Advice wanted: How to navigate the Au Pair rematch process?

by cv harquail on December 12, 2008

Hey moms-hope

We are in rematch and are having our Exit Interview this Saturday. Can anyone please share their experience and tell me what to expect? Our au pair has been with us for almost 4 months and we have struggled with this decision, but it is necessary to make it and move on. She is a very sweet girl, but is still unable to pass the driving test, which is making life a bit stressful instead of relieving any stress.
Thank you so much!!

Please share your thoughts, stories, recommendations …. !

{ 27 comments }

Anna December 12, 2008 at 4:38 am

We went through transition, as our agency calls it, in July. Now my best friend – another hostmom – is going through transition.

From seeing how easily girls rematch whose stories I happen to know from a hostmom perspective, it really gives me food for thought about how risky that process can be for families. I really doubt there is full disclosure of relevant information to the families about transition au pairs and their rematch stories.

I know my agency has a policy of no speaking to former host parents of your rematch candidate, but if I am ever in that situation again (and I hope it never happens), I will try to speak to them no matter what.

I understand there are two sides to the story. I understand there are bitter and unfair hostparents out there. But I am a pretty intelligent adult, and I want to be able to hear both sides myself and judge, not only the au pair’s side.

Otherwise, really, I feel like we are being set up for failure again.

Don’t want to sound so pessimistic. There are really great girls in transition, and sometimes it is really a host family’s fault, or a reason that might not matter to you, like your au pair will probably rematch with somebody who doesn’t need a driver and will be perfect for them.

As to what to expect – I can only speak from experience with our agency. The coordinator will calculate a balance of who owes what to whom, and it will have to be resolved before the au pair leaves. You both will have two weeks of transition, during which you must give her a place to live (if she wants to stay two weeks), she should work if you need it, and you both have to find somebody new. Also you have to be ready that you might rematch with somebody who has a different amount of time left on her visa, and the time for your search next year might change, as well as you might have to pay more to the agency for the differential in time.

Ann Levine December 12, 2008 at 6:00 am

Hi. We found our au pair when she was in transition and I was able to talk to her host family directly. I heard the issues and agreed they were issues, but did not think the same problems would arise in my family because the au pair now understood the problem, and because I’m not as socially conservative as the previous host family.

It worked out beautifully. And I had a very candid conversation with the family interviewing her for her extension year. The exchange of information is vital and I would find it suspect if our agency prevented it.

Maya December 12, 2008 at 3:36 pm

Hi. I am currently in transition. My current au pair is leaving on Sunday and we are bring our new au pair in on Sunday as well.

I have only one advise to you. Please read between the lines when you select a new au pair in transition. In my agency, we cannot speak to previous host parents of the au pair in transition, but I think different agencies have different policies on this. If you can speak with host parent, do your self a favor and speak with them.

Although, our agency does not let us talk to previous host parents, it just so happened that when I called my potential new au candidate, her host mom picked up the phone and we talked. So I got to speak with her and to ask all the questions I wanted. I learned that my new au pair is a lovely girl and the reason she is in transition is because she physically cannot handle an disabled teenager who is twice her size. A very legitimate reason for transition.

Host mom also told me that this au pair is very helpful, likes to help out, doesn’t mind some changes in her schedule when needed by host parents, is an excellent driver, and has fairly poor English. We talked about how I can best communicate with her due to poor English and so on.

Of course I also spoke with au pair, but I have had a couple more conversation with host mom after that as well.

Now my current au pair has re-matched with another family. I think that her blurb on the ‘reasons for transition’ said something like ‘Had communication problems with host mom. Will do excellent in a less structured environment.’ I never spoke with her new host parents as they never contacted me.

If they did contact me, I would tell them that although she can be very good at her job, she needs a lot of supervision. She has a hard time understanding that host parents are her employers, not her friends. That she has to give full report to parent on days events and not through a fit when asked what did she do with kids today. That when she is told to call host mom after dropping kids at school in pouring rain, SHE SHOULD CALL. And that I don’t care that it makes her feel like I don’t trust her. My husband and I call each other when we commute in bad weather, why shouldn’t she. I would also tell new host parents, that although she is good at engaging kids in activities and such, she also spends every available second on the internet during working hours. Also that she thinks that money grows on trees and that she feels she is entitled to the perks that she got instead of being grateful or at least thankful for them.

