When Host Moms Need Support and Not Just Advice

by cv harquail on November 23, 2013

AuPairMom gets two kinds of emails– emails asking for advice on how or what to do, and emails asking for support in just dealing with whatever is happening.

Interestingly, every email we get is BOTH of those types.

3570063319_dd77cbf29eSometimes we know what we need to do. For example, almost every email asking ‘Should we go into rematch?’ already knows the answer is “Yes”. They usually want a reminder of what to do, but are most in need of support for doing it.

What does it mean, though, to give each other support?

Do we comment “Yes, that situation obviously stinks” or “That behavior is clearly out of line”? Is that enough?

I know that when I get emails from au pairs asking questions that I can clearly not answer (Like, what are the laws in Spain about vacation days for au pairs?) what these au pairs really want to know is that someone heard them. But is that enough? And how do I know?

The email below is a great example of an email asking for both support and advice. This one comes from a host mom who’s been active on the blog for years and years. She knows as much as there is to know from what we’ve all shared on this blog.  She’s offered some marvelously wise advice to many of us.

And still, she’s in need of some help.    Let’s see what we can do:

Dear AuPairMom–

I have three kids (9, 7 and 3) and I am expecting a fourth in three weeks. Our au pair, second this year, decided to leave us. The first one this year was with us for two and a half months, but she was not a good fit and not good with children so we were relieved when she asked for a rematch. This one is with us for a month and a half and we like her but she feels she is not coping. We did mediation and all kinds of help but the rematch is going to happen.

I need help! Not to mention that I need someone in my home in case I go into labor at night and my husband has to take me to the hospital (with 4th kid you cannot procrastinate and have to go pretty much immediately). We recently moved so we don’t have many friends here yet, have no family nearby and no other options than to take all kids with us to the hospital… Not to mention that I could use help during recovery from childbirth, big time.

I know we are hard to match. Number of kids, non mainstream practicing religion, modest home under renovations, no weekly cleaner/maid… But we are a warm family that so many au pairs are looking for – can someone explain to them that a warm family usually doesn’t come with luxurious accommodations and servants? We treat our au pairs like gold. I cook and serve  delicious dinners every night… They always have access to a car.

I need support and advice from other moms how to ensure a successful match.

I cannot handle another rematch this year, with the newborn, going back to work, etc… I am now with one of the largest agencies, and when we were in rematch two months ago, even though they had plenty of au pairs in rematch, they told us none was suitable for us (i.e. none could handle that many kids and those ages… those were reasons the girls were in rematch). So the advice of interviewing a local rematch au pair in person may not work, but any kind of advice, support and help is welcome .


What do we do as an online community that feels like real help for the host parents who email with dilemmas?

Is there more that we could do, or something we could do better?


Should be working November 23, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Shucks, for one of the aupairmom.com regulars, I would absolutely volunteer to take the 3 kids while she goes to the hospital to have her baby! CV, you know my coordinates and on the off chance she’s in my area, let me know. But I guess that’s not the kind of support that will be very likely.

If this experienced HM has the energy to look briskly at AP candidates, and perhaps has earned some “cred” with her agency, maybe she could enlist the placement manager’s VERY ACTIVE help in suggesting candidates currently in rematch for reasons unrelated to childcare or modest HF conditions, who grew up in large families. I don’t see how an out-of-country AP could otherwise start soon enough to be the go-to person for the birth, and the startup period is anyway way too iffy to have amid a birth. Some HMs swear by candidates coming out of rematch, and if they do come from a cold HF they might be very receptive to this offer.

Otherwise I might suggest a different solution for 6 months or so: a nanny or babysitter from a local childcare agency? Then there would be an ADULT, trained and ready to go (in principle), on whom this HM could rely. APs do require more attention and startup, I believe. And with an AP you are responsible for them having a good experience, sort of, whereas with an agency nanny/babysitter, they are really just there for you. That sounds like what you need. Focus on your 3 and get ready for the one to come. Let a nanny agency do the rest for now.

NHM November 23, 2013 at 2:53 pm


I have been in a similar situation (minus the AuPair issue) … with the three older kids my guess is that they are in school/preschool? Parents of other kids in the class/school may be very willing to help out. I have watched other people’s kids while they were in the hospital and a neighbor came over during the night when I had to leave to give birth to my littlest one. Chatting with other parents might resolve the immediate need to cover the night/hospital issue. It seems that we are always willing to help out in those kinds of situation as we all understand them well.
As to the rematch issue … I hope you find a good rematch AuPair.

Momma Gadget November 23, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Ugh! That is a lot to handle all at once! I live far from my family, and the HDs family is basically useless any time we need help. ( though we are always the first to help out when the roles are reversed)

Obviously your immediate concern is childcare coverage while you are laboring and delivering another (no doubt!) lovely child.

Is there any way you can talk your current AP into sticking it out for another month, given the circumstances? Offering to do all in your power to help her find another family once this crunch is over? Surely this would give her “brownie” points with the LCC/ Agency too for having the conscience to help out her current family, even though it isn’t her idea situation.

Give both your LCC and the home office a kick in the pants. They should be going out of their way to help you find a replacement. We have had great experiences with rematch and extending APs who have come from more luxurious situations to us… We may be a bit crazy, but we are foremost a caring loving family. Maybe there is a rematch situation where the AP needs to be housed while trying to find another family-even if they aren’t perfect for you, at least there would be a (grateful) adult there to look after the kids while you are in the hospital.

You mentioned you are active in a non-traditional religion- is there any help to be found there?

I would also make an effort to reach out to your neighbors…introduce yourself, explain your situation, bake them a cake whatever… most community members will step up to the plate when there are neighbors in need. If you go into labor in the night You’ll want someone close by ( if not in house).

Once that is covered, Can you use use before/aftercare at school ( before school closes for holidays) for the older children, and get a baby sitter/ daycare for the toddler? Maybe your neighbors know of college students who are returning home for the holidays who are looking for babysitting gigs. As others have mentioned you may temporarily have to use a nanny/ babysitting service until the right AP can come to you.

We are fiercely independent people. We prefer to “handle” what ever comes our way ourselves… But sometimes it is just too much, and it is necessary, for the welfare of the whole family, to ASK for help. If the situation were reversed wouldn’t you help a new family out if they reached out to you?

Good Luck!!!!

NoVA Twin Mom November 23, 2013 at 6:53 pm

OP – do you mind posting what area you’re in? Not an exact address to start, but a state or region? You might have virtual “au pair mom” friends in your area for more direct help, as SBW suggests. I’d also be willing to help out if it would be logistically possible. If nothing else, you might meet a friendly face in real life.

We were in rematch over the summer, and once the dust settled and we were welcoming our new (wonderful!) au pair, our LCC mentioned that there were weird things happening in rematch over the summer. We’re with APIA, and the “normal” summer trends in rematching – nationwide, according to her – weren’t what was happening. So if things have “normalized” by now, the rematch pool may look completely different than it did a few months ago.

Maybe feel out your LCC about what the rematch pool looks like. If nothing else, your LCC can probably tell you if there are any infant-qualified drivers out there, for instance. Or if there’s anyone in the rematch pool that they think could handle 3+ kids. Then you’d know what the pool really looks like now rather than what it looked like a few months ago.

Realizing that you’re a regular, you probably already know this, and I hate to rush you :), but if you’re going to pull the rematch trigger you probably want to do so soon – the rematch pool over the winter holidays is probably even slimmer than usual. Either that or wait until January – and that will likely be worse than being rushed now, because that would be after the baby arrives, right?

post author November 23, 2013 at 7:58 pm

Well, more bad news as if there could be even more – the agency decided to kick us out because they judged we provide an “unsuitable environment” to the au pair, having to do with messy house. No recourse, their judgement is final. Hello, I was on bedrest for the past two weeks (fine now), we are remodeling, and livable parts of the house are totally fine IMHO… Never in my time with them was any of this communicated to me, and now they claim they found history of this being the case.

I am in Maryland in suburban DC. Welcome fellow moms to my house to judge for yourself and just to visit. I am serious I need shoulder(s) to cry on. Two and a half weeks to go to Baby. Au pair is leaving in a week and a half. My parents are four hours away but they work full time. Neighbor suggestions are good but my hubby will never agree to leave kids alone with someone we barely know, at night. Moms in the religious community have young families themselves and I cannot ask them to get up at night and come to my home…

I think it is just a convenient way for the agency to get rid of a money losing family for them, and to get out of paying a full refund.

I am afraid to say more since I don’t want to be recognizable.

My husband is advising me to consult the lawyer since it may be a breach of contract on their part, not mine. The two au pairs provided to us this year definitely breached what they agreed to – with the first one she claimed she cannot/doesn’t want to take care of a baby (hello, infant qualified….) and both of them, having agreed and pretended to be excited about sharing in our religious holidays/food/etc. claimed a desire to go to a typical american family who “celebrates American holidays like Christmas”. The second one possibly just used us to get a visa here to reunite with her american boyfriend, who now proposed. The coordinator I suspect was sympathetic to their food “suffering” (I spend at least $1500 a month on a variety of healthy foods) and may have subtly displayed prejudice towards our practices.

I feel betrayed by the very people who were supposed to help – the au pair, the agency, the coordinator.

So far the plan is to consult a lawyer, to get a nanny for a while (until the kitchen remodel is done at least) and then to switch to another agency if I still feel like it. Maybe I can bring back one of my past great au pairs, her two years away will expire in the spring/summer and she will still be of the right age, and I will gladly pay her more, maybe I can lure her away from her job. She is not perfect but she loves my kids and loves and appreciates us.

Host Mom in the City November 24, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Are you willing to share the name of the agency? Curious which one would dump a family based on one-sided reports of unsuitable housing.

post author November 24, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Not in a public post, in private I would.
Her housing was totally suitable. No complaints about her room.

Dorsi November 24, 2013 at 10:07 pm

We have moved a lot and don’t have much of a ‘village’ — so I totally feel where you are coming from. However, I really question whether the moms of young kids would be unwilling to help out. I would be happy to help someone in your situation — I think most of us identify with how hard it would be. Even with my little kids at home, I would get up in the middle of the night and cover until a babysitter was available, if asked and if it worked with my work schedule. (I am in a different time zone than you, so this is theoretical, but I would encourage you to reach out to your religous community.)

