My Host Family Thinks I’m Unreliable. Can I change their minds?

by cv harquail on February 9, 2014

Dear AuPairMom-  I have made a few mistakes with my host family, and I am wondering if I can fix things. 

5820672_8cec711496I arrived in the US a little over 5 months ago. After three months I broke my wrist, needed surgery, could not do my job correctly but I got an incredible support from my host family. I got sick a couple of weeks ago and even fainted, but my host parents were there for me while I got better.

However, in addition to these health situations, I also slept through an alarm this week and missed picking up my host kid on time.  I showed a lack of judgment, because instead of trying to call both my host parents to let them know it had happened (just tried my host mom’s and did not leave a message), I just hurried over once I discovered my mistake.

Also, once before I was a few minutes late, and since we talked about it later on, not right away, so I didn’t think being a little late would be a problem.

I see myself as someone who usually is always on time. I take my job really seriously, I love the kids and the family.

But with these mistakes I think I have lost their trust in my capacities as being a good caregiver.

I see they want to give me a shot at it and I want to do my best at earning and deserving that trust again but do you think this will ever be possible? I feel like my health issues have broken something in our relationship that is not going to be healed. They don’t trust me driving so much and get worried if I don’t come home at the same time as usual with the kids (when we were just playing outside).

Has anyone been in this position or a similar one as a host parent ? What did you do ?

Has your au pair been able to win your trust back?

Please give me advise, I really need it right now. My host family is incredible and they are the nicest people I’ve ever met.

It makes me really sad not to be reliable for them when they have helped through so much.


Helloooooo Kitty, Attribution Some rights reserved by Joi


Texanadian APMom February 9, 2014 at 11:58 am

Trust is a very delicate thing… First, I’m glad to hear that you recognize the efforts your host family went to in supporting you during your difficult situations. And Second, I’m also glad to hear that you see the problem, and are serious about resolving the trust issues that are arising.

The words that popped out at me as I read your story was “I see myself as…”. The problem is, perhaps your host family is not presently seeing you in the same way. I’m not sure of the timeline between your incidents of lateness, but the fact it was a conversation point at all indicates that your host family feels that lateness is something they don’t want to happen. The fact they discussed it later and didn’t drop everything to discuss it right then might only mean they were busy, or wanted to make sure it was a focused conversation with you, not that it wasn’t important to them.

Trust is difficult to earn, and easy to break. I doubt your host family is holding your health issues against you, but if I was in the same situation, AND shortly after seeing you show up late, twice, they may feel that your effort is less than their own toward the relationship.

My advice? Over-communicate. Tell them if you’re planning to go to the park after school, and what time you expect to be home. Set their expectations about where you will be, and when, and above all, STICK TO IT. The trust in the relationship is strained, so over-communicate and show your commitment to earning it back. That might mean you get less use of the vehicle (a privilege, by the way) while you earn that trust back, but be patient with your host family, and yourself, to earn that trust back over time.

Do not expect your host family to trust you blindly, just because you SAY that you should be trusted. You are caring for their children, they want to know where their kids are at all times, and you have shown a couple of times now that they cannot necessarily trust that you are where you are supposed to be at the time you were supposed to be there.

Regarding sleeping through an alarm, that is not something that is taken lightly from a cultural perspective in the US. It is YOUR responsibility to make sure you are taking care of yourself, and going to bed early enough, to be rested when it is time to wake. If your alarm is too soft, try a different alarm clock, or set multiple alarms. Generally, “sleeping through an alarm” is not accepted as a good excuse for lateness, because it really is considered under your control.

In general, to make certain you demonstrate reliability, begin giving yourself 10-15 minutes MORE time than you think you will need to arrive on time. If you are proactive about managing your sleep, and giving yourself some buffer to arrive on time, you can avoid being late.

Finally, speak to your host parents about your concerns. Tell them what you’ve told us, that you take your job seriously, love the family, love the kids, and what you are going to DO (not just say) to help earn their trust back. Say what you’ll do, do it (the most important part), and then you’ll know you have done your best in this situation.

Good luck!

