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Tips for au pairs

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Tips for Au pairs

It is not always easy being an Au pair.  All new beginnings can be difficult, but you are not alone. If you are not feeling good or have something on your mind, you can speak to us at any time.

Below is a list of some of the teething problems you may encounter as an Au pair, together with our suggested solutions.


Problem: You are far away from your family and friends.

Symptoms of homesickness are:

Loss of appetite, crying and doubts about own decisions made.

Solution: Don’t stay at home too much. Go outside and spend time with the children. Don’t call your family too often. When you are alone in your room, read a good book or listen to music. Homesickness disappears with time.

Language difficulties

Problem: You have trouble communicating with your host family. You often do not understand what they have said to you. You feel foolish when you cannot refer to the simplest of things in their language.  Maybe the children also laugh at you. There are many solutions to this problem.

Solution: This is part and parcel of learning a foreign language. Some people learn languages rapidly, while others need more time. You learn best from making mistakes, so don’t be afraid to speak, for fear of making a mistake. Just ask politely if there is something you haven’t understood.

Your host family knows that you don’t have a strong command of their language, so they will help you. Do also participate regularly in the language course. You will find people there who can relate to you.

Difficulties adjusting

Problem: You might find it difficult adapting to the daily rhythm your host family (for example, your eating habits may differ from theirs.)

Solution: You should endeavour to follow the lead of your host family, even though it may prove challenging at times. However, do take care that your personal rights are respected.

Dealing with the children

Problem: It is not always easy working with children. Not every child is an angel.  Maybe they don’t want to spend time with you, or refuse to let you take them to bed, either because they don’t know you well enough or they haven’t warmed to you yet.

Solution: It is important in this case that you keep your calm. Speak rationally to the children, and try to demonstrate an understanding of their behaviour. Without insulting or slapping them, make it clear to them that their behaviour is not ok.

Spend time with them every day.  The children should not grow bored of you.  Try to give them a feeling of security. If you feel that the children are demanding too much of you, speak to the parents about how to best deal with the situation. It is important here to respect the principles of your host family.

Trial period

Swiss Au pairs and Au pairs living in Switzerland have the possibility to spend three trial days with their host families, to gauge if they will be able to handle an Au pair’s daily duties.  It is not mandatory, but we strongly recommend using this option.

Preparation course for the Au pair

This course is given by the Swiss Red Cross Organisation.  It is designed for anyone wanting to learn more about childcare. We recommend doing this course, as subjects such as the day-to-day care of children and general housekeeping are covered. This course is taught in every canton and costs between CHF 160 and CHF 280.

For more information about this course, you can either inquire directly at the Red Cross in your Canton or visit the following website:


  • International Au pair Fischer is a website for Au pairs and host families, where you will find a continuously updated gallery of profiles from Au pairs and host families alike, as well as important information for both parties.

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