Host Mom Dumped at Funeral by Extension Au Pair-turned-Bridezilla

by cv harquail on June 4, 2014

Readers, I couldn’t think of another headline that would capture the gawd-awful truth of this host mom’s story. Let’s call her “UnluckyHostMom”. 

Dear AuPairMom

I know that you typically post questions, and that you occasionally run guest posts written by readers.  I recently had such a terrible au pair experience, that I thought it would be therapeutic to write about it.  One of the wonderful things about the AuPairMom blog is that you realize you’re not alone. I identify so much with the challenges shared by other host parents!

au pair extend photo

Since in hindsight many tragedies become comedies, I also thought that this story might be something other host moms and dads could laugh along with.  Or maybe I’m just hoping that I’m not alone in having such a bad experience, b/c … well … misery loves company.

I hope this story inspires readers to share more stories and guest posts.   All the best,  ~ UnluckyHostMom

My Au Pair Turned Into A Brazilian Bridezilla

A friend who once described me as “the person who has the worst luck of all”. In many respects she is right. Things have a way of falling apart. Just consider our experiences with au pairs.

We’ve had, in no particular order, the drunk au pair … the flighty au pair … the mean au pair … the severely depressed au pair … and the au pair who was overwhelmed when put in charge of the kids, even though she supposedly had thousands of hours of experience caring for children.

We even had an au pair who emailed us exactly one week before she was due to arrive in the U.S. that she couldn’t come because she was pregnant.

But none of them hold a candle to the Brazilian Bridezilla.

Here’s the story. The “BID” (bridezilla in disguise) came to us in rematch in May of 2013, and we thought we had finally broke a particularly unlucky stretch. She was all anyone would want in an au pair. She was patient. She worked hard. She let my younger daughter do her hair. She taught my older daughter to play guitar.  

So last fall we asked if she would extend. We thought our chances were good. She had found a boyfriend, a guy she had met on the train. So romantic! And he even came from a rich family, which made it seem even more like a made-for-TV movie. BID agreed to extend for six months, until mid September. We paid the fees. By January it was official. And by February she was engaged. She asked my younger daughter to be her flower girl.

Never one to procrastinate, we started looking for our next au pair in late March. After a few weeks, we found a great match, and we decided to have her arrive in late August, right before the start of school and three weeks before BID’s wedding. BID had already asked to take her final week off as vacation. I told her to take the last three—and I’d pay her for two. Thanks for a job well done. I was so stupid.

In retrospect, the signs were there. My kids think the turning point came when BID’s future mother-in-law bought her a wedding dress. BID started slacking off at work. She was texting A LOT, dozens of texts a day, hundreds a week, almost all to the rich fiancé and almost all during her working hours. (Of course we didn’t realize the extent until later).

Less than a week after we set the date for the new au pair’s arrival, things really started to fall apart. BID was suddenly stressed. So stressed that she said she couldn’t work. So stressed that she insisted she wasn’t going to make it unless she could sleep with her fiancé every night for the two months leading up to the wedding. She said surely I must understand? Of course I didn’t! I’m a working mom for crying out loud! Wedding-planning stress is nothing!

I said to my H, “This is not going to last.”  Ever the optimist he said, “She’d never leave us in the lurch.”

We moved the arrival date up for the incoming au pair to late July—it was the earliest she could arrive, and we agreed to release BID, who had now morphed into BB—Brazilian Bridezilla—almost two months early.

There were signs I obsessed about but my husband chose to ignore. BB mentioned she happened to go on because she was wanted to continue to work as a nanny after her wedding. BB also said her rich fiance’s mom had a friend who wanted to pay her “a lot of money” to watch her young twins for a year, but she didn’t want to commit that long.

I was on red alert, but what could we do? We had spent nearly $4,000 for her to extend for six months. The earlier she left the more money we lost, and the more we’d have to pay for interim childcare. Rich fiance’s family had already hired an attorney for her, so I knew that she knew that if she left early and her visa expired before her wedding, no one would care. I had no leverage.

Then the flower girl daughter—seven at the time—came to me in tears.

BB wasn’t playing with her. BB was texting all the time. BB was impatient. BB yelled at her when she was doing her homework. This was not working.

So we tried to talk to BB. I told her what her beloved flower girl told us. But there was no apology. Instead BB got all passive aggressive. “You’re making every little thing turn into a big thing!!!” she cried, even though it clearly wasn’t. She agreed to stay until the end of June, when school ended. She wouldn’t leave until we had found other childcare.

Of course, she didn’t stay until June. And she didn’t stay until we had backup care. Deep down, I think we all knew that. What we didn’t know is how she’d do it, which was in the worst possible way.

My family left the Friday before Memorial Day to go to my uncle’s funeral. It seemed like he was only diagnosed yesterday. I was so worried about my dad. While we were gone, BB cleaned out her room and moved out—nearly four months before the wedding, and nearly four months before her commitment was up. Then she sent me this email:

Dear [host mom],

For the past year you have been like a mother to me. I am entirely grateful for your kindness and generosity, accepting me to into your home and trusting me with your girls. At this time I believe it is in my best interest to move on. I want to be with my fiance and begin our lives together.

It has been very stressful for me and I would like to end on a good note. Next Friday will be my last day. I will get a new cell phone tomorrow, and [rich fiancé] and I are buying a new car next weekend. It has been a very educating and memorable experience for me, and I will remember each of you fondly. I’m sorry for leaving early but I think it is better for everybody.

I hope, should the time come you will be honest and forthcoming speaking on my behalf, sharing the good things I have done for you and the girls; as I have done for you with DearHostChild. I hope you will not be upset but at this time I must do what is right for me. The girls can always see me if they want to and you allow it.

Best Regards,  BB

That’s right—she ditches us while we’re at a funeral … and she thinks this is ending on a good note!!! AND she expects us to give her a good reference!

And really, if this is how she treats her second mother, how do you think she treated her first?

Things were still complicated. BB still had our phone and house keys. I texted her and told her to just return our stuff and be done with it. She put us off for three excruciating hours—probably to get her own cell phone. When she finally returned them, she put the phone and keys in a little bag and tied it with a purple bow. A purple bow. Like a present. Then her rich-guy fiancé tried to creep up to the house and put it in the mailbox, sight unseen. Seriously????

Yes, I ran after her fiance and called him a coward.

And yes, I called her an immature little brat.

And yes, I’ve been fighting the urge to go onto her profile on and write all of this.

(My husband joked we do a scroll of numbers, such as “119—the number of days she had left on the contract she broke. 1,265—the number of texts she sent and received in the three weeks before she ditched us. 1,156—the number of those texts made during her working hours.) But after all the weeks of drama, I was ready to move on.

Even the kids were ready.

As my younger daughter said, “I guess she’s going to have to find another flower girl for her wedding.”



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NoVA Twin Mom June 4, 2014 at 8:44 am

Wow. I love your attitude. I’m not sure I could have gotten to where you are yet, but agree that we definitely need to share stories like this with an appreciative audience. Our next au pair after our worst au pair was our best ever – I hope the same happens to you!

exaupair June 4, 2014 at 8:52 am

OMG, OP I’m sorry you’ve lost money because of her. You’ve followed through with your commitment and she should have done the same thing. However, I kind of get her point about doing what’s best for her, that’s what people instinctively do isn’t it?

anonforthisone June 4, 2014 at 3:45 pm

As a HM who too has had “bad luck” with APs, I can honestly say that while the money sucks, it is not even close to the main issue in these situations. It is the betrayal, the selfishness, the complete lack of self-reflection or insight on the part of a person who “tricked” you (and your innocent children) into liking or even loving them. And then, when the moment suits them, despite everything you do to try to make them happy, without regard for how it affects you or the children, they stab you in the back.

It isn’t what “people instinctively do”, it’s what selfish, immature people do and then find ways to justify their behavior to themselves and others…

NJ Mama June 4, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Anon –
You hit the nail on the head. The money stinks, but what you describe is, at the heart, what is the most awful part about this whole thing.

and it’s one thing to be so crappy toward adults, but the effect on the kids is just the worst! My kids loved this woman! When she said in her email that she would like to continue seeing them if I allowed it, what never registered with her is that she had ruined her relationship with them, not just by slacking off and losing patience at the end but by leaving us all in the lurch and making the kids feel (yet again) that they can’t trust their au pair.

As Skny said below, this is why it’s so great that one of our former au pairs will come and help out. The biggest thing she will do for us — far bigger than providing childcare — is smoothing the transition for the next one. It will also remind all of us about all of the good things about this program and help us to forget the bad.

exaupair June 4, 2014 at 7:07 pm

Yes, the money sucks, but since the pay is not kept a secret they know exactly what they sign up for, so poor wages should never come up as an issue, and certainly shouldn’t be the reason to stab the HF in the back. It was clearly not an issue for her since she stayed with the Family for a year and wanted to extend.

anonforthisone June 4, 2014 at 8:48 pm

exaupair, you misunderstand. When I said “the money sucks” I wasn’t referring to the AP pay. I was referring to YOUR comment “OMG, OP I’m sorry you’ve lost money because of her.”

As far as I’m concerned the money for AP stipend doesn’t suck. You try to find a job with nothing more than a HS education that allows you to live in a nice house, have a cell, drive a decent car, have two weeks of vacation, paid sick leave (unlimited in reality) work 45 hours per week or less (in some cases 25 hours!), have all your meals and utilities paid for and still have $200 left in your pocket to spend at starbucks and the club each week – I’d love to hear about it!

exaupair June 5, 2014 at 8:24 am

Ah, now I get it, sorry for a misunderstanding. And yes, I feel sorry for the OPs loss, I would have been furious and she sounds fairly calm which I admire.

As for the AP pocket money – I still feel it’s not a lot, although in Europe the rules are a little bit different i.e. paid sick leave is not a rule, vacation may or may not be paid for, many things are negotiable. Just from my experience, all the companies I worked for so far have paid me enough to have all my bills and utilities paid and still have much more than 200 bucks left in my pocket at the end of each month.
Being an AP can be stressful, requires a great deal of responsibility, flexibility, creativity, you need to be a coach, a tutor, a sitter, a nurse and psychologist and a friend at the same time. It’s a fun thing to do as a gap year but you can’t tell me it’s all play and no work. And in terms of actual “work” I did have jobs that required a less broad portfolio of skills for a more satisfying salary :-)

WestMom June 4, 2014 at 9:48 am

What a story! There is always a silverlining… You are much better off now that she is gone…

Logistically, what happens with the agency? Don’t they owe you money for the outstanding months?

WarmStateMomma June 4, 2014 at 9:58 am

How awful! I’d be so angry if an AP treated my daughter like that and snuck out during a family funeral. It sounds like she took advantage of your family to get the extension she needed to get the boyfriend to propose.

I’d probably be tempted to let INS know that she’s violated her AP visa (fraudulently applying for an extension she didn’t intend to fulfill and then walking off the job) and get the clock ticking. She can probably get it resolved with rich-guy’s lawyer, but it will cost $$ and they may have to scramble to change the wedding date. You had to scramble for child care after paying the agency for her to do it, right? HD would talk me out of making that call, but I’d give it a lot of thought. Kudos to you for just venting about this rotten young woman instead.

Your husband is right about that list. If anyone asks you for a reference, hard numbers will tell the truth about the AP in a more convincing way than your narrative about her taking advantage of your family (which could be interpreted differently by different people).

exaupair June 4, 2014 at 10:27 am

I would be really tempted to inform the agency about what she did too. Although, I don’t think she actually planned to leave you like that from the very beginning. OP said she was engaging with her children etc. if her only goal was to snatch a husband as soon as possible she would have done it without having to play the rock star AP part for the whole year.

TexasHM June 4, 2014 at 10:40 am

The agency knows and admitted they won’t do anything to pursue the AP. Not coincidentally, HM has since switched agencies as well. :)

WarmStateMomma June 4, 2014 at 10:44 am

I’d be tempted to take the AP to small claims court for the agency fees and the cost of back up child care. It sounds like a simple enough case with an email from the AP admitting to the exact date when she breached the contract.

WarmStateMomma June 4, 2014 at 10:41 am

I wonder if a lot of the sense of betrayal comes from the fact that the AP was so wonderful with the kids for a year before she thought things with the boyfriend were serious. Maybe the AP’s actions would have been less hurtful if she were just a mediocre AP and not really a trusted part of the family.

TexasHM June 4, 2014 at 10:58 am

WarmStateMomma as usual you are dead-on, that is why this HM put up with so much as well. She kept telling me that this AP “would never leave us in a lurch” and “would never do anything to upset my kids” because the AP had been so great the first year and had asked to extend (APs idea). In fact originally when she said her AP was engaged and they both agreed to finish the AP year (Sept) I strongly encouraged her to go ahead and start interviewing just in case – thank goodness she did and matched or she would be starting the interview process now vs just getting a month of backup care until new AP arrives next month. Plus she was able to interview as a sane person and not a HM scorned. ;) BRAVO UnluckyHM!

exaupair June 4, 2014 at 11:16 am

I hope her new AP will be equally good or better with the kids and won’t leave them before their commitment ends. The OP sounds and angel to me, I wouldn’t probably be so understanding and patient if it happened to my family. If the AP made me dump few grand down the drain and the Agency did nothing about it I’d sue both of them period.
Good luck to you OP!

