Does Every Au Pair-Host Parent Relationship Deflate Towards The End?

by cv harquail on August 25, 2015

In a world where most AuPair-Host Parent relationships are just “fine”, are those of us who’ve had terrific Au Pairs simply lucky?

Or have we forgotten the hard parts –as we’ve forgotten the pain of childbirth, or the sleepless nights of new parenthood– and just held on tightly to the good?

8569015920_a9dffccf17_mTruth be told, I’ve erased lots of the petty annoyances from my memory.

I’ve forgotten my own short temper, my chronic disappointments, and my own awkwardnesses. I’ve forgotten the scratches on the car, the using of my favorite coffee mug, the clomping up the stairs to the third floor.

Or wait, maybe I haven’t forgotten them. Maybe I’ve pumped up the happy memories so that these have ultimately overshadowed the constant grind of Host Parenthood?

The disappointment in this Host Dad’s email, below, rang true to me.

How many times did I start off promising to be my ‘very best host mom’? To let the dumb things slide? To focus on the good?

To play the year like a DJ at a dance party, pumping up the beat till everyone in the room was having fun?

Is there any way to change the arc of the Au Pair year, so that there’s a better chance of a truly *happy* ending?

The HostDad writes:

It always seems to happen this way:

We start off great. But after about six months (and a few times even earlier), our relationship with our Au Pair seems to falter.  Towards the last month or two they grow distant. They start counting the days until the end. And everyone is relieved to say goodbye. A week later, we’re making a fresh start, welcoming a new Au Pair into our home.

Sometimes I think the whole experience is doomed from the start.    

Naive young adults looking for freedom and adventure soon figure out that the work is tough, the pay is too little, and they begin to resent their situation.

I am growing discouraged… I used to look forward to meeting a new Au Pair arrival…But not this time…I know how this movie ends. 

We have a happy family and a typical suburban life: School, weekly after-school activities, mostly consistent 6:30 family dinner time. We’re busy with parties or other events on most weekends and holidays.   Once a week we have Ice Cream night.  

Our schedule is very regular and the Au Pair ends her day at 4:30pm. Our Au Pair always has Saturday and Sunday off. There is an express bus to an exciting city 300 feet from our front door.

On rare occasions something happens and the Au Pair has to work later. We pay her extra for the time and thank her, feeling relieved that these situations are so uncommon it’s clear we’re not abusing the system (like the time I got a kidney stone and needed to be driven to the hospital.)  

I know its not the kids that tip things downhill. Quite often at restaurants people stop and tell us our kids are so well behaved! And they are well behaved at home too. We have 4 kids and teach them to be respectful. There’s a lot of laundry with 4 kids, but we also have 3 washers and 3 dryers so it goes quickly.

I occasionally give the Au Pair extra money when I have it just because.  I often give my credit card to the Au Pair so she can go buy whatever food she wants at the super market. Our Au Pair suite is 300 Sq/ft with 2 skylights, has its own thermostat, a full size bed, a desk with scanner/fax/printer and a pull out sofa for visitors.  The cleaning lady does the bathroom once a week.  There is also a large walk in closet and semi-private bathroom.  

There are No Curfews on non work nights and the Au Pair has a car with common restrictions.  We have never had an Au Pair extend with another family and 1 of our 2 rematches went home 2 weeks in because of a dental problem…the other couldn’t drive and went to a non driving family. 

We don’t discuss politics, divisive issues or discuss religion but we do all pray before each meal.  We try sticking to family business and goings on.  With 3 kids in school there is always something to hear about.  

So…Its not the kids, its not the rules, it’s not the living arrangements.

That leaves just host mom and / or host dad. Is it us?

We do our best to connect with an Au Pair less than 1/2 our age…we try but it seems to eventually go south. Resentment seems to set in over small things like meager pay and food habits, even though we follow the rules AND try to be generous.  

I don’t know what we could do differently.  Anyone?

~IsThatAllThereIs Host Dad

See also:

Advice Wanted: Lost Mojo, Cold Feet. Now what?
Phases of the AP Year
After the Honeymoon: Seasons of the Au Pair Year
Seasons of the Au Pair Year: What happens with extensions?


Image: TeddyBear by Longzijun on Flicker


Didi August 26, 2015 at 1:24 am

How many au pairs you have had? Honestly, you seem like a great, even dream, host family to any au pair. From au pairs perspective, I can say that maybe you are seeing it the wrong way.
Au Pairs come to US scared, lonely, usually young and unexperienced with English barely good enough. We spend our time with the family. We participate in your routine, we eat with you and we enjoy it. Soon we get to meet other au pairs, we start taking classes. Maybe there is some dating, clubs. Maybe 8-9h a day with kids gets too much on occasion( regardless how amazing they are, sometimes you just need a break). Things change because au pairs change. Families change. It could be that you are taking personally something that is natural, when au pair starts being more social and absent.

If there is build up of resentment, than it cold be something that you un-intentionally are doing? Not to be disrespectful, or saying it’s your fault as host parent, but it could be something that you don’t see as a big deal that triggered each of your au pairs to be DONE before being done.

Hopefully with new one you can establish different expectations, and also making sure that she is not only aware of all the perks you are giving her (like you mentioned above), but also all the bad things too. As parents, we can get used to our routines and life, that often we forget newcomers might not be able to keep up ( I am newcomer stepmom and it’s a process :))

Good luck. Don’t feel discouraged. I am maintaining amazing relationship with my former au pair family for years now, and being a nanny I kept nice relationship with all my former employers. It does take work and respect from each side.

AuPair Paris August 26, 2015 at 3:30 am

To be honest, it sounds like the perfect position! I mean, all the extra money and such – it sounds nice, though probably not necessary! So: I don’t think APs generally get resentful towards the end. Either they’re distancing themselves because they know they’re leaving, or you’re incredibly unlucky, or you’re misinterpreting normal behaviour, or… There’s something we don’t know?

Look the only think I can think of – are you *nice* to the AP? Do you make sarcastic comments, or butt into conversations to tell her she’s wrong all the time, or mock her accent or grammar? Or… I don’t know, make nasty passive aggressive comments about anything that goes wrong in the house, or yell at her, or criticise constantly? Or refuse to believe her when she tells you about bad behaviour? I’m trying to write down all the stories I’ve been told about difficult HPs… If it’s none of that, and the atmosphere in your house is nice (not one of fear, etc)… Then I can only think it must be a misinterpretation!

Anna August 26, 2015 at 6:14 am

How old are your au pairs? With my older, mature, with real life and job experience au pairs, this hasn’t happened.

Multitasking Host Mom August 26, 2015 at 6:54 am

Honestly, OP, from what you describe your situation sounds great. I think though that it is pretty typical that APs start to withdraw at the end of their year. I see the AP year being fairly intense for these young people….and it is often hard to go back to their “normal” life back home. By withdrawing at the end of their year it probably helps the APs cope with all that they are giving up during their time as APs. I have seen all my APs do it and the last two were great. I have just realized that it is something that happens, and I approach it with understanding.
I wonder if because you see yourself offering so many perks that it hurts you more personally that APs don’t maintain that constant state of gratefulness. I can understand you feeling that way. But in the end it is most likely them and not you (unless we are missing something here).

