Chatting With Other Host Moms…In Real Life

by Frances Scher on June 28, 2016

Frances Scher here again…

I’ve been brainstorming this idea lately, and want to get some feedback.

friend imageWhen we first started out hosting au pairs, my husband and I expected to meet a lot of other host families. Then we would know someone who had been down this road before and would be able to give firsthand experience how this form of child care really worked.

Being a host mom (and I am sure also…a host dad) is unique in many ways. You pay your au pair, but they are still part of the family…they take care of your children, but most also are growing from children to adults themselves at the same time…they come from another country and know many things, but still need help navigating this new place….etc. Also, I thought it would be great to make friends within this new to us AP community.

We showed up to our first agency host family event…and we were the only ones there. Several months later, we went to the next one, which combined several other clusters in our large metropolitan area. There were about 8 families there, but everyone was so busy helping their kids with the activities at this place, that I barely was able to even introduce myself to anyone, let alone have a “so how is it going for you as a host mom” conversation.

Now, after several more years of hosting, this pattern still seems to continue.

We recently moved to a new town, and I have finally gotten to know another host mom since our APs are best friends.  When we run into each other out in the community, it’s been nice to chat for a few moments about the joys and pitfalls of hosting an au pair. So, that has got me thinking if I could extend this interaction another way…

This Au Pair Mom blog has been so valuable to me as I learned about how to navigate this whole being a host mom thing. But now I am thinking about taking this off line and into Real Life.

It would be nice to spend some time with other host moms just chatting. Maybe we could share more local information, like a good way for au pair’s to get their classes in our city or the perks or rules that other host families in my area have for their APs.

I’ve been a host mom for many years now, so I don’t know how much I would learn from other host moms (I think I would probably be the one giving the advice), but it would still be nice to talk to others who are experiencing the same thing I am.

I know host families are very busy. After all, that is why we all have au pairs. I am imagining sending out a message to other host moms in my area, and seeing if anyone wants to get together as a group for coffee one Saturday morning.

Of course, my big worry is that I will plan this and then no one will show up!

Has anyone else, gotten together with other host families in their area outside of the normal agency get togethers? Have you benefited from another host mom nearby to bounce ideas off of? Are we the only ones who have struggled to meet other host families locally?

 

Image from Good Reads

{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

NewbieHMCali June 26, 2016 at 10:21 am

This is a wonderful idea. My Au Pair has met lots of other APs in the area so I am assuming there are HP around, but have not met any. Anyone in the Bay Area?

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BayAreaHostMom July 4, 2016 at 10:20 am

I’m in the Bay Area and have hosted 5 APs (and maybe 6 soon, as we might be headed to rematch with our latest). I would love to chat with you and others in the Bay Area. I’ve set up the following email BayAreaHostMom@gmail.com so you can contact me.

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wclizzy July 11, 2016 at 3:56 pm

We’re in Marin!

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NoVA Twin Mom June 26, 2016 at 11:25 am

I would love to have some real-life HM friends (though I often reference threads here as if the people here were “real” rather than virtual friends!) We DO tend to have families come to at least one au pair event per year – but as observed everyone is too busy running herd on their kids to chat with others. Host families I’ve met in real life just don’t tend to work out as friends for whatever reason.

If anyone has ideas, let me know…

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VALC-NYC-NOVA June 29, 2016 at 7:42 am

We are moving to N Virginia on August 1 – would love to meet families!

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NoVA Twin Mom June 29, 2016 at 1:05 pm

If you want to leave contact information (or if that can be facilitated behind the scenes) I’d love to meet someone IRL!

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ExAupairNowHM July 5, 2016 at 1:52 pm

We are in NoVA too!

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NewbieHMCali June 26, 2016 at 11:42 am

I think this is a brilliant idea! As I am nearing the end of my first year as a HM and trying to start the process of looking into a second, I would love to be able to communicate with other HF :)
Im thinking a retreat/conference should be somewhere in the future! Why not have an event where there is guest speakers and the ability to mingle with other families? A handbook building activity session, weekly/daily schedule suggestions, etc?

Alright, I know I’m getting ahead of myself. It would be nice to just talk to other HF haha!

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NoVA Twin Mom June 28, 2016 at 8:28 am

I like the idea of an Au Pair Mom retreat somewhere – but less structured :) Just everyone from this website (no kids) at an all-inclusive somewhere warm over a weekend?

