Classic Case: Can you change a Princess?

by cv harquail on February 2, 2011

A Host Mom writes:

Hello! I am writing because I have a bit of a princess situation on my hands — a princess situation with nuance. I am looking for advice on how to try to make this work.

Our new AP, 19 years old, arrived about a month ago from a Western European country. She is our 3rd AP – 1st was wonderful, but left to return home to university after nine months. 2nd was horrible – simply put, was mean to my kids. She didn’t even last a month with us. Had a temporary nanny for three201102021059.jpg months until new AP’s arrival.

I already have two kids. I don’t want a third. I want to be able to feel comfortable leaving AP in charge. How long do we give this situation to work? What else can we do to help her grow up and toughen up? Thanks so much for your advice!

My focus in interviewing for this AP was to be sure that we found someone who was nice and gentle. It was also important to us that she be committed to developing a social infrastructure here quickly. She is nice and gentle – she is good with the kids (obviously this is the most important thing to us and the reason that we’re not willing to rematch at this point) – and has already made lots of friends.

The issue is, I think, in how she was raised and the expectations that has created in her mind; instead of the princess mindset coming from “I deserve this,” instead, I think it’s just how she has learned to be treated. She is certainly not self-sufficient. I think her parents doted on her. I think they coddled her and treated her as a child and she simply was raised to expect those things from “parents.” We were very upfront about our expectation that she join our family as an adult, with all of the attendant responsibilities.

I think she is experiencing culture shock of a different type – the shock that comes with having “adult” expectations thrust upon her.

We have addressed each issue as it arose and have been firm and consistent. She seems to understand each time I provide this feedback and mostly works to rectify the issue. She’s never been negative to me about the feedback.

It’s just that as we address one issue, another comes up! I don’t think she realizes her sense of entitlement. I have been at the point multiple times where I believe that there really can’t be any more issues to address, then another crazy one comes up.

A few examples of the “princess” behavior:

  • Not wanting to change diapers because they’re too gross.
  • Has been late multiple times; have had to wake her for morning shifts, slept through an evening meeting that we had scheduled.
  • Needing time during her shift in the morning to return to her room to change out of PJs, brush teeth, etc.
  • Leaving her laundry on the washing machine for me to wash.
  • Asking me to stock Evian bottled water for her (we drink tap)
  • Two instances of money mis-management, resulting in her asking for her paycheck early and for us to float her a loan to cover the cost of a course over the $500 that we fund.
  • Taking said English course from a big-name university rather than a smaller college that would have been just as good, but significantly cheaper.
  • Pressing me continually to allow her to take the course at a time that was not convenient for our family.
  • Heating her room to 80* (we keep the house at 65*), wanting to “flush” the hot air from her room in the morning by opening windows/doors to 20* weather.
  • Asked me to drive her to the gym on an evening that my husband was out and in the middle of a major snowstorm.
  • Again, she is good with the kids, but each issue has caused me to question her underlying sense of responsibility – her ability to have my kids’ interests at heart at ALL times, versus her own kid-like (self-absorbed) interests.

    I trust her at home with the kids, with me here (I work from home). I do not trust her to walk my oldest to school. I do not trust her to take my youngest out in the stroller. I don’t think she could handle a morning without my husband or me working alongside her to get everyone ready. My husband and I have been upfront about this and have told her that she needs to work to gain that trust.

    I have kept our LCC in the loop and she will talk with AP as well (I asked her to do this yesterday).

    Dear Host Mom —

    You seem to be putting a lot of effort into being positive and optimistic, so I feel a little mean in saying this but —  Rematch.

    Unless you have already seen your au pair start to ‘get it’ and start to take on a more adult and self-sufficient approach to things, you need to rematch. You are not going to be able to change her perspective and her behavior very quickly, if at all. It will take a lot of effort to nudge her towards self-sufficiency; this effort may or may not pay out in the end, but it will take a lot out of you. If you don’t want another child, you need to get a different au pair.

    Your situation is exacerbated by your being a work-at-home parent. As long as you are in the house you are theoretically her safety net. She doesn’t have any psychological incentive to be self-sufficient, because you will always be there. And, you don’t have the opportunity to just leave her alone to work things out, which a work-outside the house parent would. She doesn’t have the upbringing, and you don’t have the work situation, that will move her towards self-sufficiency with any urgency.

    Even if you put all the ‘princess’ concerns aside, you comment about not trusting her to get the basic job done would have urged me to suggest rematch. When you can’t trust an au pair to do the job, you should not keep that au pair.

    I appreciate that you tried very hard to find an au pair that had the loving qualities that were so lacking in the au pair who came before her. That you were concentrating on qualities you really needed, and somehow missed whatever signs of a princess that this au pair might have displayed, probably makes it harder to recognize that this relationship cannot be saved.  (Dear Host Mom, that list of examples is to long to be “a few”.)

    Start planning for a rematch.

    Get the kind of childcare help and au pair relationship that you need and that you deserve.


    See also:

    Choosing an Au Pair: How to Avoid a Princess
    Choosing Your Next Au Pair: Beware of the Contrast Effect
    Classic Case: We’re in rematch… Now what?
    Have you ever regretted that you initiated a rematch?

    Images: Princess Kitty from Mi’Tu Princess Kitty from emilybean


    PA AP mom February 2, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    I agree. This AP is not going to change her whole way of thinking. You will continue to have to hold her hand the entire year.

    I think about it like this: What if something happened and you suddenly had to start working outside of your home? What would you do then? If you wouldn’t feel comfortable then, you shouldn’t settle now. IMHO of course.

    BTDT and didn’t even get the proverbial t-shirt. Wish I had rematched at month 6 instead of suffering for another 6 months.

    Former AuPair in Italy February 2, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    It’s not the most convenient solution, but I agree that rematch is probably your best option. If you can’t trust her alone with your children then she is unable to fulfill the basic duties of her job. Also, if your children are of diaper wearing age she should have realized that changing dirty diapers would be part of the equation. I believe that there are probably some “princess” traits that could be worked on or changed but she doesn’t seem responsible enough.

    As far as the “flushing out” of the heat goes, I think that is a cultural difference. When I was an au pair in Italy my host parents wanted me to open the window every morning in my room (even when it was 30F) to get the old, dirty air out…Like you, I wasn’t so keen on the idea :)

    Good luck with whatever route you choose!

    BLJ Host Mom February 2, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    I know you think you aren’t there yet, but reading your letter, I think you might be closer to rematch than you think.

    If you can’t trust your AP outside the house with your kids, I don’t think you will. I mean, it takes a life time to grow up. And when you think back to being 19, did those that need to grow up, do it by 20? It doesn’t matter that she doesn’t feel entitled or deserving, and it’s good that she is nice to the kids. But you pay around $20K for this program, and you need to be able to trust someone can wake up on time, and WALK (not even talking safe driving here) a kid to school. It’s unacceptable the amount of work you have to put in. You need to focus this energy on yourself, your marriage, you kids, and your own job. You’d get the same effect hiring a local jr high/high school kid to come during the day while you work and watch them all. You DESERVE more than that.

    You don’t have the time or energy to grow her up. It’s time to talk rematch again, painful as it is, and rip off the band-aid before your resentment for the program grows deep.

    Wishing you a peaceful decision whatever you choose.

    Laís Zinano February 2, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Unfortunately there are girls who tarnished the image of people who would be really good au apair!

    Lack census to know what the obligations of an au pair. And it is also the agency that brokered the arrival of the au pair, ensure that girl know that.

    In cultural care, I was very well informed about everything!

    As a Brazilian popular saying “God gives wings to those who can not fly”

    GermanAP February 2, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Just speaking from the airing out perspective…
    In Germany you always air out all rooms in the morning. Its a cultural thing. It gets the old, dry air out and lets in fresh cool air with new moisture. You also hang out your bed linen (out of the open window).So when it heats up again its not as dry. It means, that yes, the house will be freezing for a few minutes. But heating systems are different and more efficient in Germany, so its a cultural thing.

    NoVA Host Mom February 2, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    I did not even look at this one. Just the first 4 and the 6th issue were more than enough for me. But it also might go towards the lack of fiscal responsibility. If she does not pay attention to having the heat blasting with windows open, I’m guessing she has never paid an electric or gas bill in her life.

    Tristatemom February 2, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Yes, totally German. Our AP had a German friend visit in January and the girl complained that the house was stuffy because she could not open our windows. Made me feel bad because I was not sure if she thinks our house is not clean?

    Eurogirl February 2, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    It’s not to do with the cleanliness of your house, promise, it’s because when you’ve slept in a room all night the air is stale and you need to freshen it by leaving the window open for half an hour (less if it’s too cold outside).

    I wouldn’t have the heating on at the same time as airing my rooms, because that is wasteful, but while the heat is off and I am awake and in the house, opening them for a while is healthy. I was always brought up that fresh air in the house is good for you, and I’m not German.

    ExAP February 2, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Yeah, the “fresh air in the morning” is totally German/Western European…
    But here, we don’t have ACs in the houses. And you absolutely do open the windows for about 15 minutes each day (minimum, some do the 5-minutes-fast-fresh-air-several-times-a-day version) no matter how cold it is.
    I remember the look on my HPs face when they saw that I did in fact open my room window in the morning while getting ready… *grin*

    HRHM February 3, 2011 at 2:56 am

    I think the APs that we’ve had don’t understand that while they are “airing out” their rooms, we are paying to heat the outside! It’s not possible to turn off the heat in one room (in most houses) so that you aren’t wasting the money/energy. I understand that it’s a cultural thing, but once your HM has asked you to stop doing it – STOP! I actually have it written in my HHHB and still have had to spend an entire year closing windows while the heat/AC is running. It is quite disrespectful to keep doing it once you’ve been told not too, culture or not.

