First Impressions: Can you ‘just know’ you need a rematch, already?

by cv harquail on March 14, 2014

Did you ever just “know” you needed to rematch? 

201107281240.jpg Dear AuPairMoms!

Our incredible first AP left last week – tears all around; she loved our 3 little kids so much and was an amazing friend to us too.  We live in a desirable area and have a separate studio for the AP, have a third car, provide a phone w unlimited data and voice, and, I think, are pretty generous about stuff, and we loved the “part of the family” aspect with our first AP.

Our new AP from Eastern Europe arrived 2.5 weeks ago.  Our new AP’s English is good and she seems to be trying hard.  I work outside of the home so the hours are pretty much 8-5 daily M-F and involve pick-ups and dropoffs at preschool and kindergarten.

I’ve searched the archives and seen things somewhat on point about doing a “reset” between one au pair and the next, so that your opinions about your new au pair aren’t clouded too much by missing the previous one. But what if your concerns are triggered by the new au pair herself, not by a comparison?

A recurring theme seems to be that people feel they waited too long to rematch, and that’s what worries me. A few red flags have gone up in the last two weeks:

(1) She forgot to strap in middle kid in the car seat for about 2 blocks. she realized it, texted me, said she’d learned a lot. We talked about it, talked with LCC about it, and she seems committed to being safe. But– it seems like it’s more of an awareness/juggling three little kids issue than a specific thing she forgot.

(2) She is just sort of aloof about some things (e.g. her first weekend, texted me while we are a family funeral about having a friend stay the night, even though we hadn’t met that friend and our handbook addresses this),

(3) She says she doesn’t receive emails (when she does), and

(4) She doesn’t have the same (amazing) patience as our first AP.  Our LCC says our first AP was just amazing rockstar and there’s no way we can expect to have that again.

Also, our new AP just seems more emotional and fragile.  For example, she had an issue/delay with getting her social security card, and has brought it up daily since and seems really flustered.  When I sent her an email with a list of things to go over on her day of overlap with AP Dad, she got the email, and burst into tears that it was a long list (e.g. dishwasher, how to wipe DD2, etc).

So I guess I’m asking –

Did you ever just “know” you needed to rematch, or is it always a grey area?  

Those of you who regret waiting too long – was it a series of red flags, or one huge incident that did it?



AussiePair March 14, 2014 at 8:22 pm

I can’t tell you from a Host Parent point of view. But from an Au Pair point of view, you definitely sometimes know, and I chose to stick it out. I shouldn’t have, it didn’t do me any good, and more and more problems continued to arise.

If I was you I would sit down and have a “reset” conversation with the au pair, be very clear about what you would like changed and why, give her some time and see if she can rise to the occasion. If she doesn’t I would look towards rematch, you know yourself how much easier it is with an au pair who is the right fit, I bet life is a lot simpler. That’s what having an au pair should do, you don’t want to end up feeling like you have a 4th child! Also talk to your LCC and tell her you’re thinking of having this “reset” conversation, keep her completely in the loop and maybe she’ll have some advice on some strategies you can employ.

As an au pair the one thing I’ve appreciated the most is when host parents have been honest about how they want things done and why. When there’s no beating around the bush there’s no way for things to get lost between the gaps, and when they explain why they want it done in a particular way it makes it easier to do it their way, even if I wouldn’t usually (whether for cultural reasons or opinions etc.). So do try to be honest with her, depending on her personality telling her you’re considering rematch if you don’t see an improvement may help to light a fire under her and get her motivated to improve.

I hope I’ve helped some and I’m sure all the wonderful wise host moms here will have more to input (and probably in a more eloquent way).

DC Host Mom March 14, 2014 at 9:00 pm

I am with my second au pair now (after a rematch) and I can tell you: I most CERTAINLY knew right away that the first one wouldn’t work out. Her first day, I woke up to the sound of her screaming at her parents on Skype in our living room. My German is shaky so I tried to be understanding…maybe something had happened…and I left her alone to finish the call. But it continued almost every day. Not only did she treat her parents with zero respect, but didn’t seem to notice or care that she was making the rest of my house really uncomfortable by doing it in the living room.