Taking a Computer Lunch August 26, 2015 at 7:04 am

I’ve written about the end-of-the year blues in several places. If your relationships are going south at the six-month mark, then perhaps you’re taking your AP’s member-of-the-family status for granted. Do you explicitly invite her to join you in family events? Does she get invited to join you for the soccer games, the school pageants, birthday parties? In some cultures, an invitation is expected – otherwise she may not be sure where she stands (my Brazilian APs wanted physical birthday party invitations, not just verbal ones). Have a check-in conversation if you feel that your relationship is heading south – it may be that she has met a great group of friends, and after a full day with your children, she wants to hang out with them and she’s not feeling upset or distant.

At the 8-month mark, things to change. The AP has to decide whether or not to extend or return home. For many young adults, this is their first experience living away from home, developing bonds, and having to say goodbye (they said “see you later” to friends and family when they left home to come live with you). It’s not just you and your kids that she may or may not see again, but many of her AP friends. As the day approaches for her departure, her sadness will grow. If she feels you pushing her away, then it’s easier to say goodbye.

Six weeks out, I usually sit the AP down, tell her how great she has been all year. How I know it’s hard to say goodbye to AP friends whose year ends before hers, and how I understand that she wants to spend as much time as possible with them before she and they depart (remember, even if your AP’s best friends are from her country, it may be months before she has an opportunity to travel to see them). Also, ask that she maintain the same great relationship with you and the kids in the weeks up to her departure, that she continue to work hard, and that you want the year to end on the right note so that door will always be open for a return visit.

This is a good time to explain how the year is going to end. Will you be driving her to the airport for her travel month? Will you be driving her to the airport after her travel month ends and she returns home? (I always tell my APs to come back for at least 48 hours after their travel month trip, to reorganize their luggage, say goodbye to the friends who are still here, and have one favorite family meal with us for the last time.) Talk to her about closing her bank account, returning library books and videos, and encourage her to seek your LCC’s advice about what else she needs to do as she transitions back home.

Remember, you’re going through changes, too. Chances are you’ve selected your next AP and are getting excited about her arrival (especially if you’re feeling done with your current AP and every tiny mistake she makes gets to your craw). Do your best not to let everything irritate you.

Finally, practicing ending the year on a high note will serve you well – because your own children will exhibit the same behaviors the summer before they head to college!

Taking a Computer Lunch August 26, 2015 at 9:18 pm

The other thing I want to add, is that this may very well be the first time the AP experiences dislocation and real separation from friends. I have found it very helpful to name it and describe it. As in “I know you’re really sad because X went home and you’re still here. You’ve had a lot of great times this year, and I realize that you may not feel like reaching out to new APs because you’re almost done with your year. It’s really hard to say goodbye to a lot of new friends, but really, that’s what being an adult and moving here and there is all about. Some people you’ll stay in touch with for the rest of your life, even though you rarely see them in person….”

Also, a great reward for a high-achieving end-of-year AP is a gift certificate to her favorite restaurant – enough to take out a friend or two. (Even if the restaurant isn’t the type to have plastic gift cards that you can buy in a supermarket, you can always walk in and buy a gift certificate.)

And even if your AP has the goodbye blues – arranging for a family photo for the AP is a good memento of her year. Plus, get a shot of just the kids for her and the rest of the family!

CapitolHostMom August 26, 2015 at 8:17 am

I’ve felt this pain and I known exactly what you mean. And a couple times, I have felt like I did the same thing as the au pair. I chalk it up to the human brain/spirit. Sometimes it’s easier to be distant when you’re preparing for a big goodbye. Once I realized that I do it, I try and continue to be supportive and kind. And I give the au pair a wide berth to feel what she’s feeling, even if she doesn’t know why she may be getting colder or more distant. We always remain close when she returns to her host country, so it doesn’t worry me.

Host Mom in the City August 26, 2015 at 9:51 am

This is a good point too. I definitely come out of the gate strong and then fade as the relationship continues. In the beginning, I’m prepping their room, putting together a welcome basket, planning out every minute of our first weekend together. I’m scheduling fun activities, making sure the house is clean, and the kids are excited about the “new girl” and on their best behavior. I’m saying thank you, cooking real dinners, giving her $20 for Starbucks after a particularly hard day.

After a few months of this, of course, life gets in the way! By the end of the year, my cleaning standards are much reduced, we rarely see each other because I’m straight out the door in the morning and she’s straight out with friends in the evening, kids are having meltdowns in front of her regularly, and we’re ordering pizza or eating cereal at 8pm :)

You know…typical life with kids!

I could see any au pair saying “my host family was so nice and organized and helpful in the beginning – now they just seem flustered and overwhelmed all the time. I just don’t know what happened!”

WarmStateMomma August 26, 2015 at 10:57 am

I was just thinking this about our family over the weekend! I always feel guilty throwing together a lousy dinner or ordering disappointing delivery food, but some weeks we just don’t have our act together and are just trying to get through alive. We’ve been doing this a lot lately while our AP has been going the extra mile with my girls. Guilt spiral….

NJ Mama August 26, 2015 at 8:37 am

I totally feel for HostDad.

Yes I have experienced the ebb and flow of the au pair/host family relationship before. I expect that in the beginning they will spend more time with us, and then when they meet friends they’ll spend less time with us. And yes I do expect the au pairs to not be as into the job toward the end. I think that’s normal. So my expectations are already adjusted.

But this last time was the first time I really felt that sense of entitlement corrupt nearly all aspects of the relationship in the final months. I don’t know if it was because the au pair started off so strong with us – so that made the falloff at the end that much more noticeable. Or that we were coming off another terrible ending, with our previous au pair moving out on us several months before her extension time was up because she had gotten engaged. So that made this falloff at the end even more disappointing this time. But I was definitely feeling like I was being taken advantage of in the end. ANYTHING out of the ordinary – like asking that she work a weekend once in a blue moon when she was still well under the 45-hour limit — turned into a big production, no matter how much of a heads up I gave.

I did have a pep talk with her about six-eight weeks before her departure. And for a time things did improve. But then she went back to treating our house as a way station. And when she was here she was on about 40%.

The one thing I do give her credit for is she did love the kids, and while she withdrew from the household, when she was here she really did give them her attention, even if she wasn’t doing all her duties 100%. So it made me wonder if her behavior was her way of distancing herself from them so the goodbye wouldn’t be as hard. But I don’t think she realized how much the kids noticed the change in her behavior. Or maybe she simply wasn’t that into the kids and wanted to spend all her time with her new friends- again, understandable. But I just wish when she was with us that she would hold up her end of the bargain.

The worst part for me is that it was really really hard to be excited about our next au pair. I feel very jaded. We’re a few weeks in with the new one, and while I am putting on a really positive face and trying to be ultra supportive about things like the driving situation (she is not a strong driver at all and we are doing a variety of things to bring her driving up to par), it’s hard not to be cynical about the whole thing.

I don’t think au pairs always see all of the effort we put in, all of the time and money that goes into their year. I don’t think they realize how hard it can be to welcome someone into your home to live with them for a year. I’m not really sure what the answer is.