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cv harquail June 28, 2016 at 8:25 am

Way back when, I was expecting that I’d meet other Host Parents at the cluster events held by the LCC. I was disappointed to discover that most families didn’t even attend, whether they were parties or meetings. When we did attend a few social events (like pumpkin carving parties) there weren’t really chances to talk to the few parents who were there– plus we were wrangling the kids. Later, when I did get to go to an afternoon Parent cluster meeting, I was annoyed that the LCC almost actively discouraged us from sharing person to person, and instead wanted to manage the host parent conversation herself.

Hence, the blog.

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HappyHM June 28, 2016 at 9:42 am

Interesting… I got the impressing with APC that the cluster events were for au pairs and their friends. In fact, our new LCC doesn’t even send me the dates of the events. (Our previous LCC did, but this one has not, despite my asking–I think she’s just very busy, not REFUSING to send them–my AP forwards me the events listing so that I can help her get to the events and plan our schedules accordingly.) We do go to the annual Family Day event in the fall, but we haven’t really had luck meeting new families for the reasons described in earlier posts. I’ve been very happy to find this community because you are the only people I “know” who are hosting APs. :) This forum was quite a solace during our tumultuous match with AP #2, even though I was mostly just a lurker. :) That all being said, I’d be happy to connect with other HFs in the Philly area!

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Jill Shapiro June 29, 2016 at 12:34 pm

Hi HappyHM- I am an LCC in the Philly area and I’d love to invite you to one of my upcoming host family events. They are both usually very well attended & I’d hope that you could meet some local families. You can email me at jill.shapiro@lcc.culturalcare.com. Doesn’t matter what agency you are currently with- everyone has similar experiences to share. Hope to hear from you & maybe get to meet you soon!

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JuJu July 5, 2016 at 7:25 pm

Hi Happy Host Mom,

I’m in the Philly area too and I have hosted 3 Auapirs. I would love to chat anytime.

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Jill Shapiro July 5, 2016 at 7:32 pm

Hi JuJu,
Would love to invite you to host family events as well and introduce you to other Philly HM’s. You can send me an email at jill.shapiro@lcc.culturalcare.com. I have an upcoming event in a couple of weeks and another one in November. Thanks, Jill

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IndianaAdventure June 28, 2016 at 2:50 pm

I posted this on a topic a week ago or so, but to be in the right topic, I’ll re-post my experiences, reworded a bit.

A family considering having an au pair posted on NextDoor, a neighborhood-based social networking site, and a couple of us replied and have since gotten together (and that family now has a wonderful au pair that came a couple months ago).

My au pair is really great about scheduling play dates with other au pairs and their kids. My son has a couple of favorite friends and I gave a note to my au pair to give to the other au pair to take the the other host parents. The note basically said that I was Z’s mom and that he loved playing with their children and I thought that it would be nice to get the families together sometime to play. It was a bit circuitous, but worked out. I also invited several playdate friends to Z’s birthday party. Most of families sent the kids and the au pair, but some came themselves. But of course, this is dependent upon the au pair doing playdates! My son is only 2 so most of his friends are pre-preschool and rely on playdates for social interaction.

I’m thinking about scheduling a host mom tea in the Fall. I was going to mostly have my au pair hand out invites to her friends to give their host moms because I don’t think that the LCCs will be too helpful with sharing the info, and I want it to feel not-official (I also want it to be cross-agency which would be a conflict of interest for the LCCs). The Family Day they have seems to be mostly for marketing/client-retention rather than an opportunity for the families to meet.

I’ve really enjoyed meeting the other host moms. It’s super awesome to share the joys and challenges of hosting an au pair. I’m hopeful that my host mom tea will be helpful in meeting a few more (and getting them to know each other as well).

I’d be up for a Au Pair Mom retreat. I’d even be willing to help plan.

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Alana Granadeiro June 28, 2016 at 2:51 pm

Heeey, your blog is awesome!!
I’m from Brazil and I’m filling my application to be an au pair.

I loved you blog and I will follow all news.

God bless you.
Kiss

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HRHM June 28, 2016 at 3:08 pm

In the past, I’ve made attempts to connect with other HMs without much success. I do feel like the LCCs I’ve had have actively discouraged “outside” relationships between HFs and the twice yearly family events are not conducive to getting to know one another.

