Oh, No, Does Au Pair Boredom = Homesickness

What does your Au Pair do during the day while your children are at school?  I have been pondering this question for three years now because our Au Pairs have only watched babies and toddlers (not of school age).  My Au Pair’s work all day and gets only a slight reprieve when both my kids nap in the afternoon; of course, that is if my three year old cooperates.  In the past three years, I would estimate that at least 95% of the Au Pairs we’ve met are Au Pairs for school age children. From what they tell us, they generally work from 7:00 AM -8:30 AM to get the kids off to school and then from 3:00 PM -6:00 PM when the kids get home from school to when their host parents get home.  Yes, some work some additional week nights and weekends and have other required household chores, but that still allows a lot of downtime for these young ladies.  I am curious what one does with the time between 8:30 AM – 2:30 PM?

Are the Au Pair’s bored? Do they join a gym?  Do they take their required courses?  Do they prepare activities for the day or week for their host kids? Do they cook meals because they can?

The reason for asking is I have seen a correlation between the busier an Au Pair is less the homesick they are.  From interviewing more than my share of Au Pairs, I have learned that for most of these girls it is the first time away from their home and their country. They either just finished school, or taking a break from University, or taking some time to decide what they want to be when they grow up. These girls have never had 6-7 hours of free time during the day to themselves, much less let alone in a different country, house and family.

So, the question remains is it our job as host parents to help keep the girls “busy” – while your kids are in school – to help them acclimating to our culture, homes and house rules?

Our Au Pair Pulling C2 at the Christmas Tree Farm.

Our Au Pair Pulling C2 at the Christmas Tree Farm.

No, I am not talking household chores.  I mean providing them suggestions, such as taking their required school courses during the day, while their host children are in school. Or suggest that your Au Pair do one craft, activity or outing with your host kids once every two weeks or month (depending on the kid’s schedules).  The Au Pair is required to do the research and provide a planned outline/schedule for those activities with cost, travel time, etc. Have them combine the activity or outing with something they have always wanted to do. For example, go pumpkin picking during October. Halloween is not as widely celebrated if at all in other countries and most Au Pairs like to experience Halloween.

Personally, I don’t see it as a “required” responsibility to keep my Au Pair “busy”, but one I take seriously. I believe, the more your Au Pair feels at “home”, more likely they will be happier, less homesick, more connected with your children and thrive in their environment.  Yes, there are always exceptions to the rules and some Au Pairs might reject any suggestions, but I am willing to take that risk. Aren’t you?