So now, I wonder, how she will do in her new family and what lessons did she really learn in this process of going through transition.

Rayann December 12, 2008 at 4:42 pm

I think it’s sad that some agencies (including ours) don’t allow prospective families to speak with the current host family of a transitioning au pair. The fact is, there *are* two sides to every story, and it seems necessary for a host family to hear both sides in order to make an educated decision on whether an au pair would be a good match for the family.

We absolutely love our current au pair, but while we were interviewing, we interviewed a delightful au pair in transition that basically said her host family was mean to her. I really wanted to talk to the host family in order to get their side of the story, but our agency strictly forbids it. In the end, we passed on her only because not knowing the whole story made us nervous. We couldn’t be comfortable with the unknown. And perhaps there was no unknown…perhaps they really were mean to her and that was it…but we decided not to take the gamble without hearing their side of the story.

Angie December 12, 2008 at 5:39 pm

Thank you so much for all of the responses. This helps so much. I don’t know what our agency’s policy is about speaking with the previous host family, but I am definitely going to check!! I really want both sides of the story if I can get it whenI am trying to make this huge decision. I am totally open to another host family contacting me as well, if our agency allows it. This has been a bit nerve racking and I am not looking forward to “starting over”, but am thinking positive!! :)

Anna December 12, 2008 at 5:54 pm

Angie, if you are in transition, and your agency doesn’t officially allow speaking to the previous host family, what can you do?! I assume you don’t have time to switch agencies or wait 6+ weeks for an out-of-country au pair.

I would try to contact the family despite any official policies. I would try to get the au pair’s home number, and try to call at a time when parents should be home and pick up. If they don’t, I would ask the au pair to give the receive to the hostmom, and if she isn’t home, ask when I can call to reach her. If that plan fails, I would have a serious and honest conversation with the local coordinator and try to get in touch with another family through her. They would not want to lose you to another agency over this, I really don’t think this request is even unreasonable.

Been there, have hope! December 12, 2008 at 7:19 pm

We have been in rematch 3 times since we started au pairing — once was our first, when after just 3 days we just knew it was wrong. (When people want to manipulate the system in order to get to the US, they can. I don’t blame us for that one; she was clever, motivated to find a way to the states where her boyfriend was, insulted me, and oh, yeah, she didn’t like kids. And yes the agency rematched her.)

Our last situation we tried to make work for 4 months, but should not have waited so long. But having rematched before, I wanted to make sure it really “wasn’t us” causing the rematch.

Those several weeks between when you make a decision to call the counselor and seek rematch until you end up with a new AP who knows where the school is and how to feed your kids are painfully anxiety-producing. But I would submit they are worth it! Have faith that the right person is out there, and now that AP’ing is so popular, the pool of candidates is actually bigger than ever, b/c a certain percentage are always going to be in rematch. it’s the nature of the universe.

These experiences taught our family what I would advise about rematching/transitioning, no matter how you end up there: follow your instincts when finding your next AP. And try hard not to take rematch personally as a failure.

Our two favorite and longest-serving au pairs were both found through rematch. We love them both, still, and they love us, still. They both extended with us, actually. So it really isn’t ‘us’. It’s like online dating, and you’d never expect that to work 100 percent of the time. From what I can tell, I think families and APs end up in rematch about a third of the time. You’ll never hear that from the agencies! But I don’t think it’s a reason not to go back to the trough, either. We continue to host because it’s still preferable for our family to the regular nanny deal.

Lessons learned the hard way:
1) don’t rely on phone conversations — meet the au pair in person if humanly possible before agreeing to rematch. One AP — the 4 month-er — had a story that made the hair curl, and though we were her third family, we thought, oh, we’re nothing like that, and we asked her to join us from another region. Bad idea. If I had met her in person I would have known then that she was not up to the task of our family, even though her problems with us were different than the previous family. Because really, this AP needed some time on her own to live as a grown up and figure out how to be a happy person. No family in the world can integrate such a personality, unless maybe they have young teenagers who really just need rides twice a day. MAYBE she could handle that. And from our first successful rematch AP, I learned that I can actually deal pretty well with someone who doesn’t have excellent, or even very good, English, even though I have pretty significant hearing loss. I would never have thought this.
It is now my practice only to allow my counselor to send us rematch APs who are in driving distance. Two weeks may seem short to rematch, but this is now non-negotiable for us.

