Holiday Break: Open Thread

by cv harquail on December 29, 2011

How is your holiday going so far?

I don’t know why I’m surprised, yet again, that the ‘vacation’ time is passing too quickly, that I have less time than I’d imagined to ‘get things done’, and that I’ve been more or less effective at not feeling too guilty about what’s not getting done.

needlefelted owl ornament scratchcraft.jpg

Okay, so right now I’m feeling less effective, and more guilty.

When a friend emailed me this photo of a darling ornament from the Etsy shop scratchcraft, it was enough of a prompt to get me to create an open thread. If there’s anything on your mind as a host parent, here’s a chance just to let it out to the community, and open up for some feedback.

Image: “Searching With Heart”. You can buy this little darling from scratchcraft at Etsy


NoVA HP2 December 29, 2011 at 12:52 pm

I have two somewhat separate questions/concerns:

1. Is there a good forum for meeting other Host Parents in the NoVA area with Spanish speaking Au Pair’s?

2. Our current Au Pair (first one) never seems to want to go out, she spends her off time watching TV, playing PlayStation, sleeping in on the weekend and occasionally shopping…Is there anything I should be doing to try to get her involved in other activities? I’ve tried showing her things going on in our surrounding area, and even inviting her along with our family to events (which she sometimes joins in on). She doesn’t seem to like any of the other AuPairs in our cluster (as few to none of them are Spanish speaking so I don’t think she feels she has anything in common with them). She doesn’t seem interested in any travel… I just feel bad that she’s letting part of her opportunity go and I don’t want her to get depressed or regret it later!

I know she’s a grown up and its her choice, I just want to make sure I’m doing all I can/should be doing.

Taking a Computer Lunch December 29, 2011 at 1:25 pm

A couple of options –

Enlist your LCC’s help – I had an AP (not a Spanish-speaking one) who arrived just before Christmas and was shell-shocked by the dislocation from her family, although we established good communication with her. I had my LCC seek out other APs from her country or even her language from her colleagues (we live in a city with 16 or so clusters from our agency, as well as hundreds of APs enrolled in other agencies). We were able to find our AP someone to have coffee with immediately.

Make cluster meetings mandatory. It may be too late for this AP, but our handbook says that we expect that the AP will attend all free meetings (our LCC has 2-3 meetings a month – some have a mininum charge while others are just a meeting at Starbucks). I request in the handbook that if the AP doesn’t intend to attend a fee-based meeting, that she let me know, as these are often on days which I might have her work.

She may be depressed, and frankly I’ve only had a couple of APs express interest traveling in January or February. January is the perfect time to sit down and have a chat about vacation plans. If she hasn’t made friends, then she may not plan to go anywhere – only a few of us travel alone willingly. Will she invite some friends from home to come and join her on a vacation?

Praise her when she does go out. “Oh, that’s great you went out and did X?” Be effusive without going overboard.

The bottom line – as much as we think we might do a better job of taking advantage of a year abroad (and some of us have), we can’t live someone else’s life for them.

If your AP is taking care of older infants and/or toddlers, then enroll her and them in a Mommy & Me type of class – she’ll be forced out of the house. When our kids were little, we did that, and our APs met tons of nannies and APs, as well as moms. They actively enjoyed getting out of the house (some friends of theirs also arranged for HF to enroll their kids, too).

Gianna December 29, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Call the other agencies in your area and ask for the name of the LCC. Call her and ask if your aupair can come to her meetings. I will bet she says yes. It may be that the other agencies have more aupairs from her home country or at least from Spanish speaking countries. This may be your exit strategy from your present agency- it is a great way to do some research !

German Au-Pair December 29, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Or -maybe- you want to consider that this is just who she is. I have a ton of free time as both of my kids are in school and I have most weekends off.
Still I like to sleep in late and use most of my mornings for taking naps.
I don’t connect well with most of the au pairs in my cluster or other things like distance or work times don’t match.
I sometimes go out with them and I sometimes go out by myself but I am very certain that I do less than other au pairs do. But it’s just who I am. I like to spend some time alone. While sometimes I do ask myself if I should do more outside the house, I just don’t want to change who I am just to meet the expectations that people set in your year abroad. And really, what is there to do that you would totally miss out on? What do most au pairs do together? Hang out at Starbucks, go shopping, go partying. I don’t feel like I’m missing anything.
I don’t know to what extend your au pairs likes to stay home/ by herself. After all, I DO go out and travel places sometimes and enjoy spending some time withe the other girls every now and then. Just to as much as most others do.
Maybe what you need to/could do is to find out, if that is was she WANTS.

JJ Host Mom December 29, 2011 at 8:30 pm

German Au-Pair, thanks for responding. Do you mind if I ask you a question about that?

I’m wondering why you au pair. Not in a snarky way, and I hope it’s not coming across that way… I just wonder what you get out of hanging out in your room here that you wouldn’t get in Germany. I’ve had au pairs that hung out at home before and have wanted to ask them that.

If I were au pairing, like you, I would totally pass on the Starbucks, shopping, and partying, and granted would probably be exhausted and would want to spend a good deal of my time napping. But I’d also be au pairing so that I could travel, so I’d want to get out and see the area around me; exploring new restaurants, and exploring new cities. I understand that everyone is different and I’d never expect someone else to be like me, but I’d love to be able to better understand the motivations of someone who prefers to hang out at home, so I can be a better host mom to her/him. Thanks!

German Au-Pair January 4, 2012 at 2:17 am

Sorry, I only read this now. I had some busy days.
I don’t take it in a snarky way, I totally get where you’re coming from. Let me try to explain.

I do travel quite a bit with my hostparents, so I have seen a lot already and there’s more to come.. Also I was adventures enough to drive 3.5 hours to meet a friend in another city all by myself. I am planning some trips at the moment. I had friends over for NYE and we did a lot of sightseeing around and spent NYE in a huge crowd, enjoying ourselves.
I do like to go to the movies and meeting people for lunch -just the normal stuff.
I just don’t do it to an extend that others do. I do like to sleep a lot and I am the kind of person who prefers a couple of really close friends over a lot of hang-out-with-friends.
However I only connect to a certain kind of personality and have not found that in my cluster yet. Therefore I do hang out with the girls sometimes because they are really nice and fun to be around. But that is just not the kind of friendship I normally have. The kind of people I connect to, live far away but I plan trips with them or to visit them.
And even when I spend my time doing really fun stuff, afterwards I just NEED time for myself. I haven’t had a weekend without doing anything since the middle of the November and now I am REALLY looking forward to not doing anything the whole weekend.

