Should She Ask Her Host Mom To Read AuPairMom?

by cv harquail on September 8, 2014

Dear AuPairMom –

I have been reading AuPairMom while I was deciding to become an au pair and I was expecting that what you have on this blog explains what an au pair should expect.

6847244791_bf2fd1ae57_zMy host mom seems to be having some struggles with having an au pair. I’m my family’s first au pair.

My family is a good family.  They are kind, their house is nice, the kids are great, and this feels like a very good situation to me.  I have been here with the family for two months now, and I am noticing that my host mom struggles with some of the things that you talk about on the blog all the time.  Actually I think I know more about having an au pair than my host mom and dad. Maybe I don’t know everything but I know I have thought about a lot of things.

Especially, she seems to have trouble with organizing my schedule. Sometimes my host mom doesn’t give me a plan in advance, then other times she does. Some weeks she gives me lots of time between events and other weeks I am scheduled down to the minute it feels like.

Also she has given me a few “pointers” about how she’d like things done. I got a few lists for putting the lunches together and doing the laundry. But nothing that is complete like the Handbooks that you have on AuPairMom.

I have been trying to be my very best Au Pair by following what you say on the blog.  When I read the post about What Kind Of Host Mom Are You it made me think my host mom might be helped by reading it.

I think my Host Mom (and dad) do want to do a good job. Do you think it would be okay if I told them about AuPairMom and asked them to read it? I don’t want to be a knows-it-all and feel like I should be telling them what to do or how to do things. But also it might help?

Would this be rude?

Is there a way to help them be better or more organized by asking them to look at some of the pages here?

Thank you for your ideas. ~ Very Informed AuPair


Dear VeryInformed AuPair-

Of course I would love it if you asked your Host Mom and Dad to read AuPairMom– after all, that’s why we’re here!

I understand, though, that asking your host parents to look at the blog might feel awkward. It’s hard to imagine a way to recommend the blog to them without potentially triggering for them a question of whether you think that they are somehow inadequate as host parents.

I’ve always hoped that host parents who knew about AuPairMom would tell other families in their cluster. I’ve also hoped that LCCs and ADs would tell their families too– somehow it’s easier to imagine another host parent telling you about a resource than to have your au pair suggest it to you.

Au Pairs, have you ever recommended a specific post to your Host Parents?

             Has that worked well?

             Have you found a way to share resources with your host family in a way that avoids you looking like a smarty pants?

Host parents, how would you feel if your AuPair recommended a blog to you?

         Is there a way it could be done nicely?

 (P.s. This is an actual email from a real au pair, not an indirect request that you share the blog with your host families, friends, etc. Just letting you know that because otherwise this feels weird. ~ cvh)

Should Au Pairs Ask Their Host Parents to Read AuPairMom?

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mom2jack September 8, 2014 at 8:17 am

Whenever a friend or acquaintance becomes a host parent I tell them about this blog. I was so glad when a friend of mine told me about it. And, I am always surprised at how many experienced families don’t know about it. Certainly my agency has never mentioned it to me. I’m not sure how I’d react if my au pair suggested that I take a look at this blog. Depending on my mood at that moment I might find her suggestion insulting. What about asking if the family if they have ever heard of this blog and maybe taking a look at it together.

FormerAuPair September 8, 2014 at 9:12 am

I decided to share the blog with my hostmom – before I arrived.
I was their first aupair, and thought it would be nice for them to have a place to find advices and inspirations. (I ended up asking for a re-match. but that had nothing to do with the brilliant blog!)

I voted that it should be the Counesler who gave the tip about the blog. It can easily be done as a tip, having nothing to do with any certain situations. – Just a friendly suggestion. Being an au pair giving an advice to go to a certain blog about their “situation” during the stay, may be seen as a insult or a way to say “you do not do it correct – do it like them”
THOUGH don’t think you can ask a LCC to tip of, and then expect problems to be solved. There’s is only one way of solving problems – Communication!

So I’d say share to blog before you start or ask your LCC if she knows it? (then they can decide whether to pass on information about it or not in the situation)

NoVA Twin Mom September 8, 2014 at 9:42 am

I recommend asking the LCC to make the recommendation. As well-intentioned as the au pair seems, if I were already overwhelmed I would not appreciate a suggestion from my au pair about how to be a better host mom. (I know that’s not what the au pair is aiming for, but I also know that if I were already stressed, that’s how it would feel in the moment.)