2) Be willing to compromise on one or more of your “whatever else, our next AP WILL be able to …..” criteria. I wanted one who could cook, drive, and handle kids of disparate ages (sorry, everyone, but I think it’s trickier to successfully AP school age kids). Instead we ended up matching with someone whose driving needed a lot of private lessons and can only boil water. Oh well. We love her, and she does a great job otherwise. She loves our kids and they love — and respect — her.

3)Take categories such as “swims, cooks, drives” with a grain of salt. Ask specific clarifying questions during interviews. To wit: one AP was very confident in her driving ability, but she scared the heck out of me b/c she drove like my Grandmother. To me, too slow is not safe. I’ve had one who said “oh NO, I don’t swim” but she was perfectly happy to suit up, take kids to pool and splash around with them. That’s all I need, I don’t care if she swims a butterfly or dogpaddles or not at all. We had another who said she swam who found our pool too cold and only took the kids there once. NOT acceptable. “Cooks” to me is different from one Chinese AP I interviewed, who interpreted that to mean “cooks American food” but I would have been happy with Chinese mainland dishes, believe me!

So, try hard to be very specific about what you mean when you are interviewing rematch candidates.

Another thing is not to worry about “oh my gosh, what if we don’t find someone in time, I don’t want to let our current au pair go” if she finds a new family right away. Do your whole family a favor and let her go! Even if you have to take LWOP (ed’s note: Leave WithOut Pay), your entire household will breathe a sigh of relief once she is gone, and that little breather can do wonders for Mom’s sanity and let the kids recalibrate, too. They will be reassured that truly, no matter what, Mom and/or Dad are ALWAYS there for them. Even if they don’t love the AP, which they know they are supposed to do but just don’t (or whatever). And that they really are more important to Mom than her job (this last bit may be more relevant for the school age kids and up).

We have never felt like going into rematch was the wrong decision, and we have always come out of the deal relieved and wondering how we ever put up with [insert intolerable situation] for as long as we did.

You will find a better situation for your family!

akc December 14, 2008 at 7:16 am

We have been in the au pair program for 6 years and have been in rematch a few times, but have also had some great au pairs who have extended, so it cannot be us all the time :).

I would be very candid in the exit interview. If the only reason you are rematching is because she cannot pass the driver’s test, but otherwise you are happy, are you sure you want to rematch? It will be far more cost effective in time and money to pay for driving lessons. If there is more to the rematching than that, be sure to say that during the exit interview. I think as host families we need to support each other and if we aren’t candid about the real problems it really does a disservice to the whole program. It is better if the au pair just isn’t interested in or suited to child care that she leave the program rather than go to another family and then go home. You would want host families to be that honest with you.

The two weeks that you and the au pair will spend together could be stressful. The more immature the au pair the worse it will be, but the companies seem to advise the au pairs that they need to continue to work as this could jeopardize a rematch.

Definitely think about a contingency plan if she finds a host family right away or you cannot find an au pair right away (don’t settle). Is there a relative who can help temporarily or can you take time from work? Can you fly a previous au pair back for a visit? Is there a temporary nanny agency in your area? I found that once I have a plan in place the whole process is much less stressful for everyone. I agree with the other posts that you will breathe a sigh of relief when she leaves and the sooner she leaves the happier you will be.

Also, when looking at 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. I haven’t tried this, but if they won’t let you talk to the host family (I agree that talking to them is essential)maybe you can speak to the LCC.

When we have rematched it has always been the right decision and know that you are doing what is best for your family and that you made a great effort to make it work.

Angie December 17, 2008 at 6:41 pm

Great comments! I will definitely take all of this information to heart. We made it through our exit interview Saturday and up until today, it has been really tense around here. After our new search, we unfortunately were not able to find an in-country au pair and have to go the out of country route once again. I had lengthy conversations with our agency and unfortunately, this time of year there is just not a great pool of girls in transition. There were literally only 3 girls currently in the U.S. and none matched our needs. This is going to leave us without an aupair for 5 weeks, but I have come to terms with this. I am just going to take it slow and be patient! Later is better than not at all. :)

The driving is such a huge concern because we live in a state which has a strict driving process for those from out of the U.S. Basically, if you are not from Canada, Germany or France, you have to take the written & driving exam. If your English is not that great, the written part can be pretty tough! The state also has a 30 day waiting time in between passing the written and then taking the drivng exam. This is why I am a bit gun shy about this whole process again.

