Gone Fishin’ — Back in mid-August

by cv harquail on August 7, 2013

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Just a quick note to let you know that the blog and I are “officially” on vacation until August 20th.  Since I’ve already had the blog on unofficial vacation during one of my busiest work summers in recent memory, I thought I might as well alleviate my own guilt by calling the blog’s downtime a ‘vacation’.

In the meantime, the comments are still open on recent posts. Plus, if you want to talk about the big picture of au pairing and cultural challenges, you can join the research project in the post below.

Take some time for yourselves, too, to celebrate the summer time and all the treasures around you.   ~ cvh



Host Mom in the City August 9, 2013 at 7:24 am

I would really like to post this on the “nitpicky concerns or real concerns” post, but it’s closed. If anyone has read my other posts, they know we’re not having a great year, but we’re in the final months. We had major texting issues a few months ago that seem to be somewhat resolved as far as I can tell. But little things here and there keep popping up that indicates to me that my au pair doesn’t take on duty time very seriously.

The latest is that she took my preschooler shopping with her yesterday. He told me he was bored sitting in the dressing room but that he got to sit on a ride so that was fun. I don’t know the extent of it, like if she was just trying on one thing. This falls on that line – if my previous au pair took my son into a store, I would know it was a one-time thing, done very quickly, and that she was chatting with him the whole time. Not an issue. Wit this one, I just don’t trust her. Plus the fact that she didn’t tell me that’s what they’d done (she usually tells me what she as planned and then what they did). Unacceptable right? My compass is off in these things now because of the lack of trust and everything being right on the line.

Momma Gadget August 9, 2013 at 11:21 am

The devil is in the details….The straw that broke the camels back…I just love cliches! When someone does a mediocre job at best in the first place, It is the culmination of a thousand little annoyances that will drive you crazzzzzy .
Unless you have a back up plan, I think you have to bite the bullet…grin and bear it… etc. :-) You could try to have a end of stay reset conversation- “Let’s make best of the last few weeks together, little X is really going to miss you. I’m sure there are a lot of things you want to pick up before you leave, but please do your personal shopping on your own time. Here are some the activities we would like you to do with him to make his memories of your last weeks together special.” Often APs are more sympathetic to the children than to the HP needs. Give her a bucket list of things to do with your son, and have him check off the activities as they do them. This can be cathartic for your son too, if he is at all attached to this AP.- “Look at all the things you guys did!” & “You finished the list and now it’s time for AP to go home.” .. and then you can make a new list of things he wants to show your new ( no doubt) awesome AP when she arrives.
I think a lot of deep breaths, a bit of levity and remembering that “this too will pass” will get you through.
Anything that doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger….
Good Luck!

Host Mom in the City August 9, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Thanks Momma Gadget. I really appreciate it. Most of the time I try to have this attitude of just keeping low expectations and being pleased when she does the minimum of her job. Like I come home and she’s actually cleaned up the dining room after feeding the kids lunch and I’m like “yayyyy she’s awesome!” Or she takes them to one of the many places on the list of things to do I’ve given her and they have a great day and I think “see, I can do this for a few more months!” And then about every week there’s one of these little issues – ok, she just took my kid shopping all morning. And I flip out and obsess all night “how am I going to survive this???” So much up and down this year.

Multitasking Host Mom August 10, 2013 at 9:51 am

I think I was where you are. One of our recent AP was such a nice sweet girl, but frankly she was just so so as an AP.I tried for months to council her on how she should spend the day with my children, i.e. actually doing activities instead of just letting them watch TV. She never did anything really bad, and would sometimes do just enough that I thought it would get better, but it never really did. At the 8 month mark, all the little things that I just let go, now Really Started to Annoy Me! I think I did nothing for 6 weeks but complain about the AP to anyone who would listen. Not my finest moment. We now have a wonderful AP who would have been an extraordinaire if my agency had that. Just wanted to assure you HMintC that it can get better!

Host Mom in the City August 10, 2013 at 8:55 pm

Multitasking Host Mom – you completely hit the nail on the head. I feel like I’ve had conversation after conversation (including giving additional written guidance) about how I want the kid’s day to go. It’s just so difficult to give nuance – I don’t have hard-and-fast rules, but there are times to sit around the house, times to run your own personal errand, times to so something mindless like going to the play area at the mall. But most times, I need her to be doing something engaging that the kids want to be doing.

Because she doesn’t get this nuance, though, I get the feeling she thinks I’m being unclear. So I tell her one rainy day when the kids are tired to just go to the play area at the mall, and then they start going there every other day. I say please only go there ocassionally and only when there really isn’t anything else to do, and she wants to know how many times a week she can go (it’s easy for her of course to sit there on her phone while they’re in the play space).

She’s just so mediocre. The kids are fine. I believe that they are safe. But you are so right – I cringe at myself for complaining as much as I do and I’m sure most of it sounds so petty. I never rematched for the same reason – she’s very sweet, and she responds well to feedback so that things in the very specific area we talk to her about do improve slightly (she’s not sending hundreds of texts a day anymore after we had a serious talk about that, for example – unless she’s just better at hiding it now…). So I keep thinking maybe she’ll get it. But she won’t obviously and we’re almost at the end now. And our extraordinaire comes right after she leaves. So hoping for a good experience this time!

Host Mom in the City August 10, 2013 at 9:10 pm

Sorry for hijacking the post! CV, hope you’re having a good vacation :)

cv harquail August 19, 2013 at 8:51 pm


Host Mom in the City August 19, 2013 at 9:08 pm

Welcome back! We missed you! Sorry for whining endlessly for the last month (or two or six). Trying starting now to make a fresh start and focus on the positives!

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