Melissa June 6, 2014 at 10:38 am

I wholeheartedly agree with this. I have felt most frustrated and betrayed when we’ve had something big come up with an otherwise amazing AP. That was my most recent experience – we had an AP that we loved both as an au pair and as a person throw us a huge curveball when an unexpected issue came up toward the end of her year. We tried to move past it, but looking back, it pretty much just poisoned the relationship and things unraveled and eventually blew up at the end. In retrospect, I questioned why I got so upset by the whole thing (vs. handling it in a more removed, managerial type of way), but I think it was exactly because she did such a stellar job and had a great relationship with us. I often think that if the same big issue had come up with another one of our APs who was ok, but not great, and who we viewed as an employee vs. family member, I wouldn’t have felt nearly as upset.

Taking a Computer Lunch June 4, 2014 at 9:12 pm

I’ve kind of been through this before, except AP #1 lived with us for 3 1/2 years back in the days when the APs could only stay one year. She was a pediatric intensive care nurse, so perfect for The Camel and child #2 who had delays from bacterial meningitis, so we put her on a student visa in month 7 and applied to sponsor her as an employer. Coincidentally, she, too, was from Brazil. By the time child #2 turn 3, she wasn’t so perfect – babied him – but we looked the other way because she had been so great for years. The last year she lived with us, she was terrific. The Camel had major surgery and was hospitalized for 5 weeks – she volunteered to take the Friday overnight shift, so DH and I could reset and steel ourselves for another week.

In hindsight, we all burned out. When DH’s appendix burst and I developed pneumonia (the stress, the stress) that year, everything collapsed. She gave notice, and we limped along until 3 weeks before AP #2 showed up. She up and quit. I think she was surprised and sad that we said goodbye so easily – I think she thought she had leverage against us – but we were so burned out that I had already concocted a plan to get us through the last 3 weeks without her.

She convinced DH that we should continue to serve as her undergraduate supporters (I can’t remember the official term at the moment), and we did for three more years, although it didn’t cost us a penny (she did get in-county tuition). Finally, when I had enough, I sent a letter to Homeland Security and the College announcing that in 30 days we would no longer support her (she had twice as many credits as necessary when I asked for an accounting). I burned a lot of bridges with her, but at that point I felt used and was happy to sever the relationship. Like the OP, child #2 eventually felt used by her.

TexasHM June 4, 2014 at 10:20 am

Dear UnluckyHostMom, as you know my heart aches for your family. (We had a VERY similar experience with a Brazilian Bridezilla so UnluckyHostMom reached out to me on email when this started.)

For the sake of readers I can attest that this HM did EVERYTHING she could to try to be flexible and make this work (in spite of my comments at times! ;). She tolerated a lot of less than desirable behavior because this AP was under stress from her soon to be MIL and HM wanted to be supportive because this AP had been good to their family (before all this). HM supported this AP, adjusted her finish date multiple times to try to make AP happy, was generous with AP and when needed, HM engaged the LC to make sure everyone had a plan and was on the same page (AP agreed to plan).

Reading this story, I actually think the HM was very poised and left a few things out! Like the AP lying about being sick so she couldn’t pickup HK from school when actually it was because she was cleaning out her room and the AP yelling at the “rainbows and butterflies” HK and the AP putting her profile on with immediate availability in spite of them agreeing to an end date and the AP using the HM’s phone to take prospective families calls DURING work hours and using HM’s car to go on interviews! So to those of you that read this and think yeah that stinks but she was ready to move on with her “real” life keep in mind this HM was VERY kind in my opinion in her description of events.

We had a Brazilian AP get engaged and finish early too and we had a lot of frustration those last couple months but not once did she yell at my child, use my things to try to get a better job and leave me in a lurch and on top of that ask me for a reference! There is a right way and a wrong way to handle things. Mature APs work together with the host families to end early on good terms. Mature APs continue to do a good job and follow through on their commitments.

When I talked to this HM on the phone in the middle of this I told her we will tolerate A LOT as a host family as long as we feel like the AP is being considerate and this AP was not. I told her our one page handbook would read “just don’t be an AHOLE” and this AP was most certainly that and then some. UnluckyHM congrats on the awesome backup care you found and the awesome AP you have coming next month and if you ever need to vent – you know my number GF!!!

WarmStateMomma June 4, 2014 at 10:38 am

Being immature or wanting to “move on with your real life” is one thing, but tricking your HF into paying for an extension so you can get engaged and then leaving them in a lurch is another. The OP is a better woman than me for just venting about it.

AP#1 is working illegally while waiting to convert her expired AP visa into a student visa (and plans to keep working illegally when she gets the student visa). It really bothers me, but she stuck out the year with us and treated my daughter well. I’d feel too guilty to report her, so I just gripe to HD. Poor guy….

Old China Hand June 4, 2014 at 12:14 pm

We have the same situation! And our AP got given a visa that incorrectly says she has to return to China for 2 years… So I’m trying to help her navigate getting that fixed but am not happy about the working illegally plan. (She finishes up in about a month).

exaupair June 4, 2014 at 11:07 am

This gives new light to the whole story.

Still, while neglecting kids during playtime, shouting at them, pretending to be too stressed to work, the overall attitude is just plain wrong, looking for a new job while still being employed elsewhere isn’t.

I understand the OP feels betrayed and rightfully so, because the AP should set her availability dates for the time her contract with the HF will have ended. That said she had a right to start looking for another job before her extension period was over.

Before everyone here flames out I would have to ask you, did any of you ever resigned from the first job to be unemployed for a while before starting to look for a different one, just for the sake of being loyal?

I’m not saying the AP made all the right moves, and by no means I would call her a mature person, BUT I’m far from crucifying her for looking a job per se.
Nowhere was mentioned she used the HF car do go to interviews during the time she was working, leaving kids on their own. If she didn’t, and still had the privilege to use the car in her time off, then she was free to do it.

Secondly, TexasHM said she used family phone to TAKE calls from prospective families. Where’s the money lost? Clearly not there, because taking calls as far as I know is free of charge. Again, if the conversation would take too long she should apologize and promise to call them back in the evening, but a quick chat lasting no more than 5 minutes wouldn’t hurt anyone.

I know being an AP is a very specific “job” and shouldn’t be compared to regular jobs but from my personal experience I can only say that many companies open and close at the same time, therefor looking for another job while still being committed to someone else would sometimes take part while on duty whether I like it or not, same thing with interviews, I would not leave my office to attend one when I’m actually working but wouldn’t imagine being called disloyal if I did it during my lunch hour.

TexasHM June 4, 2014 at 11:30 am

Completely agreed that she can look for a job while having one – I do the same thing. The difference is this AP was neglecting the kids to talk and text on the phone – I believe thats part of what spurred the AP yelling at HK but Unlucky would need to confirm.

HM actually would have been totally ok with AP being on with a start date listed that matched their agreed upon date – we talked about that. She actually would be ok too with her getting calls and scheduling to call them back later and using the car with permission off hours as long as she was forthright about it but she wasn’t. She was ignoring or pawning off the kids, talking and texting ALL DAY (1200 texts a week during hours and btw this AP doesn’t work anywhere near 45 hours!!) and there is no doubt she did these things. (She tried to lie about calls and texts and said the HKs were lying until they pulled up the phone records and then she admitted it but said THEY were causing the drama by making a big deal of nothing!!)

PLUS this HF changed her end date multiple times TO ACCOMMODATE the AP and the AP agreed to the change so the least she can do is honor the earlier date that she helped come up with and agree to! Trust me, I try to be impartial and give both sides the benefit of the doubt (and probably I’m too close to this because I talked to this HM during the month this all happened).

Pennsylvania HM June 4, 2014 at 12:22 pm

More importantly. It’s against the rules of the visa to look for a job period as an au pair. My former AP married at the end of her 2nd year (last summer) and JUST received her visa enabling her to go to school or look for work legally 2 months ago.

TexasHM June 4, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Great point. This AP is well aware of all of this too. She is in violation of her AP visa now that she left and is here illegally and even if they get married tomorrow like you said she is not legally allowed to work until she gets her green card which can take 5-12months (5mos is if you pay $$$ to expedite it) after applying.

exaupair June 4, 2014 at 12:41 pm

As I said before, the OP is a saint to have put up with all that. The new AP doesn’t know yet, but she’s lucky to match with such a HM.

Seattle Mom June 5, 2014 at 3:16 pm

If I make a commitment for a job through a set period of time I do not look for employment that begins before my contract ended. If I did that I would eventually lose credibility, period.

I am currently hired on a temporary basis and I have committed through July. I would not dream of leaving before then, because I know that it would wreak havoc here if I did. I think the AP job is similar- if you extend you should make every effort to stay through the end of the contract. And it’s not like this AP was desperate for the money- she’s getting married to some rich guy who buys her a phone and a car. GMAB. Stop defending her, it’s embarrassing.

Angie host mom June 5, 2014 at 5:48 pm

Actively looking for a new job with a start date before your specified end date on your existing contract is not ok. Don’t sign up for the contract if you don’t intend to honor it. It is very poor business ethics to leave a contract prior to the end of the commitment – we are talking about contract work with set begin and end dates, not general at will, indefinite employment. If you can’t suck it up to the end of your contract, then tell everyone right away and give them the ability to decide when you will leave. If I hire a company to take care of my landscaping from Apr – October and they quit in July I can guarantee no one I know would hire them again.

That said, I’m easy on my APs when it comes to changing decisions related to real life concerns – life happens, and I think compassion and honesty goes a long way. But if I had an AP walk out because someone was willing to give her a nanny job while she was my AP and just hire her illegally and she just wanted to make more money? She would lose all of my respect, it is a dishonorable way to behave.

Janice June 4, 2014 at 11:03 am

Let’s remember the concept of at-will employment. Although you might have a contract with the agency, the au pair is not obligated to stay with you through the end of the term. Yes, there might be some “moral” or “ethical” obligation, but this young woman had new priorities in her life (her fiance, planning a wedding, planning a new life, etc.)

Surely, you must have know this was a risk when you decided to extend her for six months. There’s always a drop in productivity when American women get engaged and start planning for a wedding. In my professional life, I don’t event hire people who tell me they’re recently engaged because I know (despite their best intentions) that they will be mentally preoccupied with the wedding planning.

It’s not unreasonable to predict that your engage Au Pair is going to be distracted at a job that pays her peanuts when she has financial security with the fiancé. What did you think would happen? That she would put the needs of your meager salary over the needs of her future husband?

(editor’s note: this comment is a little harsh. Don’t bite on the salary comment. ~cv)

TexasHM June 5, 2014 at 8:00 pm

She wasn’t engaged when they extended. Newer boyfriend, not engaged.

Emerald City HM June 5, 2014 at 10:08 pm

I sure hope you don’t ask about marital status or plans.

WarmStateMomma June 5, 2014 at 10:39 pm

It’s not at-will employment; it’s a contracted term. Either side can terminate if things go wrong, but it’s still a contract term. Same as with an apartment lease, contractual obligations don’t change just because you’re planning a wedding.

OpinionatedHM June 6, 2014 at 9:09 am

The AP does have an obligation under the terms of her visa. The AP is welcome to find a new family in the AP program but if she doesn’t, she would need to return home. WarmStateMomma is right that the Host Family could notify INS of this AP’s visa violation. I’d be tempted to report the agency’s lack of action to the State Department for not reporting this AP as being in violation of her Visa.

Also, the AP was not engaged when she rematched with the host family so they would have no reason to expect what would eventually transpire.

exaupair June 6, 2014 at 12:41 pm

@Janice, your point about the AP salary would have been valid IF she had a better job lined up, but she didn’t, as far as I understood previous posts, she was looking for a job and going to interviews, but didn’t secure anything at that point.

By the way, who on earth would tell you they recently got engaged during an interview??? I cant imagine sharing things regarding my private life (engagement, holiday, any personal event) with a person who is nothing but a stranger to me, and their only role is to evaluate my capability to fit in the company. Unless, obviously you ask personal questions yourself. But then, you’re seriously bending the rules, wonder how many interviewees had the balls to terminate the conversation.

TexasHM June 4, 2014 at 11:04 am

To be fair, I don’t think AP had the forethought to trick the HF into extending. As she said, things didn’t escalate until they got engaged and the future MIL got directly involved (dress shopping day). AP had the boyfriend and loved the family so wanted to extend. Plus the extension paperwork is done months before yearend anyway and this was about a month into the extension that things started so probably 4-5 months after they did the extension paperwork. I think this AP is despicable but I don’t think she schemed the extension and early bailout.

I think she behaved like a selfish, immature person that doesn’t have the backbone (or interest) to stand up to her MIL and fulfill her commitment to a family that was amazing to her (her words). Rich MIL didn’t want her son marrying an au pair (looks bad for the family) so MIL called the shots and wrote the script and AP went straight along with it. Sad. UnluckyHM told me the other day she actually feels sorry for the AP marrying into that family and becoming that woman’s puppet. I told her you have to agree to be someone’s puppet so I don’t feel sorry for her at all! :)

WarmStateMomma June 4, 2014 at 11:40 am

This makes me grateful for my super-kind in-laws.

TexasHM June 4, 2014 at 11:41 am

Me too!!

OP/NJ Mama June 4, 2014 at 11:49 am

OP here. And I’m outing my self as NJ Mama, fairly new to this site, which has given me such great advice.

First… a huge shout out to TexasHM for all of her support. And not once did she ever tell me, “I told you so,” even though she could have many many times.

Yes I could have written more but the post was long enough and how many deets do you really want? I will address a few things, however.

