First Time Host Mom Wonders: Are her Au Pair expectations realistic?

by cv harquail on November 7, 2016

A new Host Mom writes to share her frustration – and concern- about an Au Pair who doesn’t quite seem to fit.

  • Are the mom’s expectations too high, she wonders? Or,
  • Does she just have an Au Pair who needs (even) more direction and motivation?

I’d like to think that I asked all the right questions, did my diligence in interviewing as many candidates as possible, but I’ll be honest -timing was an issue.  We wanted to have support in place as soon as possible after the baby was born.  I selected the candidate we thought was the most responsible, organized and could most easily communicate with.

F3584538017_2b0fb2da88_qast forward a month and a half into our experience and we are frustrated, confused, at times concerned, and always stressed. Being as this is our first time as a HF, maybe our AP expectations are not normal? 

Please help me; I have learned from the parents at AuPairMom that rematching is not something to put off…but perhaps our ideal AP does not exist?

I am a working-in-the-home mom.  Prior to the AP we had other support, 2-3 different women that did both childcare and housework.  We have a bright, well behaved 26 month old daughter, highly verbal and social. 

My vision was that the AP would primarily spend time with her at first, as I nurse and bond with the newborn, and then also begin to help me with the baby so that I can have a chance to exercise, have a shower and cook dinner in the evening.  I wanted the AP to not just hold the baby but also help our toddler learn to be around her little sister and really integrate the two of them.

I want the AP to take charge of potty training our toddler, keeping good track of her belongings – I.e. organizing the clothes in her dresser, keeping her diaper/car bag stocked and toys organized in the library/play room.  I want the AP to take our toddler outside for a minimum of an hour each day and to work with her on addressing normal 2 yr old behaviors – screaming, standing on furniture, etc.   

I have previously communicated the potty training goal and ownership in the interview as well as going outdoors daily.  All other goals were discussed in our handbook in orientation weekend and revisited weekly at our touch base chats. 

A month and half in, today we all set out on our first outing – lunch at a destination restaurant.  Our AP forgot a bib for our daughter, had to be told to change her diaper after 4+ hours, left my expressed breast milk in the car, dressed her in pants that were too small and had to be told throughout the meal when to tend to her (luckily our infant slept through almost the whole meal!).  FYI, the entire trip, 9 hrs, AP was working.

It is not just this one event – our AP signed up for her academic requirement all day Saturday for the next seven Saturdays.  She did ask me if it was ok, but I didn’t really think I had a choice.  We now have one of our previous nanny/housekeepers come on Saturdays in addition to her other two days so we now have her for 30 hrs plus the 45 for the AP.  My husband is incredulous that we have so much help and are always so stressed out – he is taking tomorrow off because he couldn’t get anything done on the weekends.

Do you think my expectations for an AP that can watch our infant and toddler at the same time for short periods of time as well as also own potty training and learning based activity time one on one with our toddler?  I can’t imagine ever going through the expense of taking our current AP on vacation with us if she doesn’t make it easier and being able to travel was one of our goals in getting an AP.

Please help us!  Should I ask for a rematch?  Or do we need someone other than an AP?


NoVA Twin Mom November 7, 2016 at 8:33 am

Maybe you need to sit down and write out what hours you actually want your someone to work. Looking at the hours you want seem to need coverage for – right now you have an au pair for 45 hours and a nanny/housekeeper for 30 hours, that’s 75 hours. Your au pair was never going to be able to work all week (covering your work at home hours) and then all day Saturday too, and the Saturday class actually sounds like a great choice. This way you have her to cover your work week and can spend Saturdays with your kids.

Kids are a lot of work. Two kids are more work. I understand that the jump from one to two kids is “more than double” the work (mine came in a “special double pack” so I didn’t experience this). You’re exhausted all the time even with lots of help because you have kids, not necessarily because you have the wrong help.

Certain things just aren’t going to be done to your standards if you don’t do them yourself. I know that some moms here have their au pairs pack the diaper bag – that’s something I always at least stocked with the basics because then I knew what was there. The au pair then added what she would need for the outing they were on. I was the one that went through the closets taking out too-small clothes, because then whatever the au pair put on the child that day would fit. You can delegate certain tasks to your au pair, but you have to set her up for success.

The potty training thing. You understand that even parents have trouble potty training kids, right? Maybe get her a few books from the library. As I said, I have twins. One girl found a potty chair at a garage sale at 18 months, lifted the lid, and sat down. We bought the potty chair. At that point she was pretty much done with diapers. I take no credit, I did nothing. The other one was too busy to bother with a potty. After reading every book on earth about potty training, bribing, etc, we found a DVD about a potty princess. Then it clicked. She had occasional accidents until kindergarten started. It’s really trial and error. So again -set your au pair up for success, and give her some things to try. Don’t just tell her “OK, potty train my kid”. She might do what her parents did for her back home – which might not match up with modern American parenting. :) *And remember – she’s only working 45 hours so you have to be consistent during her off hours or this isn’t going to work.*

I think your expectations might be a little off. An au pair isn’t your new best friend who’s always on duty. She’s on duty 45 hours a week, so if you need more coverage than that, you will need to have someone else pick up those hours. I don’t hear of egregious safety violations, which is a good thing – just ditzy moments. THOSE can be trained out. Maybe a diaper bag checklist is in order. But even though we say not to delay rematch, this doesn’t sound like the circumstances warrant rematch yet – this sounds like you need to work with her and your schedule first.

WestMom November 7, 2016 at 8:35 am

Can an au pair meet your expectations? It depends… I do think that what you are describing is a mini-clone of yourself (potty training, sorting clothes, etc.) and while there is nothing wrong with this expectation, no one is going to do it as well as you.

I am thinking about my husband. Could he take care of a 26m and a newborn all by himself? Of course he could, for a short amount of time. But yes, the pants might be too short, the breast milk might be in the car and kid might have a soggy bottom when I return. Still I would bite my tongue and count my blessing for having a chance to go for a run by myself. Not to say that some of you have amazing dads that can do it better than any moms (lucky you…), but a big lesson for me was to learn to lower my expectations as it comes to delegating care (don’t let me started with the grandparents!). Is my child loved? Is my child safe? Check!

As far as weekends go, it is fantastic to have help on weekends to actually be able to do fun things and run errands, but the reality is that you are in the midst of the craziest part of your life right now where you are sleep deprived and doing anything is exhausting. Your husband needs to realize that either things will not get done or you will have to pay for someone to do it for you (or mind your kids while you do it).

You don’t mention anything about you Au Pair’s personality. I will assume that she is pleasant and willing to learn. Of that is indeed the case, perhaps she simply needs more training, in addition to relaxed standards?

Taking a Computer Lunch November 9, 2016 at 10:30 pm

To this I want to add, as the mom of a special needs child who is about to become a “legal” adult:

There are a lot of people out there who will take care of your children as they grow from infancy to adulthood: your spouse, your caregivers, teachers, other parents hosting play dates – and later, their friends. The sooner you relinquish the idea of control and perfection, the sooner you will relax and learn it’s okay to be ‘good enough.’

What do I mean by this? Sure, your husband hands over the baby wringing wet, but alive and happy. While in his hands, the baby learned about life with adult men, accepting imperfect situations (a wet bottom), and lived to tell the tale.

Your au pair is not you. She is not a mom. Chances are she babysat for a few kids (unless you are matching with an Extraordinnaire, or the equivalent, with two years of professional experience). She will fumble through the first month, but if you are lucky, she’s a kid person – and your children will be happy and feel like they are the center of her attention – at least for a few hours a day. You can train a great au pair how to pack a diaper bag, how to juggle childcare and household duties, but chances are – the day she boarded the plane she was a child in her parents’ house and now she’s an adult in yours. Everyone has to adjust.

Don’t expect perfection right away (although reward it if it comes!) Don’t expect her to have your goals in mind – after all, she grew up in another culture. You’ll both do better if you’re able to listen and learn from some of her ideas (e.g. – I learned from my German au pairs that my typically developing child should be more self-reliant and more accountable for his mistakes – and while the process did not occur overnight, it did happen).

Remember that while you matched with your AP for childcare, she matched with you for an opportunity to travel, to improve her English, to escape her family, to turn into an adult,etc., etc. You have to meet her halfway – meaning that she has to work while she is scheduled to work, but encourage her to have fun and explore when she is off duty.

If what you really want is Mary Poppins, then what you need is a professional nanny, not an au pair. If what you will accept is the rough-and-tumble world of a young adult transitioning from being a child in her parent’s house to being adult in yours, with all its mistakes and burred edges, then join us.

I’ve been fortunate to host APs for 15 1/2 years – and while there are some APs who were better for the kids or me than others, I’m grateful for the experience of being a host mom.

One bit of advice. If you need something done, follow up a verbal order with a written one. Reading English is easier than listening to it (especially if this is a first encounter with the rapid-fire speech of a native speaker).

NBHostMom November 7, 2016 at 9:16 am

I made the switch from nannies to au pairs when the kids entered preschool. I felt much the same as you, we went from a mature 45 year old woman, someone who’d who raised 3 of her own kids, ran her own house and worked to 19 year old girl who’d barely could make her own meals. It was a shock!

Au pairs have brought a youthful playful energy to our house, our good au pairs have quickly learned their role with us providing very specific and clear instructions. Our so-so au pairs have needed constant reminders and prompting.

Our nanny prior to au pairs taught me toilet training tricks, organized clothes and toys to perfection and was never flustered handling and redirecting busy toddlers.

I would never expect nanny level care from our au pair, I do however expect our au pairs to follow instructions, keep the kids safe and actively engage with the kids. Our great au pairs were able to cook some meals and managed to start anticipating what needed to be done without prompting. The great au pairs always had new games for the kids and had tons of common sense.

Things I do to setup my au pair for success, that I’d never have done with the nanny:
– name a specific behavior for the kids (e.g. Toilet training), explain the method we’re going to use, setup the chart/reward system, remind au pair exactly what needs to be done and review progress daily
– tell the au pair exactly (to the detail of bibs) what she is responsible for bringing on an outing. Setup checklists at he beginning. With our nanny, I’d simply expect that she’d know.
– teach au pair simple things that I do as a parent … for example, scan the room when leaving to ensure nothing is forgotten (bottle, favorite toy etc)
– mentor, mentor and mentor …. catch the au pair doing something great? Point out the behavior and thank her. Something wrong? Immediately correct and offer advice.