It ended up being a big indicator of her future behavior. Not only was she spoiled and entitled, but she totally lied about being a self-sufficient, experienced adult. She said she had worked full-time at a day care, when really she worked once a week at a gym that HAD a day care. She said she lived alone, when really she was just left alone all day while her parents went to work. She clearly didn’t hear the word “no” a lot and had no consideration for the rest of the house. My grocery bill was obscene, as she ate everything in sight and didn’t leave anything for me or my DS. My utilities skyrocketed because she cranked the heat whenever I left the house. No kidding, this girl dyed her hair on my couch and broke out in tears when I caught her with blonde paste sitting on my cushions.

She was completely immature and clearly there to party, using my house for free room and board. She had zero patience for my son and would call me crying if he showed any resistance. The whole thing came to a head when she invited her boyfriend to stay with us during Christmas and expected me to not only pick him up from the airport on Christmas eve (10pm, an hour away) but also give her my car to go to New York with him for the week. She called the LCC when I said no, crying that I wasn’t feeding her and her mom had to send her food. Well, that little story proved to be a huge mistake on her part and she ended up leaving soon after.

Point is, I should have rematched much earlier. True, it can be an adjustment at first for everyone, but I also know that the smart, mature ones are at least on their best behavior right away, wanting to make a good impression. If they’re awful as soon as they arrive, it’s only going to get worse. My new AP is courteous, patient and mature. Now I know what to look for…and what to avoid!

Good luck. XO

Should be working March 15, 2014 at 1:26 pm

Was that your very first au pair? Did you have any inkling (I think with the very first AP it’s really hard to navigate matching)? I always wonder how APs that turn out to be awful show us what to screen for, like how to judge maturity, patience. Etc.

Should be working March 15, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Oops, just saw that this will be the next post! Looking forward to reading that!

Host Mom in the City March 14, 2014 at 9:12 pm

My first au pair was also amazing and I had a gut feeling about a month in that my second one was not.

By month three, I knew for sure where her priorities were, although I didn’t know yet the extent of her willingness to mislead me and throw me off on things. I should have rematched then. It sounds like you know and I agree that you’ve got some major red flags personality-wise that would not work for me.

Bursting into tears about a basic list of tasks pretty much says she’s going to be dramatic instead of taking responsibility and enjoying being successful. Those are not traits you can train, and even if you can, it will take considerable effort. I will personally always go with my gut on these things from now on and will take action early rather than having repeated conversations and eliminating duties in an effort to appease a poor au pair. Easier said than done though, OP :(

TexasHM March 15, 2014 at 12:17 am

We haven’t rematched but we should have on our first. Couple of things –

This is the honeymoon period so I think your concerns are major and valid. This is generally the time where you get maximum focus/effort/enthusiasm and if there are already concerns (that aren’t nit picking and yours aren’t) then I would loop in your LC pronto and have the reset conversation. If she falls apart (and she might) better to know now upfront than to have her fall apart at a less opportune time (ours was in front of our kids because she scraped the front of the car – announced she was going home to my kids, walked them into my office while I was on a work call and locked herself in the upstairs bathroom).

My point is this is a very hard job. We have 3 kids as well and that’s even harder. You have got to have someone that is bulletproof. Patient, mature, sharp judgment, a jack of all trades and that’s very hard to find period. There are things you can teach and things you can’t. We tend to screen based on that. Our second great AP had very little childcare experience but was smart, organized and proactive. I taught her how to handle my kids easily. First AP had worlds of childcare experience but was a pushover and we struggled the whole term. I don’t screen for experience anymore. I screen for unteachable personality traits – maturity, judgment, empathy, patience, kindness, etc.

Last thing – our previous LC told us the same thing going into our third AP (she has big shoes to fill no one will be like her) = baloney. Our first AP told my DH a couple days ago our new AP is the best we’ve ever had (inc her btw lol). Yes of course they all have strengths and weaknesses and are special, but don’t settle or ignore issues because your LC implies there aren’t any candidates as good as your first or implies your concerns are because your standards are too high. Trust your gut and best of luck!!

WarmStateMomma March 15, 2014 at 7:54 am

I’d like to know how you screen for this too. We don’t pay too much attention to an applicant’s experience since we can’t tell how much was invented for the AP application. One thing we are going to screen for going forward is whether the AP has lived with any family (including her own). I wonder if some of the difficulties we’ve had with our current AP stem from the fact that she hasn’t really lived with a family in the last 15 years or so.

