How To Rematch: Share your best practices

by cv harquail on April 16, 2013

Rematching with your au pair is both a horrible drag and a great opportunity.

Rematching au pairs is a drag. Rematches are always hard to execute and fraught with anxiety and second guessing– and that’s just on the au pair’s side. Host parents have to tell the au pair that the match isn’t working, deal with fallout from that, cover their childcare needs, search for and then orient a new au pair, and deal with feelings of guilt and frustration. Oh, and start off on a good footing with the new au pair, after they’ve been disappointed. The whole process can take from two weeks to … too long.

On the plus side, rematch can finally get you the au pair match that you and your kids need.

You might find that you have a better and more realistic understanding of the kind of au pair you need. And, since great au pairs end up in rematch for reasons not of their making, you can often find a wonderful au pair ‘in country’.

Keep in mind: Most parents realize (albeit belatedly) that it is better to rematch than to struggle with an au pair who can never fit with what your family needs. Many many host families end up in a rematch situation at some point in their hosting careers. We rematched twice over the course of 11 au pairs (both times too late, I admit).

While the au pair industry does not make public just how many families per year go into rematch, we’ve tried to assess that here on the blog. And, I’ve seen some ‘eyes only’ data from one agency that put their annual rematch rate at 23%. So, don’t take rematch personally.

Even after we factor put the au pairs with crazy expectations and the host parents who’re looking for Mary Poppins, there are a lot of host families and au pairs going through rematch each year in good faith.

What can a host parent do to make the au pair rematch process successful?

Let’s define ‘successful” as ‘ending with a new au pair that feels like a good match’. Let’s focus first on the garden variety rematch– where there is no outragous failing by an au pair or host family, just a chronic and irresolvable lack of fit.

WestCoastHostMom, a long time reader and contributor, writes that after sevearal great matches, their current au paor just isn’t working out. WestCoastHostMom says:

I searched the website and found some old threads about *deciding* to rematch … But nothing about the nitty gritty of *how to* rematch. So, I’m wondering if you could post this question as a new thread?

Let’s try to break our advice into several chunks — use these chunks in your replies to help us kee track of different threads of advice. I’ll then try to separate it into difeernt posts.

Parts of the Au Pair Rematch Process

1. Discussing / announcing to your au pair
2. Managing your departing au pair’s departure
– housing
– settling up financially
– managing emotions
3. Handling your kids’ experience of rematch
4. Getting support from the agency
5. Finding a new au pair
a.) from ‘in country’ (an au pair in rematch)
b.) from out of country (an au pair from the new appliant pool)
6. Addressing the fallout of a bad match on your rematch and your next steps

This will likely be a crazy conversation — lots of experience, lots of advice and lots of emotions. Ready?


See also:

It’s not you, it’s her. Let her go, move on.
Despite bad Au Pair performance: “My heart can’t handle the thought of destroying her life by sending her home”
Host Parent Wish: That Rematch would fix things, not send problems to another family
Au Pair “Shopped for a New Family” with Agency’s help — behind our back
When Agencies Reward Au Pairs Who Lack Commitment
At Best, Two Weeks of Resentment?: How to handle that rematch period
Classic Case: We’re in rematch… Now what?
Explaining a Rematch to Host Children
Choosing Your Next Au Pair: Beware of the Contrast Effect
When you initiate rematch, can you ask your Au Pair to leave immediately?
Have you ever regretted that you initiated a rematch?
Settling Accounts — *Before* she departs
11 Tips for Considering an Au Pair in Rematch
Advice wanted: How to navigate the Au Pair rematch process?
In Rematch Again? Why didn’t you call me?


NoVA Twin Mom April 16, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Just a pure logistical tip – our second au pair requested rematch about a year ago. Apparently 18 month old twins were more work than she thought they would be.

We did get her new address at her new host family’s location.

Then we started getting mail from her gym that – without opening it – looked like she hadn’t cancelled her membership and wasn’t paying the bills. We provided the gym with her new address and placed that and some other “junk” mail in a big envelope mailed to her new address.

We are STILL getting official-looking envelopes addressed to her from her home country. We “return to sender” anything with a return address.

Here’s my advice. While she is sitting in front of you – ideally when you’re doing the exchange of funds that will probably be necessary, even more ideally with the LCC present – make her fill out one of the post office “change of address” forms. You want to see it so she doesn’t *ahem* accidentally change your whole family’s address – just hers. There’s a place she’ll have to sign saying that she’s changing her own address, not someone else’s. She signs – then you mail it.

You’ll still get the stuff addressed to her “or current resident”, but the “business” mail will go to her new address. It might even work for international addresses if she’s going home, I’m not sure. But at least you won’t be trying to figure out how to get the gym to stop sending mail to her at your address about her account long after she’s gone.

Host Mom X April 16, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Good point! I posted below about outgoing AP#1 who stayed illegally in the country. She had just applied for a state ID before we initiated rematch, and really really REALLY wanted to get that in hand – I assume so she had at least as semblance of valid papers on her once she went illegal. But that didn’t end up arriving until after she left. She emailed and asked us to send it to “her friend” who would forward it to her back in her country “as a souvenir.” We did it, but it still came back to us. After trying a second time and having it come back to us again, we stopped trying. We had also realized by that time that she had not gone home to her country and that she needed this as more than just a souvenir. We weren’t interested in seeing her get in trouble, though we weren’t going to go further out of our way to get the ID to her to help her with her plans to stay in the country illegally. (And we did try to mail it twice – per her instructions!)

Taking a Computer Lunch April 17, 2013 at 7:34 am

This works for ALL departing au pairs, by the way. Most have never had to change an address, so they are unaware that they need to:

1) stop in at the bank and change their address to their home/new address when they close the account

2) register their change in address with the post office

3) cancel their gym or other memberships

4) talk with their LCC about what she recommends they do before they move

Tristatemom April 16, 2013 at 3:48 pm

I’ll post on item 2:

When asking the AP to return house keys, phone etc. make sure you also ask for the charger of the phone. Make sure to check your phone records online to see if there are any charges that she is responsible for before you settle accounts.
Personally, I will no longer schedule AP for work beginning the day rematch is official. I have gone through rematch twice and was amazed how the AP could neglect the kids because she had to interview with new families. In fact, tell her to interview only during her off time, with your landline and not the cell phone you provided her.
Also, be very specific with the LCC, what happened, why etc. We were amazed how one AP lied and made up stories about us whereas we kept a lot private thinking that both sides were moving on so there was no need to sling dirt.

