Au Pair Appreciation: Wonderful Right From The Start

by cv harquail on February 4, 2014

…. So wonderful, in fact, that she set a standard that’s been hard to match.

After months of struggling with the daily grind of the two-working parent household, we heard from friends having success with the au pair program.  I was intrigued at the prospect of having extra help, particularly as I grew up in a household that frequently welcomed foreign exchange students.

love-banner-victorian-station.jpgAs a child, I remember that I loved hearing all the accents, trying to pronounce words in other languages, sampling the new foods they would proudly cook for us, and mostly, seeing the appreciation for my parents in their eyes as they said goodbye to us and launched their “real lives.”

The au pair program seemed like a great opportunity to offer the same experience of the joy of learning about the world and being accepting of new (and possibly very different) people for my own children, but also to experience the joy myself of helping a young person to get started in their adult lives.

Fortunately, we had the resources on this blog before we first matched and ended up with an au pair that truly shaped our opinion of the purpose of the program.  “E” was already very experienced, having completed a years-long certificate program in childhood education, and knew what she wanted to do when she returned to her country.  But she wanted a year to be on her own and grow prior to starting her job working with under-privileged teens.  The au pair program was perfect for her.

She was wonderful right from the start. 

For our part, we were happy to give her as much off-duty time as we could to encourage her to do what she really came for – make new friends, travel, learn (she took English classes all throughout her year, as well as some travel classes), and just generally gain life experience.   She made the absolute most out of her year.  

By the end, she had made great friends that she is still in close contact with, traveled all over the country, was practically a native English speaker, and gained a second family for life.  She returned to her country and slid right into her intended career.  We still exchange packages on holidays and birthdays, Skype frequently, and hope that one day we will be able to visit each other again.

I do think we got overconfident and didn’t pick a great match for our second.  We’ve since struggled somewhat with the program because we’ve also seen what can go wrong when it doesn’t work.  But having had our first experience that was so so beneficial both for us and for “E,” I can really see why the program should exist and how great it can be for host families and au pairs alike.

(Anonymous Host Mom)


Multitasking Host Mom February 5, 2014 at 9:02 pm

We have a great AP right now and I do worry that it might be a fluke. It is hard for those who follow behind to live up to the high expectations set by someone else.

Host Mom in the City February 5, 2014 at 9:52 pm

This makes me wonder whether or not au pairs get irritated when host families talk about their previous au pairs. We have little stories and mementos all over our house, so our previous au pairs come up frequently. I try to keep it to a minimum and never compare anyone of course. Just wonder how they feel.

Taking a Computer Lunch February 5, 2014 at 10:10 pm

We have our family wall, where photographs of us with our au pairs over the years hang. I think it may be a little intimidating to APs at first, but those who have a successful year, suddenly realize they have earned a place on that wall as well.

I try not to talk too much about predecessors, but I also try not to hide mementos from them. I hope each AP realizes that she will have a place of importance in our lives.

American Host Mom in Europe February 6, 2014 at 8:11 am

I think it is hard not to compare. I take the approach of trying to look for which areas/skills each au pair excels at, because often it is different, and that is an easy way to think about each of them as being special. For instance, some have been great cooks; others great at playing with the children; others great at managing all the myriad of activities and responsibilities.

Comments on this entry are closed.