1) I would have had no problem with BB lining up work at the end of her commitment with us. In fact, before we first moved her end date up, I told her I would absolutely put the word out that she was looking for babysitting jobs and that I would be happy to be her reference. HOWEVER, once she started pushing her departure date up because she was “too stressed to work,” but then posted to go to work on that she was available to work as soon as her early departure was up … well that’s just plain wrong. As a side note, the reason my next AP couldn’t come to us earlier is because she wanted to finish up a project at her job and leave on a good note. That is how I always left jobs — even those that I hated.

2) That brings me to my next point. @exaupair, yes we all try to do what’s best for us. But there is a difference between what’s best and what’s right. Was slacking off on her job and texting all the time really what was best for her? Was jerking us around really best? I don’t think so. She could have ended things very differently. I was absolutely willing to work with her. She lived in my home and cared for my kids, and as I’m sure you all know an unhappy au pair makes for a very unhappy family. The problem for me came when she decided just DAYS after we matched that she wanted out early. If she had come to me before then I wouldn’t have been telling potential AP candidates that I was looking for someone for late summer/early fall. I would have looked for someone who could have come in sooner, or gone into rematch. There were many things I could have done at every turn if she had just been honest with me. And I will never agree that leaving someone while they’re at a funeral is best for anyone or anything.

3) @WarmStateMomma – When I first wrote this to blow off steam, I didn’t have high hopes for much of a refund. I had also paid the ap’s $347 extension fee. Since then the agency has agreed to reimburse me for about 75% of what I lost for the time I had remaining on BB’s commitment (I have not yet received the money so I hope this doesn’t affect that!! ) But having to fight for a refund while lining up and paying for backup care really stinks.

4) Making fun of this situation really has helped me get over this. I have been tempted to go to small claims, go to the INS, even cancel my last check to her (which, btw, she asked me to write before we left for the funeral) etc etc. But let’s face it: I’m a working mom with 2 kids and a long commute. Anger is just wasted energy at this point. I just want to put this behind me and move on. Besides, you know what they say — karma is a b*tch.

5) I have never met the future MIL so I really don’t know what the real story is behind BB’s change in personality and abrupt departure. All I know is conjecture and hearsay. So I don’t want to comment more on any of that.

6) Finally, a post script. Not only did I get a partial refund, but one of my awesome former au pairs offered to help me out this summer until the next one arrives. It was a good reminder that when this program works well, it is amazing. I also hope that my luck changes for the better, at least for awhile :)

WarmStateMomma June 4, 2014 at 12:58 pm

You’re setting a great example for your kids, NJ Mama.

WarmStateMomma June 4, 2014 at 1:01 pm

I realized that may have sounded sarcastic. It wasn’t meant to.

NJ Mama June 4, 2014 at 1:09 pm

Not sarcastic at all. Thanks for all of the support! I hope my last post wasn’t too defensive. I just love this blog and all of the advice and support.

WarmStateMomma June 4, 2014 at 1:13 pm

It didn’t seem defensive to me, but maybe that’s just because I agreed with all of your points. :)

Skny June 4, 2014 at 1:49 pm

NJ mama
Good for you about former Au pair. We also had a former Au pair come help us for 3 months until my baby’s birth. It is a great way to heal everyone

exaupair June 4, 2014 at 1:56 pm

I’m not trying to defend the AP because what she did was absolutely wrong. Note that I’m not even trying to vent about the fact that she left you on a day your relative died. That to me was just low, and if I really wanted to write a monologue on this I’d probably be banned from this blog.
I wanted to make a point that despite all she did, the fact she was trying to secure another job shouldn’t be held against her. HOW she did it is a different story and her actions proved how immature and irresponsible she was, but my intention was to justify the act as such.

Like one poster above cleverly said, perhaps she was manipulated by the future MIL, who knows. In the end everyone gets what they deserve. The OP will get a new, great au pair, and the bridezilla might just ended up in a family that will make all decisions for her.

WestMom June 4, 2014 at 2:59 pm

Ex AP- You are correct, it is her right to look for work regardless of her current situation. By doing so though, she broke the trust of the family who helped her stay here in the first place, and probably burnt all possibilities of a continuing relationship with the family.

I could and would look for work while still employed. But even at work, being sneeky and deceitful to a mentor who has hired me and done leaps and bounds to help in my career would probably lead to burnt bridges as well.

I agree with one of the previous posters that this is plain immature behavior. She is only thinking about herself at the moment, forgetting that her behavior is leaving others in the lurch (‘It’s best for everyone’? Really?). She will probably realize this one day, maybe once she has children of her own and will regret every bit of it.

HRHM June 4, 2014 at 3:58 pm

Just to reiterate the point higher up though, she CANNOT work legally in the US (not as an AP on a J-1 visa, not as a visa jumper, not on a fiance visa {takes longer to get the work permit than you are allowed to be on the fiance visa} and not without a work permit on a spouse visa for up to 18 months that it take to get the work permit on that visa). So while a normal resident/citizen/work eligible visa holder, should certainly be able to secure employment in advance of leaving a prior jo – SHE can’t legally work…

Angie host mom June 4, 2014 at 6:14 pm

Another possible lesson….when an AP starts sounding like she wants out – get her out and away from your kids ASAP and figure it out later. It’ll cause more trauma the longer you keep her against her will. It is so hard to do when she’s been a great au pair, because you want to believe that she’ll be a great au pair again.

Should be working June 5, 2014 at 11:51 am

Angie’s point is great. When it starts to sound like it’s going to go south, it IS ALREADY going there, so get out fast. Must note this to myself!!

Angie host mom June 5, 2014 at 12:51 pm

I have to write this one down in code on the fridge so I don’t delude myself next time it starts to go bad…

Angie host mom June 4, 2014 at 5:13 pm

I was wondering about the refund! We had an au pair decide not to extend – we worked it all out – because she was surprisingly accepted into a great work/study program, and we got most of our money back. It was fine because she was forthcoming and honest – unlike your au pair!

The advice I give to HPs who have APs with big things going on in their lives — weddings, babies, university acceptances — is to realize that your life and issues are not the primary concern of the au pair anymore, and you have to plan for them to make radical decisions that are not in your best interest. We’ve had several situations which could have turned very ugly if we hadn’t realized we were looking at an upcoming train wreck for our child care situation and planned out contingencies for what if they bail/get stressed and can’t work/leave the country/etc. So then, when they came in tears about XX or YY which was going to cause them to let us down for whatever reason, I could say in comfort – look, for us it is a pain in the neck, but for you this is your whole life. We’ll make do.

Easy? No. But anytime you have an AP falling in love or making a big school decision or having something going on at home which is huge for family (one AP had to go home for an extended visit to be a bone marrow donor) I strongly suggest that you make your contingency plans and realize that for them, it is their whole life that will be impacted by these decisions, and a lot of folks of all ages have a hard time handling that stress well – and younger folks have a harder time doing it maturely and with proper thought and respect for the people that they are injuring while trying to get their own life together.

I think of it as good training for showing a calm exterior in the face of immature conduct that I’ll need when my kids are teens!

NJmama June 4, 2014 at 9:45 pm

AngieHM you raise a good point and I was coming up with a backup plan and thankfully was able to piece together childcare quickly. It’s not perfect – like today, when my younger one was sick and both my H and I are a good hour and a half from the school. And still there are gaps we’re figuring out. So there are lots of considerations. And I have to tell you that agencies aren’t always so wonderful about giving refunds. My agency made an exception for me with the refund (all of them are different in that regard). I truly believe if I went to the agency and told them I fired the au pair b/c she was slacking off and texting etc etc., I doubt very much they would have been as generous with the refund. Going to the agency and saying, “I did x, y and z and still she quit” is a different story. I don’t know about you but 4Gs is a lot of money for us. My husband’s point was valid even if he turned out to be wrong – we made a commitment to her, and she made one to us, and the longer we can keep going the better off we would be. If we had even made it to the end of the school year it wouldn’t have been so hard for us.

Taking a Computer Lunch June 5, 2014 at 6:51 am

My guess is that BB will have a hard time getting a job without a reference from you. You can tell the caller what a great AP she was, list her attributes, and then tell them about the hours of texting, the hurt that your youngest felt at being ignored, and finalize it with her leaving you in the lurch without advance notice.

Personally, I think it was more than the wedding, and what she did to you, she might do to any other family.

Angie host mom June 5, 2014 at 12:55 pm

You are right on the refund – if you just said you fired her, no dice. But letting her quit means it is still on her and the agency needs generally to refund you – at least ours does. I didn’t mean to imply you could just fire an AP and expect a refund. Your au pair wanted out even earlier, so she probably would have quit if you hadn’t pressured her to stay.

I do get the whole let’s keep it going til the end of the school year or some other event thing, and have done the same in some situations. To each situation, its own solution.

CA Host Mom June 5, 2014 at 5:51 pm

NJ Mama, You deserve a break!

I, for one, am not sure that I could give it another try after such a terrible ordeal. Thank you for sharing with the rest of us, and for letting us learn from your experience. BTW – you’ve set an excellent example if ‘taking the high road’. I don’t think anyone would have blamed you for pursuing small claims, INS, or cancelling your last check to her! Best wishes for terrific match this next go-round.

Should be working June 4, 2014 at 11:58 am

The story also reflects the boiling-frog issue: Things snuck up one by one (although rapidly), there was good history, so only in retrospect is it SO clear that she could have cut this off much earlier.

That is one of the problems with AP hosting: things creep up and only when they are downright AWFUL do we see that we should/could have called it quits early on.

Skny June 4, 2014 at 1:45 pm

I am really sorry this happened to you! Please know that not all engagements end this way…
I also met my husband while working as an Aupair. I not only finished my second year with my family, but they sponsored my student visa and I stayed with them for another 17 months while working on my professional license.
Once my papers were approved and I got the ok to take my boards exam, I set the date (3 mo away) and worked until the last day. I actually left their home on a Friday, drove the 4hs to my new home, and got married on that Saturday.
Their 3 girls were my flower girls, and HD entered with me (my parents could not come). I am still in touch with them (8ys later) and we visit often. (I have called HM to complain about a terrible Au pairs a lot )
Finally, just for sake of stereotype, I do happen to be Brazilian, was never a party girl, and really did well with all my Au pairs (but one) ego where lado Brazilians ( Need them to speak Portuguese with my kids as I can’t due to my oldest adopted daughter not speaking the language).

NJ Mama June 4, 2014 at 1:54 pm

Skny –
That’s a beautiful story.

I didn’t mean to disparage Brazilians. I have known many other bridezillas in my day and this was the first who happened to be Brazilian. I think each person is his/her own person.

exaupair June 4, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Yup, as I said, everyone gets exactly what they deserve at the end!

WarmStateMomma June 4, 2014 at 3:28 pm

What a great story!

German Au-Pair June 4, 2014 at 5:51 pm

A bit OT here, but I love stereotypes. Brazilians have a horrible reputation amongst German exchange people (no matter if it’s AP or high school) and I learned that that’s true the other way round. So when I offered to meet the new Brazilian my cluster we both were this close to cancelling and actually “complained” to others about meeting this German/Brazilian. We ended up being close friends, her being probably my favorite from my cluster. I ended up disliking almost all other Germans in the area and found it quite ironic to attend festivals with 4 Brazilians.

That said, my HFs former AP was a stereo-type Brazilian, too…left her friends alone downtown to be gone with some weird guy alone at night….stuff like that. I also know so many German APs who fit the stereo-type of excluding other nations (not nazi like, just “I don’t want to speak English in my free time, it’s exhausting”-type) and only sticking to themselves. I miss the whole cultural part so much.

exaupair June 4, 2014 at 7:19 pm

When it comes to stereotypes, the Brazilian party girl is in my opinion nothing but the truth. I’ve met plenty of Brazilians while on a student exchange and they were all ultimate party girls (and boys) :-) I felt like a grandma among them when about 3am I was ready to go to bed and it was still a party in full swing for them.

Amelie June 4, 2014 at 7:52 pm

I am Brazilian and not a party girl at all! I didn’t go to one single club during my AP year. But I have to agree with you that most Brazilians are. I didn’t have many Brazilian friends (or many au pair friends for that matter), and it was partly because of that. I was never in the mood for the things they wanted to do – go to parties, drink a lot and meet American boys. Not that is necessarily a bad thing – just not my cup of tea.

Also, I would like to remind that being a party girl does not automatically mean being irresponsible, or uncaring, or chronically late, or anything like that.

Returning HM June 4, 2014 at 10:16 pm

“Also, I would like to remind that being a party girl does not automatically mean being irresponsible, or uncaring, or chronically late, or anything like that.”

Completely agree with this. We have hosted four Brazilians over the years, all of whom were very social and big partyers. They went out every single Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, and often Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday as well. :-) We always had a group of their friends spending Thursday and Friday nights at our house, because we lived closer to the bars they liked to go to. My husband and I used to roll our eyes to each other when we watched them go out at night, in the shortest of skirts, the tightest of shirts, and the highest of heels. But these APs also worked extremely hard with our then-young children, and they were loving, warm, responsible, and extremely conscientious. We actually thought that their partying was a benefit: it meant that they blew off whatever steam a long day (and week) of dealing with young children had built up! While we adore the Western European APs we host now that our children are older, I get nostalgic every time I see a group of Brazilian APs heading out for the night in our little town. I miss the laughter and excitement that buzzed through our household every Thursday when “the girls” would begin to arrive with their overnight bags to get ready to go out on the (college) town. :-)

Seattle Mom June 5, 2014 at 3:25 pm

I also emphatically agree that party girl does not equal bad AP.