I’m also amazed at how our agency doesn’t recommend this site – though I know *someone* there is reading it because the year we all wrote holiday suggestions to give to au pairs, we were forwarded a pinterest page from the agency with holiday gift suggestions that was largely lifted wholesale from my post! I chose to be flattered, I’m not sure how CV would feel about it though.

WarmStateMomma September 8, 2014 at 9:46 am

I think there is a helpful way to suggest it to the HPs. Something along the lines of “I’ve been checking out some blogs for au pairs and I heard that there is also one called Have you seen it?” I would not suggest that the HPs need advice.

NJHostDad September 8, 2014 at 11:27 am

Exactly what WSM said. Just put it out there as something you found that you think is interesting and helpful for you.

I actually do the same thing in reverse, i’ve told all my au pairs (with 5th one now) about this site, and will often bring up threads I’ve read here to see if there are any underlying issues our au pair would like to talk about with us. So far, none of them have been interested.

And I’ll take this change to say Thanks, for me this has been a valuable resource on not only the process of hosting, but also what some of the potential pitfalls may be.

NJHostDad September 8, 2014 at 11:36 am


Just so it doesn’t come off the wrong way, i think my au pairs are not interested in the blog because they are in continuous contact with other au pairs and talk about each other’s experiences all the time.

There’s much less opportunity for host families to do the same thing, and that’s the niche this blog fills.

WarmStateMomma September 8, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Yes! I have briefly met one other set of HPs, but otherwise we don’t know any HPs in our city. The family day event is coming up, so maybe we will get to know others. (Our last agency didn’t have a family day or cluster meetings.)

NBHostMom September 8, 2014 at 12:00 pm

I personally would work through the LCC to share this site, I feel this is a grey area that could be misinterpreted despite an au pair’s best intentions.

As a host mom, if I could do something to help my AP do her job better, I’d be very open to hearing her feedback. In addition to the great information on this site, if you haven’t already, an honest conversation may be a great help. I’d ask for a meeting time with your host parents (quite time, no kids) and express that you want to be a great au pair. Let them know what additional information you need, maybe even bring a notepad or laptop with you, and record any details you discuss and share a copy with your HP’s. I know this suggestion almost sounds our you’re “managing” your HPs, but it may time well invested.

BearCo HM September 8, 2014 at 1:26 pm

I think the answer to this depends very much on the relationship the au pair has with the HM and the HM’s personality. To be safe, I also would vote for going through the LCC. I personally would be insulted if my au pair suggested I read a particular blog or book to get ideas about how to be a better HM, and I can’t think of any way they could phrase it that it wouldn’t bother me or come across that way.

What I think would be more effective (for me anyway) would be for the au pair to let me know how it makes her feel when she doesn’t have a set schedule, and ask if it would be possible to put one in place at the start of each week so that it’s clearly defined when she was “on” and “off”. This would come across to me as a specific request based on her own situation and needs, rather than a comparison of what “everyone else does”, which I would hate and don’t really want to hear about. This may just be one of my personal pet peeves, but for example in OUR handbook, we have a reference to try not to make open comparisons with other families — and this is how a suggestion to read a blog about how other families manage their au pairs would read.

My suggestion would be to use the blog yourself to come up with ideas for your HM, but find a way to tailor the conversations to make it more personal based on your specific concerns and the (hopefully few!) ones that are most important to you personally. Then of course if she asks you where you come up with so many great ideas, you can tell her about the blog and then your job is done :-)

Should be working September 8, 2014 at 2:31 pm

There seems to be no downside to having the LCC recommend the blog to the HPs, whereas if the AP recommended it herself there is the possibility that the HPs might not appreciate the suggestion. I would appreciate any of my AP’s suggestions even if I ultimately didn’t follow them, but possibly a set of overwhelmed first-time HPs might be offended or feel undermined.

The several LCCs I know from CCAP do not take any initiative to recommend this blog although they speak warmly about it in person when I’ve met them. My guess is that the agency doesn’t want them recommending the blog. Probably every agency has gotten a bad report from a poster on this blog and I can imagine they don’t want their customers reading our close comparisons (although I personally prefer CCAP to other agencies). Also once LCCs get into recommending blogs there could be problems maybe? Someone might confuse this blog with other, more partisan/agenda-driven, blogs for HPs.