TexasHM March 15, 2014 at 9:02 am

I’m not saying it’s easy but we try. I’ve mentioned on here before how we send a challenge email toward the end, mature APs accept the concerns/constructive criticism, think about it and respond usually acknowledging the concern (you’re right I’ve never watched 3 kids full time before) and then offer solutions or ideas (I have worked full time 60hrs a week as a nurse though for the last year so while it’s not the same, I do have the energy level to take this on, etc).
Our oldest AP was our least mature and she fell apart when I challenged her. I felt bad and doubted my interviewing strategy (first AP) so we matched anyway and she fell apart anytime she was stressed here.
I also think because most of our interview questions are open ended and you can pick up these traits in their responses. For example, our current AP was in rematch. She was the only AP I talked to in rematch that didn’t immediately lay blame and talk trash on the previous family and now that she’s been here a month and opened up we know she was in a terrible situation. I think it was mature of her to not talk trash, to focus on moving forward and to offer her LC for additional detail.
I would argue not being prepared or being late for calls would show immaturity along with close minded responses and entitled questions. It’s not about the answer for us, the devils in the details. We trusted this for the last two APs and they’ve been great, it also helped us screen out a few at the last minute and I’ve since found out they either quit the program and didn’t come at all or we dodged a bullet!

cv harquail March 15, 2014 at 10:07 am

WarmStateMomma, and SBW- your question about screening for maturity has been set up as a post for Monday.

Anna March 16, 2014 at 1:16 am

Can you please share questions and/or signs you use to screen for these personality traits you are looking for?

Emerald City HM March 15, 2014 at 2:01 am

I agree with TexasHM. If your LC doesn’t think you will ever find as great an au pair as you first then you should broaden your search to other agencies.

Really, your au pair sounds a bit immature. I would start with a “this is your job” conversation and if she can’t handle that for a year she needs to either match with a family with less kids, different age kids, or something, or she just needs to realize she’s not cut or for this, at this point in her life.

But don’t settle because your LC thinks you should.

Deb Schwarz March 15, 2014 at 6:59 am

I honestly don’t think that anything on your list is a red flag except the bursting into tears thing. I admire that she told you about the car seat issue (that took a lot of guts), and asking about a friend was a good thing (although it was in the handbook)…… You probably did have a rockstar first au pair (lucky you!) and it is hard for an au pair to follow that.
I would ask your LCC for a meeting to talk about why she burst into tears. It sounds like she may be overwhelmed, homesick, feels like she can’t live up to your last au pair, immature – or a bit of all of these. I would be concerned with why she cried about the list. Get to the bottom of that with your LCCs help – or open up the lines of communication. You sound a bit frustrated so come to the conversation from a place of concern not blame.

Deb Schwarz
Former host mom to 15 au pairs and LCC with Cultural Care Au Pair

TexasHM March 15, 2014 at 9:09 am

Her first concern was awareness/observation of 3 kids – as a HM of three I know exactly what she’s saying and it’s valid. If she struggles with three one could end up running into the street, hurting themselves, eating something dangerous, I get it.

The second concern shows a lack of empathy and again, awareness. Our great APs have made a point to not bother us or help out extra during stressful times and if they asked they chose an appropriate time (did she know you were at a funeral?). Our great APs also memorized the handbook so they knew the process and didn’t “forget” stuff like this so it was never an issue.

I’d be curious to know more about #3 and 4, sounds like lying and impatience with the kids which are definitely red flags to me but she didn’t elaborate so until she does I will hold off on calling those. How do you know she got the emails? How is she less patient?

HRHM March 15, 2014 at 10:29 am

My 2 biggest concurs would be lying (how do you know she’s getting the emails she says she isn’t?) and immaturity (texting at the funeral and bursting into tears).

It sounds like she is overwhelmed and many young ladies would be with three kids. There is a learning curve but if she fails to make progress due to her immaturity, that’s grounds for an early rematch.

I agree that you should have the reset convo now with LCC involvement and set a short-suspense date to make a decision with rematch being the next step (2 weeks?) Don’t linger – you can teach skills but not attitude.

OPhere March 15, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Thanks, all, OP here. It’s been three more weeks since I posted. We had a “reset” conversation where I was clear what I needed and that this was a hard job, and she basically apologized for being overwhelmed and not good the first week. I think she was intimidated by AP1 (we overlapped for a week but didnt mean to – AP1 felt a part of the family, and the funeral was for HD’s mom, who AP had gotten to know, so AP1 changed her flight), and we were all sort of emotional realted to HD’s mom dying (cancer). and yes, she knew we were at the funeral, and it was her second weekend here, and she texted asking if she could have a friend stay overnight. it was bascially just poor judgment to put me in the situation of having to 1) think about it, and 2) be the bad guy and say, no, no guests we dont know.

