How can we prepare our Au Pair for significant disruption?

by cv harquail on January 4, 2011

Life brings us wave after wave of change. To move forward, we have to adapt to changes that happen to us and to changes that we make ourselves. And, as parents, we have to help our families anticipate and adapt to the changes we see coming, and to all the surprises we’re not quite able to anticipate.


Sometimes, we are able to see a change coming, and we’ve already experienced something similar. We have a good idea what we can expect this change to bring to our family. So, we try to explain the impending changes to our children and our au pairs, in the hopes that some advance notice, and some anticipatory suggestions, can help them surf the waves instead of flounder underneath them.

Host parents have written about changes in host family life due to to work schedules, moves to different cities, divorces, surgeries, and even ‘personal issues’. With any and all of these changes, we have to

  • Help our au pairs anticipate what to expect, and plan ahead
  • Help our au pairs experiment with how to adjust
  • Create space for our au pair to adjust
  • Respect that adjustments may be difficult for him or her (and may even precipitate a rematch), and
  • Help our au pair continue to have a good relationship with our children and our family

TakingAComputerLunch has a big change ahead: The Camel is having some serious surgery. Caring for The Camel will take almost all the host parents’ time and energy, leaving them little for their son, and very little for their au pair. TACL asks: What can we do to prepare our au pair?

Most of you have read about The Camel, as I affectionately refer to my adolescent special needs child (I find that a good sense of humor goes a long way in maintaining my equilibrium).

We have just learned that The Camel will require another invasive surgery. Our AP knows that The Camel will have the surgery, but she has little idea what this means for her as the au pair. Back during the Camel’s first serious surgery, our first AP #1 was brilliant. But the host parent stress in the aftermath of that surgery ultimately brought an end to our host parent- au pair relationship.

Because The Camel cannot advocate for herself in the hospital, DH and I will split her care, so that she is never left alone in hospital. Depending on her recovery, which could go on for weeks, we work tirelessly on her behalf. We will probably end up beyond tired and cranky ourselves. Our typically developing son gave our lifestyle the right metaphor (during a subsequent surgery): “It feels like you are divorced.”

While our AP’s childcare tasks may be easier during this time when The Camel is in hospital. Emotionally and in terms of family relationships, it will also be harder for our au pair. We HP will be stressed out, inattentive, distracted, and exhausted. In addition, extended family will be in and out, and although they might help with child care or housework, it will still be disruptive. And, HD and I have switched off our duties, so the night parent is able to come home and rest, but we also have to focus some of our attention on our typically developing child, who once said, “Just because my sister is in the hospital doesn’t mean I want a play date.”

To complicate matters even more, the surgery will also coincide either with her countdown mode or preparations for extension with us. Our AP has been fantastic to date — so we want to do our best to prepare her and make the experience as positive as it can be, given all the stress.

201101040054.jpgWhile I’m sure most of you have not been through what I have described perhaps someone else in your family had a surgery that required juggling an AP schedule and more than her fair share of family stress. So I’m hoping you have some ideas:

How can we prepare our AP for this surgery, and for how it will impact her schedule, family mental health, her responsibilities, and her experiences?

Taking a Computer Lunch

Surfer Girl trying to stand from San Diego Shooter
Surfer Girl  from
Dan Zen


MAHM January 4, 2011 at 8:40 am

First, My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family as you head into this uncertain time. I have always found your posts to be insightful and well balanced. I think you explained the stressful and unpredictable hospital course perfectly. I have found the more straightforward, precise, and explicit I am with the AP’s the better off I (and they) are. I would read your above post to your AP word for word!!! Then give her a big hug! I’m glad that you will be going through this time with a well known AP rather than a new one.

HRHM January 4, 2011 at 9:17 am

First off let me say that my hat’s off to TaCL. I know you have a lot on your plate and you seem to handle it with aplomb.

As for your AP, a lot of that is going to be left to personality and character. Anyone in their right mind can see this is not easy for the family. No one is happy about the coming changes, least of all you. And so this will come down to you doing your best to explain the situation and what can be reasonably expected as a result. How she reacts and handles it is seriously out of your control. Hopefully at this late date, she is attached to your kids and you and wants to be positive and helpful when you need it most. If she isn’t, there isn’t much to do except grin and bear it.

