11 Tips for Considering an Au Pair in Rematch

by cv harquail on May 4, 2009

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"?

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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.]

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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.

Doll photo by Amanda-Ruth on Flickr .

Painting by Cathy Nichols, for sale on Etsy. So pretty!

{ 24 comments }

Franzi May 4, 2009 at 11:29 pm

first off: many rematch APs feel like they are “damaged goods” as well.

and then keep in mind: i rematched (and there was nothing wrong with me, it was a chemistry issue that i just could not take anymore).

also, when you call the family, they might talk very badly about the AP because they don’t agree with her being in rematch or because they want to do everything to send her home. it happened to me – and it almost worked (the mere fact that they forbade me to go to church with them as soon as i said i wanted to rematch says it all).
basically, keep a good distance to who says what and why. weigh in emotions when you notice that this is not a pretty rematch. it’s a strenuous time for everyone involved.

Pearl May 5, 2009 at 12:05 am

Undoubtedly, there are vindictive rejected host parents out there, but I would be wary of the opposite. Listen carefully to make sure you’re not hearing “faint praise” and make sure to flush out ALL of the real reasons things didn’t work out between the family and au pair. Ask specific questions about things that really matter to you. The au pair and the host parents (if possible) should be able to give you specific examples about what the au pair and family liked and did not like about each other and describe specific events that illustrate those things. I am not sure how heavily I would rely on the au pair’s LCC because he/she may be biased towards the au pair or may have a vested interest in placing him/her with a new family.

Dory May 5, 2009 at 12:47 am

This was very helpful to me. We’ve had our au pair for 3 months now. There has been a series of “little things” that is making me wonder if she is right for our family. I am considering re-match. My husband thinks we should stick it out. …..

Dory, your question is set up for its own post on Tuesday, May 5! cvh

Anna May 4, 2009 at 5:02 pm

This is all good advice, but in reality…

Chances are that there are more bad au pairs in rematch than there are bad families in the program. Most of the families are not new and had at least one or more successful au pair relationships. Also maturity, experience and knowing how to work things out is on their side. ALL au pairs (save extension ones) are new and have much more to “prove” when they come to the new country to do this new job. So I think the weedout rate is higher for au pairs than for families, but most au pairs who are not right for the job try to rematch and find the new family anyway.

Also, depending on the size of the agency there might be few au pairs in rematch when you need one. What are the chances that in 2 weeks you will find a candidate with the same good fit for your family, that it took you much longer time and many more screened applications to find when you were looking out-of-country?
I am not saying it is impossible but it would take a miracle.

Also most families I know are reluctant to go into rematch even if the situation warrants it, they try to work it out very hard. So if the rematch did occur, it indicates a big problem. And if an au pair was the one requesting it, it could be a lack of commitment on her part.

I was burned on a candidate I got from a rematch; and I was trying to avoid rematching with her again at all costs because I was afraid of “jumping from the fire into a raging flame” as the saying goes in one country… But it all ended badly anyway. Here is hoping next year is better, with a brand new out of country au pair.

TMK May 4, 2009 at 7:03 pm

Another perspective, I helped a friend of mine who needed childcare quickly and a friend of our AP who ended up in rematch due to the fact her single host dad wanted fringe benefits from her (confirmed by her complaints to her LCC). They met and matched in less than 10 days and it has worked out beautifully. My friend has asked to to extend for as long as she wants too. I know her (AP) and am very impressed with her as well. Reality is….. the problem can be on either side of the issue, sometimes it’s the AP sometimes it’s the HF, and sometimes it’s a combination.

Deb Schwarz May 4, 2009 at 7:24 pm

CV – great article! I always tell my host families that being in matching for a transitional au pair is like “panning for gold” – there are some real gems out there – but there are also some pebbles. I have had a few transitional au pairs myself – and after doing due diligence (e.g. talking to their LCC), I have had some great experiences! Don’t be afraid of transitional au pairs. Realize that there are certain times of the year when transitional au pairs are less common (e.g. most au pairs go into transition within a month or two of arriving – so the “peak” time for volume is Aug/Sept. and Feb/March).

Carrie May 4, 2009 at 9:20 pm

I would love to hear more about lessons learned. Even those of us who have had great au pairs have learned alot during the year(s). I think this would be great thread. You all have so much to offer!!!

I wish I had this blog when I first started with au pairs. As your kids get older, you needs change, and this make every year a new year with new requirements and new thing to learn.

I will start:

1) Start out defining your requirements and make sure they are met.

FYI – At first I was so worried about the au pair that I didn’t focus on my requirements. Turns out AP was confused and then took advantage of my generousity. First and foremost, define job duties, once this is accomplished you can find out how many ways there are to say thank you to a great au pair. This is huge. Don’t fall for homesickness. Get them into the job and your kids………….it actually helps with homesickness. Don’t give until they give…………….

OK – Who else has some advice?????

