Oh dear. You’re in rematch. Maybe you were horrible. Maybe your au pair was horrible. Maybe you should have decided sooner, then again maybe you both could have tried harder. Whatever, it’s been a bad experience.
The decision to rematch has been made, and now… you need childcare, and you don’t have much time to find someone. You know that good extension candidates can be hard to get — too many host families, too many savvy au pairs. You don’t really have enough time to look for someone out of the country and so you find yourself looking at rematch candidates.
Rematch au pairs. Au pairs "in transition". Are these just code words for "failures"?
Don’t believe it! Out there are some great au pairs, in rematch, wanting to find a kind and loving host family to restore their faith in Americans. Out there in rematch may be just the right girl for you! Unfortunately, also out there in rematch are some not-so-great au pairs … girls that smoke and say they don’t, say they can drive but can’t, and claim to love kids but actually prefer boys, parties and shopping.
How do you find the first kind of rematch au pair, while avoiding the second kind? And, what about situations where you can’t tell for sure?
Here are some tips:
1. Ask your LCC to talk with the LCC of any possible rematch candidate. A good LCC on the candidate’s side of the potential match will know how much of the situation was the fault of the family, how much was the fault of the au pair, and how much was nobody’s fault. A good LCC on your side of the potential match will know what questions to ask, how to read a rematch candidate’s application, and how much to trust the recommendation of the other LCC. A good LCC will not even recommend to you (or give your the contact information of) a rematch candidate that looks questionable.
2. Talk directly and candidly with the potential rematch candidate. Ask her all the usual questions. Listen for all the usual answers. Don’t accept anyone who wouldn’t have made the cut as an out of country (brand new) candidate. At the same time, consider being a little flexible (take a girl who can’t cook who loves soccer, or one who will not walk your dog but will follow your instructions about TV watching.)
3. Ask the rematch candidate to speak candidly about why she is in rematch. Listen to how much responsibility she takes. Consider that even if the host family was awful, a mature person will have considered whether or not she could have helped to change things. Even if she was not at fault, she will have thought about her own role.
4. Reject anyone that blames everything on the host family, unless everything and more is corroborated by the LCCs inside information.
5. Ask the candidate what she learned about herself and about being an au pair from her experience with her first family. Ask the au pair how she will handle problems, questions and difficult situations with her next host family. Consider that the lessons she has taken away from that experince will be the lessons she applies in her next family.
6. Unless the family was 100% to blame (and sometimes they are) CALL THE HOST FAMILY. Better to have an awkward conversation with a defensive host parent than to take a candidate who (it later turns out) really isn’t who she says she is. [Note, not every agency shares the host parent contact info.]
7. Look online for information by or about the rematch candidate. If she’s blogging about how self-centered her host mom was because she wouldn’t let the au pair borrow her clothes, you need to know.
8. Don’t accept any candidate because you are desperate or because your LCC is pressing you to make a decision.
9. Remember that what’s a ‘deal-breaker’ for one host family might be okay with you . If you’re in rematch because your au pair doesn’t like to play with your kids and would rather drive them around, run family errands, and walk the dog, consider that she might be just right for a certain kind of situation offered by a different family. At the same time, know your limits and take only an au pair you can trust.
10. Consider that she might worry that you are ‘damaged goods’. Try not to be defensive, try to be fair and show some learning yourself when you talk about why you are in rematch.
11. Consider that often a rematch candidate will be desperate. She may have few to no other options and not much time to find a rematch before she is shipped back home. This might make her too quick to accept a situation she knows won’t work out, or to accept a situation just long enough for her to save some money and split. Don’t find yourself in rematch 6 weeks later.
Although I didn’t find a good rematch candidate when we were in rematch, and went on to choose a candidate from out of country, I do know families who have been overjoyed by the au pairs that came to them after having a bad situation with another host family. There are some delightful au pairs out there who just didn’t get it right the first time. Do everything you can to make sure that in a rematch, you get it what you both need.
Host parents that have been in rematch– any additional questions to ask, tips to share?
Want more? Use the search box to find the other 16 posts about rematch, and check out this specific earlier post: Advice Wanted: How to navigate the au pair rematch process.
Painting by Cathy Nichols, for sale on Etsy. So pretty!