My last AP (from Thailand!) was a party girl. She was amazing. So much energy, so fun with the kids, great cook, we loved having her around. She did get sick in our bathroom once or twice in the beginning and she was very apologetic about it- after the second time I told her that she could not do this (we all share a bathroom and it’s right next to our bedrooms) it didn’t happen again.

Bap June 4, 2014 at 6:53 pm

Indeed you’ve had a hard time with the bridezilla, and there are even worse Au Pairs, I just think people should remember, while reading this, that not all Brazilian au pairs behave this way. Some are absolutely immature and I bet have never taken care of a child for half an hour, but there are the good ones, and even the incredible/amazing ones.
My note is just to remember to don’t judge by the stereotype, there are great au pairs in Brazil (and any other country) that can lose the only opportunity they have in their lives because people will misjudge them.

AlwaysHopeful HM June 4, 2014 at 8:22 pm

NJ Mama, my heart goes out to you. I completely get that you want to put the whole ordeal behind you, but you still may want to consider making a report to DHS about her visa overstay. Shenanigans like that imperil the whole AP system, but it can only help if it is clear that the HPs at least are vigilant in upholding the regs. I would feel differently if she overstayed and sought employment for sympathetic reasons, but she has options. Not being vindictive, but you owe her nothing.

AlwaysHopeful HM June 4, 2014 at 8:25 pm

Also, I dont really think you’d have to more than file the report. Her violation is pretty clear.

Skny June 5, 2014 at 7:08 am

If she is getting married, filing a report does nothing. She could be completely illegal, and marrying an American is a resetting card. In less than 6 mo she’d be legal .

AlwaysHopeful HM June 5, 2014 at 8:18 am

How can it be that simple? At a minimum, how can she be allowed to remain in the US while she awaits legal status?

exaupair June 5, 2014 at 8:34 am

I thought that if she’s already married to a US citizen she is allowed to stay, while still not being a citizen herself.

WarmStateMomma June 5, 2014 at 9:14 am

If she violated her AP visa, the clock is running and her AP visa won’t let her stay in the US legally much longer. Once she overstays the AP visa, she is here illegally. Marrying a US citizen won’t legitimize her presence but it will give her the right to apply for legal status (which she may have to do at the American embassy in her home country). So reporting her to INS for jumping her AP visa will have consequences.

Skny June 5, 2014 at 7:14 pm

Not really. My one Au pair who did not go well became illegal -found family outside of agency. Visa was canceled (immigration was aware to the point her family had their visas denied to come to her wedding). She got married (dd was still the flower girl not because I cared for, but because it was all my 3yo could talk about at the time… It would have hurt her to cancel), and 6mo later she already had her green card.

Skny June 5, 2014 at 7:24 pm

Actually was after this Au pair that we decided to go to day care. Which ended up closing (talk about luck… Our day care provider took a job and gave us 1 WEEK notice). Thankfully my loved former Au pair came back to help (tourist visa) for a few months until baby was born.

Lais June 5, 2014 at 10:03 am

I know this website is called AUPAIRMOM and the point of view we are looking at are Host moms or Host families. But do I need to remind everyone that every story has 2 sides? I know this AP and know her story and relationship with her host family. Please don’t be quick to judge.

TexasHM June 5, 2014 at 7:53 pm

Would love to hear the other side. The facts presented spurred this conversation. If there are additional facts or miscommunication please bring it to light and help another AP/family avoid the same fate!

Angie host mom June 5, 2014 at 8:03 pm

Yes, would love to hear the other side of this.

Amelie June 5, 2014 at 8:07 pm

I really don’t know if that’s true… but the girl in question said, in an au pair forum, that she tried to comment and had the comment removed.

(Sorry if that is not true, CV, but I don’t see a reason for her to lie about that…).

Mimi June 5, 2014 at 8:38 pm

I wonder if she saw the post when first finished but it “disappeared” until properly moderated (as a new poster)? I think that’s how my first post was.

Amelie June 5, 2014 at 8:41 pm

Could be.

Amelie June 5, 2014 at 8:42 pm

I also didn’t see why CV wouldn’t allow her to comment (she claimed she wasn’t rude or anything).

Let’s wait and see.

WarmStateMomma June 5, 2014 at 10:44 pm

The same thing happened when I was a new commenter. I think that happens automatically until the moderator grants access to the new person.

exaupair June 6, 2014 at 2:58 am

I’d love to hear that too.

Dorsi June 5, 2014 at 12:53 pm

I am busy preparing today for AP arrival. Cleaning the room (which has been vacant for 2 months — we needed an out of country match), preparing the kids (drumming up excitement after a bad experience), and trying to get the house organized (to start on the right foot). After our flameout AP that ended without much vitrol or tears, I am just now getting really angry to be doing this, less than 4 months after I did it last time. In the best of circumstances, it is a lot of work to bring the AP home. It is stressful to get everything in order, especially on top of the fact that I have not had reliable, regular child care for the past 2 months.

I can’t imagine how bitter I would be if I had to do all this on top of anger and resentment over the way things had ended.

Angie host mom June 5, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Can I make a suggestion, Dorsi? Share with your new au pair your frustration and stress level because of the lack of reliable child care for the last couple of months, and the kids frustration with the last au pair’s flameout. We sometimes try to make everything nice for the new au pair – but letting them know they are truly needed and their positive attitude is needed and giving them hard work to do to start – showing them you trust them – is often a great way to get off on the right foot. Show that you made an effort, yes, but let her know you are tired and need her help.

Dorsi June 6, 2014 at 1:09 pm

Thanks for the advice… I am trying to be more open and kind than I am inclined to be with new APs, because I worry that I am still reacting to the last Au pair.

Mimi June 5, 2014 at 1:33 pm

The boiling frog analogy is so apt for many of the potential problems with APs (kudos SBW!) and I’m so glad that NJmama is trying to find the humor in this. Anger is definitely wasted energy sometimes! What an awful situation, especially when you involve the emotions of children.

I can’t help but wonder at what point reporting visa violations are appropriate and not seen as a vindictive move, either in this case or others. Abuses to the system are what make it harder for those trying legitimately to follow the law and do what’s legal/right and can also put programs like this in jeopardy. Why should someone feel guilty about reporting abuse?

WarmStateMomma June 5, 2014 at 1:48 pm

I’d love to see a post on when extensions work out and when they don’t.

Should be working June 5, 2014 at 2:00 pm

We’ve talked about it, but there’s always room for more. There is a big difference between extending with your own AP vs. extending with someone who is new-to-you.

NoVA Twin Mom June 5, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Our “new to us” extension au pair just left yesterday. She was fantastic – so much so that she could be an advertisement for everything the au pair program is supposed to be. We’re “taking the plunge” again in a few weeks with a new au pair (we like to have a break between them to have a little time to ourselves, and summer works out well because the kids go to “Camp Grandma”).

She truly made our lives easier and seamlessly fit into the family. And part of what let her “hit the ground running” is that she already had acclimated to the US.

I realize we “got lucky” in many respects, because so many times things don’t work out. The au pair that’s arriving in a few weeks is number six for our family – and my girls are three years old. We’ve sent two into rematch. But I can only hope that this one is as good as au pairs one, three, and five were! (I did comment to our LCC that our “odd” numbered au pairs seem to work out and our “even” numbered ones don’t, so we *are* holding our breath somewhat, but I have a really good feeling about the new one!)

I do think there’s a difference between extending with your own au pair and starting fresh with someone that happens to have already been here a year with another family.

Skny June 5, 2014 at 7:43 pm

Even though I extended as an Au pair, and worked well, created a lasting meaningful relationship with the family (they even sponsored my visa), if I was honest, I did not extend due to love for kids or Au pairing.
I (my opinion) feel that one year is enough taking care of other peoples children. I observed between me And my friends that we extended because of our personal interest/gain/goals. That excitement, that deep desire to see things, experience things… Those were gone. So I feel (again my opinion) that chances of flame out, marriage, etc is higher).
I only took an extension Au pair because she was a physical therapist like me. And I thought she would be excited about the prospect of having a host who could assist with licensing. Nope

Seattle Mom June 5, 2014 at 5:57 pm

It would also be nice to have some guidelines- when should you extend, what are the red flags that an au pair might not be as good in year 2, how to pull the plug if you decide not to extend.

I had a great experience as well with an au pair who extended from another family, across the country. But have no experience with an au pair staying with my family beyond one year. We offered it to my first au pair but she wanted to go home. Now she’s considering coming back, 3 years later.

spanishaupair June 6, 2014 at 6:02 am

Im at the end of my second year with the same HF and dont regrect it and my HF is also happy with it, indeed im staying more than 2 years as in Europe no need of visas and could stay as wanted.
I think is something both parts should be 100% sure as things kind of change, you know each other and is easier to push the limits. I wasthe only to extend last year but now i know a few girls that will extend with the same family this year.

Kimm Lucas June 5, 2014 at 5:01 pm

Our au pair who we had had for 15 months decided to leave my family and I shortly after Xmas while I was out of town with my girls, ages ten, five, and one at the time.

I found out on Facebook she had married her boyfriend, who we had recently met at our Christmas party. She had the courtesy (major sarcasm) to tell me via email she was also pregnant, which I received one night while out of town with my girls. I learned about the marriage the next morning on Facebook. This is apparently why she got married.

She packed up and moved out while I was out of town with my girls. No notice, no good byes to my girls (she had been with us since I was pregnant with my third daughter, my second daughter worshipped her and my third daughter loved the older sister she portrayed herself as.), no thank yous for all we had done over 15 months (big pay raise at year two , trip to Disney with the family, use of car in off hours, relatively easy schedule, and more).

Never mind my husband and I both work full time busy jobs and we were left in a child care lurch, but luckily my workplace had a spot in the daycare for my youngest. This was our third au pair in less than three years. Needless to say, I’m left au pair shy and don’t think I want the stress of another. We are a busy family with three kids. I’m thankful for no bad driving with my kids, no drunken encounters with her, etc., but I can relate to other au pair stories.

Angie host mom June 5, 2014 at 7:08 pm

So sorry to hear about your awful experience Kimm.

Seven au pairs and counting, we’ve never been in rematch. We have extended with most of our au pairs. A few have had issues where they had to cancel an extension or leave earlier than anticipated – but always with months of notice. A couple would have had to leave on no notice if we hadn’t allowed them to leave abruptly and return 2-4 weeks later.

Every experience is different. Not sure why her getting married meant she couldn’t keep working for you at least til you found more help.

Angie host mom June 5, 2014 at 7:16 pm

I would add that this is one of those situations where you are dealing with a child care problem and the ex-au pair is dealing with a change in her whole life situation. If the AP were your daughter in another country, would you expect her to prioritize her wedding and baby or her host family?

Being pregnant and getting married does not mean she has to give up working, and a “good” husband would support her keeping her commitment to the family that brought the young lady into his country and so his life. If he is a creep, then she has to live with that – and you can be glad you don’t have to live her life.

One of our au pairs got pregnant and married. She kept working for us until our new au pair arrived. We get along great even now.

Taking a Computer Lunch June 5, 2014 at 9:19 pm

Unfortunately once an AP publicly announces her pregnancy, it means she’s out of a job. AP health insurance doesn’t cover pregnancy, and I know I sign a contract with a no-pregnancy clause (and because my AP has to pick up a 65-lb teenager I wouldn’t want her to be pregnant!).

Sorry you went through this Kimm – sounds like what my mother’s generation called an “Mrs. Degree” – women who went to college to find a good husband.

angie host mom June 5, 2014 at 9:43 pm

No one cared with our pg ap, probably because we are in California which has state provided pregnancy care which is quite good. She worked til month 5 for us.

WarmStateMomma June 5, 2014 at 10:48 pm

A pregnant AP could work with no insurance or possibly get added to her guy’s insurance (marriage may be required). I’d be surprised if the AP rules or agency rules allow the pregnant AP to continue, though.

Angie host mom June 6, 2014 at 2:14 am

I can only say our agency didn’t seem to care, our coordinator certainly knew.

exaupair June 6, 2014 at 3:36 am

Than that’s pretty harsh on the AP side to be honest. You can easily do pretty much any job (excluding probably really hard manual labour) until you’re at least half way through your pregnancy). I can’t imagine having this kind of clause with any job. This rule is first of all extremely disrespectful to the AP as a woman. I get all the fuss with the very basic health insurance that for some reason won’t cover such a common situation as a pregnancy however, if I decided to get pregnant I wouldn’t want someone from the Visa department telling me that if I make a decision that’s solely my own my Visa will automatically expire.

WarmStateMomma June 6, 2014 at 10:01 am

@exaupair: I agree that pregnancy doesn’t interfere with most jobs, but there’s a difference between the physical demands of office jobs and being an AP.

I’m pregnant and have a toddler. My OB reminded me I’m not supposed to lift more than 25 pounds – my toddler’s weight. Obviously, I do lift my toddler to hold her, put her in the car seat, etc. The toddler is only going to get heavier. It’s a risk I have to weigh against my toddler’s needs, but I couldn’t ask another pregnant woman to do that to care for my child.

The idea of what pregnant women can do or can’t do varies by culture. My AP thinks preggos aren’t supposed to lift their arms above their head, wear high heels or jump with their kids. Depending on the AP’s beliefs and the advice she receives (from her OB here or from her loved ones back home), she may not be willing/able to do everything that her HKs need.

