When Your Au Pair Wants to Extend– But Not With You

by cv harquail on December 10, 2013

Her au pair sat down in the kitchen, sipped her Diet Coke, and said:

“Of course, don’t take it personally. I’ve really loved being an au pair, but your kids are bratty, your house is a mess, your rules are insane, and you make me work Saturday nights.

So I’m thinking, maybe I’ll look for a host family in California, and extend with them.”

<Okay, the au pair didn’t actually say that– It’s just what the host parent heard.


Each of us wants to think that our family is a great place for an au pair. Especially after 8 months of adjusting to each other, letting little things go, being generous to a fault, and working with compromise, we want to think that we’ll get paid back in loyalty and maybe another 6-12 months of reasonably smooth interaction. That’s not too much to ask, right?

However, assuming that you aren’t secretly harboring the hope that your au pair will leave asap, when you learn that you au pair wants to extend– just not with you —

Is there any way to hear this that doesn’t hurt your feelings?  

Karina (letter below), needs to know. She writes:

I’m an AuPair in on the West Coast. I’ve been with my amazing host family for almost 8 months. I’ve been through a lot with them, but I didn’t want to rematch earlier because it didn’t seem fair to them. Their previous aupairs both left before the end of their contracts, and I wanted to hold up my end of things.

Back when I was in my third month, I definitely wanted to extend with them. But after the summer, I’ve reconsidered. Now I don’t want to extend with them.
I don’t want to tell my Host Parents my reasons for wanting to end my year and move on to another family.  My AD has told me to tell them that “I need another cultural experience. I want to visit other cities and learn more.”  If I tell this to my HM,  I know she is going to start asking me questions.  In truth, my host mom is very protective, probably over-protective. She asks so many questions about what I do that I’ve taken to  to her just to have some privacy.  


My question is: How do I use the appropriate words, to tell them, specially her, that I want to extend but not with them?  I haven’t made a commitment to them, but it’s time for us to have that conversation and I’m really uncomfortable.   I don’t want to tell them and then have the couple of months that I have left to be awkward.
How can I tell them  in a nice way, so that things end on a good note?
Image: Moving, AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by Meathead Movers


Anna December 10, 2013 at 7:41 pm

As a host mother myself, just getting over a situation where an au pair left our family before the year was over, I think I would appreciate some honesty. Obviously some things about my family I cannot change, such as location, number of kids, etc. But I think it would be useful for me to know what my au pair found difficult, so even if it is one of the unchangeable things, I can look for someone next time for whom it is less of an issue.
I think you owe your host mom a little more than a story about a new location. It is not clear from your post what exactly bothered you about your host family, so I cannot give any suggestions on how to word your explanation without hurting them.

roger December 27, 2013 at 12:41 am

You dont “owe” the hostmom an explanation. No good will come out telling an inquisitive host-mom every thought you have or fault she has made. Since it happened to them twice already it is going to burn and there is nothing you can really say to make things right. It will either be not a good enough reason for them, or they will take it personally. I would just do it quickly to reduce the ackwardness.

Should be working December 10, 2013 at 8:28 pm

Unlike Anna I think it’s best to hold back on honest complaints, or at least to save them to the very very end, in order to preserve good will.

1. What are the reasons for extending at all? If it is at all about experiencing the USA and having an adventure, then it is not a lie to emphasize that in your explanation.

2. Can you say truthfully that you have loved their kids and have appreciated being their au pair? If so, say that. It will cushion the blow of your leaving.

3. Can you truly be a conscientious and active au pair until the very end? Then say that that is what you absolutely want to do with them and how much these last few months with them will be special to you.

Old China Hand December 12, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Good suggestions! I also like the suggestion (below) to give some more honest feedback in a final exit interview or post-leaving kind of situation. It can be phrased kindly but it sounds like the family has trouble with getting and retaining good APs, so as someone pointed out on another thread (maybe TACL), it’s time for the family to do some soul searching about what is going wrong.

Gizmo December 10, 2013 at 8:58 pm

I think there’s a compromise possible here. The AP can be a bit more frank about the reasons she wants to rematch, but it’s the timing of the revelations that’s tricky.

I like Should’s approach of initially attributing the rematch to experiencing a different area, different family and so on. The twist is that after the rematch happens and AP has left the family, it would be nice for the AP to follow up with an email or phone call that provides some additional information about HM’s “overprotectiveness” (which may be as simple as an attempt to bond with her AP – the HM may be surprised to learn that what HM thinks is interest is being interpreted by the AP as nosiness.)

While it’s a bit of a risk if the AP wants to maintain a relationship with the family, as a HM myself, I would want to know if there’s something that kept an AP I valued from wanting to stay with my family.

NNTexasHM December 11, 2013 at 8:31 am

I agree with Gizmo – honestly is great, but it’s the timing. If you are truly committed to leaving or the goal is to be constructive for future Au Pair relationships, it’s not urgent. It doesn’t have to be communicate before the year is up and especially not during this time when it is fairly sensitive and your HM will be trying to put it all together.

I would urge however to communicate your intentions to move on as quickly as possible, offer to provide a great reference for the next Au Pair (this will help), express appreciation for anything you felt they did right, and stress that you want to make sure you finish your year on a very strong note and that you will continue to give it 100%.

Once you are close to the end of your time or even after you leave, offer to share your feedback. You may consider saying “I want to share a perspective that may help you with your next Au Pair”.

Chances are, she will appreciate the feedback given that she plans to continue on with Au Pairs.

Good luck!

Momma Gadget December 11, 2013 at 12:02 pm

I’m with Should Be Working.
Sometimes it is just time to move on.
If an AP had suggestions that would be an easy fix and make her want to extend, the time for bringing them up to the HF has long passed. Bringing them up now will just bring resentment.

Julie December 11, 2013 at 12:05 pm

As an LCC and host mom, I want to recommend to this au pair that she not only focus on a different location, but also find the right family in this location. Too often, I see au pairs who have a really good first year leave because they want to go to California or NYC. They then pick a family because they are in those locations (and many au pairs don’t seem to understand that not all cities in California are on the ocean). Many extension au pairs end up really unhappy and in rematch because they were so focused on location, they forgot to recognize the most important part of a great year–the relationship with the family!

Your host family generally will need to start looking for a new au pair long before the end of the year. If you had told your host family you wanted to extend with them, tell them honestly you’d like to see another place in the US. Give them time to find another au pair and don’t wait until the end of your time to tell them. Offer to interview their next au pair if they would like you to. Let them know how much you appreciated everything they’ve done & then go find a new host family that is a good match for you–not just because they are in the right city.

Most families have multiple au pairs and given enough time to find the right match, they will be fine. Good luck!

Multitasking Host Mom December 11, 2013 at 1:03 pm

I agree that picking the right family is more important than location. I knew an AP who wanted more than anything to live in California. So for her second year, she extended with another family in a northern CA city. She ignored red flags that I saw just from the little bit she told us about the family. Once she got there she was shocked that it was actually cold. She never saw the ocean or Disney Land like she planned. The AP only lasted several months with that host family before she went into rematched, and ended up going home. I would like to think if she had not had the “rose colored glasses on”, she would have made a more informed decision.

