When people ask me whether an Au Pair might be right for them, I sometimes forget to ask them what kinds of help they *already* have, that they are aiming to replace.

2303555607_45a4f6462f_mIf a family currently uses a childcare center or a home-based center, then switching to an Au Pair offers more schedule flexibility, care in their own home, and a young person to join their household and add to the learning and growing of the family.

If a family currently uses a live-out nanny, then the argument for an au pair — along with scheduling flexibility —  is perhaps a lower cost, and perhaps less competition with the nanny’s life and priorities outside of work.

When a family currently employs a live in nanny, however, a few more questions pop up.  With live-in nannies, families have a more experienced childcare provider, who is often older and often has a life of her own outside the home.  Also, live-in nannies much more commonly perform household tasks in addition to childcare.  They might cook for the parents as well as the kids,  do the laundry for the parents as well as the kids, iron sheets and shirts, grocery shop and run errands, and clean the house. They might even walk the dog every day and/ or clean the cat litter box.

All of these tasks fall outside the duties of an au pair.

Au Pairs can only be asked to do Childcare-Related Tasks. 

If you currently have a live-in nanny who also serves as a housekeeper and a family administrative assistant, as does the mom whose email is below, I’d hesitate to recommend an au pair to you. Even when an Au Pair isn’t needed for 45 hours of childcare, those ‘extra’ on duty hours can not be used for non-childcare-related work.    [click to continue reading …]


It seems like this brand new host mom did everything right (or, rather, took all of our recommendations) for getting started with an Au Pair.

Careful consideration, lots of advance learning, deep interviewing, a handbook (!), and lots of positive energy. Even after their new Au Pair arrived and presented the challenge of extreme homesick, this new CosyFarmHostMom did what I’d have recommended.

8417935780_9fcdebf551_mSo now what? Her Au Pair’s homesickness has not abated, one bit.

Here are all the details. After her email, I’ll offer a little feedback and then turn it over to you, wise readers.

First, can I just say how absolutely amazing au pair mom is?! The wealth of information is invaluable. I have spent a great deal of time pouring over the website in the last eight months. In January, we began to contemplate having an au pair join our family. My husband and I both work full time and we have two children (3 and 5.5). After a few months of reading, we made the plunge and matched with our au pair from Germany. She arrived in the US one week ago and to our home on Friday.

To be honest, I expected growing pains and an adjustment period, but I did not think I would be reaching out for advice so soon.

We went through an extensive screening process (thanks to TexasHM for all the tips). We emailed and skyped. We sent an excerpt of our newly drafted handbook. We sent challenge questions. Our au pair seemed great: engaged and excited!

Fast forward to her actual arrival: The person that we skyped/emailed with is not the one who arrived.      [click to continue reading …]


You know that whole argument that you should make sure both parents know how to diaper, feed, and soothe a baby, so that no one parent gets “stuck” with all the hardest work because the other parent quietly “deskilled” him/herself?

I paid attention to that advice with my kids, and contradicted it with our phones, broadband, AppleTV, Netflix, and every other tech-y entertainment4367063185_6eb254b1dd_m thing besides my own computers. Also, I did this with wine.  Why?  I just did. not. want. to. be. in. charge.

But that’s come back to bite me, because I can offer absolutely no advice on SmarterPhoneHostMom‘s question.

I suspect that some of you other Host Parents have stayed on top of SmartPhone Tech?  

Tell us how you manage sharing, staying in control, and staying safe, while also making sure your Au Pairs can use their phones for personal use.

Please weigh in here! 

I have a question about security for smart phones provided by the host family. Since the technology and carrier plans are constantly evolving I was wondering if anyone had some some new ideas and tips.  
For our previous Au Pair, we added a line to our Verizon account for an iPhone 5.  We wanted our Au Pair to have an iPhone because my husband and I have iPhones and we have family sharing set up so we can share locations and calendars with each other.     

[click to continue reading …]


“Matching With” Versus “Selecting” an Au Pair: What’s your perspective?

by cv harquail August 12, 2016

Writing about the AuPair interviewing process, I’m getting a little philosophical. I just wrote this section (below) about the difference between “selecting” and “Matching with” an Au Pair.  Am I crazy? Do you make these sorts of distinctions? Is this how you frame the process yourself? What am I missing?  I’d love your ideas. “Matching […]

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Au Pair Drinking Wine While On Duty: Okay or Ixnay? (Poll)

by cv harquail August 9, 2016

Dear Au Pair Mom — I have been an avid reader of your blog for awhile now and absolutely love the invaluable information and tips I have learned from it. I’m not entirely sure this is an issue but I think it has the potential to become one so I guess I’m just putting some […]

42 comments Read the full article →

Interviewing Rematch Au Pairs: Special Questions?

by cv harquail August 3, 2016

How to Interview Au Pair Candidates is the #1 topic that people search for on AuPairMom. This week, I’ve been hard at work on an eBook that can offer all the ideas in one place and one package.  It’s insane, trying to pull together (as much as is humanly possible) the wisdom that’s accumulated here […]

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Interviewing Extension Au Pairs: Special Questions?

by cv harquail August 3, 2016

A companion question to the post on Interviewing Rematch Au Pairs: Special Questions? With Extension Au Pairs, the number one question I’d have is — Why aren’t you staying with your current host family? I can think of a million perfectly acceptable reasons for wanting to have a different family for an extension. Seeing a different […]

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How Many is Too Many Household Accidents Before Rematching an Au Pair?

by cv harquail July 30, 2016

I’d say however many it took to get you to write this email, SafetyConsciousHostMom. Any email that asks “how many kitchen fires are too many?” gets my automatic reply “Rematch Now”. We are a family with an 18 year old bro pair who’s been so-so. He’s not super great with the kids or the chores, but […]

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Choosing an Au Pair: The Serious One or The Fun One?

by cv harquail July 25, 2016

“There’s a lid for every pot”, we often say here on Au Pair Mom. No matter how weird your situation, or how picky you are, there is an au pair out there for you. Sometimes you’re lucky and you discover TWO au pairs who seem to fit your needs. So, how do you choose? The […]

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How to Reduce the Costs of Having an Au Pair

by cv harquail July 23, 2016

Parents who are researching childcare options for the first time invariably experience “sticker shock”. Who knew that a year of childcare in America could cost as much as a year at a good instate university? Whether childcare is provided by a retail day care center, a someone-else’s-home-based childcare center, a nanny, or an au pair, […]

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