Dawn April 16, 2013 at 4:50 pm

No matter how tempted you are to behave otherwise, always take the high road when dealing with your AP while you’re in rematch. We’ve hosted 6 APs and one of those was a complete disaster from week 1. She pulled the plug on the match herself at the one-month before HD and I needed to, and she decided on her own that APing wasn’t a good fit for her (I agree completely) and returned to her home country. Even though we were angry with the situation and how she handled it, we continued to invite her to dinner and on outings – in other words, the way we’d treat her if she were continuing on as our AP. We offered her the choice of staying for up to a month if it meant finding a more favorable airfare home (our next AP wasn’t due for another six weeks since we did another overseas match). My husband even encouraged her to cancel her shuttle reservation and gave her a ride to the airport 45 minutes away. To me, these were all generous gestures given that this AP was on the phone with the AD every day whining about how unhappy she was (but never discussed directly this with HD and I).

Did all this result in a petulant AP who later regretted her decision to leave? No; in fact, she wrote some insulting comments about her experience with our family on Facebook when she arrived home (passive-aggressive, perhaps, since I’m one of her “friends!”) But being generous toward her despite the match break made me feel good about how my family and I dealt with the setback and served as an example of tolerance for my children. It also taught me to screen for certain qualities up front and that’s led to more compatible and successful matches for us since then.

Should be working April 16, 2013 at 5:08 pm

I think there needs to be a step 0 in the list, or splitting 1 into 1a and 1b.

Reason: I think most agencies (CCAP for sure) REQUIRE a ‘mediation meeting’ with an LCC and a two-week period of “trying to improve” BEFORE HPs can officially begin rematch–which itself usually requires two further full weeks of housing the AP. This is, presumably, waived in the event of egregious behavior, but this particular post isn’t about that.

This means that if you are an HP considering rematch, or even if you are SURE about rematch, you need to ALREADY inform the agency and have a mediation meeting with the LCC so that 2-week “improvement” period can start. Otherwise you could get finally settled with the idea that you want rematch, and then have to organize a fake mediation meeting and deal with the 2-week “improvement” period before starting rematch, which normally requires yet ANOTHER two weeks of housing the AP with or without her working.

Now, the kicker with this 2-week ‘mediation’ process is that it can evoke sour, unpleasant reactions on the au pair’s part, and be a nail in the coffin on the part of the AP’s attitude. By the time most of us consider LCC mediation, we have already decided we want to rematch. So the mediation process is just a time lag and unnecessary hurtle.

I think a HF with a good record with an agency might be able to skip the mediation, any anecdotes out there on this (for NON-egregious cases, remember)? But a new HF would probably have to go through the procedure. It feels like an eternity.

Host Mom X April 16, 2013 at 6:08 pm

We are with Au Pair Care, and rematched twice (described below). We were not made aware of any mediation policy with APC, so there’s one agency at least that doesn’t have that. I think all agencies probably encourage some form of mediation or trying to make it work, but APC at least doesn’t seem to have a “formal” mediation requirement. (Though they do have the two-week post-rematch hosting requirement. I assume this is a State Department requirement.)

Seattle Mom April 18, 2013 at 7:21 pm

We are with CCAP and we managed to skip the mediation. I think it helped that we had a successful first year in the program with an AP who was very happy with us and we never complained about her or anything. It also helped that as soon as we were thinking rematch (within the first week, honestly) I emailed my LCC to give her a “heads up” and asked for her advice re: when to tell the AP, and how to handle certain issues. Third, it REALLY helped that we had a very experienced LCC at the time who could tell that we were not going to change our minds, and while the AP didn’t do anything egregious it was just a bad match and there was no sense in putting us through the torture of a mediation.

Also, I have been through CCAP’s LCC training and I remember that LCCs are highly encouraged to mediate, but it’s not really required. They can start a meeting with mediation in mind and then go straight to filling out the transition paperwork if the mediation is not successful.

Should be working April 19, 2013 at 11:17 am

SeattleMom, this is extremely useful info for CCAP families, thanks.

WestCoastHostMom April 16, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Great tips so far! I’m with APIA – and we have no requirement for mediation in advance. We also have a supportive LCC with whom we have worked for more than 4 years. In short, we trust her to do the right thing by us. Because of some scheduling issues, LCC/we have agreed that we are going to tell AP this weekend; I’m told that we can’t actually see profiles of candidates in the rematch pool until we officially break the match, and once we do that, we have to “act fast” because the “good” rematch candidates go quickly.

How does one pick out the “good” rematch candidates? How quick is quick enough – I’m a naturally slow decider in this area and worry that I will hesitate and lose to some other desperate rematch family. What should I tell the rematch candidates about our rematch situation? (And what might they be told by others – APs in our cluster? the agency?)

We are willing to have current AP stay in our house for 2 weeks (seems to be a requirement for APIA) but if she unable/unwilling to work, do we have to honor that commitment? (We think there is a very good chance that she will melt down and be unable to work. In fact, that sometimes happens to her already.)

Ugh. All very stressful. Thanks for the helpful posts.

CA Host Mom April 16, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Oh, I feel for you! I would have given anything to have someone to talk to who had gone thru this before me when we were in your shoes, so I am happy for CV to share my email address with you if you want to talk. I really mean that!

Also, I would just suggest that you take the time that you need with new candidates and don’t rush thru and skip important things just because the agency puts pressure on you. Call all references that they give you access to (if they give you any) and ask specific questions about the AP. Meet with the AP in person if you can swing it. I fired direct and specific questions (related to the bad experience we just had) at LCCs (about the new AP candidates) during our rematch interview process and they were surprisingly candid with me.

Ask the AP what she learned from her experience with the previous family – that revealed a lot of information for me when I was interviewing.

Also, have a back up childcare plan that you are comfortable with just in case you need it — when I did that (though I never needed it) it made me feel a lot better and I could then focus on finding the next match.

There are good rematch candidates out there. Good luck to you!

WestCoastHostMom April 22, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Thanks for the kind words ;-)

Host Mom X April 16, 2013 at 6:43 pm

I agree with what CA Host Mom has advised, though you still need to “act fast,” I think. Not only because the good rematch candidates get snapped up quickly by other families, but also because the rematch clock may be ticking very quickly for the rematch APs as well. Our fabulous AP#2 was literally at the end of her clock and about to be shipped back home when we made the offer. (She had already convinced APC to allow her to stay in the country an extra few weeks to try to find a family.)

I also think that you will have greater ability to “act fast” if you are able to interview candidates in person during rematch, and talk to the former host families. I think it takes longer to decide on overseas matches because it is sooo hard to really get a sense for a lot of these candidates based on their oh-so-similar applications and videos, and over awkward Skype interviews. We felt like we were just groping in the dark (and made two bad decisions!) when we interviewed overseas. But with both of our terrific rematch APs, we knew very quickly, and gained so much information from the in-person interviews and host-family calls — as compared with other in-person interview candidates and other host-family calls.

As to the hosting commitment – I believe you are required to host for two weeks even if she is unwilling/unable to work (though haven’t looked at the rules in awhile). But my understanding is that if this situations is really too hard or awkward, the LCC will host (you may be required to pay the LCC a fee for this – $25/day or something like that). My experience though (from our own rematches and from speaking with our APs and their friends about other APs’ experiences) is that APs also know when it is just too awkward to stay – and they will just volunteer to leave and go stay with a friend if they can (obviously there will be some who can’t).