I am not willing to settle just to have some help and want to hopefully get it right this time. I’m also a bit upset because my 3 1/2 yr old recently told me that our current au pair has been pinching him, ugh!!! And, for the last 2 weeks when I pick him up from preschool he wants to first know if she is at home. When I tell her she is, his immediate response is “I don’t like her mommy”. He is my “spirited” child, but that is still not an excuse for our au pair to decide she will dicipline him in her own way.
I have disclosed to our agency about her need for constant direction and lack of initiative. Don’t get me wrong, she is a very hard worker, but basically, if it isn’t written down in her schedule on a weekly basis, she doesn’t do it.
Also, I’ve realized she is wonderful with the babies and my 2 yr old, but not so great with my 3 1/2 yr old. If it requires consistency, patience, lots of redirection or time out, it is just to much for her to process. So, I shared with our agency that in my opinion she would be also better suited for a family with just babies. An adventurous or spirited child is just too much for her!
We wish her the best in the rematching process, and knnow hindsight is 20/20, but wish we would have been a bit more experienced with the “reading between the lines” in the beginning. We have learned! :)

cvh December 17, 2008 at 6:58 pm

Angie, it will get better. It’s a good idea to take some time during the ‘interregnum’ between au pairs to reestablish your priorities so that you really do get what you want. !!
In the meantime, just so you know you’re not alone, 9 times out of 10 when an ap goes into rematch (either by her choice or by yours) things get sour. Our 2 times with rematch both girls turned into really awful creatures, overnight. On the bright side, that sure makes it easier for the kids to let go!

Anonymous December 18, 2008 at 1:53 am

You can also use this time to get a thorough but easy-to-read handbook put together, if you don’t already have one. Like CVH said elsewhere, it’s key, and becomes a neutral ‘source’ to speak for you when you’re not around.

You’ll be fine, eventually!

cvh December 18, 2008 at 1:57 am

Hi anonymous– I think I’ll ask readers to submit & share their handbooks, as a fresh start gift to each other in the New Year :-). Wanna send in a copy of yours? Full credit will be given, a copywrite even, if you’d like….
send to mom@aupairmom.com

Maya December 19, 2008 at 4:31 pm

Angie,

how is it going? These two weeks are hard. Have you seen some new candidates that might work for you.

Hang in there. Transition is hard.

Let us know if you have any questions. I just recently went through transition (before I found this blog) and having my best friend guide me through it who also went through transition 5 months ago was a blessing.

You have a great support here. I will second others who said that this is the best time to write/update your handbook. Also consider about weekly schedules and how you will present them to you new au pair. I started posting weekly schedules on the fridge with notes/chores for each day. So far it’s been ok. My au pair is still very new, less then a week, so some things are still work in progress, but is trying very hard.

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. The key for us is to pack their school lunches first before helping them get dresses etc, so I just wrote it down for her. I asked her last night how she felt about time lines and she said she liked it. It was helping her to know what needs to be done.

CVH,

I can send you copies of my hand book, timelines and weekly schedule.

As an FYI, I modeled my weekly schedule based on the sample posted on my agency’s website.

My handbook was a combination of my agency’s sample, my friend’s handbook, and my own house rules/routines. So I just want to make sure the credit is given where credit is due. It is still kind of work in progress.

Anna December 19, 2008 at 4:52 pm

Hey Maya, glad to hear your new au pair appreciates timelines. Your old one would punch you in the nose, LOL

cvh, I emailed you my handbook a day or so ago

cvh December 20, 2008 at 2:25 am

Hi Anna-

I think that something went wrong b/c I can’t find an email from you….could have deleted it in a daze, but I’ve looked through every folder (even spam)… would you mind resending?

Maya, I’d love to see yours too… I don’t have a complete plan for doing anything useful w/ handbooks other than posting a few so folks have some examples…and I’d be happy to add copyrights, attributions, etc. ANy other siggestions or concerns, let me know …

As a side note … one of the reasons why I decided to do a blog is b/c I got so tired of sending my handbook and talking on the phone to people I didn’t know (who’d gotten my name from a friend, a neighbor, from our LCC, etc). Not only did we never ever get one of those referral bonuses (and APIA really owes me several :-) )… but the worst was when a friend of mine (in another state) sent me a copy of the handbook someone had sent her, and —wait for it — it was mostly mine, weird words, phrasings, typos and all. Back to Christmas cookies….

