9 Host Mom Questions for 2009: Reflect before you resolve

by cv harquail on December 31, 2008

How did we get here already?

I was just testing the polling feature to see how many au pairs were on duty on Christmas, and — bam– it’s already December 31st.

Maybe the holidays have been like this for you too? Just more family, more fun, (more work!), and overall less blogging time than I’d anticipated. Well, I’ll try to do better next year.lepapierdesigns on etsy calendar

And since the new year is only 12 hours away, let’s flip the calendar page a little early.

The New Year– A time to Reflect

Despite the cliches about resolutions, being better and whatnot, the New Year really does turn out to be a great time to refresh your perspectives and reevaluate how your relationships are going. Why? Simply because it is a cliche! No one’s gonna think you’re weird, plus there’s a lot of ambient support for reflection and renewal.

Take advantage of the routine nature of the "new" year. Take the time to think a little bit about your relationship with your au pair, what’s working, and where there is some potential.

And then …

cecilyink Wise women differ in their strategies for New Year’s Resolutions. Some wise women recommend choosing just one word, as a touchstone or focus, to help you approach any and all challenges (works pretty well). Others suggest chucking the whole "better you" project, recommending instead that you celebrate who you are in your delicious imperfections (also good).

Over at SimpleMom, Tsh suggests that before we make any new plans, we should reflect on what we’ve already had, done, experienced, etc.  

SimpleMom put together a list of 20 questions to reflect on, which prompted me to offer an abridged list of 9 questions for 2009 for Au Pair Moms.

9 Host Mom questions for 2009 — Reflecting on 2008

1. What was the single best way that your Au Pair has "been there" for you (as a host mom) so far?

2. What was the single best way that you as a host mom have "been there" for your Au Pair?

3. What was the most challenging thing that happened between you and your Au Pair?

4. What has surprised you this time around (first au pair or fifth) about being a host mom?

5. Pick three words your Au Pair might use to describe your year together so far.

6. Pick three words you yourself would use to describe your year together so far.

7. Look at these two sets of words. How are they related to each other, and what do you learn by thinking about them as a package?

8. In what way(s) have you grown as a person because of your relationship with your au pair?

9. In what way(s) have your grown as a parent because of your relationship with your au pair?

Bonus question (for high achieving host moms (aka all of us):

10. What do you know now, that you didn’t know at the start of this relationship?

Use the answers to …

These questions are intended to help you reflect on your relationship with your au pair. They aren’t to help your prepare her performance evaluation, or your performance evaluation as a host mom. Instead, the idea is to reflect on your relationship, from your perspective as a host mom. From here, you can ask yourself if you’d like to adjust your relationship, and how.

Now, of course your relationship with your Au Pair is not the only relationship that matters. No need to spend more time thinking about this relationship than about your relationship with your partner / spouse, child(ren), family, friends, etc. But, even a cursory stroll through these questions might help you find the one of two things to treasure, and the one or two things to improve upon, in your au pair relationship.


And because "new" year is a cliche …

You might take this opportunity to have a more personal-than-usual conversation with your au pair. You can mention to your au pair that you want to reflect on, adjust and resolve things about your relationship without putting her on the spot. Lots of us are thinking about improving and growing, and so bringing this up as a topic of conversation between you and your au pair may actually feel kind of normal right now.

In advance of that conversation (or even just for yourself), you might check out the ideas on "Cultivating a non-anxious presence during difficult conversations" over at the (much admired by me) blog ConflictZen.

And if your learn anything that the rest of us might also learn from, please consider sharing your insights, in the comments section, below.

Happy new year to you!
first dream of the year


Calif mom January 11, 2009 at 4:37 pm

Thanks for these thoughts. This inspired me to establish a weekly “family meeting” with parents, kids and AP on Sundays after dinner. Our AP has been with us since the summer, but I think this will help all of us re-connect a little better and maybe avoid that 5-month slump that can happen when the AP kind of realizes she is really stuck here and things might not be exactly as they have been advertised by the agency, or as she had hoped back when she was imagining her life in the U.S.

You’re right that the New Year gives an excuse for assessing and rethinking. And hopefully tweaking some things (like reminding about cleaning out the car!) without hurting feelings.

Even though we will still need a chance to talk without the kids around, too, a family meeting is a step in the right direction, and may help us “re-jigger” some things that have been bugging me, and I may find out about things I could change that would help others. When you have a good AP, it’s worth the investment to keep things going strong. And dare I hope increase the odds of getting an extension! : )

cvh January 11, 2009 at 9:09 pm

Hi CM – Glad you liked these… I was starting to wonder if the post was completely off the mark! It can be hard to remind myself that the number of comments is not always an indicator of whether readers find the post helpful. Thanks for all your other comments to day— you’re on a roll Mom! cvh

Anna January 11, 2009 at 9:13 pm

your post would be on the mark if each of those points were its own post. They each deserve it

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