Should be working December 11, 2013 at 1:45 pm

I had an extending AP with great references turn me down because I had the list of duties, including getting the car washed monthly (we pay for AP gas and would pay for the carwash, she would only have to make sure it gets done–fair??), and she said that the list and the carwash especially was insulting and not how it had been in her first family.

A few months later I saw her in rematch; she had found a family in Los Angeles but it turns out they weren’t warm and nice and expected her to do all kinds of housework. I felt a hint of Schadenfreude, but really these APs are only teenagers and don’t know what we know.

Multitasking Host Mom December 11, 2013 at 12:36 pm

I have been on the other side of things, as a host parent, where I didn’t want our au pair to extend with us. The AP was so-so, and we wanted to try again with someone who would be a better fit. I knew our AP was on the fence if she wanted to stay with us or move on to another family, and I dreaded what the conversation would be like if she officially said to us that she wanted to extend with our family. I also had the same worries as the AP writing the question…wanted the year to end well, no last few months of tension, etc. So I took the passive route. (Was it the honest route, no but saying to the AP “I cannot imagine spending another whole year with you” seemed a little cruel to me. She was a nice girl who completed the tasks she had to do, but just wasn’t the right AP for us.) I started encouraged our AP that this was her chance to see the US, and talked up how great it would be to experience another part of the country for her second year. She did decide to extend with another family, and our year with her ended fine.

I would recommend to this AP to say to the host mom what her AD recommended. And if the host mom keeps questioning her about it, keep repeating the lines over and over. You aren’t lying, because even if that is not the main reason you want to leave, it is, at least in part, one of the reason. Good luck!

Should be working December 11, 2013 at 1:41 pm

In response to Multitasking HM: How can you tell an AP who wants to extend that you don’t want to extend without thereby ruining the rest of the year? At least the APs have the backup story that they want to see another part of the country. HFs can only say something like, “We don’t do extensions” but there is no compelling positive reason to offer and it IS more plainly a rejection of the AP who is requesting extension.

I posted a few days ago on another thread about our extension AP who seems to have lost her mojo. I actually had predicted this would happen, but DH and AP talked me into extending (essentially). I search early for APs (trying to find the organized types who plan ahead), and my AP knew that so she brought up extension after just 4 months. She is a fine AP but a second year didn’t make so much sense, and I pictured her enthusiasm for the whole thing fizzling, which it basically has.

As an update to that recent comment of mine wondering if she could go home early without penalty and with a ticket paid by agency: We did talk, she told me why she is unhappy (all reasons I knew, mostly her social life has dissolved, and she has had some visits and other events that have resulted in stronger feelings toward people back home). I gently brought up the idea that if she feels like it would be better to go home sooner than planned, I would understand as long as we could try to make the remaining time and the departure a positive experience for everyone. She asked if I really meant that, and I said yes. She seemed relieved but we put off talking about it more for now. I’ll try again in a few days or so.

Should be working December 14, 2013 at 1:43 am

Because I like reading updates on stories, here’s an update on our unhappy extension AP (in her second year with us), I’ll put it here to try to keep to the “extension” theme although I told this story in another unrelated thread originally (because other threads about extension APs seem to be closed to comments now):

AP pushed hard for us to extend (while I was hesitant given some of what I’ve read here) and essentially since extending has been grumpy, unhappy, doing her job conscientiously but hard for me to bear. The other day when she complained about things, I said very gently that things didn’t seem to be going the way she expected this year (social life fell apart, some stresses in home country future were preoccupying her) and that if, maybe, she wanted to think about going home soon we could talk about that and I would understand, especially if we were able to have things here end positively rather than in bitterness. She seemed relieved. Today she told me carefully that she is feeling like she needs to go back early.

We both want it to end well and it was a constructive discussion. She does want a few more months here, doesn’t want to have to go back to her (bad) family situation, but now I’m not sure I want to have her for a few more months because I can’t take the unhappy mood. Maybe she’ll be less unhappy knowing she’s leaving soon but maybe not.

It’s a weird situation now and I have to think of how I want to handle it.

Should be working December 14, 2013 at 1:44 am

Oops I guess I already did post about where I gently brought up her going home and she seemed relieved.

Seattle Mom December 11, 2013 at 3:03 pm

I agree with Should be Working.. you should stick to the line about wanting to see another region of the US, and wanting a new cultural experience in the US. Maybe throw in that your friends in your current city are leaving too (if that is true) and that you don’t want to stay where you are and make new friends- it will be easier to make new friends in a new place.

If you are going to extend within the same area but with a different family this will be trickier- you could focus on how the family will offer a new experience- maybe different number of kids, different ages cared for, different work responsibilities, etc. Anything to take the focus off of your current HF, because that will make things awkward & difficult, especially with a HM who doesn’t respect boundaries.

I know an AP who chose to extend with a new family in a new city, and it made sense. It’s also possible that she didn’t love her family enough to want a second year (I don’t think *I* would last a year with that family, let alone 2). I really doubt that her old HF pushed her on it.. even if they suspected the real reason.

I am reading a little between the lines in the OPs email to CV… it sounds like her HM doesn’t respect personal boundaries- she is over-protective with the AP, and probably with her kids too. AP is worried that she is going to keep questioning why she won’t stay with her current HF for her 2nd year. Most of us would not do that, but someone who does not have a clear sense of boundaries would do that. If the HM does that then AP needs to have a clear script in her head and stick to it up until the end. Even though she will be lying when she says “it’s not you” she still needs to lie- it’s for the greater good of getting along with her HF and employers up until the end. Otherwise she’s opening a can of worms.

I think AP would possibly be doing future APs and her old HF a service if she gives them more honest (but still constructive) feedback about her experience soon before or after she leaves. She should consider though whether her HF is likely to understand & accept the criticism, and whether any changes will occur. Also, if they still hold anything over the AP she might want to consider waiting until she actually leaves the home.

Angie host mom December 11, 2013 at 8:31 pm

What’s wrong with just saying you want a different experience in your second year? Don’t dump a bunch of baggage on the host family about things they can’t or probably won’t change. If there are specific things that bother you enough to not want to extend that you think are fixable – more weekends off or a more clear advanced schedule – you should be asking for them now not in the context of an extension decision but just as a suggestion / request – not as a complaint either.

Karina December 11, 2013 at 11:17 pm

Hi Thanx a lot for ur comments. I read them and i ll try to follow some of ur advices. I don´t mind which state I go next (that´s not a priority) is the “next-family” what matters, cause I´m not a person that thinks “re-match can work if u dont feel ok”.
As many of u say,it isnt difficult to tell my host family that I want a new experience and see more cities. I know it will be hard for the kids, cause I´m the only aupair that has stayed so long with them.
I hope my HF understand. (I think I´m more focus on what their reaction is going to be)

I ll let u know their reactions

icsamerica December 12, 2013 at 11:23 am

Everyone is different but many people prefer honesty above all else. In the end people piece it together and figure it out anyway.
This happened to us and I would have preferred the truth up front. The Au Pair first agreed to stay and then changed her mind and left us a very short time to find an Au Pair. We ended up making a hasty choice and had to go to rematch. She was never really part of the family but was wonderful with the kids on her own so we were happy to have her stay. I guess she like the kids more than she liked us which bothers me on some level but I understand. At the end she asked for access to the car, I said we shall see how you drive and then maybe if you drive well enough over time I’ll trust you with the car. That wasn’t a solid enough answer for her and that’s when we got the excuse…”I want to have another experience here in America”. In the end she never did find another family for some reason unknown to me and ended up working illegally and after a few months she returned home. She did come and visit us before she left and we appreciated that.

