Open Thread: In like a polar bear…

by cv harquail on February 28, 2015

When the temperature on Feb. 27th is 14 degrees, no lions are coming over. Instead, polar bears.
Here’s a weekend open thread to help us glide from February to March.

Use this thread to bring up anything at all that’s on your Host Parent or Au Pair agenda.

Keep in mind that first time commenters might see a lag between hitting and seeing their comments on the blog, since first time comments must be approved by hand.
Also, if a topic comes up and then disappears, I may have snagged it for a post later this week.
As always, please follow the comments policy and be kind.


HostMomX raised this concern in the comments on the post about Dr. Host Dad and his Vitamin B injections:

au pair, au pair health concernsThis situation brings up a related issue that HD and I have wondered about. We have had several APs tell us that they are very anti antibiotic, and won’t take them.

I understand that attitude – I know a lot of people who feel that way, and for good reason. And I agree with those reasons – we are way too antibiotic dependent here, and the ill-effects of that have been well-documented.

Luckily these have been fairly hearty APs who have luckily not come down with any illnesses that would seem to have required antibiotics while they were with us – despite being slobbered on non-stop by our constantly-sick young children. So we never had to actually deal with the situation.

But we wondered – if the whole family comes down with some bacterial infection, say, strep throat, that knocks you out of commission with fever and related symptoms for quite some time if you don’t treat it with antibiotics, and we all get on antibiotics right away and get back in the saddle, but the AP refuses to take antibiotics and therefore can’t work for a week or more (and is also still contagious and could re-infect the family), what is the solution?

As illustrated by the horrendous-sounding situation with the Vitamin B shots (and our flu shot conversations ~ cv) , you can’t force someone to take medicine they don’t want to take.

And it doesn’t seem like a situation where you could (or would want to!) demand rematch – but it is horribly inconvenient and expensive in terms of scrambling for backup care.

It seems a lot different from the injury situations that have been discussed on here, where an AP breaks a bone and there is no way to heal that quickly; but with a bacterial infection, there is an option for avoiding a prolonged illness. With something like a bacterial illness, it would likely be over by the time rematch could “solve” it, and then irreparable damage would have been done by suggesting rematch.

Now – with the APs we’ve loved over the years who have had this attitude, I am sure we would have just dealt with it and tried our best not to feel resentful.

And of course we’ve dealt with many sick days needed by APs and nannies over the years – we all get sick, and others have to deal with it. I guess this situation feels different because there would be an easy medical solution that the AP is refusing to utilize, so I could see major resentment on my part if an AP needed two weeks off due to an illness she could easily have stopped in its tracks.

What do you all think?




Image: Blow! by Susan Sermoneta on Flickr


Our Au Pair Was Unhappy. Everyone Knew But Us.

by cv harquail on February 21, 2015

Dear Au Pair Mom –

I have just discovered that our first au pair, who departed three months ago after a year working and traveling with us, told *everyone* but me that she was unhappy with our family.

5766506970_64806a7180_mWe though she was the greatest au pair: hard worker, experienced with the kids, wise…  She seemed very reasonable, honest and connected to the au pair community. 

We did all that we could to make her situation good and our relationship strong:

  • We had regular feedback sessions, probably every month, to 1) congratulate her on her great work with the kids and 2) give her the opportunity to give us feedback.
  • We built our handbook of proceduresm tules and expectations though conversation with her. We wanted to make sure everything was fair and clear. We were  constantly asking for her input to set the standards for the our future au pairs . 

[click to continue reading ...]


Au Pair’s Dr. Host Dad insisting she receive Vitamin B shots? No. No. No.

by cv harquail February 19, 2015

This particular pair of host parents wins the prize for “Most Invasive Expectations”. I received an email from an au pair currently working in Europe. She writes: Hi AuPairMom– I don’t know any other au pairs and so I’m hoping to get some advice from you on this difficult situation. I have been living with […]

35 comments Read the full article →

Cultural Exchange: American kids react to breakfasts from around the world

by cv harquail February 17, 2015

Cultural Exchange always feels more concrete when it’s translated into food. Food preferences, food differences, food customs, and beyond.   With a hattip to Mark Frauenfelder at BoingBoing, here’s a video that reminded me of the first time I had fishpaste from a tube, on a business trip to Sweden.   I wonder how many […]

37 comments Read the full article →

Want to find a fabulous Au Pair Host Family? Reply to our emails promptly

by cv harquail February 16, 2015
emailing au pair applicants.jpg

Dear  Au Pair Candidates, Do you know how frustrating it is when you don’t reply promptly to Host Families’ emails? We read your letters, watch your videos, and pour over your applications to get a sense of whether you might fit well with our families. We’re nervous about getting in touch, but we write the […]

64 comments Read the full article →

Au Pair Extraordinaires: How Different Are They?

by cv harquail February 13, 2015

The Au Pair Extraordinaire program offers host families the chance to match with an au pair who has additional documented childcare qualifications by paying somewhat more per week. This option seems particularly attractive to families with infants and toddlers who seem to need a more experienced hand (e.g., a colicky child). The idea here is that someone […]

51 comments Read the full article →

An Easy Way To Find Which Au Pair Agencies Serve Your Area

by cv harquail February 12, 2015

Here’s a great question from NorthWestHostMom: What’s an easy way to find out which Au Pair Agencies serve my geographic area?   Other than calling each and every Agency, is there a simple way to identify my options? This is a not only a common question asked by potential host parents — Current host families that […]

11 comments Read the full article →

When Your Au Pair’s Efforts to Help Just Make Things Worse

by cv harquail February 10, 2015

You know it’s a sad story when it begins … “One weekend in an effort to emulate Martha Stewart…” … I lovingly planted thyme in between the flagstones of my back patio. My plan was for the herbs to fill in the dirt lines, crowd out the weeds, and offer up a fragrance when we walked around […]

17 comments Read the full article →

Why Can’t I Buy AuPair Plane Tickets and Save Money on Agency Fees?

by cv harquail February 8, 2015
au pair plane tickets

What if you had 100 million frequent flyer miles? Or a $700 credit with an airline that flies from NYC to your Au Pair’s home city? Could you purchase your Au Pair’s plane ticket– in either direction — and save money on your Au Pair Agency fee? Our first au pair’s 2 years is about […]

53 comments Read the full article →