CanIFixItAuPair February 9, 2014 at 12:17 pm


I am the one who wrote to AuPairMom. This happened 10 days ago and I just want to clarify something, I did plan on telling them I was late, the mom called me the afternoon though about it, but I did not plan to hide it. Conserning the car, I know it is a priviledge and I meant driving with the kids.

Since it happened I have been sending a text message everytime the mom is home and I am not coming back at the usual time so she knows why, I explain where I go and what I do, I am on time (and when I said I considered myself being someone on time is beside a 10min late once and what happened last time I am always making a point on being a few minutes early everywhere, always first or one of the first to pick up kids at school, coming downstaires a couple of minutes before I start, etc). I am realistic about what is going on, not just trying to put myself in a better situation when I know I am the one who made a mistake.
Being late is something I recognize as being my mistake and not something that can be excused, since it was entirely my fault (since then I did change my alarm and set up two instead of one).

Just wanted to give a little update since it arrived a little while ago. Thank you for your advises which I will keep following, I actually will be talking with my host parents tonight about everything that has been going on.

Taking a Computer Lunch February 9, 2014 at 12:40 pm

You’ve given us a little information with which to work, but not a lot. My first question to you is, Are you taking care of yourself? You mention the broken wrist, the illness that caused you to faint, the missed alarm clock and being late to pick up your HK. Do you get a good night’s sleep, or are you burning the candle at both ends. It’s really hard to come home at 3 am and get up to take care of children 3 or 4 hours later. Are you on top of your work, or does your HF have to remind you what needs to be done each day or week? Do you ask questions when you’re not sure about something, or proceed until your HF asks to have a chat?

It’s actually good that you see that your HF is potentially frustrated by you and that you want to change. It’s okay to go out and have a good time – that’s expected to be part of your AP year. However, you can have a good time without having to be the last one to leave (although I understand you may feel like you’re not in control if you’re not driving). Take responsibility for your actions. You can take a lot of heat off, by apologizing when it happens and promise that it won’t happen again. As a HP, I’d rather have a message, “I’m calling to let you know that I was late to pick up Billy. It was my fault and it won’t happen again.” But you also need to apologize to the child.

You’ve got 7 months left in your year. Call a meeting with your HP, tell them you’re acknowledging your mistakes and you want to move forward. Ask them how you can improve and listen (it can very hard to do).

As a HP, I’m going to forgive little slip-ups in an excellent au pair, but in a mediocre one, my anger and frustration builds up. I’m a lot less generous to a mediocre AP than I am with an excellent one.

CanIFixItAuPair February 9, 2014 at 2:30 pm

I am not going out late besides once a month maybe, I try to be in bed early if I feel tired (by that I mean 9pm), I also bought vitamins because I feel I might not be having enough right now. I am being careful with what I eat to make sure I have proteins, I am pretty reasonable I think.

I did appologize to the kid right away when I was late and to the parents when we talked about it.
I am not to forget to do things and do not have to be remembered to do things (it happened a couple of times maybe that I was asked to do a thing differently or such, but once something is asked I change the way I do it and that’s the end of it).

I will not consider myself as being the greatest au pair but I do think I am overall a good au pair, I take into consideration what I am being said, I try to be creative, a good role model for the kids and make sure I do the tasks/chores I am asked to do.

I did appologize, I did everything I could to repair my mistake but what is done is done, I cannot change the past and I cannot make them forget it happened, no matter how sorry I am that it happened, the past will not change.
The thing is I feel like they do not trust me healthwise but also as a person, like I am hiding something.

I will try to talk to them about how I feel about this and see. As I said, it happened 10 days ago, I don’t think they have anything to reproach me about my work for the past 10 days, I will write something here once we have talked.

Momma Gadget February 9, 2014 at 3:12 pm

This post reminds me of our 1st Au Pair. She out right told us that she was an adult and knew what her limits were. Therefore she should not have a curfew. We responded, that if this were true, then she would not be late starting every day, and we would not need to wake her up everyday when she did not come down on time.It was one of the many reasons we rematched.

