3 Ways to Reclaim Your Host Mom Mojo

by cv harquail on June 7, 2009

Remember back when you were a brand new host mom, all excited and positive about getting an au pair? Before you knew that being a host parent could be really challenging at so many levels?

Once you’ve had a tough experience, a disappointment, or even just several good au pairs in a row, you can become kind of tired of the whole cycle… What, teaching someone to drive again ? Explaining what celiac disease is and why no flour is allowed in your house again ? Showing someone how to cook pasta again ? It can get kind of tiring, can’t it.

Super Mom LaoWai Kevin.jpeg When you face it head on, being a host parent and orienting a new au pair is a lot of work. Each time, you want to be better/more effective than the last time. Each time, you wonder whether the work you put in now will pay out in a smooth year. Each time you wonder whether you can take another person in your house leaving her coat on the hook reserved for yours. Once you know what it takes, it can be really hard to get back into the optimistic, can-do mind set. [Remember this is different from Exorcising the Ghost of a (Truly) Bad Au Pair. ]

You’ve got to figure out how to reclaim your Host Mom Mojo.

Host Mom Mojo, you wonder? What’s that?

Think back to when you first decided to get an au pair. Remember explaining to your sister/dad/best friend why you thought that an au pair would be great for you and your family? Remember that excitement after deciding to match? Or the rush in your tummy as you and the kids entered the American Airlines terminal to meet your new au pair face to face?

Each of these times, you were in touch with your Host Mom Mojo, the belief that it can be great, she will be great, you all will learn, etc. etc. all that stuff that gave you the positive, radiant good energy to start your relationship off well. You *need* your Host Mom Mojo to carry you across any anxiety (and fatigue) and to start your new au pair relationship with all the enthusiasm and optimism it – and you – deserve.

So what do you do when you realize that your Host Mom Mojo has slipped away?

Here are three ways to start reclaiming your Host Mom Mojo :

1. Acknowledge your feelings. There is just no sense in denying it: host momming is challenging work. Acknowledge that it is work, that it takes your time and energy, that you may be disappointed at times, and that things will not be perfect. They are not supposed to be perfect. You are human (however super you may be!) and being weary or tentative in face of this challenge is simply normal.

2. Remember the hopes and positive vision you’ve had about au pairing in the past.

Whole you may know now that no caregiver is perfect, and no family-caregiver relationship is perfect, you also know that having an au pair can be worthwhile (or more) in so many other ways.

Enumerate the positives — a young person and her/his sense of adventure, a new relationship for your children, a chance for you to have a positive impact on a young adult’s life, and a chance for you (and your partner) to learn more about yourselves and about parenting.

Oh, and not to forget, you’ll have someone you can trust, caring for your children in your own home, according to your procedures and values.The Strong Ones aarongstock.jpeg

3. Reflect on what you’ve learned as a host parent already, and consider how this makes your Host Mom Mojo even stronger.

Think about what you learned about yourself as a parent and a person as you worked through things with your previous au pairs. Did you discover a fondness for Afrikaans praise music? Get a chance to pass on all that hard-won dating wisdom? Learn to see yourself and your family through someone else’s eyes? Realize that you knew a lot about how to teach someone else how to help your children grow?

I do believe, at the core of my Host Mom being, that the experience of being a host mom or dad can help you grow as a person and as a parent. I will never ever tell anyone that being a host mom is easy. It isn’t. But it is rewarding. And, reflecting on how and why it is rewarding always helps me rediscover my Host Mom Mojo.

How about you?

Have you ever lost your Host Mom Mojo? What have you done to reclaim it?

Photos: SuperMom by LaoWei_Kevin, The Strong Ones by Aaron G. Stock, both on Flickr.

{ 3 comments }

Jeana June 8, 2009 at 12:02 am

I can totally relate to the fear and anxiety before a new aupair joins the family. With our first aupair, I only felt excited, anticipating an awesome year, and we had an awesome year. With our second aupair, I was again excited. This match didn’t work, and I had two rematch situations back to back. My confidence was gone, and a kind and more experienced host mom reassured me that she’d had three rematch situations back to back. So, for my fourth and fifth auapirs, I was excited, hopeful, fearful, and determined that I would do everything I could to make our experiences successful. I also thought of what I’d learned through the two errors I’d made in the two unsuccessful matches.

Experienced host families realize that with the arrival of a new aupair, there are changes. There is a new person in the family that needs help getting settled and learning the ropes of how the family functions. Our children are affected by the arrival of a new person. To help an aupair learn how our family moves throughout the week, I need to invest a significant amount of time modeling how and when we do things. Initially, it takes more work to get through the routine, because we’re helping a new person, whose first language is different than our own, make it through the process, too.

When a family has experienced a rematch situation, we remember what it is like to deal with that situation with our children. Might just be me, but I think that nervous feelings before this change, when there has been a rematch in the past, is the sign of a responsible host parent who realizes change is in the air, and there will be a lot of work to do to make the match successful. When friends were aware of our two back to back rematch situations, they questioned if I was afraid to try again. I told them that there are so many positive aspects of having an aupair, that I never questioned that this was the right decision for our family, and that I would not repeat my previous errors. I’ll make new mistakes, but won’t repeat the previous ones!

SeaMom June 8, 2009 at 3:34 pm

After having several years of AP’s I definitely have lost my Host Mom Mojo. One of the things I have started doing is giving myself 2 – 3 weeks of no AP before the next one comes. Usually this includes the kids at camp, a grandparent visit, and a week of family vacation time. This gives me a chance to breath, think about changes I may want to make and get excited about the next one. While we have explored other options, having an AP right now is the right decision for us. I know I am not the “fun” host mom I was for our 1st or 2nd AP, but I also know I am not as naive as I was 5 AP’s ago. Which is probably why I am not as FUN! We are getting ready to say goodbye to our current AP in a few months and welcome a new one. I have already started looking forward to my no AP vacation and resetting my mind to think positive thoughts and what I might do differently next year.

Lidi June 9, 2009 at 10:05 am

Our new au pair will be arriving in a couple of weeks and I’m getting more nervous than excited about it. Part of the reason is that our last au pair (who was our first), who left a few weeks ago, was such a bad match and particularly at the end. On top of it she bad-mouthed me on a social networking site and now her mother emailed complaining, so I still have the bad au pair ghost haunting me. It’s hard to be excited about a new au pair when I think of how stressed out I was (and still am a bit) by the old one.

I appreciate the tips on reclaiming the host mom mojo, because I would like to be optimistic and excited and don’t want my negative experience to tinge our new au pair’s arrival. I definitely feel more prepared this time around, given our experience, and others’ shared on this blog.

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