Momma Gadget December 13, 2013 at 3:58 pm

I agree with AngieHM.

ICS- if the AP had said “I need a guarantee that I will have more use of the car, or I can’t extend with you” would you have complied? If so do you think you would have grown to resent being forced to give in to something you were obviously uncomfortable with? I know I would.
If an AP is uncertain if they want to extend with us, for what ever reason, then they shouldn’t. At the end of the day it matters very little if the AP is leaving because s/he truly wants to see more of the country, our kids weren’t angels, our cars weren’t available 24/7 or they didn’t like the brand of toilet paper we bought. We already would have tried our best to make the AP a comfortable, happy part of our family.If there was an issue that could have been fixed, it would have been. Once they have made up their mind to leave, then it is time for us all to move on.I just need to know that in a few weeks the AP will no longer be with us so I can take the necessary steps to secure childcare.
We can express our regret, enjoy the last few weeks together, wish them well… and yes, hopefully stay in touch.

icsamerica January 6, 2014 at 11:33 am

Yes, I would have prefered forthrightness and we could have made a better arrangement. She was GREAT with the kids so I would have accommodated her once I personally evaluated her driving skills. I would have put her in the drivers seat and figured it out. At the time I just didn’t know she needed that because she didnt tell me. Perhaps is was just an excuse or a deal beaker. I’ll never know for sure.

Taking a Computer Lunch December 15, 2013 at 10:45 pm

The OP won’t be able to delay her conversation too long. The extension packet arrives in the mail around the time she reaches the 8th month. I’ve always found the arrival of the packet a good time to sit down the the AP and have a chat. Most of the time we’ve begged them to stay (DH and I have an extension conversation with our favorite APs at the 6th-month-mark. For the APs with whom we don’t want to extend, we wait until the packet arrives to have the chat.

OP, if you have in the past indicated a desire to extend with this family, now’s the time to call a family meeting. I suggest stating that you have decided that you would like to extend with another family and leave it at that. If the family presses you for a reason, there are many truths to tell, aren’t there?
– I want to see another part of the country
– All my friends are going home at the end of their year and it won’t be the same without them here

Of, you could, as others posters have suggested give more specific reasons. Be general, be polite, be firm. Talk about your sense of loyalty to the family (emphasize your sense of duty in being their first AP to complete a year). Don’t suggest what they might change unless they ask you.

I do advise that you promise to maintain your relationship with the children as you finish the final four months of the year. If you sense that the relationship is starting to deteriorate AND that you are unsafe, then invoke your LCC. If you have a good LCC, then I recommend giving her a call/email/FB message (whatever her preferred method of communication) and tell her of your decision and ask her for tips. If she’s watch APs depart early from this family, then she’s probably aware of their foibles.

Should be working December 17, 2013 at 6:06 pm

I’ve posted here and there with our developing situation and would love advice: our AP extended with us, now wants to leave early (7 months left in extension yr). I don’t want to shift to a winter match cycle.

Do I get a transition au pair (exhausting to start over for just a 6-monther, and the pickings are SLIM); get a babysitter; urge our AP to stay a little longer?

The area director suggested a local transition au pair–someone who already knows the area, maybe not my ideal candidate but would be able to step into the job without our having to deal with all the “arrival” stuff.

My teen/preteens have a lot of trouble adjusting to a new person. Better to go with babysitter (who will also require adjusting??)?

Taking a Computer Lunch December 17, 2013 at 11:41 pm

Does your AP want to leave this week, as in “I’ll be home for Christmas, just you wait and see!”? Because if that is the case, then my advice is to cast your net and see what happens with rematch au pairs. You might get someone who will be there until the spring/summer/fall. If that is what you choose to do, then my recommendation is to push, push, push your LCC and HQ coordinator to work for you. Remind them that you are paying their salaries (paltry though the LCC’s stipend might be – her bonuses depend on your good rating). Tell your area director, that you don’t want to “settle.” You understand that unless you have 6 weeks to wait for an out-of-country arrival, then you probably aren’t going to get your ideal candidate, but it can be someone better than OK.

And I’m sorry. You saw this coming, and what a crappy time of year to have one more thing flung at you. (And for the record – teens do have trouble with yet-another-in-a-long-series-of-au-pairs in their lives. It’s not hard to figure out who the best ones are – they are the young women your kids clamor to take to the airport when it’s time to say goodbye.

If, however, your outgoing AP doesn’t have rich-enough parents willing to buy her a last-minute flight home when airline tickets are at a premium, see if she’ll wait for an out-of-country arrival. In six weeks winter will be starting to fade, the holidays will be over, and while the weather might be rough for an incoming au pair, it will quickly improve for her.

Momma Gadget December 18, 2013 at 11:44 am

Great advice from TACL per usual!

Hopefully since the AP did extend with you she feels some loyalty in helping you while you sort out new child care. Hopefully though stressful, it is not a crisis.

Last year we started early- looking at dossiers early in January. We were not unhappy with the pool. In fact when due to a visa issue we had to go back months later and start the process again, we ended up matching with some one we had interviewed in the first round.
I have stated else where on this blog- we have hosted a great rematch AP and fabulous extending APs.

You’re not without choices, and you all will be fine… better than fine!

Now that your kids are older- can you level with them, and have them take some accountability toward the new AP/ baby sitter ? ” We need someone to do XYZ… so for now this is what we are going to do and we are counting on your cooperation”. We did this with our current AP. We had them interview the APs that met HP criteria and help choose.
We had a few big bumps in the road the first few months with each of them. Our pre/teenagers had difficulty adjusting since they were so close with the outgoing AP. We had to pull them aside and remind them that we ALL brought this person over, and we ALL had a responsibility to do our best to make it work. After some grumbling, whining, and general grouchiness, the teenage self absorption gave way to “doing the right thing”, and basically giving the new AP a chance. The AP also worked really hard through some rude and obnoxious behavior.They now really like this bro pair. Given how many other challenges my family experienced this year, I’d say it was a good AP/HF year. We have our first successful out of country AP…(Knock wood)-Woo Ho!

Skny December 17, 2013 at 7:26 pm

There are some good rematch au pairs out there. It may be worth checking it out.

TexasHM December 18, 2013 at 6:22 am

I was told once that the pool of rematch and extension APs spikes in January because a lot of APs are terrified to rematch during the holidays and because for some, the holidays are the breaking point (being left home alone at the last minute, being treated like a servant in front of extended family, etc) so if the timing is that big a factor for you, I would hit it hard Jan 2nd.
I read a lot on here about timing but honestly we have always been on odd cycles. Our first AP was mid Feb, then when we weren’t sure if she would be able to extend I started looking and had several solid candidates, then she stayed and finished a little early because she got married so our current AP came Dec 30th and just extended. I will be curious to see on timing next year as it looks like barring surprises we will be another Dec/Jan arrival. Does it really make that big a difference or are we being helped by having a large agency? (APIA). Or maybe we just don’t know how much better it is in the high season! :). I’ve also been told sometimes families like ours with less appealing stats (3 kids, live in TX) can do better in the off months because there is also less competition from other host families. Have you engaged your LCC and not found any solid candidates? I would dig first, then make the decision if possible. If there’s a great candidate in rematch right now then go with it and I wouldn’t worry about the match cycle because as you can see, it’s a moving target at all times. If the rematch AP term finishes in the winter maybe you consider a 6mo extension with her. Good luck!