If you want your HPs to see you as a trustworthy reliable AP- then you need to be reliable and trustworthy. Aside from our first AP, not one of the next 5 AP surprised us by starting late or picking up my kids late-EVER!
Yes accidents and illnesses happen- we have had our share of emergency room/ DRs visits, and of course we were there to support our AP through these when they are so far from home. But we expect our APs to be responsible enough to make sure they are getting enough rest and taking care of themselves to begin with in order to be able to do their job.

If you really care about this family, then with effort you can repair the loss of trust. I agree with the other posters that you need to “over communicate”. Don’t presume that you are entitled to their trust. You need to earn it back. A sincere apology taking full responsibility for mistakes goes a longway.” I am sorry for XYZ. I plan to do PDQ to make this up to you. I really care about this family and I hope that you will forgive me and give me a chance to earn back your trust.”

Should be working February 9, 2014 at 4:05 pm

I agree about “over-communicating” when it comes to how your duties are getting done, but NOT about your emotional state all the time. Repeated apologies for something that’s done, “needing to talk about it” more than once, going over feelings all the time–this is the hallmark of a needy AP. If you are someone who needs to talk about things a lot, maybe rethink whether the HPs want that. Someone who can INDEPENDENTLY shape themselves up would earn my trust back better than someone who needs to process it all the time.

With our last AP we went to every-other-day meetings for weeks at a time about her faltering relationship with my teen daughter. My coaching did help her manage that relationship better, but it was exhausting to me. And it didn’t help my trust in her, it more just assured me that the relationship between them was “good enough” to keep going. My problem is that if someone is trying and goodhearted it’s hard for me to say, “not good enough for me”.

CanIFixItAuPair February 9, 2014 at 7:51 pm

I see what you mean, thank you, I did not think about it from that point of view.

Host Mom in the City February 9, 2014 at 10:42 pm

This is such a good point should be working. This happened with ap #2, who in retrospect I should have rematched with. She needed me to specifically tell her each and every thing I needed her to do, day after day after day. Host parents typically get au pairs because they are very busy and need help. Someone that wants to talk things through all the time instead of just acting with integrity in getting the job done is not going to fit that bill. You were late, you made a mistake. The right thing to do would be to sincerely apologize and then never let it happen again.

CanIFixItAuPair February 9, 2014 at 10:26 pm

I just had a chat with my host parents. Overall it seems like things are slowly but surely going back to normal. They asked that coming back from trips I am now back 8 hours before I am suppose to start working but besides this nothing seem like it is going to change.

Host Mom in the City February 9, 2014 at 10:39 pm

Hey OP. I’m sorry you’re having difficulty. It doesn’t sound like you feel they were being honest in your talk, but it is interesting to me that they did suggest you be home 8 hours before your shift. That means to me that they are not happy with your performance on duty and they are thinking that it might be because you are too tired or that your focus is elsewhere.

Time to really look within yourself and be honest about whether you are being a good caretaker for their kids. Health issues aside, those aren’t your fault.

Are you taking initiative to plan your days out ahead of time? Staying off your phone? Communicating with your host mom about your plans for the day and then again after your shift? Making sure all your duties are done really well or being lazy and cutting corners where you can? Obviously we have no idea what type of au pair you really are based on the little you’ve posted, but if you suspect your host parents aren’t happy, it’s time to reevaluate yourself.

If you truly are doing your best and keeping your focus 100% in the kids while on duty, perhaps you are misreading your host parents? Maybe they aren’t dwelling on the lateness and they think they have told you not to be late, you’ve said you won’t, and that’s that. It’s really difficult to tell from such little information.

So are you being the best au pair you can be?

CanIFixItAuPair February 9, 2014 at 11:40 pm

I do not use my phone while working unless this is my counselor (and I tell her I am working to go quickly through it) the parents or for a playdate.
I make sure we go outside everyday, that the lunch are healthy and different from one day to another, that I am on time and that my chores are being done. I would think I could always improve, I am trying to bake every other week with my HK now, I have not been doing as much craft activities lately but I am looking for new ideas and try to suggest some, switch the board games we play but I would take any suggestion on that.
I write on the calendar the playdates I plan, at dinner if the kids do not tell about something we did I try talking about it so right now I feel like I am doing a good job but yes, maybe I could try a little harder.