Host Mom in the City August 26, 2015 at 9:45 am

This happened with my current (and last) au pair. However, I think I’ve realized that some of what I see as slipping is just her getting comfortable and being more herself. In the beginning, they’re unsure of what they can grab from the fridge, don’t want to ask for schedule changes, are doing their absolute best at the job, don’t have any friends yet to invite over even if they want to. Join you for dinner every night and try hard to make good conversation, etc.

We are a very warm, welcoming, and flexible family, and we try our hardest to show them that we want them to be themselves, to help themselves to what they need, to be flexible with us as we are with them, etc. By about six months, they finally loosen up enough to do that. But then, rather than the first six months when they are doing their absolute best to not disrupt me in any way, the last six months, they’r e much more willing to do what they want to do even if it would disrupt us. It’s when they start asking for scheduling changes or if I can come home early on a date night because they have a party they want to go to; it’s when friends start coming over and when they start coming home much later at night, waking us all up; it’s when they stop noticing crumbs all over the floor and dishes out when they feed the kids breakfast; it’s when they start leaving their own stuff out and asking to use the car all the time. Etc. Etc. Basically it just becomes more of a give and take relationship between real people, and after six months of basically living with the most perfect version of the au pair’s self, it’s jarring, especially because it typically coincides with being more comfortable (and lower performing) on the job.

Once I realized this, I realized this is actually what we WANT. For them to be comfortable enough to be themselves. And I need to get over being irritated by the requests and the interruptions – because, hey, that comes with having an au pair! It’s part of the “compensation.”

Do you think this is what’s happening? If so, I’d say that’s totally normal, and something that we host parents need to just let go.

That said, if it’s turning into less of a true relationship where both parties are being themselves, but also feeling free to be open about their needs – and more into an au pair who isn’t willing at all to see how much time you’re putting into the relationship and just wants to whine about her part of the deal, then obviously it’s something different.

NJ Mama August 26, 2015 at 10:38 am

I think what you describe definitely took place in my first two au pairs. After time passed, everyone got comfortable, which is a good thing. I also totally expect them to want to experience new things here and not to hang around the house as much. I expect them to use every weekend to explore the U.S. and do new things – or do their favorite things one last time. That doesn’t offend me at all – I think it’s normal. I also think it’s normal that they slack off on cleaning the house and doing laundry. I don’t necessarily like it when they do that, and I hate having to remind them to do things that were long ago routine, but again they’re young. It’s normal.

What happened in my last experience, and I think what it sounds like is happening with the OP, is that sometimes, families begin to feel like they can never do enough to please the au pair. No matter how many times you make it home early so they can go out, or how many weekends you give them off, or how many times you bend the rules with the curfew and the car, it’s somehow never enough. And then if you ask them to work on a weekend or take the au pair car in to be serviced, it turns into this huge production on their part. And then you have to hear about how so-and-so gets paid more, or gets to drive the car further, or whatever it is. it’s exhausting. And you think – jeez what happened? It wasn’t like this before.

Personally right now I am feeling very used up. And yet I’m still putting in a ton of effort to make the transition for the new au pair as smooth as it can be. It’s just gotten hard to not to be so cynical about it.

Host Mom in the City August 26, 2015 at 10:47 am

Totally agree, NJ Mama, that if it’s as you described, that’s a whole other thing. And I hear you on feeling “very used up” – you may have seen the other thread where I’m done with the au pair program for now after my current au pair leaves in less than a month. I simply don’t have the energy to put into another transition, for a lot of the reasons described here.

I’ve noticed that I personally like the program a lot more in the first six months than I do in the last – with all of my au pairs, even the three good ones. And a lot of it is just that the inconveniences of the au pair program become a lot more apparent that second half of the year, and it feels a lot more “expensive” to me given that I get reduced performance as the year goes on too. But I think we have to just assume that’s going to happen and be ok with it, rather than get resentful. Assuming, of course, that’s all that’s happening, and not something more.

NJ Mama August 26, 2015 at 1:09 pm

I did see your previous post HITC. I’d love to hear more about how you decided when the right time was to cut the cord and what your childcare plans are for the future. I am really hoping that after this year we’ll be able to get by with just hiring a local babysitter to drive the kids to their activities in the afternoons. But it will depend on how well my kids can get themselves off to school with minimal oversight. The oldest is nearly 12 … so in a year she will be nearly 13, and the youngest will be 10. It seems right, but it will be more responsibility for my oldest child. We are looking at this year as a year of transition. Starting after the holidays my kids will begin to take on more responsibilities, slowly, to pave the way.

It makes me sad in a way, because when the program works it is really wonderful. We have met some wonderful young women. We have learned a lot and grown from it. But right now it just feels too much like work

Host Mom in Paradise September 22, 2015 at 12:53 pm

HMitC and NJ Mama, this is totally my situation too. AP2 suddenly decided she’s getting married and moving out next week (!). AP1 left with no notice for health (?) reasons. And I’m just not sure I can do this again. We had the same struggles you and NJ Mama describe — awkward schedule changes, arguments about days off and “extra” hours over the typical 25 AP puts in, undone chores, etc. The house is definitely a way station for her. I’m interviewing part-time nannies right now; just so jaded from this whole experience. If I choose another au pair, it will probably extend my contract again and that’s just terrifying.

DCMomof3 August 26, 2015 at 3:33 pm

I know a lot of people on this blog really embrace the “family” part of the au pair program. And, I think that’s great for those whom it works for. I don’t really go “all out” on the family aspects anymore, but I feel like this kind of sets the right expectation and tone for everybody involved. The AP is here to work and have a cultural experience. We have her here because we need the help and are willing to open our home to a young person from another country. We don’t need to become BFF.

Yes, we try to be warm and welcoming. Whenever I bring home a little treat for the kids, the au pair gets one too. The AP gets to do some holidays with us, maybe a ski weekend or 2, she finds an easter basket outside her door, a pot of plastic gold from the lepruachan, she gets a cake to mark her 6 month anniversary with us, etc. I try to make sure that she gets special little things throughout her year, but I just do not go full on with welcome baskets, gifts, bonuses, inviting her everywhere with us, etc.

I’ve found that as time goes on, its hard as a host family to get psyched up on a new au pair coming in each year. And, I’ve also found that as APs have more and more ways to connect with AP friends before they even step foot on that plane in their home country, they kind of “need” the host family less and less. So, while I try to have a nice pleasant year and create a good home environment for our AP, I do not go out of my way to make it amazing for her.

This formulation seems to work just fine – I don’t get too wrapped up in her life, she doesn’t get too wrapped up in ours. We enjoy our time together and our time apart. AP knows that she is here to do a job and she works hard at it up until the last week. I’ve really not seen any fizzle at the end, but the APs seem to have a good year nonethless.