Should be working December 18, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Thanks for all these kind comments!

There has been some back-and-forth about how soon current AP wants to leave, and I’ll admit I had some extreme shifts over a few days in my views about what is best for us–although I did tell her I was really needing a little time to try out different scenarios. She does want to stay until early-mid-January (and will therefore be able, ahem, to join us as planned on a luxury trip over the holidays).

Yesterday I had a great conversation with the area director for CCAP. Score for them, she was constructive, understanding and helpful. And can someone please shake some sense into me–there I was a few posts ago, worried about how my AP can pay for her ticket back and whether agency will cover it, and in fact WE the HF are still out the $4K to the agency (the portion of our fee that we will lose if we don’t get another AP ever). Director pointed out that breaking commitments has consequences and it’s not my problem.

I’m looking at care.com for afterschool babysitters/drivers and also at the local transition AP. Either way it will be rough on the kids, but I like the idea of just making it a matter-of-fact solution to a problem that they will need to emotionally manage, with my help.

Taking a Computer Lunch December 18, 2013 at 11:48 pm

I understand that in the post 9/11 world, her air ticket is her air ticket, but could you divorce her from your luxury holiday. Say, here’s your ticket, a gift with our blessing, but given all the stress you’re causing me and my family, we’d prefer if you found another way to celebrate the holidays?

AP #8 was jerking my chain last year at this time last year (immature, needed job coaching, and almost wrecked the AP car), saying that she wanted to go home … after the holidays. We didn’t have a grand holiday planned, but it was near a destination city that was plenty close to other destinations. I blew my stack and said that I wish she had told me before I spent good money on a plane ticket (fully intending to separate her ticket from hours and tell her to have a nice Christmas on her own, to change the ticket, or find a friend willing to join her). Lo and behold, she changed her mind. She made it through the year, but she was the AP that made me decide to stick with Extraordinnaires.

Although it’s probably too late to divorce her from your holiday, my advice is don’t feel guilty about going minimal on her. “We’d love to have you join us on this side excursion, but you’ll need to pay your way.” Because maybe she’s not part of the family after all.

Should be working December 19, 2013 at 2:33 am

I like the idea of “divorcing” her from the trip. But it’s with my extended family (and they generously paid her ticket, as they did ours) and we’re sharing rooms . . . I don’t have ill will so much as just some exhaustion.

In other news, we met in person the local transition au pair. She seems calm, pleasant, reasonable, mature. A little reserved–but given the “bubbly but overly emotional” AP we’ve had maybe a little reserve is ok. The host mom said she was “a B, but not an A, au pair”–but they sound like a very different kind of family than we are. Not hands-on, not warm and fuzzy like we are. So we are leaning toward taking this AP.

Now I’m mostly worried about preteens hitting the ceiling at the news. And the new AP handling it ok, but she seems the cool-cucumber type. Will keep updating.

Anna December 20, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Beware of cool reserved types who have no interest of putting it out for the kids, or no interest in the kids whatsoever and no desire to even try.

Should be working December 28, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Posting an update–because I love updates when I get them from other HMs on here.

Local transition AP will start in 2 weeks, right after current AP leaves. Kids cried a lot at the news of current AP’s impending departure and first didn’t ask about new AP, surprising to me. When they eventually asked, I told them HD and I debated having NO AP (which means lots of time at afterschool care); an afterschool pickup-babysitter type (likely, based on responses to my advertisement on a caregiver website, a middle-aged mom-type relatively new to US); and a new AP, and both totally agreed new AP was best option.

So far current AP is doing a good job. I can imagine some drama arising on impending family trip. New AP is in pleasant, pragmatic communication with me during this waiting period. I am optimistic–she is calm and mature, and my preteens actually were interested in seeing her pictures and knowing more about her. We shall see.

Momma Gadget December 28, 2013 at 2:05 pm

That sounds like a big weight off your shoulders!
You might want to remind your pre- teens that everything is new to the incoming AP… Like being “the new kid in school”. They will need to help her learn her way around, and give it some time to get to know each other.
My pre/teens forgot about the adjustment period after our extending AP left. They kept comparing the new AP to the old and gave him a hard time at first. But he eventualy won them over.
Good luck!

Should be working January 16, 2014 at 7:52 pm

I’m giving the latest update! Although our unhappy extension AP had such a negative phase soon before leaving that I thought things might end badly, in fact the very last 2 days before leaving she got very sentimental, attentive and fun again. So with some forebearance on my part the end was good for all, which I think is a good thing. And so we can stay in touch and feel good about it.

And then we had a quick, 2-day turnaround, which I’ve never done before, and took the local transition au pair I had mentioned in previous posts, and things are (so far) fabulous. She is older, calm, pleasant, unflappable. My teen held herself markedly aloof….for about an hour. Everyone seems to be getting along beautifully. I feel like I’ve just slid into an easy, self-evident arrangement. No drama, lots of reasonable helpfulness, friendly but structured with kids.

It’s almost a weird feeling…nothing to obsess about or worry about all the time anymore! Except for starting matching for September….

JJ Host Mom January 17, 2014 at 12:06 am

Yay! So glad to hear it!

Momma Gadget January 17, 2014 at 11:50 am

That is so great to hear! I’m glad that it ended on a high note with the out going Au pair,especially since you had more or less a positive history with her. Isn’t it amazing what a joy a great AP can be?!
The last time we went into rematch, the replacement AP prompted my generally skeptical kids to declare (within 12 hours of his arrival to us) “He’s the best AP ever!!!”.
Sometimes teens can be surprisingly positive… probably just to be contrary to their parents expectations.LOL!
Good luck to you all.

Should be working January 17, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Now I’m already starting to match for summer though! I live on that agency website.

I’ve never done anything but one-at-a-time matching, but it is seeming like my favorite other candidates get snapped up quickly while I start emailing with one, and then they are gone when I’m ready to turn to them after rejecting or being rejected by the current interviewee. So how do you interview more than one at a time?? I read the posts about different kinds of matching, but for me it’s hard to keep my focus on one candidate when I have two others “in the stable”.

Also how much is older/pedagogical training really worth? We had one (early on, big mistake, terrible personality) who thought she knew it all because she was a preschool teacher, so since then I’ve shied away from those types. But my current experience with an older AP is changing my mind.

Tips welcome, especially how to look at more than one at a time.

JJ Host Mom January 17, 2014 at 10:05 pm

We’ve now had two older au pairs who had preschool classroom teaching experience (one even with a bachelor’s degree) and both have been great with my 3-5 aged kids

Taking a Computer Lunch January 18, 2014 at 7:43 pm

SBW – I juggle candidates by printing out applications. When DH and I do the Skype/phone interview we print out the standard questions we ask of every woman, and take turns making notes during the conversation. There are some candidates for whom the interview disqualifies them (the candidate who only understand the one yes/no question we ask, “Do you like dogs?”, the one who invited a friend to provide on-the-spot translation, and the ones who truly are not available to arrive on our preferred date). Along the way, candidates decide that we are not for them, match with another family. At some point we start comparing all candidates to one woman, and that is the one with whom we decide to match. Yes, it’s hard to juggle, but we’re making a very important decision for the year.