Aupair09 November 24, 2013 at 4:44 am

First of all, I am so sorry you are in this situation! You have enough on your plate with a new baby coming soon plus 3 more kids and really shouldn’t have to deal with rematch. I think it’s sweet of the other moms on here to offer their help and it made me think of another idea.

Do you think one of your former aupairs could jump in and help out? Honestly, if my hostmum was in this situation and I didn’t have anything too important going on, I would get on the next plane over there to help out for a couple of weeks till they find a new aupair or get settled in!
A friend of mine actually did this last winter, when her hostfamily (with 4 kids) went into rematch and couldn’t find a replacement. She stayed with them for 3 months. I guess they were lucky that she was in between 2 jobs and was able to take the time off to come over. But you might be lucky too. Maybe one of your former aupairs has some vacation days left or is in university and will be on winter break soon anyway. Just wondering if this might be an option for you.

If not I think asking for help from your neighbors or other moms at your kids school is definitely an option. Honestly I’ve never met such nice and willing to help people like during my time in the US. That’s definitely not typical where I come from! When my hostmum was in Africa for 3 weeks working as a doctor and when she had to have surgery a couple of weeks later the moms in my kids school organized a cooking schedule where one parent would bring us lunch/dinner to school for me to take home, just to help us out. They also offered to take the kids on weekends or after school. They knew it would be a lot harder for us with one adult “down” in the family. I thought it was the sweetest thing.
And your situation calls for help way more than ours, considering my hostparents did have me as their aupair.

Good luck with everything!

WestMom November 24, 2013 at 8:12 am

So sorry about your situation. With everything else going, the rematch is the last thing you need but might be inevitable… I agree with one of the previous poster about trying to delay it as much as possible, at least until you have the baby and come home to recover.
We are lucky to have some resources here to help, but I just cannot get myself to ask… Could you fly a family member to come help you for a week or so until you get childcare sorted out? Inviting a past au pair idea is great! If I offered two of my past au pairs a free plane ticket to come visit (and help), they would be here within hours :)
Also, I would imagine that your 7 and 9yr old could sleep at friends for a few nights while you are at the hospital. You never know… Once you ask for help, people may surprise you with their generosity…

Host Mom in the City November 24, 2013 at 12:31 pm

OP, this is terrible. I can’t imagine having this much going on at once! To be totally honest, it sounds like welcoming another AP right now is not the best idea. Most candidates want a family that has the time and energy to welcome them and train them and make them feel supported, and unless you’re superwoman, I doubt you’ll have the time to spend on transitioning a new au pair (three kids, almost due with fourth, renovations, possible legal issues with agency, etc – you need hit-the-ground-running support, not an additional needy family member). It wouldn’t be fair to you, your family, or to the new au pair really.

I would second (third) the advice to set aside your pride and ASK people to help. Surely there is someone in your church who can support you? Is their a priest/pastor/rabbi/whatever equivalent who you could ask to put out a call? I can’t imagine a religious denomination that wouldn’t leap on this – with food, with babysitting, with someone more than willing to at least take one of the kids while you’re at the hospital. I’m sure you would do as much as you can for one of your friends/neighbors/church members as they will happily do for you.

I truly believe that au pairs are good only for a small portion of childcare seeking families – only those with the time and interest in putting so much into the cultural exchange side of the deal. It’s ok if your family isn’t at that point right now, no matter how successful you’ve been with the program in the past. There are many other solutions – older kids in before/after care, college sitter on winter break is perfect timing, nanny whose family is traveling over the holidays, any number of camps in the DC area that do winter break coverage, etc. findings new au pair and training here is way too much to take on right now when there are so many other options.

Best of luck to you and please keep us posted.

Momma Gadget November 24, 2013 at 12:45 pm

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do”-Eleanor Roosevelt

I am so sorry to hear of your further troubles- the insult added to injury by the AP agency.

I think you need to trust that you have moved into a “community” not just an “area”. ASK for help!… If you reach out to your neighbors/fellow parents now, they will not be complete strangers by the time you deliver.

Deep Breaths!
Good Luck!

Kelly Hand November 24, 2013 at 1:15 pm

For your middle of the night emergency need to go to the hospital, as well as for your possible eventual need of a nanny, you may want to sign up with a local nanny agency (White House Nannies covers the whole DC/MD/VA area, I think) as they also have on-call nannies. You could also look into getting a baby nurse. But obviously the birth is so soon that you don’t have a lot of time to plan. If you find any of the young moms in your religious community trustworthy, I honestly do not think they would see it as a huge imposition, as they know how tough the logistics are and would sympathize–and that is what communities are for. When my older daughter was under 3 and we had our second, a friend who also had an under 3 year old was happy to come over to our home at 5 a.m. Her partner brought her child over a few hours later when she had to go to work. Start talking about your dilemma at your religious gatherings and see if anyone offers–or just ask directly! If you had more time before your due date, I would have suggested that you could be a good candidate for a home birth if you did not have any complications with your other births. Birth Care in Alexandria has midwives that do home births, but it’s probably too late to sign on with them.

Should be working November 24, 2013 at 1:26 pm

I agree that your strong religious observance gives you a big advantage here–there must a community who actually cares and understands (I am guessing) big families and their needs. Someone must have a grandmother, aunt, 20-something, or someone who would be happy to help you out, or help their own family out while the mom comes for labor/delivery.

I also agree with HMitC that this is absolutely not the time for an au pair. You need someone ready to go, experienced, qualified, and for whose social/emotional/family life you are NOT responsible.

post author November 24, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Thank you for all the advice. I have hosted au pairs exclusively for so long that it is hard for me to think of stopping. But it looks like I will take a break at least until the baby is 2-3 months old and I am about to return to work. I will have time to train her while I am still home with the baby. My oldest two are in school from 8 to 3:30 daily, and I come home from work at 5 and let my au pair off. My three year old is in preschool part time. My oldest two can be very helpful too, and my very oldest takes care of herself with no burden to the au pair. So the au pair’s job is not as overwhelming as it sounds, it is not like I have multiples or a newborn/toddler/preschooler who are all home all day.
Childcare during the day is not so problematic; my husband works from home right now, he can see kids off to school, and put them in extended care if needed; and we can hire supplemental babysitters.
It was the case when I need him to be with me in childbirth – what to do with the kids.
But today two parents of the largest families, one with a newborn herself, and one experiencing a medical difficulty with one of their kids, that I couldn’t bring myself to ask, offered night help when I shared my situation.

Host Mom in the City November 24, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Awesome! This sounds more workable than trying a new au pair now. Hope it works out!

Multitasking Host Mom November 27, 2013 at 10:04 am

Glad to hear you found a solution. Isn’t it nice when people surprise you and step up to help!

Anon Host Mom November 24, 2013 at 7:12 pm

Have you thought about a Mormon nanny through one of those agencies? They certainly wouldn’t be overwhelmed by your children and would love to help with a new baby. You can find one quickly as well. Just a thought…

wasviv November 25, 2013 at 11:19 am

I would NOT recommend this route. We had a really horrible time with one of those agencies. Lack of professionalism and screening landed us with two placements in a row that both scarred our family (and I don’t say that lightly). I could say much, much more about this, but I will just say for now that our experience in the “mormon nanny” world was what sent us to au pairs, who have done much, much better for us.

Former GA Au Pair November 25, 2013 at 10:23 am

I don’t believe an Au Pair is the help you need right now.

I had a similar experience with my first host family, back in 2008. I was 18 years old, just graduated high school and was really excited with the Au Pair Program the Argentine agency sold me. By that time was around $2000 (excluding Visa paperwork) and sounded like a dream coming true! Live the american way of life, have your own car, bedroom and bathroom, be part of a family, practice you English, work flexible hours…

My first host family had 3 kids and a newborn. They just moved to a new city and did not have a lot of friends. They were building a new house, so for the year were 7 people living in a small two bedroom condo – can you imagine the whole family sleeping in one bedroom (the Au Pair needs to have a bedroom for herself)?

I stuck with my family for the year because I felt sorry for them and it was very frustrating for both parts, for several reasons. They were not a bad host family and we do have a great relationship nowadays, better than in my AP year, but those circumstances didn’t help at all.

So put yourself in the Au Pair shoes! – Would I feel comfortable coming to a house with two rematches and several “issues” (renovations, newborn, 3 kids, not a lot of perks)? Am I willing to go the extra mile to help my host family? What will I get back?

The same way host families want the best Au Pairs (infant qualified, terrific English, 4.0 GPA), Au Pairs want the best families – the ones that can offer a great job with its benefits and perks.

After all, you discover Au-Pairing isn’t an interchange program as agencies sell, it’s a job and should be treated like one. Families recruit based on competencies and au pairs (candidates) choose the opportunities that suit them best!

Momma Gadget November 26, 2013 at 11:48 am

Sounds like you just might just have gotten the true American experience!
95% of Americans don’t live in luxurious mansions with separate suites for their child care employees.
95% of Americans do not have Butlers and house keepers as portrayed in TV sitcoms.
Many Americans struggle to keep a roof over their heads, food on the table, and shoes on their children’s feet.
Many sacrifice comfort and space by choosing a smaller home in their budget in order to send their kids to a better school system, to be closer to better paying jobs, or to pay for safe childcare.
I do hope that your situation was not sprung on you, and at least they had told you all that was going on during your skype interviews. Perhaps they were wearing the same rose colored glasses you agency handed you. I am sure that neither you nor your HF could imagine just how stressful that situation would be until you were knee deep in it.
Kudos to you for sticking it out!

post author November 26, 2013 at 7:04 pm

First of all our au pair has a bedroom with everything she needs, and a bathroom connected to it. We have four bedrooms in the house and the fifth is being renovated.

Second, how do you know we “don’t give a lot of perks”????
We have three cars and our au pair always has one at her personal disposal. This is not a perk that even some wealthier families are willing to give, not everyone wants to risk their car being trashed or crashed by a foreign driver.