Anyway, since then, AP has worked really really hard, and she basically is sort of shy/reserved, and that shyness has been hard for me to adjust to because it comes off as apathy/lack of empathy. Our first AP was exceptionally bright (valedictorian) and just “got” a lot of things that AP2 seems to struggle with. So I did initiate rematch, we met with LCC and everything, but then got cold feet about it – read the post here about shy au pairs – and realized that AP2 does care – she’s not a partier, she comes to me with ideas about the kids and reads in her spare time about it (e.g. she emailed me an article about 18 month old sleep issues), and honestly, the maturity with which she handled my having initiated the rematch convo, really suprised me. there was about a two day period between when i said, “i want to rematch” and when i called it off, and during that time she was very sweet with the kids and was genuinely good. she also brought her “project” – with the pics of the kids and stuff like that – I honestly had assumed she’d blown if off, but when she brought it, she was like “i’m sorry, i was embarassed to give it to you.” it was sweet and a nice thing. so, long story short, she’s just not a very confident person but she tries really hard, and partly out of fear at going into the rematch pool, and partly out of the fact that each week, she had gotten better and better, we decided to keep her. i am still not entirely sure it’s the right decision, but there it is.

now, Texas Mom is right – she’s not a juggler and I do think some people just “have it” versus others dont. AP2 has forgotten permission slips, that kind of thing, but she has gotten the hang of a tough schedule, she plays with the kids like crazy, and she does a lot of the house stuff when i ask as well as the stuff that’s her official job (eg laundry, dishwasher unloading). Today she even asked if she could bring the van to be washed.

I guess i know that this year, she wont be as good as AP1, but she seems to be ok. I’m sad bc i was hoping for a string of AP1s, and I look forward to that post about screening for maturity – but I also realize that if the kids are happy and being taken where they need to go, then I shouldnt hold out for someone mature enough to be genuine friend of mine. During our reset convo, AP2 mentioned that she feels like she is disappointing me, and when she got that email that she didnt know she was supposed to be checking (bc she had been with the kids all day), her heart sank, and she felt like she’d never succeed. But that was the first week. I told her I expected her to look at email once a day (I’d send the email the night before, maybe 9 pm; she got it at 4pm, right before i was supposed to come home).

So, hopefully things work out. Those of you who stuck with a less than stellar AP – i guess you just wait until next year? that seems sad. do host kids notice?

Seattle Mom March 17, 2014 at 7:19 pm

My response to your initial post is YES. Like HostmominColorado (below) we knew with AP #2 almost immediately. My husband said on day 2 “There is no way we can live with this girl, we need to get her out.” And I said, “well let’s see, she might get better.” By the end of the first week I was in complete agreement with DH. She was not unsafe with the children. We just didn’t like her personality or her attitude- she would get immediately defensive (and offensive!) whenever we asked her to do something differently. She seemed to enjoy bossing our kids around, and not really playing with them. She was a total control freak. She was boring AND talkative, a bad combination. In the end, she was gone within 6 weeks. And her replacement, an extension AP (in-country, but not as quick as a rematch) was an almost-rock star.

BUT now reading your response here, I think you are making the right decision. It sounds like your AP really wants to do a good job and has the right attitude, and you like her well enough. Your LCC might be right, that your first AP was a rare breed. We loved our first AP best of all so far (out of 4), but she was not really a rock star… I would take another one of her in a heartbeat, though she did have some downsides: kinda moody and negative sometimes (never with the kids though), low energy… but so super sweet and socially very adaptable and mature and thoughtful and GREAT ability to think on her feet. If I could get her to come back for another year I would.

Our current AP is sort of in the same place for us as yours… she is a nice person who wants to do a good job, but is lacking in some of the common sense & awareness necessary. But I think she’ll be fine. She’s nice to the kids, pleasant enough to be around, and she’s keeping them safe and happy. At least our AP is not over-emotional, I’m actually amazed by how even keeled she is, even when sometimes I expect (and want) a bigger reaction.

