[First in a multi-part series on New Babies & Au Pairs: Sharing the Good News… ]
It’s great news for you and your partner when you discover that you’re having another baby — and it’s just the kind of news you want to share with your au pair thoughtfully.
Having a baby changes things, and having another baby changes things even more. For your au pair, the addition of a new baby to the family changes her or his workload, relationship with child(ren), available emotional energy in the family, use of the house and even where she might sit in the family car (once you put in another car seat!). The new baby changes the balance of things in your home and your family, and requires your au pair to adjust.
What can you expect?
If your baby is expected while your au pair is still with your family, the new baby will definitely change the rhythms of her on-duty and off-duty hours. Even though your au pair won’t take care of the infant for the first three months, s/he will need to manage the chances in the house in a way that supports both you and your other child(ren). And, after three months, her work days will change dramatically if she begins to care for a baby and her other host kid(s).
And, if the host mom gets especially tired as her pregnancy progresses, or if she ends up on bedrest, this will also change your au pair’s days.
Plan ahead to anticipate questions
As you prepare yourselves to tell your au pair, think about what changes you can anticipate, and prepare to answer his or her questions (even if those questions aren’t voiced.) Also, prepare to share with your au pair your ideas for how you’d like things to be– even if you don’t know the details, you should know what kind of spirit you want everyone to have as the new baby joins the family.
When should you tell your au pair?
If your au pair already knew you were hoping for more kids, the announcement of a pregnancy may not come as a surprise. But, if it seems to your au pair to be ‘out of the blue’, it may take a bit of time for her or him to get used to the information and what the new baby’s arrival might entail.
Perhaps the worst case situation is if your au pair thinks that, for some reason, you were hiding this information from her or him. This seems to happen when families and au pairs match 4 months from the au pair’s arrival date but the approach of a baby is only announced once the au pair has arrived in your family.
Your au pair will need to adjust to the arrival of another host child, and s/he may also need to adjust beforehand if s/he doesn’t know much about how pregnancies can affect host moms and dads. For example, host moms get tired and cranky, host parents (moms and dads) might get uptight about medical issues, finances and family coordination, host kids might have difficulty with the change in their place in the family hierarchy, etc.
Things you au pair might not understand
One of the things I’ve learned as a working mother and as a manager is that people who haven’t had kids or who haven’t had challenges getting pregnant assume that we can actually plan when we have kids. I remember my associate dean complaining that I should have timed my baby’s arrival so that it wasn’t right at the start of the semester– as though, after so many years, I was going to be picky? Your au pair may wonder why you “decided” to have a baby now, rather than waiting until s/he was nearer to the end of her/his year…
Another thing I’ve learned, a bit more painfully, is how hard it can be when you are expecting a baby or babies and then experience a miscarriage, “pregnancy loss”, still birth, or infant death. You and your family are all getting excited for the baby or babies, and then tragedy strikes. Again, people who haven’t had children, haven’t experienced miscarriages, and haven’t had their infants die have a hard time understanding what this means to a woman and to a family, and they can be oblivious or even downright un-supportive. So, if your au pair doesn’t ‘get it’ when you have a pregnancy-related tragedy, this can add additional friction and pain to an already horrible situation. You may hope to avoid this by waiting until you’re absolutely sure … as if there were such a thing as absolutely sure.
- If you know you are pregnant and you are looking for your next au pair, when should you bring this up?
- If you’re pregnant and have concerns about whether you’ll be able to carry the pregnancy to term, should you mention anything to your potential au pair?
- What do your think your au pair needs to know, and when?
Itty Bitty Babies: Ups & Downs of Au Pairs for Infants (and new Host Parents) by Guest Host Mom Dorsi