And seriously, calling my 3 kids and a newborn “an issue” is rude and offensive. I don’t hide the number of kids on the application and if an au pair matches with us, it is presumably because she likes us, she likes children, and is able to handle this many children. If she matches with us on false pretenses, because she likes the area, because she wants to get to the USA no matter what, because nobody else wants her or because … whatever, it is not my fault as a host family for having so many “issues”

Skny November 26, 2013 at 10:08 pm

I can see though that the world sold by agencies is indeed different because I have been on both sides. The program IS sold as an cheaper exchange student. You live in a family home free of charge, gets meals, an allowance, money to go to school, travel, makes friends, has a chance to visit a new country… AND all you have to do is provide a 45hs a week of childcare.

Host Mom in the City November 26, 2013 at 10:26 pm

I don’t think the former AP that posted meant to be rude, I really don’t. I am pretty down in the program nowadays and I think she speaks very much to one of the major issues – 90% of the candidates so clearly see au pairing as an easy, fun, all-expenses paid year. Why? Because they are young and immature and because the agency sells it that way. I really think there are a ton of serious issues with the program that have a lot to do with the way it is marketed to both sides. I’ve said before that I would not recommend the program to anyone, even though we are on our third. And I think this is why.

When the AP said “issues” what she meant was that the vast majority of candidates are looking for the easiest job possible. It’s the same “pay” no matter what the job, so for the majority of candidates that just want a fun year, you have to admit that a family with three kids and a newborn that just had two rematches is not going to look like the cake walk they want. It’s nothing personal Nd it says nothing about you or your family -it’s the simple fact that if you said to most people “I’ll give you $800 a month, living expenses, food, transportation, and pay an $8,000 agency fee for babysitting one kid for 45 hours” versus “I’ll give you exactly the same for babysitting three older kids and a newborn,” is it totally irrational that most people would pick the former? No. It’s common sense.

Honestly I know you describe the job as not so difficult because the kids are in school, but I’m a mom and I get anxious thinking about caring for a newborn, doing drop offs and pick ups on some days for a preschooler and otherwise caring for both the preschooler and the newborn all day, plus coordinating times and homework and whatever for two older kids. Please admit that it is a lot. Especially for the majority of candidates I see that frankly I worry about being au pairs at all.

It’s not you, it’s a serious issue with the program. And you don’t want the candidates that are matching just to match anyway. You want someone who can really step right in and handle it. And again, to be frank, I’ve read a ton of applications and I’ve met a ton of au pairs and I don’t know that there are many at all that could handle what you need.

Again, not personal. Not that you have “issues,” which was a bad choice of words. But looking at it from the au pair’s perspective – they don’t know you, they don’t know what it means that you Are a warm, welcoming, treat them like gold family. Can you blame them for accepting the pay for an easier on paper job? The poster was 18 for crying out loud. That is so so young.

Taking a Computer Lunch November 26, 2013 at 11:00 pm

OP, if you decide to return to an AP program, I agree that you shouldn’t sell life with your family as “easy” because your older children don’t require much care. As the parent of a teenager with special needs and another teenager with issues, I don’t sugarcoat life with our family. I advertise it as “work hard, earn our trust, and enjoy some perks.” In my experience, infant qualified APs don’t want to deal with older children (despite having an LCC who will grant me access to infant-qualified extraordinnaires I’ve never landed an interview with one), but if you do the hard sell, they might see the experience as a reward.

You have my sympathy. When we gutted our home to make a handicapped accessible suite for our child (and an AP suite directly underneath it), we went through 25 nurses, including 5 who failed to show up for shift. The nurses were free, because The Camel is on Medicaid, but I could tell during the training sessions (the nurses trained each other), which ones would be history before their first day on the job. It was very stressful and hosting APs is a walk in the park in comparison. DH and I choose to sacrifice wonderful vacations, concert tickets, and luxuries to host a reliable AP. For the most part we have been rewarded by eager, energetic, and loving women (mostly extraordinnaires). In fact, AP #9 is already 1/4 through her year, and I’m wondering how that happened so quickly.

There is no easy answer. Hosting APs takes work. My advice, do a serious exit interview with the outgoing AP and really listen. It’s very hard, with so much on your platter, but since you’re committed to a break regardless, you have time to absorb some of the information.

Should be working November 27, 2013 at 1:43 am

Ooh, I like the ‘exit interview’ idea.

Host Mom in the City November 27, 2013 at 8:58 am

I’d be afraid an exit interview would leave me with even more baggage. I’m already tearing myself up about our last experience – completely regretting that we don’t pull the plug on it after the first few months, and rehashing the lies she told me, the lack of engagement with the kids, the fact that she literally has not contacted us a single time in three months since she left, etc. I know we were a great host family – even up to the end we were treating her like family even as I had to grit my teeth to do the right thing. So honestly? I don’t think I want to hear about what she thought we did wrong. I think it would just make me angrier.

Taking a Computer Lunch November 27, 2013 at 9:33 am

I don’t think it’s necessary to have an exit interview with every AP. Sometimes a bad match is a bad match – anyone who has hosted several APs knows that! However, when a family has hosted several APs in a row where matches haven’t gone well, is it always the APs? It could be. But it could also be that the HF or how they communicate their needs or lifestyle prior to matching.

I’m not trying to be harsh or rude, but I do think sometimes as HP it’s hard to assess and understand our own imperfections that make hosting difficult. We’re human after all.

Tristatemom November 27, 2013 at 10:58 am

looks like you got your groove back. You and I battled once with each other but now your sage advice is back. I am very grateful as you provide wise insight!
(This is also another example of how none of us should stay in a bad match as it distracts from who we normally are. I hope I remember correctly that you had an AP that put a wet table cloth on the wood table etc, right? I had a mentally ill AP to deal with at the time that made me beastly; just got a now one and things are looking much better.).

Host Mom in the City November 27, 2013 at 11:25 am

I totally agree that an exit interview could be helpful in some instances, particularly if you’ve had a bad experience multiple times in a row. I guess I was just saying to tread lightly with it. There is some input that would be valuable to me in terms of how to communicate better, or make her job easier in some ways, but a lot of it isn’t negotiable. If someone advised that we should get a full-time au pair car, change the schedule in some way, or offer different living space, that’s not something I’m going to change. A mature au pair would be able to give solid input, recognizing what is actually within the control of the host parent. An immature one would just use it as an opportunity to attack and whine, which I think would just make everything worse.

And Tristatemom, you are so right about a bad matching changing your personality! I spent my entire summer just absolutely bitching to anyone who would listen about my au pair (including this board!). I’m still doing it actually and she’s been gone three months. I pour so much into this relationship and this program that it’s so incredibly hurtful when someone isn’t mature enough to appreciate it, even enough to actually engage on the job in at least a minimal way. So hurtful!

I like this board because I know a lot of you fellow host moms have been there. That spot when you’re ripping out your hair because she’s put the cutting board in the dishwasher once again after you’ve asked her five times not too – it’s not generally the cutting board that’s the issue, it’s that you’re not happy with her about something bigger related to the job. Thanks for getting that pettiness isn’t just pettiness sometimes.

Momma Gadget November 27, 2013 at 11:30 am

I think TACL’s advice about having an exit interview may be sage under most circumstances, but under the the OP’s current circumstances I would say it is unrealistic. I were in the same situation just before my due date and an AP, after deserting my family at the worst possible time, hinted at anything remotely unjustified… I’d be delivering in the local penitentiary for Shaken AP Syndrome.
I am sure the OP, now that she has found help for the immediate crisis, will figure out the best childcare solution for her family, without the opinion of a short term-er rematch AP.

Another Seattle Host Mom November 27, 2013 at 4:54 pm

I agree with all of this.

I’ve heard over and over again on this board and in other forums that every family has its advantages and disadvantages which of course is true. But I sometimes hear it as almost an excuse to not be introspective about how a host family could provide more advantages, be more generous with time or money, or let go of things that you might not find are that important to you (I’m thinking of some of the dietary things I had with my kids before my match with the AP who couldn’t boil water). I’m not saying this is the case with your family but the exit interview might get to some of that. You don’t know until you ask.

Organizing the lives of 4 kids, non-traditional religion, remodel, etc. isn’t unreasonable at all (and isn’t modifiable so is beside the point) but WOULD be viewed as a disadvantage when looking at your family for some APs. However, you might be missing out on something you don’t even realize you’re doing or not doing that is making that worse, or not making it better.

My kids are young and very close together in age and we need the full 45 hours every single week. I could go on about the things about our family that probably make a lot of Au Pairs think “no thank you” when they look at our profile (few of which we could modify) but I think that we’ve made a big effort to really listen to the individual needs of the young women who share our home and try to bend and stretch in ways we might not have previously considered to make them feel comfortable and to let them fully experience their time here.

Maybe I’m going on too long here but bottom line is: find out right from the horses mouth all of the problems. Some of them will be ridiculous. Some will be hurtful. But some will be true and some you may be willing or able to change to improve the situation for everyone in the future.

Good luck!

post author November 27, 2013 at 11:33 pm

We already had the rematch meeting with the au pair and the LCC. I now realize the LCC was trying to get as much negative stuff on us from the au pair as she could, so I know all there is to know.
I don’t sell life with us as “easy”. I realize it takes a rare special person to do the job and to succeed in it, and to enjoy it. But I still have faith that there are au pairs like that. I didn’t have one with four kids obviously yet, but I had several with three kids in my family, and I have seen/heard of some in larger families.
Yes, the fault may have been mine. Not in doing things wrong, but in matching wrong. Sometimes though matching is a luck of the draw; and the more kids you have, the worse are your chances of getting lucky. So for the next time, I will learn not to match with au pair with a local american boyfriend, assuming she is coming here because she wants to be an au pair and a local boyfriend is a plus. Assume she wants to be a wife and you are just a means to get there ASAP. My fault? Certainly. Is it my fault doing something wrong during her stay here? No, I was bending over backwards to make her stay; giving her extra time off even when I was on bedrest and could’ve used the help…. It is my fault in matching with her in the first place.
The one before her? Maybe my fault again, but in matching. Although the girl claimed she chose us for the quality (different religion and opportunity to have this experience) that turned out to be one of her complaints later. My fault? Certainly not in disclosing everything, my fault in judging her maturity maybe, her integrity, her stability, her energy level, her work ethic….
Influenced in large by your comments here, I now signed up with your agency (and another agency that offers similar category of au pairs) and am looking at extraordinaires. I am also looking at some girls who come from huge families themselves (6 kids, 10 kids… ) and I think this will help too.