I feel I do a lot of stuff I couldn’t do at home and that other au pairs do, too. But I just pass on all the stuff that many, many au pairs enjoy doing.
I often read about au pairs who feel like they need to hang out with their friends almost every day when they aren’t working. They go shopping, partying or just hang out. That would stress me out because I am just not the kind of person.
When I want to relax after work, to me that doesn’t mean hanging out with MORE people all day. Most of the time, to me that means being alone.

But that doesn’t mean that I am not looking forward to planning a trip and checking out that cute little local cafĂ© someone recommended. I do that and I enjoy that a lot. I just couldn’t do it all the time.

Sorry, it got really long. I hope that answers your question though. Like I said before, it always depends on the extend. If I wasn’t traveling and doing anything AT ALL, I would agree with you.
However right know I feel like I am using my chance to do stuff I couldn’t do in Germany but still be true to who I am and always have been.

German Au-Pair January 4, 2012 at 2:34 am

Oh and to the last part:
To me being a good hostmum to that personality type means accepting who he/she is but maybe giving a little push every now and then.
My hostmum MADE me take the car out the very first day even though I was afraid to (after testing my driving abilities of course). She encouraged me to wander off alone when I couldn’t find anyone to go sightseeing with me in Chicago. When I think about doing something, she encourages me to just try.
She got me that city saver book whith lots of ideas for things to do and when she gets some coupons she doesn’t use, she passes them on to me.

I know she wouldn’t waste her time napping and watching series but she never trys to convince me not to do it.

Probably not every girl who hangs out at home a lot does it for the same reason. Some might be shy and actually need more encouragement.
But I can honestly say that I NEED to have this alone time to be able to enjoy when I actually do things. I won’t hasitate to do something fun when I want to but I also won’t hasitate to recharge my batteries the way I need to.

Taking a Computer Lunch January 5, 2012 at 11:48 pm

German Au-Pair, you seem to know who you are and what you need to recharge your batteries. However, as an 11-year veteran of hosting APs, I would say that I can’t count the number of times I’ve had APs who hid in our basement for many months of their year, only to emerge toward the end, seemingly angry at me because they no longer had enough time to see all the sites in my community or travel to the places that they wanted to visit.

I had one AP who emailed in the basement all summer, only to emerge late in the Fall, surprised that the days were getting shorter and colder (and yes, no end of my “telling” her that summer wouldn’t last and now was the time to visit the area with friends seemed to penetrate). For several years I’ve hosted European APs who are surprised when the cool, dry Fall days give way to the humidity that pervades our city most of the year (and mixed with atrocious heat in the summer that can make touring unpleasant).

As a HP, I encourage APs to leave the house, only because I’ve been it through too many times before. The first few months go slowly, and then the days pick up and speed by so fast that the year is over before many APs know it.

Of course you want to recharge your batteries – after all you’re working. I’m sure your HF appreciates that you’re rested and ready to start your shift. But taking advantage of the cultural exchange doesn’t have to be about parties and shopping – it can be about going to a museum, learning a new skill like knitting, volunteering, or even just walking in a park.

NoVA HP2 December 30, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Thanks for this perspective, its very possible that it is her personality, and she is lovely with our two children. I just don’t want her to miss out on seeing things in the US because she is shy. We can certainly do a great deal of Cultural Exchange within our household and in our trips, but there is nothing like seeing some of the US sites, especially when you’re only going to be here for a year.

She seems happy enough, we talk openly about these things, and she seems happy to save money and not travel to much…maybe I’m just worried over nothing!

AFHostMom December 30, 2011 at 6:08 pm

What country is she from? My current AP is a saver and a lot of it is because she is from a very modest background. That may have something to do with it. She has a large group of friends from her home country, and she stays with them every weekend. They live in NoVa. Maybe it would be helpful for you to introduce her to some sites like This way she could meet others who aren’t necessarily APs but who share her heritage. Just a thought.

Anna December 30, 2011 at 10:18 am

I live in NoVA and have a spanish-speaking au pair. If you want, you can contact me at

I don’t know of any forum to meet, but I found that if an au pair wants, it is very easy for her to meet spanish-speaking friends here, and not only au pairs.

NoVA Host Mom December 31, 2011 at 6:45 pm

We had a spanish-speaking AP who stayed nearly 2 years with us, and she was certainly more reserved than APs #1 and 3. She was older than most in the cluster and became active in her church. In some ways I was concerned that being so active with the church allowed her to become more isolated from the AP experience and activities, but was at the same time thrilled she was getting out there, had somewhere to go on a regular basis. We absolutely love her and are so glad with how she grew within herself during her time with us, but i think a lot of it is self confidence and that is not something easily pushed. For some APs, it is a huge leap outside their comfort zone just to come to the US and do the AP program, that I think they might have shell shock at the rest.

No amount of nudging would get her to regularly participate with the other APs or at most of the AP activities. She found one or two who she was comfortable with (mostly with similar religious values, but not the same religion), but otherwise just never was into the AP scene, so to speak.

For this AP, it was not until her second year with us that she really stepped up and started traveling, taking day trips around the area, and seeing how far she could push herself to grow and experience things.

You did not say how long (or I just totally missed it) she has been here, or what her age range is, but it is likely she is feeling disconnect from the other APs in her cluster if many are young and more European. Even if they are not, if there are several from a single home country and only a very few from your AP’s home country, it can also seem isolating. Try to remember that spanish-speaking is not the same in the different spanish-speaking countries. Mexican Spanish is very different from Bolivian Spanish and Salvadorian Spanish. Don’t even begin to throw in Spanish from Spain. Yet another ball game. So even though someone might speak spanish, the actual spoken language can be very different (idioms, accent, usages of words, etc).

Provide her with the basic information to find her niche (general terms for Google searches, information for churches in her religion – especially if you know of ones in areas with concentrations from her country. No amount of nudging will get her out of her shell until she is ready, but make sure she knows how to find the tools.

NoVA HP2 December 29, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Thanks! I’ll shoot an e-mail to our LCC and see if she can help link something up. Maybe outside of her cluster even…

Our LCC only holds one (and barely one, sometimes with 48 hour notice on the date/time, often less then 24 hour notice on the location) meeting a month. Which seems to suit this Au Pair who really just wants to go to the meeting and sign her name then leave…

I’ll certainly chat with her about travel plans for when it gets warmer, you’re right that it could just be the cold weather keeping her in at the moment. I’ll also look into the Mommy&Me type of classes, that’s a great idea!

Calif Mom December 29, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Also check out Facebook. If you search “au pair” and your area, you might find a page with au pairs looking to connect.

Danielle December 30, 2011 at 3:08 pm

How about There might be a meetup for spanish-speaking expats, or au pairs, or whatever she is into.

But as German Au Pair says above, don’t make it a problem if it’s not a problem. Maybe she’s normally a homebody and she’s happy that way. If she seems OK, maybe she is. You could ask her if she wants help meeting people, and what kinds of activities she would like to do with other people (or alone).

