Preparing your kids for your new au pair
Introducing your new au pair / nanny into the family isn't always the easiest task, especially if your kids are shy or are still experiencing stranger anxiety. Here are some tips to make the process easier:
1. If your kids are old enough, involve them in the process even before you select a carer. Explain to them how the arrangement will work (if the new carer will live with them or will pick them up from school, for instance). Make sure they understand what is happening before it actually happens.
2. Ensure your children are present during the interview process. You will be able to see whether the candidate has a natural rapport with your children this way, plus your children will be able to feel like they have more control over the process. It is important that your children actually like the person you choose to care for them.
3. If your child is still a baby or toddler, anticipate that it may take a while to get used to the new carer. Stranger anxiety is a natural part of your child's development. It usually starts from 6 months, peaking around 15 months and sometimes lasting until your child is even 2 years old. The best way to overcome this is to allow the relationship to develop naturally instead of forcing it. It helps if you can have a transition period where your child gets used to having the new carer around - even in the background - while you are there. For my 17 month old baby, it actually took a few weeks of having the carer live with us before he felt comfortable with her.
4. Carefully observe the interactions between your carer and your children. Make sure that the relationship between them is positive and that your child is happy and relaxed around them.
5. If your child is old enough, make sure you have an age-appropriate discussion about what to do if they feel uncomfortable around anyone. Encourage your child to give you honest feedback about the carer. Tell your children that if someone asks them to keep a secret then that is when it is most important to tell their mum or dad.
6. Schedule special family outings/meals with your new au pair so that you can all get to know each other better in a relaxed setting.
7. Whatever happens, don't be afraid to trust your instincts. If the relationship with your new au pair / nanny isn't progressing as you expected, it is much better to end it quickly than to endure awkward encounters. Tell us immediately if you are having any issues, and we will replace your au pair / nanny free of charge during the first three months.