Anna December 21, 2008 at 1:31 am

cvh, check it now, it just got sent again.

Angie December 31, 2008 at 10:56 pm

I’m glad to see I am not crazy and have been doing just about everything other host moms are doing! :) I have come to the conclusion that there isn’t anything else I could have done to have made it work with our old au pair. Every Sunday, I gave her a written weekly timeline schedule and a separate sheet with a list of duties for the week. I would verbally go over everything as well to make sure nothing was lost in translation. We now realize she wasn’t exactly in love with our children, was pretty much just a worker bee who did not want to be a part of our family and we feel like was just here for a free ride!

The last 2 weeks were pretty much pure hell, to put it bluntly. She did a 360 on us and instead of being the person she had portrayed over the last 4 months, she showed her true colors. As soon as her work day ended, within 30 minutes she was out the door and did not come home until between 10pm-1pm every other night. She basically ignored me, but was sugar sweet to my husband and to my parents who came for a visit. She also turned extremely sneaky and we often noticed a car or truck sitting in the cul-de-sac behind our house and then as soon as they must have gotten the signal or phone call, they would mysteriously appear in our drive way to pick her up for the evening(thank you to our FBI agent next door neighbor for noticing this!). We thought this was a bit rude. Do people not knock on the door anymore when they pick someone up?

I was to take her to the airport on Monday afternoon, so Sunday morning I gave her a checklist of things to do prior to her departure (cleaning tasks for her room & bathroom). She proceeded to go out all day long, not return until after 6pm and was loud banging things around in her room, packing and doing laundry until midnight. She did what she basically felt like doing and left the rest for me to do. She left all of her dirty bed linens in a basket in the laundry room. Also, instead of clearing the computer from any programs or items she had downloaded, she left it all on there, to include files of pictures, an unchanged screen saver, etc., which took me almost 3 hours to remove everything!!!

The family she ended up matching with has 4 little ones just like us and she has already stated she is not sure it is going to work because they want her to be “a part of the family” and go on outings with them, have dinner with them, etc., that may include participation during her free time, but her response was “this may not have been the best match, but it was my last chance to match and is better than the alternative of having to go back home and there is so much more I want to see in the U.S.”

We have matched with an out-of-country au pair once again since there just was not a great selection of in-country au pairs. There were literally only 4 in-country au pairs in the system and only 1 could drive! Anyway, we tried to “read between the lines” a bit better this time around an refused to settle. We’ve come to realize that the more you give, depending on the au pair’s personality, the more they expect. We plan on limiting the extras this next time around. It seems like being able to have a telephone, cable tv, dvd, laptop computer and other niceties in the bedroom was a bit too much and made it easy for our last au pair to isolate herself from us.

We feel good about this next one and hope she “truly” wants to be a member of our family and love our children. :)

Anna January 1, 2009 at 2:31 am

Angie, good luck with your new au pair.
I wonder what country your old au pair was from, and whether there is any truth to stereotypes of what personality an au pair is likely to be (or what pluses or minuses) depending on the country of origin.
I also wonder if having a bad experience with an au pair from a particular country will turn you off from considering new au pairs from there, and conversely, having a great au pair from a particular country will positively prejudice you towards new candidates from there. Maybe its a topic for a whole new entry.

Angie January 1, 2009 at 5:45 pm

Hi Anna,

Thank you so much! We actually interviewed 2 gals from the same country this time around because we still feel it is a very nice country and have had friends who have had good experiences with au pairs from there. We really don’t think it was because of the country of origin, but more to do with lack of maturity on her part. We went with an older au pair since this was our first time as host parents and figured the maturity woudl be there. We were incorrect! I think this bad experience has opened our eyes and has been a good learning experience.
We did find that when it came down to matching with this new au pair, we were tied between two girls in southeastern Europe and ended up matching with one of them. A good friend of mine has had really good luck for several years with au pairs from northern european countries, so we decided to stick to Europe and out of South America this time around.