I do feel for you! Though we were lucky to be in rematch for short time periods, boy were those stressful! And of course with AP#1, we had four incredibly stressful months leading up to the decision. Live and learn. But take heart that great rematch candidates are out there, and hopefully you live in an area where you will quickly meet several in person.

WestCoastHostMom April 22, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Thanks ;) So far there is one girl we can meet in person, so I’ll be following your advice, fingers crossed.

Seattle Mom April 18, 2013 at 7:26 pm

I believe that you get to decide whether or not the AP will work while she is in your home. You can compel her to be on the clock, but unfortunately you can’t make her do a good job. HOWEVER, if your AP is trying to find a new family then you can make it clear that you will only provide a good reference if she does her job well while in transition. It’s kind of sticky.. because obviously if you talk to any families you want to be honest about the AP and why you are rematching.. I’ve been in that situation.

I know how stressful rematch is, having just been there a few months ago- but it is SO WONDERFUL when the AP finally leaves your home and you suddenly feel like you can breathe again. And then when the new AP comes and is so much better for your family- it’s all great.

CA Host Mom April 16, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Boy I wish I would have had this post to refer to 6 months ago! :)

1. Discussing / announcing to your au pair:

In our case, we had several discussions with our AP while we were biting our nails hoping she would get the hang of things. So the possibility of rematch was not a secret to anyone. I did make a mistake, however, in waiting for her to call rematch. She kept begging for chances and promising that she would behave more maturely and responsibly. Finally I decided that I could turn up the heat and let her call rematch – gave her the out that “if you think it’s just too much here with little kids, you are welcome to try to rematch with another family.” It would have saved everyone (including the family that she matched with that sent her home 6 weeks later!) some stress and heartache if I had just sucked it up and sent her packing at week 6 when things were clearly awful. Letting her call rematch introduced doubt about what really happened and why she went into rematch for future families and it left our family to deal with her for way longer than we should have.

My recommendation, providing that it is just a standard ‘not measuring up’ rematch, would be to be clear leading up to the final decision. Set out clear expectations and consequences (i.e. “you need to improve XYZ if we are going to avoid rematch”). If there are no signs of improvement, state that, but don’t be passive aggressive about it – or sneaky. Involve the LCC in mediation. Just be open and upfront about what the problems are and what needs to change (or what is not changing). And give the AP the chance to provide feedback too, making sure to listen to her/him.

2. Managing your departing au pair’s departure
– housing:
I would recommend, based on my experience, to try and avoid housing both your outgoing and incoming AP at the same time. Sometimes it can’t be helped, but I will do anything I can to avoid that the next time. It’s just too stressful and awkward, even when it is a mutually agreed upon departure.

– settling up financially:
I don’t have a lot of experience with this, but would think that it’s important to be thorough upfront since it might be difficult to settle up after the fact. Our rematch AP only worked ½ of her last week with us, so I was a bit confused about what to pay her so I asked our LCC who said I only needed to pay her for the hours that she worked. I assumed that I would be required to pay her for the whole week and still wonder if what she told us to do was right.

– managing emotions:
Our rematch period (13 days) was one of the most stressful and anxiety-ridden times in my life! It was awful … I did my best to suppress the resentment that I felt towards the departing AP who had managed to waste hours upon hours of my time (mentoring talks, expectations talks, talks with HD about what we should do next over and over again …) during her couple months with us. I just kept reminding myself that it would all be over and she would be gone soon. I was also very honest and fair when speaking to potential new host families that were asking for feedback about her. Honestly, I wanted to unload all of the reasons why I thought that they should avoid her like the plague, but I didn’t. I just explained why she did not work out in our family (i.e. she was overwhelmed by the attention and focus that a 3 y/o and 1 y/o require) and then told them about the things that she did do well, or what I thought she would be well suited for. Now, 6 months later, I can still get worked up if I think too much about the time wasted on her, but I am glad that I didn’t vent to the potential HFs that she was interviewing with – even if I could have convinced myself that I was doing it ‘for their benefit’. I’d also suggest that you try to keep in mind that it’s a really stressful time for the AP too – even if you are at our wits end, try to be understanding of what the AP is going through.

3. Handling your kids’ experience of rematch:
This advice will likely vary greatly depending on the ages of the children involved. Mine were too young to really get what was going on (thankfully). If my children were older I would think carefully about what I told them so that it didn’t undermine the respect and open mind that they needed to have for the next AP.

4. Getting support from the agency:
Ugh. Our LCC is a nice person, but I absolutely DESPISE how agencies handle (in my experience) APs in transition. They are in a tough spot, representing both the HF and the AP, and I understand that, but I gave very thoughtful and fair feedback about how our AP should not (under any circumstances) be placed in a family with infants. The LCC told me that there was no way she would remain infant qualified (based on some problems we had, they would update her profile), and then half of the calls that I got were from families wanting references on how our AP was with our infant (she was terrible, by the way – hence my concern about her going to another family with infants). It was frustrating to have taken the time to give the thoughtful (and useful!) feedback just to have it ignored, and have to waste time breaking it (in a respectable way) to the host families that called me for a reference. But I guess that’s just the way it goes …

5. Finding a new au pair:
General advice – try not to let the bitterness from the recently departed AP sneak into your discussions with the potential new AP. But be honest with them.

a.) from ‘in country’ (an au pair in rematch):
We are one of the families that has had tremendous success with rematch APs. AP#1 was in country and she was a wonderful fit for our family. She extended as long as possible with us and we still miss her and love her dearly. My advice about taking an AP in rematch – ask specific questions of the previous host family. Don’t be afraid to ask why it didn’t work out – but balance that out with what you hear from the LCC and AP herself (or himself). When the previous HF for our AP#1 told me that she “ate too much” I could tell that was bitterness talking. Don’t pass up an opportunity to meet face to face with potential rematch AP. Nothing beats the chance to sit across the table from someone and ask them questions.

b.) from out of country (an au pair from the new applicant pool):
Personally, we have not found a new AP while in rematch from the out of country pool – we always needed someone pretty quickly. I think that the advice would be a combination of what would be relevant to the rematch process as well as the best practices for matching with an AP in general. Also, I think it’s worth noting that an AP who is herself in rematch likely has a different outlook than an AP who is still at home, waiting to find her family.