Seattle Mom March 17, 2014 at 7:24 pm

Oh… and our older daughter notices, she often says she doesn’t like our AP. I’m not sure if she’s picking up on what we say or if she’s having her own reaction. She seems very comfortable with her in person so I’m not concerned. I don’t think AP is doing anything wrong, I just think my daughter really misses her last AP.

Momma Gadget March 18, 2014 at 11:47 am

Our walls definitely have ears. Whenever I voice an annoyance to the DH, my DSs will jump on the bandwagon with some new complaint about the AP. They both have their ps and downs with the AP.
It is amazing what they can hear when I whisper to my husband 3 rooms away… And what they don’t hear when I am speaking directly to them in front of their sweet faces.

Momma Gadget March 18, 2014 at 11:43 am

Our AP who followed our first “Rockstar AP” burst into tears in the kitchen at the end of her overlap week, crying ” I hope they like me half as much as they like you”… and she was an extension AP with none of the initial homesickness/culture shock. She ended up being a very good AP .

I am so glad that the OP gave her AP another chance and that things are turning around. Three months has been been for us what others have called the “witching hour”. It is when our APs have really started to feel comfortable and own their job. I hope this AP turns out to be at least a contender for rock star status.

TexasHM March 18, 2014 at 1:12 pm

Ditto this. I also think we need to give props to the HM because I think her handling of this situation is directly responsible for the positive outcome. We never did get the additional details on the more concerning items so I am assuming they were not as bad as they sounded in print. Regardless, its great that it is working out and shout out to the host mom for bringing her concerns to light, working through this and doing a great job of expectation setting to allow this AP to rise to the occasion!

C March 15, 2014 at 6:25 pm

OP here – thank you so much for the thoughtful responses. It has been three more weeks since I posted. We did have a reset conversation, and AP2 apologized that she basically was overwhelmed, overly emotional and all around not good the first week. Since then, she’s gotten a lot better with the kids and seems to be improving each week. She really does seem to be trying hard – works a lot (eg DH had a business trip and she stayed “on” for most of the evenings even if I didnt ask), isn’t lazy, when i do give instructions (e.g. how to load dishwasher) she does them to a T. but she definitely seems to struggle with some things that AP1 just did naturally. as Texas mom said, there’s a certain personality that is good at juggling, and this new AP doesnt have it. But. She does seem to genuinely want to do a good job. She asks what she can do, she reads in her off hours about what she can do (e.g. she emailed me with an article about 18 month olds and nap schedules when the baby had a rough couple of sleep days), and she seems eager to please. I guess in all her eagerness, she clams up and is nervous around me.

The bursting to tears thing – she says she didnt know she was supposed to be checking email during the day with the kids (i’d sent the email maybe 9 pm the night before), and she got a free minute from being with the kids at 4pm about an hour before i came home, she saw it, saw the list, and freaked out that she hadn’t done everything on it (I’d cc’d DH, so they did most of them), and that i’d be mad at her. So, I do think it’s a maturity thing, but largely insecurity, that she wasn’t going to be as good as AP1. She now has been very diligent when I send her emails, e.g. I sent her an email about DD1’s summer camp, and AP1 sent a google invite and good acknowledgment of the email. So, she’s trying hard.

For the funeral, that one was dismaying. Ya, she knew we were at a funeral, and it was DH’s mom’s funeral! I was pretty concerned at the lack of judgment it showed to text me asking about a friend staying, and putting me in the position of, during the wake, to both get the text and have to think about it, and then to have to be the bad guy that said no. I mentioned this to her in the reset conversation. i said, would you do that to your own mother?

I did actually initiate rematch, we met with LCC about it, but then basically I got cold feet about it in the time it took before the paperwork went through. This AP is not lazy, she cares a lot, and in the end I felt sort of selfish rematching when (at least, this is DH’s read) she provided pretty good childcare, worked really hard, has been getting the hang of the schedule, and wants to do well. DH thought it was just that she and I didnt get along. I was pleasantly surprised at how maturely she handled the possible rematch (there was about 48 hours from when i told her, to when i called it off), and during that time she worked hard, was very concerned at how the kids would take it, didnt complain, etc. In the conversation we had re rematch, it basically came out that this AP is very reserved/not that confident, and that reservation was coming off at apathy to me, and I wasn’t adjusting to it. For example, I figured AP2 had blown off the little project thing the agency makes them do becuase we were a month in, and nothing (AP1 had made a gorgeous binder, brought gifts, and we did a big thing the first weekend where she presented it to us). Turns out, AP2 had made a nice binder, but just hadnt’ shown it to me because she was afraid it wasn’t good enough. She finally did and it was sweet. I think part of this is cultural – a friend was saying her SIL is Russian, and that SIL still has a hard time opening up to Americans. But, it’s true as far as first impressions go, I just dont think I’ll get to the point of opening up to her the way I did with AP1, who honestly I thought should go into counseling or something because she had such extraordinary emotional intelligence.