CV May 5, 2009 at 10:19 am

Carrie– about “tips” from host moms about general topics (not just rematch) check out the post 15 Tips from 15 Host Moms — and add ideas here too:
15 Tips from 15 Host Moms

Darthastewart May 5, 2009 at 3:35 pm

Some of the best au-pairs I’ve ever had were rematches. Just make sure that you are very clear on what exactly you’re looking for- go for the “big rocks”, and don’t worry so much about the “sand”. (This is a concept from the 7 habits- i.e. go for the most important things first, then worry about the little stuff)
Right now I have a girl who came to us from another host family the same week my previous au-pair didn’t come back from vacation. She’s fabulous with the kids, and a great match personality wise with the family- she “gets our rhythm”. But, she doesn’t cook, and she _hates_ cleaning (I’m thinking she might be allergic to cleaning?). But we focus on the very many great things she does, and the rest are just sand.

Calif Mom May 7, 2009 at 12:18 pm

You hit all the main learnings I’ve had, CV! Brilliant post.

I’ve written this a gazillion times, but our two favorite APs, hands-down, are/were both from rematch. They are also the two who have chosen to extend with our family. We were not able to talk to the other families, so had to rely on our interview and gut instincts.

I understand that only taking rematch girls from your area maybe won’t work if you’re in a less populated area (another reason to go with an agency with a lot of families in your region) or are absolutely desperate to find someone in a hurry (which I don’t recommend, even when you start to absolutely panic), but I just cannot imagine not having the rematch candidate over for an interview, see your home as it really is in the middle of a hectic time for you, and play with the kids at a park for an hour. It will become a very easy decision when you can hang out with them for an hour or two.

These girls were both in families in our large metro area, but not at a time when there was a big rematch pool. And YES, there are good months to be in rematch and not-so-good months. January is a big time of transition, as is the early fall.

Now, full disclosure, we also rematched with an AP who did not work out. Turns out the young woman had personal, existential issues and we were her third family. (I know, I know, but I am a big believer in second chances. Shame on me!) (Yes, the agency gave her another family after ours! I think 4 families must be a record. I sometimes wonder whether her last family worked out or not.) I attribute our lack of success with her on the fact that we weren’t able to meet her in person first, because the minute I met her I thought “oh no” but her English was so fluent that she fooled me entirely, gave all the right answers during interviews and had quite a sob story to tell about the previous families. I know now from her blog that really, she was desperate to be in the states and is still working on finding a nice Christian boy to marry. I don’t really blame her, but I do feel sorry for her.

Bottom line for us is that I have a miserable track record of picking girls out of country — both of them were extremely disappointed with the reality of our house and life and ended in rematch. The one rematch girl we didn’t meet in person also ended in failure.

But oh, the wonderful rematch girls we ended up have made it worthwhile to stick with AP’ing.

And thanks to the fabulous advice of moms on this site, I’m much better equipped for the next time I have to find a girl from her country. And I’m better able to build a positive relationship and environment right here today. SO thanks to everyone for sharing so freely! Talk may be cheap, but it’s also priceless!

TX Mom July 20, 2009 at 11:05 am

Calif Mom,
Thanks for the advice on local rematches. If nothing else, it settled my nerves. Skype and other interviewing techniques don’t come quite as close as seeing the interaction of the kids and the AP in a normal setting and having some understanding of the first HF’s environment and family (and perhaps even knowing them already.) As you have said, what didn’t work for one family might be acceptable for another family. (Plus, a mature AP will learn from rematch.) And in rematch you really prioritize your needs.

Lynn July 20, 2009 at 1:31 pm

Just as an FYI, neither Interexchange nor Au Pair Care allow you to contact previous host families of an AP in transition.

Anonymous July 20, 2009 at 4:51 pm

Just for the record, I find that there are some very strong reasons to accept a rematch aupair. For one thing, she is committed to staying on until the end of her year.
Another thing – she knows the score. She has probably been with a bad family and will recognize and appreciate a good family when she meets one. Then , her English is probably a lot better than when she arrived – it has to be and if it isn’t , that is a problem that can be detected quickly.
LCCs may put some spin on why someone is in rematch but
most LCCs will not fib to another LCC. They have to deal with their colleagues down the road and no one will trust them if the fudge the truth now.
Facebook and Google will reveal scads of information that no counselor or agency rep could imagine !

Anonymous II July 20, 2009 at 5:07 pm

I couldn’t work with an agency that would not allow me to speak with the former host family — that’s just wrong. If I had someone apply for a job with me I’d call their references and their last places of employment. This is just commonsense. I do it with a fresh AP, so why not a transition? There’s no need for the agency to be so protective of the AP or the host family, the family can certainly choose not to speak to me. I should be trusted to be able to parse and read through the lines if either the host familly or AP were a problem. If I’m prevented from doing some basic background checking I’m suspicious of the whole referral as well as the agency’s motivation in helping me find the right person.

Calif Mom July 20, 2009 at 6:22 pm

TX Mom — so how are things going? Happy to help… :-)

MominPA July 20, 2009 at 11:16 pm

One note of advice… rematch aupairs are also at times very eager to please just to get into a family. They may give all of the correct answers and be well aided by the counselors with spin. I took just such an aupair. It did not go as well as I would have hoped. I even had her visit and watched her with the children, but it was a show. Once she got here she changed completely and was not the person she was when she interviewed. Traits showed that she had kept well hidden.