We welcomed our AP in the Spring. At the time she came, I thought I was pregnant (didn’t tell because we have lost a LOT of pregnancies) and so was inelligible to deploy. Fast forward a month and now I have had a miscarriage (still not talking about it) and have orders in hand to leave at the end of July. I told her as soon as I knew (3 months before I left) in order to give her time to adapt. The main change was that she would need to work 3 Saturdays a month for 4 hours instead of 2 – she freaked out. She didn’t mind missing my company or that she would have to be alone with HD or worry that there might be more work to do (there wasn’t). She was just upset that this would limit her ability to travel on the weekends (really how many times can you see DC and New York?) She never considered the fact that HD and I would be apart for 7 months or that I would miss Thanksgiving or Christmas with my babies. This was all just some evil plan on my part to keep her from enjoying her year in America. It became readily apparent where her priorities lie. And her behavior since then has only borne this out.
You know your AP best, hopefully she will rise to the occasion and be a blessing to your family (especially your son) during a time of crisis. My thoughts are with you.

Gianna January 4, 2011 at 9:29 am

I , too, want to wish you and your family the best as you enter this time. My experience is that aupairs usually exceed all exspectations at adjusting to very big changes which they see as unavoidable. The bigger challenge for many aupairs ( and families ) are the less dramatic changes which some aupairs see , probably as a result of youthful inexperience, as discretionary. The job change that makes a host mother nervous and edgy, the fear of an impending job change, the surgery that may not be seen as traumatic subsequent to a miscarriage ( although anyone of us who have experienced a miscarriage know that it is difficult ), the period when a child is going through diagnostic testing for learning disabilities, or maybe, construction on our house. I once had to bite my tongue when I heard an aupair refer to her host parents as ” liars ” because their vacations plans were changed. Cars go in for repairs and everyone shares the car or the adult who needs it the most uses it. Houses get sold before a host family closes on the new house and construction drags on forever…stuff happens. I think the agencies could be very helpful by including this preparation in their training sessions. It is part of family life. Once again, I wish you and your family the best at this time.

Calif Mom January 4, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Oh boy, I’m sorry to hear all this! We will keep you in our thoughts!

Gianna has an astute observation. The big ugly problems, like surgery or car accidents (I was crashed into and unable to return to work for what would turn out to be 4 months, with a very graduated return) are profound enough that a decent au pair is likely to rally, even if the details of how and when normalcy will return are not clear at the time.

I also agree that it’s really on her whether she will step up or get petty — I was lucky that our so-so au pair at the time really stepped up, and helped my husband run everything when I was completely out of commission and he needed to handle *a lot* of medical appointments for me. I couldn’t even cook for several months. (There’s a story of an 8-hour pot roast in there, during my recovery, that in retrospect is rather amusing…humor is indeed a sanity saver! We were laughing at my really frustrating deficiencies that remain just last night. Because if you don’t laugh, you get really PO’d and nothing changes anyway.)

That said, there is some due diligence that will probably serve you well:
1. a conversation with both parents and au pair, with as much detail as you *do* know, ie, everything you posted above
2. Also sending her that information in an email, so she can re-read it, absorb it, run it through Google translate or whatever she needs to do with it
3. A written explanation of any expected changes to her primary responsibilities. A description of her role when relatives are there, if her duties will change at all.
4. Keep your counselor in the loop, including any duty changes, so it doesn’t bite you later or get misrepresented.

And you might consider whether you can let your au pair have a bonus day or two off *before* the surgery if there is someone she wants to go visit, or something she wants to do, as a goodwill gesture. This would totally depend on your gut instinct, though, and if it might backfire don’t do it.

Are there any articles or books that explain how siblings react to events like this that might be useful to her to read ahead of time? That might reduce the risk of her feeling personally insulted if Brother Dear gets cranky with her (which I would anticipate). I once worked with a researcher who was writing a book about the siblings of chronically ill children, but I don’t know if it ever made it into print. The “Child Life” department of a children’s medical center might have useful handouts.

And yes, you’re going to be crankier than normal, and exhausted, and not have any “bandwidth” left for dealing with your au pair. As much as you can let her know about this ahead of time, the better.