My understanding of the AP health insurance is that it’s really just “travel” health insurance. So it covers injury or illness, but not broader health/wellness issues like pregnancy, ongoing conditions, etc. The US health care system is such that providing meaningful health coverage for APs would be cost-prohibitive for most HFs.

OpinionatedHM June 6, 2014 at 10:14 am

I imagine this is a State Department requirement to prevent women from applying to be AP’s, coming to America while pregnant or with the intent to become pregnant, then having the baby here in the US, thus obtaining citizenship for the baby born on US soil and possibly securing legal status for herself as sole provider for the baby.

TexasHM June 6, 2014 at 10:29 am

exaupair – the point missed here is that if you make that decision thats solely your own – getting pregnant – there are consequences – losing your visa status. Its something every AP knows and agrees to in the terms of their contract so if they don’t like that, they shouldn’t join the program. I think the thing missed in a lot of these comments (bracing myself now) is that APs are not US citizens. US citizens have the right to get pregnant and stay here, to have at-will employment and look for another job while employed. Au pairs DO NOT. It is illegal AND/or in violation of their visa. Au pairs sign a contract to join a very specific program. They agree to care for children and attend college courses on an exchange visa that does not allow them to seek other employment PERIOD. It also does not allow them to overstay their visa – ILLEGAL, leave the AP program without returning to their home country immediately (there is no travel month if you terminate early APs – first year or extension year it doesn’t matter, if you quit you are to leave the country immediately or you are in violation of your visa terms), and for a million reasons we don’t need to explore here, they can’t be pregnant and continue to be an AP (not for ability reasons to be debated, but because thats a program rule). Every year I hear about how it gets harder and harder for some AP candidates to get visas (guess where I hear about all the time? BRAZIL!) and the reason it gets harder is because these visas are tracked and they look and see how many APs complete their terms and return home (which is the agreement for getting the visa in the first place). Now if au pairs would apply for fiancé visas, go home and come back on that to get married then future APs would not be harmed but thats not what most APs do. I realize its more expensive and its inconvenient but that is the proper process. Your AP visa would show as completed, future candidates would not be negatively impacted and you still get to marry your guy and live happily ever after. Plus you get to visit your family and maybe even get them tourist visas to come to your wedding instead of like AP above, violating your visa and then they can’t even come to your wedding! At the end of the day, the State Dept looks at reports that say # of AP from Brazil that came (these numbers made up) – 489, number that completed the program – 312, thats 177 illegal immigrations (doesn’t matter if you go to the courthouse ladies while you are on an AP visa – a completion is you return home at term end) and that my friends is why every year the State Dept tries to kill the AP program for good. Ive said on here before I wish there were LEGAL, clearer ways for awesome APs to stay longer (extend as long as they are successful until they turn 28? – same family or otherwise) but as it stands right now, the program rules are the program rules. Sorry for the rant tangent but I myself, had a brazilian (doesn’t matter) AP get married and end early and she frankly didn’t care that she was breaking the rules because it was what she wanted to do and our subsequent awesome Brazilian AP almost didn’t get a visa because of the number of illegal immigrations from Brazil that year!

Should be working June 6, 2014 at 12:00 pm

The no-pregnancy visa rule sounds like it’s waiting for a lawsuit and personally I find it problematic and discriminatory. But it’s the rule for now.

Seattle Mom June 6, 2014 at 3:58 pm

It’s a similar rule for peace corps volunteers- as soon as you are pregnant, you are shipped home. It may not always play out that way, but it’s the rule. So it’s not like the US government is discriminating against foreigners- they do the same thing to US citizens overseas.

Should be working June 6, 2014 at 10:21 am

Angie, what are your selection strategies? Maybe I’ve asked you this before, sorry, but I’m wanting to know what’s behind 7 successes

TexasHM June 6, 2014 at 10:48 am

OpinionatedHM you are dead right btw on your assessment of why pregnancy is not permitted for APs.

NoVA Twin Mom June 6, 2014 at 12:06 pm

And the “pregnancy ends your visa eligibility” requirement is not just for the au pair program. I had a high school exchange student from a country in the former Soviet Union who was told in no uncertain terms both before she arrived and at their first group meeting that if she got pregnant, she went home. End of story.

At 16 at the time, she hadn’t thought of this method of gaining US citizenship, but I daresay there were a few instances of this happening in the early years of the program

TexasHM June 6, 2014 at 12:44 pm

I’m not saying I agree or disagree with the rule, just what it is. The state dept is trying to prevent the AP program from being a loophole for illegal immigration and I have had more than one AP ask (not mine thankfully) if they get pregnant would that mean they could stay? If someone wants to get married to an American and have kiddos thats great! I just SO wish they would follow the rules and do it the right way so the AP program can continue and future AP candidates with the same dreams can have the opportunity to realize them.

Mimi June 6, 2014 at 2:30 pm

I would also imagine it’s a liability issue for the agency and HF as well.

Angie host mom June 6, 2014 at 3:58 pm

I don’t think it is anything magical in the selection process other than being clear about what we draw the line in the sand about before we even talk to the au pair candidate, and then sticking to it when they are here.

We demand honesty first and foremost. We are clear about this. We can, will, and have worked with the AP in just about every situation you can imagine them getting themselves into – but we can’t help if we don’t know. The AP needs to know they don’t need to be afraid of our reaction, or they will want to hide things.

Also, no guys in the house or around the kids. NO one in the house or around the kids without permission. Permission is pretty much always granted, but it needs to be asked first.

Lots of APs probably couldn’t live with these restrictions. If not, they self-select out of our pool, I’m assuming.

With just about every au pair there has been at least one situation which COULD have been a nightmare and a rematch on one side or the other – but with honest communication we’ve been able to work through them.

WarmStateMomma June 5, 2014 at 10:52 pm

This sneaking out suggests to me that the AP is ashamed of her behavior, like the AP in the original post. Unless an AP is afraid of her HF, I just can’t understand this. APs are too old to run away from home.

HRHM June 6, 2014 at 12:24 am

All the agencies require the AP to be unmarried, no children and not pregnant. Any one of these things is consider a breach of contract and voids the agency’s sponsorship of the J-1 visa, leaving her visa-less and subject to deportation immediately. And, just because you elope with a US citizen, doesn’t mean you get to stay here automatically. There is an application to be made and the process takes time, so from an immigration standpoint, ones pregnant newly married former AP is at that point required by law to return to her home country and make application from there…

exaupair June 6, 2014 at 1:07 pm

@TexasHM, I absolutely get it, rules are rules, but I wish the J-1 Visa rules were less derogatory to be honest.
I can understand why APs have to be single and cannot have dependents, for starters it would be extremely hard to solve logistically for them to travel to the US, plus I can’t see a HF, who would agree to host and AP whose 2 own kids would have to come along (just as an example…), but the no pregnancy rule is nothing but humiliating.
The immigration department might as well go all the way and ask them to provide a proof of IUD inserted as a condition to apply. Because why not, equal treatment has already been proved a fiction. :-(

By the way, and it’s a serious question, do potential APs have to be single i.e. never married? I was wondering if for example divorcees or widows can apply for the program? Not too many twenty-something year old widows out there, but it happens.

TexasHM June 6, 2014 at 2:21 pm

There are no pregnancy rules in other countries and jobs (my APs boyfriend is actually in an apprenticeship program in France and they are not allowed to be married or have kids or they get kicked out of the program). I realize its intrusive but you are making a decision to join the program. In doing so you agree to terms and they aren’t saying you can’t get pregnant, they are saying if you do you are no longer in the AP program and you return to your home country. If I want to go to the space station and they say I can’t get pregnant there or they bring me back to earth and I agree to that, I wouldn’t expect to get pregnant there and be able to stay and argue the rule. If I didn’t like or agree with the rule I wouldn’t go to space. If your situation changes thats fine, but don’t expect the same perks/benefits/visa.

Seattle Mom June 6, 2014 at 4:03 pm

I’ve already said this, but Peace Corps Volunteers are also not allowed to get pregnant or they get sent home. They can go home, have an abortion *on their own dime* and then come back if they want. Even if they were raped and got pregnant, their options remain the same. And this does happen!

Seattle Mom June 6, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Where does it say equal treatment? It doesn’t say that anywhere.

AussiePair June 6, 2014 at 8:38 pm

I think maybe this is a misconception coming from the meaning of the word au pair, “on par”. I know at least one agency that describes being an au pair as being “on par” or equal. However I’m sure this is intended to relate only to childcare duties, but perhaps some people are understanding it differently.

exaupair June 7, 2014 at 4:48 am

That’s the part I must have gotten wrong: on par = equal.

WarmStateMomma June 7, 2014 at 9:52 am

I think “on par” in this context means on par with the family. Not freedom from any kind of discrimination. HFs discriminate based on gender, nationality, language, etc., as do some APs.

FormerAuPairToBe June 6, 2014 at 12:15 pm

I want to remember that every coin has two sides, and I wanted to be able to share with you the point of view of the Au Pair. Which I think is at least a honest thing to do.
I just want to leave here, so everybody can see both sides and realize that not everything is the absolute truth. I do not know this Au Pair personally, or am friends with her, but the topic was commented on our Brazilian Au Pair Community, and she replied there.

” I always knew that the host family was a problem. I didn’t o into a rematch so I wouldn’t stay far from my boyfriend and friends. Btw, he’s not rich, his family is wealth but he’s been supporting himself since he was 21 years old. I don’t want to judge her mom skills, but for me she was lacking in that, always out and about during evenings, pratically seeing her kids on weekends. They never gave me a vacation after 1 year and 3 months working for them, the HM was frequently snooping around my room and private things, even printed my texts to take a good look at it. The kids are usually hard to handle because of the lack of parenting and support from their parents. Only God truly know all the bad stuff I’ve been through there. I’d already told them weeks before my departure. I was the 6th Au Pair after 5 consecutive rematchs, the only one that lasted that long… one day I just gave up on being a modern slave. I never knew they went to a funeral, I just decided to move while they were away because I could predict her reaction. Not even the agency stayed on her side, and she had to hire an Au Pair from another agency. Before leaving I sent her one e-mail and another one-week notice, she answered saying that if I didn’t go back to pick up my stuff, she would burn it.”

I hope CV Harquail (or who ever is approving those comments) let this one go through.

Emerald City HM June 6, 2014 at 12:50 pm

These au pairs aren’t the same. The HM says May of 2013, which was 1 year ago. The au pair in this post said 1 year 3 months.

NoVA Twin Mom June 6, 2014 at 1:26 pm

I was drafting while ECHM was posting, so I’ll freely admit if they’re different people that some of my comments below don’t apply – but for anyone reading along wondering about the au pair’s side, my comments about there actually being THREE sides to every story and that I’m so glad both sides have somewhere to vent still stand! :)

NoVA Twin Mom June 6, 2014 at 1:40 pm

Though now that I read it again, maybe there’s supposed to be a comma between one year and three months – that the au pair is claiming the HM didn’t give her a vacation after one year, AND three months in she was snooping? Again, I’m not saying what the au pair says is true, but if she’s emotional and communicating in a second language, run on sentences may make understanding what she’s saying difficult.

Emerald City HM June 6, 2014 at 1:45 pm

Ahh. Yes, I see that now. Maybe there is supposed to be a comma.

NJ Mama June 6, 2014 at 1:59 pm

You’re right about that. She was with us for a year b/c she came to us in rematch. So her extension time started in March, even though she came to us in May 2013.

Ugh I think it’s DEFINITELY time to move on. I’m done.

NoVA Twin Mom June 6, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Arguably, there are generally THREE sides to every story. In this case, they would be the scenario the OP gave us in the beginning, this perspective that is (most likely) the au pair’s perspective – and the truth. Which is generally somewhere in between.

Both the OP and (we think, though the evidence is pretty convincing at this point that it is) the au pair told us their sides of the story. We didn’t have the au pair’s perspective until now.

With apologies to the OP in advance (and the au pair if she’s reading), I’ll point out that both the OP and the au pair likely gave the information that each of them remember best, as well as the information that would paint each of them in the best light for their audience. They also both said some things due to high emotions/anger that they didn’t really mean. For example, while I can believe that someone would *threaten* to burn someone else’s belongings due to their anger and frustration at that moment, I doubt that the OP actually would have. And I doubt that the OP’s kids are as consistently awful as the au pair made them out to be if the au pair was willing to have one of the host kids be a flower girl in her wedding. (though I will admit that my own kids and family do have their moments :))

I also know that when emotions are running high – as they undoubtedly were for both the au pair and the OP, particularly with added emotional issues with the OP’s uncle passing away – communication becomes more difficult. It may be that the au pair thought she was telling the OP that she wanted to leave earlier, and the OP thought she was negotiating for a longer working period. But they were probably “talking past each other” – where both people think their point is made, but neither one really hears what the other is saying.

And I don’t think that what the au pair seems to think is her strongest point – that the au pair agency seemed to side with her because the family “had” to change agencies – is a strong point – because I’m guessing that the family would not have returned to that agency under any circumstance at this point, even if the agency would have taken them.

I think we can all agree that this didn’t go well. And I’m really happy that both parties had a group of sympathetic friends to vent to – the au pair had the Brazilian au pair group, and the OP had us.

exaupair June 6, 2014 at 1:25 pm

What the AP said sounds horrid, and I’m struggling to believe it’s about the same Host Mom.
If she was so mistreated why didn’t she move earlier, she would have breached her Visa rules either way.