Taking a Computer Lunch November 29, 2013 at 8:09 am

What’s done is done. For those HMs who are not used to facing big crises (bedrest, sick parent, hospitalizations), my advice is to take your AP aside and elicit support. While we were preparing for a major surgery for The Camel a few years ago, I took my AP aside, and told her what to expect, what needed to bed done, and she said to me, “Thank you, I thought I was going to be on vacation” (since child #2 typically took up little of her working day). Not every AP is going to rise to the occasion, but in my experience most want to feel needed.

As for minority religions, we go out of our way to ask APs if they want to attend a service on Christmas or Easter and find a local family who will take them. We also acknowledge their holidays, as much as we are able. (I recently told my AP the story of not celebrating Thanksgiving when I lived abroad. Realizing it later, the family with whom I was living said they would have bought me a turkey. I thanked them sincerely, but it wasn’t the turkey I was missing on that day – it was family.)

Host Mom in the City November 29, 2013 at 10:59 am

I think I would have said that “most people want to feel needed” until my last au pair. She was truly happy not to be needed, to the point where I think she almost did things poorly on purpose so that she wouldn’t be. She acted put upon when she was needed. So I do think we have to be a bit careful of implying that if only a host parent tried a little harder or did things a little differently, then surely the au pair will rise to the occasion. Sadly, I found that wasn’t true.

This year I’ve struggled quite a bit with the idea of just how far we as host parents should go to help our au pairs feel happy versus how much is on them. Last year, I did everything in my power to try to make her happy enough with her job that she would engage with the kids – up to the point where I was hardly having her work at all because she seemed so miserable when she was working.

I do think it would be lovely for a host parent that doesn’t celebrate Christmas to help their Christian AP find a family to attend services with, sure, but it sounds like the OP here as an au pair who said she was excited about celebrating an “alternative” holiday and then upon arrival is lamenting that the family doesn’t do “normal” American things. I push back a bit on the idea that if only OP had found someone for her to celebrate Christmas with that everything would have been rosy again. To a point, is it really incumbent upon the host family to be anticipating every whim? Particularly when you have an au pair who is complaining openly about matching circumstances? Has a host parent failed here if they didn’t find someone for her to celebrate her own personal version of the holidays with? It would be great to assist, but couldn’t she have gone out and found that on her own if it was so important to her?

I don’t know who’s right in any of these “host parent in crisis” cases obviously – OP could be a horrible host parent who doesn’t try at all to do cultural exchange with her au pair. But I’ve found in my own experience that the opposite is true with me – I will try so so hard to make her happy that I will almost go too far in trying to anticipate her needs and make her life easier such that I end up just feeling resentful. There’s only so much a host parent can do reasonably – a lot of it is on the au pair to be putting in effort too.

Just offering a counterpoint.

Momma Gadget December 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm

Dear OP… didn’t you realize that since you are a woman, and a mom everything is your fault. Every pain, anxiety and disappointment your child/family experiences from now until their last breath (many, many,many years from now) is your fault. Any and all education, health, or future relationship issues are your fault.The Middle east problems, the plague, and the national dept? Yes. Yup. Uh-huh…. All your fault. It is written in your “mom contract”. Didn’t you read the small print? Again, your fault! :-)
( Can you tell it was a long car ride home from TG with my Pre/teenagers?)
We do the best we can with challenges that jump out in our path with whatever ‘tools’ we have at that time. Whatever method we use to match with an Au pair, none are fool proof. I have learned from this site, even the most experienced and successful HMs get a bad, or frustrating match.
With our first AP, we thought it would be great that her sister was also an AP in our area… it was a disaster. We thought “never again”. Yet our last AP’s sister became an AP in our area soon after his arrival, and it was great enriching experience for all.
It takes 2 to tango. A good AP match easily washes away all the bad vibes from an awful one.
I look forward to hearing about the happy arrival of your new baby, and your new (successful) AP match through an agency which treats your family wit he respect it deserves.

Seattle Mom December 2, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Completely agree with TACL and Host Mom in the City… good example is my current AP. She is not perfect, but she is an energetic and devoted AP who truly loves children- she enjoys them and takes good care of them. Anyway, she is extending for 1 year with us after spending her first year with a different HF- 5 kids, I believe the ages were 9, 7, 5, and 2. My kids are 4 & 2, and only in preschool part time- she works 45 hours per week most of the time. But she thinks it’s much easier dealing with 2 preschoolers than older kids- she doesn’t want to be an AP for older kids again. They may take care of their own needs but they also tend to be more difficult to keep in line.. Our AP is going to be an AP in Canada next year, and she interviewed with a lot of families and turned down many because they had older kids. She loves & misses her first family, but doesn’t really want to repeat the experience.

I think it would be tough to find someone who is both truly prepared to take care of an infant + preschooler + older kids and who will want to do it. I would be scared that most APs who agree to do it figure they can always go into rematch if it doesn’t work out. Or they just aren’t being honest about their own needs & capabilities. Our AP actually is capable of doing it, but she doesn’t want to anymore.

Former GA Au Pair November 27, 2013 at 8:18 am

@Momma Gadget: I have mixed feelings about my American Experience. I was an Au Pair for two years. The first one was hard, especially on an immature 18 years old sold by an agency from her home country and all the great pictures and amazing stories on APC’s website. My first HP lied on their application – long story short – LLC knew the family wasn’t ready to host an AuPair but could not let them go since her cluster was so small (only 4 APs). I got attached to the kids, felt sorry for the family and did my best to help them. Would I do it again? No. All the stress wasn’t worth.

My second host family was amazing.

As you said, we all struggle to keep our life and finances in order today, not only Americans. I came to this website because my husband and I are moving to the US for the next two years to pursue our Master’s degree. We have a 6 months old baby and I decided to host an Au Pair.

@post author: I am very sorry my post sounded disrespectful to you. I put issues in quotes because I didn’t know a better word to use and I made a horrible choice. Instead of issues, I would say something similar “to a lot going on”, but it still sounds odd. The impact of language barrier. I apologize to have hurt your feelings. @Host Mom in the City got my point. All host families have their ups and downs. For example, I’m pretty concerned about how my application will look to the prospective AuPairs. My husband and I are 25, we have only a child that will be around 18 months. We will live close to campus in a small house, I don’t know if we are going to have a car that the AP can use, I don’t know how the AP would feel with a family so close to her age… it’s a temporary situation and a non-american family.

Should be working November 28, 2013 at 2:32 pm

I have gone back and forth on the criterion of “comes from a large family” with au pairs. It served me really well for getting APs who understand busy households with a lot of organization required.

BUT in my case it sometimes also led to me matching with APs from big, STRICT, AUTHORITARIAN families, because in northern Europe (where we get our APs from) it is unusual to have more than 1-2 kids, and the ones who do are often very religious, more old-fashioned, “countryside” families. And that seems to correlate to a kind of strictness, conservatism and lack of playfulness and gentleness. So now I’m not sure.

post author November 28, 2013 at 8:46 pm

Thank you for the tip, I haven’t thought of that!

Seattle Mom December 2, 2013 at 4:23 pm

It’s funny how this reads so much better once I understand that you are not really approaching this as a former AP, you are approaching this as a potential future HM.

I bristle at the “not a lot of perks” thing… we are not a wealthy family and so our AP doesn’t have a lot of perks. We can’t afford to take the AP on fancy vacations- we don’t go on fancy vacations ourselves. Our AP shares my car with me, and can’t always use it on the weekends (though we have a good bus system in our city). I don’t pay for a smart phone, because I won’t even pay for my own smart phone- I use a pre-paid phone and that is what I’m willing to give my AP. We don’t have cable TV in our home. We all share one bathroom.

My kids are preschoolers and the average workweek is 41.5 hours for our current AP (last AP almost always worked 45 hours, before DD2 was in pre-school).

So we are very low on the perk scale. But we are nice, interesting, intelligent people who are fully engaged with each other and the people around us. We don’t tune each other out, and we include the AP in our life as much as she wants to be included. We’re also fairly laid back and don’t impose many rules- honestly I do not want an AP living in my home who can’t handle the responsibility of living without a curfew. I guess we’re not the average American family and we’re not looking for an average AP, so if our low budget (but intellectually & spiritually rich) lifestyle isn’t appealing to the average AP then that is ok. So it’s important for us to be upfront and honest about how we are, even if it means we have to interview twice as many APs. There is a pot for every cover, although sometimes the wrong cover gets chosen (and allows themselves to be chosen) for a particular pot- and when that happens we have to own up to it immediately and make a change. Otherwise life can be miserable, and we are not in the AP program to be miserable!

Skny November 26, 2013 at 8:06 am

Not sure if you are open to a bro-pair, but we do know one who is looking for family (without an agency). He works for friends of ours watching 2 girls ages 1yo and 3yo. Mom lost job and can’t keep him.
The family seems to like him and will speak to prospective families about him. My kids did play date with him (and their kids once) and he seemed like a balanced and responsible guy).

post author November 26, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Thank you, unfortunately no we are only open to female au pairs.