We’re having a very good year this year, and it’s always a relief for a year to go smoothly after a rough patch.

Skny January 18, 2014 at 9:10 pm

We were interviewing an au pair this week who simply left the interview after I asked how often she spent time outdoors. My questions were not bad, or challenging. I asked about her job, how challenging, how she dealth with difficulties. Her answers were so so but we were doing ok. Then next thing you know she logs off and simply disappears. Not even a “sorry not a family for me, etc”.
Extremely rude

Should be working January 18, 2014 at 11:25 pm

Wait, SKNY, you were chatting online, or skyping or what? That is really weird, I have to say. But all the better for you not to go any further with her/him.

TaCL, thanks for the tips. CCAP used to do only one-at-a-time, now they let you have 3 exclusively (with seemingly wide-open access to their entire database); but with the limit that you can keep two of the three only for 48 hrs unless you ask to renew them.

I think it’s an extremely fair system (at least to the HFs, I can imagine APs thinking they should get more than one match at a time to look at, but hey, we HFs are paying the big bills). If an HF is not serious about its “comparison” matches they automatically return to the pool after 48 hrs.

I am used to pretty much getting a buzz or feel about one candidate and pursuing that one until she proves my buzz wrong. Now with 3 pretty good candidates in my stable, of which one stands out, it’s harder to get the “this is it” buzz and feel as sure. I’ll keep you posted.

Momma Gadget January 20, 2014 at 11:45 am

SBW-“how much is older/pedagogical training really worth”
Our youngest “match”, 20, had been trained and was working full time at an institute for autistic teenagers- Great experience, and should have no problem handling my big rambunctious ADD boys, right?!!! WRONG!… SO wrong! It is an entirely different experience to be responsible for kids in an institution where advice and back up is a shout away. Being part of a family, caring for them in a home environment and being on your own all day with the kids is a whole different ball of wax. She proved to be too rigid, short fused, and easily flustered. Stir in a huge portion of homesickness and we had a disastrous mix. It became and instant power struggle between my eldest and the AP, and inspired awful malicious behavior when the boys became “united(for once) against a common enemy”.

She came to us during Christmas season,following a good AP whom the kids really liked… an emotionally charged time for all. She refused any allowances for them to adjust or make any effort to engage/understand them, other than ordering them around. They responded with brutal anarchy. My boys are not perfect angels, but we have never had any behavior issues with them at school or clubs. We have never seen such crazy bad behavior, disrespect & rudeness from them before, or since this AP.

Based on this I would not put too much weight on general pedagogical training/ experience, unless there is a specific training that matches with a special need of your family.
The grain of salt : all our AP experience has been with school age children & now pre/teens…maybe with toddlers, and infants it would be a bigger deal.
If I look back at our 2 Best Au Pairs the common threads were that they had a positive attitude, an open mind, a sense of adventure, a sense of humor,and a strong work ethic. They both were also flexible, proactive & non-judgmental. Both took an immediate interest in getting to know what made our kids tick, and made immediate attempts to connect with them on their level-even when their interests fell outside of the APs own interest or comfort zone. The boys responded with complete and total adoration! Neither had any pedagogical training at all aside from babysitting.
We definitely have preferred older APs, because we have older children, and quite frankly the younger APs we have met have shown the same immaturity and self-centeredness we find so annoying in our own (first) teenager.

Momma Gadget January 20, 2014 at 11:53 am

SKNY- OMG. That is crazy rude & immature!
I guess you dodged a bullet there for sure!
One other benefit of the AP program is the crazy stories you accumulate! LOL
Good luck in your search!

Should be working January 20, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Momma Gadget, I tend to agree with you about attitude and personality being more important than pedagogical training. How do you screen for positive attitude, maturity, flexibility?? Our last AP was all cheer and positivity in photos, references, and interviewing. But in our lives she was moody and sometimes grumpy. How could we know??

Returning HM January 21, 2014 at 2:29 pm

In response to the query, “how much is pedagogical training worth,” we are experiencing a similar situation to that Mama Gadget described. Our current AP worked in a school for boys with extreme emotional disabilities prior to coming, and this was a key reason we picked him – for his experience in handling difficult children. While we adore our AP, I would say that the one thing we have had to work with him on has been a sort of rigidity when it comes to the rules, and this I think he developed from this school, which was definitely more of an institution than a home, and there was no grey and no flexibility – things were either right or wrong, good or bad. Our AP has struggled to consider context when judging behavior: for example, how it must feel to be a second grader who went through an entire day of school, then sat in the car while driving for an hour to pick up his sister, then worked through an hour of speech therapy, then sat in the car again for a half hour to get home, only to be told that he cannot play yet, because homework must always be done before play. While in general it is true that HW should be done before play, in some contexts, it’s more complicated than this, and i think our AP, based on his experience, initially viewed any potential changing of the rules as weakness on his part and therefore to be avoided, rather than seeing that there needs to be some flexibility in certain circumstances. This is just one example, but there have been others, too, where the institutional experience actually hampered recognition of what otherwise I think the AP would have been able to see about the need for patience, flexibility, and sometimes the ability to laugh rather than just enforce THE RULES (he has come a long way – truly – and we love him even when he is somewhat rigid!).

Based on this experience and on the fact that we rematched within a few weeks several years ago with our one kindergarten teacher, I am not looking for pedagogical experience in this next round of looking at applications, but instead am back to focusing mainly on work ethic, demonstrated perseverance, and a good personality fit (the combo that got us our other excellent APs). Our current AP has all three traits in addition to his pedagogical training, and I think those are what is making him a successful AP for us.

SBW (I think) asked about screening for attitude: For me, I find that in the two or three weeks that i take to email and skype and phone interview, etc., there are multiple occasions that I am unfortunately late to a skype call or something comes up right when I start and I have to postpone unexpectedly. I don’t manufacture these events, but I do allow them to happen — and I watch carefully to see how the AP candidate reacts. Much of life is about adjusting expectations and finding the positive in the challenges, so an AP who cannot put off disappointment when a potential HF has to reschedule a skype call may also not be able to adjust to the sudden changes in schedule that my job in particular requires. And an AP who can laugh and smile through the annoyance of skype interference may – may! – have the sense of humor needed to deal with my son’s ever-present need to negotiate on absolutely everything (to bed in five minutes? how about seven? Ok six? How about six and a half?). Mainly, I find that taking a long time to match and getting to know an AP over two or three weeks actually gives a window into personality. When I used to match more quickly, I sometimes found people were different on arrival than they were in the matching process, but since I started taking a loooong time to match (much to the agency’s annoyance), I feel like I have gotten to know candidates better and have had fewer surprises. Or maybe it’s just been a fluke and this year everything i think is true about matching will be thrown to the wind again (has happened before, could happen again!). Good luck!

