You will notice that this blog post is very familiar. While we like to remind our Host Families of ways to help their Au Pair through homesickness during the holidays, we thought we would update our post with some tips on how to help during the holidays…in a global pandemic.

During the holidays, your Au Pair may become homesick somewhere in between the first day of advent and New Year’s Eve. Homesickness may be fuelled by the fact that this will probably be their first time away from their family during the holiday season all while living through a global pandemic.

Part of the reason your Au Pair came to Canada was to share in the Canadian experience. With new COVID restrictions, they are limited to who they can see and what they do can. As the host family, you cannot rely on the parties, shopping and Christmas markets to distract your Au Pair during this holiday season. They may be leaning on you to help them through this time of year. Here are a few ways to help your Au Pair with homesickness, especially during these strange days:

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! Encourage her to make crafts with the kids or write a letter to 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! Give her traditions a little extra attention so she feels a part of your family, as well as continuing to bring her own familiarities to the table.

3. Presents!
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, but 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 try something new. Snowshoeing in the forest, skating at an ice rink (if possible) or even just enjoying the lights of the city. A few days off may refresh her to start the New Year with renewed energy!

5. Reminisce
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 early rather than the tree. 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? Everything this year will be new, so involve your Au Pair in a novel 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.