Host Mom in the City February 10, 2014 at 7:18 am

That all sounds great. So if you’re doing a great job and you’re host family has said you’re forgiven for the lateness, then perhaps all is well?

Emerald City HM February 10, 2014 at 12:49 pm

First, I’m a little confused. If you only stay out late once a month, why did your host parents have to ask that you come home 8 hours before your shift?

Our current au pair has drove my car into stationary objects twice now. She said she was sorry, but that still doesn’t fix our garage. We had her tell us why she thought it happened (explain, not excuse) and what she will do differently to prevent something similar from happening again. We felt she did a careful analysis of what went wrong and then learned from her behavior.

I’m not saying or implying that you haven’t learned. It might just be difficult for your host parents to see that. Also, sometimes it takes time. Have you asked your host parents what you can do to earn back their trust?

CanIFixItAuPair February 10, 2014 at 10:09 pm

I got tired a lot in January and then I missed waking up after taking a nap coming back from a trip, I guess they just want to make sure it does not happen again. The rule is just when I go for the weekend or for my vacations unless I missunderstood it.
That is where I feel they do not trust me as a person anymore, even if in general things feel like they were before besides this.
I have not asked, when we talked they were the ones who asked what will I do to show them I can be trusted and I just said I will do things as I used to.

In a way I feel like they just don’t want to be talking more about what happened and move on.
I could try finding excuses, there were circumstances, etc, but at the same time I also feel like talking over and over about it does not help moving on so I just decided to take full responsability and go on.

Host Mom in the City February 11, 2014 at 10:47 am

It seems like you’re repeatedly begging for their trust again, rather than just sincerely apologizing and then moving forward with integrity. When you make a mistake, apologize, tell your host parents what you’re going to do to make sure it never happens again, and then make sure it doesn’t happen again. That’s how you earn trust. It takes time.

Host parents aren’t looking for a perfect au pair who never makes mistakes (since au pairs – and host parents themselves – are humans too, there WILL be mistakes). They want an au pair who does her best, but then admits when she makes a mistake, involves herself in fixing the immediate issue caused by her mistake (e.g., paying to replace something she broke, calling the host parent immediately if she forgot to pick up the child, etc.), and then learns from the experience. You’re in a great position to do that. Let it go, and work on earning their trust through actions.

DCTwinsMom February 10, 2014 at 1:12 pm

OP, you need to understand that while many of the things you describe aren’t “your fault” the sum total of them means inconvenience and worry for your HPs. Being physically unable to work twice, coupled with sleeping in, may mean that from their perspective, they have hired an AP who has been unable to do her duties, period. From their perspective they have unreliable childcare.

I would sit down with them and ask directly. “HP, what can I do to improve my performance for you. I know the last few months haven’t been easy and I want to make this work. Aside from over-sleeping, which I have remedied with XXXX system, what else would help?”

Then listen, accept whatever critiques they may have, and see if you can achieve their goals.

AlwaysHopefulHM February 11, 2014 at 1:16 am

I have to echo the sentiments others have shared. Once trust has been broken, it is not easily restored. However, over communicating can help. I had the problem your host parents probably are facing. I had enormous trust in our au pair, and it was shattered by a pretty egregious breach of house rules. At the time, I found it hard to imagine how to repair the relationship and trust that no additional breaches would occur. The thing that helped the most was our au pair’s attitude. Never defensive, accepting blame, not overly apologetic, but open to appropriate consequences. What’s more, our au pair didn’t withdraw or retreat, but instead kept making a concerted effort to stay connected to and to communicate with the family. At this point, I’m not back to 100% trust yet– we may never get there– but we are miles past where we were and the direction we could have taken. So, my advice to you would be to stay open, stay connected and try as hard as you can to not get defensive. Good luck!