The odd thing was that the family she left was actually not really a great family either, so the counselors were telling the truth, just not the whole truth that the aupair was also to blame. I tried to speak with the family but they were too busy and just left the message that the aupair was fine and they just had a mismatch. Unfortunately the family had incentive to get rid of the rematch aupair also, to make room for their new one.

It is very difficult to find honesty in rematch. I know it can often be wonderful, but it is amazing to find what you are looking for when you have to navigate all of the motives out there.

TX Mom July 27, 2009 at 4:15 pm

Calif Mom,
So far so good… (week 3.) I think in finding the local rematch candidate our expectations were reset (realistic?) The analogy is like the difference between buying a new car or an used car. This time we expected some dings and scratches, but we got to “inspect” them in person rather than look at pictures on the internet. And we never thought we would buy a minivan, but after test driving one we found it’s the perfect solution to our lifestyle! ha, ha! (Just an analogy.)

Calif Mom July 27, 2009 at 4:22 pm

Repairs are cheaper, too! :-) Glad to hear it.

Yes, there are hidden motives in rematch, just as there are hidden motives in the initial candidate pool. I’ve got a 0 percent success rate in “going to the pool”, but a 66 percent success rate in rematch candidates. I think as Tx mom said, expectations have a lot to do with it; ours and the au pairs’… rematch can be a good equalizer. Perfect is unattainable, but there is definitely wonderful.

PA au pair mom August 13, 2009 at 10:03 pm

are families really willing to accept rematch APs without speaking to the former host families? For me, that would be a deal breaker. I wouldn’t hire someone for a job without checking with a previous employer, and I wouldn’t welcome someone into my home permanently without doing the same.

Hula Gal August 13, 2009 at 10:42 pm

Yes apparently they are because one family wanted to match with my rematch au pair without knowing why her original family (me) wanted to rematch.I have no idea what she told them or what our agency put in her profile for wanting to rematch. She ultimately decided against going with the family because she would have had to work some weekends and have 2 days off during the week with no car available. She decided to go back to Germany.

TXMom August 16, 2009 at 9:17 pm

I’ve had two rematch AP’s go to families who never called to speak with us and our agency allows the contact. I think in both cases the families accepted the counselor’s reason and figured they didn’t have the same situation. The counselor asked us in both cases if the AP should continue as an AP or be sent home so we weren’t in a situation where the AP would have received a negative recommendation. But clearly we could have offered a valuable perspective to a potential HF. There was only one very rare case where I didn’t want to speak with a HF about a rematch AP; the HF was kicked out of the program for abusing the 45 hr/wk rule.

OBMom September 9, 2009 at 7:15 pm

Our first 2 Au Pairs were fantastic, but we are having a hard time bonding with the #3. She initially had difficulty keeping our 2 boys (age 5 and 8) focused on activities rather than wrestling but seems to be improving in that area (very slowly)… however, getting her to talk to us or the kids is painful and slow. She seems content making lunches and getting them organized, but doesn’t engage them to any significant degree. They don’t DISLIKE her, but I am extremely disappointed by her distance and lack of engagement. They had very engaging relationships with #1 and #2 even though #2 had terrible English when she arrived.
I am terrified about a potential rematch for many of the reasons above, and wonder how long I should give her a chance for or should I just give up and try a new AP?
What was the straw that broke your camels backs???e
(Note– this comment was made into its own post…. so if you want to reply to it…. check the post on How to know when it’s time to rematch)

Host Mom in VA January 18, 2010 at 12:06 pm

This is some what on the same line. We have an AP who is finishing her year with us. We did not want to extend with her, but she is extending for another year.

She was marginally acceptable during our year. We almost did rematch, but other things made me decide to stick it out. I like her – she’s nice, but…..

Now that she is looking for another HF. I know she really wants to stay, but i also feel obligated to tell any potential HF that does contact me the truth. nothing terrible, yet nothing stellar. hence we are not extending with her. how much do you say? not say?

as much as i would feel bad that i would play some part in her not being able to stay, i would feel worse if another HF got what i have been dealing with the last year.

????????

Amy February 12, 2010 at 10:21 am

I am a first year host mom, and have just had our second rematch in 6 months. We had to let our first aupair go because she was dishonest with her driving ability and we needed a driver. She rematched with another HF who we gladly spoke to, and everything is working out well with her. My family, on the other hand, was stuck with a rematch aupair who’s reclusive, obsessive-compulsive, with strong indications of depression and paranoia. We were not able to speak to the host parents before we matched with her , but her LCC only had great things to say about her, so we matched with her. She is now going to another host family. In her most recent profile, it did not mention anything about her first rematch, nor her mental state. It is so wrong of the agency to do this. I am very nervous about our next aupair, I am not sure what important information was being hidden from us. I am seriously considering switching agencies.

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