Over the years in part thanks to some great advice I have had many “we really need you to hold it together” proactive chats with our au pairs. Some didn’t really need the chat and finished the last day with the same zeal and commitment that they did the first day (rockstars!). Some tried but had to be reminded here and there to put something up or finish a task but luckily we had strong enough relationships with our au pairs that we never had anyone completely throw in the towel or make us micromanage to the point of damaging the bond.
How do you have the conversation and have them take it seriously without being condescending and what do you say?
Pick a time to sit down and have a heart to heart. If you are still doing weekly meetings (bravo!) then bring it up during that. If not, tell your au pair that you just need a few minutes to sync on the last few months to make sure everyone is on the same page and she/he doesn’t have any questions or need anything from you. This will add a little air of seriousness to the conversation that should get their attention.
Start by thanking them for their service to your family. Compliment them on their strengths and tell them how important their role is in your family dynamic and bridge that into explaining how much you need their help in holding things together the last couple of months. This is a great time to reintroduce that training checklist of job duties if needed!
Give them the benefit of the doubt. Tell them you know they are going to do a great job and everyone has great intentions but even great au pairs get distracted and they are going to be busy the last few months making plans back home, saying goodbyes and wrapping up last minute bucket list trips (and encourage them to do so).
Talk about the emotions they will likely encounter. Don’t be patronizing but tell them its often hard on au pairs when it gets closer to the end and its important for them to remember that the memories they have made with your family and your kids are exactly that – THEIR memories and no future or past au pair will ever take that from them. They will forever own this space and time and if you hope to stay in touch in the future talk about how you want that and want to be a reference for them etc but in order to do that you really need them to fight and end strong.
What if you still see slippage?
Pick up the slack or say something. If you decide to let it go or do it yourself you forfeit the right to hold it against them. Pick your battles. It is completely ok to knock on their door and say “hey AP can you clear the table before you leave please?”. Don’t stew because…
You can’t take it personally. I am 99.99% sure it is not about you. They are young. They have plans they are excited about back home. They are sad about the friends and family they are leaving behind. They are conflicted about leaving and their decision. They are stressed about the future. They
Enlist the help of your local coordinator. I am more than happy to remind au pairs how important it is to end on a high note, keep an eye out for slippage, nudge them to complete bucket list items, etc!
Tuesday, 21 August 2018 1:58 AM