6. Addressing the fallout of a bad match on your rematch and your next steps:
I think that it is important to be honest, but not to be petty or unnecessarily share details that just make the previous AP look bad (a previous poster said it well – ‘take the high road’). When we were rematching with our current AP, I explained to her why AP#2 did not work out – and that was because I wanted to make darn sure that this new AP wasn’t going to, for example, decide 2 months down the road that it was too hard for her to stay off of Facebook while she was supposed to be keeping an eye on our 2 young children. Also, if she felt that was something unreasonable (i.e. she would also want the freedom to be on FB all day while working) she would then have the chance to turn us down. That is just one example, but it was meant to be honest with the potential new AP, as well as serve as a sort of fair warning about what is acceptable and what is not. Because of the recent bad experience we had just had, I was careful to make sure that we got the right answers to the questions that were particularly sensitive, but I didn’t spend much time talking about the previous AP.

Host Mom X April 16, 2013 at 6:49 pm

On the resentment issue – I hear you. I was so glad AP#1 only ended up staying a few days after the rematch was initiated, because I was able to take the high road for those few days, but I’m not sure I would have lasted much longer! I also felt that I had wasted sooooo much valuable time over the past few months worrying about this person, trying to make things better for her that obviously I could never have done, and she had just turned out to be a liar with no appreciation for the fact that we had tried to shard to work with her.

The resentment lasted quite a long time too, but I think in large part, host dad and I just felt bad and guilty that we had subjected our little girl to this person for so long when she could have had the love and care and attention she deserved had we rematched sooner. The only consolation is that had we rematched much sooner, AP#2 – the most wonderful, fabulous AP ever – would not yet have been available. So because we waited, we got AP#2 – and nearly two great years!

Host Mom X April 16, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Long time lurker, first time poster. Sine this is my first time posting, after having spent nearly three years silently relying on this site for advice and guidance, I want to say thank you to CV and to this community for all of the great support and advice I have found here. In our three years of au pair hosting so far, we have been through two re-matches, and this site has been invaluable in navigating those issues, so I thought it was time to try and contribute. I’ll do my best to stick to the topic “chunks” when discussing our re-match situations, and what we’ve learned about “how” to rematch. Though we are apparently horrible overseas interviewers, we have had great success on rematch. So much so that we are contemplating just going straight to the “In-Country”/Rematch pool for our next au pair. But we know this is risky, and a very last-minute way of doing things, and we are hoping that maybe this third time we will have learned enough from this site and our past mistakes to do a better job of interviewing next time around.

Anyway, here is our experience with rematch in a nutshell, and then I will try to get to some of the specifics CV listed. We were newbies with AP #1. We probably knew it was a bad match during the first week, but we had so much guilt thinking it was our fault, we could improve, etc., that it took us four months to finally make the decision. The wave of relief that washed over us once the decision had been made and conveyed was life-changing, really. We learned that we would never hesitate for so long again if we ended up in a situation like this one where we KNEW it just wasn’t working. We were able to re-match quickly and found a fabulous, amazing au pair who stayed with us for nearly two years. Renewed our faith in the AP program, and made us huge fans. With AP #3 we knew from day 1 that it wouldn’t work, but – in close consultation with our LCC – gave it about two weeks before officially calling it quits. Also rematched quickly with a terrific extension AP who is with us for her second year.

1. Discussing / announcing to your au pair
We had months of agony with AP#1. She had no initiative, constantly complained about our neighborhood, living situation, the low salary, displayed some racism, told us that our little two-year old was a “bad” girl and that she kicked and hit the AP (though we now don’t believe this was true, at the time we reacted as though it was and took this complaint very seriously, and tried to work with our daughter and the AP to correct this behavior, though we never had any evidence of it), stayed in her room and refused to explore the city, etc. Was clearly only in the country for the visa, and in fact – after we rematched – she stayed in the country, and is still here now. (She met our next AP through AP circles and sent us regards, and I have to admit I did some Facebook stalking.) We just kept trying to make it better – trying to find ways to engage her in local activities so that she’d enjoy our neighborhood and city more (mind you we live in THE major U.S. city on the east coast – IN the city, not a suburb – APs are dying to live here!), offered to host and pay for an AP gathering in our home so she could meet other local APs, asked again and again how we could help with any child-care concerns and gave lots of tips and suggestions, etc. We kept feeling guilty and like we weren’t doing enough, and we knew how hard the job was – full 45 hours with an infant and toddler. Turned out this AP had never had a full time job before (though she was 24), so the shock of a full work week, and such a tiring one at that, was really too much for her. Three months into the stay she told us she just HAD to have a break and really wanted to visit a friend in another state for a week, and we were able to coincide it with my mother-in-law’s visit so that we’d have childcare, so she went away for the week (I know, I know, she had not yet accrued that vacation time; we were trying to make it work). We realized then the dark atmosphere that had descended on our home with this AP – because it lifted, and we had such a great week! We felt like our toddler was happy and engaged again (AP #1 was actually pretty good with our infant, but had NO ability with the toddler), and we realized we couldn’t live like this. So we resolved to have “a talk” when the AP returned – basically shape up or ship out. Then the decision was made for us. In-laws were leaving town the day AP resumed work after her vacation, but they returned to the house having forgotten something. Though the AP’s shift had started literally a half hour before, she was already plopped down in front of the tv with both kids (she was supposed to have been taking them to the library, and we have a minimal tv rule for the kids; 1/2 hour here or there, e.g., if the AP needed it to be able to prepare a meal). I also called the children’s librarian at the local library to ask if she had seen the AP there recently (I hated being turned into a spy), and she knew immediately who my children were – she had seen them there with me or with my husband or with our prior nanny – but she said she had never seen them there with someone matching the description of our AP. This explained why there were never any library art projects brought home – even though I asked each library day whether the AP had been there, and how it had gone. Each time she’d say, “yes we went, but DD did not want to do the art project.” In retrospect I should have known this was a lie, because no one loved crayons and glue like DD. Anyway, we sat AP #1 down for the talk that night, resolved that if the AP could not explain herself or make a real heartfelt promise to do better in the future, we would initiate rematch. The discussion turned out to be fairly straightforward. We first asked the AP to let us know how SHE felt she was doing, what was going well for her and what wasn’t, etc. – we wanted to be fair and give her a chance to air any grievances. She raised much of the same complaints she had been making all along, including more pronounced racism toward certain minority groups who lived in our neighborhood (she came from a homogeneous, all-white country). We then asked point blank, “how much time do you put the kids in front of the tv for each day?” She basically started spluttering and making excuses for why the job was too hard and there was no way anyone could do it without a lot of tv. We then asked point blank, “have you ever taken the children to the library?” She could not avoid that and admitted that she had only taken them the first time, but tried to make excuses like “DD doesn’t like the library, she hits and kicks me when I say it’s time to go.” We didn’t really even have a chance to discuss this, and she followed up with, “you want to fire me? Fine!” We said, “Well, yeah. We think rematch would be best, let’s talk to the the LCC. Maybe another family would be a better fit for you.” (Honestly, though, we would have had trouble recommending her; maybe to a family with older children where the AP’s primary responsibility would be driving kids around to after-school activities. We got the impression that this was what she had expected from her AP year – a big suburban American home with access to a big SUV to drive to the mall every day, and then drive the kids around in it for a few hours here and there. We were quite upfront in the interviews that this was NOT our situation, but again – I think she was just trying to get the visa.) So – that was basically how the discussion went. She went to her room, we called the LCC and explained things, the LCC called the AP, and re-match was initiated. We went into the “pool” (i.e. APs could now see our family’s profile again, and we could see theirs), and the LCC discussed with the AP what she wanted to do. She told the LCC she didn’t want a new family and would go home the next week.