NJ Mama June 6, 2014 at 1:56 pm

OK I will respond.
1) When she says I was “always out in the evenings,” she means I was working. I have a long commute and I am often not home until around 8 p.m. I am usually pretty tired when I get home so I rarely go out unless it’s to a meeting at school. But I almost always got home in time for her to go out at night.

2) Yes because of my long commute I do spend a lot of time with my kids on the weekends. This was a really nice arrangement for her, b/c she got most of her weekends off.

3) I asked several times if she wanted to take vacation and she never did. We give our au pairs lots of long weekends and time off for federal holidays and when the kids are off from school, so they get A LOT of extra time. And I had one au pair that never took a formal vacation because of it — and b/c she was saving for her big trip at the end. So I didn’t think much of it. Finally after she extended she asked if she could have some Fridays off to plan for the wedding and then take the last week off of her commitment for her wedding. And we immediately agreed. We started giving her Fridays off and continued to give her extra time off when we could (like spring break, President’s day, Valentine’s Day, and yes… Memorial Day weekend would have been a four-day weekend for her). It is not my fault she never took a formal vacation, but if she had asked we would have agreed.

4) I never snooped through her things, and I am not one to do nanny cams or GPS trackers. I trusted her, which was my mistake. When my daughters complained about the amount of texting, I mentioned something to her, and she said she was not texting any more than usual. IT was only a week later when we got an alert that we were close to surpassing our data– only then did I check. When I saw that she was the one responsible for possible data overage– and again, almost all during working hours — I checked and saw the number of texts and the time she was sending and receiving the texts, which was primarily during her working hours b/c the fiance works at a school. Dozens a day, hundreds a week, most to one number. I didn’t actually read her texts! But I told her that I knew she was texting a lot because I checked, and could she please stop? I told her I was really really trying very hard to end this on a good note, and that I needed her to do the same. She agreed. The next day we went to a funeral and she packed up and left.

5) My older daughter can be a challenge. She suffers from anxiety and has ADHD. That is not something I sugar coat, but it’s not like she’s completely out of control all the time either. We explained this in detail before match, and we work very hard with the au pair to support her when there were issues. The last difficult time she had with my older daughter was back in April (if there was something more recent she didn’t say) and it was one stressful day, not every single day. As for the flower girl daughter — she is incredibly easy and only complained when the au pair was too busy texting to play with her and yelled at her when she was doing her homework. My kids are good kids

6) Yes we went through a bad stretch with rematch — and that includes the one that got pregnant before she came, and one that was severely depressed and homesick. It was not a great track record but certainly not 5 out of 6 before she got here. (and before that terrible time we had two amazing au pairs, which is why we stuck it out.) I don’t hide from the facts — it’s something I’ve mentioned on this blog before — and I told her all about that before we matched. In retrospect I think we ran into problems with some I rushed into some of those rematches. I hope I learned from my mistakes.

7) She was not a modern slave. I asked her to do laundry and clean up after dinner. No vacuuming. No scrubbing toilets. No organizing the kids clothes. No cleaning the kids rooms. No cleaning the playroom when she had a light week. In fact, the kids put away their own clothes and clean their own rooms. She maybe worked one weekend every 3 months, an average of 30-35 hours a week. But whatev.

8) I don’t know why she would say she didn’t know we were at a funeral b/c I wrote on her weekly schedule I wasn’t sure what her hours would be that Friday because I was going to a funeral and I hadn’t yet decided whether to take the kids. I followed up with a text later that week that said, “We don’t need you to work on Friday because we are going to Pennsylvania to my uncle’s funeral.” He had been dying of cancer. It was not a secret.

9) I made the decision to leave my agency after interviewing au pairs from two agencies. I took my time and selected the person I thought was the best candidate–who happened to be with another agency. I didn’t always like the policies of my former agency (such as the refund/credit policy) or how they handled things, but my area directors were always top notch. And I would recommend them to anyone.

10) I can’t believe I have to answer to this but I would hope that if someone threatens to burn her stuff she’d call the police. so no — that didn’t happen. The email she sent to me was the one included in the post. That’s it. I answered her by saying please drop off the phone and the house keys and take your stuff. At the time I didn’t know she had already packed up b/c her door was close when we came home. It was only after she kept texting that she was coming but didn’t come that my kids opened the door and discovered that her stuff was gone, so it was obvious she wasn’t planning on staying another week.

What angers me the most is the impact all of this has had on my children, especially the youngest, with whom she was very close. I tried talking to her. I tried to be supportive, which is why I kept trying to accommodate her wishes to push her end date back. I asked her, “Are you unhappy? Is there something we can do to help?” If she felt all of those things that she wrote I wish she had said something to me or the agency. B/c if the agency wasn’t on my side as she said, then they would have taken hers. But they didn’t.

NoVA Twin Mom June 6, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Hugs. I’m still so sorry all of this happened to you.

NJ Mama June 6, 2014 at 2:58 pm

:) Thanks.

Host Mom X June 6, 2014 at 4:05 pm

I’ll only comment on one of your points, because it is something that niggles at me every now and again. (I am sorry for this experience as a whole, of course! We’ve been through a couple of re-matches, but nothing like this.)

The AP’s view of your late working hours and spending only weekends with the kids. I similarly have a job where I work very long hours, and my APs have always commented on this. Usually in sympathy, or to comment that the way people work in the U.S. is so different from their home country. (Except for our Japanese au pair! I think Japan is the only other country where people work crazier hours than in the U.S….) But I often notice the judgment. They see me walk in the door at or after the kids’ bedtime most nights, or even if I am working at home, they see that I can take very little time out of my working day to be with the kids. They also see that even on some weekends I am working. And sometimes I take a little bit of time out of those weekends to go out with HD (so, even less time with the kids). None of our APs have every voiced judgmental opinions to me directly, but I can tell that they think this way about me. I can’t say it doesn’t bother me. (And I am pretty sure that most of them would not have had the same judgmental attitude toward working hours had it been HD who was working those hours.)

NJ Mama June 6, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Host Mom X you are very right.

I think that point stung especially b/c I had confided to my former au pair how I wish I could be around the kids more. It’s a constant struggle! At the same time, after being out of work several years ago, I know I am very blessed to have a job and be able to provide for my family. But you are so right about cultural differences. Also, let’s face it: Until you have kids you really have no idea what it’s going to be like.

Seattle Mom June 6, 2014 at 5:19 pm

I had the same thought! I am lucky to be home for dinner most nights, and DH is usually home before dinner. But it seemed like a really insensitive complaint on the part of the AP, and culturally tone deaf as well.

WarmStateMomma June 6, 2014 at 11:01 pm

I worked long hours when AP#1 first arrived. Not as long as everyone else I know in my profession and not as many as I did pre-motherhood, but way longer than my AP expected. We later learned that the work day is only 6-7 hours in the AP’s home country – which works out to the same number of hours I now work every week on my part time schedule. And they get loads of loooong holidays – one is 3 weeks!

Depending on the AP’s frame of reference, she may not know what “full-time” means in the US and may not be able to distinguish between the extra time professionals put in from the 9-5 schedule of a staff person. AP#1 certainly wasn’t expecting to work year round and wondered when we were going to have holiday weeks, summer break, etc.

So I tried to ignore AP#1’s hurtful, judgmental comments about my hours because she didn’t know any better. But I probably rolled my eyes a few times….

Midwest Au pair June 7, 2014 at 12:27 am

First of all, I really don’t want to offend anyone,because I honestly think that my host parents do an amazing job with the kids when they are home. But I wonder about a few things. I come from a country where I sometimes worked up to 60h a week,so I wasn’t surprisedby full time. My hp work A LOT!! HD sometimes until 2am (I hear him coming home because I am above the garage) HMworks long hours to. Leaves the house before 6.30 (kids usually get up at 7.15) and sometimes doesn’t come home til 9 or 10. She complains A lot about not seeing the kids enough etc. She has a great job which she LOVES!! She wouldn’t need to work because HD has a even better job. She chooses to work. (Which is fine, I want to be a working mom someday as well) but why don’t you cut back on your career if you miss your kids so much? I know some can’t because of money issues etc. but I feel like my hm doesn’t just only work like crazy, she also volunteer for everything!!! She sometimes only sees the kids on the weekend.. I have them all week and they are SAD! I try to explain to them that they have to work in order to take care of them, but they miss them so much! Youngest is only 5! I just feel bad and sometimes think host parents want kids AND a great carrer.. But the years they miss, things the kids learn, like how to ride a bike, first tooth out etc will never come back.. I am honestly interested in your thoughts! And again, I don’t want to offend anyone! I respect all of you for being a working parent and to do the best for your kids.

AlwaysHopeful HM June 7, 2014 at 8:26 am

Midwest au pair, I think a lot of people who are not working moms share your confusion. I just have to start by saying that yes, I have to work, but I would do so even if I didnt have to for financial support. It is a part of who I am, and a part of what fulfills me as a person. I honestly believe that I am a better mom because I have this part of me that I nurture and allow to thrive. Im very proud of my acomplishments at work, and I hope family is too. Sure, I complain and feel sad about not having more time to spend with my son. I also lament not being able to put my all into my work the way I used to (pre-child). The nature of my careeer is such that I cant just cut back on my commitment to it and continue to find it rewarding (and available!). I dont have a “job”, I have a profession. They are very different things. If i only worked to pay the bills, maybe i would adjust in that way, but i would be miserable, which would certainly affect my son. As for volunteering, one of my big regrets is that I havent really devoted any time to volunteer work. I want very much to do it, both to give back to the world that has given so much to me, and to show my son what is truly important in life

Does my son feel sad that i’m not with him more? Yes, but he is secure in my love and well cared for, so I’m okay wIth it. And does my au pair think I’m neglecting my child to his detriment? Maybe, but it’s just the opinion of someone who is brand new to the adult world and hasn’t yet had the opportunity to walk in my shoes, so I’m okay with that, too!

WarmStateMomma June 7, 2014 at 9:21 am

@Midwest – the hours you describe sound terrible. Cutting back on your hours is not a choice offered in some professions; changing types of employment can be even more difficult. It took me a long time to be able to get a part time arrangement and I’m something of an anomaly among my colleagues. I really feel for them because it’s so hard to get a PT arrangement and leaving for a different job where you only work 40-50 hours a week is next to impossible depending on their area of expertise. People want to leave, but there’s nowhere to go. It’s an open secret in my industry.

hOstCDmom June 7, 2014 at 9:39 am

Midwest AP, thank you for posing your question respectfully. Since you seem sincere, I will try to offer some insight on the “doesn’t have to work” part. I won’t address the choice issue, which is very important, since Always Hopeful offered some great thoughts on that above, but rather the dollars and cents part of it.

Often the perspective that “HD (or HM) has a great job and HM (or HD) doesn’t have to work” is a very superficial judgment. It may well be that HD has an excellent, high paying, or very high paying, job. But, such situations are often like an iceberg. You only see part of the financial picture informing the HP’s financial choices and decisions.

HD and/or HM may have student debt. This is something non-Americans have trouble perceiving in its sheer magnitude. *Each* of HD and HM may have $250,000 (so $500,000+ total) in student loans that they are paying off and will be paying off until they are 50+ years old. Often folks who have great, high paying jobs, had to invest significant money in their education (undergraduate and graduate school) and may start out their careers with hundreds of thousands of debt in student loans. They *each* may be paying $2000-$3000+ per month in student loan debt. This would presumably be something an AP would not perceive.

Housing costs. Depending on where your HP live, they may have a mortgage (house loan) for $1,000,000+. And this could be for a modest 3 or 4 bed house in a regular neighborhood. This is certainly true in my area of the USA (New England near a large city). This could translate into a Mortgage of $7000-$10,000/month. There are also property taxes. Which in similarly expensive areas could be $2000+/month on top of the Mortgage.

Retirement savings. The USA does not have a pension system like many countries in which folks can count on money from the government to support them in retirement. They must save for their own retirement. Prudent people will try to save several thousand dollars per month, $3000/month would be a *starting point* using the annual amounts allowed in a special retirement account called a 401k, + another $500/month for an IRA, FOR EACH HOST PARENT. They need to save this, or more, in order to support themselves in retirement. Many Americans cannot do this, but if you have professional, educated HP with good jobs they have the best chance of doing this and they may the most likely to be doing this. Again, you would not see or know this as an AP.

College costs for children. College cost in the USA is astronomical. By way of example, I have 6 children. To put my 6 children through 4 years of college each, it will cost and estimated $2.1 MILLION. This number is realistic and calculated very precisely. In order to be able to do this I need to save *at least* $1000/child PER MONTH, EVERY YEAR from their year of birth. So, for me, that is $6000/month. And that might not be enough. Again, that is something and AP might not know about or see.

So, if you look at the foregoing, I have outlined costs in an amount of: $26,000/month for a hypothetical family with 3 children, student debt for professional/graduate degrees for the parents, living in the expensive Northeast of the United States in “hidden costs” ($6k student loans/mo; $8k mortgage; $2k property tax; $7k/mo retirement savings; $3k/month college savings).

That is $312,000 per year.

And that doesn’t account for any of the SUBSTANTIAL expenses you CAN see — food, medical costs, cars, heating, water, clothes, children’s activities, K-12 tuition, entertainment, computers, cell phones, lawn care, housekeeping, travel….

Thus, while I don’t know if you HM “has to work” or not, I think this illustrates why a family where HD makes $400,000/ year might have a HM who in fact “has to work”, even if it does not appear that way to the AP.