    Eurogirl February 3, 2011 at 7:15 am

    I’m speaking about the flat I live in now. I turn off the heat in the bedroom while I’m airing it, or I turn off the heat in the whole flat because I don’t need it going all day. Obviously your house (and “most” houses, presumably this is an American thing) must work differently than mine… I certainly don’t want to pay high heating bills any more than you do!

    I agree that she should not keep doing this after being asked not to, I was just reassuring the poster above that it has nothing to do with cleanliness, it’s about fresh air :-)

    used to be an AP February 3, 2011 at 10:28 am

    @HRHM: In (most) German houses you can turn the heat on and off in every room seperately, so you don’t have to turn off the heating in the whole house. Just let you AP now that the heating systems are different.

    Calif mom February 3, 2011 at 10:30 am

    We understand you turn the heat off at the moment the windows are open. But the entire room cools off and then requires MORE energy to heat it back up again. It is not magic to shut the heat off for a few minutes. It does not change the equation.

    Not to mention that in winter in cold cliimates, the air outside is also very dry, so you are doing nothing to add humidity.

    It may be a cultural norm, but au pairs must not just grin at the silliness of the host parents, and need to respect that this will infuriate most hosts who are paying $500 a month to heat the house in winter (and cool it off in summer).

    PhillyMom February 3, 2011 at 10:28 am

    I am from Germany and as much as I agree that some people do that, a lot of people in Germany don’t. There is really no eviidence for this to be of any benefit. As an allergist I can also say that it’s actually pretty bad to hang out your bed covers outside (particularly during allergy season). But that is completely off-topic, I am sorry – but I had to mention this. (It’s always easy to assume cultural stereotypes if you don’t see all of it. Within the German culture, many stereotypes we know and which are written about a lot are tru, but not for every family and every area. Bavaria (Southern Germany) is completetly different from the northern parts and sometimes is much closer to the Austrian way of life). To avoid princess behavious we have screened candidates by their background and have actually avoided to match with a girl from perfect family background. Instead, I’d much rather take someone who had been through a divorce in the family, who had worked before (not just babysitting), etc

    used to be an AP February 3, 2011 at 10:30 am

    I agree about the stereotypes. I don’t hang my bed clothes out the window either, but I do open the windows for at least 15 mins a day.

    calif mom February 3, 2011 at 10:38 am

    Not silly at all! Thank you for posting. And yes, the allergens! Our au pairs think I’m crazy for insisting my kids take showers before bed in summer, and never seem to believe me about the need to shampoo pollen out of their hair.

    Insisting that “Germans” open windows all the time hasn’t heard about the PassivHaus standards (Passive House in English-speaking countries) which are all about superinsulating and sealing the home to prevent air leaks. It was begun by a Swede and a German and is heavily researched. Hasn’t gained very much support in the states yet because it’s more expensive to build this way, though it’s very efficient and comfortable in the long term.

    used to be an AP February 4, 2011 at 10:32 am


    I am not a physicist, so I cannot guarantee for anything, but as far as I know opening the window for 3-10 minutes per day actually reduced heating costs, provided that the air outside is less humid than the air inside.

    When you open the windows completely for a short duration of time air circulates, the more humid and warmer air is exchanged for the colder and less humid air from the outside. The room does not cool a lot during this time. The less humid air is, the less energy it takes to heat it up or to keep the temperature at a certain level. If you open the windows every day it actually makes a difference on your heating bill. This is not connected to efficient housing, as air leaks that provide a constant stream of cold air is of course anything but efficient ;).
    But as I said, I’m not a physicist, so if there is one on here who would like to correct me, feel welcome to ;) .

    Aupairgal February 4, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Actually, the main problem is that the insulation is so efficient in Germany that virtually no moisture escapes in the winter unless you air out the house. If you don’t air out your house (once a day is recommended) you can end up getting mold.

    Calif Mom February 4, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    (totally off topic, sorry)

    passivehouse standards take into account added moisture from showers, cooking and breathing, etc.. De/humidifers are planned into the building systems to keep humidity at comfortable levels for people and to prevent mildew/mold.

    Should be working February 6, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    When lived in Germany for a few yrs as a young person, I was shocked by my roommates’ ‘airing’ practices in winter. Now I’m converted to them, and my European husband is annoyed at my obsession with the fresh air. In my view a quick but nearly complete exchange of air once a day (even twice) is not a huge drain on the heat and I love the feel of the fresh air. Now my problem is that I can’t stand the unopenable windows in the US–hotels, some classrooms, offices.

    All the other things on the OP’s list are reasons to consider rematch. This one, however, is in my view a cultural issue. (Although not that she first heats the room to 80 degrees.)

    NoVA Host Mom February 2, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    I know you already knew the answer when you wrote. Just look at the list of things she does not want to do! It’s called a Job Description. Yeah, diapers are gross, but if you are caring for small children, then it’s gotta get done by someone. Items 1,2,3,4 & 6 alone are *more* than enough to say “Enough!”

    Rematch. Now. Can she learn and grow? Sure. Is she gonna do it within the next 2 week (or even the next 6 months)? Not likely. This type of growth and just plain growing up is a time-consuming one, both for her and the parents trying to get her there. You have your kids, so she is her parents’ responsibility for this one. I mean, if she needs to use time after she is supposed to be working to get her shower, etc, then start docking her hours doing that as vacation time. If the rest of us can do it, she can too.

    Cut your losses and recognize that if you don’t feel totally comfortable leaving her in charge, then she is not ready for this job. Yes, there are tons of 19yo APs who have a great head on their shoulders and know when a job has to get done, but she is not among them.

    And think of it this way: do you have confidence that she will know what to do in an emergency? Think – calling 9-1-1 immediately instead of calling a few friends to see what to do; grabbing the fire extinguisher and knowing when to not bother and evacuate the house; how to handle a flat tire (sit and cry until someone takes care of it for her?), etc. We had a princess. She was a nightmare for me (hindsight and all that), but it came down to the fact that besides the lying and being late to a job where she lives in the same location (thus no traffic), she was not prepared to have a position of such responsibility.

    Eurogirl February 2, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    A lot of this sounds like a total lack of self-awareness because she has never lived alone or paid her own bills before. Surely there’s a certain amount of things that she’s got to learn for herself – like the money issues, and that bottled water is unreasonably expensive, and that being “part of your family” doesn’t mean you’re going to do her washing or drive her places when there’s no one to look after the children. Those things can probably be learnt as you probably didn’t know them either til you moved out of your mother’s house and had to look after yourself.

    Airing out your room in the morning is normal to me too, but so is eating breakfast in my pjamas – until I moved in with an au pair family who dressed before breakfast – it only took two days before I was embarrassed that I had made this mistake and started dressing before breakfast. If you’re living with people in their home, you have to live their way…even if it’s not your way or seems strange to you. This is only a warning sign if she refuses to change her behaviour after you’ve talked about it.

    For me the biggest issues are the first two: why take a job with small children if you won’t change nappies? And if my employer had EVER had to wake me up, you better believe I would have been so embarrassed and ashamed that it would never have happened again! Also, sleeping through a meeting in the evening? Why was she even asleep? That doesn’t make sense and makes me think she is lazy and slovenly. So those two things would seriously make me think she is not up to the job…and if she can’t do the job…she shouldn’t be doing it.

    Steff February 2, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Ooh, your comment got me into thinking; the part of getting dressed before breakfast…every time I think I have covered “all” the possible “cultural shocks” I may experience in US, a whole new one hits me! ;)
    At least on weekends, I usually have breakfast on my PJs, and well…I guess I never really considered that’s another thing I’d probably have to “adapt” myself to once in the States ;)

    In any case however, if I’m schedule to start work at 7am, well, then at 7 I’d be showered and dressed and ready to work, and not in my PJs…I would also be oh-so embarrassed if my HM happened to be to one to wake me up in the morning… :/

    darthastewart February 2, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    It depends on the family. Some of us live in pj’s on the weekends.

    azmom February 3, 2011 at 10:23 am

    as a telecommuting mom, i sometimes am in my pajamas until noon.

    BLJ Host Mom February 2, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    Yeah, it’s not a matter of Pjs on for breakfast, many families do that on the weekends, or any NON work day. This is about being up and ready to work at your scheduled time. Ready to work means teeth brushed and dressed and fed. In our home, it’s in the handbook, discussed during interview, and mentioned the first days.

    Can you get yourself up and ready in time for work every day?
    Start time means: dressed, fed, and ready to focus on the needs of the children

    After half a year of our amazing APs, have we let this slide a little? Absolutely, she eats with the kids, but she is downstairs and dressed right on time, and her need to eat bfast is never put above the madness of the morning and all the little needs waiting to be met that greet her on a daily basis.

    It’s one of those start of strict, and the right girl will say no problem, I can be up and to work on time.

    HRHM February 3, 2011 at 3:01 am

    I agree. Our APs have always ate breakfast with the kids. But on work days, she gets herself ready before they wake so that she doesn’t need to shower/put on makeup/dress while she should be watching them. And her breakfast is usually a yogurt or whatever she’s made for them. On weekends we all come down in PJs so that itself is not the big deal, it’s just not being ready to work that is a problem.