Angie host mom February 11, 2014 at 4:42 am

Let it go and just do your best. Be trustworthy, it is all you can do. Either the HF will see it and get over it or they won’t. Just BE trustworthy and don’t screw up again and it should be fine.

CanIFixItAuPair February 11, 2014 at 6:58 pm

Thank you, it’s what I have chosen to do as well.

Tristatemom February 11, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Just wanted to comment on the health issue. You need to understand that it is very difficult for the HF to cover for AP’s illness. I have taken all of our APs to the urgent care at some point and in all cases I felt the AP had some responsibility in her sickness. Yes, she caught the cold from the kids but then partying all weekend without rest sure didn’t help to be fit on Monday. How did you break your wrist? I knew one AP that sprained her foot because she tripped over gifts she was wrapping.
It is really hard for HF to cover for the AP in addition to sick days for the kids etc. So, 2 or more illnesses, if the APs behavior contributed to them, would put a strain in my relationship with the AP. I am just being honest. That is also why I pass over AP applications that have ANY health concerns.
Therefore, I recommend that you do your best to ensure (to the extend you can) good health going forward.

CanIFixItAuPair February 11, 2014 at 7:01 pm

I broke my wrist while ice skating with them. I was helping a HK and was backward for it, another kid fell right behind my leg, while trying to avoid both kids in my fall I put down my hand first and landed badly on it.
I got sick eating something bad.

I take care of myself, make sure I have a healthy diet (by that I mean eat of everything), drink a lot of water and have a lot of sleep.

Host Mom in the City February 12, 2014 at 8:46 am

We have two back-up care plans by design, so it’s easy for me to say, but we are very forgiving on illness and injuries (for an au pair who does her job well and doesn’t take advantage of course).

In an entire year, you’re going to get sick (particularly living with kids!) and there may be injuries. I don’t think it’s fair to make an au pair feel badly about being legitimately sick or hurt. We do say in iur handbook that we’d appreciate any efforts to keep to the schedule and that we can do a home quiet activity/movie day or something if our au pair can still work. But if she’s sick, what can you do?

Taking a Computer Lunch February 12, 2014 at 8:03 am

I have a different attitude about APs who get sick from kids. There have been times when my kids have given APs strep throat. We reimburse the AP for the minute-clinic strep test and her medicine and give her the necessary time off to sleep and recover. Others have caught their colds. Sure, it’s tough, but that’s life. We talk about hand-washing to limit passing germs, and encourage APs not to share each others’ food and drinks (no sense in passing children’s germs from family to family via the AP). On the other hand, the AP who goes away for a long weekend, parties all the time, and comes home dragging her anchor and sick – that irks me endlessly, because then I have to take a day off so she can recover from her trip.

If my AP broke her wrist ice skating with my kids, then I’d be very forgiving, although I’d be sad, too, because we’d probably have to say goodbye to her (8+ weeks without being able to lift a special needs child would be a burden we could not bear).

As an aside, I urge the OP to relax, do her best, and win back her family’s trust. I’d say on the whole that her HP must approve of her, because nothing has been a deal breaker at this point. If the word “rematch” has not been uttered, then forgive yourself, but put in safeguards to ensure you don’t repeat your mistakes.

TexasHM February 11, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Its great that you care to pursue their trust and fight for the relationship and you’ve gotten some great advice here. The only other thing I can think of is perhaps for whatever reason they didn’t feel like they got the response from you that they would have liked. (Again, I am guessing I don’t know.) For example, if our au pair was late and didn’t get our son off the bus in the afternoon it would be a huge deal. Our son is our sensitive one and they would take him back to the school and he would be panicked and crushed. Luckily this has never happened but I tell the APs this to emphasize that while we are more flexible about a lot of things, this is important. If it happened, I would expect an apology not only to us but also our son and I would expect to see remorse and expect the AP to tell me how she is going to make sure it doesn’t happen again. We would forgive her and move on but for awhile I would worry. Also, if for some reason I didn’t see that response (she apologized but bounces right back or doesn’t seem that bothered or doesn’t assure me it won’t happen again, etc) it would be harder for me to move on.
Because this AP-HF relationship is so different, it could likely be a compilation of things that individually would be glossed over but as a sum are straining the relationship. If that is the case then its likely that the only thing you can do at this point assuming you have apologized and told them you will work hard to rebuild that trust is give it time. As frustrating as that probably seems, thats the only solution when the other bases have been covered. Be patient and give them time to process it all and move on.