AlwaysHopeful HM June 7, 2014 at 10:24 am

Oh boy…now I feel like I need to get a second job! Lol

WarmStateMomma June 7, 2014 at 11:46 am

Unfortunately, HostcdMom is right about the large but invisible costs HFs have to include in their budget.

AussiePair June 7, 2014 at 10:55 pm

Not a HP, but working in childcare back home and talking to mums on why they return to work, another reason is that taking time off from having kids can severely damage your career prospects in the future, ionce the kids are grown. In certain fields and industries even just taking a year off can put you so behind when new developments are being made every day. Also it is often younger people who they can pay less who get jobs rather than older people, so the job may not even be there when the HP returns to work.

Another thing fwhat if god forbid something happened to one of the HPs and they could no longer work, not everyone has life insurance or work cover. Some people may have a dual income family simply so that they can continue to support their current lifestyle in the case that something terrible may happen to one parent of another.

Another thing, is for a woman to be a stay at home mom, she is giving up a LOT of her independence, what if she split from her husband and then had to go out and find a job. You’ll be hard pressed to find a decent paying job that will hire someone who has been out of work for however many years.

There are just so many reasons for HMs to work, and as au pairs, we need to respect their choices and try not to judge. All we need to do is trust that they are doing what they believe is best for their children, we can raise out own kids and live our own lives the way we want. We need to give our HMs the benefit of the doubt and let them do the same..

WarmStateMomma June 8, 2014 at 7:54 am

@AussiePair: I considered taking a year or two off, but it couldn’t be done for the exact reason you describe. I’d be lucky to make half as much if I returned to my profession.

hOstCDmom June 9, 2014 at 8:24 am

@AussieAu Pair – excellent points – thank you for making them!

exaupair June 10, 2014 at 6:54 am

You are so right about the judgmental attitude about the hrs US people spend at work. Many Europeans (people I know at least) think 45 hrs a week is outrageous. Although it really varies between different countries.
I’m a professional, after I moved to live with my partner I usually have to work 38-40 hrs a week, depending on the week and every five minutes overtime I do is being paid for accordingly.
I’m originally from Eastern Europe, in the first job in my profession I got while I was still studying I had to work up to 55 hrs a week plus I was constantly on call and barely had the time to study.
So not only US employees are overworked.

Taking a Computer Lunch June 10, 2014 at 10:01 pm

We had this issue with AP #1, who worked about 42.5 hours per week. She complained all the time that she was raising the kids, no matter that The Camel, who frequently woke up around 5:00 am, was fed breakfast and bathed by DH while I took an early exit to work, so I could work a full day and return by 4:15 so the AP could go to class or hang out with friends. I gave birth to the kids, so I felt it was my duty to cook them dinner, feed them and get them ready for bed after getting up at 4:30 am. Exhaustion was just part of the mom thing. However, if I had been more alert, I should have replied, “I work so I can pay your salary. Would you rather that I quit?”

DH and I still tag-team parent. He’s home in the AM until child #1 heads out to school (and works from home a couple of days a week). I return most days by 5:00, although now that my kids are teenagers, my boss pressures me to work evenings from time-to-time. So be it, that’s why I’ve been paying for an AP for the past 13 1/4 years!

I will say that DH has never gotten flack from any AP about his schedule. He gets bonus points because he still changes The Camel’s diapers, bathes her and feeds her.

Angie host mom June 6, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Bwaa haaa haa haaa haaa

What a bad joke of an “other side.” This is the best excuse she can come up with? – it was horrible – so she extended – then she got sick of it and quit via email with a week notice because she was too chicken to face the HM.

That’s the “other side” – then OP has my full sympathy, and any future APs looking at this AP’s post with sympathy needs to mature enough to read the “facts” that are claimed and not the self-justifying sentimental feelings.

WarmStateMomma June 6, 2014 at 10:42 pm


Always Hopeful HM June 7, 2014 at 8:48 am

+1 for me also! I’m really glad to hear the “other side of the coin” because in my mind I was giving the au pair far more benefit of the doubt that she appears to deserve, based on her own explanation!

TexasHM June 6, 2014 at 1:59 pm

So I can speak to one of the points because I was involved and know its not true – the OP did switch agencies but not because of “sides” it was because she did not like the way previous rematches were handled and felt like their screening was lax, she contacted me originally because she was interested in Interexchange and wanted to ask me more about my experience (I also switched from a large agency) and I answered her questions and she spoke with Interexchange and looked at their candidates and felt like they were a better fit (Interexchange) on all fronts so they switched. The OP has emails from the agency where it is clear the agency was taking a hard line with the AP and supporting the HF so I don’t think the AP coloring why the HF switched agencies is fair. I know emotions are high and there are two sides at least to every story but the agency being on the side of an AP quitting and living illegally here is quite frankly, ridiculous.
As far as knowing there were problems and extending to be closer to boyfriend thats obviously the wrong reason to extend and making a poor decision doesn’t change the fact that an extension was asked for and agreed upon and that the end date was revised and agreed upon multiple times for the benefit of the AP and that was still not honored.
As far as the vacation the OP mentioned that AP had not taken her vacation and she had been concerned that AP didn’t take vacation so if the AP didn’t ask for vacation (I don’t know I am asking) thats not the HP fault. I tend to try to MAKE our APs take vacation if they haven’t personally but if an AP doesn’t take vacation I personally don’t think thats on the HPs unless they denied vacations in which case you don’t extend and get your LC involved.
I think its key she says “another one week notice”. As in she gave notice more than once which confirms story. I feel bad for both sides I really do. I feel really bad that this AP judged their parenting. I think there are lots of hardworking parents that unfortunately largely see their kids on the weekends and I know this OP loves her children very very much and loved this au pair and thats part of why this hurts so much. Bummer all around. :(

Mimi June 6, 2014 at 2:06 pm

NJmama, what put her into rematch before she got to you?

NJ Mama June 6, 2014 at 2:44 pm

She said she was with a single mom who didn’t discipline her child very well, and the child physically hurt her. She has a scar on her wrist that she said she got from the child. She also said the single mom didn’t have a set schedule so she didn’t know what her hours were, and that she didn’t always pay her.

The reason I matched with her is because after I explained about my older daughter, right away she looked for ways to bond with her. After a couple of rematches I didn’t want to be burned again, and so I spent a very long time on this. I guess you could say I used the “dare to match” technique before I knew what that was.

I don’t know what the other side of the story was to her rematch. Her area director had a different twist and denied many of the things the au pair said. The au pair said her former host mom and area director were good friends, and the area director took the former host mom’s side. The agency is not one that lets you interview host parents during rematches.

I guess after going through several rematches (including one in which a former rematch au pair spread terrible lies about our family — naming my kids on a closed Facebook site, and trashing us to each future au pair) I really learned to almost take what both sides said with a grain of salt, as I hoped she would. Yes it was info that I took in, but I also realized we were both trying to start from a clean slate. And so my main focus was, is this an au pair who can be patient with my daughter? or she going to come and within two weeks start complaining that my daughter hurts her feelings? because that was the line they all used. My main focus was on whether she would be good for my kids and whether she really wanted to match with us and not just move close to the beach and NYC.

I do know that she seemed happy when she got here. She enjoyed going out and she enjoyed our town and she made lots of friends. And we were thrilled when she taught my older daughter how to play guitar and worked so hard to bond with both children. And as I’ve said before, she was a really good au pair for a very long time. I am sorry it ended the way it did.

Mimi June 6, 2014 at 3:54 pm

There is definitely more than one side to every story as someone put it earlier in this thread. I’d add to that by saying that not everyone is able or willing to own up to the mistakes they have made in a bad situation. Many people find it easier to blame others for a bad outcome and will often realize later (or not at all) how their own behavior contributed to said outcome.

When you factor in cultural differences and age, it’s not surprising that we have differing opinions here on many topics and who merits what blame. I know this goes back to the stereotyping we talk about on here, but I can’t help but think that both played a big part in all this and I personally think that the AP’s after-the-fact portrayal of the situation isn’t going to be as accurate as it could be for all those reasons, especially after hearing her version of her previous family rematch situation didn’t match the agency version. I also think that saving face and Brazilian ‘jeitinho’ (finding any way) played a big part here.

NJmama has been pretty upfront about her side but I’m sure that there were missteps she made along the way. She’s going to rationalize the parts that the AP felt were outrageous. That’s not a good or bad thing. Maybe her daughter is worse than she realizes. Again, it is what it is (and please don’t take offense to that NJmama—we all know we see our kids differently than others do). Since many of us identify with her frame of reference, it’s easy to understand where’s she’s coming from and empathize but neither side should invest more time or energy into defending themselves.

The big takeaway here is that situations like this happen and we can all benefit from some of the basic lessons it provides:
-Even the best AP makes mistakes. (I think I’ve written this at least five times in different threads here…) Ditto for HMs.
-Even if you think you’re doing all you can in a situation to make everyone happy, it could fall apart for any reason.
-When things go bad, they can snowball very fast. Or they can become the frog in the pot on slow boil. You might not know which you are until you’re in it deep. So…
-Having a back-up plan is really important, even when things are good.
-You might have a bad AP situation for whatever reason, but someone might just have it worse.
-Eventually, “anger is just wasted energy” and you have to move on.
-All MILs are evil manipulative trolls. :) (I kid… Mostly…)

Angie host mom June 6, 2014 at 6:42 pm

Can I add one?

Make a conscious effort to react calmly and in a problem solving manner when bad things happen with your AP….your kids are watching, even when they aren’t. As important as it is for your AP to feel like they can tell you about their screw-ups, it’s more important for your kids to feel that way.

As I’m writing this, I’m realizing that I’m screwing up – I’ve been harping on current AP the last couple of weeks for a string of minor screwups (the kind that ruin food, break small appliances and waste cash, not the kind that endanger children) and am going to make a conscious effort to tone down the irritation that has been sneaking out.

PS My MIL rocks.

Seattle Mom June 6, 2014 at 4:24 pm

What a crazy mess that was!

Good luck with the next Au Pair, I hope things go much better.

I also had an AP who never wanted to commit to a vacation, so we just planned our vacations (without her) and said “This is when you are on vacation.” She was fine with it. It hadn’t occurred to me that an unused vacation could be used against us, but we didn’t want to leave vacation hanging. All we need is for an AP to demand 2 weeks at the end of their time, when we really need them..

Taking a Computer Lunch June 10, 2014 at 9:37 pm

We state in writing that vacation time must be taking while the kids are in school. The other option is for the AP to choose not to join us on a school holiday trip – if she chooses not to re-organize the kids’ rooms and clean the playroom – then I charge her for time off. I do not charge holiday time against days during which she has a college class. Several APs had a tough time booking holidays. One year an AP took a week off during an extended-school-year/summer camp week. It cost me $500 to arrange for transportation and child care – plus the AP stipend. After that, I put my foot down. When an AP can’t come up with a plan to use her time off, I offer to do it for her- at my convenience (which means long weekends rather than a week off) – or I tell her she will be leaving a week early and I’ll pay for the time off as a vacation week. She usually comes up with a plan pronto.

TexasHM June 6, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Mimi – well said and I got a good laugh out of your final point!
I also wish (I know dreaming) that both HFs and APs would mediate and then execute on resolutions. Put the kids first. Help make transitions smooth. Be respectful and try to keep emotion in check. (Talking to HFs and APs.)
HFs – these are other people’s daughters and most are still finding their way in the world, and they often feel vulnerable as they are foreigners living in a strangers house halfway around the world. If they bring a concern to light no matter how small, discuss it and take it seriously and if its reasonable, be flexible. A happy AP = a happy home!
APs – remember that HFs are also vulnerable. They are handing over their most precious irreplaceable assets and opening their home to you which is a huge leap of faith/trust and if you violate that (hurt the kids in any way – emotionally, etc, talk trash about them around town or to neighbors or APs of their friends, etc) it has profound affects for them not only right now, but potentially years into the future or God forbid – lifelong.
Its not that HFs don’t want APs to get married or be happy. We would just appreciate as much advance notice as possible and being open and working together to create an exit plan that is a win for everyone. You finish early to start your new life, we can secure good childcare without having to make snap decisions under duress and the kids get a smoother transition of caregivers.
I know a lot of the pain here was the OP tried to do exactly this, agreed on a new plan multiple times but it wasn’t honored and kids were definitely impacted. So the win/win/win in this case became a win/lose/lose with both losses being on the side of the HF. Honestly if you moved out secretly how could she possibly believe you would finish another week when you had committed before and then changed that date already before?
I don’t think the AP is a bad person, its just like we tell our kids – I love you, but I dont love that behavior. :(

NJ Mama June 6, 2014 at 4:34 pm

Well said as always Texas HM.

And Mimi – if I could add to one of your points. Yes our children can be worse than we realize. But they also can be better than we expect. How many times has a teacher/coach/other parent come up to you and said, “I just adore your child! He/she does X,Y,Z! And it’s just wonderful.” And you look around and say, “Are you talking to me?” (or maybe the “are you talking to me?” line is something we just say here in NJ and NYC? lol!)

Mimi June 6, 2014 at 4:51 pm

No, we definitely say that here, too! I often think of one of my fav movies ‘Overboard’ and the line “my children may be rotten, but they’re MINE!” I know the apples didn’t fall from from this tree :)

Seattle Mom June 6, 2014 at 5:22 pm

So true!!!

