do it differently next time?, if during the day something “weird” happens with the kids say: today this happened and that’s what I did. Was it ok? Suggestions on how to handle the situation next time?
Don’t be too strict with money: they pay you rent, food, often gas and phone. Susa cooked sometimes and bought the ingredients with her money, or maybe paid a ride on the carousel for her kids. She didn’t go bankrupt and everybody was happy.
Mapu & Susa