15 Tips from 15 Host Moms

by cv harquail on January 5, 2009

brungrrl s chistmas mosaic Cruising through the comments and wincing at the many that I haven’t answered adequately, I was reminded how many little tidbits you all have been sharing on the blog.

It can be overwhelming to provide advice for a knotty problem, or for a first timer, because there really is so much to share. Funny thing is that, when you just look at a list of tips, you can take or leave whatever works for you. So consider this advice from other host moms.

Here in no particular order, are 15 Tips from 15 Host Moms.

  • Don’t assume that an au pair’s age tells you much about her level of maturity. Angie

  • Figure that every year you will have to fix at least a couple hundred dollars in additional damage to the house done by the au-pair, whether it’s towels left at the pool, scrapes on the car, or things they break in the house. Dartha

  • I spend a lot of time especially when au pairs arrive reading local newspaper, Internet to find free or inexpensive cultural and social events, concerts and outings they can go on with their friends. Ann

  • For when your au pair arrives, have a simple “Welcome” sign, maybe drawn by the kids (even if they just scribble on the paper), some flowers, a clean fresh room and maybe a “shampoo-soap-welcome-basket”. Sunnyvah

  • In terms of expenses, we run on a “reimbursement system” – I ask the AP to pay for work-related (child-related) expenses up front out of her own pocket, which I repay her at the end of every week, by adding on to her stipend check. She logs these expenses daily in our au pair notebook. I find that asking them to pay up front makes them more budget conscious. Ann

  • We fixed a little goody basket for our new au pair, which included a mug from Starbucks, which has our locale printed on it and a gift card so she could go out for coffee/tea (and get addicted to the “typical American” brand which is now located worldwide!) Cynthia

  • Every Sunday, I give her a written weekly timeline schedule and a separate sheet with a list of duties for the week. I verbally go over everything as well to make sure nothing gets lost in translation. Angie

  • I started posting weekly schedules on the fridge with notes/chores for each day. I also wrote ‘timelines’ for morning and afternoon routines for her and it seems to be working. I started doing timelines because she had a hard time getting my 4 year old moving fast enough to make sure they get out of the house on time. Maya

kid in snow

  • Dispel the myth that host families should cover an au pair’s personal gas use! C

  • Realize that the more you give, depending on the au pair’s personality, the more they expect. Angie


  • My tip as an former au pair: Tell your au pair what you expect her to pay for (gas, food, magazines, … ) right at the beginning. It´s easier and everything you give after that is much more appreciated afterwards. Sunnyvah

  • I put a $20 per week limit on our au pair’s food purchases (food that we didn’t ordinarily have in the house) because she would buy all kinds of expensive things when doing the food shopping. Jessica

  • Never again with a princess! Give me a hard working blue collar gal who really wants to learn as much as she can and appreciates that we are not slave drivers, even if we don’t have a perfect house or a luxury car for her to drive. DC Host Mom

Tips About Rematch:

  • Try hard not to experience rematch personally as a failure.
  • Don’t rely on phone conversations — try to meet face-to-face.
  • Be willing to compromise on one or more of your “whatever else, our next AP WILL be able to …..” criteria.
  • Take categories such as “swims, cooks, drives” with a grain of salt.    Been there, have hope
  • When looking at rematch candidates, know that your LCC may have more information than you are provided. Ask your LCC about the information that other families have provided about the candidate and also what any perspective au pair’s current LCC says about her, but be prepared to read between the lines – what is written may be put very tactfully and may be subtle. akc

Do these tips prompt any insights? Or remind you of any other ‘random’ tips? If so, please share in the comments!


a.s. March 1, 2009 at 12:51 am

When you happen to overhear your au-pair reprimanding your child for some reason, do not interrupt saying differently even if you don’t agree 100%. If you did not like how she reacted, you can tell her when the kids aren’t around. The support of host parents is really important to have the kids respect their au-pair.

Aupair :o) January 6, 2012 at 5:11 am

@a.s.: thank you, that’s a very good point. it happend to me last time, when I tried to tell my hostchild something, which I thought it was wrong and she started crying.. then my hostmum came and said, aawww honey you didn’t do anything wrong.. I was a little shocked, because I wanted to finish my talking and telling my hostchild what was going on and why I was saying that..
well, my hostmum didn’t let me finish, so my hostchild came back later and said: you are not the boss right- mummy is..
so I thought oh great, how can my hostchild respect me, if my hostmum goes behind my back.. she could have told me later if she didn’t like what I did.
It’s totally ok if she tells me and I would be glad. But just not in front of the kids please, because the kids will not have enough respect of the Aupair.

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