Families need to remember that an au pair is not necessarily an experienced, professional child care provider. Generally they are a young person from abroad who wants to learn about the Australian culture by living with a family while assisting with the children. It is a working holiday and not an opportunity for slave labour. For this to work, it requires as much co-operation by the family as it does the au pair. The more the au pair is treated as a part of the family the better the experience will be. A welcome gift is always a good gesture.
Having a place where the au pair can hang pictures or some photo frames in their room will help them to settle in and it will also make them feel more at home.
Discuss with the au pair about disciplining the children and what is acceptable. Remember, your children may not behave for the au pair as they do for you as parents.
From a personal experience, with our au pair smacking was never allowed. What we did have to allow was for the au pair to develop an avenue of discipline that worked for her. Children that cannot be controlled by the au pair will have life style issues and potential safety issues especially if the au pair has the children on an outing and they do not listen and run off or on the road. It is important to discuss boundaries with the au pair, but again remembering what works for you as a parent may not necessarily work for the au pair when you’re not there.
If things are not working out how you wanted or expected, you may have to have a difficult conversation with the au pair. This is may be hard to do but, an early conversation may clear up a simple lack of understanding. Work with the au pair. The au pairs role is to make life easier for you. If you let a matter go on for too long then it may have serious consequences not to mention the emotional toll that can sometimes be generated.