I think the fact that we were very up-front with our issues, and that we gave the AP a chance to air her grievances as well was helpful. It was pretty clear after that conversation that this match was not working for either of us.

With AP#3, we knew from day 1 it wasn’t going to work. Total misfire. We had a big change coming up in our lives about a month after AP#3 arrived, and we had explained this change to AP#3 during Skype conversations, and thought she was game and on board. Turns out, AP#3 did not speak a word of English, and more importantly, did not understand a word of English. I know, I know how was it that we did not know this before she arrived? Another topic for another post, about our ridiculously awful Skype-interviewing techniques. (We knew it was bad, just not that bad; we thought it was something we could work with. We – oh, well, I am going to stop trying to explain it. We just messed up on that one, since we didn’t detect the other issues either.) She was also just completely clueless, really had no idea what to do with our children, seemed very confused about getting around, etc. Combined with the severe language deficit (it is very uncommon, in my experience, to have poorer receptive abilities in a foreign language than spoken abilities; she had an utter and complete inability to understand anything AT ALL, without heavy reliance on google translate mixed with my rusty knowledge of her language), it would have taken way too long to get this AP to where she needed to be – i.e. fairly independent – before the Big Change, when we needed her to be able to just take charge of the kids and let us focus on the Big Change. She was very sweet, and actually picked up on certain things – like household tasks related to childcare – fairly quickly. (Though still just didn’t quite have that instinct for kids at our kids’ age – 2 and 4 at that time.) If the Big Change wasn’t looming, we might have given her more time. But we just couldn’t at that point, and we knew we had no more time to lose. We were in touch with the LCC about this from day 1, and were in constant communication with her and the AP – a few visits, conference calls every few nights, etc. Luckily, the LCC spoke AP#3’s language. So – the AP knew that rematch was probably going to happen, and we didn’t have one “The Talk” talk, per se. After the first week, AP#3 knew that we would let her know by the end of the second week at the latest whether this could work for us. And we are pretty sure she understood why it wasn’t going to work; she seemed aware of her limits, to some extent. By halfway through the second week, we decided not to kid ourselves any longer, and to give us both the best chance for rematch, we initiated rematch and got back into the pool. AP#3 was sad and a bit shell-shocked by the whole experience, but I think that because we kept the lines of communication open and relied heavily on the LCC during this time, she was prepared and knew where we were coming from.

2. Managing your departing au pair’s departure
– housing
– settling up financially
– managing emotions

We had “the talk” with AP#1 on a Wednesday. The AP was going to stay until Friday to earn her full stipend for that week, and said she’d then go to a friend’s to stay until her flight home (we had told her we were fine hosting her for the full two weeks, and if she wanted to work that entire time, we’d be okay with that). It was an awkward few days, but the AP was fairly sheepish at that point. We had never feared for our children’s safety with her, so we were okay having the AP care for them for the remaining two days. But I have to say we were relieved that she did not express a desire to stay for the full two weeks she was entitled to. We didn’t have anything to settle financially; I suppose we could have made a stink about the unearned vacation time she had taken, but we had agreed to that. In any case – I think that would have been stingy and unnecessary.

From the other end of the “settling up” topic: AP#2, who came to us out of rematch after AP#1’s departure, had a horrible time settling up with her former host family, and we got tangled up in that. We found out soon after she arrived in our home that her prior family had withheld her last week’s stipend, and was insisting that the AP pay them back for the course and course materials they had paid for – neither of which they had any right to do. For some reason, her LCC did not properly navigate that situation, and in what I think was an attempt to mediate, suggested that the AP pay back some of the course material cost out of that last week’s stipend. Our AP had agreed to that, which meant that the host family still owed her some of the stipend they were withholding, but they never gave her the money. We were appalled and called them up, and spoke to probably the craziest people we had ever spoken to before. They screamed at us on the phone and said all kinds of nasty things about the AP, and they weren’t going to pay a cent more, blah blah blah. Finally we offered to pay for the course materials if they would agree to pay the owed stipend. (Which meant that we gave the AP the money the host family claimed they had spent on course materials, and the host family was supposed to send us a small check, like $50, to make up the rest of the stipend.) Of course they never sent the money to AP#2.

Back to AP#1. We actually found AP#2 right away (that weekend), and she was going to start the following Monday (hurrah, no gap in childcare!). More on that below. AP#1 came to us on Saturday morning – when we were having about 5 APs over to interview – and asked if she could stay until Monday, instead of leaving that night as she had originally told us she would. Since I knew at that time we’d have a new AP by Sunday night – based on the several great APs we were fortunate enough to interview that morning – I said we needed the room Sunday night, and she said fine, she’d be out by Saturday night as originally planned. We would have hosted her the full two weeks in another room of the house (couch in living room, etc.) if she had needed the housing, but that would have been quite awkward.

With AP#3’s rematch, we also found our next AP right away, but she couldn’t start for another couple weeks (she was finishing up her first year; she was an extension AP). AP#3 was still looking for a rematch family, and we told her we’d be happy to host her and have her work if that was what she wanted until she found a new family. (Luckily, host dad was working at home at the time, so he could be around to supervise; we had some safety concerns with AP#3, given her cluelessness and inability to communicate, so we just had her take care of the kids at home with very limited excursions – e.g. around the corner – during that time, with host dad hovering close by.) AP#3 actually ended up rematching with another family fairly soon, and their timing fortuitously coincided with ours. So AP#3 did stay with us until AP#4 was ready to start – again, no gap in childcare! (Though admittedly host dad got a lot less work done during those weeks with AP#3.) The situation was actually not as awkward as we thought it would be. AP#3 understood where we were coming from and that there were no hard feelings on our part, and she had found a new family. She was able to relax and enjoy her few weeks in our great city – she went out at night and on weekends, met some other APs, etc. We were totally confident still that we had made the right choice.
(Btw, we did speak with AP#3’s new host family (we had to assist with translating during her interview with them!), and were quite honest about why things didn’t work out for us, but they were still game to try out AP#3, more power to them.)

3. Handling your kids’ experience of rematch
Our kids were very young when we rematched AP#1 – baby and 2 – so they weren’t really affected by it. And the two-year old I think had not had a great time with AP#1, and immediately took to AP#2, so it was fine.

With AP#3, they actually ended up bonding somewhat, but it was still fine. They still talk about her fondly, but adore AP#4 and couldn’t be happier with her.

