After your paperwork and interview are done and you’re accepted into the au pair program, your agency will most likely start looking for a suitable host family for you to go to. Most agencies these days have an online database which allows you to look at family profiles online and also contact these families should you be interested.
Here are some tips for contacting potential host families.
Do you see a family that you might like? Send them an email and don’t wait for them to contact you! Introduce yourself (you might also want to link them to your profile), ask them a few questions and/or suggest a date and time for a Skype chat.
Make a list with questions you might want to ask your host family. You probably already know the parent’s names and the children’s names and ages by the time you contact the family. Here are a few questions you might want to aks your host family.
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- What are the children’s hobbies?
- Where do the children go to school?
- Do the children have after school activities like sports or music?
- Do the children like to play outside or inside?
- How do the children go to school?
- Do the children have after school playdates?
- What do you do for work?
- How many hours a week do you work?
- Do you work from home?
- What do you like to do in your spare time?
- What does a typical day look like in your family?
- How many hours a week would you need the au pair to watch the children?
- How many days a week would you need the au pair to watch the children?
- Are the days/hours the same every week/day or are they flexible?
- Would you like the au pair to work during weekends?
- Would the au pair need to take/pick up the children to/from school (every day)?
- When would you like the au pair to arrive?
- How long would you like the au pair to stay?
- Would you like the au pair to do any light housework?
- Would you like the au pair to prepare lunch boxes or cook meals for the children/family?
- Would you expect the au pair to drive a car?
- Can you tell me something about the neighbourhood you live in?
- Do you live close to shops/parks/beaches/restaurants etc?
- Is it easy to go somewhere with public transport?
- Do you know if there are any other au pairs in the neighbourhood?
- What does your family like to do on the weekends?
- Do you like to travel? If so, would you expect the au pair to join you?
- Does your family (parents, brothers, sisters etc) live close?
- What are your expectations?
- Do you have any pets?
- Have you had an au pair before?
- What does your family like to eat?
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As you can see these are just a few examples of questions you could ask your host family. If you’re Skyping with your host children you could ask questions like “How old are you?”, “What do you like to do for fun?”, “What’s the name of your teacher?” or “ What’s your favorite game/book/movie?”. Children usually love to answer questions like these if they’re not too shy.
Prepare your answers
You can’t prepare for every possible question that the host family might ask you. But you can prepare for some of the frequently asked ones.
- Why do you want to be an au pair?
- Why do you want to go to [their home country]?
- What experience with children do you have?
- What are your hobbies?
- What would you do in case of emergency (for example when a child gets hurt)?
- How would you react when a child is misbehaving?
- What are you planning on doing after you finish your au pair program?
Of course you are! It’s perfectly normal and there’s a pretty good chance that the host family is just as nervous as you are. They will understand. Even I would still be nervous after talking to 7 or 8 families. Just take your time to answer the questions and don’t worry about making mistakes speaking a different language. Be honest and genuine and most important of all be yourself!