When I was younger I wasn’t good at meeting other people and I would get overwhelmed in new situations. I probably would be the kind of au pair who would spend a lot of time alone at first but eventually find my niche. And pushing me to be more social would not help me, it would only make me feel like I’m being pushed and it would probably make me feel ashamed (that I’m so socially inept that I need my host mom’s help). I was not an au pair but I was a peace corps volunteer overseas and I lived with my cousin as a mother’s helper in an unfamiliar city when I was in high school, so I sort of know how i might feel as an au pair.

All that said I’m really glad that our au pair who joined us right before the holidays seems to be adjusting well socially- she has already made some friends and has made plans every weekend.

NewHM December 29, 2011 at 7:53 pm

I need a quick advice. As of yesterday we decided on rematching. AP stated to us yesterday that she doesn’t want to discuss any problems and she wants to find new family. We didn’t object. Now today she is behaving like a b****. We had plans to go out tonight and she suddenly announced that we would have to be back in two hours because she can’t work more than 10 hours a day (she worked 8-4pm). So far this week she worked 32 hours. There is 13 hours left and she refuses to work on Saturday. How do I deal with it? Can I cut her pay? If I leave her longer with the kids I am afraid she will walk out of the house and leave them alone (they are 3 years and 9 months old). If she actually did that, can I have her arrested for endangering their lives? To be honest I don’t trust her at this point to even leave her with the kids for a moment. I don’t even trust to leave her alone in the house. Another issue is having her here for another 2 weeks and paying her. What if I don’t trust her with the kids? Can I refuse to have her work and not pay her?
I can’t believe we are in this situation at all. We went from having supposedly very friendly girl to absolutely hostile, mean and pure evil. She has never in her 4 months here worked 45 hours because we were too nice to have her work that much. How ironic.
Please help. LCC isn’t answering her phone or replying to e-mails.

JJ Host Mom December 29, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Couple of answers. Yes, you can release her from her childcare services and not pay her for the next few weeks. I’m surprised the LCC didn’t give you that option during your rematch conversation. You do have to continue to house her for 2 weeks, though.

And unfortunately she’s right; au pairs aren’t allowed to work more than 10 hours per day, even if the total hours per week are less than 45.

The two weeks after rematch are horrible. Check out other related threads here for more information and support. Hopefully it’s all worth it and your next au pair will be great.

Calif Mom December 29, 2011 at 9:12 pm

You can release her from duties but you still have to pay her. It’s not unusual at the holidays or during rematch for an unhappy au pair to do the spiral into the depths of bad behavior. Sorry you are dealing with this! Keep your counselor in the loop so she can provide ACCURATE info to other counselors helping her find a new family.

Calif Mom December 29, 2011 at 9:15 pm

And of course you should not be leaving her alone with the kids. Time to burn that annual leave or import a relative as back up.

This is a good reminder for why you need to have some sort of back up plan ready for worst-case scenarios.

I have had APs that I didn’t trust to care for the kids once we invoked rematch. When they are that little, you can’t feel comfortable leaving them in her care. Ask your counselor if she has any au pairs who need temp housing.

This time of year, things may start to unravel. But not all unravelings are bad — there may be rematch au pairs ready to swoop in and join a family who is a better fit. Don’t assume all rematch au pairs are going to be equally negligent. Trust your instincts.

azmom December 30, 2011 at 11:11 am

you have to finish her pay for this week, but notify your LCC that you’re done and you want the paperwork that indicates she’s in transition. don’t have her work starting sunday and she doesn’t get paid. if she works at all in your new week, you have to pay her the full stipend.

Taking a Computer Lunch December 29, 2011 at 10:40 pm

Unfortunately when things go sour, they go sour fast. 1) It is never legal to have an AP work more than 10 hours in one day. While she might have tolerated it when things were OK, she’s legally within her rights not to tolerate it now. If you’re going to have her work, then she’s legally entitled to 1 1/2 days off per week. That means you may only schedule her to work for 5 hours on one weekend day, even if the rest of her hours don’t tally up to 45 (you may choose to have her work one half-day shift during the week).

Sometimes when it’s over, it’s over. Ask your LCC for guidelines — after the New Year (in the meantime you may have to call HQ). In many agencies you may ask the LCC to house her during the rematch period. If you feel that she is incapable of keeping your children safe during the rematch period, then suspend her working hours. At that point, if you have given her the use of a cell phone, you may want to ask for it back. If she has access to a family car during her free time, you may suspend it. If she has access to a family computer, then she’s done.

Finally, even though she’s the one who asked for rematch, understand that her life is in turmoil, too, and that contributes to her snippy attitude. You are going to find another au pair, but she may not find another HF, especially if the LCC is not on her side. She is going to leave the friends she made in your community if she does rematch successfully. It may be better for her in the long run, but she doesn’t have any guarantees. I’m not say that you need to cut her any slack, just understand that the rematch period is incredibly tense.

WestMom December 30, 2011 at 8:25 am

Quick note: not all agencies mandate 1.5 contiguous days off. We are with InterExchange, and we have to offer one full weekend day off + 1/2 day off at any other time during the week (or so I was told by LCC). But completely agreed with previous posters that AP is in her right to refuse to work the additional hours.

Speaking of hours, I was told we needed to count cluster meeting hours in our 45hrs. Our meetings are once per month, sometimes announced on a short notice and always seem to take precious hours I would need elsewhere. My APs always seem surprised that they are ‘paid’ for those hours and don’t really expect it… Can anyone confirm?

azmom December 30, 2011 at 11:12 am

i’m with interexchange and have never counted the meeting hours as work hours and i know all others in my cluster do not. it isn’t in the contract either. you just have to make her available during those times.

MommyMia December 30, 2011 at 1:03 pm

I concur with azmom; and yes, our LCC seemed to always give one day’s notice and the meetings were always on days or evenings when I’d already scheduled our AP to work because I needed her (not just to use up the hours!). Other clusters in our area published the meeting schedule for six months or even the entire year, which I thought was wonderful for planning, but could never convince ours to change her last-minute ways.

Anna December 30, 2011 at 1:53 pm

I was with Interexchange for many years, and you don’t have to count meetings as work hours. The 1.5 days off a week don’t have to be on a weekend either! (except one full weekend a month)

Danielle December 30, 2011 at 3:17 pm

To clarify for other commenters- your AP worked 8-4pm, that’s 8 hours, not 10 hours, so she should be able to work an additional 2 hours. That’s the problem, right? She’s saying she can’t work more than 10 hours, but she’s only worked 8.