I could go on, but bottom line is au pairs typically do not have the experience of a nanny. They are a junior “employee” who need constant guidance and feedback. Au pairs are great, tons of positives, but they aren’t equipped with the same skill set as an experienced nanny.

Seattle Mom November 8, 2016 at 3:02 pm

I like this response- this is how I see the au pair too. I want to add that the difference between great, good, and unacceptable au pairs is how they respond to the directions. Great ones never make the same mistake twice, remember everything you tell them, and come up with their own systems for getting stuff done. They still make mistakes, but they are always learning and striving to do better. Good ones more or less follow directions, they have a great attitude but maybe not a fantastic memory or attention span, they might need notes instead of verbal reminders, they might do 85% of what you want them to do. But at least the kids are safe, loved, and well-cared for and everything is basically getting done without creating extra work for you. You have to let the small stuff slide with the good enough au pairs. And then unacceptable au pairs come in a variety of flavors, but what it boils down to is that they just don’t get it done, or they have a surly attitude, or they aren’t keeping the kids safe. I have let people go who were completely capable but who gave me attitude every time I gently told them my preferences. In my book that is worse than being slightly incompetent but pleasant. Everyone has their own priorities.

So from the post above it’s hard to see that this is an unacceptable au pair. She could possibly even be great, with just a little more direction. It’s hard to know with the information given.

Nikki November 8, 2016 at 4:53 pm

I wasn’t convinced of this until we found it but when you find the right fit, I’ve found that the small stuff is no big deal anymore and he big picture took over. How is the relationship with the kids? Is it ok that things aren’t perfect so long as the relationship with them and you works? When it was a natural good fit for us and the kids the other stuff that wasn’t exact or even what we intended (win reason) just wasn’t a big deal.

SA_Au Pair November 7, 2016 at 9:34 am

Expecting your au pair to take the kids out for a couple of hours a day and perform some tasks in relation to the kids is fine – after all she’s there to offer you an extra pair of hands. You might consider going over some of the things written in your handbook with her, perhaps she’s been feeling overwhelmed and just forgot. Potty training is hard work, I’ve potty trained a 2 and a half year old and it was not fun, accidents happened and it might be great to offer some support (as well as give her some resources) and not put the “burden” of making sure that your child is potty trained solely on her. There are things I think aren’t a big deal such as leaving the bib at home – whatever she was wearing would be fine if your au pair washed it as soon as you go home – there’s also the option of putting a serviette around her shirt so she doesn’t get too dirty if that’s what you’re concerned about. Forgetting the breastmilk in the car: again, mistakes happen, and since you were there with her you could have maybe reminded her to bring it with her – sometimes you’re carrying so many things that you forget some things.

My suggestion would be to to have a chat with your au pair and go over the expectations again. Check in with her and find out how she’s handling everything. I’d also suggest that she maybe keep a small book (or put a daily schedule in her phone) where she writes down everything she needs to do that day (even if it means scheduling walks with your daughter at a certain time every day so it becomes a habit). Whenever I go somewhere with small children I set a reminder 15 minutes before I have to leave reminding me of everything I have to bring with me. The bottom line is that if you have an au pair who doesn’t really have a lot of experience with small children things will happen. Americans seem to carry so many things with them for their kids and some of them are nice to have but not a deal breaker if something is forgotten at home. At the end of the day knowing that your host parents support you and are willing to let you know if you’re going in the wrong direction is important.

DMMom November 7, 2016 at 9:56 am

Honestly, I think the expectations are probably too much for someone who has never had their own children. I have three children and have Au Pairs help potty train, organize and such. You have to prioritize and let other parts slide.

Potty training is hard, they can’t be doing outings and potty training, it doesn’t work well. Pick a priority, potty training first. Staying close to home for 3 weeks to go to the toiilet every 20 minutes. During this time there will be a LOT of soiled laundry, so let her focus on that. Once potty training is established, little outings, more time with the baby, etc. But throwing someone into running the house, taking care of a toddler, potty training and a new infant is too much.

Or handling 2 kids first. Have her change diapers when stinky or every two hours, which ever is first. Make a manadtory outing every day. Make a list of what should be in the diaper bag at all times. Focus on helping her get used to caring for both children and going out, etc.

We have chose to let our Au Pair get comfortable with all the children and schedules first and will push potty training over Thanksgiving weekend while I am home to initiate it.

On last thing, if you were out with the Au Pair where the two of you working together? I may ask the Au Pair to get the diaper bag and then double check verbally that she had key items. Likewise breast milk, I would think that you would be equally responsible for forgetting that in the car… Work as a team.

AP in Ireland November 7, 2016 at 9:58 am

Ok. I think : yes. your Expectations are too high. Not for an au pair in general but for an au pair that has only been here for one and a half months!
I personally needed my host moms explanation for *every little thing * in the first month and in the first 6 weeks I still wasn’t really sure what to do and what my job is. I needed everything to be very specific.

Now. For me it worked. Now I do my job pretty well. But maybe that’s what your au pair needs. Dont just tell her to ” keep the wardrobe tidy” tell her ” tidy it once a week or once in 3 days! Don’t just tell her to” potty train your child ” tell her *how exactly you want her to do it*. give very very specific expectations. tell her the datails of how you want it.

Also, most importantly : the first 2 months with an au pair are the hardest! She’s getting used to so many new things, maybe even the doors and windows were different in her home country (the reason why i was locked out in my first month of au pairing)…

So : Give it time. just tell yourself that in the first 2 months when everything is new, she is guaranteed to mess up. Also tell her exactly how you want things ans and let her ask questions!! no matter how stupid those questions might sound! my host mom had to show me how to make grilled cheese. But at least now I know how to make it ;-)

Wstchstr HM November 7, 2016 at 10:47 am

OP here- thank you so much for your comments. I think I need to add a little more information- regarding hours, it was never our expectation that an AP would fulfill all of our childcare needs. We always thought we would supplement with one other if not two people.

Reading this blog in advance of getting our AP really impressed upon me how the AP’s 45 hours must be scheduled in advance and we could not go over. To that end, during the interview process I discussed how I was looking for someone flexible, to try one schedule one week and perhaps a different the next week, as our newborn grows and changes. Our AP said she was open to that. We sit down at our weekly meeting and work out the next week’s schedule together, discussing what worked and what didn’t.

Initially, I was looking for help in the mornings and evenings, so that is what we tried the first week: MWF 8am-noon, off from 12-4, then 4-8pm. Tues & Thurs our other person came. The next week we tried various combinations of ten hour shifts, always with any break being 2 hours or longer (we live 5 minutes from several towns and AP has her own car).

Now it is seeming like our AP is expressing disdain for any schedule flexibility except that which she prefers, 9:30a – 7:30p and we have to give her most weekends off for her class and concurrent half day off and weekend help was one of the reasons we wanted an AP. I should add here that we love our kids and love to spend time with them, but my husband works a very demanding job, gone from 5:30am to 7:00 or 8:00 at night and the only time we get much time together is on the weekends. We are also newlyweds (coming up on 3 years, does that still count?) so trying to keep some time for ‘us’. His frustration that I mentioned in my post was because at the time he was trying to work in his office on paying some bills and our AP was unable to mind both children for half an hour, when she was scheduled to work.

On potty training – we are aware it is difficult and willing to be consistent. My problem is that our AP will not even put our toddler in training pants unless I ask her. I have been asking her for several weeks. I do put her in training pants when I am watching her. My frustration isn’t that potty training is difficult / a lot of work, but that our AP doesn’t seem to want to help with it at all (I believe there were 2 days of out of her time with us she put her in training pants and that was for partial days).

Regarding our AP’s personality – she is kind, soft spoken and sweet, however she lacks confidence and spends all of her off time in her room when she is home. I feel like we have a teen daughter and I am not sure I want to spend a year trying to help her with her confidence when I need to put my energy into our newborn. I feel like she is more interested in going on trips and outings than helping me. For example, she has requested off both holiday weekends (Halloween and Thanksgiving) even though I expressed to her we would love to have her be part of our family so she could experience US traditions.

I know that she is entitled to time off and a personal life but I feel like she isn’t interested in being part of our family – for example, we schedule her to work during dinner so that she will help with the children and my husband and I can try to enjoy dinner a bit, yet I usually end up holding the baby while the AP eats and the toddler runs around or screams. It just isn’t what I’d thought the AP program was about. My husband puts the toddler to bed, I get her up in the mornings, our other helper gives her baths when she comes 3-4 days a week, and our AP doesn’t seem to want to do more than play with her or take her on outings. She does do her laundry and keep kid areas tidy, which I appreciate. However we have to ask her to help at meals when she is supposed to be working, as if she is a guest.

Likewise, I don’t expect her to clean our daughter’s closet or dress her in the exact ensembles that I would, but I do expect her to not dress her in a tee shirt and cropped leggings when it is cold outside or put her in pants that are so tight the button cuts into her skin. I just want to see her care a little bit and take some ownership the rare time we ask her to dress her and help us get ready for an outing.

There is so much more I could add but the biggest thing for me really is that I think our AP was misrepresented by the agency. She was suggested to me by our representative after I described our situation, however in looking at her experience she has not looked after infants or cared for more than one child at a time. Are these legitimate reasons for a rematch?

Thank you for your comments and wisdom, please let me know if there is any other information I can provide.

SA_Au Pair November 7, 2016 at 5:33 pm

I seems like there are just a lot of issues here. Perhaps your au pair thought she would be fine with a different schedule each week but after trying it out realised that it actually doesn’t work for her (she prefers a different schedule that you don’t seem to be okay with. Flexibility sounds great…until it isn’t). It also seems like your au pair just isn’t prepared to assist in potty training for whatever reason and that’s just something you’ll have to talk to her about.

You say that your au pair doesn’t want to spend her off time with your family but the reality of the situation is that she’s probably tired and she is not obligated to spend family time with you when she’s not on duty (maybe she thought spending more time with the family would result in more work for her). You also say she doesn’t have any experience with small children (and I wonder why you’d hire someone you knew didn’t have the experience you’re looking for).