Momma Gadget February 11, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Ditto- Context makes a big difference. My youngest is extremely anxiety prone. Recently he had difficulty finding our AP at pick up in the madness of an early snow dismissal. It took weeks of daily assurances to get him over his worry. Even now, months later, he gets panicked whenever snow is in the forecast during school hours.
Being late to pick up my eldest would have not been great, but not nearly as serious. He would have just started walking home and then bitched and moaned about the AP’s incompetence.

The AP was actually there on time, just further back in line than usual. If my youngest went through your scenario, TexasHM, he would be more than crushed… and I would be in rematch.

I can forgive a broken plate, a burnt pan,a sweater accidentally shrunk in the Dyer, dishes occasionally forgotten in the sink or a dented bumper. Cause my kids strife, and mental anguish and we have a serious problem.

CanIFixItAuPair- You “guess” they want to make sure it does not happen again?!!!-I can guarantee it. I think you need to really take a hard look and reflect if you are up for this task.

CanIFixItAuPair February 11, 2014 at 7:06 pm

Sorry, I am not bilingual and I am trying to explain things as I can, the word guess might not have been the best choice.
(As I am talking about this, my letter is not the one posted on the website, it has been re-written and part of it do not have the same meaning anymore).
As soon as I realized I was late I tried calling the school because I know they will keep her in the office until I come but I could not reach them, I also tried calling another parent but they were already on their way home. I know what I did is serious, which is why I did not appologize only to the parents but also to the kid right away when getting there and made a point on being the first one arriving at pick up every day ever since.

TexasHM February 11, 2014 at 8:02 pm

Momma gadget I swear at times we must be related. I would like to say we would forgive and move on but you’re right, with my sensitive one (and mommas boy) I would likely not be able to get past it and would likely rematch. My middle probably wouldn’t care or notice or would think it was a cool adventure! There are very few things we would instant rematch on, safety being one and depending on the circumstance this could be seen as a safety issue but this family didn’t rematch so I can’t help but think the AP is probably great otherwise and just had a string of bad luck and the kid wasn’t traumatized but they still want to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Just my guess!

German Au-Pair February 13, 2014 at 8:25 pm

You would rematch if your au pair was late for pick up? Wow.
I was always on time during my stay ( I overslept twice in the morning I think) but mistakes happen. My HP were very forgiving and I did appreciate that.
However, parents make mistakes, too. Once I had the day off and my hm was supposed to pick up the kid. I was on a mountain, hiking, when I got a call from the teacher because no one had picked up the kid. Couldn’t reach my host mom, called the school back and arranged for her to walk home (same neighborhood…) The mom caught her on the way home, she simply forgot (and was otherwise a really responsible mom). Things happen, doesn’t mean you don’t care.

TexasHM February 13, 2014 at 8:36 pm

I agree but there had better be a really really great reason because like I said, my son is sensitive and would be crushed. Like a previous poster mentioned its about the trauma to the child. My middle child – no trauma she wouldn’t care. My oldest would be devastated and probably not trust the AP ever again. I know that stinks and probably seems unfair, but I am just being honest! Luckily it has never happened in 4 years of APs, he gets off the bus at 3pm so oversleeping would definitely not be an acceptable reason and while yes, we are not perfect host parents, we do reserve the right to traumatize our own children to whatever degree we see fit. :) I can’t wait to publicly embarrass them as teens but thats another topic!

Should be working February 13, 2014 at 8:56 pm

Related to the question of whether an HM would rematch over late pickup of an anxious child: I struggled with our last AP over questions of what was too much to expect from the kids in dealing with her shortcomings, mainly moodiness. But she was responsible, helpful, grateful, and did care a lot about the kids. My kids are older, so that’s different than considerations with a small child, and they are plenty moody themselves, let me say! I actually talked once about this to an acquaintance who is a psychologist, and I was wondering to her whether the AP’s moodiness was “objectively” bad enough to rematch.