Host Mom in the City August 26, 2015 at 4:13 pm

I think I would do better with this approach myself. We tend to go all out :)

How do you present this at matching? Or do you just look for independence? I think many au pairs think they want a close family relationship, but then realize when they get here that they actually don’t need it. But it might be a turn-off to say this from the beginning.

dcmomof3 August 26, 2015 at 7:53 pm

Agree, you definitely need to be a bit careful about this during matching. However, you can just be honest about your experience – I say to candidates that generally in the very beginning, APs want to hang out with us, but then as they build up their social network, we see them less and less. I tell them to anticipate that their weekends and off time will be spent with friends. We ski and are gone every weekend in the winter. The au pair candidates always are excited and curious about this and I suppose naively think it would be fun to go off skiing every weekend. The reality is that with 3 kids involved in ski racing, its a lot of early, early mornings on the mountain, a lot of waiting around, schlepping equipment, etc. I tell candidates that if they are really committed to skiing that I can get them a season pass, but otherwise the reality is that they would probably miss their friends on the weekends if they came with us and were then stuck in a tiny ski town with nothing to do. And, I tell them I will be annoyed if I shell out for a season pass that the AP rarely uses. Nobody has accepted the season pass. They all come up once or twice a season (paid by us) and have a good time and that’s it. I think it just comes down to concrete examples during matching. And I ask questions of the APs as well – like what do you think your host family relationship will look like? How much time do you want to spend with your host family? What do you specifically want to do with your host family? It seems that with a lot of back and forth about on this topic in matching, we are able to set it up with the right expectations for everybody. It does need to be managed throughout the year, however. But, it seems to work fine for me to just tell an AP if I need my space, privacy, etc. And even this rarely happens since the APs are always so busy with their own social lives anyway.

Host Mom in Paradise September 22, 2015 at 12:57 pm

I certainly look for independence too. My family is tiny (I’m a single working mom of one kid) and I hate holidays. :) So an au pair is not going to get a family experience. For AP1 I imagined it would be family-like but that image quickly dissolved as the year progressed. For AP2 I think I tried to convey that we won’t have a ton of “family” time, but she’s welcome to come with us when we go to the zoo or birthdays or trips. What’s important to me is one-on-one time with my kid whenever I’m home, so AP is dismissed and can use all the night/weekend time for her own endeavors. I found it’s hard to tell that to an au pair without sounding like a real jerk. Any tips?

dcmomof3 September 22, 2015 at 1:13 pm

How about this as an email question or skype conversation question?

In my experience, most au pairs find lots of friends here and get the most out of their year by exploring with those friends – going out together during the week after work and taking weekend trips. You should expect to do the same. You may want to spend some time with us in the beginning to get to know us better, but I suspect that after the first few weeks, you will have a great group of friends and be ready to spend all of your free time with them. Does this sound like what you are expecting?

Newish in NZ August 26, 2015 at 9:28 pm

I think I can respond with a ‘Yes! I feel like that too!’ to part of every comment so far… The first months we (especially my husband – am I alone here?) find hard because the AP is around so much and we NEVER get a chance to be alone, even if it’s just to crash out on the couch and watch TV. She’s there when HD leaves for work in the morning, and there on the couch when he gets back in the evening, despite both these times being off-duty for her.

(I try hard to put myself in her position; I appreciate she’s not about to go socialise five nights a week in week 1… or 2…). But… a few months in, and maybe we’re thinking ‘she’s treating us like a hotel!’ as she grabs breakfast on the weekend and runs out the door, coming back well after we all go to bed. Poor girls can’t win! But yes, I think I prefer to try to give a warm and cultural experience, while not actually wanting someone to hang out with us 24/7 like one of the kids! I LOVE when they start to realise they don’t need us quite so much.

DCMomof3, I think you’ve got the kind of approach that would suit us! I go ‘all out’ and then feel disappointed (new AP didn’t mention the basket of welcome goodies and card we left in her room – I know that doesn’t mean she didn’t appreciate it, but just an acknowledgement would have been nice… or am I turning into my mother?!). Oh, I do love this site – makes me feel like everything is actually totally normal just when I’m thinking IS THIS GOING TO WORK? We have a great new AP, she’s just young, inexperienced (4 weeks in and I discovered yesterday she hadn’t washed her bed linen yet :)) and probably quite nervous still. She’ll be fine.

OP – all this to say, I agree with some of the other commenters who’ve said it’s natural and normal, but yes, disappointing (or frustrating). Any chance you’re perhaps feeling that, as you’re giving such a ‘good deal’, she’s just no longer as appreciative? Whether you’re conscious of it or not, it could affect how you act around her / talk to her and she may be picking up on it and wondering what’s going on, too. I’m guilty of this – but usually only in retrospect. Good luck!

NewAPMom August 27, 2015 at 2:38 pm

I felt this way with our first AP. We went all out when she came with a gift basket, etc, and she took and took and basically didn’t give back so much. We took her on a nice vacation with us too! I don’t think she appreciated what we did. In retrospect we should have rematched. She asked for ridiculous foods, asked for even more ridiculous foods at the end (which we ignored), and we stopped inviting her along to family outings, etc because she would only be present physically, but that’s it. Looking back I think she saw it as a great way to be abroad on someone else’s dime and the kids were secondary. We are onto our new AP whom I was very nervous about based on our last experience. This AP though is totally different, awesome with the kids, and so appreciative and doesn’t ask for anything. I’m hoping it’s going to better year. We were really blunt in our application and said that we wanted someone who would not treat us like a hotel or restaurant, and would look after themselves. We also made sure to say we wanted someone who would develop a social network here. I am hoping by being really honest in our expectations this year will be a better one.

Dorsi August 27, 2015 at 4:00 pm

I think of the AP year a lot like a school year. It begins with excitement and anticipation, but no matter how awesome it is, you are ready for summer when it comes around. I think that the full-time stress of taking care of kids and living with them for long hours wears people down over the year – it is hard to maintain stamina.

I use this analogy when friends remark that they couldn’t imagine the turmoil it would cause if their kids had to have a new care provider every year (These are usually the friends searching for their first nanny – 7 months later, when they are finding their second nanny, they are less down on Au Pair, 6 months after that when they are finding nanny #3, they become more willing to consider the program).

TexasHM August 27, 2015 at 5:25 pm

Dorsi I was just thinking about this yesterday! I had a coworker remark “wow you have had a lot of them” when I rattled off our basically 4 APs in 4.5 years (current is 4mos in). It got me thinking back to what we did before APs and I realized then that even then our longest stints were 22 months (very close family friend) and 26 months (in home provider near our house with kids of her own). In between we had 2 other scenarios that lasted 5 months and 24 months and we actually got very lucky with our first and last scenario and knew the owner (family) of the daycare that we were with 24 months (left because I was having DD and didn’t want a newborn in a larger daycare facility) so who are we kidding really? Even with my family/friend hookups and blessed scenarios the most we could ever swing was about two years which we got out of the AP program with AP1.

Now that the kids all just started school (OMGoodness how awesome is it having an AP with school aged kids?!?!) I don’t stress so much about the turnover and its more about the cultural exchange and excitement of spending whatever amount of time with the AP and learning what we can.

AP1 faded at the end because she got engaged and got short timers syndrome but that aside, she did her job and did things with the family through year two right up until that last 90 days. AP2 had a family emergency but got hit hard around the same time (start of year 2) with homesickness and her best AP friend leaving all at once. She didn’t shirk her job duties or avoid us though. She was up Christmas morning in PJs on the floor with the kids and did a fantastic job of training the rematch AP that replaced her when she had to leave unexpectedly.

