Between holiday prep, party and post-celebration naps, your Au Pair’s emotions about the holidays may get lost somewhere between the first day of advent and New Year’s Eve. Part of the reason your Au Pair came to Canada was to live the life of a Canadian. That means learning how to manoeuvre around Costco without getting hit by a cart, getting excited for Roll Up The Rim and celebrating holidays in Canadian style! As this will probably be their first time away from their family during the holiday season, it may come with some bouts of homesickness. Here are 7 ways for you to help your Au Pair deal with homesickness during the holidays:
1. Get her involved in holiday celebrations
When it comes time to trim the Christmas tree or cooking Hanukkah dinner, get your Au Pair involved. She has already committed herself to a year in Canada with your family. Make her feel a part of it! Get her to take the kids shopping for wrapping paper or get her a picture with Santa. Give her memories that will last a lifetime!
2. Add in her customs
Your Au Pair will probably have some traditions or customs of her own that will be a fun addition to your regular scheduled holiday time. Get her to make Lebkuchen or dress up as Lucia!
If your Au Pair decides to spend Christmas morning (or other holiday celebrations) with your family, be sure she feels included in your celebrations. This includes getting her a little gift that she can also open with the rest of the family. It doesn’t have to be anything big, maybe movie theatre tickets or a train day pass to Toronto. This small act will make her feel more connected with your family.
4. Time off
If manageable, the holidays should allow for some down time: sleeping in, pajama days and holiday movies! Give your Au Pair some time off during the holidays, if allowed. This could give her a break from her job to travel a bit. Maybe she wants to spend New Years in Montreal or visit the Christmas market in Toronto. A few days off may refresh her to start the New Year with renewed energy!
One of the best ways to deal with homesickness is to accept it and talk about the emotions that bring homesickness up. Usually we become homesick when we are missing something that is familiar to us. For example, when I was an Au Pair, I REALLY missed trimming the tree. I explain this to my host family and they didn’t decorate the tree until Christmas Eve when my family always did it two weeks before Christmas. We came to an agreement where we decorated the house in other ways. Talk with your Au Pair about her own holiday traditions and her favourite parts of the season.
6. Try something new together
Have you always want to check out the skating rink downtown? What about the CP Holiday train? Involve your Au Pair in a new adventure with your family. This will help to keep her occupied during an emotional time and will also build a stronger bond between your Au Pair and your family.
7. Encourage a holiday party on her own
Hopefully your Au Pair will have a community of her own in your town/city. Encourage her to get together with her friends to have a holiday celebration. Introduce her to the concept of Secret Santa or if your entire family is going to a work party, open your house to a few of her friends for a pot luck meal.