Should be working January 21, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Returning HM, these are great insights. I think TaCL once quoted, “Hire for attitude, train for skill,” and that seems right to me. And I agree that attitude takes time and multiple conversations, in different contexts, to asses. I always keep in mind that however the AP presents herself in email/skype/phone is probably exactly how she is. Slow to reply? We are not the priority. Enthusiastic? She is enthusiastic.

Now I have a lot to ask about The Rules in APs’ applications. This seems to be a big topic for German APs (no surprise) and I’m having trouble how to judge their NEARLY IDENTICAL references to rules in their applications. Almost all of them say, “And children need rules . . . ” . Some of them say it as their FIRST “philosophy of child-rearing” point. Some say it second. Some say it in a way that sounds quite strict. How seriously do I take this? Germans are famous for rule-following, but do they really mean it as SUCH a priority or is this just a cultural thing that you say about childrearing? If a German doesn’t refer to rules, is she totally chaotic?

I like rules myself, but the applications all have a sanctimonious sound. Cultural gap? What do you (all) think?

Emerald City HM January 21, 2014 at 4:34 pm

We seem to have an issue with German au pairs deciding early on that they don’t want to match with our family. I’m starting to wonder if it may be that we are pretty lax on rules and schedule with the girls. We outline a structure, but we don’t do rigid schedules. We have a more child-led philosophy when it comes to activities and learning. We let them chose what they want to eat (however we only have foods for them in the house that we approve of). So it could be the more flexible aspect of our family is actually a problem for them.

Taking a Computer Lunch January 21, 2014 at 5:00 pm

SBW – I agree that many German applications seem overly scripted and it can be really boring to watch a dozen videos that have the same talking points. The application letters can be equally repetitive. DH and I tend to let those candidates go without a second glance (sorry ladies, but our preference is to look at candidates who let themselves shine through in their videos and applications!).

We have now hosted several German APs, and the adherence to what they perceive as “the rules” is sometimes absurd. Nevertheless, I enjoy watching them, during the course of their year, open up and expand their horizons.

I am not necessarily looking for pedagogical experience, per se, but I am looking for work experience with children. I don’t want to help the business major who needs to improve her English find a place to land. She may be great with my kids, but taking care of them will never be as important to her as mastering English. Whereas, candidates who express a desire to continue working with children, whether as educators, caretakers in a special needs community, therapists, or social workers, will profit from their year with us (and we from them). Not only do they get to see how we do things, but I have learned from them, too. (Because they’re not 18-year-olds with textbook knowledge, but people who have worked in the field.)

But, I also pay for this skill set. I am willing to pay more for a 20-something Extraordinnaire with work experience (my youngest successful AP turned 19 weeks before she arrived, my youngest unsucessful AP turned 19 a few weeks after she arrived – the difference was in work experience and family expectation) because we can hit the ground running.

So thanks for crediting me with “hire for attitude…” but it wasn’t me. I want a woman with a skill set (it may not be particular to my child with special needs) to arrive at my door. I can put up with a certain amount of rigidity, knowing that as she becomes comfortable in my home, her flexibility will increase. (And maybe I’ve been lucky not to have matched with APs that are too rigid.)

My new favorite question, “What chores do you do regularly at home?” because the candidate who says “I do chores when my mother tells me to,” will wait for my orders, too. I’d rather have an AP look around and keep herself busy than have one sit on the couch waiting for orders – btdt!

Host Mom in the City January 22, 2014 at 3:49 pm

This thread has been strange to me because we’ve had three German au pairs now and haven’t experienced rigidity and excessive rule-following at all. They have all three been very punctual and were good at doing what I ask them to specifically. And they have been good at getting the kids to behave and all have felt that manners and listening was important. But I haven’t noticed an inappropriate rigidity or inability to be flexible at all. We tend to be rule-oriented ourselves, so maybe they’ve just been a good fit for us, but this whole thread on German AP applications and rigidity hasn’t connected at all with what we’ve experienced. Interesting.

Host Mom in the City January 22, 2014 at 3:52 pm

And just to add to the conversation, Emerald HM, we too have a very child-led philosophy and don’t have strict schedules for anything related to the kids. They don’t have any after-school or weekend activities and we do a lot of free play and creativity. We also don’t have rules about what they are allowed to eat, but similarly only have healthy foods in the house. And all three of our Germans have fit into that nicely. Not being combative, I just haven’t experienced anything of what is being assigned to German au pairs on this thread :)

Returning HM January 22, 2014 at 5:29 pm

I just want to be clear that our obsessively-rule-following AP isn’t German.

That said, we are a family who definitely prefers German APs for a variety of reasons, and since we are a very structured household with a clear schedule and clear expectations, we tend to be a good fit for those who are interested in structure. I wish there were more German male APs in the pool to consider right now. If your APs have male friends who are interested in being an AP, tell them to sign up soon!

Should be working January 22, 2014 at 8:41 pm

HMiTC, I was talking about the emphasis on “The Rules” in the German profiles, in a weirdly uniform way. We have had German au pairs who were not inflexible and rule-obsessed (of course we selected them, so that makes sense), although I would say there was a tendency to rigidity that I haven’t had in my non-German au pairs. My point was that it is hard to judge from these rule-focused profiles how the AP would actually be with the kids.

(I did once live in Germany and there ARE a lot of rules, but they mostly work to make things function well in my view.)

Skny December 18, 2013 at 7:38 pm

I know in our area a lot of high school seniors will babysit. College students too. They are usually cheaper than a nanny but motivated. I think teens might find them cool. Maybe a peer vs babysitter

German Au-Pair December 21, 2013 at 11:22 pm

I haven’t read all the comments and don’t know if anyone suggested that, but the AP should at least tell the AD why she is really leaving so IF a future au pair ever has a real problem with the family, there’s a record of this.

My 2 cents December 26, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Just tell them you want a different experience or, even better, want to experience a different part of the country. You are young and out to see and challenge the world. The USA has a lot of territory and a lot to see and do.

They should understand this. If they don’t, they don’t.

Should be working January 27, 2014 at 1:45 am

Looking for the closest match for my question about experiences with extension APs–NOT your own AP who extended with you, but an AP who was with another family for a year (successfully, and yes I would definitely call the HF). There aren’t so many discussions on this blog about these APs.

After a silky-smooth transition to our fabulous new in-town-rematch-but-in-extension-year AP I am wondering about switching to extension APs. We live in a desirable place and have school-aged kids, so we’d have candidates.

Is it an easier transition–none of the cultural issues, albeit also less excitement with the newness of everything? They know the job, but expectations in my family might be different than the previous HF. Anyone have strong views and experience with this? I know they can be a bit jaded and know what a cushy gig is.

Should be working January 27, 2014 at 1:48 am

I meant “closest match” in terms of recent posts with comments still open that I can piggyback this inquiry on.

And the reason I got this idea about switching to extension APs is that I am feeling zero enthusiasm looking at the candidates for summer, even the good ones. I just feel exhausted thinking about explaining to them all those new American things they are so interested in, having the same old discussion about whether Americans are more polite or superficial or both, et al.

Should be working January 27, 2014 at 4:37 pm

All interesting anecdotal info. I have a very lovely out-of-country candidate I’m talking to, but my slight feeling of exhaustion as I start to describe the basics of American life to her on the phone is making me lean toward trying extension APs next round. Which would also postpone my matching process 2-3 months.