If none of this leads to any progress for the posting AP, I wonder if she could be the one to manage the work calendar more. If the family shares, for instance, Google Calendar, she could study next week’s calendar and write a systematic email saying, “Here’s what next week looks like. Monday I am up at 7am with children, take them to doctor at 9:45, have playdate at playground at 3pm, and I am off work at 4:30pm; Tuesday I am in charge of kids from 11am to 4pm . . . .” etc. Then the HM would correct her on the details. I suppose the AP could offer this as a help to the HPs. I basically write this kind of email every week to our AP, summarizing and going over our shared family Google Calendar (which she sees and can edit herself) and asking her if I’m missing anything.

TexasHM September 8, 2014 at 7:24 pm

I have mentioned this blog to my APs and current and last one has read it occasionally. Usually they ask me what the latest scoop is and we chat about it, I have found that to be INVALUABLE. It definitely helps both sides walk in the others’ shoes and I find my APs tend to be much harder on other APs than I would be! I wouldn’t say “I think you need to read this post” unless the HM was asking aloud “I wish I had a checklist or handbook (or something else on this blog)”. On the other hand, I don’t see any harm in the AP mentioning it in passing or as a resource. AKA – “Amy’s host mom raves about this HP site all the time – – have you seen it?” Or “before I came I started reading this amazing HP blog – – they had all kinds of things on there from sample handbooks to HP advice to AP advice and more – have you seen it?” I would find it hard to believe a rational person would be offended by that being offered up in that manner. If you were my AP and you pointed me to this site I would hug your neck! ESPECIALLY as a first time HM (when I stumbled here beat down and clueless, desperate for help!). Good luck!

AlwaysHopeful HM September 8, 2014 at 8:24 pm

I also think it makes sense to direct your HPs to the site, whether through your LCC on on our own. However, I would be careful not to equate being a good HP to following one style or another. One invaluable thing I’ve gotten from this blog is an appreciation for the many ways to be a good HP. I consider myself to be a pretty good HP, but I’m far from organized. I do my best, but over-organizing would stress me out to a point that having an AP for me would just be an aggravation. So for me, the site has helped me focus on selecting an au pair that matches my family’s dynamic. I’m not suggesting that your HPs won’t jump at the ideas for better structure; it’s just that if they don’t, it may be a reflection of their style, rather than a lack of knowledge.

Taking a Computer Lunch September 8, 2014 at 9:17 pm

I would say, as someone who does her best to be organized (and apologizes when she isn’t), that the #1 complaint I hear from other APs (and via my AP about her friends), is the lack of a schedule. It is much easier to apologize for changing the schedule, then frustrating an AP with constant last-minute changes. And while I, like you, have hosted many APs who wait until the last second to make plans, I have hosted an equal number who appreciate knowing their schedule in advance. I do my best to make a schedule for the following month around the 20th of the current month. Yes, there are things that come up and the schedule changes, but it’s easier to warn the AP a week or two in advance than to ask her to work later twenty minutes before you’re due to return.

Will HMs learn organizing skills from this Website? Maybe (mostly they’ll see the variety of skills).

How did you find My LCC posts a link to it from her Web site, and in a moment of frustration with AP #5, I clicked on it. I’ve been hooked ever since.

NJmama September 9, 2014 at 8:38 am

One of the greatest tools I had ever found on the APC family room site is this excel spreadsheet that broke down each day by morning, afternoon, and evening and had a spot at the bottom for notes. I also automatically tallied the hours used. The funny thing about it is that my second APC area director asked me to email it to a single dad who needed some help organizing the schedule. And she was really surprised when I told her it was on the APC site. I work on it during the weekend and it’s posted on the fridge by Sunday night. It helps all of us.

With my very first au pair I used that excel sheet to post the schedule 2-3 weeks in advance, but I got burned a few weeks in when I had to change weekend hours and the au pair said she had already made plans (my mom was dying of cancer at the time and I had asked for flexibility). After I started posting the schedule for the next week only, but if I know of any big changes coming up or that we need the au pair on a certain weekend I try to give my AP plenty of heads up, and I ask her to do the same for me when she wants certain weekends off and I have never had a problem with the schedule since.

I wish I had found this blog years ago – I only stumbled upon it about nine months ago. If any of my au pairs said they had heard of a web site specifically for host parents I would have welcomed it! But I know some people can be touchy so if you’re nervous let your LC suggest it to them. The fact you are trying so hard is a really great thing.

happyhostmom September 9, 2014 at 5:26 pm

I love this blog and recommend to my friends who have Au Pairs. I agree with the LCC approach. It could easily be misinterpreted coming from the AU Pair. I don’t think personally I would mind, as I find it to be a great resource, but you never know. I found this site just by Googling Au Pair interview questions, so it was just by chance.

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