She had a helpful perspective: Does the AP make my life easier or not? And if yes, are the children learning anything from the experience of handling AP’s moodiness? She really emphasized that teaching kids resilience can happen in an imperfect match and could even be embraced in a way–especially if the AP is making my life better. My older kid could use some practice in figuring out whether someone else’s bad mood is her fault or even related to her at all, i.e. practice not taking it personally. I could talk her through it some, when she complained about AP’s moodiness, asking her why the AP might be grumpy and how kid might handle it.

It was a good point and something I really consider now. It certainly is easier if the AP never ever disappoints or annoys the kids. But if she does, rematching might rob the kids of some learning experiences with an imperfect person. Also the acquaintance wondered if it might be frightening to my younger kid if we “fired” an AP for moodiness because it would seem like WE cannot tolerate imperfection, and he might think we would like to “fire” him too. (Ok, once in awhile I do want to fire my kids…)

Skny February 14, 2014 at 8:08 am

My kids are very very young.
I did have a situation this week where MY OWN 17yo teenage daughter was watching her sisters (ages 2 and 4) nap while I went grocery shopping.
She went to her room to listen to music and fell asleep. So I returned home 2hs later to my 4yo in desperation thinking that we left her all alone in the house.
Obviously it was sisters screw up, and I cannot rematch my daughter (although yes, sometimes I wish I could. She is such a drama queen), so I just yelled at her like crazy! but IF it had been Au Au pair… Oh yeah, it would have been immediately rematch.

Skny February 14, 2014 at 8:11 am

I do realize it is not fair, but it is life. For me to be able to work I MUST trust that my children are being well taken care of. I might forgive a minor lateness on an awesome Au pair, but some things would do it for me

Taking a Computer Lunch February 14, 2014 at 9:50 am

Child #2 asks during AP #4’s year if he could walk home from the bus alone. He was in 2nd grade, but it was right around the corner, so we said yes. Turned out AP #4, whom everyone in the family adored, had problems getting home from the gym on time to meet his bus. Big problem, because once he was home he was still stuck outside waiting on the porch for her. Once I figured out what the real issue, it took me 3 seconds to change her PM schedule, so she had to be back home 15 minutes before the bus arrived. Now, it’s standard procedure in my scheduling – that gives the AP a few minutes to tidy up before my teenagers return from school.

While I wouldn’t rematch over child #2, I would over child #1. The Camel is defensless – and legally the bus driver has to find someone to take her if the AP isn’t there. The year we used nursing, we had 5 nurses fail to show up for shift (that does not include the ones who telephoned the agency or me in time for me to adjust my plans). Not good! Luckily, in 12 years it has not been a problem (and believe me, I’d hear about it from the bus driver if it was).

Momma Gadget February 14, 2014 at 12:34 pm

German Au-Pair- The key word is Context.

If the AP were late picking up my older son, he would start walking home, whine and complain about how he was so used and abused and had to walk ‘all the way home’ because “the lazy AP was too busy getting her beauty rest to come pick me up”. S/he would have to deal with his crappy mood the rest of the afternoon and have a conversation with us about it in the evening.Then it would be over ( as long as it wasn’t habitual).

My youngest is borderline OCD . If he had to be taken back to school alone on the bus because the AP overslept and missed pick up, he would TERRIFIED, humiliated, and beyond devastated. He would never trust the AP again. It would be a severe challenge to get him to go to school every day for the next several months. He would get apoplectic at the mere suggestion of the AP dropping him off, and would be so stressed out after lunch worrying whether someone will be there to pick him up that he would not be able to concentrate on his studies. Some mistakes have such long term repercussions that they become “unforgivable”. Of course these things are in length discussed with each new AP before and again when they start.

I am not suggesting that every AP who is late picking up should go into rematch.Of course we want a reliable AP who is punctual for both HC. But in our situation the repercussions for being late are not equal, nor are the consequences for an AP.

