It's July which means many current au pairs are soon saying adios to their host families and the next influx of us au pairs are coming in! For those who are meeting their new host families soon, it can be an intimidating time. A question which Edwina and I were regularly asked around this time last year was: "HOW DO I GET MY HOST KIDS TO LIKE ME?!"
To this, we say: don't worry! So long as you're a friendly person and put some effort in, kids will (usually) like you or they'll grow to like you over time!
Check out our video of three ways to get your host kids to like you below. As usual, if you don't have time to watch, check out the write up below. (If you do comment, please give us a thumbs up and a comment!)
1. Bribe Your Host Kids
Sounds bad, right? All we mean by this is make sure to take some fun presents with you when you first move to Paris. (We've previously made a video about presents to take on YouTube)
A few suggestions for presents to take with you include:
Games in English - think board and card games. We wished we'd taken more games such as these as they are a great tool for teaching your host kids your native language. Plus, you can usually pick them up pretty cheaply (check out thrift stores, ask neighbours and friends if they're throwing such games out. For Brits, head to The Works!)
English books - these are also easy to pick up from charity shops, family or even own bedroom sometimes. Check Amazon for some cheap titles if not and make sure to pick up a few which you find amusing as you'll be reading them 1,000 times over.
Toys - ask your host parents what your host kid likes. Do they have a particular TV show they love? Maybe you can pick up a small figurine from this show.
If you're completely out of ideas, take some interesting sweets or candy which is unique to your country. This always goes down well!
2. Play Games Together
We've not met a child yet who doesn't love playing games. Take the initiative and play some made up games - let your inner child loose! We're talking lions and unicorns, pirates and treasure hunts or Beyonce's dance troupe. Did I just make these up on the spot? Yes, but I'm pretty sure you can fill in the rules pretty easily.
Some more traditional games to play include:
Tag - or tig or catch or you're it or whatever you want to call it.
Hide and seek - this is a great one if your host family has a large house with many hiding places as you'll also get a well deserved break to sit in a cupboard and catch up on messages while your host kid is occupied with searching for you.
Go to the park - your local park is definitely a great way to bond with your host kid. And, when they finally meet or bump into friends, you'll be able to hang out with fellow au pairs. Win-win!
Art - get creative and ask your host family to buy some paper, pens and paints. We recommend putting down a LOT of old newspapers so you don't get paint everywhere.
3. Discipline and Rules!
It may sound counter-intuitive to some, but we've found that kids actually like knowing where the lines are and understand when they've gone too far. We also found that if a host kid feels they can walk all over you, not only will your relationship with them suffer, the child will often be unhappy.
We have created a video on YouTube about how to discipline your host kid. But, our main advice includes choosing which rules matter to you and sticking to them - eg. no physical violence or you'll be sent to the naughty step/kitchen chair.
Obviously there is a balancing act to figure out here. You don't want to be too strict that you appear cruel and boring. But, you certainly shouldn't let your host kids be telling YOU what to do.
We recommend speaking to your host family BEFORE you become an au pair to figure out what rules work for everyone and where they'll back you up!
Finally, after you've built up a good relationship with your host child in the first few months, you won't need to play quite SO MUCH and can focus on cooking, cleaning, getting them to school on time and the myriad of other #aupairlife issues!
Thanks for reading! Let us know your thoughts on this topic in the comments.
That's all for now.