And to respond to your post, I’m sorry, what a crappy situation. I don’t have any advice because I’m a new host mom myself, and our AP is working out really well. But I think you’ve gotten some good advice here. My kids are the same age as yours and I wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving them with a disgruntled AP either, esp one who doesn’t play fair. Good luck in finding a new AP, and interim childcare- that can be really tough!

Danielle December 30, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Duh I just realize I misread and misinterpreted.. you have to be back in 2 hrs because she already worked 8. Nitpicky but fair, especially given the circumstances.. that’s what back-up babysitters are for.

NewHM December 30, 2011 at 9:07 am

What a night. Around 9pm our AP packed up, called a friend and moved out. It’s a relief. My husband took her phone (she had audacity to ask if she can keep it) and keys. There is one AP in our cluster who has her own house (yes, very special situation) and her own car which of course made my AP jealous from day one. That’s where she went. LCC is on board. We don’t have to pay her a dime from now on. We had another glimpse of our Princess. Her friend carried all the bags and she just walked behind. Funny picture to watch from second floor window. ;-) I just keep asking myself how did we go from hosting nice girl to that.
As to hours, our AP had virtually every weekend off, because we didn’t care if we went out during the week. So yes, she worked maybe 11-12 hours one day (including evening) during the week but then had off from Friday evening until Monday morning. That was done to accommodate her not us, to give her more freedom. I guess I learned my lesson and next time I will schedule our ‘dates’ on Saturday nights.
Thank you for input everyone. I love reading this blog.

azmom December 30, 2011 at 11:15 am

good riddance. we have an AP in our cluster with her own apartment. AP talked about it a lot… and then discussed how that AP doesn’t do family dinners, etc. I quickly had her add those two together. She may have tons of “freedom” but she’s missing out on the cultural exchange. If your new AP wants a cultural exchange, that won’t work in their own apartment.

southern host mom December 30, 2011 at 11:35 am

ughh. I’ve gotten a lot of that ” so and so” has an ipad2, a smart phone, international airfare and hotel for AP only, etc. Haven’t heard the separate apartment one, but who knows.. My kids are way too young for that kind of talk, so it is just beyond annoying to hear it from a woman in her late 20s whining to me when we try to be as generous as possible. I have to wonder if some of these families are trying to compensate for some undesirable circumstance, or just have more money than they know what to do with.

Danielle December 30, 2011 at 3:25 pm

My cousin had lots of APs when her kids were small, and I think all of her APs had it tough and she tried to compensate by being really generous with money and stuff. My cousin was a SAHM, her husband made tons of money, their marriage was falling apart, the youngest kid was a nightmare (I know, I babysat him as a baby), etc etc. My cousin definitely took advantage of the APs and broke the rules (I know because she took advantage of me when I lived with her, and because she has told me some of the things she did). But she also left money lying around, the AP got her own car, had her own wing of the house, lots of other expensive perks that I couldn’t begin to afford. She had a lot of APs quit on her but then she got someone who was very compatible and she stayed with them for years, after the AP years ran out she got a student visa and went to school full-time while living & working with my cousin. I think she’s the only one who could control the youngest kid.

Anyway that’s just one view of a wealthy family that gave a lot of *stuff* to the au pair but still might not have been the nicest family to live/work with. My family is poor in comparison, we only have one bathroom in our house, we buy all of our furniture used, we have really old cars, we don’t have cable TV, etc etc. But we’re nice and our kids are nice too :) (usually).

cv harquail December 30, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Hard to believe, but this could be the very best thing for you…. just to have a clean break.

SingleHM December 30, 2011 at 10:30 am

So my holiday break has not been so much fun. I’m off from work, but we’ve all been sick so it hasn’t been fun. Since I’m home with my kids (and I have them until tonight when they go to their father), my au pair has seen it more as a vacation I think for her than work time. While it’s true I am home and carrying the brunt of the work while so, it hasn’t been so nice to see her hang around and surf the web or watch tv while I take care of the kids. I don’t expect her to work the whole time but maybe to offer to watch them some.

Anyway, my question for the group is that while putting my 6yo to bed he told me that sometimes when he or my other son are playing, she goes to her room to surf the computer or watch tv instead of hanging around with them. My kids are 3 and 6. They can play pretty independently but sometimes get hurt or fight. In my handbook I ask that she limit computer/tv during the day and need to bee near them. I’ve gotten both opinions on this (stop her immediately and why does she have to hover around independent kids)….


azmom December 30, 2011 at 11:19 am

1) update handbook that she is not to use the computer during work time AT ALL. if that doesn’t work, turn off the internet during work hours.

southern host mom December 30, 2011 at 11:47 am

If you are home sick (and probably have a ton of laundry, e-mails, daily life stuff to catch up on), why isn’t she scheduled to work?? And no she should not be using computer/tv during work hours if the kids are awake and playing. that just doesn’t fly in my book. Our AP is welcome to do this when the kids are taking their nap, but otherwise, I expect an engaged caregiver. Yes, your kids are a little older, but you also want her to model good behaviors (imaginary play, reading books), so it is probably even more important that she not be watching tv/on the internet during work hours.

Anna December 30, 2011 at 1:43 pm

If she is not on vacation during these days, give her work hours and give her tasks

About computer use during work hours, in my handbook I don’t allow au pairs to do personal things while working. This includes computer, running to the bank, personal phone calls. I tell them if a friend calls when they are with my kids, tell them to call back later.

I also think that leaving a three year old under the supervision of a six year old (the situation you described) is not safe.

Danielle December 30, 2011 at 3:31 pm

While you are home you may have to be more proactive about giving her specific on-duty hours and stuff to do. Like, if you need to rest, tell her you need to rest and she’s responsible for the kids for 3 hours.

And I’m personally ok with a little bit of internet use while on duty, just checking email and stuff quickly. But not if it becomes a problem.

NY Au Pair December 31, 2011 at 12:26 pm

It’s all about communication. If you want your Au Pair to pitch in during the holidays – tell her. It might seem that you are spelling out the obvious, but most times that is what it takes. Explain to her that because you are a single parent family she needs to work with you in order for the household to run smoothly, especially if you are sick!

NoVa HostMom December 30, 2011 at 11:37 am

This holiday season with our AP has been very disappointing. She has been with us for almost 2yrs, leave 1st week in Feb. about 3 weeks ago (and a new boyfriend) she decided to let me know that we have been taking advantage of her for the last 22months of her stay – to include helping with switching out the kids clothes from season to season and other terrible things of that nature. We always follow the rules and I work from home, so there have been very few times when she has to do everything, or anything, on her own from mornings getting them ready for school to bedtime.

She is our 6th AP so I know the last months can be challenging, but guess i just was expecting more from someone who had been with us for so long (our 1st 2yr AP) and we have treated as part of the family. I realize it is more hurt feelings on my end, but is making this last bit of time extremely difficult.