If you think she’s going to want to talk about vacation plans for spring, ask her about it NOW so you don’t get it sprung on you later. You may not be able to give her a firm commitment, but at least you wouldn’t be PO’d that she asked you about it at the last minute. Get her to think ahead a little bit, too.

Nothing bad can come of sharing as much info as you have, as you have it, even if it turns out to not be the case. Set her expectations low, now. What people tend to not forgive is if you were to withhold information. In crisis management it’s called “taking out your own garbage”. It much harder to be criticized if you have shared as much as you can, even if it’s incomplete.

Best wishes! Get as much sleep now as you can!

Should be working January 4, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Great idea to give her some time off in advance of the surgery, to increase good will and also give a clue as to how serious this will be. Also great to be very specific about how to handle relatives visiting. Posts on here, and my own experience, confirm that dealing with the extended family can produce conflicts and uncomfortable situations, as when grandparents boss AP around. Also great to ask AP to clear up every possible anticipatable question about her own future before the surgery–including vacations, no family visits for AP, extra flexibility required, etc.

TaCL, all best wishes for your daughter, and your family.

Eurogirl January 4, 2011 at 10:14 am

Sorry to hear of your troubles, I have not been through anything like that, but to offer my opinions the closest thing I can think of: I went through a seperation with my French host family – can I be totally honest I had two main worries –

1. I loved those kids very much and was very upset for them that they were going through something so difficult when they were so young (twins aged four). I was worried about how to answer the difficult questions they asked me – “When is papa coming home?/Why is mama crying?/Who is mama yelling at on the phone?” – without lying to them or upsetting them further, and also without in any way offending the mother by getting too involved in her problems – which I felt would be inappropriate or maybe nosy of me. She was on such an edge anyway I didn’t want her to direct her (quite scary) anger at me.

2. I was afraid, to be very very honest here, I was afraid I would lose my job. I was there for six months and this happened in month three. I did not want to suddenly be sent home or have to find something else to do – I was planning to go back home then move to start university (which I did) at the end of the six months and for personal reasons I didn’t want to be home any sooner. I know this reads as selfish – but I was nineteen years old and away from home for the first time, it was my big adventure and I thought this was the premature end. Also I would then have no money, no job and be stuck in my parents’ house for three months.

It was a difficult time and they temporarily got back together before eventually divorcing after my time with them. I loved those kids and spent A LOT of time looking after them through that difficult time. I know I was a support and a strength for the children but it was difficult and I felt my relationship with the host parents was very awkward and strained after they began fighting in front of me and letting me see the problems within their relationship.

If your family life is difficult, particularly if there are indications that there could also be financial problems, it is worth telling your au pair that you will not be having to give her up – because I would have felt better if that had been made clear to me. Also, I think you should trust her as an adult (even if she’s as young as I was then) and talk to her about what is going on – it’s hard to cope and be helpful if you can’t even answer the questions the children ask you or if you feel lost in the situation yourself.

Hopefully none of you have these problems! But those are my perspective after the French events.

PA AP mom January 4, 2011 at 10:44 am

First of all, best wishes from me for a successful surgery and speedy recovery for your child.

Second, I think the only thing you can really do in a situation such as this is be brutally honest. Set realistic expectations. From there, it will be up to the AP to rise to the occasion and be part of the family.

Best of luck!

AFHostmom January 4, 2011 at 11:16 am

Not even close to the same, but we are in a period of transition too, as I have just gone back to work for the first time in 4 years (and my last job was 2 kids ago, with a 5 min commute, vs. my 90 minute one now). It’s going ok for the kids but we are frustrated with the AP, and she with us. It sounds like you have a solid base-line relationship with your AP though which should go a long way. I thought we did as well, but it became clear last week when I came home every day after being gone 12 hours to sinks full of dishes, toys littering the floor, and her working on her CHristmas cards. Then I checked the phone records and saw 2 hours worth of phone calls, during her working hours (one 30 min and one 90 min) to her home country, when our explicit house rule is no calls longer than 10 min during work. We had a conversation about it and I told her (as much as I hate to have to do this, for multiple reasons) that I’ll be monitoring phone, cell phone (we pay for it), and net usage during the day. She said she was lonely and I was inaccessible, and she’s right–I was very preoccupied, and it was a bad time of year to be lonely, but still, it was a betrayal of trust (and in reviewing the records, not the first time it’s happened, by a long shot….sigh).
Anyway, I hope your AP can deal with the change and sense of loneliness, if she feels it, better. And best of luck to your entire family.