Should be working January 28, 2014 at 2:29 pm

I’m also wondering whether the numbers game with extension APs might make for some tough competition. My family has a relatively narrow window of arrival for an extension AP, basically 3 weeks in August, and we only want APs from two specific countries. Agency says there will be 15-20 to choose from, not all extending for 12 months. So then the question becomes will we not actually get an extension AP even if we want one and even though we are in a geographically desirable area–not absolutely top-desirable (not Hollywood or Manhattan!), but pretty desirable. AP shares cars with us, school-aged kids. Hmmmm. Not sure whether it’s worth the gamble.

Host Mom in the City January 28, 2014 at 4:40 pm

That’s the other thing about extensions. You can see the candidates that want to extend on the Cultural Care website and every one of them says they want NYC, Florida, or California. If you’re not there, I imagine you’d have a rough time getting one to match with your family.

Should be working January 28, 2014 at 8:05 pm

Actually we fit that bill, although like I said it’s not Hollywood, and I’m feeling like maybe we should “leverage” that desirability by turning to extension APs. Just can’t decide if 15-20 isn’t enough to choose from or even get our top pick.

Momma Gadget January 29, 2014 at 10:53 am

SBW- Do you need to limit your candidates to only extension APs? Can you consider them in the mix with your top picks of new APs, and transition APs and see who best matches your families needs & personalities?
One thing to keep in mind, is that extension APs are not given a lot of time to find a new family, so you really can’t have exclusivity on their profiles for too long. I hadn’t realized this and feel really bad that we nearly gave our best ever AP a heart attack, when due to our being shell shocked from out first AP, we really dragged our feet in matching with her.

Momma Gadget January 29, 2014 at 11:11 am

HMitC- Although I am sure there are some who are inflexible, but just because APs list those areas as preferences doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t considers any others off the beaten path. If some one asked me what part of the world I would like to visit- I would answer Hawaii, Australia,and Scotland etc. Because those are the places I have never been to and read about in books or seen in Movies. If some person (I felt a connection with) invited me to come to stay in Spain, Istanbul, or Delaware, I would absolutely give it serious consideration, though they were not the first places to pop into my mind.

Host Mom in the City January 29, 2014 at 11:45 am

Momma Gadget – I agree that’s probably true to some degree. For example, if the au pair saying she requests “California or Florida” doesn’t find a family from there, is she just going to go home? But frankly, if an au pair requests “California or Florida” do I really want to convince her to live in my Northeast city? Making a request such as that just says to me that the candidate is extending for the wrong reasons. Not just to experience another area of the country, but to experience what in their head is going to be this fun, sunny year on the beach. I doubt many of realize how cold Northern California can be, or that everywhere in Florida isn’t like Miami :)

It’s sort of the same reason I don’t usually reply to applications that go on and on about how excited the au pair is to live in the America that is just like what she’s seen in the movies!

Should be working January 29, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Momma Gadget, I don’t want to micro-report my matching on here–well, actually I do but it doesn’t seem right!–but basically we have a lovely 18-yr-old first-timer that I’m interviewing. But currently we have an extension (and rematch in teh second year) au pair who is BEST EVER, she is so calm and organized and the transition was so easy. I can’t tell if it’s the fact of having had 2 families, or being older, or her personality type, or her nationality (different than our usual au pairs), or her education (more than we’ve ever had in an au pair).

I guess I’m figuring that with an extension AP we’d get some of that broken-in, easy transition and the certainty of a HF recommendation (although this AP was put into transition by her second HF, who were weird when I spoke to them so I discounted that).

I am driving myself crazy with thinking through this matching process, but this current fabulous AP kind of messes with all my algorithms and criteria. Maybe it’s just a one-time thing to get someone like this. Maybe extension/rematch has nothing to do with it. Maybe we are all just reading tea leaves and astrological forecasts. I wish I knew that were the case, then I would give up thinking I could actually choose an au pair who will be precisely as I wish and expect.

Momma Gadget January 29, 2014 at 1:32 pm

SBW- FTR- No matter how carefully we comb through the dossiers, reevaluate/reformulate our matching criterion, interview via skype/email and get opinions from trusted experienced advisers-NONE of our APs have ever been as we have expected.LOL!
Fortunately, most have been good APs, and a couple have been so much more than we could ever have wished for.:-)
Sending you “Positive Matching Vibes”. I hope you find a great one!

Momma Gadget January 29, 2014 at 4:04 pm

Send me a copy!
That is exactly how we felt about the 2 best APs we had. Perhaps because we were coming off 2 horribly stressful transitions?

Should be working January 30, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Dorsi, long time no see!

I’ve been doing this, reviewing applications to see what I missed or gleaned or could learn from. It’s hard. Grumpiness would not have been visible on one grumpy AP’s application, although in Skyping we had a little tension at one point. But who knew? A great AP had a great profile, so that was easy and accurate. Our current great AP has an unremarkable profile.

I feel more uncertain now about my own sense of judgment than I did 3 APs ago! Now I wonder if when I see “big smiley friendly” if it hides “needy unrealistic immature”; or when I see “aloof dull” it hides “unflappable calm”. Tea leaves, I tell you!!

Momma Gadget January 27, 2014 at 11:48 am

When we rematched after our 1st AP didn’t work out, we matched with an extension AP from Seattle area. She was terrific! We were so stressed out and underwhelmed by the program from the first bad match, we only wanted to finish out the year and not loose all the money we had already invested. She completely changed our mind for ever about the potential of this program. It is this relationship that has given us faith in this program, even when we had another subsequent bad match.We were both so sorry that we could not extend longer. The next AP was also an extension from the midwest. She was also great- not quite the same connection with the whole family, but she was trying to fill some big shoes.

The US is such a huge diverse country, so although there isn’t that initial starry eyed sparkle of being in America for the first time, there are still plenty of new and interesting “firsts” for an AP to experience in a new part of the country… and plenty of first cultural experience being part of a new family.

I think because the rose colored glasses have been removed, extension AP’s expectations and appreciation are more realistic.
I think this is a huge plus for extension and transition APs- they already know the ‘Good, Bad & Ugly’ of being an AP in the USA. They essentially more insync with what HF base expectations are regardless of their reasons for trying to match with a new family.

We have played with the idea of only using extension APs too- . but we were always reaching for the holy grail of the AP who stayed with us for 2 years ( the whole year and a year extension). Extension APs are great since home sickness,driving, and culture shock issues have mostly been worked out. But when you get a great one, their time with you is short & finite… though saying good bye to a great AP is always heart wrenching.

Ironically we have had our first successful out of country match (woo hoo!), and we are not offering to extend. Mostly this is due to our current financial situations; but honestly, although this has been a good AP, I am not so sure we would have offered to extend anyway.

All in All, We have had 2 outstanding APs from extension, A brilliant AP from transition ( who extended with us), and a good out of country match. I think if/when we look for another AP we will explore all options, reaching for that magical match again.

Should be working February 10, 2014 at 4:24 pm

Update: We decided to really focus on extension APs, but this means waiting around until just 3 months before start date. And now that I’ve met some extension APs through our extension AP I’m wondering if we don’t have a chance. We are in a suburb of a very desirable place, but not in the center. We have a great AP room with a great view, but no separate apartment. We have school-aged kids but that includes mouthy preteens. AP has mostly use of a car, except weekend days when we both need them, but not a car all to herself all the time.