I am reminded of when I went to talk to my kids’ preschool teachers during open school, and I mentioned to them how my younger DD (then 2 years old) was a very bad biter & hitter at home- she was ferociously attacking my older DD. And they were stunned. They had never seen any aggressive behavior from her, or anything that would suggest she was a biter/hitter. It made me feel a lot better :)

And for the record all of my APs love younger DD because she is so smart and funny.. she just drives us all up a wall (especially older DD, poor kid).

WarmStateMomma June 6, 2014 at 11:09 pm

This forum is like a support group for HMs. Sometimes we need constructive feedback; sometimes we just need to commiserate with other people who “get it.”

NJ Mama June 9, 2014 at 4:38 pm


Gianna June 7, 2014 at 3:47 pm

There’s one other version that hasn’t been posted and no else seems to have missed it .I am thinking of the boyfriend and his mother. As the mother of sons, I am hoping that I would have the good sense not to get involved in something like this although it is my instinct to do the Joan of Arc thing. He met her on the bus ( like a movie ) and now he is up to his nose in drama, about to marry someone whose own parents are very far away. This young lady is not in a position to support herself legally and she has perhaps jepardized her visa status. Now I understand why a nice young man would be easily taken in with a sad story from a lovely young girl about a wicked witch and her sad, neglected , difficult to manage children. He is probably just a nice boy with a good heart and a romantic streak. I imagine he has been telling his mother heartrending stories . But I am wondering why a mature woman (and her husband ) would not take all of this with a grain of salt and advise him to slow down. Since he cannnot pay for a lawyer himself, his parents do have some leverage. I think many aupairs would love to call it quits after a long day. On the other hand, maybe this aupair was encouraged by her boyfriend and his parents to walk out. Who knows ? One thought occurred to me. The email she sent her host mom seemed to me to use very sophisticated English. It did not seem to be written by the person. Like a college essay written by a coach. It is a great romantic fantasy to rescue someone and there are those among us who are kind hearted and not too practical. That is why it is important to hear all sides of a story – hardly ever possible.

WarmStateMomma June 8, 2014 at 7:50 am

The AP and her fiancé will be cleaning this mess up for a long time. I can’t imagine not being able to work for so long. If she does work under the table and doesn’t report the income, she can add tax fraud to her list of problems.

exaupair June 9, 2014 at 1:32 pm

If she works illegally and is paid cash in hand she won’t be found out unless someone reports her end of. No one would have done it because only her and the person who pays her would know. If her “employer” tried to grass she could have easily reported them for employing a person who can’t legally work, therefor both of them would keep their mouths shut. She wouldn’t have been the first, and certainly not the last to have done it this way.

WarmStateMomma June 9, 2014 at 2:09 pm

You’re right, but she and the husband will be required to lie on their federal taxes and on the visa/citizenship paperwork. All federal crimes for the AP, husband and employer. I don’t know what the risk is of being found out, but the wages you’d get as an illegal nanny without a reference wouldn’t be worth it to me.

WestMom June 9, 2014 at 2:15 pm

As an alien who went through many hoops to go from student visa, to H1 to green card, I’d warn anyone who wants to permanently immigrate to the USA to play by the book. It’s not worth taking the chance of being caught, denied, and possibly deported or refused future entry…

Angie host mom June 9, 2014 at 3:45 pm

She will be found out if anyone reports her. There actually is a bounty paid by the IRS for reporting folks who don’t pay taxes, a percentage of what they collect from the tax cheat.

She’ll also be found out if she has any large cash transactions – reported to the IRS by the bank by law – or if her bank just decides to report her because they think she is suspicious.

People do take cash and not report it, we don’t play that way. It’s a crime, and not a victimless one – we don’t have a huge national VAT that pays the country’s bills, we use income tax for it.

HM in SoCal June 9, 2014 at 12:23 pm

In the au pair post, it is interesting that she used the modern day slave term. All the au pairs in our local area call themselves this as well. I heard my former au pair make this comment to her friends and I asked her what she meant by that. Her comment was that they do all the cleaning and taking care of the children like a slave would for low amounts of money. This was my second/third hint we had a problem. We did end up rematching the next month and her new family rematched a month later with her as well. It is really a shame how this term is being used. When I discussed it with my former au pair, I explained that I was disappointed to hear her use this term. We tried to provide a very nice living condition and a lot of opportunities to do fun things in the area that we paid for (like surfing lessons, bartending classes, and physical trainer cert) and we were fine with the 2 hour nap she took daily while the baby slept as long as she completed the basic clean up required each day(sweep the floor, clear the lunch dishes and have the kids pick up there toys). Unfortunately, this experience and the rematch au pair we got after this made us take a break with au pairs. My husband refuses to deal with another one after the two previously experiences and is much happier with the college student who is nannying for us now. Has anyone else heard au pairs use this term?

WarmStateMomma June 9, 2014 at 1:18 pm

That’s really hurtful. She chose to be an AP and she can return home or rematch if she’s unhappy.

For context on other one-year guest-worker type programs in the US:

A distant relative of mine came to the US from Scandinavia to work in a theme park and was required to live 2-bedroom corporate-owned apartments with 3 other girls. She was not allowed to have visitors at any time anywhere at the apartment complex, including female relatives. The theme park deducted the cost of this housing and other fees such as mandatory union dues, and gave her the remaining $65/week to feed herself and cover other life necessities. She was required to work 60+ hours a week (yes, the $65 net take-home was for working 60+ hours), felt exploited, and left before her year was up – meaning she had to pay for her return ticket.

exaupair June 9, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Sounds dodgy from the very beginning. Two bedroom apartment for 4 girls including her?? I sense the smell of a refugee camp to be honest. I would never agree to live in a flat where I would have to share a bedroom.

WarmStateMomma June 9, 2014 at 2:13 pm

The complex looked nice enough from the outside, but I won’t give the benefit of the doubt to a company that won’t let an American visitor in under any circumstances. It feels more like “lockdown” for inmates than “security” for residents. We gave her a TV to use in her apartment and they wouldn’t even let me drive it to her building. She had to carry it from the gate to her building.

HRHM June 9, 2014 at 2:28 pm

This is actually very much the typical housing set up for the summer/guest worker visa programs. From Disney to the Jersey shore, they import foreign “exchange workers” who are paid minimum wage to work at theme parks, summer camps and boardwalk ride venues. They are placed 2 people per sleeping space (same gender) and not always in the most well-maintained places. They are charged for their rent – sometimes fairly, often borderline rates. They have minimal cash left over and most can barely live on what they earn and have some money they brought with them to supplement. They aren’t doing it for the money, but rather for the chance to leave their home country and spend 3-6 months living at Disneyworld or Seaside Heights or VA Beach and party in the US. Most realize in advance what the trade off is, some I’m sure do not. Most of them come from poorer families in countries where the economy is not so great (lots of Russians and Ukrainians work the boardwalk) These are generally not well educated middle class kids who are looking to better their job prospects at home…

WarmStateMomma June 9, 2014 at 2:58 pm

My relative and her 2 besties signed up thinking it was going to be a party year where they’d also perfect their English. They didn’t have time/energy for partying with the hours they worked and it cost too much for them to stay on. They all bailed around 7-8 months into the year and said some other girls from their country did as well. They were pretty depressed with the experience, especially because the US college kids on the same program (incorrectly called an “internship” program) lived in the next complex, got to keep more $$, and were allowed to have visitors and other freedoms. All of these jobs are the same kinds of jobs the local high school kids work – so they’re no-skill and wouldn’t count as an “internship” or other professional experience.

At least one of the theme parks recruits from Scandinavia, Western Europe and Japan in addition to developing countries.

Multitasking Host Mom June 9, 2014 at 5:34 pm

So they just wanted to party, and they dropped out when it was an actual job ….I can see why it didn’t work out for them. I actually spent a summer working at Disney World in college. It was a lot of fun! It was all college or high school students working their summer jobs. We road space mountain on our lunch break, and partied at pleasure island at night. Yes, it was a lot of work, but I was used to working a fulltime job in the summer. Yes, we were in a building similar to a college dorm with 2 people to a room, and yes, due to the rent they took out and the fact that I only made a little bit more than minimum wage, I made no money during those few months. I actually had to get another job during the school year that next year, since I had to earn my own spending money. But I would do it again in a heartbeat, if I could be magically age 20 again with no mortgage, kids, and real world responsibilities. But I think the difference here than in the above mentioned scenario is I knew what I was getting into, and I went into the situation with realistic expectations. And I am sure my experience was different than someone coming from another country who truly needed the money, or didn’t know what the job would be like.

AlwaysHopeful HM June 9, 2014 at 5:54 pm

I can’t imagine wanting to work in an amusement park. I get exhausted just imagining how tough the job would be! Similar to working on a cruise ship, another job with conditions I could not take. But, i’m not 20 with boundless energy and no other responsibilities. Sleeping 2 to a room doesn’t sound barbaric to me– it’s similar to a dorm room, and it sounds like these folks are college age. Not allowing US visitors is weird, but maybe there’s some visa-related reason? (Not sure what it would be).

Angie host mom June 9, 2014 at 2:30 pm

I don’t want anyone with my children who doesn’t want to be with them. I’ve never heard the modern day slave term before, if I heard it from my au pair I would be in rematch.

AlwaysHopeful HM June 9, 2014 at 5:37 pm

I think it’s just a term people toss around to mean they’re overworked and underpaid. I don’t think they intend to apply its full meaning. I’ve heard it used in non au pair contexts as well. It’s not pleasant, but I wouldn’t take it personally, or too seriously, especially if many of her friends use the same term.

Angie host mom June 9, 2014 at 6:16 pm

I can handle an au pair that crashes the car easier than an au pair that feels overworked and underpaid. There are driving lessons, but there aren’t attitude lessons!

AlwaysHopeful HM June 9, 2014 at 6:57 pm

I agree, if the feeling is persistent and/or overwhelming. But in some cases, it may be just a way of blowing off steam. I certainly feel overworked and underpaid sometimes, and commiserate with my peers, but I do love my job–even after nearly 20 years!

Angie host mom June 9, 2014 at 7:58 pm

Fair enough, I sounded harsh, I just meant that if an au pair really felt like she was overworked/underpaid and complained she felt like a slave I certainly wouldn’t keep her against her will!

spanishaupair June 9, 2014 at 8:00 pm

I have heard quite often “my hf treats me like a slave” and have said it sometimes myself after being overworked and no im not spoiled or inmature but working 24 hours on a row or more, yeah u get to sleep but minding young kids makes it a bit not good sleep, because parents dont fancy coming home after partying and what you get is bad faces and not even a thanks u feel like that. In USA its illegal but sadly in europe quite often for most hf aupair is really cheap nanny and housekeeper all in one, because all fees they pay is 45 euros on a website and very little money.

exaupair June 10, 2014 at 7:06 am

@spanishaupair, this is why I didn’t go with an agency, when there’s no one above it’s pretty much your game and your rules, at least for me it was. If someone tries to abuse your rights, withholds your cash, wants you to work 24/7 and the like you can just leave within few hours without a risk of loosing your agency fees and the like.
The bottom line is that people will be treated like slaves only if they allow it.

london Mum June 10, 2014 at 11:09 am

Spanishaupair – I am a European mum and I would never “not come home after partying” and I don’t expect my AP to work “like a slave”. I think maybe you have had a really bad experience and an unappreciative family. My AP works 23 hours per week, only does 2 kids laundry and hoover and mop downstairs once a week, we pay her £110 and she says she is much better off than some of her AP friends. After all my bills, I don’t have £110 per week to spend on myself! I am always home by 6pm, put the kids to bed myself, yes, sometimes if we are going out early she puts them to bed but this is very rare. She does babysit twice a week but often uses these evenings to get her friends round and they cook a nice meal to share or watch a film together, so its not “slave labour” and she has a good time.

I am aware, because the lack of a necessity for a visa and the fact that there is no need for the AP to formally study, some people may think of this as “cheap labour” but most HFs don’t. I prefer an AP because my kids have consistency with 1 person, if they are tired after school they can choose to just go home and chill out rather than have to participate in kids clubs activities. The AP knows them really well and can read their needs, understands what specific help they need with homework and has the time to listen to them if they have an issue they bring home from school. They build a strong bond of affection and trust and I also know that the person looking after my kids is giving them her full time and attention.

Yes, it also gives me the freedom to leave for work with no stress about having to get kids ready and do drop off before work (although my oldest goes to a special school and I get up early to get him ready for school when AP is still in bed! – my choice as I think it is nice for his mum to get him up and I’m lucky that my work allows me to do that). And yes, it allows me and HD to go out twice a week but AP also goes out a lot, is free from Thursday – Monday morning. Her friends and family can come and visit – so far she has had 3 lots of people come to visit this year. She can also use our home to host evenings with her friends, and has me and HD to chat to and confide in with any concerns she has about life in general. This happens A LOT, some APs are growing as adults during the year and will often discuss things with us rather than their own parents and I hope one day my kids will have adults they can trust enough to do this with. We are her “safety net”, friend, and if she needs it – mentor, guide and counsellor throughout her year.

spanishaupair June 10, 2014 at 3:03 pm

You sound like really nice people and happy to hear u treat well your aupairs. I know there are good families i have been in a really good one in Cambridge.
Sadly lots of my friends finish doing things like this, i dont mean often but one time is more than you should do.
Exaupair i didnt use agency neither, i found by facebook.
I have to say they are not so bad apart from that 15 or even 24 hours on a row and more here and there, there is much worse families i dont do housework at all, usually 2 days off what is a must in Ireland and they are flexible.

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