Alliinny November 26, 2013 at 10:39 am

I would really suggest a full-time live in nanny but NOT an Au Pair. I’ve had live-in help since my 3rd child was born (she’s 8 years younger than my oldest and I could no longer go it alone since my older kids had activities that started early in the morning and often went until 9pm at night). But when I had a newborn I would NEVER have had an AP. I needed a true adult. I looked for middle-aged experienced women who had raised their own families. It was only when my youngest was 5 years old that I was willing to try the AP route because even she was old enough at that point to tell me what was going on and be moderately responsible for herself. It has worked out well – all 3 of my kids appreciate an “older sister” type babysitter. I only hire AP’s over 23 years old (I still have no interest in another child in my home) who have worked full-time outside the home in their home countries. So I guess my AP’s are on the more “adult” end of the spectrum – but I still would NEVER leave a newborn with them! Do you need a driver? If not, you can hire full-time live in help for a very reasonable cost and they’ll do full housekeeping as well. No 45 hour max! You should really look into it…

post author November 28, 2013 at 8:43 pm

I’ve had that before I started hosting au pairs. Most were not live-in but came to my house. They had their own sets of issues. Many were more unreliable than au pairs – at least in case of a rematch you get 2 wks of care to look for another situation; I’ve had nannies tell me on Friday they are not coming on Monday. I’ve had nannies not show up on the first day of work after I’ve hired them. I’ve had nannies who supposedly raised their own families think for a whole month that my 2,5 year old was really 5 years old, until I set it right! True, she was potty trained and very tall, but really… Middle aged and older nannies had nowhere near the energy my subsequent au pair had… I had only two kids and I had a nanny who could not hold them both on the street and neighbors told me my kid was running ahead, running across the street….
I got brave enough to hire my first au pair after a string of disaster nannies like that. Most who nanny here for “reasonable cost” don’t do it because that’s what they want to do; they do it because they can’t find anything else and may be looking for something better all the time they are with you; or they are illegal. I cannot get an illegal worker because of my job.

Host Mom in the City November 29, 2013 at 11:05 am

It’s true that all childcare options have pros and cons. Even though we’re having a great start with our third au pair, I think this will be our last. I’ve found it’s taking way too much energy and the grass is looking greener (and cheaper) on the side of using before/after care and a regular babysitter for date nights. I’m forgetting the hassle of having to get the kids out the door without helping, questioning whether it’s good for the kids to be out of the house all day, worrying about getting there on time to pick them up, etc. Hard to remember the annoyances of another option when you’re frustrated with your current choice :)

Taking a Computer Lunch November 29, 2013 at 2:07 pm

I definitely would not be using an AP for 2 school-aged children if both had self-help skills. My typically developing teenager can cook, keep himself occupied, and use public transportation. He needs adult supervision in getting homework done and getting off the computer.

However, I found the rosier side of hosting APs in trying to find alternative care for my child with special needs (she will always need constant supervision and total care). Having tried nursing for 11 months – went through 25 nurses, including 5 who failed to show up for shift without calling in advance (not to count all those who gave me enough notice to leave work early and shift gears), having to ask the agency if the nurse was coming off an 8-hour night shift before providing me a caregiver on a school holiday, and watching the nurses do just enough to keep my child alive (no songs, no cuddles, barely talked to her), not to mention I had to use my vacation time every time she had a doctor’s appointment because they could not provide transportation to and from school. They could not look after child #2 at all (although some would accept payment under the table). Although it was not an out-of-pocket expense, DH and I paid endlessly for it.

I enjoy having a prepaid babysitter for date nights, knowing I have childcare when The Camel is ill or has a school holiday, and frankly, having an extra driver to handle the typical child’s carpool. Having a great AP who gives me less stress is a wonderful thing (fortunately I only had one do-little AP out of 9 – she definitely caused more stress than she was worth! She just wasn’t prepared to be an adult in someone else’s home).

Host Mom in the City November 29, 2013 at 2:14 pm

This is my struggle with hosting au pairs. There are so many positives and I think you’ve named a number of them. I know I missed having one during the year we took off between #1 and #2. Who knows. I’ll see where I’m at at the end of this year :)

Should be working November 29, 2013 at 6:30 pm

Wow, two aupairmom.com regulars who are no longer, or wouldn’t, use APs for typical school-aged kids. We are debating, again, whether it’s worth the hassle and risk of matching, coaching, and also the intense feelings that our preteens develop for (and sometimes against) the APs.

But we do keep coming back to the flexibility, the coverage for days the kids are off school, or sick, or need driving at 6am to a different spot for pickup for a field trip. But yeah, it is a lot of effort on everyone’s part and the ups and downs are substantial. And the downs are hard not to focus on.

Host Mom in the City November 29, 2013 at 10:05 pm

Maybe I wouldn’t feel this way if my last (and first regular) au pair hadn’t challenged me so much. But for me, it’s too risky to do again. It really comes down to for me, it’s too much mental energy and anguish to go through. I interviewed like crazy, I Skyped with her lots, I poured through her application – and she had basically just totally misrepresented who she was and why she wanted to come. Not on purpose, but because she was totally and completely immature. And that made me realized – of course she’s immature. She was 20. She had only just graduated from high school. She had never had a full-time job. What was I expecting?

But I look at the candidates that are available and 90% of them seem to be just like she was. A program that lets in thousands of such candidates and leads host parents to believe that they’re getting this great, flexible child care from young adults that really love children is not a program I can stand behind. No wonder host parents have issues. No wonder au pairs have issues. For the vast majority of cases on both sides there are just wildly different expectations. I wouldn’t leave my kids with any of the 20yo American kids I know – why on earth did I think just because she was an au pair candidate she would be different?

So we have another extraordinaire now. And she is really good. She’s a bit older too. But still, I’m tired of having someone in the house coming in at all hours of the night, forgetting to lock the door. Tired of being worried that we’re waking her when we’re up early. Tired of managing and coaching so much. Tired of being worried about the car. And of course there are things she does that I don’t agree with. So I have that eternal struggle of which battles to pick and what to let go. How far to go to make sure she’s happy and how much to let her rely on herself.

The pros seem to be that it’s flexible and cheaper than a nanny. But honestly, all I heard about last year was complaints about host parents who made their au pairs work in evenings or weekends. Complaints from au pairs about how their host parents have them babysit even when the parents are not working. Yeah it’s flexible as in you can technically have them work whenever you want, but I guarantee you that unless you have them work like 30 hours max and only during the day, only a rare few are not complaining about you.

And on top of that, it’s not cheap. Paying that $9,000 agency bill again was rough. And then $1,000 a month in cash, plus all the other money that crops up. It’s $24,000 a year for an extraordinaire just for fees and stipend. Then food, car insurance, phone, etc (our last au pair cost us an additional $300 in AC bills this summer as compared to any of the previous seven years we’ve lived in our house). And then to read on the au pair boards and hear au pairs complain that they don’t get paid enough and that host parents are cheap is really hurtful. Yes, it’s cheaper than hiring a professional nanny. But it should be – they aren’t living with you, there is no time commitment for cultural exchange and making a nanny feel like part of the family, and they are generally older and much more experienced. It would be 2/3 the cost of an au pair for us to do any other type of child care.

Anyway, I’m ranting at this point but last year just killed it for me. I’m enjoying this year but I’m also ready to move on to another child care option afterwards. I’ve found it just takes too much mental energy for me.

Should be working November 30, 2013 at 12:40 pm

HMiTC, I hear you. And I really wonder whether all our tea-leaf reading attempts to refine the matching process have any effect whatsoever on our success rate. I spend HOURS, like you, vetting matches. If it makes no difference to the success rate, I could instead spend MINUTES.

For my preteen or nearly-preteen kids, the other options aren’t so attractive for other reasons. The kind of person who wants an afterschool-pickup-until-dinner job is likely to be college-age or a nanny with whom my kids wouldn’t really relate. The APs are sometimes not so great in certain areas, but my kids can tell me about it, they are resilient in ways a 2-yr-old is not, and I figure they are getting used to different personalities and even different kinds of relationships.

It is more about the labor *I* put into it that makes me question it. It works ok for the kids, not ideal, but at these ages I’m not sure there is an “ideal” for them. Meanwhile I’m spending lots of energy to stay on top of the AP.

It’s a conundrum.

SKny November 30, 2013 at 8:18 pm

We are back to day care this year.
It IS for us cheaper than Au pair. Day care in our area is very cheap (240 a week from 7-5), with breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snack included. More hours than we’d get with our Au pair anyway. Because we used our 45hs during the week, we were already paying for date nights in separate. So no change in there.
The day care provider is great, the kids are getting a much superior care. My only problem is the language. Main reason for Au pair was to teach the kids my native language, and they are not getting it anymore.
I am expecting again and trying to convince hubby to agree with Au pair once baby is born. But as of now he is really against. He loves our day care provider, the stimulation the kids get, and not having to deal with someone in our home.
I just miss the language learning. Oh well

SKny November 30, 2013 at 8:19 pm

Forgot to add 240 for 2 children ages 1 and 3.

Taking a Computer Lunch November 30, 2013 at 11:05 pm

We could never get a day care provider for our child with special needs. DH quit his job and cared for her after my vacation and sick leave ran out (I was the parent with benefits at the time and we really really really needed my health insurance with a medically fragile infant). Hosting an AP was our best option all around, and as I explained above, given the circumstances, still is. We don’t take many family vacations, because we choose to host extraordinnaires.

Skny December 1, 2013 at 9:09 am

TACL i can certainly see the benefit of an Aupair with a special needs child.
As of now because my now 3yo will be in our districts pre-k full time when my leave is over, even with the baby in day care, and older also there before/after school, our weekly bill will be less than au pair cost ($320 a week).
So it is hard to comvince husband to go back to au pair drama “just” for the sake of them learning my native language.
Specially when – as I said – this provider is spectacular, and care is hugely superior

Abba December 1, 2013 at 9:44 pm

We’re in the same boat SKny mentions, but we continue with the program for the language learning (although I have found it continually challenging to find good candidates willing to speak their native language with us). Flexibility is great of course, but boy, this is exhausting.

Host Mom in the City December 2, 2013 at 8:50 am

Interesting – this time when we were looking for our third match over the summer, I had three candidates ask me as one of their very first questions if I would require them to speak their language with the kids (and they expressed relief when I said no). This must be something that a lot of host parents want and a lot of au pairs don’t want. That’s too bad since it seems like it could be one of the great benefits to having an au pair :(

So anyone want to lift us up with a story about why they love having au pairs?

Should be working December 2, 2013 at 1:36 pm

About APs not wanting to speak their native language to kids: I respect this, because it means they have GOALS for the year and really to learn English well matters to them. It certainly would be easier and less adventurous to match with a family that shares your native language.