Anonymous February 5, 2009 at 10:12 pm

I have gone through this process several times with 2 different agencies. The first agency was bigger and it was much easier. She was sick a lot in her first 3 months and asked for a rematch. The local coordinator didn’t seem to care at all. She just started the process and within the first week our au pair had several families calling her. We found a new au pair in town and she shared her room with the first au pair for a week. The first au pair tried to teach her how to use our car, where things were and how to get along with the kids. Then she took a taxi to the airport and flew to her new family.

Our second au pair only lasted 2 weeks (1 week after the first left). She didn’t remember where anything was, and had a hard time driving. She shook my son and snatched at him. It was a nightmare and I asked to rematch. She didn’t take it well and we ended up yelling at each other in front of the kids (they were supposed to be in bed but the yelling woke them up). That night she called 911 and said she was trapped in our house. The cops came and were great. They drove her to where the au pair thought the LCC lived. They finally dropped her off at a hotel. The agency sent her home.

We’ve had another au pair leave for an au pair meeting and then to go to a friend’s wedding. That au pair never showed up at the meeting and never came back!

Another au pair that was very awesome stayed until her contract ended. She met our new au pair and showed her the ropes for 2 days before leaving. Then she left her suitcases in her room and went on a tour of the US for 30 days. After that she stayed with us 2 more days until her flight for home. We drove her to the airport each time.

The last au pair was great. But we realized that we just can’t afford the program anymore. Our utilities and groceries have just shot through the roof. Her best friend was moving so all seemed like it would go well. But this agency is smaller and had a hard time finding her a new family since she did not have infant experience. They have been really nice, but even though the au pair is good, they just don’t have a lot of families to switch the girls between. The au pair met a guy though and supposedly married him. She only knew him 3 weeks! The agency was about to send her home so I guess she couldn’t take that. I hope she is legal.

As far as rematching goes – if it didn’t work out with the first then don’t let her meet the new one. You don’t want her bad feelings rubbing off on the 2nd. Try to arrange it so you have a few days in between.

I’ve had to clean and redecorate our au pair room after every au pair. I didn’t get to for the last and I felt bad for not putting anything special in there. I had wanted to buy her some small potted flowers because she liked flowers. For another I put pictures of her home country all over the walls. She loved it! Always be sure to do the full tour of your house, with all the rules, where you put things, etc. For the ones I remembered to do this with there were less problems. For the ones I just didn’t have time and hoped they would learn as they go – it never happened and I was always angry that they were so dense. After 4 months I shouldn’t have to rearrange my dishes and my sons’ clothes every single day!

And I have found we have plenty of rules: don’t yell at the kids, don’t grab them, always stay with them, don’t talk on the phone, check email, use the computer, or read while watching the kids. Limit their TV, take them outside, play with them, don’t sit there watching them, toilet paper can be flushed but not paper towels or tissues, etc, etc. You just have no idea what their culture is like. When looking for a new au pair it doesn’t seem to matter what age. Our sick au pair was 19. The one that ran off with a guy 3 weeks after meeting him – she was 25! The nightmare girl was in 25 too. The one that took off was 21. The other that was awesome – she was 21. I think if I could afford it in the future then I’d look for someone that is still in college, but not in their first year. It gives them an incentive to go back home. Too many are just looking for a way here thinking they can go illegal and not get in trouble or just stay here forever without being illegal. Find someone who is into the culture aspect and doesn’t want to stay.

Also in our experience the au pairs from Brazil are simply awful. They thought it was acceptable to hit a child for not having manners – except their manners are different from ours! I had to explain over and over that it was rude to run off with friends or go to the store right before dinner and then come back at 9pm to ‘scrounge’. Yet they couldn’t tolerate sloppy handwriting in kindergarten!! They didn’t understand that sometimes kids say ‘I hate you’ and not mean it. The European girls seemed more comfortable. They seemed to understand better how little kids are compared to the Brazilians. Our sick girl was Japanese and we liked her pretty well but it was a big culture shock to her. I’ve heard good and bad about Japanese.

And no matter what – the au pairs almost always act differently toward us than the kids. My 10 year old has told me quite a bit about how the au pairs really act. Give them a questionnaire before matching and talk to them a lot. Ask sneaky questions like “What is it like to drive in your country?” They will most likely say they can drive, but if they are lying then specific questions will be harder to answer. Questions that can’t be answered with a yes or no are much more revealing. Our au pair that ran off just said yes and no correctly to our questions so it seemed like a good match. But the one that turned out the best got harder questions. I loved her answers and we ended up loving her. I hope this helps! I could tell stories all day long!

