When ReturningHM offered to write a post about her experiences with male au pairs, I was delighted. Many new readers find AuPairMom by searching the term  ‘male au pair’. There simply isn’t that much information out there about the benefits and challenges of male au pairs vs female ones.

Folks are curious about what it might be like not just to have a male childcare giver, but to have a young adult male in the host family home.

Au pairs of any gender can do the ‘work’ of an au pair, even though it may challenge some people’s expectations.  Where the current questions lie are around how male au pairs develop connections with host children of both genders. There’s an assumption that male au pairs are great caregivers for boys, but when it comes to hiring them to care for girls, some folks get a little nervous.

just peekingReturningHM has both a daughter and a son– and has found that their family’s male au pairs have connected wonderfully with both kids.  Here’s her story:

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For a long time we thought that we could not host a male au pair because we have a daughter. 

Several years ago, one of our lovely female au pairs had her boyfriend from home visit with us for two weeks, and we watched our son absolutely glow while playing with this guy: jumping for hours on the trampoline, racing remote-controlled cars around the living room, and spending long stretches of time building with blocks.  It’s not that our female au pairs didn’t do all these activities with our son, too.  But the energy with which our au pair’s boyfriend did them with him was just different, and our son – small for his age, developmentally delayed, and needing help with a lot of the playground skills that other children just pick up – lit up and thrived in its glow. 

Our daughter was then nine, though, and we thought, it’s too bad we can’t host a male au pair, but it just wouldn’t be right with a girl this age.    [click to continue reading ...]

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Long time contributor-under-a-nom-de-mom, Cristina Sierra shares this holiday idea:

A “Mad” Twist on ‘T’was The Night Before Christmas’

jack lailHere’s a creative way to introduce your Au Pair to a US holiday tradition, namely the poem  “T’was the night before Christmas” – by making it his / her own.

How? Easy – just add Mad Libs.

By interchanging a few of the original words with their own words, your Au Pair and kids can work as a team to create a new “Au Pair’d” version of this holiday tradition.

We tried this our Au Pair and here’s what I recommend: 

  1. Don’t share anything about the original poem, just go through the poem below and ask for words using listed in all caps and underlined.
  2. The Au Pair comes up with his / her own words and a child can write them down or the Au Pair and children work together and mom / dad is the scribe.
  3. Before reading the new version, read the original version aloud, explaining it along the way, then compare the difference. 

We did it and it was great – not only did our Au Pair learn a lot of new words, we also had a fun cultural exchange “moment” (you can never have too many!) discussing how some Americans experience Christmas.   [click to continue reading ...]

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Create a Holiday Tradition– Just for your Au Pair

by cv harquail on December 10, 2014

You were wondering when I’d start the holiday posts … and here’s the first one!

When new people enter our families, a great way to welcome them is to include them explicitly in our family holiday celebrations.

pugEfforts like:

  • Creating a Christmas stocking for your au pair to hang along with the kids’,
  • Getting an additional “au pair menorah” so that s/he has one of her own to light,
  • Buying that extra ticket to The Nutcracker, or
  • Hunting down another headband with reindeer antlers that she can wear while you decorate the tree–

—  all of these are important ways to include your au pair as ‘part of the family”.

There’s another opportunity, too, for your family to

Create a tradition that is just for you and your au pair.  

What’s a tradition that you wouldn’t do of you didn’t have an au pair, or maybe a tradition that your au pair can take back home at the end of the year?

“Daring To Live Fully” , by Marelisa, is a blog I stumbled upon years ago. I love to get her posts vie email because she often has great suggestions for… daring to live life fully.  Marelisa just published a great list of  25 Christmas Activities Filled with Holiday Cheer.

Several of these ideas can be modified to fit the specific holiday(s) that your family celebrates this time of year, and some of them can help you enjoy the holidays being celebrated around you.    [click to continue reading ...]

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How Should Au Pair Candidates Choose An Au Pair Agency?

by cv harquail December 8, 2014
o hai pierre cat

Here’s something we’ve never talked about: How Should Au Pairs who want to come to the USA choose the agencies to represent them?   (note: let’s only do US Agencies in this post– I’ll do another one for ‘international’ agencies) We Host Parents know that there are a few differences in Au Pair Agencies that […]

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Help Your Au Pair Learn When to “Pick Her Battles” with Kids

by cv harquail December 6, 2014
on the slide

How do you teach the art of knowing when to let things slide? So much of good parenting and good caregiving is about being consistent. Kids thrive on routine. They need consistent explanations, consistent expectations, and consistent consequences so that they learn how to make good choices with their own behavior. Yet, so much of […]

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Saying No, and Staying Confident, When Your Au Pair Wants Your Car For A Roadtrip

by cv harquail December 4, 2014
puppy car

Why do we find it so hard to stick to our guns when an au pair asks us to bend our rules? None of us wants to seem petty, or stingy, or selfish.  On the contrary– we want to be generous where we can, we want to reward au pairs who do a great job […]

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Teaching Your Au Pair Real American Values: Celebrate #Giving Tuesday

by cv harquail December 2, 2014
World Homeless Day

Just when we’re trying to celebrate the most welcoming American tradition, and start off the winter holiday with a warm, family gathering, we get Black Friday.  The annual celebration of consumerism and low low prices that results in shoving, pushing, overspending, and spiritual emptiness. Black Friday is American culture at its worst.  So you can […]

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AuPairMom is thankful for … TaCL

by cv harquail November 25, 2014
thankful owl

We all know her. We all love her. TaCL : the internet-famous TakingAComputerLunch. She’s #1 of 2,200 Over the course of the 6+ years of AuPairMom, around 2,200 different people have contributed to the blog by offering advice in the comments. It’s TaCL’s 5 Year Anniversary on Au Pair Mom, and I think it’s time we […]

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AuPairMom Blog Notes: When you email for advice…

by cv harquail November 25, 2014

[Note: This post should help to clarify what you can expect when you email AuPairMom with a question. It aims to put into black and white the principles by which we've been operating for a while. Please email with any questions! ~cvh] When you email AuPairMom for advice, here are some things you should know: […]

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I Am Grateful for Our Au Pair, Because… : Open Thread Nov 20

by cv harquail November 20, 2014
IMG_0180

My family is on our way to Ohio to see Grandma perform in The Glass Menagerie and to celebrate her 8oth Birthday! It was on a long drive to Ohio back in 2008 when I realized that we needed  AuPairMom — so in celebration of (yet another) 8.5 hour ride, here’s an open thread for the […]

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