Probably the biggest downside to the extension option is the possibility for a mismatch between the family’s interest in extending and the au pair’s interest in extending.
When both sides don’t clearly share the same expectation, someone is bound to get disappointed. And, when people are disappointed, they often withdraw from a relationship and leave the whole thing to disintegrate.
Disappoint an au pair who was hoping for an extension, and you might be facing a sullen, unmotivated au pair for the rest of the year.
If you have an au pair who’s only okay, or one who really isn’t able to meet your needs, you absolutely don’t want to extend with her/him. But, if this very same au pair would herself/himself like to extend, how do handle possibly dissapointing the au pair when you still have several months before the end of the au pair’s time with you?
Usually, your best option when you can’t (or won’t) do what your au pair is hoping for is to “blame the system“.
1. Find something that really is an obstacle but that has nothing to do with your au pair or is simply beyond your au pair’s control.
2. Present that as the reason for not extending, and then there is no one to blame and not option to try to dissuade you.
For example, “Next year, we need an au pair who can drive on the highway to take DearChild to soccer games twice a week.” Or
“We’re planning to take our au pair with us on a long trip outside the USA, and we don’t want to take the chance that you’ll be denied re-entry into the US.”
TexasThreeTimeHostMom wrote with this concern, and shared the details of her situation. She’s pretty sure her au pair is not going to take this well.
Our au pair has been with us for 3 months. We’re her second family (she was a rematch). She’s 26. She thinks she is quite good at English but we struggle with her understanding simple instructions (we’re writing everything down if it is important!). Our au pair is very focused on using people/activities as a means to her ends rather than connecting…i.e. this person is a good friend for me because he is an English teacher. And, our two children are still not fond of the au pair. They do ok together during the day, but their bond is not strong during off hours/family time.
I have explained in detail that our au pair that she needs to be ready to engage our twins when we hand them off to her in the morning, but the children and the au pair struggle frequently with morning transitions. Instead of finishing her breakfast or preparing snacks for later, we want the au pair to engage the kids to prevent the standard 2 year old temper tantrum when mom and dad leave.
Our au pair is also a poor driver. She claimed she has a drivers license from a different US state in her previous placement, and she claimed that she was a frequent driver for 5 years. Not the case…turns out her home family has never even owned a car (OMG how did I not get this during our interviews?). Because she’s really not a strong driver, we’ve significantly limited places she can go with our children. I paid over $300 for driving lessons when she rematched with us, to no avail.
Long story short, we’re getting through it, but we’re not thrilled. We’re looking forward to getting a new au pair at the end of July when our current au pair’s time is up.
Here’s my challenge – I am 100% sure I do not want to extend with her, and I’m pretty sure she wants to extend. She’s made friends here and we’re really a good placement – two kids, car access, nice home, short work week, generally friendly.
On top of this, my husband and I are coming up on a unique 10 week sabbatical from work. We’ve so been hoping to have a helpful and fun au pair to travel with us – we’re going out of the country and on a US driving trip.
I need to tell our au pair soon that we don’t want to extend, but I want her to be happy and helpful (as much as possible) so we don’t end up frustrated and annoyed during the rest of her time with us. We don’t have time to rematch right now to take the risk on another mess before our time off.
My husband and I have discussed different approaches as to telling her why we don’t want to extend, including:
“We want our daughter sto learn Spanish or Portuguese” (true, but not the main reason),
“We think, at 26, and you being a smart and motivated woman, you will not be challenged enough during another year of caring for a 2.5 year old and it is time to move on.” (also likely true, but something she can deny), or t
The brutal truth which I think is only likely to cause her heartache and us challenges over the next four months – we really need an au pair who connects with our children and is a safe, experienced driver.
I would love advice and insight from host moms who have been here and done this already!
How can I tell her that we are satisfied with her today (really, its not going to get that much better) but we do not want to extend and it is time to move on?
Thanks in advance for your ideas — TexasThreeTimeHostMom