HostMominVA January 4, 2011 at 5:13 pm

TaCL I hope that the surgery and recovery are easier on your daughter and the rest of your family than anticipated. I think you’ve gotten very good advice so far. It think that the timing of the operation demands that you are really clear with the AP that her job may be very different from in the past. I’d be inclined to say something to the effect of “We love you and love having you as a member of our family. We are about to experience a very challenging time both physically and emotionally. If you feel that you can support us, and set aside some of your own needs and desires during this critical time, we would be very grateful. I know how much you love The Camel and her brother. I hope that you can be there for them and for me and DH. If you can’t, or you simply are not up for the effort, I will understand. If this case, I need to know by XXX date so that I can have a dedicated caregiver in place.” I think it is important to encourage her to take some time to think over her decision. She needs information, time to reflect, the opportunity to ask questions, and then give you her decision. Of course, if on-boarding a new au pair is out of the question before the surgery, this approach won’t work.

Mom23 January 4, 2011 at 6:20 pm

TACL — thinking good thoughts for you and your family. I hope that the surgery goes well and that your daughter makes a speedy recovery.

I think talking about the weeks ahead is a great first step. I think acknowledging it is going to be a tough time is key and I like the suggestion of letting her make the decision to stay. I think most au pairs would understand and step up in a difficult time, especially if all else has been going smoothly.

Could you also build in special treats? In my area there are lots of groupons/living social etc. deals for things like laser tag, aerial park, etc. Maybe purchase some of these sorts of things to have on hand for special treats for the au pair and your son to do together. I have also bought discounted movie tickets in advance and given a pair to my au pair as a thank you gift when things have gotten tough. I have seen them at Costco. A few $5 gift cards to Starbucks might also be nice to have on hand.

AuPairNJ January 4, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Hope everyhting goes well for your family in this difficult moment and all the positive energy and thoughts to The Camel.

My HF lost a very dear family member this year, and it was a hard time on everybody…
specially the kids…So it really depends on her, but tell her that you might be cranky, you might yell or cry… but that is not about her right now! I worked for 10 hours a day for a week, even on my days off when the HP were at the wake, mass and with family from different states, but it made me feel really part of the family when they thanked me for that. It was through a text message, but to me it felt good to be able to help them in such a unexpected time. Give her real directions and if you have 5 min to think about her, just let her know how important is to you that you have her help in this time…(text message, post it in the fridge) and give her room to also adjust to any changes and if she seems or says she is tired (as long isnt affecting her work) remember that she also needs to vent. You seem to have a wonderful family and also very good at picking your au pairs the best luck on this moment.

Steff January 4, 2011 at 10:57 pm

I’m pretty much echoing the words you’d been told already: honesty. I really think that’s the way to go. Set expectations clear and realistic from the start, and well…hope for the best and for your Au-pair to step up upon the situation. I’d tell her how things would probably be, and how there are going to be more important things in your head rather than her (i.e your daughter and your son, too) I’ve been there, done that (li’l brother sick with both parents at the hospital and me at home with grams a few too many times once upon a time) so I know how awful that can feel. You feel guilty for wanting them home regardless X situation your sibling is going through, so if I were you, I’d be worrying more about the boy and how much this is going to affect *him* too.
I think an honest, *open*, conversation with all the members of the family this is going to involve couldn’t go wrong.
Of course, I’m wishing the very best to your family and daughter now. I hope this is just something you and her, and all of you can get through nicely as you’ve done so far. My best wishes, and my thoughts are surely with your family, too! :)

HMinWI January 4, 2011 at 11:56 pm

Lots of prayers for your family and those who will be caring for her, TACL. You’ve obviously been through this before, and your experience will guide you like nothing any of us could ever say. I do think that your original post above is a great starting point. Pick out the points that you really want to make with your AP. Call a meeting and go through a list. Thank her in advance for her flexibility. Most of all, though, be honest with her and yourself. If you and HD know how hard this is going to be, tell her. Share with her that the added stress is going to leave little time for any “bonding.” Let her know that any downtime you appear to be having is likely full of other duties. Hopefully she’ll shine!

anonmom January 5, 2011 at 12:45 pm

First off, good luck with your daughter and getting through this challenging time. You will be in my prayers.

