Open Thread: A Break

by cv harquail on May 1, 2015

Hi All-  Much excitement here at AuPairMom Headquarters this week. I fractured my scapula and two ribs on Sunday, by falling off a horse that spooked and started galloping towards the woods. My helmet and safety vest protected most of me, but the fractures, bruises, and etc. have taken a toll on both my ego and my energy.

IMG_1937Turns out, even if you’ve got all this ‘free time’ while resting in bed, and technology that makes it easy to dictate instead of type, it’s still hard to get out a complete thought whilst on paid meds and all. Therefore,

I’m officially declaring last week a ‘spring break’ and this coming week an open thread.

Please be especially nice to each other, since I won’t be monitoring comments too closely. Stay tuned for the return to our regular programming.




Au Pair contracts, for both the au pair and the family, exist so that both parties are absolutely clear about what they can expect from each other.

A Host Family pays an agency fee that they expect to cover 12 month of service. Indeed, knowing that you can amortize the cost of finding and training an au pair over a full 12 months is one of the things that makes the program ‘work’ for families.

au pair breaks contractAnd it’s not just the money — we Host Parents want our children to invest in a caring relationship with their au pair, and we ourselves want to invest in a relationship that (as we all know) takes a lot of energy.

When your au pair doesn’t stay around long enough for either you or him/her to reap the benefits of these emotional, time and financial investment, it’s a real drag. To put it mildly.

But to find out that your au pair intended to leave early from the very start?

That’s even worse. For Host Parents, it’s infuriating. How else would you react when you discover that an au pair has entered into a match and a contract with you – a contract that  that formally specifies a year long commitment from both of you — when he or she has no intention of completing 12months as an au pair?

Falsely committing to a 12 month contract is a severe breach of ethics by an au pair.

If a host parent were to discover that their au pair had no intention whatsoever to spend a full year with them, this discovery would shake the entire foundation of their host family-au pair relationship.

That’s what’s happened to BrokenTrustHostMom:
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When an au pair notices that the host mom is having some kind of personal problem, should the au pair try to talk with the host mom about it?

When I think about this question in the abstract, my answer is

“Of course! If the au pair cares about the host mm as a person, and they have a human-to-human connection, then if an au pair has a concern she should definitely bring it up.”

Bu then when I think about the actual situations that have been raised on the blog before and the ones I faced myself, my response is quite different.  

I do rather wish that the au pair who was concerned about my soul burning in hell had kept that one to herself.  

One of the hardest things about having an au pair in your house is finding a way to pretend that you have some privacy so that you can save face.  

You know you’re screwing up sometimes, you au pair can see you screwing up sometimes, and maybe it’s better to pretend that we don’t know they can see us? 

And at the same time, haven’t I wanted my au pairs to genuinely care? Haven’t I appreciated when they did?  

Ifau pair problems, host mom you were the host mom here, would you want you au pair to say anything?

Is there anything you could imagine her doing that might help?

Dear AuPairMom - 

I am an au pair for a family of two children and single hostmom. I have been with them for four months now.

I am becoming more and more concerned about my host mom as I assume that she is anorexic. She eats very little, always finds excuses to eat and lost quite a bit of weight since I arrived. She does quite a bit of sport too and she works a lot.

I would like to help her, but I don’t know how to approach her and how to bring up the subject. I read the two posts you have on your website regarding anorexic au pairs, and of course I could just leave and not care but …

We are all very close and I care about them.  

I wish I could do something because I am afraid that my hostmom won’t be able to leave this vicious circle without some support.

I am also afraid her school aged kids might notice her eating habits and adopt similar behaviors themselves. 

Do you have any advice for me what I can do?  



Photo Credit: changed screen name via Compfight cc


Sheet Pan Suppers: Easy Meals for Au Pairs to Cook

by cv harquail April 17, 2015
Sheet Pan Suppers for Au Pair to Cook

“Mom, this chicken’s a winner.” ~ DD1 “You should email the cookbook author and thank her for that recipe.” ~ AuPairDad “Yay! You’re making the Spicy Peanut one again!” ~ DD2 These are all real quotes, prompted by a gift that Host Mom Page E. sent me– a cookbook called Sheet Pan Suppers, by Molly […]

36 comments Read the full article →

Selling Our House: How do we show the Au Pair Room to Buyers?

by cv harquail April 14, 2015
PANews BT_P-e92957a3-131d-4970-96de-53105df34f5e_I1

(Part of a series on Moving With Your Au Pair) When your family is selling your house, everyone has to pitch in to make the sale as easy as possible. This means – being on their best ‘pick up after yourself’ behavior, – being ready to dash out and stay out at a moment’s notice, […]

41 comments Read the full article →

Taking An Au Pair on Vacation: Hotel Room Arrangements

by cv harquail April 9, 2015

Already looking forward to your summer vacation?  If you’re planning to bring your Au Pair, now is the time to start talking about vacation arrangements –especially how you plan to manage hotel rooms. Au Pairs should be provided with their own private room to sleep in — that’s what the Agencies require. The Agencies require […]

128 comments Read the full article →

Au Pairs with Dietary Preferences Need to Cook for Themselves Sometimes

by cv harquail April 7, 2015

It seems that half the world has some kind of dietary restriction. I read a poem a few days ago about the challenge of trying to meet everyone’s different expectations, until the poet gave in and served a bowl of polished stones. (I wish I could find the poem– it was by a real poet, and […]

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Easy Ways to Get to Know Each Other Before Your Au Pair Arrives

by cv harquail April 3, 2015

Once we’ve matched with each other, Host Families and Au Pairs usually have a good bit of time to wait before the Au Pair physically joins the family. We’ve already shared a bit about how often we like to check in with each other between Match and Arrival.   We agree that keeping in touch […]

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Would You Choose a Former Nanny as an Au Pair?

by cv harquail March 31, 2015

Here’s a rare kind of email– a topic we have never discussed before.  I keep thinking there are none of these left, and then >boom< one of them lands in my inbox. I‘m currently working as a nanny. I would really really love to come and do an au pair year in America. I love […]

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Notes on the Blog: Somehow, we broke the Interwebz

by cv harquail March 27, 2015

I don’t know what happened, and I don’t know what fixed it back up to 98% of what it was before, but sorry about this morning’s long, long, long outage. Also, apologies to whomever commented between last night and noon today– your insights were lost in the ‘series of tubes’ that make up the worldwideweb. […]

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