Interestingly, most of what I hear about the HFs of my APs friends (not just now but over the years) rarely is nice and doesn’t often leave me burning to meet them or get to know them. I’m sure what I hear is only half the story and prejudicial, but at the same time, I don’t know how I could hang out with the other HM while ignoring the fact that she is using her AP as a dog sitter when they go out of town and working her 60 hours a week on average (lots of this “side work” going on in my AP’s circle)

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JenM June 28, 2016 at 3:09 pm

What about a facebook group for this blog? That could be a good way to find out who is where, and make events for meeting up

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cv harquail June 29, 2016 at 11:15 am

Hi Jen- WHile there is a Facebook page for AuPairMom, there isn’t a Facebook ‘group’ — for two reasons.

The first is that AuPairMom folks participate with screen names / “noms de mom” rather than real names, for privacy. Facebook doesn’t allow that. It would have to be a closed groups, which would be possible but

The second reason is that, on Facebook, Facebook owns everything. I have not wanted to organize and manage a group on Facebook that’s also ‘off’ this blog, where I and members could not have control over the content and over how your data is used by Facebook.

Some moms (like TexasHM) participate in ‘closed’ or private Facebook groups, organized by neighborhood or network…. in addition to sometimes also participating here. I was in one of these groups for a while, too. THey work well when they are assertively managed— which is something I dont’ have time for in addition to managing the blog.

That said, if someone really wanted to do it and had some great reasons for it, I’d be open to reconsidering. -cv

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Aupair Paris June 29, 2016 at 11:38 am

I have my host family on facebook, and would find it really uncomfortable to think they knew I was posting here, and to read some of my posts. (And I’ve never ever said anything bad about them, and I think they’re great.) While they could easily find the page and figure it out from my posts, it’d be way further removed from anything we’d have to acknowledge…

I’m not the target audience for this post//thread, but I imagine some HPs must feel the same about their Au Pairs reading what they say…

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LuckyHM#3 June 30, 2016 at 10:41 am

A FB group assumes that everyone is on FB. Also, there really is no way to prove that someone is a HP. I also think that a lot of the richness of the APmom forum here is that there is such diversity of opinions – APs, HPs, LCC, prospective and past APs etc. Sometimes too, the stories told are difficult for the teller to share and i strongly believe that the anonymity here helps the openness. Anyway, just my opinion!

I just hope that the FB page that some of the folks here are forming would not take away from what the rest of us would get here

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WarmStateMomma July 1, 2016 at 10:16 am

I’m active in both. They serve different purposes and complement each other.

Brooklyn_HP June 29, 2016 at 12:26 pm

YES PLEASE. If it’s a private/closed FB group it shouldn’t be visible to others. I’m not afraid to post under my real name and I’m not really worried about data privacy, but perhaps that’s a big issue for others. If there’s a FB group for APIA and/or host parents in the Northeast (or HPs in general) I’d love to hear!

I love this blog but I am also hungry for a message board or FB group where I can ask more mundane questions. I haven’t been able to find anything. If anyone has leads please post?

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NoVA Twin Mom June 29, 2016 at 1:07 pm

If you find one, let me know!

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Brooklyn_HP June 29, 2016 at 1:35 pm

I just decided to start one! Come on over anyone who’s interested. Parents only please…
https://www.facebook.com/groups/hostmoms/

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momo4 June 29, 2016 at 8:18 pm

Maybe this is a silly question, but how do you know if the people joining are really HP?

Seattle Mom June 30, 2016 at 7:13 pm

I’m part of a host parent FB group that is secret.. it started out closed and after a security breach we went secret (not searchable) and required proof that all members were actually HPs (scanned copy of a bill from an agency). So now it’s all word of mouth. I think there are around 150 of us? It is active and gets a lot of mundane and OT (usually parenting-related) discussions, as well as the deeper stuff. It has been a godsend to me, because while this blog is great sometimes I need help NOW and I want it specific to my situation. Plus it’s just fun :).

Some other regulars on this blog are members of the Facebook group.

I don’t want to give the link to the facebook group on this public blog, because we’ve had issues in the past. And I don’t want to get in trouble :). I can’t really figure out how to give you the information through this blog, unless perhaps I email it to CV and allow her to share it with people who ask her, who she knows to be regular contributors here.

Maybe someone else can think of a way? I don’t want to share my email address or my identity :).

Seattle Mom June 30, 2016 at 7:14 pm

I just checked. We have about 200 members.

NZ HM June 30, 2016 at 8:20 pm

Seattle Mom, like others on here you could set up a web mail account (google or yahoo or whatever else is out there these days…) specifically for this purpose using your user name here for the address SeattleMom@… or similar depending on what’s available.

