Chatting With Other Host Moms…In Real Life

by Frances Scher on June 28, 2016

Frances Scher here again…

I’ve been brainstorming this idea lately, and want to get some feedback.

friend imageWhen we first started out hosting au pairs, my husband and I expected to meet a lot of other host families. Then we would know someone who had been down this road before and would be able to give firsthand experience how this form of child care really worked.

Being a host mom (and I am sure also…a host dad) is unique in many ways. You pay your au pair, but they are still part of the family…they take care of your children, but most also are growing from children to adults themselves at the same time…they come from another country and know many things, but still need help navigating this new place….etc. Also, I thought it would be great to make friends within this new to us AP community.

We showed up to our first agency host family event…and we were the only ones there. Several months later, we went to the next one, which combined several other clusters in our large metropolitan area. There were about 8 families there, but everyone was so busy helping their kids with the activities at this place, that I barely was able to even introduce myself to anyone, let alone have a “so how is it going for you as a host mom” conversation.

Now, after several more years of hosting, this pattern still seems to continue.

We recently moved to a new town, and I have finally gotten to know another host mom since our APs are best friends.  When we run into each other out in the community, it’s been nice to chat for a few moments about the joys and pitfalls of hosting an au pair. So, that has got me thinking if I could extend this interaction another way…

This Au Pair Mom blog has been so valuable to me as I learned about how to navigate this whole being a host mom thing. But now I am thinking about taking this off line and into Real Life.

It would be nice to spend some time with other host moms just chatting. Maybe we could share more local information, like a good way for au pair’s to get their classes in our city or the perks or rules that other host families in my area have for their APs.

I’ve been a host mom for many years now, so I don’t know how much I would learn from other host moms (I think I would probably be the one giving the advice), but it would still be nice to talk to others who are experiencing the same thing I am.

I know host families are very busy. After all, that is why we all have au pairs. I am imagining sending out a message to other host moms in my area, and seeing if anyone wants to get together as a group for coffee one Saturday morning.

Of course, my big worry is that I will plan this and then no one will show up!

Has anyone else, gotten together with other host families in their area outside of the normal agency get togethers? Have you benefited from another host mom nearby to bounce ideas off of? Are we the only ones who have struggled to meet other host families locally?

 

Image from Good Reads

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(Reposting from its previous place in another thread:)

Writes Host Mom X,

I need some urgent advice on an uncomfortable situation, with a new au pair and her Host Dad:

innocentOne of our au pair’s besties recently ended her year, and our au pair has taken that host family’s new au pair under her wing. We had heard some interesting stories about this family from our au pair and her bestie, including some instances of rule-breaking (e.g. having the au pair do overnights while the parents traveled). We knew the situation wasn’t always ideal for a few other reasons – but the bestie au pair stuck out the year.

The new au pair (I’ll call her M) came to us tonight with a serious problem: her host dad touched her inappropriately (apparently this is the second time this has happened) – sounds like leg and behind touching.  She she of course is in a bit of a tailspin, feels very uncomfortable going back to the house AND the host mom will be traveling out of town tomorrow, leaving her alone in the house with the host dad for a couple of days.

Our au pair asked us to speak with New Au Pair M too, because she was very worried and wanted to bring in another perspective. (Apparently bestie au pair says this never happened to her. New Au Pair M is the family’s second au pair, and they apparently went through many babysitters/nannies before entering the au pair program.)

I’m hoping for help with:

(1) gut check on what New Au Pair M should do:

HD and I and our AP all advised that she should not stay in the house (we’re happy to have her stay with us), should immediately get the LCC involved and document it (in case she is accused of lying later on). We sympathized that rematch was tough (and she also has a vacation planned in two weeks that will get upended if she rematches), and with the personal conflict she is feeling (she is asking herself normal questions of someone put in this terrible kind of situation, like “am I overreacting?”.

New Au Pair M also feels she is a strong woman and should stand up to the HD herself and tell him what’s what; she feels bad about the host mom and also generally because otherwise she felt the family was kind to her and a good fit). We said “if you were our daughter, we’d want you out of there, period,” but also that I understood that if I were in her position it would not be so black and white to me – i.e. I can understand all of the conflicting things she is feeling.

What would you all adviseNew Au Pair M to do? (Both host parent and AP perspectives very welcome.)

(2) au pair policy knowledge:

Is it the policy of the agencies that if an au pair comes to the LCC with complaints of inappropriate sexual advances by a host parent, that the agency must immediately remove the AP from the home, even if the AP is not requesting that? We cautioned the AP that we were not sure, but that she should be prepared for that consequence of talking to the LCC – but that we felt that she should immediately raise this with the LCC no matter the consequence.

New Au Pair M was thinking maybe she should just wait and see, and only do something if this happens again. We and our AP – as you might imagine – did not think she should treat this as a “wait and see” situation. Especially since it seems it already HAS happened before.

Any immediate gut reactions and advice, especially knowledge of agency policy and what typically happens in these situations or personal experience would be helpful

New Au Pair M is staying with us tonight and planning to talk to the LCC with our AP tomorrow (we said we’d talk to LCC as well if needed, or help her call the central office if necessary, since our LCC is not the greatest and isn’t always responsive – though I’d hope at least in this kind of situation she’d take action).

Thank you all —

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A new host mom sent a long email about several challenges she’s experiencing with her Au Pair (and we’ll get to them in the next week or two).