AP3 was a rockstar through and through and cried when I dropped her at the airport and didn’t want to get on the plane (we were in the middle of crashing and burning with AP4 who made it one day on her own). In hindsight I should have broken the match with AP4 and let AP3 extend 6 more months. Still kicking myself. AP3 did a great job day in and out and was a family member to the end.

When AP4 burned out AP1 covered for us until AP5 got here and did an AMAZING job when we needed her most!

AP5 is only about 4 months in so I can’t speak to where she will end as every year is different. She got hit with culture shock earlier than the others (but she also adjusted and got comfortable quicker than the others too) and I figured would never extend but has started pondering it. As long as she keeps working hard and has goals we will consider it.

We are at the point where we do like the switch largely because one of the things we most enjoy about the AP program is how excited they get about everything and how fun it is to watch them grow and have all these “new” experiences while we get to see them too from a new perspective. Once we have shared for a year we definitely make an effort to find new things to do, places to go to keep that spirit alive.

In the OPs case it could be several things – AP entitlement – I swear that recent post asking if it is getting worse must have been onto something as what I have seen in the last month alone dwarfs the last year in this area but it could also be that your (OP) excitement wanes too. I also find it easier to distance myself from the AP before they leave (dumb I know) because I hate goodbyes and especially if they are great its hard to let them go and get excited for the next one.

As far as fun year vs hard work we have 3 kids and always looked for APs with real work experience and real goals. We have yet to get a gap year travel fun AP (some is probably due to location weeding out the ones with movie stars in their eyes). I had a HM friend in a VERY good situation (3 homes, loaded, AP worked maybe 15 hours a week) that only hosted rematch APs because all her OOC APs were princesses. No matter how hard she screened they saw NYC, Dad works on Wall Street, AP has own guest house, summer in Hamptons. She was 0 for 3 on OOC and 4 for 4 on rematch APs so she just decided to only host rematch APs after that. They were super appreciative, gracious and went above and beyond for her knowing what a great situation they had vs what they had come from. If you are in a desired geo (and you obviously have a nice gig) you might consider that.

AlwaysHopeful HM August 27, 2015 at 7:34 pm

OP, reading your description, I wonder if maybe the relationship with your au pairs is too “surface,” which can be maintained for a while but after a while can get stale. Of course, I’ve only seen the snippet you have written here, and I have no idea what types of interactions you and your AP have, but I was struck by the description of family conversations (only family business, never anything controversial, sounds like perhaps only what’s going on with the kids?). I’d never suggest that you should draw the au pair into heated arguments, but if you never talk about what she’s thinking or feeling about the world at large, she may feel somewhat disregarded and disconnected. Also, I noticed that your description of the au pair’s experience focused on all of the tangible perks you offer. Those sound great, but if she’s really looking for connection, they may become less important as the year goes by. If she doesn’t know what she wants from you, focusing on the quality of the perks may be just a safe thing to vent about. You mentioned that you are looking for ways to connect with an au pair 1/2 your age. I would start by asking her. What does she like to do? What kinds of movies does she enjoy? What are her dreams for the future? What are some of the zaniest, most exciting, most eye-opening things she’s experienced during her time in the US? What kinds of conversations do you have with her when the kids are not around? What do you share with her about yourself, your thoughts, your dreams, what you were like at her age, etc.?

I could be way off, and i should be clear that I am in the family relationship camp of HMs. For me, personally, I couldn’t sustain a warm, cheerful relationship with someone living in my home for a year unless they truly were integrated as a family member. It may be that the au pairs you’ve selected are in that same camp and, if you are not, that selecting an au pair who is happier with a business/ roommate type relationship could be a better long-term fit.

Amelie August 28, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Just to share something positive… mine didn’t. I really liked my host family, and we had an amazing relationship until the end. I was 24/25 when I was an au pair (this was back in 2009).

German Au-Pair August 28, 2015 at 4:05 pm

I haven’t read through all the comments yet but I will say that even if you love your situation, the kids, the parents, there usually is a time when you feel like you’re done being an AP. It was like that for me and I was also very happy with my situation. I know a lot of people who feel/felt the same. The thing is that being in AP is always meant to be a temporary gig. I personally didn’t feel like I was done after one year but after my second year was up, most certainly did. I was done working and living in the same place. I was done taking care of other people’s children without any real authority. I was done being around the kids (and dealing with their problems) even when I was off. That said: I LOVE my kids and I’m going back to visit them soon. I loved my HF and was so grateful to them. I bawled my eyes out when I had to leave and got homesick when I was back. It was natural for me to spend time with them even when I wasn’t on the clock. One thing doesn’t have anything to do with the other.
As an AP you live with children similiar to as when they are yours except they’re not yours. They don’t go away just because you’re off and when they scream at each the fact that you’re off doesn’t make your headache any better -but it does prevent you from putting it to a stop. You may be off but you always have them around and even if you love them to death, I’m sure that every parent will understand when I say: sometimes you just don’t want them to be around. You also have the time of your life and you love the family and kids and where you live and the freedom but you also have to figure out what’s up next. You have to look for a job, decide what to do, maybe apply to colleges. So your mind is already at the next step. And once this is taken, you are looking forward to that and you also are very aware of the fact that your AP year is not REALLY working towards your future. I am pursuing a career as a teacher and I’m studying English to do it so it helped towards my career and I knew that at the time. But even though I was so happy with being there and it was so hard to leave, I also just felt like I was done. Like now was the time to dive into the next thing and build my own life instead of living in somebody else’s if that makes sense.
I had the most perfect time and wouldn’t want to miss a second of it but I most definitely had this moment when my mind was at peace with moving on and it had nothing to do with my HF or being unhappy with anything.

I would honestly just chat with an AP if you feel like something has changed and maybe both sides will feel better afterwards.

HM and CC August 29, 2015 at 8:57 am

I think there are definitely stages to the year that all APs and HF go through. We are just starting out with our 3rd AP, and I am trying to be careful not to treat her like a guest. When she jumps up to help clear the dishes, it’s automatic for my husband or me to say “don’t worry, we will get those” (as we would with a guest). But this time, I’m trying to say, “Thank you. I love how you are contributing right away and really see how this job works.” She’s hanging out with us 24/7 right now, but she won’t as soon as she makes friends, gets her cell phone, and figures out the bus system. So then we will be on go stage two, etc. And those 8 month notification packets really do get the wheels spinning for both the AP and HF.
I’m also a CC and I can see the stages more clearly from that vantage point. I send emails to the HF and the APs around month 9 end encouraging them to end the year on a high note. I also talk to the APs about it a lot during their last 3 months. I find that some handle the transistion better than others.

One of a Kind :D August 30, 2015 at 8:43 pm

I think this is a great post with so many great points.
I’m a first time Au Pair, and I love my kids to bits. I don’t get the best benefits in the world but I don’t need it.
In the beginning of this year I thought I would be part of the family. All the brochures and websites make it sound like you’ll be part of a family, the “big brother/sister”. They make it sound as if you’ll have an impact because that is all you really want to do. I think I had a great relationship in the beginning with my host parents.