4. Getting support from the agency
Our LCC was amazing through everything with AP#1. She talked us through the process, helped us sort through APs in our cluster and in surrounding clusters who were in rematch, talked to other LCCs to get the scoop on rematching APs, etc. She was also very supportive to the outgoing AP, but AP#1 basically said she was done with the program (though liked to the agency and told them she was going back home when she did not).

With the AP#3-AP#4 experience, we had a different LCC who was equally fabulous. She was so helpful getting us through those first weeks with AP#3 and helping us to keep lines of communication open, and really seemed tireless in her attention to us and AP#3. She also gave us her opinion about the APs in her cluster that we were interviewing, and tried to get info for us from other LCCs about other rematch APs in different clusters. Totally supportive and helpful to us and to AP#3.

5. Finding a new au pair
I have to say, it really helps living in a major metropolitan area on the east coast. There are always (it seems) a large number of APs in rematch in the area, or a bus ride away (NY-DC-Boston). And since everyone knows someone in NY, many APs who had been with families in other areas of the country end up staying with friends or family in NY during rematch. We had 6 rematch APs over to our house to interview that very weekend (some were already in town, a few took a bus ride to us), a day after AP#1 stopped working. Several of them were lovely – we were incredibly lucky; we had choices! We had two of them back for a second round interview the next day, and then made our offer, which was accepted by the most fabulous wonderful AP ever who was three months into her year, finished out the year with us, and stayed another year.

Our agency – Au Pair Care – does not give out former host family numbers for au pairs in rematch. But we asked each AP for the family’s number so that we could call them (if the AP said no, I think that would not have helped her candidacy). We could tell that AP#2 was very nervous to have us call her host family. For good reason – they were batsh*t crazy, as mentioned above. That sealed the deal for us – we knew from the moment these people first started talking on the phone that the fault was all theirs and not the AP’s. AP#2 was so sweet and would hardly say a negative word about them, but we gleaned it all from that one phone conversation. (Their LCC also had told our LCC that this family was probably going to be asked to leave the program.) I think if you are getting an AP from rematch, calling the former host family is one of the best tools in your arsenal, in addition to arranging an in-person meeting with you and your kids if you can. Even if your agency doesn’t give out the numbers, ask the AP candidate for the number. If the AP won’t give the number, I would be very curious as to what she was trying to hide, and would think long and hard before rematching with her. I would also note that my husband also thought at the time that calling was not necessary – he believed the LCC’s story about the host family, and was confident that AP#2 was 100% not at fault. But I still thought I needed to hear that family’s perspective, and it sealed the deal in AP#2’s favor.

With our second rematch experience, we ended up speaking with several more prior host families, and the information we gained was invaluable – it helped us choose between two au pairs who we thought were almost even. The host family of the au pair we didn’t end up with gave a very unbiased overview – good, but not great. (They were an experienced host family; rematch had been for financial reasons, not a specific problem with her or with childcare. They said that of all of their au pairs, she was fine – but not the best.) The host family of AP#4, who we did end up with after that second rematch experience, gave her a rave review – even though they had actually decided not to extend with her because of a few issues unrelated to childcare (personality issues, it seemed; which it turns out we have with her as well, but not a huge issue for us at all – small things).

Bottom line for choosing an au pair from rematch or extension: If you can arrange some in-person interviews – DO IT. (I know this is a more difficult prospect if you live in a less dense area of the country, or where APs aren’t as common.) Both APs who came to us from rematch stood out from the others we interviewed in person because of the way in which they interacted with our children, how they chose to divide their time with us in terms of prioritizing interacting with the children vs. just talking to us the whole time, the ways in which they were able to assertively and comfortably command the extremely nerve-wracking (I imagine) interview situation in which they found themselves.

6. Addressing the fallout of a bad match on your rematch and your next steps
With both rematch APs, we candidly discussed during the interviews what had gone wrong with our outgoing APs, and asked what they thought had gone wrong with their prior host families. We have been lucky not to have had much “fallout” per se from the prior matches. (Except that one awful phone call with the prior host family of AP#2 – which we basically brought upon ourselves.)

Anyway, thanks for listening, folks! After three years of staying silent, I guess I had a lot to say!

PhillyMom April 17, 2013 at 10:57 am

Thank you very much for a great, detailed post!!!

JJ Host Mom April 16, 2013 at 6:14 pm

I would also suggest a step that comes prior to the steps CV mentioned. Figure out possible backup childcare prior to talking with your au pair. This might entail coordinating with family or friends to cover, finding temporary daycare, using an employer-sponsored backup childcare program, using an hourly drop-off childcare facility like Kidspark, or finding a temporary nanny somewhere like I’ve been through three rematch situations and in none of those cases did I feel comfortable having the au pair provide childcare after we’d had the rematch conversation. In my experience the au pair has been stressed out, (understandably) interested only in herself and what she’s going to do next, and is not in a state to care for young children. For you, having a plan for childcare will give you the time and space to choose the best followup au pair, rather than desperately hiring whoever happens to be available.

Also, one of our best au pairs came to us through rematch. We were able to meet her in a park and watch her interact with the kids before matching with her. It struck me then how huge a difference it makes to be able to meet a candidate, and how lacking the overseas interview process can be, even with Skype. So if you possibly can, meet in-country candidates in person.

The rematches we’ve been through have all been extremely stressful. But in the end we got great au pairs. So stick to your guns, do what’s right for your family, be fair to the departing au pair, and things will work out in the end.

Host Mom X April 16, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Totally agree on the back-up care planning. We were lucky not to have needed it, but we were also lucky that host dad’s mom was willing to hop right back on the plane both times to fill in, in combination with a work-sponsored back-up care program, and host dad’s own flexible job.

Because of said host-dad flexibility, with AP#3 – who did stay with us and continue working for several more weeks – we specifically arranged her schedule so that she had off-time in the middle of each day to work on rematch. Host dad would take over with the kids so that she could do phone interviews, check her email, etc. Totally agree with JJ Host Mom that otherwise an outgoing AP is going to be (understandably) too pre-occupied with finding her next family to provide adequate childcare the whole time. We also made clear to AP#3 that if she had an opportunity for an in-person interview, but needed to make time for it, she should tell us immediately and we’d work with her to arrange her schedule so that she could go to the interview.

NYHM April 16, 2013 at 9:11 pm

Our family is on AP #1 right now and it has been a terrific year. Pretty perfect, in fact, right up until she announced a few weeks ago that her family was having issues at home and it was making her homesick to be so far away so she is leaving 4 months early. We negotiated with her so she would stay longer then she first said so she’s leaving 3 months early. We are not “rematching” per say because we decided we could make it for the month we’ll have left before school ends without help (I’m a SAHM) and then we’d prefer to have no one living in home for the summer, so we’re just doing a new match for the fall. Same as if she had fulfilled her commitment. But now she’s living in our home and caring for our kids and every time I see her I feel a little more pissed! I decided to not let it show at all. I’m treating her exactly as I have the whole year – we have a good relationship and my children love her so I want the atmosphere in our house to remain as positive as it has been over the past 8 months.