My question is our new AP arrives end of Jan and I was planning a 1 1/2 overlap – which i generally DO NOT do. I did discuss this with our current AP before i decided to do this and we all thought a good idea. Now i am reconsidering big time about this and thinking of asking our current AP to have her last day be a few days before out new one arrives. I know this is probably the right decision as i don’t want the new AP to start off on the wrong foot, but am so disappointed to have such a great almost 2yrs end this way. Any thoughts?

southern host mom December 30, 2011 at 11:52 am

I completely feel for you. I’m having this same anxiety. I am also a total rule follower and have been generous w/ vacation, hours, etc. I have been having a very hard week with a somewhat similar dynamic, regretting overlap and fearing that we are going to have issues with this. Haven’t gotten specific complaints but lots of passive aggressive stuff that hurts my feelings and I don’t feel it is warranted. How would you avoid the overlap if it is already scheduled? I’d be interested to know if this is possible to do.

Taking a Computer Lunch December 30, 2011 at 3:36 pm

I always find that it is worthwhile to sit down and have a quiet chat about 6 weeks before departure, to talk about closing down a year. I have written elsewhere that it is an extremely emotional time for everyone (and if your AP is now abuzz from the tension of the holidays, then realizing her departure is right around the corner is even harder).

Cut her some slack. Don’t take every little thing she says personally, even though she probably means it in the moment. Start the conversation with “You have been really great for our family…” Comfort her in the fact that you understand that it’s tough to say goodbye to friends she has made. Give her a little more weekend time for herself than you normally might, and be explicit that you are doing this to give her more time to say goodbye to her friends. Acknowledge that this is a tough time for you, too, and tell her that you want to end the year on a good note – that she is welcome to return to your home as a guest.

I generally offer to host a dinner for her closest friends (especially if they have been around our kids a lot), and then our family eases away from the table and let her friends hang out in our dining room or living room. Some APs have hosted a dinner party, and we offer to go out for the evening and generally make ourselves scarce. After all, it’s just one night.

As part of your “parting is such sweet sorrow” conversation, you do need to talk about the cell phone, the house keys, the subway card, etc. I generally ask for the phone back prior to departure or at the arrival of the new au pair, whichever comes first. I ask that all the addresses, saved messages, and the outgoing message be cleared out so the new AP may start fresh. I ask her to inform her friends that she will be surrending the phone on X date (I used to switch phones with APs, and now, 4 1/2 years after one AP has departed, I’m still getting calls from men who dated her – I even got a call 6 years out for another AP!). I let her keep the subway card until she’s ready to fly home, as I have plenty kicking around the house. If she’s staying for her 13th or 25th month, then set some guidelines for car use – especially after the new arrival is up and running. Do reassure her that it is hard for you to convey this information, that you’re not doing it to be mean, but to make sure you’re on the same page.

If you haven’t already given her a box to fill with her belongings and ship home at your expense, now is a great time to do it. I ship airmail, and the cost varies from AP to AP, but it’s a nice treat for them. I tell APs to fill it with the heavy stuff – books they want to keep, trinkets that they want to keep, etc. (It’s not a requirement, but I couldn’t imagine not doing it.)

Having done overlap once, I’ll never repeat it (there’s always some with APs who use their travel month and return to pick up their luggage and spent a night or two before flying home). However, if you’re going to make overlap work, then schedule it carefully.

NoVa HostMom December 30, 2011 at 9:30 pm


wish it were that easy. I did try to talk with her. I do understand the end of year, going home anxiety and expect certain distractions and some slacking here and there. I did tell her that I would be as flexible as I could, but it did not matter. … she basically wanted to change her whole schedule (make her schedule) which has been the same for the entire time she has been with us, told me that I have taken advantage of her,…..

She then decided not to spend anytime at all with all of my family that was in town over Xmas – and actually avoided them by sneaking out of the house when we were all here Xmas eve. All of my family have treated her like family – and she has attended every other family holiday. I thought this was very rude and immature. She basically threw a couple of unwrapped bags under the tree as she snuck out. Her presents were left under the tree for when she came home on Monday. She again did not come out, but took the presents in her room to open (even though my parents and some family were still here)….. knowing she was leaving, the kids and I got her a very nice engraved heart locket. even as i write this she has not said one word to me about it.

she has ceased doing many of the things/chores I would consider being part of the family. She won’t run or empty the dishwasher, the trash could be completly overflowing from the day and it will just sit there…. so are these techinically kid related – not really, but it is part of the being part of the household. and all things we pitched in to do prior to this dramatic change.

So this is more than the parting and uncertainty of her future. and that is why it is so hard…. if it were the “normal” end of year stuff, then that would be OK and workable. It just comes across as so ungrateful and unjustified….

And as far as saying her last day will be sooner than expected, I believer our AP would be happy. she can go and stay with her boyfriend. She scheduled her flight back the full month after her end date and I only know this because I was copied on the agency email…. she has not mentioned anything to me at all about it.

southern host mom December 30, 2011 at 10:17 pm

I am so sorry that you are dealing with this. Again, I see some similarities to my current situation with regard to avoiding us, not acknowledging gifts, etc., but you situation sounds unbearable. When is she leaving and do you have another AP coming in January? I think if you sent the text of this post to your LCC, you would have grounds to break your current match now. It sounds like there is something going on, maybe related to the boyfriend- perhaps she is trying to push you into breaking the match to stay with him? I’m not sure, but it seems to go far deeper than end of the year anxiety.

Taking a Computer Lunch December 30, 2011 at 10:30 pm

Actually, it’s very typical behavior when the relationship has gone south. If it’s too far gone for you and your husband to sit down and help her get it together, then call your LCC – believe me, she’s been through it many times before. If need be, get her to mediate the visit.

The first time it happened to me I was blindsided (it didn’t help that DH was in the hospital following emergency surgery). I descended to her level and let it remain nasty. She left 3 weeks before my next AP was due to arrive, and it was upon me to make the time work since my husband had exhausted all of his holiday and sick time.

When AP #2 started to behave that way, I called me LCC and she gave me some tips. Sitting down and quietly explaining to my AP that I really needed her to continue working helped. I gave her more weekend time off than I normally would have, and explicitly explained to her why I needed her to work when I didn’t. She pulled back and I pulled back and the year ended well.

If your AP has a local boyfriend, and really intends to return home, then she’s brimming with more than the usual goodbye emotion. That doesn’t mean you need to give in to her every demand, but you will need more patience than you might otherwise have.