The fact that she’s scheduled to work during dinner so you and your husband can eat uninterrupted makes me very uncomfortable. Especially since I’m guessing you’re expecting her to hold the baby and attend to the 2 year old (it’s weird to me to expect 1 person to be responsible for 2 children all by herself during dinner when there are 2 other adults present). I honestly think that an au pair is not the right fit for your family, what you’re looking for is a nanny. There doesn’t seem to be much teamwork and as an au pair I would become very resentful working in that kind of environment. The issue here is that she is not a nanny, point blank. Perhaps you and your husband should regroup and really think about whether or not you want a nanny or an au pair so that you can get the kind of help you really want. Being honest about what you and your family need will be helpful.

Wstchstr HM November 7, 2016 at 5:51 pm

You are guessing wrong with our dinner expectations. We all eat together at a big table and I expect everyone to pitch in, taking turns holding the baby, helping our toddler eat and making conversation. The taking turns is what is not happening with our AP. My husband and I don’t need to have zero interaction with our kids to have a nice dinner, we would just like some help from the person we have welcomed into our home to help us with our children, WHEN they are working. As a first time poster, it is interesting to me how all of the AP commenters (at least I think all thus far) infer negative and or negligent behavior on our part as a HF.

I described our family dinner scenario and the help we were looking for to our AP agency when we were considering and they said an AP would be perfect. We went to great lengths to explore whether it was an AP or a nanny that we needed and ultimately decided on an AP for the family atmosphere, youthful energy and cultural exchange.

HMof2 November 7, 2016 at 6:21 pm

In our family, taking turns would create confusion as to who is “in-charge” and responsible. AP is a newcomer into the family dynamics and probably unsure when to step in and when to back off. I could imagine her hesitation at the dinner table (even if working on the clock) to “take turns” because the line of responsibility is blurred since now, there are more than one person taking care of the children – kind of like if a ball is flying towards you and another player next to you, how do you decide if you should catch it or let the other person catch.

Wstchstr HM November 7, 2016 at 11:54 pm

That makes sense. I’m going to try to provide more direction to her to let her know what specific help I would like from her at dinner, not just expect her to intuitively meet my needs, which is of course a totally unrealistic expectation…

NZ HM November 9, 2016 at 12:11 am

Haven’t read all the comments, so might be repeating some things already mentioned: general HF mantra: Don’t assume anything and expect everything!
Don’t wait for her to offer to help, just pass her the baby!
Don’t expect her to know what a 2 year old should wear and when. Put clothes out that are acceptable or maybe a selection of 2 options or just have season-appropriate things in the drawers. For ages, we used to have 2 drawers for each type of clothing: daycare (mucky play essentially) and home (nice, tidy clothes) – made life so much easier for everyone!
Agree: Do check lists for the nappy bag! and ask her to check before she goes out.
Schedule time for her to do certain tasks.

NewAPMom November 23, 2016 at 1:40 pm

We have our AP on duty during dinner to help out, and so far they all have. Our last AP in fact insisted on eating after us just so that we could all eat! I don’t think your expectations are too high. I think you have someone who is probably not the most helpful. Tell her what you envision dinnertime to be like. If she’s just waiting for you to cook and then be fed and not help out, then she’s in the wrong job. Part of being a family is helping out when necessary. Our current and last AP understand the program and what it means to be an AP. They help us when we don’t ask for it. They help us even when off duty! They go the extra mile.

HRHM November 28, 2016 at 10:25 pm

Might I suggest, with two very small kids and a husband who works late, that a good alternative may be having her feed the kids early and then you and DH eating without the kids later? I know plenty of families that do this in the younger years. Some have the AP eat whatever she feeds the kids and some make a meal with the AP after the kids are asleep and enjoy a kid-free meal for all the adults. A lot mix it up with 2 nights eating with AP, 3 nights without.

With kids that young and a husband who works late, this might bring a modicum of sanity to everyone’s dinnertime.

Anna November 8, 2016 at 7:58 am

After what you said here I do think you got a dud. The issue is that she appears to not want to learn or not care or not want to help. Prioritizing her class before coordinating with you, disappearing into her room and avoiding interaction in her off time when she is so new, passive agressive resistance to explicit potty training instructions (as in ‘i will nod but I don’t want to do it anyway’) and putting a minimum of effort to keep both kids for 30 min while on duty on her non preferred weekend day so your husband could pay bills….. This is an attitude problem.
I wonder if your Au Pair is Asian. I had this cultural conflict with an Asian Au Pair where words were one and action another – whatever she wanted basically. If the agency shares her personality profile I wonder if she has an “S” in it if DiSC or “white” if it is a color test like GoAupair use I would say rematch you can do better. Next time look for a communicative energetic happy extrovert who has juggled things in the past (as in work and college and sport, or full time work and social life), from a culture more familiar ( I love and get along with south smericans)

NoVA Twin Mom November 8, 2016 at 10:20 am

I think you’re getting good advice from others now that we have more information, but I want to go back to one thing you said:

“I think our AP was misrepresented by the agency. She was suggested to me by our representative after I described our situation, however in looking at her experience she has not looked after infants or cared for more than one child at a time. Are these legitimate reasons for a rematch?”

Don’t ever take an agency’s word about an au pair’s qualifications. As you’ve learned, you always have to go back and check what they’ve said. Either your au pair somehow became one of their favorites and they wanted to find her a good situation, or she’d been in the system for a while and they wanted to match her, or she was infant qualified and was the first one that came up when they searched. They often don’t do any additional research. If you decide to rematch – and I don’t think you’re there yet, rematch is a royal pain but a necessary evil at times – your au pair not being qualified isn’t a good reason. You matched with her despite her being honest about her qualifications.

If you eventually do want to rematch, you may want to emphasize more that she isn’t willing to work the hours you need her to work, as that sounds like it is a true issue that you may not be able to get beyond. You can dictate the schedule (within reason, though you should be sensitive enough to allow her to have time off at times that will allow her to meet up with friends – don’t schedule her to work five weeknights and every weekend (other than the “one weekend off a month”) you can even if it is technically allowed.), she either agrees to work without grumping or rematches to another family.

AndBabyMakes5 November 7, 2016 at 12:11 pm

First time poster here. This situation sounds very similar to us. We are new host parents who welcomed an AP this summer with the arrival of baby #3, following years of nanny care for our 2 older kids. Our nanny (who is older now and cannot care for kids solo) has stayed on to help with baby and other household chores for about 20 hours in overlap with the AP. We recognized care for three kids, age 6, 2 and 4 months is difficult for any one (even a parent) and hard to get anything “done.” This has worked well since it will allow the younger kids to nap if the 6-year old has to be picked up from the bus stop or go to an after school activity. However, even with all the help, our house is relatively cluttered from art projects, the last game the kids set-up, boxes of nature items collected on walks…

Our AP arrived when the baby was 4 weeks, and it was a lot of work to welcome a new baby and household member. We tried to focus on basics – safety, healthy food options for meals and snacks, regular diaper changes and nurturing care. Though we’d love extras like potty training help, this has been a nice-to-have. For example, our AP tried for weeks taking our 2-year to the potty on a schedule, and asked preschool to do the same, however, it’s just not “clicked” yet and we decided to take a break for everyone’s sanity.

A lot of the advice that’s been mentioned here (prioritizing, creating check lists, constant reminders) have become a way of life for us. I think “right-sizing” our expectations seems to be better alternative to rematch. Our AP is loving and caring, and though she is competent, she doesn’t anticipate needs or multi-task the way I hoped she would. That’s been a hard transition when we had a Super Nanny before that could do alot more, but doesn’t have the mobility to do things the AP can (go outside, read with the kids in Spanish, etc.) For example, when interviewing, I did have expectations that our AP could take our older 2 kids to the pool during the summer by city bus, while I was home with baby. When I took her once to show her how to do it, I realized that was too much for her to handle in the heat (probably too much for a grandparent, maybe not an experienced nanny), and we adjusted our expectations that we would all go to the pool together when I could drive us. She has forgotten breast milk out (but so has my husband), dressed the toddler improperly, but we’ve had to just remind ourselves that the basics are being covered. The mentality has helped us smooth out expectations and in the future, we have noted things we can try to better screen for next time.

We’ve added more check in meetings now that I’ve returned to work so that we can discuss things like class schedules and social activities when mapping out hours and balancing the family’s needs with the AP’s desires. Though I was hoping that after the “break-in period” – we could just set-it-and-forget-it, I’m realizing that we will need a more hand-on management approach given the AP’s personality and our expectations. Hopefully for the poster, a slight change of mindset, with continued active management, will be helpful in getting back on track. Agree that rematch is better reserved for egregious safety violations or terrible personality matches, but in this case, adjustments might just be needed on both sides to make the relationship a better fit for everyone.

Dorsi November 8, 2016 at 5:29 pm

Our AP that ended her year as our strongest AP, started out almost rematching when she began to care for our 2,4 and 3 month old. 3 kids is a really big job when one is a newborn. When I had just one newborn (a million years ago) – I thought it was the hardest thing ever. I can’t imagine walking into a situation with 3 when I had never managed 1 or then 2 on my own. And unless you are picking from a few very specific countries, very few APs have 10 hours in a row taking care of small children in a non-daycare setting. It’s almost impossible to find.

My point is that an AP with an good attitude and good skills can meet the challenge but it takes a lot of time. We also let a lot of housework and kid chores go that year.

Susannah November 7, 2016 at 1:57 pm

I would echo previous posters in saying sort of to your expectations. Having your au pair implement a potty training strategy and troubleshoot with you frequently- great. Having an au pair design a potty training strategy- depends on their previous experience and with caution. Cultural attitudes surrounding what constitutes acceptable potty training are incredibly diverse, and many people of Au Pair age are unlikely to have taken leadership over potty training, even if they have dealt with it in a daycare or daycare like setting.

With learning time, I would also say that depending on the experience of the au pair you will likely need to give some degree of support or direction. I am studying elementary education in college, and have the training to come up with a varied program of activities to supplement the growth and development of children of different ages, but especially if APs have gained experience in a non-academic environment they may know the what but not the why of many activities: this makes it much harder to come up wiht something from scratch.

I may have missed this, but how has your AP been doing with meeting your expectations overall? It seems to me that a lot of your frustrations listed were somewhat confined to what happened on this outing, and if that’s accurate then I would see it as a different question than if her behavior has been sub-par overal.

Mimi November 7, 2016 at 3:23 pm

If you’ve never raised a child, you’re not going to know exactly what to do every time for every situation, and even if you have…all kids are different. For a first outing, this doesn’t sound too bad. Sure, the AP forgot some things, but the newness of the situation usually means those things are going to happen.