Interested HF can email you at that address with their proof of identity/ host parenthood; if satisfied you can give out the name of the fb group.

If it gets too much, just delete the account!

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Seattle Mom July 5, 2016 at 2:31 pm

Great idea NZ HM!

I just set up a new email account, so any interested host parents can contact me at seattlemom4 at gmail dot com if they want to get the link to the facebook group. I am not the admin or moderator of the group, so they will still have to request to join the group and the admin will ask them for documentation to verify that they are a host parent in order to admit them.

EsqHM in DC July 1, 2016 at 11:48 am

The DC-area message boards, dcurbanmom, have a message board related to au pair issues at http://www.dcurbanmom.com/nanny-forum/forums/show/62.page

It’s an anonymous board, so it comes with sometimes heavy doses of nastiness and trolling, but it can also be pretty helpful for quick feedback or venting.

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Seattle Mom July 5, 2016 at 2:35 pm

I used to live in DC so I sometimes read that forum for a laugh. It can get pretty dicey in there :). We were contemplating a short-term stint in DC so I was looking for info about public schools. I also got some info to help my old MIL out, who is a long-term DC resident. There is a wealth of information there, but also a lot of trolling.

Anna June 29, 2016 at 8:25 pm

There is a DC metro host moms secret facebook group started for this reason. It didnt take off yet just has 3 members. If you senf me your real email and name to annahostmom@gmail.com i can add you. This is for Washington DC, northern VA and MD moms so we can maybe meet too.

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Old China Hand June 30, 2016 at 6:25 pm

I don’t use Facebook and would be really bummed to lose the conversation here to Facebook.

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TexasHM July 1, 2016 at 4:41 pm

I’m in the same group Seattle Mom mentioned with several of the other regulars on this page and I 100% agree that they serve different purposes. In fact I am notorious for posting links to this site in response to newbie questions in the FB group all.the.time. ? As others have stated, when you need real time emergency advice the FB group is a godsend. This site has a wealth of information but when we had a burnout disaster AP and even worse nightmare LC I had no one to call for a sanity check (as much as I would LOVE to have CV on speed dial she’s too smart to give me her number! ?). The FB group would have been a lifesaver then. As it stood big shout out to Julie Dye an LC at CCAP that took my call on a weekend and helped me immeasurably even though I wasn’t even with CCAP at the time! You CCAP HPs in Denver are lucky dogs to have her!!
If I’m being honest my biggest gripe on the FB page is the mundane questions. A lot of new HPs go there and ask questions that are thoroughly documented here and so that’s not valuable to me personally BUT when we recently were considering a German AP candidate (for those who haven’t heard yet – we found our unicorn!!! A German AP that doesn’t mind a Christian family with 3 kids in Texas with car curfew woot woot!!) I was able to post about her on the FB page and get real time feedback from HPs that are either German themselves or that have hosted many and have a lot more cultural experience to review her profile and help me search for any missed yellow or red flags and I’ve returned the favor. That is invaluable to me personally.

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Anna July 6, 2016 at 2:43 pm

Yeah I think they kicked me out of that facebook group when they made it secret – I asked to rejoin but nobody bothered asking me for a proof of hostmomship…. if this is the one I am thinking about…. I was new at that point so I think they were just cleaning the house and I got swept up in the cleaning. I’d like to rejoin too….

LuckyHM#3 June 28, 2016 at 4:35 pm

I also had the same hopes and I remember attending my first HF event and it was almost impossible to get anyone to actually meet your eyes and talk to you. With current AP, our LCC introcuced her to a buddy AP before she arrived who had been in the US a month before. The AP buddy lives 10 minutes from us and her HKs are same ages as my kids. AP and buddy AP ended up becoming besties and my kids were in her house for playdates a lot because she shared a car while our AP had her own car. After a few weeks of my kids telling me that they went to so and so’s house, I reached out to LCC and asked for the HMs contact since it looked like my kids may be there multiple times a week. I felt that i needed to know them. I sent her a text, introduced myself and she was lovely telling me that she also was about to do the same thing.. The kids are still spending a lot of time together.. now almost daily since its summer and we’ve hung out with the other family a few times. DH and the HD are actually in a sports team together now:-)

Outside of that, havent made any other HM friend

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MGHostMom June 28, 2016 at 8:42 pm

We’ve been lucky that our nearest fellow host family is just a few doors down. We have kids the same age and began au pair hosting about the same time and through the same agency. Total luck, of course, but it’s been great to be able to compare notes, chat when we see one another, etc. We also live next to a veteran host family that really helped a ton when we were rookie host parents. Their kids are older and the family is always very busy, so we don’t chat with them quite as much. But I know I can always get an opinion or advice if necessary.