No, she is not behaving well, but don’t descend to her level. Keep it even. Express sadness at her departure and remind her that you think she has done a great job. See if the two of you can’t pull back a little.

southern host mom December 30, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Since you have experienced this with other APs- I wonder what, if anything, protects the relationship at the end and might help me/others avoid this souring dynamic at the end of the year? It is very hurtful but also sad, that the last memories of an AP would be really tainted by bad behavior, and that the new AP’s year would have to start in the midst of this drama. I can understand why an AP (and HM) might need to emotionally distance themselves, yet at the same time, we all face transitions in life and I would have expected more emotional maturity (she is older, and I thought wiser, than her current behavior suggests).

Anna December 30, 2011 at 1:51 pm

southern host mom, I think you can tell her you are giving her extra vacation at the end and you are asking her not to work and go somewhere (she can probably keep her stuff there until she leaves). But you will have to pay for that remaining time – it could be totally worth it though.

southern host mom December 30, 2011 at 10:13 pm

I wish I had thought of that but unfortunately it seems like the overlap is totally unavoidable (she is not that close with any of the others in the cluster and there is nothing serious enough to ask LCC to house her). I can’t think of any alternative for her, but I have learned my lesson regarding overlap and won’t do it again.

DarthaStewart December 30, 2011 at 3:32 pm

I’m with Anna on this. I’d give her the paid time off, and work it so she’s not there when the new AP comes. What a PITA.

It sounds like some of the crazy au-pair situations have come out of the woodwork!

Danielle December 30, 2011 at 3:40 pm

I am new to au pair mom and new to the AP program.. our first AP arrived a few weeks ago, and so far it is going very well. She is nice, adjusting well, the kids love her, etc. The only issue is that my husband has been on break for the last ~2 weeks (he teaches) and he has been around the house all the time. He has stuff he wants to get done, but the kids have been wanting HIM and not the AP (because she’s new and of course, who can compete with dad- besides mom?). So he gets roped into helping with childcare, while he has a long list of other things he wants to get done. And he’s been whining to me about it. I’m not really asking for advice, I know that 98% of the problem lies with him. I’ve only recently started working, and when I was home with the kids he would often get distracted from his work (he has an office in the house) and feel that he needs to “help” me. And then complain that he wasn’t getting work done. I’ve told him that he needs to set up hours where he will not be involved in childcare at all, and tell these hours to the AP, and make the decision himself that if the 3 year old comes into his office he needs to turn her away and just let the AP deal with her tears. It’s the only way it’s going to work. I think it has worked better over the last 2-3 days.

Well next week the new academic quarter starts and my husband will be back to teaching, and there will be new challenges. Mostly related to being two newly full-time working parents with very small children (almost 1 and 3 years old), and an AP being worked a full schedule. I’m a little anxious about how this is all going to fly… we’ll see!

NoVA Host Mom January 1, 2012 at 6:27 pm

This happens to many of us, and it sounds like you and your husband need to do 2 things: First, you need to be in agreement that when the AP is working, the AP is in charge of the kids. This is something you both have to be strong on and understand that she has a job to do and needs your support just as much as you need her support to do yours. It is easy to just handle things yourself, rather than deal with the fuss of not having Mommy doing their hair or getting out the clothes, but if the AP is working there is certainly something else you and your husband can be doing with your time (I know there is *always* something in our house that needs attention, even if it is just folding and putting away the clean towels). My husband is a huge violator of this, because he figures it is being nice. The problem comes when nothing gets done that should have and now we have to figure out when to plan for it again (let’s not discuss the wall repairs for the drapery rod that is still in my garage and not on my wall). But it can cause a bigger problem, which leads me to Item # Two.

The second thing you both need to do is help the AP establish that she is an authority in the household. Our kids are around the same age, and we have had APs since the 3yo was 2 months old, so she grew up knowing the AP’s role even if she cannot articulate it. If the kids run to either parent when the AP is on duty and responsible for the kids, the other adults need to turn them back to the AP and redirect. When either of ours looks to us for an answer (say, Daddy is more likely to say yes to a movie than anyone else), if the AP is working we turn the question back to the kid: What did AP say? You need to ask AP. What AP says goes. For the 1yo, I will even put a guiding hand on her shoulder and direct her towards wherever the AP is standing. This will be a more difficult year for your AP if you don’t help her this way, and it will make things difficult for you and your husband. Even when you are both out of the house, the AP will still have problems with the kids as they get older if the kids are allowed to believe that Mom and Dad are the only people who can give answers.

An AP is more than a babysitter. They are not placeholders (at least in our home) until a “real” grownup comes home. They are the people who are their teachers and caregivers when Mommy and Daddy are not home, or (even if we are) when Mommy and Daddy are working (from home, on the home, whatever). By ensuring the AP is seen as more than just a playmate, you know the kids are going to grow up with more respect for the APs in their lives, and will listen when it really counts (like if they are running to get a ball going into the street). And it goes a long way to allowing the AP to feel respected in her job. We all like when that happens.

Have been in this situation before December 30, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Dear new HM, we have been in your shoes before (probably not the exact situation but sounds similar). When trust is lost, I tend to stop all childcare duties for the au pair and focus all efforts on finding alternative childcare- family, friends, sitters, nannies of friends, etc. I had to send a rematch au pair to live with LCC (with our agency we have to pay a daily room and board fee but in my experience it is well worth it). The atmosphere in the home is otherwise overwhelming and it is also better for the rematch au pair to be in a neutral environment. I will be happy to share more if needed! Wishing you a speedy recovery from a horrible situation.

Have been in this situation before December 30, 2011 at 4:11 pm

oops, I did not see that your AP already moved it. It is always ideal if they can go to a friend’s house but don’t be shy next time about asking the LCC to take an au pair in (if necessary).

AFHostMom December 30, 2011 at 6:04 pm

I’ve got the post-holiday pre-new AP blues. This will be our third AP (first-rematch, second-wonderful), and I’m very nervous with our choice. We really like the girl and our outgoing AP likes her a lot too, but what if we chose wrong again? First AP was SOOOOO exhausting and wrong for us. Second AP has been a dream, and we’re sponsoring her student visa for next year, so she’ll still be around. We chose our new AP from the same country as the current one, and I worry that we’ll be disappointed (though logically we know that this is no indication that she’ll be a lot like current AP, nor do we necessarily expect/want her to be exactly the same). New Ap is also younger than we’d prefer (21; I’m projecting here cause nightmare AP was 19 and very immature, and current AP is 25 and very independent, which works well for us) but we really liked her so we went for the match. Current AP has been so effortless and wonderful….I’m scared of all the energy this may suck out of me! I’m sure I’m just borrowing trouble, but ah, the anxiety….

AFHostMom December 30, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Oh, another concern is that we’re being unfair to the new AP by comparing/making her live in current AP’s shadow. I’ll be glad when transition is over.