Although this was a working excursion for your AP, you don’t mention what (if any) personal enjoyment time she may have had for this destination. Is it possible that she got a little distracted by her surroundings? Was she expecting to be the one tending to all the things you mentioned or was it assumed she would understand her role? You say she did ask about her class, but you don’t mention why you felt you had to agree. If it wouldn’t work for your needs, you have to express that.

I don’t think your expectations are too much, but you need to structure the circumstances better as NBHostMom describes. This is exactly what we’ve done with good results. For potty training, we talked about what to do, printed a daily chart that could be filled out, provided rewards, and checked in daily to see how things were progressing and to see if any changes or adjustments needed to be made. All bags in my house (sports, diaper, etc.) have laminated tags for them that is a mini checklist of what belongs inside. You need to provide a foundation or framework for the AP to use because age, experience, and culture are going to influence how she does many things and you’ll be frustrated if that doesn’t coincide with your expectations.

Frankfurt AP Boy November 7, 2016 at 3:27 pm

I think if I went on an outing with my current host family, or any of my previous ones, and I left something of the baby’s in the car, it would be: “oh no, WE forgot it”. I don’t understand why it would be only the au pairs mistake if something was left behind. Also, if the new born baby was asleep, it seems odd to me that when the toddler needed something that the mom would prompt the au pair to do it rather than her not just doing it herself. If two adults are looking after two children together it should feel like team work.

Behaviour management, integration between the siblings and potty training, in my opinion, are absolutely what a parent should be instigating and the au pair merely following. Possibly an experienced and assertive nanny, or a better yet social worker, would be able to formulate a plan for those type of things, but I think that is beyond what most au pairs can do and is beyond what most families expect or even want someone to do for them.

I also feel compelled to say that with a stay at home mom and 2 members of staff working 75 hours a week in your home, why the husband would feel he has to take time off work to get stuff done around the house is a little hard to understand. Dare I say… I wonder if the au pair is a bit of a scape goat here for a larger problem.

Frankfurt AP Boy November 7, 2016 at 3:50 pm

Also, I just thought, it is even more difficult to understand why it is the au pairs fault that the husband couldn’t get things done at the weekend when you consider that this au pair doesn’t actually work at the weekend!

Mimi November 7, 2016 at 3:57 pm

OP clarified that this was a time/weekend the AP was scheduled to work.

Susannah November 7, 2016 at 4:31 pm

I think that it can be a really hard thing to navigate working as an AP (Or babysitter, or anything not a parent) when the parents are around, particularly when there are three adults to two children (I think?) Perhaps some more conversation or creation of guidelines as to how you best want the AP to be helpful during this time could be good. Maybe she could get some housework done while you play with the toddler and your husband has the baby? Maybe you and the AP go to the park while your husband gets the house to himself? Maybe she has the baby while you and your other daughter and your husband go out somewhere? There are a lot of ways to make good use of this time, but without planning it can pretty easily devolve into time where no adult feels well utilized and lots of things fall through the cracks

Wstchstr HM November 7, 2016 at 5:23 pm

OP here- I realize how easy it is to infer things when I did not provide enough specifics in my original post. To respond to the things you mention you didn’t understand:
1. I explicitly asked our AP “can you please bring the milk in from the car and put it in the refrigerator?” At the end of our outing when we got home. I had an infant in my hands and asked her to do this one thing.

2. In advance of the outing, I asked our AP if she would like to go in a work capacity and that we wanted to bring her explicitly so she could look after our toddler so we could enjoy our meal. She said she would. This was our first family outing out since the baby was born. That is why I asked our AP to mind our toddler so that I could continue eating with my husband.

3. As I mentioned, during the interview process, I inquired in depth about potty training and our AP said she had successfully potty trained her nephew and described the method she used. I asked her if she was comfortable doing that with our toddler and she said yes. We continued to touch base on it. My frustration was that she didn’t follow up on what she said she would do. Regarding the behavior management and sibling integration, I never expected or directed our AP to drive this but only to enforce the suggestions I gave her during our orientation and daily touch base conversations. I never asked her to formulate anything herself regarding those subjects. I’m pretty sure I never said that in my post.

4. Probably right on this one, the husband is a bit of a procrastinator! All the same, our AP not being able to look after both kids for the time she is scheduled to and my husband having to reallocate time he had earmarked to do other things for childcare means he has to come up with those hours elsewhere. I also described his schedule in my addendum post.

A bit surprised at your reading between the lines to form negative judgements about our treatment of our AP…but hey, everyone’s entitled to their opinion and I suppose that’s what I get for soliciting wisdom on the internet.

Lastly, I raised my concerns with our LCC and she thought they were all legitimate. And she has actually met with us all regularly separately and jointly. She suggested that I raise the issues and provide specific expectations to our AP and give a week or two to improve. I have done so in a positive way and will now wait and see…

Emerald City HM November 7, 2016 at 5:31 pm

With these clarifications I do not feel your expectations are out of line.

I wanted to input that you are not alone. We will be limping along this year, but nothing our current au pair has done it really rematch worthy, it’s going to take an extreme amount of micromanagement on our part and I’m learning what to make sure to interview for next year.

HMof2 November 7, 2016 at 5:55 pm

Re: Milk – was there a language barrier? Did she understand what you asked her to do? Or, I could imagine when everyone is busy getting out of the car, in the commotion, maybe she didn’t hear you?

Re: potty training – I’ve had AP who’ve said that they would, could, or love to do certain things and in the end, the truth comes out and we realize they over-exaggerated their skills or only said things to make them a more attractive candidate.

Re: AP should be able to look after both children. What if she was home alone? There would be no HD to help. There are times when I am home when AP is working and could hear that she is having a tough time getting control of my 2 toddlers. I do not go and “rescue” her. It could be agonizing to listen to but I had to let her figure it out – and every time, eventually, the AP will take back control and then there is peace on earth again.

Re: eating out – if you were explicit – did she fully understand what that means, though? Did she understand that she will have to feed the child first, before herself? Did she understand that she may have to watch you and HD enjoy the meal while she is busy feeding the child, picking up things from the floor and, maybe even not be able to really eat herself, and have perhaps 5 minutes at the end of the meal to wolf down her plate of food? Was she clear that an outing in a working capacity could be like that?

Frankfurt AP Boy November 18, 2016 at 6:30 pm

Right I realise now with everything else you said that there are more subtle reasons why you are not happy with the au pair other than what you said in your original post – particularly with her not bonding with you or your child.

Maybe I am wide of the mark but it seems to me that you had more general (and valid, I might add) feelings of frustration but have particularly picked at problems that were not really a significant failure on the part of the au pair; and if you had have had a better relationship with her you would have been more likely to view them as a collective failure (potty training, sibling integration, having clothes that are too small). If she had a good relationship with your daughter, the only time I would consider those failing to be largely the fault of the au pair would be if she was deliberately obstructive – e.g. putting a kid that is potty training back in diapers or telling her not to touch her younger sibling.

2 kids and a cat November 7, 2016 at 9:32 pm

This is a work-at-home mother, not a stay-at-home mother. When my AP is working, I expect her to be fully responsible for the kids. This allows me to focus on other details. So yes, if the milk/mittens/library book gets left behind, it’s an oversight of her responsibilities.

Soon to be mom of three November 7, 2016 at 3:29 pm

We’re gearing up for our first Au Pair and this post is timely. I hope my expectations are too high! The advice above is great – check ins and specific details about what you want done and how you want it. The diaper bag thing made me laugh because I’ve been there myself. We have 3 YO twin girls (and are gearing up for a boy at the end of the month) and until you forget something crucial (even as a parent) I think it’s hard to anticipate what you’ll need and forgetting something is inevitable. I love the idea of a check list.

As for potty training, I’d second the books. Maybe have her read “Oh Crap! Potty Training”. Full disclosure, our daycare has essentially potty trained our girls and we struggle at home with consistency so I can only imagine an au pair struggling as well.

Regarding enrichment, is it in the budget to maybe sign your older child up for an activity once a week (ballet, soccer, music) that the au pair could take them to and then they could maybe build on that class during the rest of the week? It may provide inspiration for some other learning based activities. Are there specific activities you’d like her to be doing? (i.e. one art based project per day, one neighborhood/nature walk per day) – if so, spell it out.

As others have said I think it’s a great idea to sit down and really delve into your expectations – getting as detailed as possible – and then figure out a way to convey those to your AP (check lists, weekly sit downs, daily sheets she has to check off or write notes so you know what went on that day etc).

Soon to be mom of three November 7, 2016 at 5:30 pm

That should say “aren’t” too high.

HMof2 November 7, 2016 at 5:11 pm

– Checklists are great. I create packing list for myself to use actually (because I have forgotten bibs when going out) and show the list to the AP during orientation. This sets a level of expectation that applies to not just the AP but to myself, too, and sends a message that we are all human and sometimes forgetful but this can be overcome by using tools like lists.

– Potty training is a phase that we will soon be entering into. I don’t expect the AP to lead in this. We told the AP when we will start and that we will explain how we want to do it. It is a team effort but we the HP will lead and determine the strategy and technique. The AP will help to carry it out and will need to be trained on how we want the potty training to happen.

– Expectations on AP role when HP is around and AP is working: I am very clear during the interview and again remind the AP during the orientation that when she is on-duty, she is the primary adult in charge of the kids. We always identify who is the primary, whether it is HM, HD, AP, so it is clear who is “up” and in-charge. Our AP understands that just because the HP is around, it does not mean the AP can assume the HP is taking over as primary or even that the HP is available to help, when AP is working. She should behave as if she was alone as the only adult. As a team when we go out and the AP is working, it could be the AP or HP deciding it is time to change diaper, give the kids some snack or drink etc. and the AP would carry out the task. I might even ask the AP her opinion (or she asks me) on whether we should change their diapers now or wait until we arrive at the next stop. I don’t just not say anything and then get annoyed when the AP doesn’t change their diapers for 4+ hours. I find that it is important to give the AP examples during the interview and at orientation of different situations such as when eating out while AP is working, what the AP should be doing (to set expectations for what it is and what it isn’t). If this is discussed ahead of time, then AP would know when she is working and the family goes to the restaurant, she is expected to feed the kid before herself and likely not get to enjoy an uninterrupted meal.