As for the AP situation, I agree with some of the other posters about being upfront and literal about what lies ahead. Thankfully, your AP has already been here for a while, so she is already familiar with your family situation, the culture, the area, etc.
While not faced with the same challenges in our family as you have been over the years, we have had some challenges with sn daughter and myself. One AP arrived, and within 48 hours of her arrival I was hospitalized with a sudden life/death illness, and some uncertainty whether I would make it another week. (after the fact, I found out from her parents that she had called them- telling them that the host mom might die, thankfully I can laugh about it now!) That AP was phenomenal! She jumped right in, and I am sure there were a few AP ‘rules’ broken about being alone with the kids overnight and the hours she worked! I am sure it was stressful being with 3 young children and dealing with the hopsitalization, and subsequent recovery. She had no time, and no warning about the significant change and disruption in the schedule, yet she handled it like someone twice her age (only 19 at the time). Sometime after the hospitalization, I obviously could not do many things, such as laundry and play with the children. This increased her duties, but with my sn daughter, I literally had to hand her off to the AP in the middle of huge 5 hour episode. For a half hour she had to restrain my dd on the floor, while I had to leave the house. I had no energy, and feared without patience I would harm my dd- another ‘side effect’ of the stress.

As long as you are up front about the potential ‘side effects’ that you and your family will be dealing with- emotionally, physically, psychologically, she can be forearmed and understand that your patience levels and fatigue will change, as might your personality= but that this is not a reflection on your feelings to the AP. In fact, in discussing with her, you may even explain that you are so grateful that she has been with you and provided excellent care, and that you, as the mom, feel lucky that ‘the camel’ will be having the surgery when the AP is still here, because this will give your dh and you comfort and peace of mind while the chaos ensues.

Good Luck with everything, and remember to keep your own health in check! Remember to use lots of hand sanitizer at the hospital! I was just there again for 2 weeks- ugh!

OB Mom January 5, 2011 at 3:52 pm

As so many others have said, our thoughts are with your during this challenging time. I hope your daughter recovers quickly. I agree with everyone here and think that the first step is to recognize and discuss with her how stressful things will be. By telling her that you may/will be grumpy, it will be so much easier for her to recognize. Perhaps you can empower her by telling her that you need her to be the main conduit and support for your son. You’ve mentioned before that in general your AP’s main responsibility is for your daughter; with that being shifted to you and your husband, she may feel lost focusing only on your son. Ask her to help you remember to help fulfill his needs. Tell her in advance that you will probably forget to say “thanks”, but that you really do appreciate having her there for him and the rest of your family. Give her a hug as someone above said. Show gratitude and tell her what may happen. You know yourselves best to know whether you would appreciate if she ask you how things are going, or if you’d rather her not be yet another person to answer to. Good luck and know that we are all here if you ever need to vent or share.

Our only story of big change was when I lost my job a couple years ago. I came home in the middle of the day and Grandma was visiting because I was about to go on a work trip and DH was also traveling. Sixty percent of my company was laid off and I was kind of in shock when I came home. While I did not recognize it at the time, she was obviously concerned that she would need to go home. It had happened to several other of her friends and it was at the bottom of the recession and she had no idea of how it would impact her. Before the end of the day she asked me if she would have to leave. I assured her that I would do my best to keep her because I was hoping to find another job within the time that she was still in her contract, but that meant firing all the rest of the people/services that help things run well around the house (occupational therapist for my son, cleaning lady and gardener). I asked her if she would mind helping me clean the house on a weekly basis even though I know that violated the AP rules. She happily agreed and every week we would start at different parts of the house and work towards each other (honestly it was the cleanest our house has ever been!). Our period of uncertainty lasted a few weeks, but once we got into our new roles things we had a great time and bonded very well. I did find a new job within 6 months and was glad that she was there to help celebrate.

