What do Au Pair Community Counselors Want to Know?

by cv harquail on October 29, 2014

Community Counselors, LCCs and ARs, are the unsung heroes of the au pairing community. 

allyvests dogA fabulously great community counselor is rare, a good community counselor is often taken for granted, and an underperforming community counselor can sink an entire cluster of au pairs.

Given the importance of their roles, it’s kind of surprising how rarely any CCs, LCCs and ARs email us at AuPairMom.

I don’t think we’ve ever received an email asking for advice on working with a cranky Host Parent, or for advice on mediating between competing demands, or…. actually… anything.

[Maybe there is a secret AP CC blog, just for them?? ]

Au Pair Community Counselors are a bit of a mystery to me.

Which is a challenge, because in a few weeks I will have the chance to speak with a group of Community Counselors about AuPairMom.com as a community and as a blog. I’m not sure what to say.

Normally, when I plan a talk (or a workshop or a regular class) I like to think about what the participants or audience cares the most about, and try to anticipate what they want to know or learn or create. I’m not sure what CCs would ask, if they could ask anything about AuPairMom.

So, if you don’t mind, I’d like to toss a few questions out to CCs, LCCs, and ARs –

What would you like to know about the AuPairMom community and the people who convene here?
(e.g., favorite topics, most frequent questions, what host parents fear the most, what host parents love, etc.)

What would you like to know about how the AuPairMom blog works?
(e.g., what day of the year– every year– has the least visits, what kinds of comments never clear the spam filter, where I get the lovely photos, how my former au pairs feel about the blog, what my former LCC thinks about the blog).

I’ve got a half hour to spill the secrets of the AuPairMom blog– but just to LCCs. What would you most like to know?


Note: Clarifying here– I’m asking what LCCs would like to know about AuPairMom (—- what host parents would like to talk about w/ LCCs is a different conversation.) I’d like to hear from counselors and former counselors. ]

Add to the comments, or email me at mom at aupairmom dot com.

Many thanks in advance-


p.s. This image *slays* me. It’s from @allyvest’s instagram. I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing it with you. I. Love. This. Dog.


Celebrate Halloween With Your Au Pair

by cv harquail on October 28, 2014

Special Halloween Edition

au pair halloween advice holidays celebration costumeHalloween is one of my favorite holidays to share with Au Pairs. Unlike some holidays, Halloween doesn’t seem to trigger a whole lot of nostalgia and homesickness. For au pairs who ‘do’ Halloween in their home countries, it’s a chance for her to share traditions from her culture. And, if your au pair is new to Halloween, you get to introduce her to all the fun.

Over the years, we’ve done a lot of different things as a family to celebrate the holiday and the season, adjusting as the girls have gotten older. Halloween is one holiday where including our au pair in whatever we’re doing has increased the fun every time. Here are some Halloween activities you might consider:

1. Get your Au Pair a costume. At our house, I’ve always encouraged our au pairs to “get in the spirit” by putting together a costume. We’ve done the purchased costume from Target, the costume assembled from the kids’ dress up chest, and the completely original cardboard box “creature.”     [click to continue reading ...]


Homesickness is completely predictable

Homesickness is something that every au pair should anticipate, and that every au pair should make a commitment to work through.4335831783_7bee845569_z

If you’re signing up to spend a year in another country, in another family, then you are committing to working through any homesickness that occurs between month 1 and month 11.

It irks me when au pairs present ‘homesickness’ as a reason to break their contracts and go home, especially when everything else is working just fine.  If we aim to screen out any au pair candidate who seems like s/he might be susceptible to homesickness, then we’ll be left with a pretty tiny pool of remaining candidates.

So even though MGHostMom asks for advice on screening out au pairs that could potentially experience homesickness, I’d like to ask:

Families, how have you dealt in advance with the threat of homesickness? Did you try to screen out au pairs who seemed especially vulnerable, and/or did you try some of the advice about socializing your au pair asap?

Au Pairs, what do you tell yourselves and each other about homesickness? Do you try to coach each other in dealing with it, or encourage each other to give up and go home?

Here’s MGHostMom’s email with her details– let’s reply to her and at the same time talk about the big picture of homesickness…

I’m a first time host mom. I read aupairmom in depth this summer in advance of searching for and choosing an au pair. Our au pair arrived at the beginning of September, and we hit it off. Everything was going well. We like her. She likes us. We’re very compatible. I had been prepared for all the various difficulties I’d read about on aupairmom.

But then last night, she tells us she is just too homesick and she has decided to go home. We have included her in family activities. And she has been social and made friends, but many of the au pairs she has met have also gone home! The kicker was that this past week two of her closest new au pair friends both left — one got rematched across the country and the other’s grandmother died and she decided to go home.

I have lived abroad and understand homesickness. My au pair was taken off guard by it; despite telling her it would happen, she wasn’t prepared for how emotionally terrible it feels. But she’s not willing to stick it out (in part because her parents miss her too, and have asked her to come home).

My question is simply: Is there a way to screen for those who can bear homesickness if they’ve never experienced it before? What sort of qualities do I look for? Is it a maturity thing?

See also: Homesickness and your Au Pair: How you might help


Image: Dreamy, by Joshua Smith on Flickr


Smartphones That Outlast Your Au Pair, guest post by QuirkyMom

by cv harquail October 26, 2014
ganesha balunsat

It’s a lot of work to set up your au pair’s smart phone so that it has all the apps, all the contacts, and all the info you think s/he’ll need.   This is great work to do on behalf of keeping everyone organized and connected.  How can you keep this information year to year, […]

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Share Your System? Tips from Host Parents

by cv harquail October 23, 2014

A new kind of open thread, where you can share the systems that keep you sane.

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Au Pair Asks: How can I tell my Host Family that they’re so noisy they wake me up?

by cv harquail October 22, 2014

If the shoe were on the other foot, we wouldn’t hesitate to tell our au pairs that their early morning or late night behavior was so rowdy that it interrupted our sleep. But when you’re the au pair, and it’s your host family just doing their thing in the kitchen, what can you do? Au […]

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This Is The Open Thread You’ve Been Looking For

by cv harquail October 18, 2014

I know it’s been a while– and questions are piling up. Time for an open thread! Keep in mind, it can take some time to clear the comment moderation gauntlet for first-time contributors. … This thread will be open until Monday. Got to it, readers!     Image: Evan Leeson on Flickr

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How to Switch Au Pair Agencies, Gracefully

by cv harquail October 16, 2014

Host Families choose their particular Au Pair Agency for all sorts of reasons. They might choose the agency their neighbors use, the agency that has the best promotional deal, or even the agency that has a name they can spell correctly when they are googling in the middle of the night having been awakened again by […]

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How much can an Au Pair influence the positive climate of your home?

by cv harquail October 13, 2014
evening in reykjavik

Add one negative person, and the whole ‘psychic weather system’ of a family can become depressed. Having an au pair who is a grump, a complainer, a depressive, a wet noodle, or a ghost can really be a drag on the family’s energy. But is an au pair’s impact on the family climate as powerful the […]

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3 Easy Ways to Help Your Au Pair Use Your Home Appliances Correctly

by cv harquail October 10, 2014
wash maching

American appliances have too many options. Having endless options is great for getting just the right setting for a specific task, but it becomes quite a problem when you’re forever trying to remember which combinations of buttons and levers to press. Between our vacuum cleaner (5 attachments, 3 wands and 5 buttons), our washer (23 […]

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