We do ask APs to speak their native language, they are always worried they won’t learn English, and I have former APs assure them that they will learn plenty. And that having us know the native language is very useful for talking about complicated situations, emotional distress, homesickness, etc.

Emerald City HM December 2, 2013 at 2:15 pm

We struggle with the language thing too. My husband really wants them to speak their native languages to the girls and we get resistance. Our first had no problem with this, but she only cared for an infant anyway. Our second was worried she wouldn’t learn english, but toward the end of her year she did start speaking only spanish with the girls and realized there was learning involved in being able to switch back and forth.

With our third it’s a struggle. She does of course want to learn english and I do try to understand that, but she isn’t going to learn english from a 2.5 yo and a 1 yo. She has started speaking to them in Japanese, but the language is so different we aren’t sure that the girls even recognize it as a language. They aren’t picking any of it up, like our oldest did with spanish. It’s also possible that she just isn’t a very talkative au pair during the day.

Next time we think we are going to try hosting an au pair where learning english is less of a focus if possible.

NoVA Twin Mom December 2, 2013 at 2:21 pm

I’m responding to HMitC, who wants positive stories – we’ve had our share of (ahem) *moments* with our au pairs – our girls just turned three and we’re on our fifth au pair due to two rematches.

But we struck gold this time. We LOVE her. She’s an extension au pair from a nearby major city that wanted to see another part of the country – I count myself lucky that we were far enough away to “count” as another part of the country! Our newest au pair has been with us since the beginning of September (after we sent the au pair that lasted three and a half days into rematch and sent the kids to my parents – 13 hours away – for six weeks while we waited for au pair arrival schedules to sync, as the rematch pool wasn’t great this summer). She engages the girls, keeps the TV off most of the day, takes them to preschool (three hours a day, two mornings a week) and genuinely cares how they do, plays with them (!!) does fabulous art projects with them, and actually seems to enjoy spending time with us when she’s not on duty. She is also immersing herself in the community – in contrast to one of our previous au pairs, who never left her bedroom unless she was working or eating.

My most telling story? She thought we only had one dose of breathing treatment for one of my daughters left – and had the knowledge and foresight to “save” it for overnight rather than giving it to her during the day. As it turns out, we had more – and, importantly for the story, it wasn’t required but would have made the au pair’s life more pleasant. My daughter did not suffer at all because of the delay. :) The fact that she was willing to listen to a cough all afternoon so my daughter’s overnight sleep would be more comfortable – that’s true commitment. We also find her loading the dishwasher after dinner without being assigned to do so or asked to do so.

So at the moment we’re very happy – but for some reason, we seem to alternate good au pairs with au pairs we end up sending into rematch. So we’re a little apprehensive about what might be coming next… :)

Host Mom in the City December 2, 2013 at 3:16 pm

NOVA Twin Mom – thanks for the great story!! Your story kind of made me realize that I am really reacting to anything even remotely negative with my newish au pair on the off chance it might indicate that we’re going downhill like our last one did. I am going to buck up and start appreciating our current au pair inside my head as well (I’m already very much appreciating her externally, just holding my reservations/baggage inside and on this board!).

One thing I’m loving about having an au pair is my morning routine now. Our au pair gets up an hour before her start time and actually gets herself ready for her day. She showers, gets dressed, eats, does whatever she needs to do, and then heads downstairs and gets everything all ready so that when the kids get up, she can totally engage with them. She is on top of everything, doesn’t need me to ask her to do a single thing, is totally awake and engaged. All I do is kiss everyone goodbye and head out the door. That is one thing I will miss times one million if we ever don’t do au pairs.

Taking a Computer Lunch December 2, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Because I have hosted 6 Extraordinnaires and 3 Regular APs (although 2 of the 3 would have been EX-APs had they be born in another country), I have been spoiled. Sure, there have been tears of homesickness on almost everyone’s part, and the first month of training (add typical stuff to caring for a medically fragile child and you understand that there’s more stress for everyone). However, the first day with us is not half as hard as the last day (and don’t get me started on the trip to the airport).

What do I love about hosting? Our favorite APs, including our current, play boardgames with us, join us in family activities, and yet have the presence to say “No” when they’d rather hang out with friends. I love to see them explore and figure out who they are as adults. All of them have thrived away from family — and almost all of them have made stupid choices and learned from them. (And, yes, I can honestly say, I’m enjoying watching the own process in my own teenagers, although it hurts me far more.) We’re a bunch of foodies, so we enjoy trying new foods. My kids are far more flexible about trying something new, and I think a lot is due to exposure from APs.

However, the bottom line is that when one of the kids tanks at 6:00 in the morning, DH and I don’t have to draw straws as to who has the more important day. We just apologize to the AP as we change her schedule (and then if we are able — and we usually are — we cancel any plans we have made for the weekend and give her the time off in gratitude). The other thing for which I am grateful is that we don’t have to haul our child with special needs to her siblings’ events – that way we get to bask in their glory without worrying if she’s too loud and distracting for other members of the audience.

And while I wouldn’t host an AP if one of my teenagers wasn’t medically fragile and mentally retarded, I will really miss when The Camel graduates from high school and is no longer eligible for one!

Host Mom in the City December 2, 2013 at 3:49 pm

TaCL – why is it that you wouldn’t host an au pair if you didn’t have a medically fragile child? Just curious if you are willing to expound on that.

Skny December 2, 2013 at 9:42 pm

My oldest is 17. She was adopted from a foreign country at 14, and is emotionally at a 12/13yo level, and requires the level of supervision a 12/13 yo would need.
She is now in 10th grade and we were told that even if she was still in high school, the moment she turned 17 we should no longer require the au pair to care for her (or drive her or do her laundry).

Multitasking Host Mom December 4, 2013 at 11:15 am

To HMitC (RE: request for good AP stories)…We are on our second AP and she is wonderful…a perfect fit for our family. I actually nominated her for Au Pair of the Year. And yes it would be great if she won, but the main reason I did it was that it was a small way for me to let her know how much we appreciated all she does for our family. Our first AP was just not a good match mainly because she was very young and was overwhelmed by the fact she had to work hard at the full time job of taking care of children. And like you HMitC, I should have pulled the plug a few months after we realized that she was struggling, but we tried a lot of talking, suggestion making, schedule creating and hands on demonstrations hoping that it would get better. But it never did. When I went looking for our current AP, I focused on someone who was older, with a college degree, and actual work experience. I actually did nothing for 2 and half weeks, but read over 30 AP applications, interview a few (who responded), and even switched to a different agencies when I could not find one through our first one. Yes, it was a lot of work! And also a bit of luck was involved I am sure. But now we have an AP who is good at keeping our strong willed children in line, truly cares for their wellbeing, and does a great job coming up with fun activities to keep them busy during the day. That is what made it worth it, and be able to move past the disappointments of the past.

Momma Gadget December 4, 2013 at 5:01 pm

“an AP who …truly cares for their wellbeing, and does a great job coming up with fun activities to keep them busy during the day. That is what made it worth it, and be able to move past the disappointments of the past.

Well Put! AMEN!

Taking a Computer Lunch December 5, 2013 at 8:24 am

HMitC – this is now pretty far down the thread, but as the mom of 2 teenagers – if both were heading toward college, I would rather be using the money I spend on an AP toward saving for tuition (and maybe a vacation while they’re still talking to me). Before we had kids DH and I lived and traveled abroad extensively, and I truly miss that aspect of my life.

We don’t take family vacations because we don’t have the resources for that (last year a new mini-van wiped out our intended trip to attend AP #4’s wedding). Right now all my “disposable” income goes to paying for an AP, extra therapy for The Camel (to improve the quality of her life), and a bar mitzvah for child #2 (who will not have a wedding-like evening party).

Host Mom in the City December 5, 2013 at 9:54 am

Thanks, TaCL. So if I understand you correctly, you wouldn’t have an au pair because of the cost, not necessarily because of the “service.” It is expensive! I want to make a general public service announcement to au pairs about how expensive it is. I think a lot of them think we only pay the stipend and that’s it.

Abba December 12, 2013 at 10:31 am

With regard to language learning (sorry, couldn’t figure out how to slot this into the right part of the thread, after the other comments about this), does anyone have any specific suggestions on how to work with an au pair who resists working on her native language with the kids? We were very upfront with our au pair that our kids are bilingual and that speaking Spanish with them was a job requirement. She is a certified teacher (though a recent college grad, and has never worked as a teacher) and would qualify for the extraordinaire program if our agency offered it. We hired her in part because she seemed to have great energy and experience, and was willing to speak with them in Spanish. Flash forward six months–she is very good with the kids and does mostly speak Spanish with them but makes zero effort to work with them when they respond only in English. Her “strategy” is to stare and them and ask them to respond in Spanish when clearly they need to have her model the behavior because they are so out of practice of speaking since she does not enforce it. I think she is doing this in part because she’s decided she doesn’t like speaking Spanish on the job and thinks she will learn more if they speak English to her. So I guess my question is, how on earth do I coach/teach someone to do something that they are resistant to doing?

Skny December 5, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Speaking as a former au pair, I can tell that au pairs know there is a high fee. But they look at the final agency written cost: $330-$400 a week, and look at some adds for nannies I. NYC or DC (600+) and think that’s what they should be worth.
Also, there is a misconception that everyone has money in USA, and that the cost to add an extra person to your home is insignificant.
After I hosted my first au pair I actually wrote a letter to a past family apologizing for comments I had made about this. I totally got.
We don’t get how much food cost (not Mac and cheese, real food, fruits), or cost to insure (car) someone, or mortgage to afford a house with the extra room, or heat/air (when you feel your host is being selfish when he complains your room is 75 degrees).
And this is not only with au pairs. My family in my home country has this missconception that Americans must make a lot of money. So what does it cost an extra present (or increase the allowance).
I also don’t think it is something they will ever get (unless they live In this country independently, paying taxes, bills, etc)

Old China Hand December 5, 2013 at 1:34 pm

When our AP (from China) went on vacation to NY, a lot of people in Chinatown were trying to convince her (and her friends) to quit their AP positions and move to Chinatown to work. Somehow they are under the impression that things are cheaper than they are. I honestly think that she just has no clue.