2boys2girls January 6, 2011 at 12:13 am

With our third AP we had an unexpected medical emergency with our daughter that led to her being hospitalized for three months. After the first few days of complete crisis mode, we realized we needed a more long term plan of how we would manage one of us being at the hospital at all times without losing our jobs, neglecting our three other young children, and how not to destroy the good relationship with our AP. Other than directly communicating our concerns and needs we asked my older sister, who the AP really liked and admired, to be her “advocate.” My sister helped us out by looking after the AP’s needs: giving her her breaks during the day (our AP would not have taken a break if she thought the kids would not get the care she thought they needed), calling her and asking her how she was doing and what she needed, making sure there was always food in the house, making sure her weekly stipend was paid on time, bringing her her favorite coffee and just generally being available for her to talk with and support. It took tremendous pressure off of me to have one less person to worry about and also allowed my au pair to have someone to go to so she wouldn’t feel she was bothering me. This deepened the bond my AP and my sister shared and also preserved my good relationship with my AP until some normalcy could return.
Please take care during this stressful time.

NoVA Host Mom January 7, 2011 at 2:03 am

I will keep your family, and the Camel especially, in my thoughts for a good surgery and speedy and healthy recovery.

I have to agree with everyone that you just need to be honest. Lay it out there — just how much this whole thing will drain you and HD, how it has been known to impact your son, and what you know can be expected during this process. Point out how while you have past history to give you and HD some idea on the process, you still don’t know every twist and turn life will give you.

I think that it’s a good idea to try to give a little break before the process (if you can and if you don’t think it will bite you later) to help her re-charge her batteries before the major events (or maybe plan to give her a little time after, but I’ll leave it to your discretion whether it will be helpful to let her know going into it or if it should be a surprise after). I also would let her know that you will do your best to be there to talk to her when it is done, but that the during will be all for the Camel, your son, and whatever left will keep you barely functional.

I also agree that this will be an amazing test of character for your AP. Either she will step up and show what she is made up, or you will see clearly that she is not meant to stay for an extension. Hopefully she will continue to be the wonderful member of the family and step into the new role during this process. You can only do so much, but hopefully she will understand just how important and critical this surgery is as an “all hands on deck” kind of event that families sometimes have.

Busy Mom January 8, 2011 at 11:13 am

I don’t have anything to add to everyone’s comments, except that I hope that everything goes smoothly with the surgery.

Host Mommy Dearest January 8, 2011 at 11:30 pm

I also want to add my best wishes for a speedy recovery for your daughter and the least amount of stress possible for you and your family.

Taking a Computer Lunch January 9, 2011 at 12:03 am

Thanks everyone. I like the idea of the AP advocate, and wish my own sister weren’t working iron weeks on the opposite side of the country (but perhaps I can enlist a neighbor). Our AP will be 3/4 of the way through through her year when the surgery happens, so we’ll know beforehand whether or not she will extend or we will also be trying to interview at the same time (as much as I’d love to beg her stay – I’d never do that to a young adult, instead I’ll try to get other family members relieve us as much as possible to make telephone calls if it comes to that). We do have to call an adult member of the household meeting sooner rather than later to be explicit about what to expect in the coming weeks.

The Camel is an unbelievably tough cookie. She has already survived one surgery that came with a 20% death rate (not without some parental heart-stopping moments) and one that was supposed to be routine but she didn’t read the manual. This one promises to be a breeze (but then all surgeons are optimists or they wouldn’t make that first cut). Fortunately for us, we have a great AP, a wonderful extended family, and great friends :-).

used to be an AP January 9, 2011 at 2:15 pm

First of all, all the best to you and your family, especially your daughter!

