How to handle problems that may arise with your host family.
The au pair experience is usually a positive and exciting one. However, every now and then problems can arise between an au pair and their host family. Here are some of the most common problems and what you can do to prevent them:
Are you exhausted by the end of each day? Are you working more hours than your contract states?
If you are feeling overworked, talk to your host family about it. They may not realise that you are feeling strained unless you let them know.
Have your hours and duties clearly laid out in your au pair contract before you start working with the family. If workload issues arise, you can always point to your contract to remind the host family of your agreed duties and time schedule.
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Every family is different. The amount of love and affection families show each other can wildly vary. If your family is behaving in a hostile manner or in such a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, try talking to them about it. If they are aware how you feel, they will likely alter their behaviour towards you.
If this does not work, you can always leave your host family. Au pair contracts do not require termination notice, so you can leave whenever you feel you can’t handle a situation any longer. However, it is important to consider all the ramifications of such a move. Do you need an au pair family to continue your visa? Can you find a new host family? Do you have somewhere else to stay if you leave? Despite these concerns, if a family’s behaviour continuously makes you uncomfortable, it is best to terminate your contract.
Contact the police if the host family physically or verbally harasses you in any way.
3. Communication issues
For au pairs living with a family who do not speak the same first language, communication can often be a cause of worry. While it may seem daunting at first, diving in and trying your best to speak the language is the best way to overcome this.
Try to get your level up to a decent standard before you embark on your journey. When you are there, talk to your host family as much as possible in slow and concise language. This will help you to improve your language skills and foster good communication with the family.
Enrol in a language course which will speed up your progress.
The amount of pocket money you receive should be clearly stated in the au pair contract before you begin. It should also document the amount that they deduct overall for room and board.
Before you begin, decide with your host family when and how you will be paid. Will they pay you once a week or once a month? By cash or bank transfer? Add all these details into your au pair contract and use it if the host family digresses.
5. Lack of freedom
Before you arrive, ask your host family about social freedoms, such as if you will be allowed have friends over. Discuss whether they will give you a curfew on the nights before you are due to work. Have this prearranged and in your contract so you know what to expect, and what you are willing to comply with.
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