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WarmStateMomma June 28, 2016 at 11:00 pm

I’m pretty sure there are no other HMs in my city and that the hundreds of APs here are hosted by single dads. We thought we’d meet lots of other families on this same journey, just as we did when we hosted exchange students, but we don’t know any other host families after 3.5 years of hosting. That’s why this blog has become such an important source of support. I’d love to meet some of the regulars on this blog in person to share wine, war stories, and advice.

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hOstCDmom June 29, 2016 at 11:49 pm

WSM– sorry if I am dense, but I have to ask— sarcasm? Are you kidding re the almost exclusive hosting by single dads? Or are you in a demographically anomalous (and fascinating!!) area?

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WarmStateMomma July 7, 2016 at 10:46 pm

Sarcasm. Most of the APs mine talk about have HMs but I haven’t seen more than 2 HMs in the last 3 years. Our city is really big and spread out so it’s a pain to attend the HF events. No one likes spending an hour each way in the car to attend a potluck anything, especially when the LCCs plan an event with no parking during naptime. I don’t think we will go anymore, actually.

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American Host Mom in Europe June 29, 2016 at 6:41 am

I’ve often wished for a way to meet more Host Parents – IRL or on line! Not being in the US, there are no LCCs, no Clusters, no official organisations. I have two local acquaintances who have had an AP, and have met two other host moms through my au pairs – one has kids at the same school as my kids, and her au pair was in language class with my au pair. I am the veteran among all the others locally I know – have had APs for 7+ years, and hosted 13 au pairs during that time (had 2 at the same time for a couple years, and some were short term – e.g., summer only). I’ve even thought of a Facebook group for discussing topics and sharing ideas, but don’t really know enough people to make it viable. I miss a place to turn for quick questions — “what do you think about if this happens” — not things significant enough to write to Au Pair Mom about, and sometimes not relevant for the US.

To the original question, if another AP HP invited me to join for a glass of wine or cup of tea and a natter, I’d go!

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DCBurbTwinMomma June 29, 2016 at 7:07 am

My experiences have been mixed. I live in a neighborhood with many other host families and have become friendly with most of them within walking distance. Our like aged children often have play dates including evening or weekend ones when the parents can all just sit and get to know each other. The problems arise when you learn that parent X who you like very much is not appropriately paying the au pair, overworking him or her, intentionally invading his or her privacy and/or putting unhealthy food restrictions on the au pair due to finances. Fun friend X becomes someone you don’t respect yet he or she hasn’t done anything directly to you. We are a strict rules adherence household that serves as the meeting place for many au pairs. Because I speak the language of many of my house guests and au pairs, I hear a lot. So it’s a double edged sword. I’ve ended friendships when one family repeatedly had rematches due to their poor treatment of their au pairs. I just can’t be friends with someone I think is fundamentally a bad human.

Even if significant problems don’t occur, there is also the dynamic that we will all be host parents in different ways. Since the au pair gets her own room on vacation, we often encourage her to invite friends on vacations. We tend to treat the guests to joint dinners and have purchased excursion tickets for the guest to attend with the family. Ours has unlimited use of a car and will transition to a student visa but will continue to live with us this year when the new au pair arrives in a few weeks. Others have judged my “generosity” as excessive and suggest I pay less, do less, give less freedoms etc. in these relationships, I’m not asking for input and it’s tricky when the common bond is children PLUS unique daycare.

So, I’ve had great access to other families through well attended events planned by my excellent LCC, from proximity and through our APs. It’s a harder balance to maintain than the various twin and generic mom groups of which I am a member of which our kiddos are the only common denominator. It’s not all bad but, buyer beware, you can’t unknow certain things.

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Seattle Mom July 5, 2016 at 2:40 pm

You’ve articulated why I haven’t made a great attempt to get to know any of the HFs of the APs my AP knows. I have met a few, especially when their kids were playing with my kids regularly (back in the preschool days) but I don’t really want to get close with someone who I could hear about through my AP, or vice versa. The potential for gossip is too high, and it’s just too weird for me to contemplate.. I like making friends with HFs who have minimal connection to my AP. It’s bad enough if I want to vent or whine about my AP that there are HMs who know her both here and on the FB group. I trust that they wouldn’t say anything to her, but I don’t like that they can put together all this information that they hear from their AP and from me to make judgments… it just makes me squeamish.