We don’t owe her money – she never took any classes – so that won’t be a problem. But I’m questioning how I should handle her actual departure. Do we take her out to dinner to say goodbye? My kids will want to and if she had stayed even to the end of the school year I would want to, but now I don’t think she deserves it! Do we pay for her car to the airport? I don’t think we should- but is that terrible? She took all her vacation – but only earned 1 1/2 weeks. Should I demand she repay $100? That’s so petty and we don’t need the money – but when I’m pissed enough I think maybe I should! She keeps coming to me telling me about other friends of her who are also leaving early (she was the clear instigator of this mass early exodus in our area) and telling me about how “mean” the HF’s are being to the AP’s. She’s looking for me to say “oh my God, how terrible.” But each time I respond by saying, “well, can you blame them? AP’s make a commitment and it’s really not fair to break it. I’m sorry if you or your friends are homesick but you knew what the deal was when you signed up” And she keeps trying to get me to give her a different answer! I’m not being mean to making her feel guilty (as apparently the other HF’s are doing) but I’m also not letting her off the hook and I don’t think I should! Right??

NoVA Twin Mom April 16, 2013 at 11:29 pm

Your agency may have a worksheet as to who owes who money – I know APIA does. If she hasn’t taken any classes, you *might* owe her some money, which will probably be balanced out by the fact that she took more vacation than she technically earned, for which she would owe you money (if that’s how the math plays out). You may want to ask your LCC for the form now so that both of you can know in advance who is going to owe how much to whom. Let the sheet they give you dictate who owes who money, and don’t make any statements about it until you see how the math comes out. That will take some of the emotion out of the picture.

You might be surprised – we would have owed our au pair who left after barely two months pay for the vacation time she earned but didn’t take – but in the end she wound up owing us money because the value of a class we paid for but she hadn’t taken yet was greater than the value of her earned but untaken vacation.

As for her attitude about leaving early, now that decisions have been made and plans put into motion, I think she might feel bad about leaving early and wants you to say it’s OK to make her feel better about leaving. Which is something you can’t imagine saying at this point. I know how hurt you must be about what happened – like it or not, it FEELS like she rejected your family when in fact she’s rejecting the situation. But you need to depersonalize it – and I say that KNOWING how hard it is. You said you’re annoyed, which I understand, but no matter how hard you’re trying to keep things positive, it’s not going to work if you’re still that annoyed. Again, I know how hard it is, we’ve been in rematch too – but it’s not good for anyone to harbor that kind of resentment. Can you change the subject when she starts bringing up how her friends are being treated? Recommend she take her concerns to the LCC? Even flat out tell her that you don’t want to discuss it? Because those drawn out discussions can’t be healthy for either of you.

As for the car service to the airport or taking her out to dinner, those are still options and if she’s going to be here for a few more weeks, which it sounds like she is, try to wait on making a decision. Dinner out is fairly easy, it doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, it can be the ever popular Cheesecake Factory or Friday’s – or something else – but it might be a nice gesture. It sounds like your kids are school age, so making a nice gesture at that point can set the tone for your whole family, and can set up a tradition for future au pairs – their last week you take them out to dinner. Then it might be less of a “reward” to this au pair (which may be how you’re seeing it now) and more of a beginning of a tradition. As for the car service, maybe tell her how to set it up and have her set it up as if she’s paying, and see how you feel on the last day. You can always choose at that point to give her cash to cover the cost of the ride if things are going better. You may be surprised – that last week you might feel a little more generous toward her. I wouldn’t recommend trading off the cost of the car service vs payment for the extra the time off – have her pay you back (if it turns out that is what will happen if she’s never taken a class) in cash. Then have her pay for the car service if that’s what you decide to do.

Emotions are running high right now, and probably will be until she leaves. Run all business communications through the LCC at this point. Tread carefully on everything else.

HRHM April 17, 2013 at 2:44 pm

“If she hasn’t taken any classes, you *might* owe her some money”

I disagree. The SD regulation clearly states the obligation is to pay 500 toward 6 credit hours of college classes. In the event she took no classes, there are no classes to reimburse her for in this case. She isn’t going to a new family and potentially taking her 6 credits there. This AP is going home without successfully completing the program. The family does not owe her for tuition.

I’m not sure how other agencies calculate vaca days, but when we were with APC, they told us they accrue with none in the first 2 months and then one per month in the following ten months. So unless she has not taken any days or is leaving really late in the game, most APs will probably end up owing for vacation taken. Our APs alway vacation in Sept and Mar (July matches) so they would owe us unless they left right before one of those trips.

NoVA Twin Mom April 18, 2013 at 12:19 pm

I hope that’s how it plays out – but in the end it will largely be up to the LCC regarding what she “calls” what the au pair is doing and how she reads the paperwork. Is it an uncompleted year? Will she call it a rematch where the au pair didn’t find a new family? Does she use the worksheet for all “checkouts,” not just rematches?

If she chooses to “use the worksheet” to determine who owes who what, not only could the host family be on the hook for some education money for classes never taken, but by the time the au pair leaves, she may have earned a week and a half of leave (if it’s prorated – if she’s been here 9 of 12 months, 75% of two work weeks would be a week and a half). Which means the host family would end up paying the whole amount to the au pair with no “unearned vacation amount” to offset it.

What I’m trying to get across is that it would be a good idea to approach the LCC NOW and ask how this is going to be handled – I wouldn’t want a sudden bill for potentially hundreds of dollars to hit me the week the au pair leaves. With some warning my budget could handle it better.

Au pair April 18, 2013 at 12:43 pm

I didn’t read all the responses, but I would like to offer you my point of view. Honestly I don’t understand why you are so mad? I do understand that you planned to have Childcare for the next 3 months, but this sounds like her family back home has Sirius issues. Think about it this way, if your husband would loose his job, and you couldn’t afford an au pair anymore, would you make the best choice for your family or for the au pair? It sounds like she had to choose as well, and I don’t blame her that she chose het own family. (But if she is just going home for no reason, or just because she wants too, then yes you are right, it is not fair, and I would’ve annoyed as well) do you know WHY exactly she is going home? Do the parents feta divorce? Parent lost job so they need her support? Parent sick? If one of those apply I don’t think you should be mad at her. She gave you 8 wonderful months as you stated,-and I think she deserves a goodbye dinner and drive to the airport.

CA Host Mom April 18, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Au pair – I think NYHM clearly explained why she is frustrated. I don’t think any of us would begrudge an AP who had to go home for a family emergency, or because there was a desperate need back home. I certainly wouldn’t …
But it is also important that APs understand that they have made a commitment to a family by entering into a contract, and that there are consequences to breaking such a commitment.
While you might be right about the 8 good months, and the fact that the AP deserves a goodbye dinner (I tend to agree) I don’t think you should deny NYHM her feelings of frustration about the fact that (and the way that) this AP broke her commitment.

