Au Pairs, like anyone, want to be treated with respect. Remember that while an au pair does “work” for you she is also trying to share special experiences with your family . It is important to phrase requests politely and not bark orders. I find that writing instructions down is very helpful. Always remember to keep your cool when you are correcting the au pair. She is not making mistakes on purpose.
This is usually not all about the kids, but more about how much autonomy the au pair has to discipline them. If your children challenge the Au Pair on a regular basis and you do not give her back up you are sending the message that treating her poorly is acceptable.
Make sure that you are very clear about the schedule. An au pair should not have to work more than 10 hours a day and 45 hours a week. If you are late coming home everyday it is time to rethink the schedule. Remember that even when the au pair is with a sleeping child she is on duty!
Host Families need to have strong, healthy relationships to make the Au Pair idea work. If the au pair has to witness fights and bad behavior from the adults in the family on a regular basis, it makes it quite taxing on the au pair, frightening even. If there are issues in your family, take care of them before she arrives.
This is a HUGE issue and one you must be very up front about. Make sure you that your Au Pair knows exactly where your family lives beforehand. If you must take a train to get to the nearest metropolitan area make sure the au pairs you interview are aware of the actual travel time door to door. Let your prospective au pairs know if they will have to drive or take a bus to get to all the “fun” stuff.
What other thoughts do you have about issues that might break up a match?