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Chicago Host Mom June 29, 2016 at 9:12 am

I have three friends in my circle of work friends (but outside my geographic cluster) who also have Au pairs and it is tremendously helpful to share ideas with them. I have also met several other families who were introduced to me by non-HF friends to help them learn about the program before they joined, but they live in other areas of the city so I don’t regularly cross paths with them. I know NONE of the host families in our cluster of 30 APs (!). I would definitely be game for expanding a face to face network, though I do not have time to organize and I suspect many are in a similar predicament. I would suggest a metro-FB page for host parents to be used only to organize meet ups for HPs. There are many area FB pages for APs like this and our LCC even maintains one. I would not want it to compete with this site as a forum for advice though. I have seen many a FB page in a downward spiral when used for questions or advice.

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ChiHostMom July 1, 2016 at 2:07 pm

We’re in the same city and I like this idea.

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HMof2 July 1, 2016 at 2:44 pm

I am in the same city too and would like a way to connect with other HF in person. I get the sense that my agency and LCC do not encourage HF contact with each other. When I first started, I asked about other families in my group but the LCC was never inclined to share or get me in touch with any families that are similar to us (whether it be AP from the same country, similar ages of children, same part of town, a veteran HF who we can learn from, a newbie HF we can learn together with, etc).

Before I started having an AP, I asked one agency if I could speak with a current family who was in my area, in order for me to determine whether the AP program is the right thing for my family. The agency was willing to give me one family to speak with – there was an incentive for them since they wanted me as a new customer. That was the only time the agency acted to put me in touch with another family.

I would not be interested in getting involved in another FB page. I like this site a lot and do not want to shift energy away from it. However, I like the idea of using some social media solution to share the initial contact and then take the interaction into real life.

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Seattle Mom July 5, 2016 at 2:43 pm

That’s interesting- my current LC sends out a directory of contact information of all the HFs in her cluster, complete with AP name & country & arrival/departure dates. I haven’t really ever used this information to reach out to anyone, but it is nice to have. It would have been useful in the past when my kids were younger and having more playdates with other APs & kids. This past year both my kids were in school 5 days per week for the first time, so it’s less useful.

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Christina Jeskey July 26, 2016 at 10:44 am

I’m going to be in Chicago for a few weeks in August with my 3-year-old son and our brand-new French au pair (she arrives Thursday night and we leave the following Wednesday morning).

We travel to Chicago a few times a year and I would love to connect with other Chicago-area host moms for our trips and just for some host mom connection. If a FB group is created, please include me! Otherwise, let me know if there’s any interest in a get-together in August.

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momo4 June 29, 2016 at 1:01 pm

I live is a fairly large city with quite a number of other families, but have contact only with one other family. Unfortunately, although the other host mom I know is a very nice and friendly person and has 2 children in my child’s class at school, her personality and management style are so different from my own that I really struggle to relate sometimes, and suspect she does too. She is incredibly detail oriented and has a very assertive controlling management style whereas I am very laid back and accommodating (often to a fault) so when she is complaining that her AP did not load the dishwasher correctly, I am just grateful that my AP is loading the dishwasher at all!

I had been hosting for 8 years before I discovered this site, and it was such a relief to finally have access to the insight and advice of other host parents. I have attended family events hosted by the agency, and have had some great conversations with parents there (when my kids allow) but given everyone schedules this never seems to extend beyond the event.

I would love to have a host parent tea sort of event on a regular basis, but I have to agree with the poster who observed that given the different management styles of different host parents, it is certainly not a given that you will get along with them just because you yourself are host parent.

Over the years I have heard so many secondhand stories from APs about problems they have with their HFs (some of which beggar belief, and many of which I wonder whether the agencies ever hear (or care?) about) that I am sure I would not want to get in the middle of the she said–she said tangles that arise. I would also find it very awkward to be getting on friendly terms with someone only to hear through my AP that they were mistreating their AP, regardless of the “facts”.

