“There’s a lid for every pot.”
This wisdom was offered by HRHM four years ago, and it’s stuck with me. I love it because it’s just so TRUE when it comes to au pairs and host families.
No matter how
weird unique your family is or how weird distinctive an au pair candidate is, if you meet the basic criteria of being kind, caring and qualified, you’ll eventually find your match.
Despite knowing that who we really are is probably just right for someone, we still traffic in fictions.
Many of us– especially our first few times through the selection process — go out of our way to present our families and our home situations in the best possible light. Like the people who take photos of apartment interiors for the New York Times real estate section, we are tempted to use a special lens when we show off our families, a lens that makes everything look prettier, tidier, and more tempting.
Describing only your family’s very best features can create expectations that you can’t live up to.
You set the bar too high, and it doesn’t help. You disappoint not only your au pair, but yourself.
No family can live at their absolute sweetest, easiest and best. Especially if they have kids. Human kids.
The Flip Side
Going too far in the other direction can backfire too.
(There is a good argument for taking it all the way to the other extreme. CalifMom describes this as the “I Dare You To Match With Us” strategy, and we’ll discuss it in an upcoming post.)
If we describe our family in the worst possible light, we might scare away potential au pairs who would be great matches.
Given that au pairs compare potential family situations, how do we strike a balance between being accurate and being attractive?
What should you do, if your family situation isn’t the easiest, or if you home isn’t the biggest, or if your location isn’t the grooviest?
Dear AuPairMoms! Hello, I love your site, I read it as soon as it hits my inbox!
I am a first time Host Mom, searching for our first AP now. At the time of AP’s arrival I will have a 2.5 year old and 9 month old. I keep reading comments on the site about how people would not “trust”an AP with an infant, now I am getting nervous about it! We are screening for maturity (not considering younger than 23, which means it’s slim pickings), intelligence, patience, and infant experience. We have already had 2 AP’s that we REALLY liked reject us.
Our matching coordinator said that one stated that she wanted older kids, even though during our interviews she stated and acted like she really loved babies and toddlers and said she was comfortable caring for them. The other did not give a reason for rejecting us, even though she also seemed so excited about us during interviews. We spent A LOT of time with these two candidates and I can’t help feeling rejected and drained from the process so far.
I try to make sure the AP knows that we realize that caring for two small children is not an easy job, I tell them that I don’t really care that much about keeping the house clean or doing things like kids laundry, and I will even make them food and bottles so the AP just has to warm it and serve it. All AP’s ask us if our 2 year old will be in preschool, she won’t, I am sure it would be an easier job to take care of school age kids on a lot of levels.
I want to stress how challenging infant and toddler care can be so they are prepared but I feel like I may be scaring them away. I am wondering what others have in terms of advice for choosing an AP to care for young kids, how to screen and interview, and how to make ourselves seem more appealing! And some reassurance that my kids will be safe and cared for!
Also, a few other details…we live in a large US city (Chicago) in a great neighborhood, but we do live in a small space… 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom. I’m wondering if that turns them off too? They say they don’t care. We can’t change that part. We won’t have her using our car, but public transportation is great. They say that’s fine with them. We have a flexible schedule and sometimes we won’t use all 45 hours, but I’m not sure I want to mention that, just in case we do.
Also we would want an OCCASIONAL (once a month or every 6 weeks) weekend night out, just for dinner/date night and we let them know that, but stress we will work around her schedule and plans on weekends.
Advice appreciated! Thanks so much. ~ FriendlyConfinesMom