Host Parents who have partners have lots of choices about when — and even whether — to involve both parents in the Au Pair Interviewing process.
I’d love to know, among our readers, what the most common patterns are of getting each other involved.
Obviously, if you have a spouse or a parenting partner, you’re going to want to involve them in the au pair interviewing and matching process.
This can happen at many different steps in the process and at different levels of depth. Some parents prefer to have one parent be the “lead sled dog”, do most of the sorting & scheduling, and inviting the partner in to the second (or even later) conversation with the candidate. Others prefer act jointly the whole time. Still others prefer to take turns or let whoever has a free moment take the next step.
Whatever process you choose, I recommend that at the very least you and your partner:
(1) work together to identify the qualifications and qualities you are looking for,
(2) you discuss together your parenting and hosting philosophy,
(3) have a joint conversation with the candidate, and
(4) make the final decision together.
I recommend this for two reasons.
First, the au pair is going to live in the house with both of you, and care for the children of both of you. If one parent is not comfortable with the au pair, it will be hard for anyone to feel at ease in the home or in conversation about childcare.
Second, I believe that hosting an au pair should help make you a better parent — and that also mean being a better parenting partner.
The conversations we have about choosing an au pair, as well as the conversations we have about how we want an au pair and our children to interact, are conversations that help us get to know ourselves and each other better as parents. Making the au pair selection a shared process is a way to get to know your parenting partner’s hopes and priorities regarding childcare and the family’s norms. You really don’t want to go this alone.
Another reason for talking with the candidate together is that it will give the candidate a sense of how you two interact with each other and an idea of who cares about what. S/he’s accepting a position not with one of you, but with both of you. That’s true even if only one parent expects to regularly direct, coach and interact with the au pair.