– Learning based activity one on one with toddler: It is reasonable to have the AP spend time 1 on 1 doing this but it is not reasonable to expect the AP will just “do it”. You will need to tell the AP exactly what the activities are and how to conduct it (give her written instructions, graphics if helpful, maybe even show the AP how by doing it with the toddler the first time so the AP can see it in action). Provide the AP with the necessary supplies or be very explicit about where to buy what. I would look online or in books for creative activity ideas but I do not expect my AP to do that on her own.

Bottom line, be explicit and excruciatingly detailed about what you want the AP to do. Don’t expect her to creatively just come up with it or instinctively know.

Wstchstr HM November 7, 2016 at 7:25 pm

HMof2 – This was a very helpful, insightful and non judgemental reply. Thank you so much! This is the kind of advice I was hoping for. I really want our first AP experience to be a good one for everyone!

American Host Mom in Europe November 8, 2016 at 5:15 am

I think HMof2 also gave some great advice, but I’d have to say I take a different approach on the learning activity (presumably this means crafts, reading, some sort of game with learning involved, etc.?). I interview for experience with planning activities (I love camp counselors!), and will make suggestions, send links to useful blog sites (love this site:, or forward emails from similar sites with ideas, but I want the AP to initiate an idea and follow through with it. I’ll let them know that — “this is your chance to plan something creative with Child A, maybe discuss with them (if age appropriate) what they want to do”, etc., and I make sure AP knows that I will buy or pay for any needed supplies. If I have to think of everything they do with my kids, they’re not really saving me energy / time, and I think planning an activity like this is well within the capabilities of any 18-28 year old (especially one who I trust with my child!). Having said that, some need more pushing that others – I’ve had APs where I’ve asked to see the schedule of what activities they plan – but they all can deliver on this.

ItalyAuPair November 7, 2016 at 6:14 pm

I am an Aupair and have 5 years experience nannying / working with kids, but in my first weeks, feeling overwhelmed settling in, cultural shock, homesickness, I made some very funny mistakes (I got VERY lost in the city on my way to meet my host mum, who actually incidentally found me wandering along a random street / I left the girls swimming bag at home and had to catch a taxi to go get it!). I wouldn’t say any of this is representative of myself as an Aupair and now five weeks in my days are a lot calmer as I now understand my role in the family, and I know my way around the city haha. I think if your aupair doesn’t have any professional experience (aside from a newphew) then her adjustment period might be a little longer , as she naviagtes working with children in a more “professional context” whilst also finding her fit in a brand new family.

2 kids and a cat November 7, 2016 at 9:46 pm

Your family needs define the APs job, and she needs to be able to do this. I don’t think you expectations are unreasonable, but you probably undertrained her, and it sounds like you need to be a lot clearer on what she needs to do. Make checklists, schedules, and break down tasks for her.
For example, with dinners, define the division of labor. One adult is in charge of food prep, the other the baby, and the AP the toddler. I sometimes work from home and may pop in on the kids if I have a break in my schedule, but the AP knows I am not tagging her out.
With our rules and routines, my policy is that the first mention is information, the second a reminder, and the third a warning. Even if I think something is common sense, Childcare and being in a new family involves so much information it can be easy to miss/forget things.

Nina November 8, 2016 at 12:31 am

I agree that you can try and go over everything with her and then maybe ask her what she thinks about it and see if anything changes?

2 small kids are a lot of work.

I also feel that she might not have the right personality for your family, you wanted someone to hang around with you and maybe she is not that type or she is tired after a long day and needs a rest. But if you feel you are not connecting and that was important to you, you should also discuss it and see if it changes.

If you continue to feel that it’s not working you might have to consider rematch, but remember there is always going to be something that you which your au pair did better, it’s just about finding an au pair that is good in things you really care about and bad in thing syou can look over.

American Host Mom in Europe November 8, 2016 at 5:08 am

I haven’t read all the comments, so apologies if I’m repetitive. I actually had similar expectations when my au pairs started – I had an 18-month old and twin newborns, and wanted an au pair who could cope with managing, keep clothes organised, dress some of the kids, keep the diaper bag packed, etc. And as the kids have gotten older, my APs do the seasonal clothes closet cleaning out. Some are better than others, and as some posters have said, checklists are your saviour. I had checklists for the diaper bag, for the car, for longer outings, etc. (I even do checklists for the kids, now 7 and 8 – it helps them too!)

I don’t think the OP’s expectations are unreasonable, but it may require more checklists, more coaching/guidance, and more specific instructions to be successful. Also – and this was a big learning for me – you have to consider language. OP doesn’t say how fluent her AP is in English. I had an AP a couple years ago who I felt was very fluent, but after a few weeks she asked me to stop saying things like “Please could you handle X” and instead say “Do X” because she realised it was too many words for her to process at once, and she was missing some things. And I’ve often found my APs prefer to be given specific instructions, like at meals. They don’t want to interfere, but want to be helpful, so are often happy to hear “Could you please hold the baby for the next 10 minutes”, or “please help cut the toddler’s food and get her to focus on eating it”, so they know how to be helpful without stepping on toes.

And there are some middle grounds. I ask my APs to review clothes in the kids closets for seasonal appropriateness and size…but they aren’t the final arbiter. They make stacks on the bed or floor, and I review, with them – then they improve for the next time.

And FWIW, when I had 3 under 3, I had two au pairs to cover the hours I needed (husband was away Mon-Fri), and that also helped with getting things under control – so a situation similar to what OP describes with nanny + au pair.

Will leave the commenting on whether it works for an AP to potty train to others…I didn’t “potty train” my kids, they just decided when they were ready to use the toilet and started using it, which is a more common approach outside of the US I find.

I think, in this case, the OP needs some checklists, and then to give specific guidance, and agree a follow-up / status approach. And if it still doesn’t work, then maybe the AP isn’t cut out for it. But maybe she just needs more instruction and coaching.

Jennc November 8, 2016 at 8:13 am

I didnt read all the comments . I tjink this aupair is in over her head personally. I have found many aupairs will say yes to situations andcwhat they can handle. Then when they arrive they may find they cant actually fulfill. I know it is possible to get what you need but it is harder to find it . Im on my 5 th aupair , i have 3 kids, my first & 2nd aupair were 26 an adult and managed all my kids tasks help at dinner, outings etc without issue. They were my right hands. My 3rd was lazier, she just didnt tell the truth about herself . Its different for everyone, but rematching brings its own headaches. You have to be more firm , halloween off okay although its gone… thanksgivibg no…. If she is going to pout and demand rematch. She is there to help you. I thinkbif you need a split schedule a few days a week do it. I dont ask my aupairs for input on schedule i make a schedule that works for my family. Some weeks are great for aupair some arent. You discussed all this with aupair prior to match dont let her dictate schedule . If she has attitude about it find someone else. The childcare stuff can be learned, but attitude about work hours and being flexible is harder. Good luck

Singletwinmom November 8, 2016 at 8:52 am

There are many good comments here, but one i dont see is sometimes you get to a point where there is too much frustration to make it work. The couple of big issues, like not helping potty training, make all the little issues equally horrible….and then resentment sets in.

That alone for me would make the rematch conversation appropriate now. Invite the LCC, sit down, go over your expectations, the problem with we matched clearly for flexible schedule and potty training…you are now doing neither. This is non negotiable…understand, work with us or rematch.

Rematch sucks usually, but i have also gotten one of my best ever APs through rematch.

Wstchstr HM November 8, 2016 at 11:39 am

Thank you, that is exactly how I feel! Just an overall feeling of drain and dread now regarding our AP – and not because I don’t want to continue to do the work (checklists, specific guidance, follow ups) but because the genuine enthusiasm and warmth I was looking for in an AP isn’t there, it just feels uncomfortable to me. It feels like she doesn’t want to be with our family and especially our toddler daughter, who everyone warms to, I have never seen her even hug or hold. Beyond safety violations aren’t we entitled to an AP experience that we feel good about? I think, perhaps, as some of the commenters said, our AP said she was ok with our family specifics because she wanted to get placed and she would actually be better with older children.

It’s funny that potty training became such a focus of my post, because it’s actually not that huge of a deal to me this instant. But it is one of many things that all add up. I could probably be more relaxed about it if our AP was warm and seemed to really bond with our toddler, but I’m just not feeling that. I thought a month and a half in I would.

HMof2 November 8, 2016 at 12:03 pm

Not hugging and holding your daughter is a red flag to me.

I’ve had AP who immediately goes into their room after work is over and spent all off time out of the house or in their room. I initially was not thrilled about that – expecting AP to want to “hang out” but I have since come to accept that some AP just want to have “me” time – looking after toddlers is exhausting and understandably desire to have some peace and quiet.

However, my APs have all been very affectionate with my kids even when the adults are having issues.

Do you children’s faces light up when they see her? Does your daughter jump up and down, excited to see the AP? When mine couldn’t talk yet, they still showed body language of excitement when the AP is in line of sight. That tells me that the kids had bonded with the AP.

Anna November 8, 2016 at 12:37 pm

She seems like she is not into kids but focused on her other goals here, and you and your kids are just her vehicle to do that. I feel very used when I don’t feel a genuine goodwill and connection with an Au pair, and yours especially already seems to purposefully do less than the bare minimum requirement of her job. Rematch. You can find someone warm, loving and teacheable, but they have to want to learn and do. Yours seems to lack all of that. But I have no doubt she promised you everything you wanted to hear in the interviews. This is a tough one to come off of. In the future emphasise looking for connection and personality and a gut “aha” feeling.
From your username I presume you live in Westchester NY which many know is a very affluent area. Be wary of candidates who will tell you yes to everything in the interviews because the may assume you are wealthy and will offer perks.

Seattle Mom November 8, 2016 at 3:08 pm

Lack of enthusiasm and warmth is a deal-breaker for me. I had an AP who spent hours cleaning but couldn’t get on the floor with our then- 3 and 1 year olds to play. She was plenty organized, but she had no love or playfulness. And she acted like a big old know-it-all with us. She was different when we skyped. So we rematched as soon as we could, and we were happier.

Should be working November 8, 2016 at 9:30 pm

I was once on the fence about rematch, and then my daughter (then 9) said, “Annie’s au pair hugs her and smiles when she picks her up.” I asked if our AP did that, and already knew the answer. That did it for me, and it was such a relief once it was decided.

