TexasHost Mom’s post, sharing her step-by-step process for contacting Au Pair Candidates, is one of our most read (and most appreciated) posts on AuPairMom.

We love her clarity, and not just because sometimes we really just want to execute a good routine rather than obsess about what to do next. Long time readers know that TexasHM is super-rigorous. They also know she’s been pretty successful at finding Au Pairs that fit her family well.

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When TexasHM emailed to offer an update of her process, I whooped  “YES MAY’EM” in my best Texas accent, and wrote her right back.  Results, below.

Texas HM is often asked why she takes each particular step, so in this update she explains — broadly — what she’s looking for at each point in the process.

When I asked her why she’d changed her process since it has been so effective, she explained:

 

I created this process — and have stayed rigorous — because getting lazy (or desperate or overconfident or all three) is what led to our one flameout Au Pair.  I’ve realized that I HAVE TO follow this process to keep the rose-colored glasses in the drawer.

Otherwise I fall in love with each and every candidate and want to minimize or even overlook the gaps between what they can offer and what we need!

Yep, falling in love is easy to do as we read through those profiles. And all those cute photos with babies and kittens.

 

 [[ Note to Au Pairs: Here’s your version of TexasHostMom’s advice!
Improving the Matching Process: 10 Things I Wish Au Pairs Would Do by TexasHM]

Here’s TexasHM’s step-by-step matching process:
  1. Send email template #1:
    – Be sure and list your arrival date.Mention in both first sentence and last sentence “let us know what you think. If you are not interested in our family for any reason that is ok, please let us know so we can release your profile immediately so we can both move on to finding our match!”This round is open ended questions all about the AP to determine if AP’s goals/expectations align with our family/area/situation.

2. Review email #1 answers and decide go/no go:
I am looking for high level deal-breakers like vacation plans already made we can’t accommodate, unrealistic AP expectations, our personal deal-breakers like smoking, weak driving, lying etc.

 3. Send email template #2:
(open ended questions that drive more at personality and how they think to see if they could be a good potential roommate and what their “normal” looks like – clubbing, drinking, birthdays, traditions, how adventurous they are etc.)I also send a detailed area email that includes links to places our APs frequent (church, university, movies, mall, etc), places we usually go (festivals, state fair, church) and a chart with the average high/lo temperatures for our area across the year so they can evaluate our location, their potential college, etc.

4.  Review email #2 answers and decide go/no go:
– I’m always looking for deal-breakers but this round is more about “fit”.If the most adventurous thing they have ever done is “wear a costume to school on a costume holiday” then they would be terrified in our home but if it is “running off with a friend on the fly to a music festival in a different country and having a stranger pierce their bottom lip in a tent only to have it get infected, end up in the hospital and still years later be angry that the ER doctor made them take it out to save their lip” then we are not the match for them (both true answers btw!)

 5. Skype session #1, light topics that won’t stress them out:
(they are always SO terrified – keep that in mind). Asking questions about their profile, favorite foods/movies etc, conversational to gauge English proficiency and personality, have kids make brief intro to see how they interact, ask them to connect on Facebook on the spot so they can’t make changes, mutually decide go/no go – if go, offer handbook.

 6. Do an online search of their name and check all social media photos/posts:
As best I can, I want to check if these seem to match their profile and answers?  If so and no red flags send handbook, ask if they have questions and if they would like to continue to talk, if so, ask if they want to talk to former APs.

7. Connect candidate with former APs and send former APs the candidate’s entire profile and answers from first 2 email rounds.

8. Get feedback from former APs if they offer:
– What concerns do they have?  Gaps they see?  Vibe they got?  Types of questions the candidate asked?

 9. Skype session #2 – discuss in more detail:
Handbook questions (if any), how conversations went with former APs, if still go then talk with kids (leave AP alone with each kid for longer and see if they can engage/connect/are generally great with kids).  Ask them how they feel about potential match, if they feel ready to make a decision or need more time/want to talk to more families etc first, if ready to match then ask to send challenge email (e.g., we like you very much, can we send you some candid concerns?)

10.  Send Challenge Email:
– List all concerns, no matter how small, that might flare up during AP year, reminders of any rules that might grate on them and miscellaneous smaller things we want them to agree to (flu shots, no perfume in house/cars, modesty, etc).