Calif mom February 5, 2009 at 10:47 pm

Wow! a lot in that last message. I don’t want to criticize, but I do want to share some different perspectives so people who are considering APing can get a balanced view.

We have had absolutely lovely, loving, patient APs from Brazil, and known many more through their friends. Never have I met one who would hit a child, or who cared about less important things to us, like handwriting.

You are correct that age does not equal maturity, no matter what culture (including AMericans)!

I serve dinner when dinner is served, and don’t get offended if someone wants to get her own food from the fridge at 9 p.m. Especially for Brazilians, a later dinner is the norm. So maybe some of what you found difficult is just cultural differences that were more stark and harder for you to live with than you thought they would be. I am always glad that our APs have made friends and have a good strong social network. The ones who don’t are more at risk for homesickness and depression, IMHO.

Compared to hiring a live-out nanny, I still think the costs are less with au pairs even with a modest increase in groceries and electricity. Heck, they all take shorter showers than I do! : )

As long as people can find a bowl and a spoon, and clothes to wear in their own closets, I just don’t care all that much about how the dishes go into the dishwasher or how the clothes are folded. I do think that if these things are important to you, you have an obligation to make that clear. Take a photo of a ‘properly loaded’ dishwasher and put it in your household binder, for example. I have a label machine and have put labels on the shelves for my kids, and even our youngest who cannot read knows that the label says “pants”. That might help manage putting away clothes.

Anna February 5, 2009 at 10:53 pm

Please share more questions to ask au pairs and more tips for matching.

BTW our Brazilian au pairs were our favorite! Warm, loving, mature, responsible, and fun!

I think it all comes down to what kind of a person she is, but if you (and me) had a bad experience with one particular country, we are likely to not even look at the au pairs from there for the future, unfortunately.

cvh February 6, 2009 at 2:17 am

Whoa. That was some long comment there… thanks CA mom for trying to sort that out….

Carissa February 7, 2009 at 7:52 pm

Sorry about the long comment, it posted anonymous by the way. I didn’t mean to say all Brazilians are bad, but in our experience they didn’t work out for us. I don’t care how our dishwasher gets loaded either, as long as the dishes come clean. I do think someone should be able to figure out that bowls go in the cabinet with other bowls – not with the plates or pots and pans. Its annoying to reach for a bowl and they have all dissapeared only to find them scattered through the cabinets. And this is after being told where they go every day for 4 months! I was also very glad when our au pairs made friends. However, I don’t appreciate asking someone if they will join us for dinner, being told yes, making the extra food and then 5 minutes before it goes on the table the person asks if they can go out to the store or library or wherever. I don’t mind them eating what’s in the fridge either but they never get the leftovers instead they go for food that was set aside for a school project. Especially when they were told what it was for. We had good and bad, and each au pair did things differently. The one that went illegal was the one the typically left 5 minutes before dinner. The one that never could figure out that bowls go with bowls was the one one that married an American 3 weeks after meeting him. But those are little just little annoyances. The big things were consoling my kids after the au pairs dissapeared. But that wasn’t the point of my post. I was showing how the rematch process is different every time and things to look for when rematching. Figure out what bothers you and screen the au pair for those things.

Hannatjie February 17, 2009 at 2:55 pm

I am a mother of an aupair that is in the rematch process. They are a even bigger dilemma than you. In her case the host mom is willing to testify that she did nothing wrong, but that the husband just does not like her. They give her 2 weeks to find a new host family, although they cannot search for a family but has to wait until sombody phone them. Please understand these girls and give them a fair chance.

MTR May 5, 2009 at 9:06 am

I wasn’t sure where to post this, so I am posting here. … Question about kids and how they react to departure of au pairs, arrival of new au pairs, and rematch situations.
(MTR, I’ve set that question up for a few days from now… thanks! )

Karin Six May 4, 2010 at 6:16 am

FYI: Registry website for au pairs in rematching/transition process: http://www.incountryaupair.com. For host families seeking in-country transition & extension au pairs, there is NannyAu.com & NannyPair.com. (Twitter/FB sites too!)

Btw, per my experience, former host families are most always called as a reference!

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