Wstchstr HM November 13, 2016 at 9:39 am

Thank you for sharing your experience. That is really what is going on here, after all of the task based frustrations and personality issues, my 2-yr old just doesn’t have a connection with her. Zero emotional reaction or bond. If she were older that maybe wouldn’t be such a big deal, but having just “lost” her mom to a new baby, I think that is important. I am glad I engaged in this discussion with an online community of experienced HMs because I learned a lot. And while some may criticize my role, saying I did not make enough lists, cards, charts, etc, I know that my frustrations are bigger than that and are also legitimate. It is ok to want an AP that your child bonds with and is interested in being part of your family.

momo4 November 18, 2016 at 11:53 am

Loving and bonding with my children is the most important of all the things I expect of my APs (10 so far!).

Watching the look of absolute adoration on my current AP’s face as he looks at my 2 year old daughter or her excitement when she sees him, seeing my 6 year old leap into his arms, hug him tightly and say “you’re the best!”, watching him patiently read with my dyslexic 11 year old or discuss the history of women’s rights with her, or seeing him sigh good naturedly despite my devilish 4 year old’s latest escapades… These moments are what make it all worth while.

The love between my kids and their APs (whom they still Skype with) is one of the reasons I continue to get APs even though we don’t need anywhere near 45 hours of childcare anymore since all the kids are at school/daycare.

I can work through any number of challenges as long as the love and good will is there. Without it, I would never have the patience to deal with the inevitable challenges of finding, matching with and training a new person every year, let alone having them live in our home with us. If they love my children, they become family. If they don’t, then I don’t really want them around.

momo4 November 20, 2016 at 4:24 pm

“an overall feeling of drain and dread…”

If ever there was a red flag phrase that makes me think you should strongly consider rematching that is it!

Toddlers can drive you nuts, but they are SO easy to love! An AP who can’t bond with a toddler is not the right AP for your family.

Dorsi November 8, 2016 at 5:36 pm

I also think asking for Halloween and Thanksgiving off is a huge red flag. First, Au Pairs should understand that holidays are busy times and that their assistance is often desired (how else would dinner get cooked when you have small children? or how would it get cooked without tears and TV?). Second, these kind of events should be the highlight of the Au Pair’s year. Yes, sometimes our APs work while we cook or entertain – but I always try to teach them a dessert, and incorporate them into our celebration. Our APs have always loved trick or treating – it gives them a whole different perspective on our neighborhood.

You’re right – you deserve a year that feels good. Some of the fault may be expectations of what an AP can do with two small children, but it also seems like you got an AP who is not excited about your family. It is easy to earn the love of a 2 year old, and no hugs and no joy is a big red flag.

Sydney mum November 8, 2016 at 11:16 pm

I think it’s really worthwhile having a really open chat with your AP. “Hey, I’ve noticed that you & toddler don’t seem to cuddle up with books (or whatever), is that something you’re not comfortable with?”
While APs talk about being big sisters, if they haven’t had younger siblings or even if they have, they might just need permission to get affectionate with someone else’s kid. One of our APs wasn’t sure if that was ok. Is she affectionate with the baby?

All of those specifics aside, there are things that could help you with this girl or for success with the next. We learn so much with the first few APs about our own changes to management of them.
Before an AP comes I think about how best to help her & each of my kids bond. I make sure she has 1:1 fun time several times in her first couple of weeks. I give them space to get to know each other but I also make suggestions & I will sit & teach her how to interact with my toddler. I show her how much she likes repetitive activities & how they can be used for language development (ball, on, drop, yay!). I show her reading so that she can see that it’s completely normal to skip pages & go back & forth. I show that when I read I point out things on the page & change my voice etc.
I spent a lot of time around kids as a young person & adult being a leader in the kids programs at church & some babysitting. I didn’t learn those things there. I learned them after I became a parent by watching friends who worked in childcare while they read stories & played with my son.
An AP who has experience with kids just may not know all this stuff. The orientation process can be exhausting for parents, but if you show her all the things you want her to do well, & she is loving, safe & helpful, then you will find her a real help for your family.
I am often frustrated when I think that she should be better at it by now & I have to sort out my expectations & disappointments & look at what exactly would I like to change.
My current girl was possibly going to extend from 5 to 9 months & we had done 2 months. I knew we needed to decide soon. There were so many things this girl did well that weren’t even things I expected of her & then things I really needed that she wasn’t managing well. I worked out my minimum list of things that needed to improve & I started addressing them with her. Sure, it wasn’t comfortable to say ‘when you clean next, let me know & I’ll go over some things with you’ but it gave her a chance to do better. Some people figure that no negative feedback means they don’t need to do anymore. I also delayed this for a week while I internally complained that I shouldn’t have to do this, but Itold myself to put my big girl pants on. My kids love this girl & I don’t want them to say goodbye earlier than needed so I owe it to them to find a way to make it work.
In my experience I don’t feel like they have the job together smoothly until they’ve been here 3 or 4 months. It’s a big adjustment.

With spending time with your family outside of work, that may also take some time. She is still getting to know you. She also probably has things she needs to do in her off time. She might want to contact family & friends or plan some day trips. She may also be worn out from small children as others have said. With a toddler & newborn, maybe what you guys do of an evening isn’t actually very appealing to a young adult…

Caring for both at once – when you say she couldn’t do it, was one of the kids in danger? Maybe you could teach her this, too. Give her a list of things she can do when she has both. Say that you need her to take them for a walk when you are going to shower or exercise, or play in the garden so toddler is occupied more than in the house. I know it’s not ideal, but sometimes even for a parent it’s impossible for both children to be happy at the same time. Help her to know what the priorities are in that situation & what you do to change the atmosphere. If the kids aren’t unsafe, then she CAN manage both at once, even if they’re not happy. Help her learn how to change that.

I’m sorry that this is such a frustrating time for you, new babies are hard enough. There have been some great suggestions here, some that I plan to use when our next one starts! A lot of us have been where you are. If you’re lucky, you can find an au pair who has strengths in anticipating needs & already has done nanny work. Mostly though, you’ll have to teach & support her to become the kind of nanny you want.

TexasHM November 10, 2016 at 1:07 am

I heard several red flags here. 1 – you want a member of the family relationship and she’s already asked for two family oriented holidays off 2 – she asked for these off in less than 6 weeks at your home without having mastered any of her job duties 3 – she seems dismayed with a schedule you spoke of in advance and are creating with her weekly 4 – she is taking a class that conflicts with your desired AP work hours (although honestly in the future push back on this and never ever approve anything that isn’t desirable to your needs) 5 – she doesn’t seem to be able to follow even singular clear instructions (please take the baby so I can finish eating, please bring the milk in) 6 – I could go on here…

Here is the net/net. An AP should make your life easier on the whole, not harder. Yes, there is an onboarding period and you have to be clear and guide and set expectations and expect mistakes and give grace BUT all of my APs (even our burnout) were able and willing to contribute day one. Our current AP has been here literally 5 days and not only drove the kids to their activities tonight but came home, got them started on homework at the kitchen table while making dinner from scratch (her favorite dish from her home country), cleared the table, checked homework, got them dressed and ready for bed (teeth, stories, etc) and then had enough time to do the dinner dishes before chatting for a bit with us and heading to bed.

With a positive attitude and good work ethic you can train anything, I really believe that. What I fail to hear here is either of those. I hope the wake up call with the LC helps her get her priorities straight and she is able to rise to the occasion for you. With littles and jobs like that you really need the help and can’t settle for or cover for mediocre. Best of luck!

Ex-aupair November 10, 2016 at 1:02 pm

As an aupair I think you are asking for a little bit much. Shes only been there a month and a half. She needs time to settke in. I know it took me a while. At meal time I never worked and would hardly interact because I was so nervous all the time. Its a massive change. But at the end of my 2 years my kids sat on my lap sometimes during meals and we ‘shared’ our dinner. I love them so much

I have hope that if you give it more time it will get better. Have a chat with her to see how shes feeling. if she hasnt had much childcare experience she may just be having a hard time with juggling 2 children and the fact she hasnt had any infant experience is kind of scary.

Also by the sounds of things you toddler is not ready for potty training. I cared for triplets and tried to potty train them at 2yrs old and one of thrm get it then one of them got it at 2.5 and the other still hasnt got it and theyll be 3 next month.

Have a chat with her she might just not be sure of thing especially if english isnt her first language

Just my thoughts, i hope things get resolved.

OldAuPair November 10, 2016 at 5:39 pm

I used to be an au pair and I’m still surprised when families expect nanny level care from these girls who at times have only took care of their siblings or had casual baby sitting jobs if not less experience with children. I would advise this mum gets a fully qualified nanny, if not a live in nanny because clearly her lifestyle doesn’t support having an au pair and she requires extensive help with her children. She needs a full time live in nanny who will bring up her children for her, being a mother is very hard and it’s a full time job. It’s okay to admit that you can’t do what you thought you could, and if you can’t handle the added on pressure then ask for further help from family if it’s possible.

CorkAupair November 10, 2016 at 6:34 pm

I do believe your expectations for a new Au Pair are to high at the moment. She is young probably and this is also probably the first time not living at home for a longer period of time. Possibly even a new country. I am an Au Pair myself, I have actually started with my HF about 3 or 4 weeks ago.. Time goes fast ;)

However, if you are on an outing with your Au Pair and she knows she is working you are equally responsible for double checking the diaper bag and not forgetting the breast milk, maybe in her mind she thought you were taking it out of the car.

It’s a good idea to talk to her about these things. Help her make a checklist for the diaper bag, let her know if you go on an outing and you need some extra things in the diaper bag even if she is coming along on duty, she might not realize whatever extra you need is needed. Tell her or write down the sizes that are good for the kids and have her take out whatever size is to small so that you or her or your husband won’t dress your kids with it any longer.

My HM writes some basic stuff in a daily planner thing (Specifics for home lunches and school lunches, and if she needs something extra done).
I am 29 and have lived on my own before, I have my own way of cleaning and doing the dishes and routine of doing things, I am really organized and she loves this. It is just a habit that she created with previous Au pairs. Also it was and sometimes still is difficult for her to accept my way of mopping the kitchen floor because she does is differently, she realizes it doesn’t matter as long as the floor is clean at the end and the dishes are properly done.

Also, what I had this time and not previous times I was an Au Pair is 1 take over day, the previous Au Pair was here for his last day when it was unofficially my first. We had the whole day together, with the kids (triplets), taking them up to school and in the afternoon we just talked about the expectations and meanings of different sayings and the way they say it. I am lucky my HF is great.

