It’s easier to relax about your new au pair when s/he demonstrates a real command for the US version of the English Language.  

I was thinking about this as I was perusing something called the “Academic Word List”, a list of 570 words that researchers think people should know if they plan to study at the tertiary level. Or something. I didn’t quite understand it. Which is interesting because I know a lot of words.


But the list made me wonder–

What words does an Au Pair need to know to understand life with children and a family in the USA?  

[[ I've been wanted to create a glossary of Au Pair Program-related words (e.g., 'rematch' and 'part of the family' -- so let's save those words for another post.]]

Even when you know the literal translation of a word or phrase, you can be wrong.

For example:

Baby Changing Station: A table area usually in a women’s rest room and increasingly seen in men’s rooms too, that’s designed to make it easier to change a child’s diaper.  Often has straps for anchoring the baby into the table. Please use a pad underneath the host baby because who knows how clean these things are?

(Note: this is not a place where you can drop off the baby you have and get a different one. Also, it is not a place where you can take a baby to have someone else teach him/her how to stop crying.)

Have you ever noticed a word that your au pair really didn’t quite ‘get’?   Please share, so we can make the world more comprehensible.


Gdaisy hair(Reposted from our archives, since an Au Pair Asked…)

When I became a mom I knew that that I would need to become accustomed to dealing with things that, pre-motherhood, had completely grossed me out. I’m talking about poopy diapers, vomit, bloody noses, fart jokes, and public belching.

These were things that I would have to deal with, gross or not, because I was “the mom”. The one in charge. The person with answers. The person with strategies for everything. Except for the things that I never imagined I’d have to deal with … like lice.

Lice are one of those ‘creepy, crawly, contagious things’ that completely gross me out.

Whenever we would get those flyers from the pre-K or the YMCA day camp telling us that some little one at school or camp had head lice and that we all needed to check our kids, I’d shudder at the suggestion. Then, I’d toss the flyers in the trash, and congratulate myself that these gross little things would never, ever find their way home on my daughters’ heads.

The universe guffawed at my naiveté.

Dragonflyshollow Jenna

And then, during what seemed to be a never ending barrage of head lice handouts, I finally got the call from the school nurse. One of my girlies had to be sent home for “treatment”.

If you’ve ever read those handouts from the pre-K (you don’t just toss them out, do you?) you’d know that if one person in the household has head lice, you can pretty much assume everyone else does too.

That includes you Mom. And yes, that includes your Au Pair. Etsy DanburyLane

So how do you tell your au pair that she might have creepy, crawly, contagious, impossible to get rid of bugs in her hair, all because she snuggles with your child when they read books or watch a video together?

How do you get her to use the stinky harsh lice shampoo, not once but several times, after she’s colored her hair so often that she’s afraid another Garnier Nutrisse will cause it all to break off? And, how do you get her to sit there in the kitchen for two hours, while you comb and pick through her whole head?

Talk about up close and personal …

How do you get her to wash every single thing in her room? (Hint: you do that yourself.)

How do you convince your Au Pair that the lice aren’t your fault, or your kids’ fault, or your dog’s fault, when you feel totally ashamed anyway?

None of this was easy. I tried to think of it as a learning experience.

blue hair on Flickr Several rounds of lice shampoo, combing, olive oil nightcaps, and laundry madness did nothing but test my self-composure and my creepy crawly endurance.

Finally, I admitted that not even Her Mom-ness, myself, could treat the situation effectively with over the counter, at-home remedies.

I broke down and called a professional, one of those women who come to your house, puts on a magnifying eyeshade, and gets down to the dirty business. For around $200 per person.

Let me just say that was $800 I would rather have spent some other way. (I economized by asking my husband to get a supershort SuperCut.)

Let me also say:  If When your family is attacked by creepy crawly, contagious things, do the the right thing and include your au pair in the ‘professional treatment plan’.

While neither you nor she can think of that $200 treatment as a bonus, a gift, or a tip, you can think of it as one important time that you treat your au pair like a full fledged member of the family.

After all, the creepy crawly things did.


Sharing from behind the scenes here at AuPair Mom –

I often get emails like the one below from either AuPairs or Host Parents hoping to help someone make a rematch quickly.

As we all know, au pairs have only two weeks or so to find a new host family before they get ‘sent home’ by their agencies.  Sometimes even the most terrific au pairs get sent home because the supply and demand of rematch families is so unpredictable. 3811864581_5b18b901ea_z

Dear AuPairMom,

Yesterday, I was contacted by an Au Pair who is in re-match and desperately looking for host family.

She is with APIA and living in the Northeast for a month. She comes from a country where there is much civil unrest, and she has lots of promising qualities.

I would like to help her to find host family , because otherwise she will be send back to her home country where things are dangerous.

Is there any way we can advertise her with aupairmoms or is it against site policy?

What should au pairs do to maximize their chances of finding a new family fast?  

I don’t think I want to add re-matching to ways we use the blog….  Beyond listing oneself on  websites like Best AuPair, or hassling ones Local Counselor, what else can au pairs do?



Open Thread: July 24

by cv harquail July 25, 2014

Maybe you can tell it’s been a busy work week over here? I was actually afraid to sign into my blog email to see what was going on, and how many new threads had been started by impatient folks needing immediate advice.  Fear not, here is a chance for you to lob in anything at […]

74 comments Read the full article →

When a Host Family Takes Advantage of ‘Pitching In’

by cv harquail July 17, 2014

Readers- Here’s the email that prompted my earlier post about defining what it means to “pitch in”. Clearly, someone in this Host Family has a different interpretation of what that means. Hi AuPairMom, I need your help in forming an opinion for my self regarding dishwashing. I am working with a family of 2 parents, […]

55 comments Read the full article →

“Pitching In”: What does that mean in your host family?

by cv harquail July 15, 2014
Print by OrangeTwist, available for purchase at Etsy

What does it mean to “pitch in” with host family chores? Pitching In (defn): To join the family in doing some everyday household upkeep, to help keep the household running smoothly In anticipation of an au pair question that will get posted later this week, I wanted to sketch out the basic advice (okay, my aupairmom […]

73 comments Read the full article →

Open Thread: July 12

by cv harquail July 11, 2014

We’re baaaaack! I know that you’ve missed the Open Thread — I can tell from all the re-directions in the comments on the posts! Use this open thread to toss out any question or concern you have — except for one:   If you are an au pair outside the USA whose host parents are somehow […]

81 comments Read the full article →

Scheduling Your Au Pair: The Minimum Length of a Work Shift

by cv harquail July 11, 2014

The US State Department sets firm, legal parameters for scheduling an Au Pair.  But the US State Department rules, and the contractual stipulations of each Au Pair Agency, form only the required, minimum guidelines for scheduling an Au Pair. Within this rough outline, host parents and au pairs need to negotiate what is sensible, fair, effective […]

35 comments Read the full article →

Do you really want to know what your Au Pair is up to?

by cv harquail July 9, 2014
au pair, breaking rules, advice, secrets

‘Let me live in my fantasy world, where where Au Pairs drink only Diet Coke.’  This is what I’d say to Potential Tattletail AP. How about you? Dear AuPairMom-  I have a bit of a delicate question that I would love to get some feedback on from a HF perspective if possible.  I was an […]

45 comments Read the full article →

When Your New and Old Au Pairs Get Jealous of Each Other

by cv harquail July 6, 2014

How hard is it to see the incoming au pair making connections with the kids, settling into the AuPair room, learning to drive in the USA, and talking about all she’s going to do in her year of adventure? If you’re the host mom, it’s not hard at all– you *want* to see this. But if […]

32 comments Read the full article →