I Want To Marry Your Au Pair. Do You Mind?

by cv harquail on November 29, 2016

I love, love, love romantic stories.

Especially when I have some inside scoop.

Though I have no idea who the fellow is who emailed with this question, I’m only posting it on the condition that we get THE REST OF THE STORY and at least a photo of the happy couple.


But first, Romeo needs our advice.

My girlfriend is currently an au pair. I want to marry her, and I’d like to propose to her soon.

However, I want to be sensitive to her situation as an Au Pair. I don’t want my proposal (and — I hope — our engagement) to have any negative effect on her Host Family. We of course would not get married until her contract is up.

What’s your advice for proposing, in a way that is sensitive to her Host Family situation?
What should I consider, so that I have her Host Family’s support?

Happy Engagement Banner, available from SusysSentiments on Etsy


Our New Au Pair is Too Quiet: She Hardly Says A Word

by cv harquail on November 28, 2016

We’re enjoying a visit from one of our former Au Pairs, and a friend of hers.  Although both of them speak English well, I’m aware once again of how challenging it can be to interact across language differences, as well as cultural differences, and even family norms.

With communication challenges, I always prefer it when folks try to “fix it forward”, by acting.  By saying something. By trying rather than by retreating. So I get where this host mom is coming from.

If she lived nearby, I’d give this HostMom a copy of Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. 

What advice would you give her?  Should she get adjusted to the World’s Quietest Au Pair? Or try to draw this new Au Pair into conversation, in different ways?

Dear Au Pair Mom —    Our latest Au Pair arrived 5 weeks ago.  During our interviewing process she was very engaged and talkative. But, when she arrived at our house, she was very quiet. As in, hardly says a word.

8107327940_943f0618df_mOur previous au pair was still around for a few days, so I thought it would get better when she left as the new au pair would have to interact with us more. Her English is excellent, so it’s not a language issue.

Fast forward to now and our new Au pair literally doesn’t talk to us.

We have tried and tried to have a conversation with her about anything and we get one word answers at the most. We invite her out to dinner, include her as much as possible, ask her about home and family, etc. She says she isn’t homesick and the LCC said she seems happy with us. She is around a lot…eats dinner with us most nights, sits in the family room when we watch TV and is generally around (but looking at her phone most of that time).

I don’t think she has ever said a word to us unless we asked her a question. She does have au pair friends that she hangs out with on the weekends, so she isn’t just painfully shy.

I’m not sure what to do about this. We have had quiet au pairs in the past, but never like this. She does a good job with the kids from what I can tell and they said she does talk to them when we aren’t around. Would love ideas or suggestions anyone has. I don’t think I can take this for another 10+ months.


Image: Quiet, by Jeff Youngstrom on Flickr


When Your Au Pair Lies About Mileage on the Car

by cv harquail on November 14, 2016

Sorry for the long lapse in posting…I’m still recovering.  

To nudge me (and you?) back into the challenges of Host Parenting, here’s an email about a problem that we faced with our Au Pair too.    It was especially disappointing — and surprising — since this happened with perhaps our most mature, measured, and confident au pair….

11922754185_e5841fd683_mDear Au Pair Mom Community —
I have a question on a current situation with our au pair and would love community input.  

A few months ago our au pair told me she was taking my car to the mall to meet up with a friend to shop and get dinner.  The next morning as I’m coming downstairs for work she’s there to great me with some terrible news.  —

While she was at the mall her family called (she actually has family about 40 minutes north of us who emigrated to America in the 80s) to invite her over.  So she drove there (without telling me), and then on her way home got a flat.  She tried to put the spare on but broke a bolt and then called AAA and had the car towed home.  She did not call or text us once during this episode.

Obviously I was furious and we had a big conversation about trust and if  1) you have my car and plans change you have to tell me where you are going and 2) If anything happens to the car you have to call me right away.

But she takes great care of my son and she’s never done anything during working hours to make me not trust her.

Since this incident, I’ve been periodically checking the mileage on the car after she’s used it just to see if it lines up with what she’s told me.  This past Friday she asked to take the car to visit a friend in the next town over (about 3 miles away) and said she’d be home by 10PM.  At 11PM she texted to say she was staying the night and would see us in the morning as she was scheduled to work at 9AM.  The next morning I check the odometer and see that she put 80 miles on the car.

When I asked her about it, she said she was just driving around town with her friend. Ahem, this is a lie, since takes an awful lot of driving around town to put 80 miles on a car.  Today I asked her again asked and this time she told me she’s been seeing a guy (named David) who lives in a town that is 20 miles away. She drove there for the first time Friday night to surprise him and got lost on the way hence the extra mileage.

I’m not sure I believe this story either (I think she went to see her family), but either way she lied again about where she was taking the car.

What do I do here besides ban all car privileges except for driving to/from class or taking my son to the activities ?  Help!!!


Image: JLS Photography on Flickr 


First Time Host Mom Wonders: Are her Au Pair expectations realistic?

by cv harquail November 7, 2016

A new Host Mom writes to share her frustration – and concern- about an Au Pair who doesn’t quite seem to fit. Are the mom’s expectations too high, she wonders? Or, Does she just have an Au Pair who needs (even) more direction and motivation? I’d like to think that I asked all the right […]

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What’s the Real Ratio of Good Au Pair Experiences to Bad Au Pair Experiences?

by cv harquail November 3, 2016

Something I really don’t understand about the larger cultural conversation about Au Pairs is how negatively the Au Pairing experience is portrayed.  The Au Pairing experience is too often presented as being “bad” — where Host Families are demanding, irrational, and/or punitive, and Au Pairs are beleaguered, exploited, and powerless. Meanwhile, here on the AuPairMom […]

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Do Bad Host Families Get Blacklisted By Au Pair Agencies?

by cv harquail October 23, 2016

How might Agencies keep bad Host Families from cycling from one Agency to the next, without getting removed from the program entirely? We worry not only about bad Au Pairs getting recycled though the system, but also about rematch Host Families getting one chance after another to strike out with an Au Pair. It should […]

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How To Share Information About Rematch Au Pairs, When the Agency Won’t

by cv harquail October 18, 2016

We all believe that Au Pair Agencies should be as transparent as possible about what sends Au Pairs and Host Families into rematch. We don’t want to recycle problem Au Pairs and problem Host Families, hoping that they can make some kind of barely adequate rematch that avoids anything illegal or unsafe, just so they […]

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How Should an Au Pair Decide Which Family to Match With?

by cv harquail October 13, 2016

A PopularAuPair candidate faces an embarrassment of riches. Lots and lots of  families are contacting her via the website where she’s posted her application.  She’s got many to choose from as she accepts or declines invitations for interviews.  But she’s not 100% sure of the criteria she should use. She explains: I’m a 20 year old American […]

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Your Au Pair’s Bedroom: What to provide to make your Au Pair comfortable and welcome

by cv harquail October 11, 2016

Picture yourself in this room.  Imagine that you’ve just spent 8 hours with energetic kids, talking in your second language, driving on unfamiliar streets on the wrong side of the road. Wouldn’t it be lovely if you could walk upstairs, open the door, and step into a room like this?   It doesn’t have to […]

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Au Pair Getting High In Our Home

by cv harquail October 9, 2016

When we know an Au Pair is doing something that contradicts our house rules, but we aren’t able to present positive proof of this, what can we do? We don’t want to be accusatory. But then again, we’re sure we’re right. We don’t need to see him or her rinsing out the bong in the […]

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