On a related note – I think our AP may be developing an eating disorder and I’m wondering how to approach it. She doesn’t have a “typical” Chinese body and has been told her whole life she is fat. She runs nearly daily to try to lose weight and has been running up to 2 hours on the weekends. I am an endurance athlete, so I get doing it because you love it or want to be fit, but I worry she does it to purge. She usually eats oatmeal or bread for breakfast, makes herself noodles (with an egg and veggies) for lunch, and eats lettuce and/or celery, an apple, and occasionally some nuts for dinner. She only eats with us on Saturdays when she cooks Chinese food because she doesn’t want to “waste time” hanging out and cooking with us when she can go to classes or study in the evening. We tend to eat a bit late. She used to cook with a lot of oil and salt but now uses very little. My husband has been getting upset with me for talking with her about healthy eating options but I am trying to keep her eating a somewhat balanced diet since she is oblivious to nutrition. She recently told me that she doesn’t want to eat with us anymore and would like a food allowance. I said no but that she needs to remember that she is part of the family and can eat whatever is in the fridge (unless labeled that we are saving it) and needs to ask my husband for food she wants when he goes grocery shopping. I don’t know what else to do and I am a bit concerned that she is getting into dangerous territory. Sorry for co-opting the thread.

Skny December 5, 2013 at 2:16 pm

That is a hard one. If you are not home during the day there is a chance she may be eating when you are not there (I know I used to eat a lot when parents were out).
I would also say no to food allowance. I was ok with au pair taking a sandwich to school, or making herself a lunch to go, but it is unreasonable to expect you will give her an allowance for it.
As for the eating disorder itself there is very little you can do. As long as she has energy to work (and is doing her work ok), is not a bad influence for the kids (is not influencing your kids not to eat, is not throwing up purposely), and is not loosing tons of weight (a 1-2lb loss a week is considered ok and healthy), she is an adult, and I don’t think you can really do anything. Even if she is running a lot daily just so she can overeat later, it is still her choice (and lots of people do it).
I don’t even think I’d talk to her about it unless there was a real concern. Her diet is really her decision (as long as it is not affecting your family and her work)

Skny December 5, 2013 at 2:21 pm

The other thing to keep in mind is that food production is different here and in other places of the world. We quickly learn that we can’t eat here as much (or same things) we ate at home. Use of corn syrup, more artificial ingredient, more processed food, makes things more caloric.
I know when I go home I eat like crazy, fried, sugar, etc, and always return home a pound or two thinner. She might have figured out that she can’t keep up with the oil here and have same result. It is normal to adjust and hold. Specially after first few months when the balance goes up and you have No idea why

Host Mom in the City December 5, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Old China Hand – what an awful issue :( Unfortunately I don’t know that there’s much you can do. Obviously you know more since you are living with it, but the description you provided doesn’t sound like an eating disorder necessarily. Both of my previous APs put on weight in the beginning and then realized it a few months in – they both began running and eating healthier after that first few months. So perhaps she’s just being more conscious about it due to having gained some weight? Obviously if you suspect she’s purging that’s a whole other issue, but I think you would notice large amounts of food gone typically.

I agree with you that a food allowance is unnecessary, assuming you’re allowing access to a variety of foods in the house. I’m more and more on the side of “feel free to eat what’s in the house, and I’ll pick up a few special things, but otherwise, please use your stipend for anything beyond basics.”

Do you have an LCC who you could talk to for suggestions? She may be able to talk to her cluster about healthy eating generally, or some other way of approaching the issue to make sure your AP is ok.

Host Mom in the City December 5, 2013 at 3:15 pm

I think this is a good point and explains to me why au pairs complain about being underpaid. We’re in a lower-cost city, but still a city, and it would cost me about $600 a week for a nanny (obviously it might be more in DC and NYC and less outside of the cities). It costs me about $450 a week for my extraordinaire au pair, I guess it would be closer to $380 for a regular au pair. So I can see why an au pair would think they’re underpaid.

I guess they don’t understand that it’s a different kind of service – a live-out nanny would be someone who would arrive at your home ready to go with minimal training and support. She would do her job, and then go to her own home at the end of her shift. If I were hiring a nanny, I would be looking at candidates that were much more experienced than au pair candidates tend to be (more than my extraordinaire even), who already understood what the job of being a nanny entailed. I would be able to interview in person, speak with references, and then have someone start pretty much immediately. I wouldn’t be worrying about her driving my car, or having friends over on the weekends, or what I should or should not be buying her to eat, or getting her SSN and driving license and all these things we spend so much time discussing on here. I’d also be able to hold her to a much higher standard – there’s no way my former au pair would have lasted more than a month if I were paying her $600/week.

They probably also forget that nannies are paying rent, utilities, food, transportation, phone/internet/TV, etc. out of that $600 a week. Au pairs have $800-1,000 a month with all that stuff already covered.

So this is probably the PSA I want to get out rather than just the fact that we pay a huge agency fee.

Really, what it boils down to (and I hate to put it like this) is that if au pairs cost as much as live-out nannies, there is no way I’d have an au pair.

Skny December 5, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Confession here:
At some point I was actually jealous of our former au pair. She had way cooler gadgets than I had (even though I am a physical therapist with higher income). after paying all our bills, college/retirement fund, etc I NEVER have $200 a week of disposable money (as in let’s just go out and spend). Not saying she did not earn it or deserved it. Not at All.
But at times I miss those days where I had no bills to pay and could go out with $139.05 and spend it all without regret…

Old China Hand November 26, 2013 at 3:52 pm

I am so sorry about this awful situation. I wish I could help, but I’m in the midwest. I second the other comments about you not being in a position to take a new AP right now. You need some stability and help right now, not training a new AP.

We are in a similar situation as a religious family from a non-traditional religion. (and we live far away from family on either side.) Our AP really wanted to be involved in a church because she had worked at a missionary orphanage back home. Fortunately for us, I know a Christian Chinese-American family who really took her under their wings. Otherwise I think we too would be dealing with issues of “but I wanted to celebrate Christmas”. So I am very sympathetic to this issue. It is one that I didn’t anticipate with a Chinese AP.

It sounds like things are starting to come under control with having friends in your local Faith community step up to help you out. Good luck with everything!

Seattle Mom December 2, 2013 at 4:45 pm

to the OP:

I don’t have any more advice than has already been offered, but I am very sorry that you are going through this difficult situation. I hope that some piece of advice above has clicked and you are onto some workable (if temporary) solution. I did see that some fellow church/org members are going to help you when you go to the hospital to give birth- that is great news, though just one piece of the puzzle that you are trying to solve.

I am not one of the more experienced HMs here- you certainly have more experience in hosting APs than I do. I’m at the end of my second year hosting, and we have had one rematch.

I do believe that there is a good AP out there for every reasonable HF- and of course you are a reasonable HF, you have had happy APs in the past, you provide adequate housing & transportation, you are a nice family, etc etc. However it is harder to find the right AP for certain situations, and in your case there might be a lot of APs not up for the challenge- eventual infant + preschooler + older kids. And as others have said you probably don’t have the time & energy to look for that needle in the haystack right now and then train her and make sure she’s happy once she arrives. As it is, whenever I look at the AP applicant pool I am usually pretty underwhelmed by the choices. Either they have never held a full-time job or they don’t have enough childcare experience or they seem to have a negative outlook on life or seem shallow or stupid or rude or they don’t have any real interests or they have too many interests… and then I find one candidate in 10 who is actually a possibility and I am excited and then I skype with her and it’s just blah…. and then the next 1 applicant in 10 is better, but there is some key thing wrong (she says she likes older kids, not sure she really wants to care for preschool kids, or she has some severe allergies and needs us to keep our house free of dust- HA!- for her). I just have to hang in there and have hope, because I’m afraid that if I settle we’ll end up in rematch again which sucks. And then finally we find the one, or at least we think she’s the one, and she accepts and we wait and we hope that when she arrives she will be happy and competent and nice to our kids. And we’ll do the best we can to make her feel welcome when she comes, and hope that she can settle into a routine pretty quickly and not need us too much- because we need her to help us, that’s why we have an AP.

I guess my point in writing all that (besides that I am having a slow day at work) is that I can’t imagine dealing with all of that while awaiting the birth of a baby, and then with a newborn + 3 kids.

Which is why you are in crisis mode, and writing to us here for advice/support.

Seattle Mom December 2, 2013 at 4:48 pm

And I forgot to mention that half the AP candidates who seem good to me respond that they are not interested in my family.. or they don’t bother to respond at all (though I ALWAYS ask them to email no matter what, even if it is just to say “not interested” with no explanation needed).

Should be working December 2, 2013 at 6:47 pm

Just to offer everyone a laugh: one AP candidate I just looked at wrote in her medical history that she had a hysterectomy of her wisdom teeth!

I laugh with recognition, not mockingly. I had a medical problem in another country while I was an exchange student and had many awkward vocabulary moments. I remember asking for some clarification when a nurse inquired whether I had had a bowel movement, for instance.

Island Host Mom December 5, 2013 at 11:08 pm

I’m not sure how to reply directly to the new issue Old China Hand raised directly, but I would urge you to talk to your LCC right away. We had an au pair with an eating disorder (she was also cutting herself), and I passed off some of the eating disorder signs as not significant (she was eating baby food, for example). I have had other au pairs who gain weight when they come to the US, and then when they have to return home, they sort of freak out and try to lose it all right away. HOWEVER, in this case, our au pair was purging (though not binging) and her au pair friends finally went and told the LCC, and the LCC said she had to leave immediately and go back to her home country. Of course, the cutting may have had a lot to do with it also, but the combination made APIA say she had to leave. It was a liability issue for them. Of course, this is a significant disruption, and this may not be the result you want, but I would suggest you raise the issue with your LCC.

Should be working December 7, 2013 at 11:59 pm

Thread hijack alert–but none of the threads on extension seem open to comments anymore:

Our extension AP seems, as I feared would happen, to just not be so into it anymore. She does the job very dutifully, but I don’t really know why she is still here. Friends have moved on or fizzled, she doesn’t do much except work, gym, tv. Little resentments between all of us seem to have built up and get reactivated easily–her resentments, mine, my husband’s.

