What do you do when you’ve organized yourself and been clear about your needs, but find yourself unable to influence the behavior of your Au Pair?
When communication or training differences pop up, we usually go back to the basics:
- Do you have a handbook?
- Do you have regular check-in meetings?
- Were you clear about your expectations during the interview process?
- Is your family generally organized?
Most of the time, it’s one of these basic foundational elements that’s lacking…and “all” a host parent has to do is put this foundational element in place and (most times) the problem gets resolved.
Or, you might have these foundational elements, but just not followed up in practice. Then, “all” a host parent has to do is explain the “Why” behind the rule, or link the expectation to a larger sense of purpose and responsibility.
Alas, for HostMomLosingHerPatience, she’s done all of this. And more.
Her situation is not one of those “rematch, now” kinds of things. It’s a little late in the year for that, but even more importantly, this issue speaks of a deeper frustration and disappointment with the Au Pair -Host Family experience.
Awaiting your words of wisdom —
Dear Au Pair Mom, I have searched this website and many others* related to promoting a good relationship and communicating with my Au Pair. We have been a HF for 5 years, with a total of 7 Au Pairs. Some went into rematch for varying reasons – initiated by both them and us.
We Set Up a Good Foundation for our Au Pair Experience …
I try to be very clear during the interview process and after arrival that we need our Au Pair to be organized and stay on top of the routine, making sure she is ready to start on time, and get the kids to and from school/activities on time.
- I have a written family handbook and a one-page summary of the house rules/Au Pair expectations.
- We meet with our Au Pair almost nightly for a quick check in and review the upcoming day (or 2 or 3), and
- We maintain a calendar with everyone’s everything listed.
Our family motto is Plan Ahead.
… But Our Au Pair Doesn’t Behave as Though She Recognizes the Issues
Our current Au Pair is from S. America, and we know that there are different cultural standards regarding what it means to be “on time”. My Au Pair actually mentioned it during the ride home from the airport on her very first day. She observed that when the training school schedule stated 9am start time, it started PROMPTLY at 9am, and this facet of American life was emphasized during the training week.
So, here we are 8 months later, and she is still struggling to stay organized and anticipate, for example, getting the kids to music lessons on time.
I have given her feedback, suggesting that if the drive takes 10 minutes under perfect conditions (and DH has spent countless hours helping to shore up her driving skills), she should leave the house 20 minutes before the lesson starts, to build in time for traffic, etc, life-happens kind of stuff.
This week, she pulled out of the driveway about 8 minutes before the lesson start time. Kid #2 told me the Au Pair was “rushing” when she drove, and intentionally didn’t prepare a snack (written on the calendar) for kid#3 because she didn’t have time. In the same week, I had to knock on her door to wake her after her start time on a school day. This is just an example of recurring issues with being on time or anticipating the next activity, which comes up at least once a week.
I am not sure if this is a cultural thing, personality thing, or an “I don’t care” thing.
All I know is that it’s making me crazy.
We have an Au Pair because we are very busy working parents. I’m losing patience (okay, it’s been gone a while) with having to constantly reiterate how important it is to us that she knows when and where she/kids have to be next, and planning ahead to be on time. I’ve even stressed that we as adults are setting an example for the kids, to learn to think ahead, and to value other people’s time (as in not making others wait for us).
(I’ve not asked my LCC for assistance; in the past, she has offered very little support, hence 3 transitions).
How do I express to myAu Pair that running late is not acceptable and help her to embrace this concept?
I know she feels micromanaged (I have an irregular work schedule/work from home), but when I see the same issue cropping up on a regular basis, I can’t let it lie.
We are in the interviewing process for the next Au Pair, and I’m so over this whole thing. Having an Au Pair is supposed to make life easier, but it rarely does.
Please help! ~ HostMomLosingHerPatience
*(cv notes: what many others? do tell!)
Image: Late, by Henry Vessa on Flickr