So, that’s a lot of words but basically, we are keeping her. I’m not thrilled in the sense that i think she’ll be amazing, but I’m satisfied that she will take pretty good care of the kids, and that she’s better than I’d probably get in rematch. Our LCC sort of scared me about non-drivers in rematch (AP2 is a good driver) and the new AP, like I said, she tries hard. I read the blog entry here about dealing with a shy AP. That was helpful. For the safety/juggling thing, gosh, I don’t know. I should add that a week ago, she accidentally locked the baby in the van (our van has a keyless ignition, so she’d given the keys to the baby to play with during the ride). she handled it well, called me at work and i guided her to get the spare, and it was all fine. but still. but that was another juggling thing. Sigh. I’m still torn up about this decision! but the same thing had happened to AP1 (albeit 9 months in), and AP2 seemed so genuinely sorry it happened, and did all the right things afterward, that I didnt feel that should spark a rematch.

I do look forward to the entry on screening for maturity. This process is hard. I hope I’m not writing back again in a few months with more problems!

On the plus side, AP2 has been very creative doing math and crafts with the kids, and she has gotten the hang of DD1’s mild special needs. So, I’m hopeful. I guess i do mourn not having our rockstar still, but hopefully this AP can work out pretty well.

Taking a Computer Lunch March 15, 2014 at 7:42 pm

In my experience, unless an AP has been a dud, there’s a lot of adjusting from the outgoing to the incoming, and if it’s your first time, it may be harder than the next. The outgoing AP loved your kids, she was fantastic, she knew the rules, and she owned the job. No AP stepping off an airplane can do that. It takes some time to learn the job (and quite frankly, I’ve never been as patient with subsequent APs as I have been with my first two – I want them to understand the job and excel at it so I can get back to my dual life as working mother).

And for the record, “funeral” is not a word most APs have in their vocabulary. AP #5 asked me to drive her to the computer store after I told her I was taking my special needs child with me to a funeral with DH was out of town. I realized later she didn’t have a clue what I was telling her – it’s just not a word that comes up in a foreign language class – but at the time when I was feeling sad it really took me aback.

I do think you need to have a conversation with your LCC. It is really hard to make the transition from hosting a rock-star to hosting an AP who is going to work her butt off trying to live up to her predecessor and never quite achieve it. Then, quietly go through the handbook with your AP when the kids are asleep. Finally, if you really think she needs to reset her attitude and not just learn to navigate the rules of your household, call in a mediated meeting with your LCC.

Dorsi March 16, 2014 at 2:05 am

I agree with TACL. We are on #6, so I should be an expert at transitions (no rematches, and most have left on a fairly good note). However, the last two times we have started with an AP, I have had serious reservations about her ability to do the job. It is probably not a coincidence that #5 and #6 are the first, for us, that have had to deal with three kids at once. It is a tremendously complicated job and I think there is little that can prepare one for it (and I include extensive family care, preschool training as things that don’t prepare you to get three kids dressed, fed, buckled in car seats and to preschool drop off on time).

I don’t hear anything in your description that says this relationship is unworkable. I think you really need to give her a chance to learn the job and perform it well, as long as there are no deal breakers (blatant violation of rules, unkindness toward children, etc.)

AP#6 has been with us about a month and we started badly but are suddenly turning a corner. There was a very blunt email last week (from me) that helped us reset expectations (English is not high enough quality for it to have happened face to face). She is able to get her chores done (which are fairly minor – but were a stumbling block). The kidlets are bonding with her, and she is beginning to get the routines down and take ownership of the processes. Assuming the improvement sticks, I think we are out of the woods. We didn’t have these problems when we had one or two kids. I think there is a complexity to managing three kids of various ages at once that takes some serious learning. I remember the first time I took all three out of the house by myself — I felt like I had climbed a mountain (I actually felt that after I had taken 2 out by myself the first time, too).