    Eurogirl February 3, 2011 at 7:35 am

    This was my second au pair family, in Austria, and they were quite formal. They really found it inappropriate and even on weekends the children were dressed before breakfast. It’s just one of those things that is different between families everywhere rather than culturally – in my home city you sometimes see people go to the supermarket in pjamas (although I would never go out of my home in mine, you’ll be glad to hear I think!), and in my first au pair job (France), we ate breakfast together in pjamas (or in the case of the mother, skimpy nightdress…) and then I helped the kids get dressed before the mother took them to school and I dressed myself when they were gone. I wrongly thought it would be the same in au pair job no.2. As I said it didn’t bother me to have to dress for breakfast and I corrected myself after my second morning, but it was something I wished I had been told before I got there so I wouldn’t have made that mistake! It was embarrassing!

    Phillymom February 3, 2011 at 10:37 am

    I like the fact that you show the customs of every family are different. In my American home town, people wear pyjamas to the school bus stop, to grocery shopping and for breakfast. In out family, nobody leaves the house in pyjamas and we are usually dressed for breakfast during the week. That is simply because I don’t want to have to coach the kids into going back upstairs after breakfast. It takes much more effort than doing it before breakfast! However, on weekends if we have no plans, my kids may be running around in their pyjamas for the most part of the day. Having said that, I would not appreciate seeing my au pair in pyjamas when she is reporting for work. This is not an appropriate work attire, particularly if you are expected to walk the kids to the bus stop or to school. I have been in several families during school exchanges, work programs etc and one of the most important dterminants of maturity, I believe, is to adjust to the host family’s customs or at least not to completetly clash.

    MommyMia February 3, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    I agree with most of the comments above, but I don’t require my AuPairs to adapt to every nuance of our family’s habits. We usually eat breakfast in our pj’s (or sweats or comfy robe) but would never expect the APs to follow suit, unless they felt comfortable doing so. All of ours have dressed for their day before coming out to the kitchen, and one was always fully made up, as well, which I found a little extreme when her day was simply hanging out with the kids at home, but I understood that that was HER routine and norm, so never commented on it!

    2boys2girls February 2, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    I could have written this e-mail – you are describing my 5th AP one month in and I can tell you the situation significantly declined over the weeks in terms of the care and safety of my children. I should have rematched much earlier. Not doing so took a real toll on my confidence in my ability to make good choices about the care of my children, created stress in my workplace and in my marriage, and most importantly negatively affected my children.
    Don’t make the mistake I made; rematch. Yes you made a commitment to this AP but you have a bigger commitment to your kids.

    NoVA Host Mom February 8, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Hear, hear! Absolutely! Your kids are the reason you are in a contract to begin with! Kids first, the rest can take a seat (so to speak).

    Steff February 2, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Ohh, I’m probably getting soft, or don’t know, but again today I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate; IMO; she *needs* to change, that’s an absolute (The whole not be willing to change your kid’s nappies? Seriously!) But still, if I were you, I’d have one big effective talk with her. One with you, maybe your husband, and maybe even the LCC. I’d try to put ALL and every issue that you think needs work on the table (maybe even in writing), and DEMAND for her to improve. I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do or not, but maybe “scare” her with the idea of rematching (letting her know that if she doesn’t improve -significantly- in lets say, a month’s time, she has to go) would maybe, maybe made her rise up for the situation. And you really, really shouldn’t “baby” her around, and meet her every need. She needs to step up and be a grown up (because she IS!!). I’m also 19yo, and have always life with my parents, but I wouldn’t expect for my “employer” (so to say) to do my laundry and in more than one way (according to your post) do the job that is supposedly MINE e.g changing the baby’s nappies. IMO; if you want/need her to change, you need to back off, let her make mistakes (however, taking into account the fine-line between let her mess up and put your kids’ lives in jeopardy of course) Let her know that when you are at work (it doesn’t matter if you are at home or not) SHE is the one that’s in charge of the kids, and you are not one to be disturb. I’d try to make myself invisible in “working hours” unless your presence and help is absolutely needed.

    I’d try to help her though in what she’d probably need in order to change, but I would, as of as soon as possible, explain her BLUNTLY how things are SUPPOSED to be, and how currently she’s not fulfilling her job how she should. If you are lucky, perhaps she’d rise up to the situation. Maybe she just needs the chance and hasn’t got it yet.
    In any case, just in case you happen to not be lucky enough, I’d cover my back anyhow talking already with the LCC about a possible rematch. I’d let the aupair know that much too.


    Anna February 3, 2011 at 1:32 am

    There is no talk that can turn around and instantly teach a person responsibility. Where the safety of the children is at stake, there is no room for second chances, and most importantly, no time for second chances!

    I had a similar situation. A young girl whose judgement we couldn’t trust with our kids. We did give her some changes, but as soon as I realized the problem is systemic and not one or two missteps, we rematched.

    Calif Mom February 3, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Hindsight is weighing in here:

    Big Talk can lead to improvement. But it *cannot* suddenly transform someone who isn’t used to thinking of herself as an adult into someone who is.

    I was surprised at how many things popped up in the first month! You’ve got an extra child on your hands, and even if she steps up on specific things (like she does her own laundry), her world view is going to continue to annoy you. You will be called on to provide all her grown up thinking, and it can be a drain as you see more and more just how clueless she is. How annoyed will you be when she texts you because she knows you’re at the grocery store because she wants to be sure you remember to get “her” cereal? How about a phone call while you’re in a meeting because she ran out of “her” milk and wants you to pick it up on the way home, instead of walking ten minutes to the 7-11? (sorry, you work at home, but you can see what I mean).

    You need someone who can solve problems independently, not just lay them on your doorstep. And a Big Meeting isn’t going to deliver that.

    Current au-pair February 2, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    I can’t believe how other AP and HF see this whole thing…I am an au-pair at the moment, in Europe; I am not allowed to say anything but just “ok”, I don’t even have time to go to school or gym as I am working much more that I was supposed to, I drink filtered water even if it’s not good for my kidneys and I’ve been drinking bottled water all my life and if I want something that’s not in the house I have to buy it with my own money…I am not allowed to say “no, I am not doing it”, I have to do everything I am asked to, even to clean the garden after the dog…and sometimes host mum forgets to tell me that she needs me in the early morning so I have to jump of the bed and don’t go back when I hear my name, some weeks I have to ask for my money as they forget to pay me..and I am seriously thinking about rematch…Am I a princess too? I don’t think so…

    PA AP mom February 2, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Current AP:

    I think your situation is different than the one discussed in the original post. In my opinion, you are being asked to do things that you shouldn’t, like cleaning up after the dog. Surely an AP would know when she joined a family that has young kids that she was going to be required to change diapers.

    The original poster said she has to wake her AP up in the morning to start her work day. If your host mom doesn’t tell you what time to wake up, then that’s her fault. If you just can’t get up on your own, then it’s yours.

    BLJ Host Mom February 2, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    Totally agree. Current AP, the original poster would not call you a princess! You sound like a great AP, willing to do what is needed from you, and the expectations are for them to not give you what you need in return. In the situation above, the poster doesn’t feel her kids are safe out of the house with the AP, I doubt your host mom would feel that way about you.

    If you are unhappy, you should talk to the HP and if you can’t then maybe you should rematch. This is your ONE year. You deserve Host Parents who allow you to go to school and who honor the original agreement you all entered in to. Meaning paying you, not making you clean up dog crap, working the proper number of hours, and having a scheduled start time each day.

    Good luck to you, you deserve more!

    Eurogirl February 3, 2011 at 7:45 am

    This sounds familiar… I often think when I’m reading this site; the people who au pair in America wouldn’t last ten minutes au pairing in Europe…

    HRHM February 3, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    And yet, it’s amazing how quickly they adapt once they get here. AP3 was in London for a year before she came to our home. We heard how she had to work ridiculous hours with no fixed schedule, had to clean the whole house because her HF was filthy (and then once she’d done it so that she could stand to use the kitchen and the bathroom, they came to EXPECT it weekly and added it to her duties), she mowed their lawn, and wasn’t allowed to use their car in her personal time although they allowed her to drive the kid everywhere he needed to go.

    Now that she is my house, you would think she’d be overjoyed. Instead she has spent the whole year complaining about not being allowed to keep the car out overnight, gets upset when her travel plans don’t take precedence over work and is mad if we ask her to work on a Saturday evening although she rarely works more than 30 hours a week and always knows in advance.

    I actually would discourage my daughters from APing in Europe because of the stories I’ve read here.

    Euromom February 11, 2011 at 8:24 am

    Feel like I have to represent on this one.

    “I actually would discourage my daughters from APing in Europe because of the stories I’ve read here”

    Can I just say that – like the newspapers – you will very rarely hear of all the wonderful goings on the world but the bad news will be printed on the first page – and I think this goes for everything including APing in Europe.

    I am a HM is Europe – not far from the UK and I know that in general most HF’s respect their AP’s just as much as HF’s do Stateside. I will admit that we are not as regulated as the States but it is also not expected that an AP will work 45 hours a week (I think the norm is 30-35hrs) I am not saying this never happens (i.e. that HF’ s go over their hours but it is not the norm)

    Just like it would not be the norm for an AP to mow the lawn or paint the house, although my AP has done both – not at my request but last summer I was gardening and she asked if she could help – and I said there’s the mower if you’re up for it. Same with the painting, before Christmas I painted our living room and again she offered to help and I accepted gratefully!!