Tristatemom February 14, 2014 at 2:12 pm

The responses do illustrate that every family is different. My kids are also younger but would not be traumatized by the AP missing the bus. It would be inconvenient but if things otherwise went well, I would not consider this a big issue (assuming it happened once and AP promises to do better). On the other hand, if my child asked me for something to cover up for the AP (i.e. walking home alone because AP was always late from the gym) I would be livid! This is a trust and honesty issue because I would expect the AP to say “HM, I was late for the bus today because I left the gym too late….” instead of my poor child trying to come up with a solution that would deal with that.

Host Mom in the City February 14, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Surprisingly, with three au pairs, I’ve never had a single issue with being late. But my kids would be chill too – my oldest (now seven) knows to calmly walk to the school office and let them know what happened (and she has had to do this before and executed it perfectly – it actually boosted her confidence a bit that she was able to do it, she felt pretty “big”). And my youngest is young enough that the school just wouldn’t release him until someone came (he’s five). He’d happily and obliviously keep playing until someone came to get him.

Of course, I’d be irritated if an au pair was late for a pick-up, but if she owned it, apologized, it wasn’t routine and she was otherwise great, I’d move on pretty quickly.

German Au-Pair February 14, 2014 at 11:38 pm

Of course I neither know you or your child but my kids were special needs and always obsessed about not being late to anything. It would have been a big challenge for them, too and would have had consequences to them. Once my girl and I drove to the wrong location for a recital because both, my HM and I, misread the very similar sounding name. I had to drive to the other end of town and we were so late we almost didn’t make it (she literally went in with the doors closing). Like I said, she’s special needs, always wants to be much earlier and she was freaking out in the car. She “suffered” from a mistake we grown ups made (boy it really did sound the same…) but she actually managed it perfectly, got it together and had a great performance. I just don’t think you can protect your children from having to rise up to the occasion and from dealing with other people’s mistakes. Plus I personally think “make a minor mistake and get fired” sends a wrong message to children.
Of course, again, I don’t know your child, but in retrospective, this little stunt did not do any damage to her and she was done with it immediately afterwards, much too our surprise.

CanIFixItAuPair February 11, 2014 at 7:35 pm

Thank you everyone who took the time to answered, as for now I think I will stuck with what I am doing, just making sure I do everything correctly and keep showing I am trustworthy, which is what I was doing anyway before. I probably will not keep answering since I did read what I needed and understood better the HP point of view.
Thank you again for posting my questions here.

Host Mom in the City February 14, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Sounds good. Best of luck!

OpinionatedHM February 14, 2014 at 7:24 pm

Thank you, CanIFixItAuPair, for posting your questions and for responding. I encourage my Au Pairs to read this blog because I believe it helps to see what the “other side” is in a situation. It’s great to read what an AP thinks when something goes awry and it was helpful to read your responses to the posts.

TexasHM February 15, 2014 at 2:08 am

German aupair – that’s where we have our misunderstanding. You said “one little mistake and she gets fired” and that’s just it – in our family it wouldn’t be a little mistake. Your scenario with the misunderstanding location is very different from our kid standing waiting to be let off the bus while the driver looks for our AP, radios the office, gives up and has him sit back down and drop off all the other kids and then return to the school and leave him potentially with a stranger (whatever teacher or school employee) while they track us or our au pair down. We don’t coddle him and we make mistakes but traumatizing him and losing his trust is a very big deal. Hopefully it never happens and we never test this but for our family and oldest kid it’s not a little mistake. We’ve had all the little stuff mentioned above happen (ruined pots, dishes, clothes, etc) and have never been in rematch (outside of recent APs family emergency return home). I think it’s safe to say the HFs on this board are not trigger happy for rematch so you’ll have to take my word for it on what would and wouldn’t be salvageable for our family.

TexasHM February 15, 2014 at 2:12 am

I’m also assuming AP just forgets our kid, not gets in a car accident or act of God. Like everything else in the AP-HF relationship it’s gray area and has to be weighed in context.

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