7181614291_038595db8a_mHer concern about her new Au Pair’s swimming skills stood out to me, maybe because my neighbors down the street — with a new au pair– have just opened their backyard swimming pool. Walking by their house with my dog, I could hear all kinds of shrieking as the three boys splashed about, and I wondered how their Au Pair was holding up.

My own family spends a lot of time in the water– in granny’s pool, splashing with the dog in the river, out on my sister’s boat (sometimes jumping into the river from the boat), and boogie boarding on the ocean waves.

Every single one of our au pairs was a capable swimmer. This was something we insisted on.

NOT because I thought an Au Pair could ever stand in for a life guard, at the beach, the town pool, or in the river.
NOT because I thought having an Au Pair on the boat meant that any one of us could go without a life jacket. We swim in the river in life jackets– adults and kids.

We insisted on a Au Pair who could swim because we wanted someone who was comfortable in the water– who could be safe *herself*.

We wanted someone who’d happily wade into the water with the kids to play. We wanted someone who wouldn’t be scared to come out with us on the boat or on a jet ski. We wanted someone who’d see Granny’s pool as a treat and a chance to relax when she was off duty. We wanted her to be able to enjoy being out by the water, on the water, or in the water.

We asked our Au Pairs to sit on the edge of the town pool as the kids played, serving as an extra pair of eyes. We expected that — god forbid there was an emergency —  she’d scream for the certified professionals to rescue anyone. (Now, I wish I’d asked her to wear a whistle…just for that reason.)

See Swim Safely, by following my sister’s pool rules

All this said, I was wondering what the new Host Mom of Swimmer was hoping for from her Au Pair.

We’re surprised by our new Au Pair’s swimming skills. While we were interviewing her, she told us that she had just recently learned to swim. She was actively taking swim lessons and continued her lessons until she arrived.

Now that she’s here, it turns out she really can’t swim. She can basically just not drown. For the most part. While holding on.

And we need a swimmer. My kid is a fish and her swimming level is well beyond what you would expect for her age. We don’t need a star swimmer for AP, but if she can’t assist my child at the pool without drowning herself, then that’s a big deal.

Our neighborhood pool has a very deep end (9+ feet). Once summer is over she will be using an indoor pool that is only 5 feet deep. So we could bend over backwards and just white knuckle until the end of summer. But I’m not sure. Going to the pool will be a big part of their activities during the day.

For reasons other than the swimming thing, I’m suggesting that this host mom prepare for a rematch (you’ll see why, in the next set of posts).

What do you expect when you ask for an Au Pair who knows how to swim? What do you want that Au Pair to be able to do?

 

See also: Swimming, Personal Choices and Cultural Norms

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Newbie Host Mom Totally Not Sure She Needs Help (She Does)

by Frances Scher June 22, 2016
owl mailbox

  Hi! I am Frances Scher, and I am taking a turn at the APMom mailbox.  First up is a letter from a new host mom. Her previous expectations of the au pair program don’t seem to be lining up with the current reality. The au pair is not doing her job and following the […]

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Welcoming Frances Scher as Contributing Editor: Notes on the Blog

by cv harquail June 21, 2016
Frances S

Hi Everyone! I know, it’s taking me for. eh. ver. to make any moves with the administration and management of AuPairMom. No ads yet, can’t get organized for sponsored posts, upgrading tasks postponed not just till a rainy day but waiting for a monsoon, and so on. Meanwhile, I’m 56,000 words into what Annie Lamott […]

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Managing the Financial Costs of Rematch: Getting an Agency Refund

by cv harquail June 16, 2016
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What’s a fair way to manage the costs to the Host Family of a rematch situation that they did not request themselves? Dear AuPairMom, We are currently in a re-match situation and I’m struggling with the agency’s rematch policy. We are only 2 weeks into a 12 month extension with our Au Pair, and she […]

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Change the Family System, Not (Just) Your Au Pair

by cv harquail June 14, 2016
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“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” My neighbor says this all the time, when she’s trying to make herself aware that the problem she’s complaining about might have its roots in her own behavior. That saying came to mind to me, when I read the email below. Of course, […]

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Keeping Au Pair To 45 Hours When Kids are Not In School : Ideas to Offset Time?

by cv harquail June 9, 2016
choosing an au pair

I need suggestions on what I can do to off set my Au Pair’s hours! With the summer months upon us and the end of the school year, I am stressed out about how to off set my Au Pair’s hours so she does not exceed the 45 hours a week. Both my husband and […]

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How Can We Develop a Connection with our Socially Detached Au Pair?

by cv harquail June 4, 2016
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The Goldilocks Conundrum Your connection with your Au Pair is too heavy, or it’s non-existant. Your Au Pair is either a homebody, sticking close to the house demonstrating little interest in the world around her/him. Or, your Au Pair is always gone — whether physically or socially. S/he  does the job, and then disappears. We […]

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New Pregnancy Plus Mediocre Au Pair — How to adjust?

by cv harquail May 24, 2016
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Here’s a tweak on the now-classic:  “Mediocre Au Pair, Should We Rematch?” question…. Dear AuPairMom ~~     We have had our 2nd AP for about 4 months, and she is the definition of mediocre. To be objective, she is a good driver and our toddler likes her. However, her English is very, very bad (I […]

28 comments Read the full article →