I’ve been hoping to get the host moms who have two au pairs at a time to write guest posts for us explaining how they make this work for them. It’s hard to find the energy and mind space to write reflectively about your au pair experiences… so believe me I understand the gap between having something to say and getting a chance to write it down and post it. (Story ofr my life, professionally and blogalisciously.)
Lucky for us, though, some of these Host Moms wrote about their their experience in the Who’s Hoo conversation. So, I’ve stolen these comments (rearranged them a bit) and put them here to start a post on “Doubling Up”.
The idea of having two au pairs at a time just overwhelms me. I’ve struggled to welcome, organize, support, and provide for one… but to do that for two? When we’ve needed extra on-duty hours for a span of time (long trip, heavy workload) I’ve always hired a back up sitter or leaned on another parent for help. But the idea of having all the help you need, all the time? Hmmm….
Each of these host moms has said that having two au pairs does not usually get them 2x the amount of help– significant energy gets lost or used up in the coordination and just in the general “whose job is it?” dynamic.
PA Mom of Two Au Pairs
Howdy friends… wondering why we have two au-pairs?
HD and I have been together for 10 years, upon us meeting we both had two children from a previous relationship. For many years we were able to caring for the 4 children together, since hosting our first au-pair 3 years ago (Thai) we have since had two more children. So yes, we have the Brady Bunch family … 16, 15, 13, 12, 3 and 16 months…(6 kids + 4 adults = 10 in our family).
And boy are they all in different directions. …
In regards to scheduling the APs we do alternate the weekly schedule. HD starts at 6:00 am and I don’t start work until 9:00am . So the 45 hours a week do not cover our childcare that is needed. With all 6 going in different directions, we need the help from 6:00 am til 7:00 pm regardless if we stop working at 5 or 7 pm.
I recently hired a part time American girl to help assist on Saturdays for 5 hours and if HD and I elect to travel she would be able to spend the night with the children. We found that even if you want to plan a weekend get-a-way you need back up help. I once did what others have done ask the AP’s to help (with extra pay) out for the weekend with my sister helping for a full day and by the time we came back from the short trip they were both complaining how tired they were.
In regards to my recent experience hosting two girls from the same country, it has been awful.
I never look to see if they are from the same country, I generally based my decision on the AP’s profile likes/dislikes. My AP #1 arrived in Jan and AP #2 arrived late in March. Both German, both very young and both immature. They don’t seem to have understood that they were here to work. Instead they seem to have acted more like guests.
AP #2 seemed to have no energy at all, she even took naps at 2pm in the afternoon. She never went out to meet other au-pairs and in fact sat in her room after work. ( She had full use of a car ).
AP#1 has always seemed needy. After a short trip in Feb, AP #1 was upset with us when we returned home. I asked “What’s going on?” and she said “When you Skyped your 3 year old
I was so tired from the trip out that I didn’t think to ask about her. I was thinking about my 3 years old and my 1 year old at the time. I apologized to her and said I was sorry.
For two weeks we were given an attitude. Wee went into mediation, and then moved forward with her planning to stay. She even planned her week vacation.
We did try to praise her efforts and what was going well but twice we spoke to her about concerns. She seemed to try to hold it over our head that she would leave .. and that did it for me. Not long after, we went into a rematch.
You know how the saying goes….Monkey see, monkey do.
AP #2 left as well. As I mentioned, she didn’t do much work at all. Without the help of AP #1 she was feeling like she couldn’t do this job herself, according to the exit interview. But even with the two of them, they never seemed to get all their tasks done. They were supposed to care directly for the two small children. We never asked the AP’s to clean, do laundry or make meals for the older ones, just supervise and ask them to remind them of their tasks. But it was never done. Caring for two children is not too much work for one au pair, much less two.
So as I sit here we are in 2 rematches.. Our Area Director said that she was confident that AP #1 made AP #2 decide to leave as well. Every time the AD tried to talk AP #2, she was crying about AP #1 leaving. (The girls were from two different agencies).
So hosting two AP does have it disadvantages, when even together they can’t seem to get the work done. And, they do have the time to talk with each other and influence each other… positively or negatively.
I never had two au-pairs that didn’t get along.
Things are changing… we welcome are male Ap in July… and expect to get a second, female AP.. any thoughts?
From DarthaStewart, in reply:
That is the kind of situation I had when I had two au-pairs for a while. I swear… I didn’t get 2X the coverage/help. More like 1.2X.. They even would say how well they got along, yet they’d eat two different lunches during the day. OMG. And, honestly with 4 kids, and activities in 4 different directions some days, we could use the help, but nope.
A snippet from Deb Schwartz:
I have hosted 16 au pairs (does that make me the “grandma”?) and without sounding too schmaltzy, I really do believe that our lives would not have been the same without the influence of these wonderful girls (….still working on my husband on getting a male au pair….). I promise I will write a guest post on how we got to 16 au pairs, but suffice it to say that we overshot the mark on kid #2 and got #2,#3 and #4 all at once (yup, I had a litter) – so with four babes under the age of 2, we hired two au pairs at the same time until they all went to school.
We’ve hosted two au pairs at the same time for years……I’m going to write a guest blog about this (I swear!), but I think the most important thing is that they be similar culturally so that they at least have something in common and get along.
I know some host parents like them to speak two different languages so that they don’t get so chummy – but I think that’s sad – why wouldn’t you want them to be friends? It helps with homesickness, and give a general positive vibe to the house if they all get along. I also usually get one first – and involve them in picking #2.
Good luck! Keep us posted on how it all goes.
Parents and Au Pairs, what other things would you just love to know about Doubling Up?