I am debating asking point-blank if maybe she simply has had enough and can we end this in a nice way. BUT I don’t know if the agency would require her to pay the airfare (and I don’t want to do it myself). What happens with extension APs when things go bad? I’m sure she won’t want to go to another family.

SKNY December 8, 2013 at 9:15 am

She still may want to rematch. Sometimes a different location, weather, etc is helpful to reset. Specially when you get to the point where all your friends are either gone, or into school or other things. Holidays are also specially hard. I know many au pairs who extended with current family because they truly liked family, and didnt want to risk a bad family, and in the end regret not having a new experience.
I see no problems on asking her how she is doing and if she regrets extending (and if so may want to end the relationship early). But I would also not make the assumption that she may want to go home vs rematch.

SKNY December 8, 2013 at 9:26 am

Also, while I know there are families who only match with extension au pairs and do well, I personally avoided. While I am sure there are great extension au pairs, my experience as a former au pair, friends who were au pairs, and my own former au pair who was an extension au pair, is that by the time you hit the 15mo line, you are kind of done with it. Doesnt matter how much you like the family, or like kids and all, there is only so long you can as an adult live in another familys home, under someone elses rules, eating the food they want to purchase, no real privacy, etc.
No matter how nice they are. No matter how much you like kids… No young person CHOOSE to be an au pair for fun on the second year. Perhaps they are not ready to go back home, or have not improved their English as much as they wanted, or want to travel more…. And au pairing is the only way to afford it.

Host Mom in the City December 8, 2013 at 11:12 am

Another reason in my experience (and a reason I wouldn’t want an extension au pair) – the au pair is really enjoying her social life and lack of responsibilities and wants to stay in her same area to continue the party.

Doesn’t sound like that’s what’s going on here should be working, but just wanted to add another reason. Should be working – definitely just talk to her, preferably without supposing anything. Maybe say you’ve noticed she’s been down and talk about why and what she might want to do. Maybe it’s something as simple as taking a new class that contributed toward what she wants to do when she gets home? Hope you figure it out – you shouldn’t have to deal with someone that obviously wishes she weren’t there.

Should be working December 8, 2013 at 11:47 am

Thanks for the ideas. I don’t feel like she “doesn’t want to be here” but I do have the impression that she is just here for no particularly positive reason right now except that there is nothing else for her to do. And yes, conversation will happen. The problem is that indeed there are small resentments that have gathered, on her side and admittedly on ours, and so it is hard to have an unburdened conversation.

No info on the extension AP flights home in case of early ending of program?

Host Mom in the City December 8, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Didn’t mean to imply she doesn’t want to be there anymore. But I can totally understand needing some direction in life the second year. What does she want to do when she goes home? Or is that the issue – she just really has no life plan?

Taking a Computer Lunch December 8, 2013 at 5:23 pm

I do wonder if your experience with your extension AP might be framed differently. Perhaps she extended because she was having such a great time (yeah sure, the work took a back seat to the recreation), but when her closest friends started to go home or extend with families in other parts of the country, her network failed, and the extension has turned out to be more work all around for her. (Work in building and maintaining new relationships or changing dynamics with Americans she has met.) It might be worth asking her, in a quiet moment, how different the extension has been versus what she imagined it would be. Is she asking to break the extension or are you imagining ending it and sending her home.

I have hosted 3 extension APs (extended with me) and my experience was different. AP #1 (from South America) had the skills to care for a child with special needs and an intelligent infant who was temporarily physically delayed as the result of bacterial meningitis. We attempted to sponsor her as an employer because of her particular skill set. She was fantastic until child #2 was a preschooler. It was clear that while she loved infants and toddlers, she didn’t have the patience to help a preschooler achieve independence. She had a skill set that permitted her to stay in the U.S. AP #2 (from Europe) fell in love with a guy who was happy enough to see her – on his terms. She extended for 6 months, but returned home with the relationship still up in the air. She was fantastic until the last month because she was unhappy that she didn’t have much free time, we sat down and quietly discussed all the times I had given her extra time off and why I couldn’t do it at that time. She wasn’t thrilled, but she marshaled her energy to fantastic use, and finished the year on a great note. AP #3 (from South America) had a family who had sufficient means to pay for her to finish her university education in the United States until a sibling became seriously ill and required medical treatment. She left at the 15-month-mark with our blessing because we had signed a contract to gut our house to make it handicapped accessible. She, too, was stellar until the end. While we have asked 4 of the 6 au pairs who followed them to extend, none were willing. 1 of the APs, who was not invited by us, chose to extend with another family.

Old China Hand December 8, 2013 at 7:04 pm

We just signed to extend with our ap for 6 months. She started in January and wants to go to grad school here, so she wanted to extend until the summer when she can start school. It is perfect timing for us because I am pregnant and she will extend until just after the baby is born. Then we don’t pay for child care while I am on paid maternity leave and can save the money for a voluntary salary reduction I have the next year but when we will need child care (I am a professor, so I get a partly paid research leave after the maternity leave). If I hadn’t gotten pregnant the timing of the extension would have been good because we would then be on a school year schedule for aps, which would make it a bit easier on them with friendships with college students (no other aps in our town). Our ap tells us that Chinese aps always assume they have to come for two years because it is the only way the cost of the program works for them.

Momma Gadget December 8, 2013 at 9:59 pm

We have had 2 APs who extended with us from other families. They has been in very different parts of the USA and wanted to see another area. They were both great. Our last AP extended another 6 months with us, but wished he had extended longer, even as some of his good friends started to leave. I think it was really during the extension period that we truly got to know this wonderful person.

Assumptions breed resentments. As others have suggested, just talk to her and find our what is borhering her. Maybe it is something fixable.

Seattle Mom December 9, 2013 at 5:32 pm

That explains a lot about our current AP. She’s an extension AP from another family, and I get the impression that she spends a lot less time with us than she did with her first family. I give her a pre-paid credit card to buy her own groceries (she often ate with her last family) and she always cooks her own food though she is welcome to eat our food too (sometimes if we have something particularly yummy she will). She also has a boyfriend and spends every weekend with him. She loves our kids, but I don’t feel that she loves our family. Still, she has a very active life outside of our home and seems to be enjoying her second year, there are just some small issues within our home that seem kind of hard to fix. Like she misuses most of our appliances (esp the laundry- she fries our clothes- and I told her she doesn’t have to do my laundry but she insists, which I love/hate because then I don’t have to do it all the time but my clothes get fried- so I end up hiding my better clothes to launder myself). Anyway she is going to be an AP in Canada next year, and I think it will be good for her to be in a new environment with a new family. I don’t really think she’s burnt out, but I think she is getting too old to be a true au pair- at this point she would be a great live-in nanny (just don’t expect her to understand not to run the dryer for 3x as long as necessary).

Ruki December 8, 2013 at 11:25 am

Interesting. I am a former au-pair and I lived in a very similar family. They were Mormons, 3 little kids (2,5, a newborn) and a very challenging schedule. I am not saying that the religion was a huge problem, but I didn’t feel so comfortable when we talked about me “going out on friday night, going on a date…” They didn’t like that I kept a coffee in the house. I couldn’t drink it in front of the kids. So yeah, religion, religion… It was a hard work!! There is one thing that not very many moms realize – it’s different for the Au-pair to take care of the kids, than for the mom. It’s different to deal and take care of your OWN kids. I’m a mom now and I know what I am talking about.It just feels really different- mom x caregiver. And somebody above said “and all they have to do is to work for 45 hours a week” uhmmm, hello. It’s more than that. Au-pair program is very complicated. I honestly, don’t like it. Someone should finally do something with the agencies. I’m sorry about your situation and I hope something will work out for you.

Skny December 8, 2013 at 12:34 pm

If you or her request a rematch and she doesn’t find a family/or decides not to match, agency will pay. If you guys extend for an year and decide to change to 6 mo, or 9mo, agency is most likely also pay. If he gives up because she is done, or leave before one of those marks, she pays for it

TexasHM December 11, 2013 at 9:15 am

If it’s a mutual decision leaving on a good note I was told agency pays flight. We asked because our AP had a sick family member year two and wouldn’t have extended otherwise (in case she had to leave). Her family member got better so it was never an issue. As long as they finish the first year they should get a ticket home. Can you ask your LCC?

Taking a Computer Lunch December 11, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Skny, au pairs can no longer change their extension period. Once they select an extension time, it is firm. Extension au pairs need to think very seriously about how long they want to stay into a second year.

post author December 10, 2013 at 2:30 pm

I am still pregnant, due this week. We have just matched with an au pair from another agency who is extending for another year. She is local and we met her. She seems to have all the major capabilities and human qualities in place, and whatever her deficiencies are (according to prev. host family) we can live with, I think. She is coming in about two months. I am still amazed that an extension candidate considered a family with almost four kids; but her first family was the same.

Should be working December 10, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Post author, thanks for providing the update!! I think it is great that you were able to meet the next candidate, she comes from a similar-sized family, and you were able to hear about what the previous HF said were her deficiencies and can live with them. PLEASE update again in 2 months! And all best wishes for a healthy baby and easy birth.

Host Mom in the City December 11, 2013 at 10:14 am

Glad you found an option that works for you!! Best of luck!

Seattle Mom December 11, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Yay- good news!

I’m crossing my fingers that it works out for you, and you get through the next 2 months.

Abba December 12, 2013 at 10:44 am

I should add that I find this tricky more because I don’t want her to feel like I am micromanaging or questioning her abilities as a teacher. That said, she clearly either doesn’t know how (or doesn’t want to) do part of her job. We have had multiple wonderful nannies prior to this (a couple of whom had no formal training with kids) who had no problem maintaining the language environment at home. This is the only time since the kids were born that they have refused to speak in Spanish at all. I’m perplexed.

hOstCDmom December 12, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Is it possible that it is related to the kids getting older and their development? This often happens in bilingual families who are in a monolingual larger environment — kids “decide” they are going to use the dominant language of their outside world. I think is great that your AP persists and keeps speaking Spanish to them — a lot of APs (or parents!) would give up and start using English when the kids only respond in English.

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