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Gianna June 29, 2016 at 2:50 pm

When I was new to all this, I was excited about host family get togethers and then I was so disappointed when no one showed up although some lovely events were planned. This surprized me because I thought these events were required.
The fact that people did not show told me a great deal in and of itself. As time went on, like others have posted, I heard horrible stories and I decided that it was best to keep a safe distance. I think LCCs are nervous about having families organize – I am told that many LCCs are nervous about this blog and think of it as a negative influence so I can imagine that they are not enthused about having families form relationships. Early on, a very experienced host mom told me that she shied away from getting involved with other families because it just gets too upsetting. Too bad

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Jessi June 30, 2016 at 12:05 am

Why does this blog make LCC’s nervous? I would think this blog is a positive! influence?

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2 kids and a cat June 30, 2016 at 3:22 pm

My LCC tells me crazy stories from the LCC Facebook page – it represents all the possible scenarios, but not necessarily the average a particular LCC msg see in a given year. I think they get pressure from the agency to get families to keep underperforming APs, while the main message here is to be reasonable and compassionate, but consider your family needs first. So, we read avidly through the archives before our transition meeting to get done perspective. She was s lot less able to sway us and persuade us from our position.

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cv harquail June 30, 2016 at 8:25 am

That’s kindof the thing from my perspective too– if folks go to facebook groups to discuss host parenting issues, even the mundane ones, it means they are sharing their wisdom in private groups and not in this more public forum. Selfish, yes, but it’s enough of a challenge to get a critical mass of comments and conversations here– what would happen if, say TerrificHM spent all her time on Fb and not on the blog? sniff.

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NoVA Twin Mom June 30, 2016 at 9:46 am

From my perspective, looking for a facebook group isn’t to replace this wonderous blog – but to supplement it. Also, I’ve experienced all the problems people are describing with meeting other host parents “in real life,” and I do think it would be interesting to be physically in a room with someone to talk sometimes – and that might be easier to arrange through another tool.

This blog (and our virtual community) has made me want more – not less – interaction with my “friends!”

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Brooklyn_HP June 30, 2016 at 2:16 pm

agree 100% A separate forum does not replace the blog for me at ALL. Both are valuable in their own way!!

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Seattle Mom June 30, 2016 at 7:24 pm

I can tell you that at least some of the most active members of the FB host parent group I’m in are also active here. I think some of us are just addicts and we need more than one source for a fix… And there are many who enjoy the FB group format and worry that this is too public, or they don’t like the way some people use the anonymous format to be snarky, or wouldn’t be active here for some other reason. Just like there are people here who wouldn’t be interested in a HP community on facebook for different reasons (using their real name, for one).

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Anna July 6, 2016 at 2:46 pm

what interactive and fast forum like facebook gives is the opportunity to start the conversation and get quick feedback for your own personal issues. In a blog, the blogger directs the conversation. Both are good but both are needed.

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NJ Mama June 29, 2016 at 4:39 pm

I agree that it would have helped tremendously when starting out to have known other host families. It would have been great to compare notes. In all of my years hosting, I only know of one other host family in my town, and I don’t really hit it off with the host mom. I don’t agree with what she does. That is why I was so so grateful I found this blog – and I wish I had found it much much sooner. I’ve also gotten the opportunity to chat with other host moms that I “met” through this blog. And that has been invaluable. I appreciate this blog so much for the forum it provides and the opportunities it has given me to connect with other host moms.

But at the same time, I will go on the record and say that, as awful as it sounds, not only do we rarely attend the host family events, but I also find them a bit annoying – I find it annoying that agencies have them! I know it’s awful but hear me out. When the kids were younger and our lives weren’t as crazed, the annual family event that APC held was always the same weekend as the one we celebrated my daughter’s birthday party. Every year it was pumpkin picking on the third weekend in October. Now we are with a different agency (Cultural Care) and they seem to hold family events every few months. But there are two issues. 1) it’s hard to do a family event at a place that is appealing to kids of all ages, so it comes a time when the kids just don’t want to go. and 2) families with two working parents are really pressed for time, and it gets harder and harder to carve out a free afternoon to meet other host families. This is especially true for a family like mine where mom has a 3-4 hour daily commute and dad has a 1 1/2-hour daily commute. Time is precious. Weekends are when we spend our time with our kids. And as kids get older, their extra curricular activities become longer and more involved. So we’re either busy doing other things when the events or held — or, if we do happen to have rare free weekend afternoon, we just want to spend it together, not out at a big event. That is our reality.

