Share both the good parts as well as the tough parts of the job of caring for children.
It can be challenging sometimes to share the childcare duties between Host Parent and Au Pair.
When you have childcare help, it can be tempting to give the Au Pairs all the yucky or boring work such as: changing diapers, doing laundry, sitting at home watching the child sleep, cleaning up after meals — while Host Mum goes to the park, have a fun play date, snuggles on the couch with a book or interactswith the darling child.
The balance can also gothe other way, where the Host Parent manages all the drudgery while the Au Pair does crafts, sports, and sing-alongs.
It’s easy for a Host Parents to feel grumpy as s/he is cooking the dinner while the Au Pair and kids are playing. Host Parents could also feel sheepish when realizing that the Au Pair is doing more housekeeping than the Host Parents seem to be.
Certainly, when an Au Pair ends up with the ‘skim milk’ part ofthe deal, we can address this concern by reapportioning who does what. If you’re lucky, some of what’s drudgery to Host Parents (e.g., ironing) feels relaxing and calm for the Au Pair, while the things s/he loves to help with (organizing toys) you are happy not to do yourself.
Either way, the goal is to make sure that each adult (parents and Au Pair) gets to do something for the kids or with the kids that feels like fun.
Au Pairs — like anyone else– need to feel like their work is meaningful and that their presence in your families make a positive difference. Making sure that your Au Pair has some childcare tasks that help them connect with and care directly for your kids (yes, along with the laundry) will go a long way towards creating real meaning and a happy home.