There’s something about hosting a friend of relative of your au pair that can mess with the fine balance between “part of the family”& “childcare provider” and between “host mom” and “house elf/slave”.
For lots of us, we forget to check our assumptions about how we should act towards other people’s guests, how much of a host or hostess we should be, whether we should treat the guest like another au pair/family member or like the au pairs’s responsibility, and so on.
Most of us host parents want to be warm and welcoming when our au pairs have guests- whether these guests stop in for coffee or spend a week or two in your host parent house. Most of us have learned though trial and error what we can take, and what we can’t take, when it comes to house guests in general and guests of au pairs in particular.
ReturningHostMom writes with a great opportunity.
She’s hosting an au pair’s house guest for the first time — with this particular au pair. This host mom has had some good and bad experiences hosting guests, and so she wants to know–
What can she do UP FRONT to set the expectations for the visit?
I’ve dug up this thread looking for some updated advice. Our AP is about to have her BFH (boyfriend from home) visit for two weeks over the Christmas holidays, and he will be staying in our house. I encouraged AP to invite BFH over Christmas, as we are going away for 10 days and while she was welcome to come, I didn’t think it would be much fun for her to be up at my sister’s house with their family, with her not knowing anyone there and not being the sort to make friends and go out with local APs, the way some of our previous APs were. So now I’m facing two weeks with BFH (a total of five days will be with us home), and then mom and sister are coming two weeks in the spring and godfather for 10 days in May. So I need this visit to go well, or I won’t be feeling welcoming for the next visits.
I should put up front that we have had great and awful visits with previous APs’ families: Two were fantastic – parents, boyfriends, boyfriends’ families, etc all visited, lots of fun, great to have them. One AP, though, had her mom and sister for two full weeks, and for two full weeks i cooked and cleaned and waited on them – they were lovely people and we had fun but still I felt very overworked, but then on the last night, after I cooked them a big “goodbye” dinner, AP announced she was leaving the next day with mom and sister. Turned out this had been the plan all along – flight was booked – and AP’s mom and sister simply used our house as a hotel so they could visit the US before AP left with them. So you can see why I’d be a little gun-shy with the visits this time around!
So what can I do to help ensure that this first visit goes well, so that I will feel happy about all those future visits as well?
I’ve tried to set expectations by being clear and outlining my expectations in the au pair handbook. I have in the handbook now that anytime guests stay longer than 3 days, that AP should provide food (thanks to that AP mom and sister who cleaned out our fridge of food every other day but paid for nothing). I have in the handbook that no guests should drive our cars, and I told AP that there would be a mileage limit for the visit (again, from that other AP, who put over 500 miles on our car when the mom and sister were visiting). I have in the handbook that AP must take vacation day on any day that I would otherwise need her to work and so will have to get back-up childcare.
I haven’t yet approached the question of sleeping arrangements with BFH, but since AP has told me that when BFH stays at her house at home, he stays in her room with her, I was thinking I’d just put them in there. Should I set some rules about the bathroom (small house -AP shares bathroom with two children 7 and 9, and her room is on same floor as our bedroom)? What else should I be thinking of?
We like this AP a lot, even though she is young for her age and needs a lot of hand-holding. She is kind, respectful, helpful, and very much a part of our family, and I really want to welcome her family with open arms…but I need this visit to go well in order to do so with the additional guests who are scheduled to come (plus I should add that she has had weekend visitors a fair amount too).