I do however believe that the connection between HF en Au Pair is important, if you have a good connection, comfortable talking about things that bother or went really well, their work will be better as well and she/he will show more initiative.

My HD is sometimes away for the evening/night because of work further away. And even though I am off-duty I help out with the kids during the bed-time routine since one of the 3 need to do some special exercises and so I take the other 2 and start reading their bed time stories. Or motivate them to put their Pajamas’s on or whatever needs to be done.

It’s a great feeling that while I am not their parent they still want me to sit next to them at the dinner table even though I got upset with them in the morning for not listening even though I asked a million times.

So what I am saying is: Be patient, talk to her about finding a way to help her remember what goes in the diaper bag and help her remember to take the milk out of the car and whatnot, also and I am sorry if this sounds to blunt, you need to remember that when you are on an outing, you are not working, you are spending time with the kids and the Au Pair and she is there for some extra pair of hands but you are equally responsible for these things.. Don’t forget that your Au Pair is not just there for you and you only, she is there to improve her English and to explore and learn a new culture..

I just remembered you said something about her Saturdays.. I just don’t really understand what is wrong with the way she filled her Saturdays. Unless you specifically told her that she works on Saturdays (make sure she doesn’t go over her allowed hours per week and has at least the legal amount of days off per week whichever day that works best for you). She can’t be at your service 24/7. Write down per week/month at least some time in advance what her specific on-duty hours are and don’t be angry or upset when she goes out on her own during her off-duty hours.

NewishHostMom November 11, 2016 at 6:12 pm

I would call your CC, explain the concerns, and set up a time for you and your husband to meet with the AP and CC. I don’t think you can fix these issues without some help from another person, and why waste your time? Your expectations are not too high — it sounds like you don’t have the right person. Could it work eventually? Possibly, but you have a new baby plus a toddler and may not want to put in the energy to teach someone things that you expect them to have.
You do have to let some things go and of course, everyone makes mistakes. You know this already and my guess is that you are letting things go.
Regarding her lack of independence – this may change as she makes friends and becomes more comfortable in your home and being away from her own family.
Oh and the flexibility piece is so important, and something not to let go! You have the right to change her schedule from week to week. Explain that you are trying things out and hopefully soon it will be more regular. In the meantime, you are expecting that she be understanding.
If you do rematch, I would choose an older AP (24+) who has infant experience.
For you to know — the first few months are HARD even with a great AP.

momo4 November 20, 2016 at 4:12 pm

I’m going to chime in here in defense of younger APs.

I’ve had 10 AP’s over 10 years. 4 children currently 2, 4, 6 and 11. Our first child was taken care of by an AP starting when she was 2 years old, the other three starting at 3 months old. Our APs have been anywhere from 18 to 26, and I have seen no correlation at all between age and ability to care for infants or multiple children.

Attitude and personality trump everything.

Experience in real-life situations with multiple children really helps, internships in a daycare setting are useless. At this point I won’t gamble on an AP who hasn’t taken care of 3 or more children simultaneously by him or herself, but there are many younger APs who have done this, especially ones that come from families where they have multiple younger siblings or cousins.

I have nothing against older APs, they can be great and there can be advantages in terms of maturity and life experience. Obviously they’ve had more years to accumulate meaningful childcare experience.

But I’ve had some fabulous 18 and 19 year olds too, and I don’t think younger candidates should necessarily be ruled out just because of age. Younger candidates are sometimes more flexible about doing things “your way” and may be more interested in being “part of the family”.

I currently have a 19 year old “bropair” who can handle all 4 of my kids at once all day if necessary without difficulty. He does whatever needs to be done, changes diapers, prepares snacks and meals, does their laundry, tidies up their rooms, and is 100% reliable. My kids adore him, and he is completely part of the family. He comes from a family with 5 kids.

The AP before that was also 19, and was equally capable with my kids, absolutely adored by all of us, and we still Skype with her. She came from a family with 4 kids.

IME it is a myth that older AP candidates are somehow inherently better.
Personality and attitude matter more than anything else.

Exaupair November 13, 2016 at 8:49 am

It sounds like you need a nanny rather than an au pair. A qualified nanny will get things right first time, will be able to do potty training and can basically take the role of parent. An au pair just can’t be expected to do this. You mentioned that she didn’t want to spend much time with you as a family when you aren’t working – is this maybe because she feels that you will expect her to do all the childcare when you are all together? It seems a bit rough on her that you went for a meal together and expected her to do all the childcare – “au pair” means “equal”, and she isn’t a servant. It sounds like a pretty joyless existence for her, and she’s probably considering rematch too. A nanny will be able to do everything you require and, if you get a weekday nanny and a weekend nanny, then between them they will be able to cover most of the waking hours of your kids.

Wstchstr HM November 13, 2016 at 10:08 am

I wonder if you read my updates to my own post…..we took great pains to have many conversations with the agency prior to getting our first AP, to see if an AP was really right for our needs or we needed a nanny. I gave examples of our needs, including potty training and meal time help. I was assured by the representative that an AP would be perfect – in fact, she said that she got her family’s first AP when her youngest was just home from the hospital, the same as I was planning.

We matched with an AP who was older(26), had lived away from home and held professional jobs for longer periods of time. We discussed the potty training goal in depth in our interviews and she told me confidently it was something she could and wanted to do, because she had done it before. Now that she is here it is all different and she is very disinterested and doesn’t follow through on the very things that were her ideas from her previous experience and she said she would do. This is frustrating for me because I was told one thing by both AP & agency and am now presented with something different. I am nursing a baby day and night. I was told I was being matched with a competent adult who was capable and willing to help us in this way.

I did a detailed handbook, have open communication and provide lots of lists and goals. At someone on this site’s suggestion, I gave our AP a little notebook with information and to carry around. She still doesn’t brush our child’s teeth, put her in proper clothes or clean her properly after changing soiled training pants/diapers.

As far as spending time with us in her off time, it’s not so much the actual amount of time (of course she is entitled to go out or hang out in her room) as her interactions when just passing through the house – she doesn’t share any information or feedback about her outings, people she’s met or about her own country and family. She barely talks to us unless I initiate it and then says the bare minimum. I thought this was supposed to be a cultural exchange? I’d love to know about her experiences in the US. As far as her having a joyless existence, I doubt that – she has made a lot of friends and goes out A fair amount. The only thing she seems disinterested in is childcare and our family.

I really think she’d have a better experience with another family with older kids and who wanted little interaction. I just want to figure out how to salvage this AP experience, hopefully we can get a rematch that is better. But if not, perhaps the AP experience is not for us. I just wish people, both agency & AP, had been honest about their expectations and experience. We were.

Wstchstr HM November 13, 2016 at 10:15 am

And I also didn’t say that we expected our AP to do ALL the childcare when we went for a meal. We expected her to help. You are the second AP commenter to infer that. We are good parents who like spending time with our kids, but we are also tired from being up all night with our newborn and we want help with our toddler during a meal out. I honestly don’t think that is too much to ask? We wanted our AP’s help with our toddler, who indeed sat by us for most of the meal. I feel the need to correct this because I don’t think it’s cool to infer we are somehow mistreating our AP…

CorkAupair November 13, 2016 at 10:53 am

I didn’t mean to say you are mistreating your AP. I mainly was just trying to point out that you don’t know what is going on in her head, so before you decide to rematch sit down with her and talk about your feelings, tell her you feel like she isn’t interested at all in helping out with the kids and you feel like she is here to have fun and go out. Though, you say you don’t expect her to do all the childcare but then you rant about her not bringing the milk into the restaurant and how incompetent she is as an AP because of that (and the bib thing), perhaps she just thought you were bringing it in.. Just one of the examples… Good Luck with everything!

Exaupair November 20, 2016 at 3:58 pm

I’m not an AP commenter!! I’m in my mid 30’s, and considering being a HM myself. I was an aupair years ago, when I was 19, hence my user name being “exaupair”. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with what you are asking someone to do, but I just think that your need for a “competent adult” means that you need a nanny rather than an aupair. If you pay nanny wages, you can have someone (or more than one person) who is capable of sorting absolutely everything for you.
Helping with the meal is fine! As an aupair, I pitched in when I ate with my host family. Not letting her eat while you all eat is more like a servant than a member of the family though, like she’s not part of things.

HMof2 November 13, 2016 at 6:16 pm

Lessons Learned:
1) Agency representatives are sales people so don’t rely on their assurances. They are making a pitch and trying to close a sale.
2) It is blind faith sometimes to trust what the AP said they will or will not do during an interview and what they really end up doing once in your home. This goes for HF, too, who also may promise or describe themselves in a certain way when it is not the case … again saying what needs to be said to close the sale. It is hard to distinguish between if they are telling the truth or just say what they think I want to hear.

Sounds like you did many of the preparation tasks that this website recommends, like having a detailed handbook, using checklists etc. It may be necessary to remind a new AP once or twice that she should brush the child’s teeth in order to reaffirm this routine. However, a decent AP should get the hang of it after a couple of reminders.

At some point, you just need to assess whether the situation is salvageable. Often said, a lid for every pot. Don’t give up on the AP Program because of a bad first experience.

I was reluctant and scared the first time I went into rematch because rematch is stressful. In hindsight, I pulled the trigger on rematch later than I should have because I wanted so much to make the situation work and instead, stretched out my agony.

RoseMarie November 13, 2016 at 12:30 pm

You are not expecting too much at all!! The only thing you are expecting is that your AP will understand your preliminary agreement and directions as your prior Nanny did. I’ve found over the years, that is not enough. You do need to be more explicit in your expectations, writing them down, and discussing them continually until she gets it.

Changing the schedule week to week might be throwing her off and that might throw off so you might want to rethink that. It’s not typical to drastically change a schedule week to week (except summer vacation when kids are out of school).

I’ve had 3 very successful AP’s (2 stayed 2 years) and 3 that didn’t work out (2 in just one week and another in 1 month). I’ve learned over the years how better to interview thru the matching process and also how important constant communication can be even if there feels like there might be tension initially in the discussions.

These AP’s often have very limited childcare or work experience. You also didn’t mention her age. That matters too. I won’t get an AP that is younger than 21.