I know it’s different for many Au Pairs and the reasons why they come are all different but for me the relationships with my host parents start fading because I realized I’m not part of this family. Yes I am in a way part of the family because I have a room here and they take care of me, but host parents are in essence my employer. Eventually I just feel like they’re mad at me because I didn’t do something right. They aren’t. It’s just that they want their family to be together. So where do I fit in inside that picture?

It’s not easy leaving everything behind for this great big adventure. Its so much fun and I think for many Au Pairs it’s a wake up call to life. While you’re an Au Pair no one is there to protect you from life. You have to stand on your two feet, make decisions and stick with them. You get support from your family and friends back home but it’s different. I think as an Au Pair you tend to leave the house after work and become more disconnected with the family closer to the end because it’s not like they will listen to the details of your day and if it was a hard one give you a hug and just give you that support you need, so you turn to your friends.
Your mind is already busy with what your future holds for you in any case and what’s your next big adventure.
I think maybe there are host parents that will maybe do that but their focus is on their families. And it’s not a bad thing. It’s normal and good. You just have to find a way to deal with it. Acknowledging it, is the first step.
I just think maybe not putting so much light on it being a ‘family’ experience is key. It won’t create the expectation and it will attract the right kind of au pair that is willing to do their job without expecting to be part of the family. I think maybe I’ve become distant in my own family mainly because I can see the frustration in my host mother’s eyes when I walk in a room and I realize she wants family time. I feel like an intruder but when we started talking about it I was totally happy about giving the family their space. It’s hard to figure out when you’re actually allowed to part of the family and when they want to have their own time. I just tend to keep my distance because i struggle to figure this out.
I love being an Au Pair, but in the beginning expectation really does matter because the agency as well as the host parents create it.

Schmetterfink September 1, 2015 at 9:36 am

I have to admit I got hung up on the first paragraph.

Of course I can’t speak for all au pairs. But I can speak for myself and how I, in retrospect, reacted to the year coming to an end. I can only hope that my family didn’t feel I was slacking (I know the “job” part always got done, I don’t know if the “family” part got done enough during the last weeks – but that’s too late now, nothing I can change about that 15 years later).

“They start counting the days until the end. ”

Do not see “counting the days” as a sign that your au pair is relieved to get away from you and to go back home. Yes, you are excited that you will be able to see your family and friends again soon, but… counting the days also comes with a bang of pain.

You see you have 100 days left. 90 days left. 20 days left.

There is so much you wanted to do. So much you still want to see. So many things you enjoyed and you need to do again. Go to your favorite restaurant one more time. Have one more coffee in your favorite cafe. See that one movie that is coming out in a month. Take that weekend trip to DC. Go to the amusement park with your best friends. See off your friend that leaves six weeks before you. Welcome new au pairs. Have farewell parties. Have your farewell party

There are so many “firsts” in the year an au pair gets to spend in the US. And there are so so many “lasts”. And the closer it comes to the end of the year, the quicker the time passes. Time starts flying three months out. There were so many “firsts” that you had planned. So many “firsts” you didn’t get to do because there just wasn’t enough time. So many “firsts” you want to repeat because you will never get to do them again. You start saying goodbye to people that arrived before you did and you know your year is coming to an end as well.

If you haven’t experienced it yourself it’s hard to understand how torn one can feel. You have built a life for yourself, made friends, made your new city your home, adapted to a strange, new culture, adjusted to a family that is not like the one you left behind in your home country and now you will have to leave it all behind. And you will never get it back. This is it and it will soon be over.

“But after about six months (and a few times even earlier), our relationship with our Au Pair seems to falter. Towards the last month or two they grow distant. And everyone is relieved to say goodbye.”

You know your year will be over soon. Even if you felt like part of the family (though of course you always knew you are not) and maybe even more so, you know you are not. In 100 days, in 90 days, in 20 days… you will (again) leave “your family” behind. But other than your birth family you are returning to, you do not know if you will be able to come back. Or if the family will even want you to come back. In a good match, you will only have had one family… they are “your” family.

But the family has other au pairs. They came before you, there are pictures of them on the wall or in the photo album, the family might talk about them every once in a while… the first au pair they had, the second, Sarah from Austria, Hilde from Sweden, Claudine from France… to them, while they might have loved them all, you are just one au pair out of many. There will be more au pairs after you. My friend was AP #9 or 10 for her host family.

From the way her HM talked about the previous au pairs she knew, she’d eventually become a number. She knew that, eventually, her host mom would talk about her as she was talking about the au pairs before her… that girl from country x who was good at doing y but never did z.

No matter how much you love your host family. No matter how much they like you. Deep inside you already fear that you will eventually lose touch. They have busy lives. You will have a busy life. Yes, you might dream that you will be one of those matches where you will “always” be in touch. Where you will be kept in the loop by regular emails or Christmas cards. You need to start growing apart from them. To make sure you won’t get hurt. It hurt leaving your family and friends behind in your home country… so if you get too attached to your host family, how much will it hurt to leave them behind?

It’s easier and less painful to say good bye if you have already grown distant. It’s much, much harder to say good bye to a family you are close to and leave your kids and your baby behind. To snatch that one last kiss from “your” 2 year old, who will soon be somebody elses 2 year old and will grow up to be this amazing 17 year old and who will not know you because she was too little when you were there. It’s so hard to snuggle that little 2 week old baby just one more time. The one who will not remember you because he never got to know you. You sneak in that last hug with the pre-teen that doesn’t hug. And that one secret snack time ice cream with your teenager. Who will both of course remember you as they were old enough but whom you will never get to “know” because you will be thousands of miles away.

And while you might see them graduate, get married and have children on social media, and you will be able to see how wonderful and smart and just amazing they grew up to be, you will never be part of their lives again while they will always be part of yours. But to you, they will always remain the ages they were when you left them. Your 2-year old might be 17 and the prettiest girl you have ever seen but to you, she will always be that cuddly 2 year old that loves cheese and jumping on the trampoline. You remember her. But you do not know her. And you know you never will. (You also feel like the worst stalker in the world because you googled her instagram but are to scared to contact her because she doesn’t know you and you are an old creep and whoa, why would that old lady in her 30s contact a teenager that won’t even remember her?)

Saying good bye to a host family that you were not close to. One that you think should never have had an au pair. That is like your neighbors moving. You don’t mind. (And yes, my second au pair experience in Europe ended that way) You exchange pleasantries if you ever run into each other, which you won’t because you run in different circles and hey, they moved, but it doesn’t hurt. And it doesn’t leave this family shaped gap in your heart and the doubts if you really always did your best or if you could have done better, spent more time with them and remained closer to them. Because life happens. And we all know how difficult it can be too keep in touch with old friends from school even if you only live in different parts of the country.

Some au pair start slacking because they didn’t realize being an au pair is a job. Because the fell for the glossy magazines. Because they thought it’d be a year of fun, interupted by short stints of babysitting.
Some au pairs feel that their family needs “family time”. And they simply are not part of the family. Some families don’t expect much family time from their au pairs but are happy about an independent au pair that does not crash on the living room couch every single night and is just always around. So familes want their au pairs there for the “boring stuff” and don’t want to feel like a hotel with three meals a day.

