Helping Children Transition Between Au Pairs

It can take time for children to adjust to a new au pair.
It can take time for children to adjust to a new au pair.
Image courtesy of Ellen Hogan

Inviting an au pair into your home is a wonderful way to provide your children with quality childcare while creating deep relationships. Inevitably, there must come a time when your au pair has to return to their home country, and this can be a period of adjustment for your household.

While it may be a slightly bumpy road, there are several things that you can do to help your children transition from one au pair to another.

Explain your current au pair’s next adventure.

Your current au pair will have exciting plans for when they return home, whether it’s launching into a new job or spending some time traveling and reflecting on their next move. Have your au pair explain their plans to your kids so they can visualize what your au pair will be doing. They can even brainstorm some ideas together!

Have your new and previous au pair meet.

If possible, have your current au pair and new au pair talk with your kids at the same time, whether it’s over a video call or in person. Introducing your new au pair to your children when your current au pair is still with them can provide an extra sense of security and can help your kids perceive their new au pair as a friend of their present one.

Create an intentional transition.

Think of ways you can get your kids excited about their new au pair. Ideas include learning about your new au pair’s home country, creating a sign for the airport, and preparing your au pair’s bedroom. Regular video conversations with your new au pair are another wonderful way to get your children excited. Once your au pair arrives, think of some favorite activities that your kids can do with them during their first week to start creating positive associations.

Tune in to your kids’ reactions.

Each of your children will react differently to welcoming your new au pair. Some kids may feel a sense of loss while others may jump in headfirst. Be extra sensitive to how your children are reacting to your new au pair during your first month together and adjust your transition plan to suit each child’s temperament. Spending some extra time together as a family for the first few weeks can be particularly helpful.

Ask for your au pairs’ expertise.

Your current and new au pair are both childcare professionals so if your kids are having a hard time adjusting, be sure to ask for your au pairs’ thoughts on how to handle it. Your current au pair knows your kids very well by now while your new au pair can bring in a fresh perspective. This is a great opportunity to work as a team!

Take your time.

At the end of the day, transitioning to a new au pair can take time and that’s totally normal. Be patient with both your kids and your new au pair and know that a bumpy few days is not indicative of what the year will be like. Instead, focus on the positive and enjoy getting to know one another!

Joy Lo

Joy is a huge advocate for cultural exchange. She's lived across the U.S. and various countries around the world including the UK, Australia and Indonesia. She has a unique perspective on working and thriving in other cultures. She's been a contributing author on Au Pair USA program.