    Again my AP could leave us and tell stories just as your last AP did and whilst they are true (in my case) they may be mis-representated.

    Also if you current AP is not overjoyed in her new situation considering what she says she left, i.e. ridiculous hours, mowing lawns etc, and is now complaining at upset travel plans, then perhaps she had slightly “slightly” exaggerated/mis-representated her bad experience in the UK -perhaps?

    Just a thought.

    But just want to finish by stating that most HF’s in Europe respect and care for their AP’s and I speak for the majority.

    Eurogirl February 12, 2011 at 7:44 am

    I just want to point out that I was an au pair in Europe three times… (France – 6 months, Austria – 3 months (one full summer), Germany- 13 months) I loved my experiences and think it was a fantastic thing to do. Thanks to au pairing I have had a great and rewarding time while my friends at home were waitressing or on tills in the supermarket I was travelling, having fun with children and becoming fluent in the French and German languages.

    BUT I am quite sure that because it is less regulated than American au pairing and because I was not with an agency, and housework is definitely a for-granted part of the job, I do honestly feel that I worked a lot harder than friends who have au paired in the States, and what I see on this website reinforces that opinion.

    Anonamomma February 2, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    I agree with Steff – why not have “the talk” as in the all or nothing talk.

    Explain to her that when you were sellecting an au pair you specifically screened for au pairs with her character traits, i.e. gentle and kind and that you are very happy with her in that regard and love the fact that she gets on with the kids and they like her.

    Then in no uncertain terms with complete bluntness tell her the issues you have with her as an care provider.

    Give her the list – let her see how you view her behaviour, i.e. gym / bad weather equate to an unnreasonable request, and one that should not be asked in the first place.

    I would go down the last final talk route and definitely tell her that rematch is on the cards.

    Look at it this way what have you got to loose?

    Gianna February 2, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    I have a minority opinion on this one. In my experience, girls like this can grow up very quickly into fine young woman and some have a real gift for caring for/playing with kids. That is NOT to say that her behavior now is acceptable. It just means that she has to get her act together immediately. Pampered kids do go to college and some of them pull themselves together very quickly although others do not. I think it is a worth a serious talk. If you like other aspects of her personality and she is willing and able to change,why go thorugh the heartache of rematch without giving it a chance. Since you do have to earn a living and haven’t adopted a child, you can’t give it too much more time and effort but why not set a date and specific behaviors that just don’t fly ? Since this isn’t an internalized attitude of entitlement but just a clueless lifestyle , there is some hope. A colleague told me just the other day that until she got married she had no idea how to cook a meal, wash a dish, run the dishwasher or live on a budget. But she did it. And now she’s tearing her hair out trying to install responsibility in her own kids. Good luck !

    calif mom February 3, 2011 at 10:57 am


    I’m an optimist at heart. I had hoped that our current AP would get her act together quickly and grow up (since a big part of the reason she became an AP was to get away from her controlling mother).

    We’ve had this Princess problem twice now. One we had the big talk and we cowtowed and limped along and finally rematched too late (it took her awhile to find an easier family with a nicer car, it turns out). I was a wimp that time and should have pulled the plug a lot earlier.

    Currently, we did the tough meeting in the fall–and I pulled no punches–I was extremely direct and almost brutal– and au pair responded well. But she’s still someone who wants to be babied. She needs me to fawn over her when she sniffles and tell her how wonderful she is and listen to her stories about how much better she is than everyone else in her class, for example. She needs, in short, a doting audience. I don’t have that energy anymore.

    So I guess a key thing to evaluate is whether the au pair in question is in general an emotionally needy person, as opposed to someone who just has never had to deal with all the quotidian crap that goes along with being a responsible adult.

    Hard to evaluate from afar. How do you predict which pampered kids are going to get it together and which are going to flounder and whine? Especially if they’re from another culture? I’m not sure.

    It’s a big risk for the original poster. From my experience, the odds are not overwhelmingly high. And anyone who signs up for an au pair job but is grossed out by diapers has a big hurdle to overcome in my book.

    Best of luck!

    HMinWI February 2, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    You definitely need to have a serious talk with her, and if she doesn’t change – and quickly – I would move to rematch. Your comments about the diapers and your not trusting her with the kids alone are huge red flags to me. What is the benefit of having an AP if she is unable to fulfill the duties of her job? Her job is to care for the kids. Period. If you don’t trust her to care for your kids, she is not going to make it through the year as your AP. Discuss….and expect immediate change. If change doesn’t happen, REMATCH!

    au pair February 3, 2011 at 1:54 am

    Diapers are too gross…did she came to the US expecting the babies to use the toilet, flush and wash their hands by themselves?

    Sorry, I laughed hard with this one…

    azmom February 3, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Definitely agreed. As a mom I think diapers are gross, so we do put our babies on the potty, in hopes of getting them out of diapers earlier, but our current AP probably thinks dumping and washing the baby toilet is more gross. But yes, if you match with a family with a child 3 or under ASSUME diapers are involved. And if a child is 4 even, some kiddos still are in pullups here.

    BLJ Host Mom February 3, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    And don’t forget about the occasional “help” wiping the year after that! :)

    Jeana February 3, 2011 at 8:24 am

    Rematch. You can’t “fix” the issues. Everything to me comes down to safety. When an “adult” is living in your home, there will be times you will be away from home, even though you work from home. Your aupair shows poor common sense. Clearly, she isn’t ready for the responsibility of being an aupair. I had a princess myself, and we lasted 7 months until her poor judgement became a danger. She was my second aupair and I was inexperienced. I was working as hard as I could to make things work. I was constantly hiring babysitters because our aupair was unavailable. Like I said, I was a newbie. This didn’t happen after I had more experience. My princess was very angry and wouldn’t talk to me for a few days when I wouldn’t take my sick daughters, one with pneumonia, out of bed to drive her to a local mall when it was 35 degrees below zero. Princesses need to live with their mama’s and then need to live on their own where they will hopefully grow some common sense and courtesy. We don’t do princesses in my house.

    Michigan Mom February 3, 2011 at 8:41 am

    If you don’t want to rematch right away, and you do feel that she’s trying to live up to her responsibilities (i.e., she’s stopped complaining about changing diapers!), I think you should try putting her in charge one morning. Don’t have her walk your kids to school, if you truly believe it’s a safety issue, but tell her that you and your husband are too busy to help with the kids in the morning and she’s going to have to do it on her own. Then step aside and see what happens. She might rise to the occasion, and if she does, I think it’s worth trying to salvage the match. If she fails miserably, or she is outraged at the very idea, then you’ll have your answer–it’s time to rematch. The worst thing that can happen is that your kids will be late for school one day, which isn’t such a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

    CCDC Mom February 3, 2011 at 10:50 am

    I think this is a great idea–it’s fair to you both and will make you feel more confident in your choice to either fish or cut bait depending on the outcome. After nearly 12 years with the au pair program I tend to side with those who believe this will end in rematch, but her positive qualities and willingness to listen when you raise issues with her behavior suggest that this relationship is worth one last effort provided it isn’t prolonged. Generally I think that immature au pairs are disastrous and will suck the life out of you as you try to instill responsibility. As you state, one problem gets solved only for another to pop up. Often there is a fundamental inability to take initiative and to actively anticipate problems or issues and try to solve them. This attitude is very, very difficult to change, and will take all of your resources. HP are usually short on time and they hire au pairs in large part to care for their children and help make daily life easier for all. Do you really have the time and energy to tackle something that is so far outside what can reasonably be expected of you? Be realistic. All of this said, I did have one au pair who was somewhat immature (though not to the degree stated above) and after a serious talk really grew and turned it around. I am very glad we gave her the chance, but if she had not improved so quickly I would have rematched.

    AFHostMom February 3, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    I agree as well. I wouldn’t describe my AP as a princess but when she arrived she was incredibly immature, had never lived away from her mom, never left her home country, etc. It took a LONG time and a lot of effort and patience on everyone’s part to get to where we are now, and it’s still frustrating much of the time. I have had to let some things go (nothing too severe like some of your issues–but her constant complaints about the temp of the house, thermostat adjustment, bottled water–but screw evian, she can drink the safeway brand), and I was not working away from home when she started. Since I am now, I was concerned at first that she wouldn’t rise to the challenge, but she has. Like Calif Mom (who sometimes seems to have my AP’s long lost sister living in her house) we had a “come to Jesus” talk a few months in and it helped tremendously. I think her hearing us utter the word “rematch” lit a fire under her that hadn’t been there and she truly, to that point, had no idea how close she was to being put back in the pool–even though we thought we’d done a good job with little talks here and there. The talk sucked, she started crying immediately, but we pushed through and she had some complaints of her own, which we tried to hear and be open to.

    We’re not 100% satisfied, and I’m sure she isn’t either, but the kids are safe, loved, cared for and happy, certain parts of the house are always clean or at least tidy, and we can coexist just fine.

    Best of luck in your decision.

    anonmom February 3, 2011 at 10:43 am

    I have another what if scenario- What if you ended up in the hospital for prolonged time and THIS AP is the one home in charge??? If she can’t handle things now, I doubt she could do it in that situation. And, sadly, I ended up in the hospital deathly ill the 2d day after one AP arrived. That AP stepped up to the plate immediately, with little to no direction and was capable of doing everything and more!