We are narrow in nationalities we will consider because of language issues, so now I’m wondering if we have no chance. The extension APs know what they want, and we don’t have a swimming pool, full-time housekeeper or AP apartment suite.

Momma Gadget February 10, 2014 at 9:56 pm

We were in a similar situation as you, suburbs, no fancy apartment, no exclussive AP car, town pool- Complete with at least one really mouthy pre- teen. There are awesome APs out there that will not only take on the challenge , but embrace it!
I hope you find an awesome one, too!

NoVA Twin Mom January 27, 2014 at 12:16 pm

We’re looking at the same thing. Our “new to us” au pair is a 9 month extension au pair. She’s fantastic, so I’m thrilled we matched with her – but now it’s already time to start looking again.

We’re considering asking our LCC to keep her eye out for au pairs of similar background looking to extend. We have preschoolers (who will attend preschool a few hours a day at least three days a week next year) and we’re in a fairly sought-after place, plus I think our current au pair would give us positive references :)

We’re with you – one good extension au pair might have us sold!

Taking a Computer Lunch January 27, 2014 at 1:45 pm

Because we have a special needs child, we start looking for new APs the day our current AP receives her extension/flight home packet (believe me, we ask year after year, but our best extraordinnaires only want a gap year – although several have written later saying they wish they had stayed longer – most have successfully re-entered their home countries and vigorously pursued further education or careers within weeks of returning home).

We start the process and match long before the first extension AP application makes it into the database. We’ve never gone into rematch (although we were sorely tempted twice and now DH wishes we had), so we’ve never hosted a transition or extension AP (except 2 that extended with us early on).

And yes, every year we sigh, not at the investment in energy in training a new AP, although that takes time, too, but in the amount of time and energy it takes to match. Although now that The Camel is an older teenager, we’re running out of time to host APs, and the future is not as rosy.

Host Mom in the City January 28, 2014 at 11:01 am

I can definitely see the draw of extension au pairs – it would be so nice not to have to go through the whole social security, driving start-up, orienting thing once again this fall. I think I would just ask lots of questions about specifically why the au pair was extending and what the au pair expects to do differently to make sure she is still excited about the program. Maybe she’d like to take some classes or do more traveling or something – I would want something more specific than just “I had so much fun last year, I want to keep having fun!”

I have heard time and time again about extension au pairs that are having a great year and think why not continue, and then like three months into their second year, all their friends have left, they’re doing the same thing they did last year except it’s not so new and exciting any more, they have nothing planned for the rest of the life, and they just get bored and unenthusiastic.

My LCC has said a handful of times that she doesn’t recommend extension au pairs generally, unless there is truly a good reason why the au pair is staying and is not staying with her first host family. I wouldn’t choose anyone who is just staying because she has nothing else to do back home or anyone staying in the same geographic area but whose host family did not ask them to extend (that would seem to me a not-so-great au pair that just wants to extend the party with her friends and/or boyfriend). I’ve never personally looked at an extension or had one, though.

What about a rematch? Can’t you take a rematch even if you’re not rematching yourself?

Skny January 30, 2014 at 7:08 pm

You might want to consider sponsoring a former/extending Au pair once you are no longer able to do formal au pairs.
There are some great ones out there. We looked into it (considering bringing back our favorite Au pair – who is after all coming back for 10 weeks, but no longer qualifies to be Au pair).
The cost for school is not that much higher than the agency fees (at least not in our community college, and it included insurance), and we would just give her school and an allowance (about 200 week) in exchange for her help.
The only reason it did not work was because the degree she wanted to pursue had only day time classes (which would work if I had school age kids, but not with 3 under 4). Might work for you though

Skny January 28, 2014 at 8:15 am

We did not have a good experience with an extension Au pair. And we now stay away from them. Yes, there was no homesickness, no adaptation to American life, and very little explaining to do.
However she was already biased. If we forgot milk outside of the refrigerator in the morning she would leave it out all day (she felt the first family abused her so she wouldn’t touch anything not kids related so we wouldn’t have same chance. Also meant if the kitchen garbage was full, she’d start a small bag on the side for her day and throw that outside, instead of change garbage bag. Or if the dishwasher was done, she’d wash all the day dishes by hand so we wouldn’t have to empty it (although she’d help fill it the day before).
She was also done with being an Au pair. As soon as she moved in she started in 3 dating sites. 2 months after moving she met an American guy, and exactly 3 months later they got married.
To be fair she was great with the kids until he proposed. After that planning the wedding became the main goal, and care became awful. We ended up letting her go 3 weeks earlier.
Ps: she had great references from previous family (who yes, was I wouldn’t say abusive but… Got her to do a lot more than an Au pair should)
So for now we decided first time Au pairs only. For our family situation we need the beginner excitement, the lack of rush to get married and leave Au pair life, etc

Skny January 28, 2014 at 8:22 am

Just in case, we are NOT an abusive family in anyway. So much that after this lady left we took an Au pair we housed temporarily (and was on a sec rematch) back. This girl ended her year with us. And now that I am 12 weeks from my due date this former Au pair just offered to come back and fill the gap until baby is born. (I am taking the kids to my home country for 6 weeks after baby is born, so we couldn’t get an ai pair until summer, when I’d be back).
We are excited to have her back for a few months!!!

Momma Gadget January 28, 2014 at 10:56 am

OH that sounds so frustrating! I guess that just goes to show you there are lemons mixed into whichever bucket you pull from!
(including the HF bucket!)
Did you ever confront her about this passive aggressive behavior, and how did she respond?

FTR- I would never thought of anyone on here, all who takes so much time to add thoughtful posts on this board as abusive!

How lucky for you that your previous AP is willing to come back! We are also very excited that our last AP is coming to stay for a while with us this summer.

TexasHM February 11, 2014 at 3:28 pm

We looked at extension APs this last round and it was our current APs sudden departure (family emergency) that put us into the transition pool instead. In hindsight, I think several of these comments are true (comparisons to first host family are only natural) but I also don’t think they are deal breakers and I watched several APs that said they wanted NY or whatever end up not matching and coming back to us at the last minute so I think the fact that extension APs have a shorter window than out of country APs does help balance them wanting certain perks. Yes, you might have more competition but since you live near a desirable area I think you would be fine. I saw several girls that lived in the NE that wanted to match into “not the NE” so they would have a new travel hub and family to experience and I don’t fault those APs, I would have done the same. I do think though with transitions you get a different vibe than someone who comes from a successful first match. I think there is a different appreciation when they come from a bad match and while there is still comparisons, hopefully we win out compared to a family that didn’t follow the rules, treated her like an employee and got asked to leave the program entirely vs an AP coming from a lovely situation with strong bonds to the previous host family. I do worry about that with extensions. Now that we have been won over by our 1 week in fantastic transition AP I also think I like the idea of being able to redeem the experience for a good AP that was lied to and didn’t get a fair shake but I also realize that not every AP in transition has that backstory but at least they know the good bad and ugly and I have people in country I can talk to about her skills, demeanor, etc.

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