Advice for Au Pairs

Saying Goodbye to Your Host Family and the Au Pair Experience

It’s almost time for your au pair program to end, and you’re not sure how a year (or two) in the United States is already complete. Being an au pair has allowed you to learn about a new culture, a new place, a new family, and likely a new version of yourself.

Au Pair USA has been supporting au pairs with their departures for over 30 years. Here are some of our best tips to help you transition back into life after your return to your home country.

Plan ahead for your au pair departure.

While it may feel like time is flying in your last months as an au pair, it’s important to use this period to ensure you’ll have a smooth departure. Request your flight home sooner rather than later from Au Pair USA. Make plans to see friends you adore and visit places you love. Book your travel if you’re staying the additional 30 days and extend your insurance. Plan a special goodbye with your host family. The more planning, the more intentional you can be with how you spend the time you have left on the au pair program.

Talk about your au pair departure.

Communication is the key to any successful au pair and host family relationship, and it doesn’t stop when you’re getting ready to leave. Discuss with your host children what changes they can expect to face at home. Talk with your host family about how you’ll remain in contact. Be open to talking about your departure, especially with your host children, to ensure there are no surprises (and hopefully fewer tears) when departure day arrives.

Expect to experience reverse culture shock.

Just like you likely experienced culture shock when you first arrived in the U.S., you will probably experience some form of reverse culture shock when you return to your home country. Remember you have been away from your home country for a year or longer. Your home may be different from how you left it, especially because you are different from how you were when you left it. You will undoubtedly see things with a new perspective after living abroad for some time.

Have a next step planned.

After an exciting year living and traveling the U.S. as an au pair, life can feel like you’re standing still when you return home. One way to ensure you don’t feel stuck is to have the next step ready to go. Whether you’re applying to begin or return to university, starting a new job, changing homes, or traveling someplace new, having clarity in your next steps will keep you motivated and excited for your next chapter of life.

Keep in touch with your host family.

Just because you’re no longer living together, doesn’t mean you can’t remain close. Decide how you will remain in contact with your host family. Will it be video chat? Texts? Phone calls? You may even want to commit to a schedule of chatting weekly or monthly. Consider buying or making your host family a goodbye gift so they think of you, their au pair, often. Some ideas could include a framed photo, a personalized holiday ornament, or a scrapbook of your memories together.

Being an au pair is a life-changing experience you will remember forever. Remember to focus on gratitude for the time you had an au pair and not to dwell on the sadness you may feel about your au pair program ending. Au Pair USA knows how impactful the au pair program is for both au pairs and host families. We hope these tips will help your au pair departure be less challenging and more exciting as you begin your next season of life with this incredible cultural exchange experience that shaped you. 

Marisa Lonic

Marisa is a lover of all things cultural exchange. She and her family have hosted au pairs from Brazil, Germany, Colombia, Spain, and Ecuador. As a mom of four and the founder of Mama Work It, she helps working moms juggle mom life, work life, spouse life, fill in the blank life through her books, courses and coaching programs.