What Do Au Pair Host Moms Want for Christmas?

by cv harquail on December 10, 2017

For Au Pairs in Host Families who celebrate Christmas…

“What do you want for Christmas?”

il_570xN.1201597599_elhn (1)I’m never able to answer that question.

Some years I remember to keep a running list of things I want (e.g.,  sports headbands, a black-ish pair of outdoor running shoes, a pair of Uggs to replace the ones with holes in them, …).

Right now, last year’s list is pinned up on the kitchen bulletin board. You know, where no one actually looks at it.*

Other years, I’m just too embarrassed to admit what I want (a Starz subscription so that I can legally watch the latest season of Outlander) or it’s nothing anyone else can buy but me (a new riding helmet).  So, I think my family struggles to figure out what to get me.

Our au pairs have given me some wonderful gifts — a jewelry box I use every day, a “waterfall over rocks” from CVS that is surprisingly lovely to listen to in my office, a devotional day planner, handmade Christmas ornaments, just to name a few. And also some intentioned and serious misses (like the rose-scented hand creme, which doesn’t work for this lavender-lover.)

It is all easier if we make lists. Santa keeps trying to remind us.

Sure, if we make a list we don’t get a surprise, or the special delight of having someone show how well they know us by picking something perfect. But we DO get something we want (and that’s easy to be excited about and thankful for).

When au pairs are spending their pocket money and/ or their time  to get you something meaningful, can we help them out?

If you could ask your Au Pair for some thing for Christmas (a thing being something they could wrap and hand to you, or put under the tree?) what would it be?


* another great place to look would be my list of Etsy favorites, which features this darling fox (as well as several other fox, hedgehog, and horse items) You can find him at ForSoulAndInterior on Etsy.

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There are very few problematic situations in Au Pair-Host Family relationships that are completely black or white, where it’s clear that the next step is rematch.

For Host Families, black and white situations include when an Au Pair endangers a child in any way, and when an Au Pair has lied or stolen.8258078373_abefbec1c0_m

For Au Pairs, black and white situations include when a Host Family endangers them, when families don’t pay their au pairs, and when families abuse au pair rules (especially the work hours guidelines).

And then there’s the situation of physical abuse — unwanted touching, sexual harassment, and any kind of sexualized behavior.

The email, below, came from outside the USA, but at a particularly timely moment. Here in the States we’re experiencing a significant rupture in what people “knew” was going on, and what’s really been going on. We’re six weeks into a long-needed conversation about how men in positions of power abuse women, men, and children, and get away with it. Because the victims are afraid, ashamed, and under the power of the abusers.

Host Parents are in positions of power over Au Pairs. Although Host Parents have authority as employers and heads of households, they also have power because they control the Au Pairs’ working conditions, food, spending money, and even the roof over their heads.

In the USA, Au Pairs who are being abused should and must go to their local counselors, who will help them find a safe place, who will contact the police if necessary, who will intervene on the Au Pairs’ behalf.

Outside the USA, there’s no standard. That’s why this Au Pair, below, needs our advice:   [click to continue reading …]

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Dear AuPairMom,

I am an Au Pair in the U.S and in my 3rd month right know. About 2 weeks ago I came from one state to a new one through rematch. My first situation wasn’t horrible. I just had a hard time connecting with the kids (7, 9, 12) and the host mom openly admitted that she expected a different kind of personality. I am more the sweet type. She felt like we wouldn’t have a relationship as good as she had with previous Au Pairs. They’re really close.


In the time period I worked for them 4 prior Au Pairs came and stayed for 1-2 weeks each which definitely made it harder for me to gain the girls’ interest. A problem for me was also that the mom was a stay at home mom, so the kids would always want her to do everything for them and get really angry with me. … Despite all that I could still have fun with the family and all. There would be long conversations on the dinner table, movie nights etc. I also had a very friendship-like relationship with the host mom.

A main argument for the rematch from my host parents was that they thought their family was too loud and wild for me. I admittedly sometimes need time for myself, alone in my room so I didn’t argue.

My new host family’s reaction to that was that their situation might be ideal since they are always gone during the day. I definitely prefer being the only adult in charge and won’t complain about that.

I decided to go for younger kids this time (2, 4) and my relationship to them is really good. The parents are nice too but nonetheless I am feeling quite bad about my situation lately. The problem is that the host parents come home at around 7 and are in bed around 8. In the meantime they just put the kids to sleep. There is no shared family dinners or time to chat a little. They don’t even have a living room.    [click to continue reading …]

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Screening Questionnaire to Improve Your Luck In Matching with an Au Pair

by cv harquail November 18, 2017

We can’t interview our way to a “perfect” Au Pair. It’s the sad truth.   BUT…  we CAN interview well and screen out all the ‘known no’s”… which makes it a bit easier to find an Au Pair candidate with a lot of YES! LongIslandHostMom challenged herself to summarize a lot of our community wisdom to […]

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Could an Au Pair Bring Her Boyfriend With Her?

by cv harquail November 17, 2017

Dear AuPairMom — I’m interested in being an Au Pair. I love children, I love traveling, I don’t mind going on journeys by myself and discovering new places, Au Pair seems like the perfect position for me to apply for. But (there is always a but), I am currently in a very serious relationship. We […]

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New Au Pair Has Already Invited Her Mom to Visit. For Two Weeks. In Our House.

by cv harquail October 22, 2017

The situation below features an Au Pair who’s been quite presumptuous– inviting her mom to stay WITHOUT asking her Host Parents. I can’t even figure out how to set this post up nicely because this situation would have me fuming. As much as I want to be generous, and welcoming, I’ve found that having other […]

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Au Pair’s Attitude is a Downer: Can we get her to change?

by cv harquail October 18, 2017

“A wet blanket” “Debbie Downer” “Sad Sack” “Uninspiring” What a drag to imagine these words characterizing your Au Pair. When an Au Pair has a “not optimistic” attitude towards the every day, it’s hard to imagine them adding to the family spirit rather than subtracting from it. Is it possible to get an Au Pair […]

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Inexpensive Ways for Au Pairs to Ship Boxes Back Home

by cv harquail October 11, 2017

I knew we’d had a few posts about sending Au Pairs’ stuff back home when they leave — but I didn’t realize it had been seven years ago! Let’s update our info on best rates and options:  What does your family do? Our au pair is leaving in April after spending two years with our […]

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Support Gun Safety Legislation

by cv harquail October 4, 2017

Dear Readers — A girlfriend reminded me this morning that, as a person who runs a website that reaches 16,000 people a month, I have a responsibility to use this platform wisely.  To promote community, to promote growth, to promote learning, to promote cross cultural understanding, and to promote safety. One of the most horrifying […]

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My Au Pair Is Selling Products on Facebook: Should I care?

by cv harquail September 29, 2017

Au Pairs who want to make extra money, beyond their stipend and in violation of the State Department rules, usually stick to a few basic strategies — working a few extra hours for their family, walking a dog or two, or taking the rare emergency babysitting job down the street. None of these jobs are legal […]

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