If your au pair can’t drive well, what can you do?
Hosting an au pair is a big decision. And helping your au pair adjust to driving in the U.S. is a big difference from an au pair vs. nanny.
You’ve “hired” them, and probably discussed driving and your expectations during your interviews.
But for whatever reason, their driving capabilities aren’t what you expected.
In this post, we’ll give you 7 tips to help navigate this challenge.
Let’s jump in.
If Your Au Pair Can’t Drive Well Consider These 7 Tips
Talk To Them About It
First things first:
Talk to your au pair about your concerns.
Share your concerns, but bring empathy to the situation.
Remember, it’s understandable if you are frustrated.
You imagined a lot of fantastic reasons to hire an au pair, and navigating challenges around driving wasn’t on your radar.
But, you can let them know you’ve noticed their driving needs improvement.
You can even highlight some specific areas for improvement.
One way to do this positively is to talk about driving in terms of cultural differences:
For example, ask them about driving in their country.
Learning about their habits, preferences, and driving rules can help you talk about how driving in the U.S. is very different.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has an excellent resource on driving resources for safety.
While it’s written for teens, you may find it helpful for your au pair.
But bring kindness to the situation because it may not just be about the driving, there might be underlying stress going on.
And help them to understand the importance of good driving – for both legal and safety reasons.
Remember to approach the conversation in a supportive and encouraging way; that will help you navigate the situation on a positive note…
And simply discussing it might help you uncover the root cause, which could be anything from not having enough driving training, not being familiar with U.S. driving laws, or simply having some sort of other stress.
Offer Driver Training
If your au pair needs extra driving lessons, it’s time to consider hiring a professional.
A driving instructor will help your au pair focus on needed skills and improving their driving skills.
Hiring a driving instructor for them could be an outside resource and neutral party so that the onus isn’t on you.
Or, you could give them driving lessons yourself. That’d probably be more affordable, but more stressful.
Either way, by providing your au pair with additional driving training, you can build their confidence and ensure they are able to drive safely.
Shift Their Driving Responsibilities
To manage the situation, you could also simply reduce your au pair’s driving responsibilities.
Start by putting some limits on where and when they are allowed to drive.
You can restrict it to certain hours of the day or roads that you know will be safer than others.
This could help minimize risk and ensure your kid’s safety while still setting your au pair up for success in other areas of their care.
Make sure to communicate your expectation clearly and think about alternate forms of transportation for your kids which may mean you have to do more of the driving yourself.
Give Them Some Driving Lessons Yourself
It’s tough for anyone to improve their driving skills, but imagine you’ve moved to a foreign country and you’re trying to learn their driving rules…
And that’s the situation your au pair is in.
It’s going to be much easier for them to improve their driving skills if they have your support.
You can offer practice sessions, and constructive feedback, and help them identify where they need to improve.
When you notice progress, you can praise their efforts and accomplishments; you can also help brush up on traffic rules and road signs so they’re prepared for any situation.
With the right kind of support, there’s a good chance you can help them adjust to driving in the U.S.
Here are some practical ways you can help:
- Offer to practice driving with them in a low-stress environment, such as an empty parking lot or a quiet street.
- Give constructive feedback on specific areas of improvement, such as parallel parking or lane changes
- Encourage your au pair to take breaks when they need them, especially if they feel overwhelmed or stressed
- Praise their progress, even if it’s small, to help them build confidence and feel motivated
- Offer to review traffic rules and road signs together, especially if your au pair is new to driving in your country
Make A Plan And Discuss It
Developing a plan of action is a great way to help your au pair improve their driving skills.
First, you can identify specific areas where they need improvement and set clear goals for them to work towards.
Then, create a timeline for when you expect to see progress, but be sure to keep it flexible in case your au pair needs more time to improve.
It’s also important to provide your au pair with the resources and support they need to achieve their goals, such as extra driving lessons or practice sessions.
With a clear plan of action, you can track your au pair’s progress and adjust the plan as needed to help them become a safer and more confident driver.
Set A Measurable Deadline
As much as you may want to support your au pair with improving their driving…
Sometimes that simply may not be enough.
If after your best efforts to help them improve, you’ll have to make a decision:
Do you even want them to drive at all? If so, are limits you want to put on their driving, such as only driving themselves?
You’ll have to make a decision – or give a deadline to make a decision – at some point.
As painful as it may be, setting a date, and make a decision may be the best way forward.
And if you can’t work something out a situation with your au pair such that they can drive but on a limited basis?
It might be time to think about a rematch.
It’s not ideal, but safety comes first. The last thing you want to have to happen is your au pair get into an accident!
Research Other Options
If you or your au pair decide it’s not going to work out, they’ll have to think about whether they want to rematch…
And you’ll have to figure out another option for childcare.
First, you’ll want to look into some backup childcare. If your employer doesn’t offer a service for finding emergency backup childcare (some do, some don’t), you’ll have to get more creative.
Start by researching local options such as your family, in-home daycares, or daycare centers.
Think about your timeline. How quickly do you need to find a new permanent childcare situation? Do YOU want to rematch and find another au pair, or go the route of hiring a local nanny.
There’s a lot to consider so be sure to give yourself some time to think about it…
And really think about what the alternative options are, and whether you want them before you tell your au pair that it is not going to work out.
Before You Go
Having an au pair is a great childcare option for many families, but it’s important to prioritize safety when it comes to driving.
If you are encountering this challenge, there’s a very good chance that you can help them become a safer and more confident driver with the right combination of training, support, and resources.
But if their driving skills don’t improve despite this, it’s time to think about your long-term plan.
You’ll need to think about the possibility of a rematch, supporting their transition, and whether you want to try and find another au pair, a local nanny, or go with a childcare center.
If you’re considering hiring an au pair or want to learn more about the benefits of having one, be sure to check out our other post “10 fantastic reasons to hire an au pair.”
With the right support and resources, an au pair can be an incredible addition to your family