    So- if she is NOT CAPABLE NOW- she never should have applied to be an au pair. When you interviewed her, did you ever ask her about her experience changing diapers? It sounds like she was not truthful on her application, aside from her obvious lack of maturity. If you can’t trust her now, save yourself the trouble and rematch, seriously. Culural differences are one thing, trust and your children’s lives are another. This is a JOB! If you worked outside the home and did not show up for work what would happen to you? I know it is problematic to rematch, but you need to have help, not aggravation. good luck.

    Talliecat February 3, 2011 at 10:48 am

    Hi-I have had similar kinds of issues but not quite to the level that you are experiencing. It is hard working from home.. I do admit that I do sometimes micromanage situations which I can imagine is frustrating for my au pair. I also travel a bit for work and I do notice that our au pairs certainly do seem to step up their game when I am away- as there is no other choice. I would have a frank conversation with her about all of these issues. I always put everything in reference to when you are done au pairing and have a job.. would this behavior be acceptable?

    Seasoned Host Mom February 3, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Some of you may remember that I posted about our current AP a couple of months back, and because of the lateness issue/breaking house rules, we initiated rematch. My AP came to me and absolutely said that the problem areas would not happen again if we gave it one more chance. And guess what? They haven’t! But I think it took rematch, plus our LCC telling our AP that she’d probably not be able to find another family since the rematch was her fault, to make her realize that she has to take this job seriously, just like any other job.

    So my advice–REMATCH! You can always call off the dogs, so to speak, if she bucks up and does her job.

    Mel February 3, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    This post could not have been better timed for me. I just went into rematch with a self-described princess! She constantly called herself a princess and whenever we tried to correct her, she would say that her parents always treated her like a princess and she didn’t appreciate our criticisms. So glad she is gone. (examples of her royal-highness: constantly borrowing money for trips, shopping, going out; taking my children on outings to the bank and her other personal errands; texting at the dinner table while we were having dinner; complaining about her curfew despite the fact that she knew about it before she got here; complained about not having a car even though we don’t need one because we live right in the heart of a metropolitan city…to just name a few…)

    That said, we are a little gun shy now. We are interviewing au pairs and would love, LOVE, tips on how to avoid the princess.

    For Example, one host mom just told me that she never hires the baby of the family. Makes sense to me, if we had known that tip we would have avoided our princess.

    PA AP mom February 3, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    There is actually a post from awhile back called “How to Avoid a Princess”. It has some great suggestions from those of us who have BTDT.

    My biggest hints are:

    1. Don’t select an only child.

    2. Never select the baby of the family.

    3. I prefer someone who has been away from home for at least 2 weeks without parents, siblings, grandparents, etc.

    4. I only select someone who has childcare experience outside of their siblings, neices/nephews, cousins. Independent reference from a REAL employer, not a family member.

    5. If the application only shows pictures of the AP dressed up for going out, with friends, traveling, and nothing with kids…that’s a no go for me.

    There are a bunch more, but those are the best ones.

    Michigan Mom February 3, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Our first au pair was the baby of the family, and it was an unmitigated disaster.

    I disagree a little on #4–we’ve had two exceptional au pairs who only had experience taking care of siblings and/or cousins. However, in both cases there was a very large age gap between the au pair and the family members she was caring for, and in both cases the au pair had clearly spent a lot of time caring for them.

    PA AP mom February 3, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    I agree that there are always exceptions. If someone’s application is excellent but they are the baby of the family, I would have to consider it on an individual basis.

    Taking a Computer Lunch February 3, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    I’ve had only children and “babies” of the family (including one change-of-life baby), and none of them were a problem like the princess being described above – but all had done a practicum as part of their education, so work was more than a concept to them.

    Calif Mom February 3, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    [Trying very hard to stuff my own “youngest” status — please don’t call us babies! — under the couch cushion as I reply here!]

    I’ve always been a hard worker. I also happen to have been born last in a family of hard workers. I also got a job as soon as I could, and worked through college.

    Having held a real job, preferably in a service industry, is a good thing.
    Having lived away from home for an extended period, so you have to learn how ot pay bills and take out the trash and feed yourself on a budget, also good.

    That said, there are no guarantees.

    We’ve had APs who were on the upper end of the age bracket and I wouldn’t do that again–yes, there’s such a thing as too old. I think those are girls who don’t know what they want to do when they grow up, or they are running from things instead of toward them.

    Totally agree that working class girls rock. They’re what I seek.

    And yet, current AP has working class parents but also princess tendencies.

    My new priority, for next time: asking lots of questions about her mother, about what kind of things the AP reads (if she says she reads all the time that’s good, but if it’s trashy magazines and young adult fiction that she will leave around for my daughters to discover, that’s not exactly what I think of as “a reader”. Yes, I’m a snob and I think it does matter what you read.). Love the question about “what are you going to do with the money you earn”.

    Of course, the more blue collar girls often don’t have the best language skills, so you have to really watch that you don’t mistake excellent spoken English for either intelligence or competence. That’s my achilles’ heel in interviewing.

    we’re also skyping next time.

    Should be working February 6, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Love the suggestion to ask a lot about the AP candidate’s mother. In our latest match (to start in summer) I actually phoned for about 45 min with the mother. She seemed so balanced, and kind, and good that it really counted in the AP’s favor, along with how the AP talked about her. We’ll see if this turns out to be any indicator of a happy year.

    JJ host mom February 6, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    Lately I’ve been thinking that I should make it a rule to talk to the AP’s mother before matching. With the two au pairs so far that have worked out, the way they talk about their mother makes it sound like she’s someone I’d see eye to eye with. The two APs it didn’t work out with were clearly spoiled rotten at home. If I’d have talked to their moms, I might have seen that coming.

    PA AP mom February 4, 2011 at 10:07 am


    I wasn’t insinuating that the youngest child in a family can’t be a hard worker. I just use it as an “initial” criteria.

    FYI: I’m an ONLY child and #1 on my list is no APs who are the only child….haha.

    Mom23 February 3, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Looking back at our best au pairs, they have been young women who didn’t necessarily have it easy growing up. We had the baby (by a long shot) who was our best au pair ever. She had been raised by a single mom and sister. Au pairs who had family’s or servants taking care of them are not always the best. If I can generalize our au pairs from working class OR divorced families tended to be a little less self centered than au pairs from nuclear families in first world countries.

    I thought living alone would be a good indicator of someone who could be independent and self reliant, but the one au pair who had lived on her own for quite a while was one of the biggest princesses (felt we should get a blackberry for her and pay her more than the required stipend since she was older).

    It might be too personal of a question and it wouldn’t be a deal breaker, but asking about whether the au pair has thought about how she will use her stipend might be a good way to figure out if she plans to save, send money home, or use it all on partying and shopping. One of our au pairs from a wealthy family left totally broke and up to a year later we were still getting calls from credit card companies, while one of our really wonderful au pairs saved half of her stipend every week to take home.

    HRHM February 3, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    It does seem to me that in the past AuPairs were poorer girls looking for work, now they seem to be more middle and upper class girls looking for a fun experience. I’d rather hire the first type! Not to say that middle class girls can’t work hard too, but I worry that once they see that my family’s needs take priority, they have little incentive to stick around and work. I tend to shy away from considering APs that appear well off on their application.

    PA AP mom February 3, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    This is why I like them to have some REAL work experience with a boss to whom they must be accountable. Our last AP was from a upper-middle class family, but she had held a job since she was 17 years old…she was 21 at the time. She had references from all of her employers. Each stated how wonderful she was as an employee.

    We matched with her and it was a wonderful year!

    Steff February 3, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    This line of posts made think in a couple more things to say; first, for example me, right now I’d be consider (in my country) middle-upper class leaning more to the latest, BUT, we have not always been this way. It took a lot of time and effort, and not just from “mom and dad” so I guess there are a lot of “gray areas” when you take into account the AP’s background in this matter. My parents for example, though we weren’t exactly wealthy when my brother and I were growing up, they still made a lot of efforts to keep us both in private schools and help us grow up with English as our second language. (I thank them both so much for that right now, btw!) But I guess my point is – just because I went to good schools and I’m currently attending to a great college doesn’t make me a “princess” I’d seen front and center how hard sometimes it was for my parents to come up with both mine’s and my brother’s monthly school’s fees, so yep, GRAY areas ;)

    On the other hand, I wonder how many HPs look into their AP’s personality tests (at least HPs that work with CCAP) I was just looking back at mine, and even though those test can not be 100% accurate, I bet there are “key” words in the tests that you can use in order to “avoid” the princesses.
    – “self-sufficient and individualistic” That’s a line from mine, perhaps you can shy away from lines that “lead” you into thinking that the future AP will be a little bit more “needy”??

    Don’t mind me just in case all I said here has no sense, but I just thought I’d say it anyway :)

    Should be working February 7, 2011 at 6:33 am

    Having studied CCAP’s personality test a lot on my own, to be able better to read between the lines (and I recommend doing just that), I am not sure that princessy qualities would be measured there. The ‘self-sufficient’ and ‘individualistic’ qualities do indicate lack of neediness in the social sense, but also might suggest that the candidate might not care about fitting in with a HF’s way of doing things. Likewise a candidate who likes to fit in, is very people-oriented and more focused on belonging could end up being high-needs but would possibly be better with accepting rules, becoming a part of the family, and so forth.

