One of the most stressful parts of the process before you leave is finding the right host family. You need to be able to live with them for at least a year! That’s a long time. So it’s very important to find a family you feel comfortable with. If that takes you a week or 3 months, that’s okay. But only match with a family if you really feel it’s the right fit. One family might be perfect for someone and someone else might decline them straight away. Remember that you have to live there. No one else.
Before you start to look at families
After the proces to become an aupair you end of up in the matching pool. However, you need to think before hand general things you would want in a host family. Would you prefer to eat dinner with them everday, or do you think it’s necessary to… Either way, try to make a list of what you want, that doesn’t mean you need to stick to that list 100%, however if you get a lot of requests it will help you filter.
For example, I wanted a few things;
- Young kids – I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to care of children around preschool age or younger.
- East coast – I have friends (practically family) down in Florida and I know it’s easier to fly to Europe from here. However if I found the perfect family in California I wouldn’t write them off for this detail.
- A host family that invites me into all aspects of their lives – whether this is trips to family or just events in the neighborhood, I want to see as much of the American culture as possible and, I also think this makes for an even better bond between au pair and host family.
So even if I didn’t get all of these in a family I still had some guidelines to give me a bit of a direction. Thankfully my host family are all and this and more!
The match requests
When a family wants to connect with you, the company usually want you to respond within 24 hours. That’s fast! The profiles are so long and sometimes you can even get 2 within a day. That is a lot of reading in a very short space of time.
I would recommend to read through the profile, sometimes there are sneaky tabs you can click on; watch out for those! Take notes, what interests you, excites you but also what questions do you still have. Then let it sink in. After a few hours go back and read the whole thing again. You may miss things the first time, also you can see if you still have the same feeling about a family. Sometimes, for me, it was just the idea of looking at a new profile that excited me. And then I would look at it again and think, oh hmmm maybe not.
If you have read it twice, thought about it, slept on it, and still have a good feeling click accept and write them a message. Make sure to include a response to their original message and something about their profile. Maybe you saw a cute/ funny picture, or the children have a hobby that interests you.
Remember you can always accept a family if you are not too sure yet. There are plenty of opportunities to decline them afterwards. It could be that the application seems amazing, but then when you talk to them or video chat with them there is no connection. That is fine, and it is all part of the proces. If after a bit of talking you still want to decline, do so, do not feel inclined to stick with this family. It won’t help when you get there and you feel uncomfortable. Just write them a little note saying: Thank you for your interest in me as an au pair. Unfortunately, I do not think that this will be a good match. I wish you luck in finding an au pair that truly fits you and your family.
Ready for your skype date
When you have messaged a couple times with a family, the next step is the video call. It’s okay to be nervous! You want to make a good impression and to be honest the host parents may be just as nervous. Don’t worry if your English is not great, they are not expecting you to be fluent. Most au pairs go to America (or other countries) to learn English, and the host families know this.
Make sure you can sit in a quiet place so you can speak to them without interruptions. Also do not plan something straight after, you never know how long it might take. It might be really quick just to get an initial impression. But, if there is an instant click it may take longer than you expected. Also, you may come up with additional questions during the meeting. The host family are expecting you to answer their questions as well so take the time to do that. You do not want to seem rushed when ‘meeting’ them for the first time.
Key tip: Make sure your Skype/ FaceTime/ Zoom whatever you are using is ready to go. If you login 5 minutes before and get a screen that it needs to update 😱 . At that point you already know it’s going to be the longest update ever, and you are probably going to have to restart the device making you late. Try it out with a family member or friend so you know everything will go smoothly. One less thing to worry about.
Be yourself, if you need time to think about a question, let them know. A lot of people (myself included) sometimes think things up on the spot. And then after you think ‘I should have said that, and that.’ Give the host family the best impression of you that they can get through a screen.
You should already have some questions or things you want to talk to them about from their profile. Before the video call review the application again. I can’t tell you how many times I read it and found something new (however that may just be me 😅 ). Have this ready. They will expect you to ask questions! That is the reason you are video calling. And, they are obviously going to have questions for you too. It’s better to ask your questions now than find out later that it’s not what you expected. Remember you have to live with them for at least a year.
Accepting the final match request
You have emailed. You have video called. And now, one of the two sides has sent a match request. They want you to be their au pair. That’s amazing! At this point you should be fairly sure that this is the family for you. After you have matched with a family the au pair organization will get in touch with you to make sure everything goes (as smooth as it can) until it’s time for you to leave. Keep in touch with your host family as much as you can. This can be a whatsapp group, social media or FaceTime calls every once in a while. Or a mix.
A last bit of advice…
Follow your gut feeling throughout this whole process. Do not go against what you are feeling inside. Do not underestimate the importance of this step. Obviously, if it really isn’t what you thought it would be, you can go into rematch (find a new family there). I don’t know if I speak for everyone, but I think I do, is that you want to make sure you are with the right family from the start.