From the perspective of an AP, I’d also recommend honesty. One of the most important things to tell her in advance and maybe more than once is that you will be cranky and possibly unfriendly to her when the time of the surgery and the recovery comes but that that is due to stress and not her fault. Your AP is young, she may not have experienced anything like your situation, so it is important that she knows up front what will happen and how you might react.
I was in a different but still very difficult situation at work at one point (not as an AP) and while I don’t think that you will be anything like my boss at that time, it might still be helpful to illustrate possible effects of “not saying what’s going on”.
A few years back when I worked as a research assistent at my university I had a boss who yelled at me constantly for no reason at all, blamed me for mistakes that he had actually made, called me “the dumbest person she had ever met” in front of one of my professors, called me lazy if I was only 5 minutes early instead of 10, when I worked by myself she called every 30 minutes to check on me and yell some more and so on. It got so bad that I was afraid to go to work at all and had constant diarrhea for 3 months because of that (I also lost 10 kilos in the process). I stayed on the job because I needed the money and slowly the situation got better. About a year later my boss told me that she had had severe family problems at the time (I won’t go into detail here, but it must have been horrible). She told me that she knew that she had treated me horribly and that she was really sorry for it. Had I known at the time that she was going through a very difficult time in her life, I could have dealt with it in a different way.

AFHostmom January 10, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Just want to follow up since I pissed and moaned about our not so good transition earlier in the comments. ;) After reflecting, evem though I thought I had an understanding of how difficult it was for her when our lives changed with me going back to work full time, I felt bad that I wasn’t around to chat more. Our AP seems to want something different than what my husband and I want: we kind of hoped for someone who would make a lot of friends and take her off time seeing things and going exciting places, but she is more of a home body and would rather hang out and chat with us when she’s not with one of her 2 close friends. Anyway, I ended up going shopping last week and ran across a really nice handbag and clutch that she had been eyeing but would never have bought for herself, and they were half price (she still wouldn’t have bought them), so I splurged on her. I gave them to her with our thanks for sticking out a tough couple of weeks, and she was very appreciative. I’ve found that she really appreciated the gesture. If your AP steps up and does well (or even just makes it through;)), I am also a fan of showing your appreciation in a tangible way.

Euromom January 16, 2011 at 5:56 pm

TACL – I have nothing to add to the above posts but wish to send my best wishes to you, your family and your daughter. I hope all goes according to plan and your daughter has a smooth surgery and recovery.

Taking a Computer Lunch May 3, 2011 at 1:54 pm

I just want to let you know that The Camel pulled through and our AP has been great. she spent a significant part of her “free” time in the waiting room with us yesterday and has transported a family member to the hospital on a couple of occasions, and she was very attentive when the physical therapist came in and explained how the way we all handle The Camel really has to change (so we’ll arrange for her to have training). She has indicated that she wants to join the family for dinner at the hospital. It really helped to 1) sit down with her quietly and explain that she was needed (she had assumed that because most of her caregiving was aimed at The Camel there would be nothing for her to do), 2) to repeatedly talk about the ways in which live was different in the hospital, and 3) to be up front about changes in scheduling her time that would be occurring (typically we set her schedule by the 20th of the month for the entire next month – this month, as day-to-day life is so up-in-the-air for us, we are scheduling one week at time and making daily adjustments. So far so good!

German Au-Pair May 3, 2011 at 4:41 pm

I’m happy for you that your daughter pulled through and apparently so did you au pair-family-ties.
I wish you all the best for the next weeks and a good recovery for The Camel!

Should be working May 4, 2011 at 4:11 am

Great news, TACL. I’m so happy for you and the Camel, and also happy that the AP stepped up.

Busy Mom May 4, 2011 at 4:50 pm

So glad to ear that everything turned out well! Thank you for updating us

cv harquail May 4, 2011 at 7:08 pm

Echoing the sighs of relief on your behalf, and very relieved that Ms Camel made it through the surgery as hoped.

It’s great that you had the forethought to be proactive and prepare your ap- truly TACL your capacity as a loving parent is huge. And inspiring. Hugs

Mom23 May 4, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Thanks for the update. I am so glad that surgery went well.

Euromom May 4, 2011 at 3:22 pm

TACL – I am so thrilled to hear that your family is doing so well and that your support system is working out for you. Best wishes, Euromom

Melissa May 4, 2011 at 9:52 pm

TACL – That’s wonderful that your daughter’s surgery went smoothly! And that your au pair is helpful and handling things so well. Thanks for updating us.

DarthaStewart May 4, 2011 at 11:15 pm

That is fantastic news about the surgery. :) I hope that it continues to go so well for everyone.

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