    I LOVE the personality test, because it gives you a much better sense for the temperament of an AP candidate, but as far as I can see it can’t really tell you whether the potential downsides of a particular temperament are going to matter in an HF’s particular case. Example: Our ‘self-sufficient’ AP was a great leader for the kids, not needy and a go-getter. She was also bossy, not always sensitive, and sometimes rebellious with regard to our guidelines for how to handle the kids. Our next one (to arrive in summer) is very people-oriented, patient and sensitive. I’m hoping she is nonetheless strong enough to handle our bullheaded 5-yr-old boy.

    Steff February 7, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    I guess then it really is not just read the tests and you are done…Granted, for me the self-sufficient thingie does come with a little of bossiness (I’m not insensitive at all though lol) …but that comes too from being the big-sister I suppose… but still, “in-between” girls have to be out there too! :) I pretty much rather do the job myself instead of work-team (the whole if you want things done -right, you might as well do it yourself) But that does not mean precisely I can’t not take orders or do as told (I can)…but then again, I guess it also matters how (at least in my opinion) there is one way how one acts around peers (i.e in my case, classmates, friends etc) than how you are with parents, HPs, and mostly, children. I’d like to consider myself in that “in-between” side of things, but…yup, I guess you are in fact right and personality tests can’t be read to the letter either…

    Side-note, hands down to you HPs that gotta do this EVERY year! Really…it’s tough!

    Taking a Computer Lunch February 7, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    My preference, of course, is not to do it every year. Which is why we’re on AP #6 in 10 years (with 9 months off). But yes, I am prepared to match with a new candidate every year, in the event that my AP chooses to stay only one year or that I prefer she only stays one year. It’s not ideal, but it works.

    AFHostMom February 3, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    Here is what I learned from my hasty match–we are first tiime HPs but we’ve had quite the education. ;)
    1. Choose someone with younger siblings–not just “not the baby,” but someone who’s spent a lot of time LIVING with kids
    2. I would go older than 19 next time, UNLESS she had a year of college, etc under her belt
    3. Don’t hire someone who’s never had a “real job.” It honestly never occurred to me to ask my 19 y.o. candidate if she’d had a job before–she’d been out of school for a year.
    4. If possible hire someone who has lived away from home before. Our first choice for next time would be a 20-something 2nd year AP.

    And on the opposite end of the advice spectrum, don’t hire someone who hates pink and “always wears black.” Oh, hindsight.

    anonmom February 4, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    Just had to add my .02 here for you, as my best au pairs were aged 18 or 19 on arrival. One was in fact the ‘baby’ of the family, and returns to visit us each year, has been back to work for us a few times and was awesome. Another 18 year old, was better with the baby than I was! She was the eldest of 12, and her job on the farm was to care for her siblings. As for living on their own, in my experience, we take the opposite approach- those that are in between high school and uni, as they are still used to living in their parent’s home, therefore would be more amendable to a curfew. Again, everyone’s approach varies, but it goes to show that you really need to get to know WHO your AP is before you match.

    AFhostmom February 4, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    See, we are very unique in that we actually did know our AP when we matched. And not by skpe, I mean she lived 4 houses down from us in our village in Germany, and babysat for our kids often while we were there. We have met both her parents, and we maintain a relationship with some mutual family friends. But clearly her being away from home–and LIVING with another family–are different than what she expected. She is far different than she was in Germany and seems less mature than she was in her home environment. I know some of it is culture shock (having lived in 3 countries in Europe, the ME and Asia, I can relate), but we’ve been overall disappointed.
    And for us, curfew is not an issue. She is free to stay out as late as she wants and has spent the night at a friend’s house before working.

    Mel February 8, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Thank you very much for all your helpful suggestions and insights. Still looking for our next au pair and it is slim out there. Fingers are crossed.

    Taking a Computer Lunch February 3, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    My question to the OP is: did she adjust after the first conversation or not. I expect, in the first few months, that I will have adjustments with my AP – some of them cultural, some of them not. Yes, every AP has wanted to fling her windows open – it’s either too hot or too cold or her room needs airing out. I explain to them that if its 30F and they turn all the heat off and open the windows, the house will still cool down/warm up and I will have to pay to regulate the temperature. I usually only have to ask once.

    I have learned over the years that most APs ask for the brands of food/water/etc with which they are most familiar. Asking for Evian may mean, “I don’t like the taste of the tap water here, could you please buy bottled water for me?” or it could mean “In my country the tap water is not safe to drink, please buy bottled water for me.” The trick is figuring out what motivates the request. Most APs understand when you reply, “X is too expensive, let’s see if this American brand suits your tastes.”

    My handbook states “You are an adult in this household because I would not hire a child to look after my kids.” It also states that I do not impose a curfew as long as they appear on time, dressed and ready for work. Every AP has risen to the occasion. I have never had to impose a curfew.

    Personally, I don’t baby my AP. I set her loose to get her own social security card, open her bank account, and set up her college courses. I don’t tell her own to spend her money (although my LCC always advises APs to save $100 each week to cover taxes, courses, and sudden expenses). I do my best to stay neutral when offering advice. Every AP gets one tour of our city, at least one trek to the supermarket, and is offered a trip to the local library when she arrives. DH drives with her to assess skills and once he determines her driving is acceptable, that’s that.

    If she’s leaving laundry to be done, ask her if she’s ever done it. Show her once (she might as well do the kids laundry with hers) and move on. After having one AP who refused to do socks and underwear with other laundry (cultural clash), I put up a chart of what was to be washed with what (my son did not want his white underwear washed with his new red socks) and asked that she follow it.

    Rematch if you’ve had to repeat conversations with your AP. If she learns quickly from her mistakes, then one month is a short time (although usually time enough for good and great APs to adapt) and you need to decide whether her being great with the kids is worth the investment of time and energy in getting up to speed.

    If you’re working from home – disappear when your AP takes over – let her work on her terms and don’t intercede even if you could do it better (unless real bodily harm is about to occur). If she hasn’t improved in two weeks, then it’s time to say goodbye.

    Calif Mom February 4, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    “You’re an adult in this house because I wouldn’t hire a child to look after my kids!” Perfect.

    I also have never been to the Social Security office or bank with an au pair. What better way to make some new friends (they have to reach out if they want help or advice) and learn your way around town?

    I do think it’s going to be hard “improvement”. I think the OP has to figure out how much annoyance she is willing to bear going forward, and whether she is really good with that. The “two weeks to improve” is very stilted. I mean, it takes a real loser to not be able to suck it up and do the job for two weeks when your boss is leaning on you.

    So she will. Because she means well, right? And once the AP gets through that period–trying her hardest every day, of course, and making a big show of it wiht the counselor becuase she really doesn’t want to go home–well, the host mom is going to feel a lot of pressure to acknowledge the improvement. And how much harder it is to rematch someone who has both shown improvement and trying hard! But at bottom, it may still be a bad fit, even if daily performance improves.

    Again, forgive my negativity on this, because I’m at heart an optimist and think people can reform and redeem themselves. But I am living daily with an au pair I don’t really like or respect, who is also doing the tasks she needs to do and is nicer to my kids (in a “let me buy you a slurpee so you don’t tell your mom I was late picking you up again” kind of way).

    We fixed the behaviors we knew about (nagging relentlessly, yelling, etc) but she’s still a shallow princess who wants me to dote on her and acts as if she is the center of OUR universe. Now she’s a shallow princess who wants me to dote on her and who is sucking up. See the difference?

    I’m stuck, because I’d have to be a Really Big Meanie to rematch her now. I’d hate to see the OP in this situation, because it’s pretty miserable. I have a hard time being seen as mean, but the counselor, my kids, the au pair, the au pairs in our neighborhood, her friends, they would all think I’m mean and that’s a big price for me.

    Now half the year is gone. Instead of rematching after just a couple months when I could easily have explained that the au pair just didn’t work out, I’d have to explain when it took 6 months.

    All of this is a much higher cost to me, emotionally, than it would have been to just rematch and make a clean break. Ironically, it’s the emotional energy that I just don’t have right now. I mean, if I were at a place in my life where I had that extra emotional energy, I’d be *willing* to dote on this princessy AP–or at least she wouldn’t get under my skin quite so much–and this whole problem wouldn’t be a problem. Sometimes a host mom doesn’t have more to give.

    The question is what to do when you don’t like your au pair and feel stuck.

    anonmom February 4, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    I just had to chuckle here, on the Social Security office. I never let them go alone to our office, as it is not the most savory place for a young girl to go alone. We tend to have a lot of problem people hanging around there, even I feel uncomfortable going there! But I completely understand- the show em around once, and you are on your own!

    HM Pippa February 8, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    “the host mom is going to feel a lot of pressure to acknowledge the improvement. And how much harder it is to rematch someone who has both shown improvement and trying hard! But at bottom, it may still be a bad fit, even if daily performance improves.”

    I couldn’t have said it better. The frank conversation may just make your situation worse–the princess might reform just enough to make you reconsider rematch, but not enough to be more help than hindrance. In my own experience, the little voice screaming “rematch” didn’t go away, but is now accompanied by a little green man telling me I’m Really Big Meanie who will never be satisfied.