They also come from different countries where in their country, they may not be expected to pitch in the way we inherently do in the USA. This latter part was a really tough for me to wrap my head around. Similar to you, I’ve had AP’s that sat thru dinner in a fancy restaurant like they were in a restaurant even when they were on duty. Even if they were not on duty, as a adult family member, they should be pitching it, at least that’s the way I was raised. Nonetheless, I don’t expect any help when they are off-duty (though once we get thru dinnertime expectations, they have all pitched in even off-duty).

When my youngest was a baby, it was my AP that handled her during dinner so I could cook and she also did most of the clean-up. She expressed to me more than once she was delighted to eat my cooking and not have to cook for the children. This was our deal and worked really well. If you are doing the cooking instead of the AP while she is on-duty, I think she should helping handle the young children because in MANY families, she would be expected to cook to the HF’s expectations (often a big stretch for most AP’s that have limited cooking skills), feed the children, and clean-up. That would be a lot harder than taking turns holding a crying baby!

As far as the potty-training goes, If she isn’t being supportive that’s an issue and you will have to first try to talk to her about it and if she doesn’t support you in this, I do wonder about her ability to support you overall. If she’s not being expected to solve the problem and just provide support, that’s very reasonable.

As far as organizing clothes in the children’s bedroom, I’ve rarely had an AuPair (or Nanny) that did that for me and if they attempted, sometimes they didn’t do it the way I would have wanted anyway. So I’m perfectly happy to keep this as my job.

First, try having a heart-to-heart with her about expectations in terms of the fact that you need the help and if she doesn’t improve, it may be time for rematch.

Hope that helps!

American Host Mom in Europe November 15, 2016 at 7:38 am

Just a thought to add, for this AP or any other, with respect to handling a baby and toddler at the same time – do you / does the AP babywear? That was my saviour for me and my au pairs, because I had two newborns and a toddler, and then three toddlers, at the same time. For example, if I was nursing one, sometimes the AP would have a baby in a carrier on her back (even at home — we babywore as much at home as out, actually!), and could then be playing with the toddler. It was awesome for the baby – getting to interact, being upright, etc. – and awesome for the toddler. Even when they were older, we regularly wore my kids on our backs until they were 4. Makes dinner prep MUCH easier, with three!

LuckyHM#3 November 15, 2016 at 9:53 am

I really don’t think you are expecting too much especially since everything was discussed prior to matching. The only place I can see that you may need to rethink your strategy is depending on the matching coordinator to find you potential APs. In my experience you pretty much have to sift through all the 100s of APs by yourself. The agency in my view seem to not do such a great job on matching my requirements to the APs they put on hold for me so I do it myself. I also say that a different schedule every week may be challenging for her.

My one and only rematch also did this not pitching in at restaurants. We eat out quite frequently and always invite our APs who have said that they love that about our family. This is sometimes when they are working but more often at weekends when they are not. All except rematch AP would pitch in. Our children aren’t babe. My youngest was ~3 years when rematch AP was with us. I vividly remember going to a family dinner at a really nice restaurant for DH’s birthday. She totally ignored my kids. When they talked to her, she wouldn’t respond BUT she was super chatty why DH and I. It was like my kids were invisible to her. She promptly ordered the most expensive cocktail, appetizer, entree and dessert. She refused to even help one of my kids cut up her food or take her to the bathroom when she asked her. Just totally blanked than like this was an adult only dinner. The icing on the cake was when my son’s body touched her and she screamed at him to respect her space because she wasn’t working and was her to enjoy a nice dinner without having to listen to them. I switched places with my kid and when we got home, I looked at DH and said, this is not working and cakes LCC to start the rematch process.

All in all, you may have to rematch. I don’t think this AP is a good fit for your family. Good luck

Sydney mum November 15, 2016 at 5:10 pm

Hi OP,
Thanks for your clarifications, there’s now a whole lot more info than there was in the original post.
It sounds like you prepared really well for your AP & sorry that you have been misunderstood on various points here (we all tend to fill in gaps based on assumptions even when it’s not our intention).
It’s sad that your AP isn’t interacting in a way that creates an enjoyable atmosphere. I’d still be really interested to know why she isn’t doing things you’ve asked her to do, her answer may be quite telling of her attitudes.
Where are you up to with LCC? If you still want to save it you may need to be really strong with LCC & say that you want an improvement in specific areas (know what you want & maybe pick 3) within 1-2 weeks but rematch will be the result if not enough change.

What you want IS ok, although in 6 weeks some girls may not have all that smoothly worked out & it’s normal to be frustrated as a HM in that time. That being said though, a good AP would still have an open desire to be helpful, even if she gets it wrong & it seems like you don’t have that here. A good AP spends her first week or so doing extra helpful things because she is making a good impression & she wants to bond with kids & she’s excited. Those are good signs to look out for.

NJ Mom November 18, 2016 at 5:24 pm

Our first AP started when our children were 3 and 6 months. She was certainly able to handle the 2 children solo for long periods of time, and even more able to handle them when the parents were around. I’ve had AP sort out too small clothes, and if she dresses the child, she should certainly know what’s too small. Likewise, the other things mentioned seem perfectly reasonable given the situation.

I don’t think expectations are too much especially since it was communicated ahead of time. I will say, that we did have equally high expectations as our role of HF. We did have to learn to let go of less important things. And never assume the AP “knows how to do it”. With each task, we demonstrated how to do it several times and provided feedback. For correcting the AP we use the sandwich method to soften the blow – say something they did well, provide the correction, and say something nice again.

All in all, we’re considered rematch before and our deciding factors are attitude and progress. Even though things were not where we expected it to be, if AP showed a good attitude and showed consistent improvement, then we would keep working at it. However if the AP was lackluster and showed no desire to improve, then it’s time to start rematch. The first 2 months are a steep learning curve and if AP is not willing then why bother.

Also, for the 2 young kids, we only considered AP candidates who had at least a month of experience with watching multiple children solo and experience with the ages of our children. We probably screened out many candidates who may have been capable who didn’t have the experience, but we weren’t going to take the risk.

RainyCityMom February 22, 2017 at 2:20 pm

I sympathize with the OP and I find this thread so helpful. I am too dealing with a surly lazy au pair. She doesn’t do anything unless she is explicitly told to do it and someone oversees her doing it. She just waits to be fed and does not help out. She is openly hostile towards me.

Wstchstr HM February 23, 2017 at 11:28 pm

OP here- I just have to say “REMATCH!” or transition, or whatever they like you to call it! I had voiced my initial concerns months ago, but put our APs happiness ahead of our home environment and I regret it 1000%. We skated through December because of holiday magic and entertainment and I wanted to believe everything could be ok, if I only instituted so many of the suggestions given in comments here – lists, check-ins, lowering my expectations, gave her a little book filled with notes and for her to write in, she never utilized any of it. I hoped it would get better over and over again, every positive interaction I was sure we had turned a corner. So I planned family trips and now feel stuck. I wish I could go back in time and tell myself that we are allowed to have more than an AP that simply doesn’t injure our children or damage our property (although in time, our AP did get in an auto accident that was 100% her fault), but someone who has joy for the job and makes our home more pleasant rather than less. It is absolutely ok to rematch/transition because there is a personality mismatch. In time it only becomes worse. Good luck!

LoveLifeLoveKids April 8, 2017 at 11:12 am

As a first time host mom I made the mistake of keeping an au pair who I thought would eventually change. From the moment she arrived I spent time working with her. I figured by month three she would be comfortable, but after the sixth month I was still reminding her to wash the kids clothes or vacuum their rooms. I realized I made the mistake of not rematching. I allowed her to finish her one year term with us and let me tell you how much less stressed I am after she left. Unfortunately, her room was left a complete mess. I don’t think I have ever seen so many stains on a carpet or have ever had a room that smells so bad, but it was most definitely a well learned experienced. One of my children even said that she was happy to finally have her out of the house because they could never get along. The au pair had special preference toward the other child. What have I learned from this experience?

1. Be patient, but do not lower your expectations because the au pair continues to make the same mistake over and over. She CONTINUOUSLY forgot to wash the kids laundry and they would end up without a school uniform on Monday.

2. If you feel that it is time to rematch then rematch. Regardless of what others say they are not the ones putting up with your stress as a mother and host mom.

3. Attitude. This definitely goes both ways. Respect is a must, but if your au pair gets an attitude about even the most simplest things then she does not belong in your home. I once asked my au pair if she could have the kids help her clean. Her response said otherwise.

4. When an au pair moves into your home it is probably the first time they have lived away from home. They drive your vehicle and utilize your home. As a parent I work very hard for what I have, but when an au pair continuously continues to trash your vehicle and you offer multiple ways on how to throw away trash after they use the vehicle, but somehow you end up with wrappers all over your floor and you find yourself picking it up. Then change the rule about eating in your vehicle. Many times I tried to teach our au pair how to maintain a clean vehicle, but throughout the year she was with us it was probably by far the hardest task I asked her to do.

5. It clearly states in our family handbook that you do not speak about our family. Unfortunately, I accidentally overheard her speaking about our family in a negative way. I believe this could have been avoided if I would have rematched since the day I felt it was time to rematch. This is when I realized our au pair was unhappy living in our home even though she said otherwise.

6. If you find yourself cleaning up after her the three months you are patiently working with her and she still cannot clean up after herself then guess what it is not going to change. You will clean up after her until the day she leaves your home. No offense to anyone, but this is based on my experience.

I am sure our first au pair would have been great in another home, but I did not rematch because I thought she would change. I patiently worked with her and tried my best to teach her what I needed done, helped her create a check list in order to (e.g. wipe down kitchen counter after cooking, pick up kids clothes after they take a shower, etc.) help her know what needed to be done, but in the end I BURNED OUT, ended up overwhelmed, and beyond frustrated. I decided to take a break before we get our next au pair. While I understand 100% that they are young because I was once young I realized that the only person who can make the decision for you to rematch is YOU and no one else.

Where my children taken care? Yes.
Did they eat? Yes.
Did I have to teach her about safety? Yes.
Did I hire extra help for when she was off? Most definitely.
Did my kids and au pair get along? She spent an entire year fighting with my oldest and toward the end she would get a very nasty attitude daughter toward my child. When I would hear them fight with each other my au pair would take the same
attitude my daughter took toward her. (she is 7 years old)
Was I happy having her there? No, I spent a large percentage of my time frustrated.

An au pair has to be a good match for all the family. I think it is amazing some au pairs change and for those who don’t then they probably belong better with another family, but as stated it is your decision and not that of others.

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