Some au pair start growing more distant because they need to protect themselves.
And some au pairs get more distant because they mirror their host families expectations. Maybe because they feel that their host dad is already feeling “discouraged” and considers them a “naive young adult” who is only “looking for freedom and adventure” but is really “resent[ing] their situation” because she is counting the short time she has left in the US, with so much still to do? [On the other hand how can you not be naive and looking for freedom and adventure when you are 18/19/20 and move around half the world to live in a family you don’t know to take care of children you don’t know? If you were not at least a little bit naive and a little adventurous… you wouldn’t do it. You’d stay home and go on enjoying your life at home. Oh my, now I sound old and sarcastic. Again.]

Schmetterfink September 1, 2015 at 9:42 am

Sorry about rambling up there.

I just wanted to add that… if you had an au pair that you were fond of… that you liked… but that you have lost touch with? If you can, send her a Christmas card this year.

To show her you are thinking of her. And you remember her. And even though you have grown apart because “life” happened and you moved and they moved and you have a busy job and kids and a new au pair and your aunt is sick and she is at school and studying and a poor college student who can’t visit… Wish her a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Because she will appreciate it.

WarmStateMomma September 1, 2015 at 11:19 am

Thank you for this perspective!! I will reach out to our previous APs this week.

cv harquail September 1, 2015 at 6:00 pm


TexasHM September 1, 2015 at 12:30 pm

Wow. I knew a lot of this intuitively from hosting but thank you for the feedback/perspective.

We are very close to our APs. AP1 lives close by and just asked us to be godparents to her new baby girl (after asking to use our youngest daughter’s middle name for her baby’s name).

AP2 is travelling the world in her dream job as an international flight attendant and regularly sends us pictures and notes and “voicenotes” on WhatsApp and has already applied for a visa to take on US routes and has listed our home airport as #1 on her route request list over NYC, LA, Chicago, etc.

AP3 and I speak/message almost daily on WhatsApp. I miss her like crazy and AP1 actually setup a WhatsApp group called “LastName’s APs” with all of them on it so that she and current AP can share pictures and current happenings, voicenotes, etc with AP2 and AP3 who aren’t here to keep them up to date and in the loop.

In a weird way, I kind of wish we had had all of them for two full years so that we do have a small, close knit group of APs that are our extended family.

It’s these lovely ladies that talked us back into the program and bringing AP4 into our home after a quick crash and burn AP experience. In fact I kind of feel like future candidates should interview with that group because if they don’t like them, I don’t know how that would work! (They all loved AP4’s profile and emails and 2/3 Skyped with her before we matched – the third was out of pocket but read the emails and enthusiastically approved and she doesn’t get enthused about much. ;) )

The counting days were definitely painful for our APs and they made that known. I have had the same conversation with each one – even if the kids don’t remember everything – YOU can! These are YOUR memories that no other AP – even futures can take from you. You potty trained my girls, you saw the first tooth, you saw the first dance recital, you saw the stitches and dent in the wall, you and I had the laughing fit over a giraffe. You can only live for now and today and you can see what you are “losing” or count what you have gained. A year of experiences, growth, love, laughter, friendships and travel that you can take with you forever.

It is hard (I ugly cried the whole way home from dropping AP3 at the airport) for both sides. The kids ask about you after you leave which pulls my heartstrings because I miss you! Even if the next AP is awesome I miss you.

I miss watching AP1’s motherly instincts (now I get to watch again since she has had a baby!), I miss AP2’s belly laugh and singing voice. I miss AP3’s razor sharp wit and sarcasm and her French stubbornness. I see things all the time that remind me of you because while you left, you imprinted here. I see the dent in the car door, the skill you taught DS that he still uses, the photo book you made us of your year that the kids still go through at least once a week, the presents you gave us for birthdays and Christmas that we use, the piano in the front room I bought for you to play, the decor you helped me pick out, the fading scar on my husbands hand and how grateful I was that you took the kids while I rushed him to the hospital and the direct fruits of your labor – the happy, healthy, confident, well adjusted children that you helped raise.

The family shaped hole in the heart got me. In large part because I feel like every AP takes an AP shaped hole out of my heart back to her part of the world! There are moments where, just like when you think about loving more than one child and wondering how you ever could love another as much as your first, I realize that my heart grows each time to accommodate a new AP and that if missing you is the price I pay to reap the rewards of having you here for a year then it is worth it as I watch you grow and excel in your life back home, watching from a distance.

cv harquail September 1, 2015 at 5:58 pm

You made me start crying. Darn you, TxHM!

KarineAP September 14, 2015 at 11:13 pm

I absolutely do not know what the problem is. Actually, after reading your email all I want is to be your family’s au pair.

Now, trying to help. It might be the whole situation, and not something that depends on anyone. What was once new for both your family and the au pair now is old news.What once was a super fun year away from family becomes a whoooole 365 days away from family.

Routine can be both disappointing and absolutely satisfying ate the same time, so it is okay to no longer feel amused by the same thing after 6 months.

Host Mom in Paradise September 22, 2015 at 1:14 pm

Me too!!! Ack!!!

icsamerica September 27, 2015 at 10:25 pm

It’s happened again…and real quick this time. After about 2 weeks our new Au Pair became somewhat withdrawn. She has a boyfriend back home and this was a concern for us based on past experiences. Au Pair and host mum discussed this somewhat and now Au Pair seems to be acting sneaky. We suspect she has a USA boy friend now and doesn’t want us to know because we know about her boy friend at home and she probably thinks we will judge her. This is quite irksome because we dont like the sneakiness and we wouldn’t judge her private relationship choices and situations. Also when Au Pair wants help with something during her off hours…like a form or an on-line purchase, she is sweat as could be. If during her off hours we reach out to her… for example to let her know we brought fresh items home from the bakery when she emerged from her room…then.its like we are bothering her. A simple “No thanks I’ll eat later will do just fine” We got the feeling we were snookered right from the get go…Au Pair arrived and didn’t know how to change a diaper….the “experience driver” who “drives 5 times or more per week” didn’t have good road skills and after some time with her behind the wheel it was obvious that driving was a relative new experience.
We know how to pick ’em. It’s going to be a long year.

LuckyHM#3 September 29, 2015 at 7:56 am

I’m curious though, if you feel like this after 2 weeks, then why would you stay together for the whole year. If your AP can’t drive, change diapers or be a nice roommate, not sure why rematch is not an option. I too was pretty scared of rematching till we recently went through it and found that is not the end of the world. Good luck

momo4 September 29, 2015 at 12:57 pm

After suffering through a whole year with an AP who was not a good fit for our family I strongly recommend that you consider rematching.

I realize that this is a “do as I say not as I did”, but trust me, any issues in the beginning of the year that bother you will only get worse as the year goes by. We are on our 9th AP, and I have never seen an au pair’s attitude, work ethic or personality improve over the course of the year.

The paradox is that although you become increasingly irritated as the year goes by, the longer she stays with you the harder it can be emotionally to initiate rematch.