NoVA Host Mom January 1, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Frankly, no matter how hard we try, incoming APs always have some level of shadow from the previous ones (that’s how the HF manuals get updated after all – it would not be in there if someone had not done it in the past). But you can mitigate that by not stating the obvious to her. Just be careful to recognize the contributions of the new AP for her own, and remember that the old AP was great and now it’s someone else’s turn to have a positive impact on your kids (kind of like school teachers changing each grade year).

I am right there with you and the stress of “picking right.” Somehow, I think we all get there, but so far I’m pretty sure that when given ample time to review new applicants I over think. However I think I do far better when faced with the stress and timelimits of rematch. We just started a new year with a rematch (10 months into the contract from the previous AP), and it appears to be a successful pick. The AP 2 back came to us as a rematch and she extended (was with us nearly2 full years). AP1 was a nightmare (yes, one of the “hair dye on the walls” girls) and, well, AP3 left after 10 months of struggle. Our APs have all been in the same age range (I only considered 1 applicant who was 20, none who are still in the -teens), and the maturity has been all over the map. I don’t know that it is a total hit just going by age, but also what they bring to the table.

Give your new AP a chance to shine and show what great things she is going to bring to the family. Nope, she is not going to things the way the previous one did, but that might be a great way to learn a new way of doing things. Hang in there and remember that AuPairMom is an fantastic way to not only get support, but sometimes even just reading the past posts is enough to give you ideas to address things as they arise. Good luck!

Taking a Computer Lunch January 1, 2012 at 11:08 pm

We had a wonderful AP who was very comfortable in her own skin, and relaxed into her relationship with us almost immediately. She wasn’t perfect, but she was just so good at doing her job and living with us, that HD and I easily looked the other way when she did things that we wished she wouldn’t. She was fluent when she arrived, and moved toward being bilingual by the time she left.

She was succeeded by someone whose English was barely passable, who had a minor scrape on her first attempt at driving, and who was easily brushed off by our typically developing child. Our LCC, at the week 2 intake, warned us that when a fluent AP is followed by a non-fluent AP, older children are less likely to bond with the non-fluent AP. However, I’d say it was equally hard on the adults to go from an AP who hit the ground running to one that had to be coached to move forward.

The age of the the great AP when she arrived – 19 (our youngest to date). Her successor – 20. Give your new arrival a chance to succeed – she gets to start with a clean slate.

Didis December 30, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Hi everyone, if you could give me advice.
I am in Au Pair in America program and I’m communicating with lovely, wonderful family. In a few days they will decide should they have me or one other girl in their home. My problem is- I fell in love with kids, I believe that family is great, respectful and would love to be a part of their family. But they live in Portland, Oregon. I was reading a lot about that city, and there are not much excitement, weather is different and I never spoke with any au pair in that area. If I would have free weekends I’m scared that there is not much to see near Portland. Is anyone here from that city, state? Could you give me advice? If they pick me, I would be grateful and happy because they are kind, but just like every other girl I would like to see and experience as much as possible, and I’m scared that I will not be able to use my free time fully there.
thank you

AFHostMom December 30, 2011 at 7:52 pm

I’m not from there–but the Pacific Northwest is really lovely. There is actually quite a bit to see and do, and it’s a nice sized city–there is public transportation, and a great arts scene. You’re near the coast (and unbelievably gorgeous beaches), and you won’t want for things to do there. Not knowing your interests I can’t say for sure that you’d love it, but I would go, in a minute. And my advice, as a military spouse who moves a lot and has gone to some places I never thought I would enjoy: bloom where you’re planted. :)

cv harquail December 30, 2011 at 10:14 pm

Portland is one city with it’s own unique hipster vibe (The “Brooklyn of the Pacific”, we NYC folk call it). It has a terrific youth culture, with lots of public activities for people in their teens & 20’s, with meetup groups and more. I think it would be a particularly fun place to be an au pair!!

NoVA Host Mom January 1, 2012 at 6:51 pm

Maybe you might want to ask if you can talk to their local coordinator. S/he might be able to give you examples of what the APs there like to do and what events are scheduled for the APs as a group. There are lots of great things about Portland, but you don’t say what is “exciting” for you. If you have been a “need to be in a city that never sleeps with nighclubs pounding out the beats until 4am” kind of person, then maybe this is the chance to move outside your comfort zone and learn more about yourself. Personal growth has to happen some time, and believe me when I say that I am not the person I was when I was 21 (thank goodness). I loved hitting the clubs, dancing, etc. I still enjoy those things occasionally, but my needs have changed and I have changed. I enjoy more things now, and have a wider range of activities that can put a smile on my face. I’ve heard from other APs that it is better to pick the family than the area. Areas can offer only just so much, but you have to live with that family. If you found a family you really like, then pull the trigger and go for it. If you decide the area is not where you wish to extend, then request to find another family for the second year. Just something to consider.

Portland au pair December 31, 2011 at 10:16 am

I was an au pair in Portland, OR and I can tell you it is an awesome place to be an au pair. Great public transportation, many things to do for young people and the landscape in Oregon is unbelievable (waterfalls, ocean, forests, mountains, deserts, …). It’s just a 3 hour drive to Seattle and not too far from Canada, either. I didn’t know anything about Portland before I matched with my host family, but now I’m in love with the city and the state. =)

ILHM December 31, 2011 at 2:26 pm

I have a question – my AP wants to stay in the US but decided it would be easy to get a work visa. She didn’t ask my opinion, so I didn’t give it. She will soon find out that without a university degree in a key major it isn’t happening. However – I’d like to hear from HF’s who had APs get visa s (student or work) and find out how much it cost and time it took. I don’t plan to sponsor her for a student visa as we can’t even get her to use the $500 stipend for any kind of class and am sure she is looking to do this to stay ith her BF (who I think is a loser). Could he sponsor her? (he has no money)

DarthaStewart December 31, 2011 at 3:37 pm

She needs to talk to an immigration attorney. I think that there are so many twists and turns in this kind of situation that any advice over the web is going to be bad.

2boys2girls December 31, 2011 at 4:59 pm

We sponsored a former au pair for a student visa. We had to show that there was just over $17,000 in an account that would be used for her tuition/room/board for the first year as there is a restriction on working the first year. In the second year she was allowed work study with the College. The process itself was very easy – the International Students Office at the College handled most of the paperwork. The process is faster if the student is back in their home country and applies from there (I think everything was completed in about three weeks); it is a bit more complicated a process if the student is in the US and requires a change in visa status. This was our experience, I am not sure if different States or schools have a different process. What our au pair she found the most stressful though was the pressure to keep up her grades. International students’ visa continuance was dependent on maintaining at least 12 units of course work and a grade of C or better had to be earned in all courses.