That said, Cultural Care will allow au pairs to bring their host kids to these events (without parents). At first I thought it would be rude for me to send one of my kids with the au pair, but then my au pair asked if she could bring my younger daughter, and the two had a wonderful time. It was really sweet.

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NoVA Twin Mom June 30, 2016 at 7:07 am

A comment about family activities through the agency – while we’ve had good luck getting to APIA’s fall family get together (they call it something else), we can never seem to make it to the spring Cultural Fair.

The fall one is great for us. It alternates between being a picnic in a well-chosen park (lots of room to run and play, usually has a balloon animal person and a face painter) and a three hour (or so) canoe trip (designed to appeal to the older kids too). It also happens to be just a few weeks after our au pairs generally arrive, so we all go to make sure that the new au pair goes and meets people. The canoe trip does have a minimum age requirement that we *might* now meet, so we might be able to go to that one, otherwise we send the au pair and the rest of us stay home.

But the spring one. I haven’t noticed if it’s always the same week or if it moves, but it always conflicts with something BIG. One year our whole family was in Hawaii. A different year just our au pair was on vacation – in Hawaii. (our au pairs tend to go to Hawaii because we can give them lots of advice on when/where/how to go, and our house is filled with pictures of our previous trips). Another year everyone was sick. We fully intended to go this year – until we got a last minute invitation to one of my husband’s favorite relative’s wedding across the country on the same weekend. So we gave our au pair a few “bonus” days off and went. She went to Miami. Even though we don’t manage to show up for that particular meeting, I firmly believe that our “conflicts” are fully within the spirit of the au pair program.

We don’t have regular family meetings more often – we’d likely try to make it to them. But they might not be structured for all age groups (I would not have wanted to take my “runner” to a pumpkin patch!) and the notice given might not be much (often a problem with our spring meeting. Fall weekends tend to be better for us because we’re in town anyway because school is starting)

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ExAupairNowHM July 5, 2016 at 1:50 pm

We have been to the picnic a couple of times and never really “met” any other families. everyone just always seems busy with their own kids.

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Mimi June 30, 2016 at 5:40 pm

We’ve always attended the HF events and they are usually very sparsely attended. Our LCC inherited a group near us and it was a tough haul for people as we are spread out in rural New England. Our normal cluster is 30 minutes from AP to AP within our agency. There are other agency APs nearby but we’ve never attended (or been invited to) their events although our APs have. My wonderful LCC resigned a few months ago because she moved and we’ve been added to another cluster that is really spread out over our state so there haven’t been any recent events.

I don’t typically push socialization with other HF in our cluster. My kids are younger and we live in a smaller hick town where my AP drives the older Volvo and has a flip phone, etc., so we don’t have a lot in common with the other families. I’ve also found that the newer families ask for advice that they never intend to take and I also find it hard to befriend bad HPs.

I’m a member of a few groups on FB and I rarely chime in unless I have something different to add. I think the anonymity here is a boon for some of the more touchy subjects. I don’t worry about anonymity because my (now former) LCC and AP know I post here (we talk about the topics posted here openly).

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Seattle Mom June 30, 2016 at 7:34 pm

I haven’t made great friends through the agency host family events, but I’ve usually connected with one or two other HPs. In fact at one event I met a family I already knew through my religious group- and I didn’t realize they hosted au pairs. They also live pretty close to me. We aren’t great friends and we never socialize outside of AP/religious group activities, but I enjoy seeing them and it’s nice to have that extra connection. At another event (with a different agency) I met someone who I knew from my FB HP group in person for the first time. But I also agree with others that these events can be tedious and it can be hard to meet HFs. My husband went to one without me (I must have been sick) and he didn’t enjoy it at all– but he is generally less able to socialize with members of the public…

I have met a few people from this blog in person, but it wasn’t that easy because we had our kids with us and they were all running off in different directions. We also don’t live/work close to each other, so it hasn’t been easy to reconnect.

And one of my best oldest friends is now hosting an au pair, but she lives on the other side of the country and we rarely talk anymore. But when I see her it’s fun to catch up on that as well as other things. It is different because she’s on AP1 and I’m on AP5. And she has an infant and I have school-aged kids.

When it comes down to it, it’s like everything else- it’s hard to make new friends at this stage in my life, for a variety of reasons. But I would be open to a meet-up of some sort, in the Seattle area. I would prefer a kid-less event, because it’s the only way I can give people my full attention. I realize that makes it less possible for many people, which is part of the problem.

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