I’m sure that a lot of people (including your community counselor) will encourage you to talk it all out with the AP and find a way to make it work, but in my experience sometimes it’s just not good match and all the effort and investment in the world will not change that. If it 2 weeks in you are already irritated enough that you are dreading the remainder of the year, it really does not bode well.

There are certainly nightmare stories about the horrors of rematching, but it is actually quite common and is not the end of the world. Take it from me: Spending a miserable year with an AP who does not make your life easier or you home happier is the real nighmare to avoid.

momo4 September 29, 2015 at 1:11 pm

I should add that I have rematched in the past, and it was stressful and awkward, but the next AP was a much better match!

Host Mom in Paradise September 29, 2015 at 1:03 pm

So AP#2 left last night. She’s moving to another state to get married. She left quietly in the middle of the night, washed the dishes and stripped the bed before leaving, but kinda forgot to say good-bye to both me and the kid… and while he is totally fine, no attachment issues, etc., I’m feeling like the house is eerily empty. I think we’re going to go with a live-out nanny for a while because my two AP experiences in the last 13 months have been less than awesome. I don’t know how you guys can do it.

Should be working September 29, 2015 at 4:28 pm

That is weird, to leave without saying goodbye. Maybe it is because she seems to be jumping her visa. If she’s not an AP, her visa is not valid I believe. Fiancee visas are a different story and I’m not sure you can get them in-country very easily.

I’m willing to armchair-diagnose any matching issues you might not have been aware of, if you want. What country were the 2 APs from? What criteria did you use to pick them? What did your handbook say? What questions did you ask?

Not that you are to blame AT ALL for this, but just to consider what interview techniques might provide better screening.

Host Mom in Paradise September 30, 2015 at 3:14 pm

That would be awesome. My technique thus far is to narrow down the list of candidates to folks who speak my preferred language. That leaves 1 girl. Then I talk to her and we match. Thoughts on a better process? :)

LuckyHM#3 September 30, 2015 at 4:42 pm

Thats an interesting way to match. Are you saying that speaking your preferred language is the only criteria? If so, in my opinion, that may not be the best way to actually find someone who will fit into your family and be a good room mate. I’m by no means an expert since only on our 3rd AP. We really liked our 1st AP, rematched with our 2nd and then used all the insights from all the awesome HMs here such as the post by TexasHM (search for the post from a few months ago) to select our current 3rd AP and 2 months in, I can say that she’s AMAZING even more than our 1st which was just plain luck. I can say that I am now bought into using a more programmatic approach that includes multiple emails exchanges before we even Skype, looking at birth order, looking at not just # of driving years but actual driving experience, sending questions by email and reviewing answers.

Is the language obscure – asking because you could only find 1 candidate? How important is the APs ability to speak the language vs other qualities? Are you open to matching from out of country?

Host Mom in Paradise October 1, 2015 at 2:17 pm

I didn’t think that my language is obscure, but turns out there just aren’t many fluent speakers/readers/writers coming as au pairs from countries with that language. Maybe it’s a visa issue. I don’t know. Both times I was looking to match, there was only one fluent speaker. AP#1 matched from abroad. AP#2 was a rematch and the only speaker of my language including out-of-country APs on the site, and she didn’t read or write it. Right now I’m in rematch and I see no APs speaking my preferred language.

The idea of someone speaking this language with my son is what got me into the AP program, because it’s important to me to raise my son bilingual. If I loosen this requirement, then I don’t need an AP, because I only need about 25 hr/wk of work and the cost of an AP is significant for me.

I went into “deferred” status and maybe that will help me find a few different candidates to interview over the next six months. Then I can get better at interviewing. But even then, if there’s only one or two candidates trickling through at a time, it’s hard to make a decision. It turns into a game of “do I take AP #1? Or see what’s behind door #2?”

Thoughts? I would love some tips here. Anyone else looking at a sparse candidate pool? Have you been through this before? What should I be doing differently?

LuckyHM#3 October 1, 2015 at 2:46 pm

Host Mom in Paradise – I feel for you. Totally understand. Do you mind sharing what language that you are looking for and what agency? I have found that there are many really experienced HMs on this blog who may be able to offer some insights including specific agencies that may have more APs from your desired country. Perhaps you can prematch and then have the AP register with an agency?
Have you tried other agencies from the one you are currently using? I have changed agencies between APs. When matching, I register with CC, APC, APIA and start searching. I met with all 3 potential LCCS/ADs and found that I liked 2 of them and not so much the 3rd but willing to tolerate her. I have to date matched with APs from 2 of the agencies that I liked the LCCs/ADs but we are always totally prepared to go with any of the agencies that that can provide the AP that we are looking for.

Mimi September 29, 2015 at 4:46 pm

Very sorry to hear this. Regardless of whatever issues there might have been, sneaking out in the middle of the night like this isn’t appropriate. Like SBW says, we’re happy to help you try to aovid any repeats if possible.

WarmStateMomma September 29, 2015 at 5:05 pm

How awful! I can’t imagine she realized how it would feel for you and your child to wake up and find that she snuck out in the middle of the night. Sending warm thoughts your way.

WarmStateMomma September 29, 2015 at 5:10 pm

FWIW – I worked with a woman for 4 years (neighboring offices even!) and we were super close at work. She snuck out early on my last day specifically to avoid a soggy goodbye. We had lunch a year later when I was back in town for a visit and she cried and apologized, but just can’t handle goodbyes. It wasn’t a lack of caring on her part.

Maybe your AP’s ungracious departure will one day be chalked up to her being afraid to face an emotional goodbye?

Host Mom in Paradise October 1, 2015 at 2:19 pm

Oh, yes, it certainly made it easier for everyone. She wasn’t a gal for emotional attachments, at least not in my family. But still weird that she tagged out the weekend before leaving and was out all evening of her departure, and didn’t say good-bye to the kid. Now I’m having trouble sleeping because it’s weird being the only adult in the house again.

On the bright side, pants-free time has come at last! Oops, that’s for a different thread. ;-)

Elise November 3, 2015 at 9:14 pm

I was really relieved to read this message.

Our first au pair currently has her mother here staying with us now that she has officially finished her au pair year. During the year she has also had her overseas boyfriend come stay with us. We sent her & 3 friends to an expensive hotel for her birthday during the year + take her out regularly, make sacrifices so she can have a car available when she wants one, haven’t made a fuss of the that fact that over the course of the year she owes us 80+hours of work (our 4 children are all at school) etc etc.

I feel we’ve bent over backward for someone who does the minimum she can get away with (is asked to do) & never really shows a generosity of spirit toward us as a family or toward the job.

She has been easy to live with and get’s along well enough with our children. We both like her well enough, but she is certainly nothing special. She recognises living conditions with us are amazing & she was lucky to get us as a family.

We have AP2 arriving soon & I am so underwhelmed I just don’t know if I can face it. I have learnt that generosity & kindness doesn’t seem to get you anywhere….sure it keeps things running smoothly, but we never got a better performance or felt more fondly toward our AP because of it – just resentful if anything.

If kindness doesn’t pay, what does? Was it just the wrong person for us?

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