    Should be working February 9, 2011 at 12:59 am

    Yep, I did that too. She DID improve on the concrete counts I could list (curfew, trashy outfits while doing childcare, etc.). And then I rematched anyway, which certainly seemed pretty rotten to her, and even to me, but it was the personality I couldn’t live with, not the behavior. In the future I would be more cautious about the ‘pre-rematch’ conversation. I think the agencies are too optimistic about what those conversations can actually accomplish. Although sometimes they help–e.g. Calif Mom had some positive outcome, but I think she is also still unhappy with her match.

    OP February 4, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Hello! OP here. First off, thank you so much to all of you for such thoughtful and empathetic advice. Just having a community to “hear” and understand my problem is worth a lot.

    So my husband and I decided to have one last extraordinarily frank, blunt conversation with her, laying all of the issues on the table, then having our LCC follow up with her to make sure that she fully understood what we need. That was two days ago and I would say that things have improved. She is definitely trying harder. Unfortunately, though, I totally agree with the poster who observed that having a conversation with someone, telling her to grow up, is not going to make her instantly grow up. Things are not perfect and I think it will come down to how much incremental maturity she gains vs. how much tolerance I have!

    I think that puts us in wait-and-see mode. I know I will be kicking myself for not acting sooner if we wind up in rematch in a couple of months, but hey, how delighted will I be if this does work? Maybe I’m too optimistic, but I would give it a reasonable chance for success.

    Anyway, big big thanks for all of the helpful advice. I will keep you all posted!

    PS – Wanted to clarify that my pajama angst was because she was expecting me to stay with the kids while she would go back to her room and get ready or was holding us up from leaving the house while she got ready (while on duty). We are a very PJ-friendly household! Also, many thanks for the cultural insight on “airing” out rooms! While my suggestion that she step outside onto the porch for fresh air still holds, I am intrigued that this is a cultural thing. :)

    NoVA Host Mom February 8, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    I understood the PJ thing right away. Our Princess did that. Work days are different than non-working days. As I write this, I am still in my own PJ’s (hey, I worked til midnight), and will change for my day in a bit.

    I hope it works out, but if it does not, make sure to tell her that you did see improvement and she is on a good start. I don’t know that I would give it “a couple of months” though. That might be dragging it longer than needed. Give her a set timeframe of what kind of improvement you need to see (with the process continuing) before you stop the scheduled Rematch start.

    1sttimeHMof4 February 11, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    Oh my, I think my previous post should have been on this thread! Do we have the same AP? Is this a generational thing? my AP is 22yrs old and sopposedly had been very independent at home. We interviewed on personality and approach to the kids,she is very sweet and gentle but very much a princess and kind of makes in known to us, which she did not do in many of her interviews via skype with us. So when do I know if this is something we put up with? She has only been here a month with us and our LCC thinks it is way too soon to even think rematch. However, I went back to work , have 4 children under the age of 6 and she will do nothing more than watch the children infront of the TV in PJ’s all day and pick my son up from kindergarten, oh yeah, and eat junk food all day with them. I mention cleaning up, or making something healthier to eat (as we have tons of options here) she kind of smiles and just says ok, but we had this talk several times already and she keeps agreeing, I keep outlining things and writing notes and no requests have been done. She has decided to stay in her room all the time during her free time and talking to her large network of friends here. I find myself staying up to 2am to prep food for daytime meals, clean up the play room, clean up the bedrooms, fold the laundry for the children and so forth. Since this is my first time, how long do I put up with this? Do I have a princess on my hands? How do I approach my LCC with these issues again? the sad thing is I think she is a super sweet girl and my kids love her.

    Dorsi February 12, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Do you have a manual that sets out expectations? It might be time to have a sit down to review the rules and ask her how she thinks she is meeting those expectations. You may have done this with her already (during your LCC meetings?) but it might be good to hear her own self-assessment at this point. I think that might tell you if she sees she needs to improve (workable) or if she thinks she is doing great (rematch!). I also think you need to read the “Did you ever regret rematch?” thread). It is inspiring.

    Darthastewart February 12, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    SHe may be sweet, but she’s not doing her job. Just because you like her doesn’t mean that she’s a good match for the job of being an au-pair.

    HRHM February 12, 2011 at 3:10 pm


    It’s the worst possible set of circumstances – a sweet girl, who you get along with but is a TERRIBLE Au Pair. I understand the conflicted feelings but you need to separate the two and figure out quickly if it’s a workable situation. I like the idea of asking her to self-evaluate. I remember when I worked for a large corp. they used to have this written tool which described/listed specific aspects of the job and we would have to rate ourselves on a 1-5 scale and give written comments. I think if you break down the AP’s job in this way (food prep, cleaning, kids laundry, outdoor activity, avoiding tv etc) and then ask her how she thinks she’s doing, she is going to rapidly show you that either she knows she’s doing a bad job and doesn’t care, or she is delusional. Either way, you wouldn’t keep your job if you weren’t doing it, no matter how super-sweet you were.

    Should be working February 14, 2011 at 4:44 am

    Great idea for the self-assessment tools. Wish the agencies would offer these. I also created my own ‘au pair log’ for weekdays and a different one for working weekend days.

    Anna February 12, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    Oh, this smiling and saying “OK” thing reminds me of something…
    I had an au pair that I had one issue with, and I was beating my head against the wall, meeting with her every week, giving her suggestions on how to fix it, once I even gave her “homework” for next week to come up with a list of things to do, and write every day how she did on them… Next week she did nothing! That really made me upset; how would your employer feel if they give you a task and a deadline, and come deadline you didn’t even start on the task? I really framed it like that for her..
    But at every meeting I would effervesce with all those helpful hints and suggestions, she would sit there smiling and nodding….
    to make a long story short, many months into that (when she probably thought I wouldn’t bother rematching so far in), she finally responded “I cannot change who I am”.

    BTW, the issue was not greeting my little toddler boy and not smiling at him each morning (on the surface; the real issue was not liking kids at all). He clung to my skirt and screamed and I had to tear him and physically thrust him into her hands DAILY before leaving for work. She wouldn’t even say hi or stretch out her hands. All he needed was a smile and a hug, he was (still is) very affectionate.

    Would I do it now? No, I would rematch much faster. This experience really scarred my kids, and I still get upset thinking about it, years later.

    Taking a Computer Lunch February 13, 2011 at 10:37 am

    When my first AP asked what the meaning of “lip-service” was, I responded: When I ask you to do something and you agree to do it and then do what you want anyway, you are giving me lip-service.”

    While it may be exhausting to care for 4 children under 6, your AP knew what she would be doing when she agreed to match with you – although she may not have understood what it meant.

    It’s time to have a talk – she’s sweet and the kids love her, so that’s plus, but you need her to extend herself and engage the kids while she’s working. So start with a discussion of your notes, have her read them to you and tell you what they mean. Ask her directly why she wasn’t able to perform that task. If you want to keep her, ask your cable provider about the means to disconnect the functionality of the TV and Internet for most of the day – surely there’s the means to do that.

    As for her diet – stop buying junk food and she won’t be able to feed it to your kids without heading out to the store with them. I make and freeze some foods that are easy to prepare – whole wheat waffles and pancakes, soups, and one-serving portions of items that The Camel can eat – shrimp cakes with sweet potatoes, salmon croquettes, spinach pie, broccoli quiche. For my non-cooking APs (most of them were capable of cooking a special meal but only one had ever done routine cooking before she arrived), this means they can easily put together a wholesome meal. Yes, it’s more work for me (I also do the routine cooking 4-6 days a week), but my kids eat healthier food as a result.

    I must say, that while I had my first AP do an occasional load of laundry (I had an infant and a special needs child that functioned at the infant level when she arrived), I did not have her clean up because I wanted her to spend time with my kids (The Camel had 5 therapists a week coming into the house and my son had one – they were both labor intensive kids for the first year she was with us). Because The Camel was a “lark” until she hit puberty, she was usually fed and dressed by the time my AP took over. Now that she’s an adolescent (and my APs work a split shift), the AP is the one who has to pry her out of bed in the morning.

    I think you do need to be emphatic – she is not babysitting – she is an adult member of your household in charge of helping you raise your children to be the best people they can be, and sitting in front of the television all day will not get them there. You cannot be the only one to read them books, engage them in conversation, take them outdoors to play, take them to the library, etc.

    I assume your AP is working 45 hours a week so you can go to work, but if she’s not working the full 45, then schedule in some evening time to help you pick up.

    1sttimeHMof4 February 13, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Thanks for all the replies! I agree that I want her to spent time with the children, but my expectation of cleaning up is to pick up the food wrappers she allowed the children to throw on the floor, and the empty juice boxes, and the toys shoveled under the sofa of thrown in the corner of the family room (as if a rake was taken across the floor and pushed in a corner). I am going to review the babysitting vs Au Pair situation with her because I clearly think she does not know the difference. My neighbors 17 yo daughter would babysit for free for me each day. This is not what I wanted. my AP currently works 40-42 hrs per week depending how late I get home Mon-Thurs. Fri she has a half a day and no weekend work at all.
    I did stop buying junk food and now she is eating all the packaged fruit, juicboxes, animal crackers in the pantry becuase she does not want to come up to the kitchen and eat with us. The pantry in on the lowel level of the home, near her bedroom door. Is she going to eat the baby food next? I just find this behavior bizzare. My husband thinks it is because she does not want to interact with the children when she if “off” and is refusing to come upstairs to see or talk to any of us. I keep asking her and all she keeps saying is I am ok. Well I AM NOT! having a sit down tomorrow night with the dreaded manual that I had to put together (she was given a few sheets with clear duties and schedules before and after she arrived) however, this clearly was not enough, so now I had to spell each and every item out one by one. How much time do I give after I do this? I do not want to put off rematch if the situation is going to worsen. I think I need to give her the facts, this needs to be done or rematch is going to occur…..not what I ever wanted to do, makes me sad and angry at the same time.

