It took me several years to figure out the whole birthday party thing. By the time I realized that most parents expected to stay for the party– and that I had to feed them — the kids were old enough to be dropped off. That was when I learned that you have to have room for the occasional sibling who is also dropped off without warning. But by the time I could deal with huge random numbers of kids, I had to figure out how to watch dozens of them at some activity while each one had to be escorted to the bathroom- one at a time, of course.
All of the birthday party craziness has been made easier when I’ve been able to have our au pair help. Not only have our au pairs helped to welcome guests and serve cake, they’ve also be great with supervising the scavenger hunts and painting faces for the “Warrior Cats” party.
Every birthday party has been more fun with an au pair’s help. But, even more important, every au pair has loved to play a key part in creating this experience for our children.
For us, the girls’ parties have always been a time that I’ve had our au pairs on duty– but even if I hadn’t, they would all have wanted to be there. So, I was a little surprised by that regular commenter, anonymous, who asked:
Is it okay to insist that an au pair should be around to celebrate the kids birthdays?
Just the nature of that question suggests that all is not right in HostParentVille. But, to the rescue with advice, come:
Host Mommy Dearest:
Here is my take on it. You can try to match with an AP who wants to be part of the family. You can look for an AP who will actually care about your kids and will want to share in their special things like birthdays. If you find that you failed to host an AP like this you *could* schedule her to be on duty during the times you want her around, but then again, if she doesn’t care enough to be there, do you really want her there?
I refuse to schedule my AP just so she will be there to celebrate. She is explicitly invited and I tell her I would love for her to come, but if she doesn’t want to be there (and doesn’t already have some pretty important plans that conflict) then honestly I don’t want her there moping around.
If she doesn’t want to be around for the kids’ birthday celebrations I might question whether I made the right decision to match with her or not.
I would not insist. As Host Mommy Dearest said, if she does not want to be there, you would not want her there anyway. Our first au pair was with us for 1.5 months when my older daughter’s birthday came. When we had a family birthday thing, she was there for may be 20 minutes, ate some food, and left to go out with her friends.
Our current au pair has been with us over a year now. She has celebrated all of our birthdays with us and gave us all gifts. The actual birthday party was at the kids amusement park where it was organized in such a way that she would not have been able to spend any kind of quality time with kids or us. She fully planned to be there, but I explained to her how the party will work and told her that although she is always more then welcome, she probably would not enjoy it (I know by know what she might enjoy and what she won’t).
She did not go to the party, but made from scratch cake was presented to my daughter the next day (on her actual birthday) while I was at work and they had a huge cake party for all their stuffed friends. I got pictures at work of the whole process. (awwww!)
We have always given our APs invitations to our kids’ birthday parties (our first AP made it clear that she wanted to be invited, not just told). For a long time, before he started school, my son’s best friends were the children who were cared for by other au pairs and nannies – and these children and their APs and nannies were issued invitations as well. I make it clear to the APs that they are not expected to purchase a gift for my son and daughter, and if they do, not to spend a lot of money.
My son’s birthday parties tend to be complicated – he wants a bike race, or a mystery hunt, or something that involves leading kids around our home or neighborhood. Having the AP on hand is necessary. One year our AP and her best friend got to lob water balloons at the kids while they tried to solve the “Mystery of the Stolen Treasure.” I think they had a great time, and seeing the kids whack at a pinata later, moved my AP to get one for a party she threw. For my son’s birthdays, we tend to schedule work hours if the AP is needed to make an event happen. We try to make it clear that they may invited their best friends to attend – there’s always more than enough food.
The Camel’s parties tend to be more sedate, although last year we went to an indoor water park for the entire day, and while I invited my then non-swimming AP, I made it clear to her that I didn’t want to pay the steep admission fee if she wasn’t going to get into the water. She demurred.
What other insights and stories about Au Pairs and Host Kids’ Birthday Parties? Share below….
Image: Party Munchkins by ViolaStudio, available on Etsy