AFHostMom December 31, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Yes, we are currently sponsoring a student (F1)visa for our AP. It is NOT something I would just do for anyone because it is quite involved and not at all intuitive, especially since she is here–and I’m an attorney who worked in higher education for several years and we’ve adopted a child internationally–so I do have some experience with USCIS. We’ve really gotten no support from the school. We applied for the I-20 from the college in October and the visa status change in November. Her J1 visa expires in February so we have a little extra time, but it’s very, very nerve wracking. We (she)paid the $290 fee for the I-539 status change, and she also has to pay a new SEVIS fee ($200). Additionally we have to prove we have the means to support her, as her sponsors. For her school, we have to show we have $10,000 to pay her tuition.

Anna December 31, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Even with a university degree it is very difficult to get a work visa. There are so many people from all over the world who want to live in the US, that even a ud isn’t a guarantee to be allowed to live here.
Work visas are very hard to get and cost a lot of money. You have to find an employer who is willing to go through all of that trouble for you. The employer has to proof that there is noone in the US who can do that job for him. But the last word is always with the embassy in her home country.
The Embassy doesn’t like giving out visas to former au pairs. Simply because, they suspect illegal working for the former hostfamily.
Her bf can only sponsor her when they get married. If he doesn’t have any money, they can find a cosponsor. The whole process is very difficult and costs a couple thousand dollars, even if you do not need a lawyer and go through the paper jungle yourself.
I don’t think your au pair has a real chance of staying or coming back to the US legally.

NE mom December 31, 2011 at 10:58 pm

It would be great to have a thread to discuss sponsoring APs for student visas and host families’ experiences in going through the process.

Taking a Computer Lunch January 1, 2012 at 11:16 pm

I think we’ve already had one before – I know I’ve written on it. Unless an AP is a trained nurse, physician or engineer — or another hard-to-fill profession, then it will be very difficult to get a work visa.

We tried to sponsor an AP who had been a PICU nurse to care for our medically fragile special needs child – and the U.S. Dept. of Labor has to review the application before it can be forwarded to Homeland Security. (We had a lawyer working pro bono for us to shepherd her application). It took 3 1/2 years for her application to rise to the top of Labor’s queue (domestic workers are in the 4th category behind everyone else), by which time our AP had moved on.

We had sponsored her as a student so she could leave the US and return while her application was under consideration. It was expensive and worth it at the start of the new relationship – in the end, it was not.

If your AP is seeking a way to stay in the U.S. legally, and has not asked you, keep out of it. The less you know, the better. Her visa is tied to the agency, not you personally. If you think she is involved in something illegal that may implicate you, then you need to talk to a lawyer.

NoVa HostMom January 2, 2012 at 10:35 am

When we checked into this, even if we did sponsor an AP with a student VISA, she is not allowed to work – except after year 1 through the college. So her staying as an AP/nanny would be illegal. We could not do this as it would jeopardize my husband’s job status. Have also known families who once the AP left, waited a year, have sponsored them on a tourist VISA and the girl just stayed…..

there did not seem to be any other way to sponsor her legally through any other visa type. Although I did hear of someone trying (not sure if they got it) for an H2B – which is seasonsal/low skill work – you first have to prove you have advertised your job and could not fill in the US and a whole bunch of other hoops.

HRHM January 2, 2012 at 5:28 pm

The reality is, once her year is over, no one will track her to make sure she returns to her home country. I know this because 3 of my 4 former APs are still here in the US – ilegally. There is no mechanism to ensure that people of ANY type visa leave at the end of its duration. One moved in with a boyfriend, one moved in with friends and eventually got a student visa (not sure who sponsored her) and one continues to Nanny/AP under the table (this is a VERY common scenario).

In most large cities there are significant diaspora that will help illegal aliens get jobs (waitress, cleaners, construction, delivery services) that will be enough to get by on. In this day and age of computers, I’m still amazed at how un-automated these systems are and how easy it is to sneak by. Ironically, the same people who balk about the privacy violation of a national ID card for citizens are the same folks who whine about illegal immigration (while they hire under the table for their domestic needs! LOL)

Laquita Nuzback January 11, 2012 at 8:42 am

I am still learning about ZUmba but this far I enjoy what I see!

How to show appreciation toward your host parents? January 12, 2012 at 2:31 pm

I have been an au pair for five months now and not a day goes by without me thinking how incredible blessed I am to have come to such an amazing family. I have read a lot of posts on how a host family could show appreciation toward their au pair but I haven’t found a thread were au pair discuss how to appreciate their host family.

I mean I always try to go the extra mile by stopping by the store to pick up something I know we running low on or vacuuming the floors but I was wondering what makes you host parents feel appreciated more than that your au pair says thank you?

AFHostMom January 12, 2012 at 10:13 pm

This is a nice post. :) For me, above all else, it would be taking good care of my kids and actually connecting with them. As for something more tangible, pictures of the AP and kids are nice (in my opinion).

NoVA Host Mom January 13, 2012 at 12:21 am

We feel appreciated when we get those random, genuine “thank you’s” for seeming no reason. Those are more cherished than the “thank you” that we feel like we dragged out of you against your will when we have done or given you something over the top. I mean it. There is no materal gift that would mean more, at least to me.

Also, just a word about those “little things” you are doing around the house. Knowing that the whole house is running more smoothly is huge weight off the shoulders of us moms. We are balancing way just so many things at the same time and we, that is, I (but I’m guessing there are others who feel the same way) am in constant stress about something getting missed, like needing to vacuum the living rooms at 9:30pm or making a late night run to the all-night quick-stop for the milk I forgot to get on the way home from work. And I am pretty sure that even if your HM forgets to give you a heartfelt and genuine “thank you”, she is thinking it while she is walking through the house when everyone else is asleep. And she knows you are a thoughtful person and appreciates all you do for the family, and most especially the children.

Melissa January 13, 2012 at 12:36 am

An au pair who actually ran the vacuum in my house would be sooooo appreciated by me, and honestly, would blow me away. In our 6 yrs of hosting APs, I have never had an AP touch our vacuum cleaner.

Taking a Computer Lunch January 12, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Personally, for me, hearing a thank you is a gift.

Should be working January 12, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Indeed, what TACL said. And also just say what you say here, with specific examples of what you appreciate.

I love it when our AP tells us how great we are (who wouldn’t?), but I would like to know exactly WHAT makes us great. I’d like to know, truly, for future reference and also because maybe she appreciates the most some things that to me are no big deal, or the things that are a big deal, so I know where to spend my best efforts to keep her happy. (But so far I haven’t found a way to ask her that doesn’t sound like I’m just fishing for more compliments.)

Free Zumba Online January 25, 2012 at 8:27 pm

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undelete files windows January 31, 2012 at 9:00 am

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