11. Review Challenge Email responses – watch reaction closely.  
Do they fight for it?  Do they agree with you about the concerns and give up?  Do they get upset?  Do they give you confidence they are invested 100% or does their responses make you less sure?I find their reaction is exactly what you will get when you give them constructive criticism during their AP year.  The rockstars don’t write off your concerns, are able to put themselves in your shoes and see your intent (prevent rematch or a bad fit) and they appreciate the candor, accept it and then tell you how they are going to ensure those things are not going to be a problem during their term.   Decide go/no go with DH (full review of all emails, profile and notes), if go, schedule final Skype session.

 12., Skype #4 – AP talks with DH:
If he thumbs up then we offer match (I briefly turn camera off then back on for them to see kids holding signs that say “please match with us”).

Once they’ve accepted, I notify agency/click link on website. Going forward, we stay in touch and send custom google map, first week schedule and online driving course for them to review before they leave for orientation.

 

 

See also:

When should we send our Family Handbook to our incoming au pair?

Help Your New Au Pair Pack: 5 things to bring, 5 things to leave behind

 

 

Image:   Sound Advice by GroundReport on Flickr

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Celebrating American holidays with your au pair or host family is one of the biggest (and most fun) elements of cultural exchange.

Holidays are a unique window into culture. The traditions, the food, the festive spirit all invite us to talk about the values behind the celebration.

On the more personal, less ‘cultural’ level, holidays are also important ways to be part of the family. Especially for Host Children, having an Au Pair sitting at the Thanksgiving table or singing at their birthday party creates important feelings and memories.

1982446811_96d7342469_mThat’s why the idea of an Au Pair choosing not to celebrate a particular holiday with the family can be off-putting. I’m thinking back over the dozens of emails from Au Pairs who’ve wanted to check out of a Christmas, a Passover, a New Year’s eve, or a kid’s birthday party, and I shudder. It just doesn’t seem like the right attitude, to opt out of a family holiday celebration.

Of course, we’ve always made exceptions when the holiday being celebrated isn’t shared. We don’t force an Au Pair to attend a Christmas service, or require them to sit at the Passover table.

But the idea of an au pair who completely, totally, won’t be participating in family holidays? That would be tough for me.

I hadn’t realized, though, that some religious traditions “eschew” or ban holiday celebrations altogether. I had to go Google”Jehovah’s Witness and Holidays” to get some perspective on the email, below.   Now that I understand that this is a religious practice, I’m a little more empathic. But I’m also sure that this au pair would not fit with our family.

Would she fit with yours?  What thoughts and advice do you have for her?   [click to continue reading …]

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Generosity in a host parent – au pair relationship is critical.

Our inclination to give, to forgive, to cut someone else a break, is what creates important flexibility in a relationship.  That’s why we say strong relationships always have a little ‘give’.

One of the biggest questions for Host Parents and Au Pairs alike is how to manage our expectations around giving and receiving.

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Whether we are the Au Pair or the Host Parent, we want to be generous and also not be taken advantage of. We want our generosity to be appreciated but not assumed. We want our generosity to be noticed but not to make a big deal about it. We want our generosity to be reciprocal.

Simultaneously, we also want what we give to be respected. Just because we give it to you, doesn’t mean you can give it to someone else. This applies to just about every material thing except sunscreen. You should share sunscreen with anyone who needs it. (Here, you can even use my favorite fancy lavender sunscreen.)

Woe to the Host Parent (or Au Pair) who discovers that their generosity is abused.

I am a first time au pair mom. Our Thai au pair has been with us for 8 months and we are planning on extending her.  My son is 11 months old.

Our au pair is totally boy crazy.  We have had some issues with our au pair related to driving and boys.  She has taken my car overnight (we only have two vehicles), sometimes all weekend, and often without asking permission or even giving me a heads up.

Late this winter, she totaled my husband’s car driving in bad weather even though he told her the roads would be very icy.

Today she posted a new photo on Instagram with a new boy – and I realized he is driving my car. A stranger who is not on my insurance is in my driver’s seat. Is it time for rematch?

I am heartbroken even thinking of it because she is good with my son and I feel very attached to her…

I feel I can’t trust her after she has repeatedly pushed the boundaries of our generosity.

Thanks for any advice.

 

 

 

 

Image: Sharing by Bob Cotter on Flickr

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