hostmomincolorado March 15, 2014 at 9:49 pm

From the moment our current au pair stepped off the lane and we greeted her in our typical way (balloons, kids-crafted welcome sign, flowers) I said to myself, “Uh oh.” When we took our traditional “picking up from the airport” photo, I knew it was going to be different, and not in a good way. This gal doesn’t smile for pictures and stood to the side of the family/photo, almost like she didn’t want to be a part of the picture. That theme has run through the past ten months to the point now where she goes to the “gym” every night instead of eating dinner with the family. She disappears Friday night and we don’t see her until Monday morning. She has been the most standoffish, immature, ungrateful, and lazy au pair yet our kids love her and I can’t afford to find alternate child care for 6 weeks so we have “made do.” I think she and the kids get along well because she is just one step higher in maturity level.

She ditched the family to hang out with some guy she met on the summer holiday we included her on (after being with us for a month), scraped the car against the door frame of the garage after being with us for 2 months, was constantly “sick” until I told her we would have to rematch if she wasn’t well enough to work (wish I would have followed through on that threat), ran the car into a ditch in the first snow storm, broke her wrist snowboarding 6 months in (I had to drive her to all of her doctors’ and physical therapy appts, take work off to spend the day at the hospital when she had surgery on it, etc.-did I get a “thank you?” NO)

Looking back, I wish I would have cut it off after the first car accident. However, we have never done an in-country rematch. We did have one out-of-country rematch for au pair health issues and the 6 week “in between” time was pretty terrible.

I am counting down the days until this one leaves. I keep telling myself, “She takes care of the kids and they love her,” as I clean their rooms and bathrooms on the weekend after I have asked her to do these things during the week. She seems to schedule their laundry for Friday afternoon so she can “forget” it in the dryer maybe hoping I will put it away over the weekend when she is “off”? In any case, the next one seems to have social skills (has photos on Facebook of her with lots of girlfriends/handball teammates) and I have spoken with her several times on Skype to try to vet this one better than the last. Follow your intuition. You need to trust your gut feeling sometimes and stop letting your intellect talk you out of something you instinctively know is wrong. Only 60 more days of less-than-mediocreness (and counting)!

Should be working March 16, 2014 at 10:04 pm

FTR and for future reference–the rematch pool has gems in it. Don’t be so afraid! But do, if you go for an in-country rematch AP, read all the posts about this on this blog!

Our current AP came out of rematch. She’s the most mature, cheerful, responsible AP yet.

Taking a Computer Lunch March 17, 2014 at 8:38 pm

hmic – Why not see if her successor can arrive earlier and send your mediocre AP home early – as early as possible? Just be done with it as soon as possible, you’ll be amazed at how better you feel.

5kids=aupair March 18, 2014 at 11:16 am

My husband is a much better judge than I am. He says “rematch” and I’m always the sucker trying to wait it out. We’ve always rematched and I should’ve listened to him from the beginning and saved myself the trouble/drama. So, I say listen to your gut.

AtlantaMom March 20, 2014 at 2:50 pm

I need advice about our new AP of 1 month. He seems eager, smart, kind, bright etc. Definitely hardworking and clearly likes kids. But for some reason, it just doesn’t feel like a good fit. He seems to lack the ability to read us or our kids very well – I find myself having to spell out things that my past sitters have always instinctively understood. I find myself irritated by him, as does my husband and my 4 y.o. seems to be avoiding him too. When I’m around the kids want nothing to do with him, and demand that I do everything. Granted, it may be just that we miss our old AP – we all really loved her. (We went with a male AP so as not to invite comparison with her, and also because I have active boys.) Our new AP seems to miss the mark a lot, and despite trying hard and being really sweet, seems to lack childcare instincts and the ability to read a situation clearly. Is this to be expected with a 22 y.o. guy? Should I just give it more time and adjust my training to help him gain the right instincts? Am I being too picky? I don’t have an issue with his work performance, per se, but find myself too easily annoyed around him. I had a conversation with him about his need to observe and get to understand the kids better (for example, when we’ve been together with the kids he will pepper me with long questions about the job, which are impossible to answer while I’m taking care of a 2 and 4 year-old, rather than observing and jumping in.) He seems very eager to get it right, but I’m just not sure if he ever will, or if my kids will warm to him. I literally find myself going “ugh” internally when I come home and see him with the kids at the end of the day. Did anyone start out this way with a new AP and find themselves getting over it? Or will this just keep getting worse?

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