Nurturing Family Ties Beyond Distance

Living far away from family you are close to can be a challenge, especially when an important family event takes place, like a wedding or… the birth of a nephew!! I am excited to announce I am a new “auntie”, “tata Nadia” in French…

Aymeric, my new nephew, born March 5, 2010... far away in France!

Aymeric, my new nephew, born March 5, 2010... far away in France!

After living the latter for the first time with my parents’ first “grandchild” born last Friday, it made me think of what our au pairs may feel when they miss out such events during their au pair year, and how to help them through it…

Using Technology To Overcome Distance

I got a phone call at 6:30am that my nephew had just been born an hour ago, then I got an e-mail with the first digital photos 4 hours later, and I will be able to use my webcam/ headphones via Skype to see the baby live! I must say technology is quite amazing (my grandma says she can’t understand how her daughter and I got to see the baby before she did, when she is only 10 miles away…). Seeing the picture of my nephew and talking to my sister made me almost feel like being there… and I had no idea it would be such an emotional moment.

Your au pair can use so many tools to keep in touch with family, from e-mail, phone to Skype, facebook and twitter… It is not quite like being together, but it helps an au pair to have the support from family & friends back home to go through her year and preventing homesickness.

Feeling Home Away From Home

As a host family, your role in helping your au pair through tougher times (just as your au pair will help you when your family is in a bind…) is essential. Feeling supported, cared for and embraced as a family member will help your au pair to know she has a “home away from home” with you…
In addition, feeling like her work with your children is validated and appreciated will help him/her to know they are “needed here” and that they can not give into emotions of melancholy, sadness or regret.

Local Support

Such situations also warrant for your local childcare coordinator’s experience and the support of your au pair’s new friends. They can share with your au pair similar situations they have been through and what helped them to overcome them.

Visiting Home

Another idea is to set a goal for your au pair. If after a few months into her first year, you want her to stay longer and she agrees to extend the program with your family for a whole year, why not offer to help her with a vacation home before the end of her first year? This would be quite motivating and encourage her to work hard to earn that trip… that is a great way to make the most of your cumulated miles while ensuring continuous childcare, with a nanny you really like and appreciate, for up to two years.

Now I just need to figure out when I can visit my family next… before Christmas!
Je t’aime Aymeric et bienvenue au monde!!

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About FrenchNad

English to French Translator & Interpreter; blogging at lemotdubonjour.com about a French word of the day, the challenges of interpreting and translating, and my adventures in Oregon!
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