    JJ host mom February 13, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    I think it’s a common mistake (and one I made) to put off rematch for too long. 1sttimeHMof4, do some more reading on this site and see if you identify with any of the other posted situations. From what I can tell of your situation, it’s definitely time to rematch. Start documenting everything, have another sit-down with your AP and LCC outlining the things that must change, and a given time frame in which that should happen. (Maybe a week?) Let your LCC know if you don’t see significant changes at that time, you’ll initiate rematch. Meanwhile start working hard on your backup care plan.

    My 2 cents February 13, 2011 at 10:44 am

    Agree with all the above.

    It’s not to early to rematch. It couldn’t be clearer. Your LCC is just wrong.

    This girl doesn’t even sound sweet. She sounds like she doesn’t care and is hoping by smiling at you and saying okay you will just give up and adjust to HER. A sweet au pair that cared about you or the kids or even her job would be doing a heck of a lot more to meet you half-way and would be asking for your advice and not just clocking out once you came home to go live her other life.

    Steff February 13, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Uh, here goes my comment even though as an AP, I feel somewhat as though I’m getting into the lion’s den, BUT, just in case, I felt like I should say it anyways; the thing is, this last week I spent a good share of my time with a few APs from my country, all of them nice, super excited about their families and future year in the States, BUT, then this “practice” interview began. We were five girls + one girl from the agency who was conducting the interview IN English. That experience allowed me to see (oh-so very clear) the “Ok” smile and nod of the head. Maybe, just maybe, the problem with 1sttimeHMof4’s AP may also be the language barrier. I can say those girls at that interview were super willing to do things right and improve in what the agency lady told us -AS LONG, as she spoke to us in Spanish. The moment the questions started to come in English, it was as if some of the girls changed into these mannequins who could only nod their heads and smile at the question.
    I’m not trying to say this is the op’s case, but just to be safe, I’d try to make sure the AP ACTUALLY knows and understands what you are telling her and what you think she should do and she’s not. More-so, if she hasn’t been too long in the States and her English is still a bit too “poor”

    I am not, by any means trying to say she’s doing her job “right” so far, but still, after meeting the future APs I met last week, and their English level and ability to catch up the actual meaning of things just by listening, I thought I should say this anyhow.
    Wish you a lot of luck though, and hope things work out for you and your family (and AP too) soon :)

    Michigan Mom February 13, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    I think Steff could be right–it’s worth looking into. The experience I’ve had with the nod and the “OK” wasn’t with an au pair, but with a Chinese coworker who may have had mad programming skills, but couldn’t understand half of what we said to her. I think she would have been willing and able to do the work, but she just couldn’t function in a workplace where English was the first language.

    AFhostmom February 12, 2011 at 12:14 am

    1sttime, I feel your pain. We initiated rematch today after 5 months of slogging it out with a tv-crutch junk food eating couch laying AP. As others here knocked into my head, that is NOT ok, and 4 talks in a month is completely unacceptable. trust me, your resentment will just grow and grow, and it will take a toll on your family to keep someone who is not a good fit. Start documenting ALL of it, and if the LCC remains disagreeable, talk to another agency contact.

    1sttimeHMof4 February 12, 2011 at 12:54 am

    thanks for the advice, I didn’t share, but I also just found out that the “baby” she took care of was her little sister (knew that part) that had a full-time nanny in the house (did not know that part) so she really did not take care of the baby, which we all know is a lot of work. Granted she is taking care of my baby ok, but I am sure she is dissatisfied with the work. Also, the princess had a house keeper. My hindsight is very clear and did not know that I should have screened or interviewed in regards to these “things” as it is clearly impacting her perception of what she is and is not going to do in my house. I have news, i am not hiring a nanny or a housekeeper to keep her in my home……

    HRHM February 12, 2011 at 10:59 am

    It’s been discussed here in a couple different posts about how in certain cultures it is VERY common for even working class families to have daily domestic help. They will rarely admit this unless asked directly (not like they are stupid enough to put it in their application) and even then, they somtimes aren’t totally honest about it. And this is not to say that a girl raised in a home with cook, cleaner, nanny won’t be able to function as an AP, but if she’s used to the “domestics” doing it all, 1) is she going to KNOW how to do it, 2) is she going to think it’s beneath her OR 3) is she going to realize once she has to do it that she doesn’t WANT to?

    My neighbor across the street (from India) strongly reccomended an Indian girl when I started having entitlement issues with AP3, because she said they would be ashamed to argue with an adult. But when she realized that our AP has to clean her own bathroom she said “forget it, an Indian girl from a decent family would NEVER scrub a toilet!” They just don’t have to at home, there is an entire underclass who does that stuff.

    calif mom February 13, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    YAY AFhostmom!

    You won’t regret it. Best of luck–try to find someone in town whom you can interview in person. Makes a world of difference when you’ve been in this situation and are feeling anxious. You *will* find someone loads better. Not perfect, but definitely loads better. Look for can-do attitude and energy.

    wishing you all the best…

    MommyMia February 12, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    I think that’s true about certain cultures, including India, but I’ve never once seen any Indian candidates while searching four different agency’s databases, or on Some countries are not on the “approved” lists for au pairs, either because of problems issuing visas or political reasons, etc.

    azmom February 13, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    They are often pre-matched from India. I know we had a candidate from India with interexchange. They don’t have “public” databases though. We really wanted an indian candidate for the language since we probably will be heading there in a few years with a job transition.

    Calif Mom February 13, 2011 at 8:05 pm


    Our biggest Princess (ended up in rematch) was from a Brazilian middle-class home who had a full time housekeeper. Yes, her parents worked, but the au pair sure didn’t! She went shopping for a better gig among her extended network of au pair friends already in our metro area.

    Cut your losses and plan now for backup care, and get going on the rematch before you’re left scrambling. Your counselor doesn’t want to deal with it? Too bad. Call headquarters. I’ve had to do that before. It’s amazing how responsive your counselor will be when she gets a call from HQ. Suddenly she’ll agree with everything you say and bend over backwards to help find a good replacement.

    As for it being sad because she really loves the kids and they are getting along well with her…they will get along with the next one, too! I promise! especially with such young kids. You can explain this to your 6 year old and they will be okay, too. She’s only been there a month — do it now!

    The “loves kids” part of a good AP–while not totally guaranteed–is MUCH easier to find than finding someone who is a good fit for the parents and has all the other things you need for managing that many little ones: energetic but unflappable, creative, good judgment, willing to work hard, flexible, good driver, etc. Find someone with more of those skills, and they will love kids, too. Seriously, don’t sweat that part of this scenario. It’s a loooooong year when your AP isn’t meeting your needs. It’s hard on your marriage and your family dynamics–which are already hard enough to keep in balance when you are working! You deserve someone better, even though it will be very hard in the few weeks while you’re finding that someone.

    Good luck!

    AuPairBrazil February 15, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    All of this subject about being a Princess made me thing. I think you can be a princess at home, but depends on you to do a good job. I’m a Brazilian, I can say that we’re a “middle-upper-class”, we do have a full time housekeeper, but because my mom works, my dad works, my brother works, I work, so we need it. But on the weekends or when she is on vacation is up to us. We did, me and my mom, all the chores at home. Specially concerning about my bedroom. I don’t do, most of the time, things at home, but if I have to I can do it. I can clean a bathroom, ironing and washing my clothes and I can feed myself. And I have to learned when I spent two month in Canada, wasn’t a bid deal. And all the girls can learn, doesn’t matter if the are princess or not you can learn to wash a dish or to clean a bathroom.
    So I think all this discuss about the APs not doing their chores is more about responsability, because if you’re comitted to your job you do the things that you have to, you try your best o fulfill your duties.
    So, the best thing to do is to talk and expose the situation and see what happen next.

    · February 15, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    u r too idealistic I have to say….just don’t think things are that cut and dry, so……good luck

    DowntownHostMom February 16, 2011 at 11:59 am

    Just a random piece of advice that may be helpful in avoiding a princess and getting a proactive, self-motivated AP. I have found that South African Au Pairs who attended boarding school (very common there) tend to make great au pairs because they are used to cleaning up after themselves, are very independent, do not get home sick as much because they are very accustomed to spending long periods away from home and are very good at getting along with others (not to mention are well-educated and speak/read/write perfect English). I may have just lucked out, but its now a background trait I look for. I’m sure this would hold true for AP’s from other countries where boarding school is common, but I’m not sure which countries those would be.

    Taking a Computer Lunch February 16, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    I had a Chinese AP from a similar background (except the perfect English part), except what I found is that she was unused to being part of the family. While this may have been cultural, I found her aloof. We stopped pressuring her to join us on family outings, but we also found it a compelling reason not to extend.

    DowntownHostMom February 16, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    @ Taking a Computer Lunch – That’s interesting. At least in my SA AP’s case, while they go to boarding school, they still spend many weekends, holidays, summers etc. at home and the schools are relatively close to home generally so they still interact regularly with their own families as well. Perhaps the distances are further in your Chinese AP’s case or maybe it’s also a cultural difference?

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