Host Mom in the City April 17, 2013 at 8:39 am

Ugh, I’m so sorry. Most definitely she feels badly about leaving early and wants you to tell her it’s ok. Honestly, I would approach all this with the mindset of being respectful and not punitive, but would go ahead and let her have the natural consequences of her choice. Think of it as a life lesson if it helps – you’re not being mean, you’re teaching a young adult that when you make a choice in life, there are consequences.

If she complains that other host parents are treating their au pairs badly, I think you could safely say “While I understand you’ve made your decision, it does put the families in a really bad spot because we had planned on having child care for these last three months. I imagine some families are having a hard time knowing how to behave with someone who has broken a commitment.” And leave it at that.

I agree with NoVA Twim Mom that you should ask your LCC to broker the money exchange. It keeps you and the emotions out of it – it’s just business. Your LCC should present to you and your au pair the money you owe your au pair and vice versa. One of you will end up owing the other, and that money gets exchanged. I would not tell her you expect her to cover something that’s not in the “contract” like her car ride to the airport in exchange for the extra vacation time she took, for example. There are monetary requirements of the au pair program and those need to be worked out by the LCC and according to the rules of the program. It’s not you being mean – it’s a consequence of her choice.

As for taking her out to dinner and driving her to the airport, I’d go ahead with that. Presumably you did spend eight good months with her and your children will appreciate saying goodbye. I wouldn’t make it a huge deal, but stop for dinner on the way to the airport, and you will feel better about yourself.

two cents June 25, 2013 at 6:22 pm

I dont understand why u feel that way about her. Isn’t she HUMAN?
Sounds like she’s a loving person, she loves her family, we all do, personaly there would be nothing that would keep me away from my family if they indeed needed me, wouldn´t you feel the same? It seems that she loves your kids and your family, that she’s leaving is not because she wants to hurt you, its because she feels she’s more needed somewhere else.
And those conversations, on one hand she’s saying your family is better than those other families, and on the other she’s seeking for your aproval, she must feel a little guilty about leaving you.
Don’t focus only on your feelings, Its hard being away from home and although when you leave you know this things can happen, when they actually happen you find you dont react the way you had expected. Dont feel like she’s rejecting you, SHE IS NOT

MommyMia April 16, 2013 at 10:18 pm

@NYHM – Right! I think I’d just tell her, we’re not going to pay for your car to the airport, because you took more vacation time than you were entitled to for the time you worked, so rather than ask for money back from you, we’ll have you pay this yourself. If the kids are old enough to understand about the usual “Good-bye dinner” then I’d suck it up and do that (but hey, any excuse not to cook is OK by me!) Been there, done that, on the early departure. Our first AP suddenly decided after eight months, coincidentally right after her sister and mother visited for a week, that she was ready to leave. We think it was all premeditated and that her family and she became homesick again after their vacation, or possibly her mom who was very needy and spoke little English, convinced our AP after the sisters took off on a road trip and she stayed in bed for two days expecting me to baby her cold, that I was not a caring and compassionate “mom” for her to be staying with! Oddly enough, the LCC then convinced the AP not to forfeit her “completion bonus/refund” and free airfare home and sent her to another family about an hour away, where she finished her year. We were beyond caring at that point, and had learned enough to make a better match for our second, and subsequent matches.

NYHM April 17, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Thanks for the advice. It makes sense to me to tell her to take the $100 she owes us for vacation and use it for her car service to JFK. And I probably will take her for dinner before she leaves. She was wonderful with our children and really enjoyed having her – even now she’s lovely. It’s the right thing to do (for the kids if nothing else) to take her out and say goodbye. But NO WAY am I paying her money for the classes she didn’t take!

Taking a Computer Lunch April 17, 2013 at 7:08 am

While we have never been in rematch, we had one AP relationship crumble in the end (before I truly understood how emotionally wrenching it is to say goodbye, or I would have tried to handle it better) and she departed 3 weeks early. Because we had tried to sponsor her as an employee, she had lived with us for 3 1/2 years by the time she left. We ended up cancelling her cell phone number and getting a new number assigned to the phone. Expensive, but in the long run, worth it.

With AP #5, who was fantastic with The Camel and lousy with the rest of us, we did not take her out to dinner. We weren’t trying to be mean about it – she had made it clear that she did not want to spend her free time with us. I did drive her to the train station – she was extending with another family.

We have been limping along with the current AP (DH just didn’t want to put the effort into rematching), although in retrospect it would have made our lives easier. While DH has insisted that we treat her the same as other APs, she, too, has made it clear that she does not wish to spend her free time with us. My teenage kids are well aware that she doesn’t eat dinner with us, unlike most of her predecessors. I don’t see the point in taking her to dinner. Perhaps I’ll spring for a gift card so she can go out with her friends. I have offered to drive her to the airport when the time comes.

I will say, that no matter how mediocre the AP, my typically developing child always sides with them against me, even if he’s barely civil to them himself (he has been unfailingly polite to all of our great APs).

Host Mom X April 17, 2013 at 9:59 am

I have a question on the “settling up” point. A few folks seem to be suggesting that host families owe APs the cash value of courses not taken – is that really true under the rules? It does not seem right to me. I thought that a host family was required to pay $500 toward a qualifying course, but if the AP chooses not to fulfill the education requirement, he/she doesn’t get the value of the course in cash in exchange – no? Our current AP (not a rematch situation) hinted to us that other host families in the area were giving their APs $500 with which to pay their taxes, instead of paying $500 for the education requirement. We made it clear that – while we could not force our AP to sign up for and take a class – we would be paying $500 toward a qualifying course, not toward anything the AP wanted $500 dollars to do. (She apparently was not concerned about whatever consequences there might be resulting from not fulfilling the education requirement; my sense is there aren’t any really, unless the AP wants to extend. I have heard that some agencies say they won’t pay for the plane ticket home, but this might be an empty threat.)

I do understand in a rematch situation that, if an AP hasn’t taken a course, the full $500 burden should not fall on the next family, if the AP finds one; the next family should probably only be required to pay the pro-rated amount for education based on the number of months the rematch AP will be with them. And so the family that the AP leaves behind should make up the difference, based on how many months the AP was with them. But it seems that this amount should not necessarily be paid directly in cash to the AP; it should either be paid to the new family directly – to be used toward a qualifying course – or perhaps held in escrow by the agency. If the AP then takes a class, the money gets paid out to it. If the AP does not, the money goes back to the host family. This might be making things too complicated. But this is all to say – I did not think the $500 education payment was meant to be paid directly to the AP in cash. We have always paid the schools directly.

This issue came up in the fight we had with AP#2’s prior host family, described above. Because they withheld our AP’s stipend after rematch was initiated (even though she kept working), we offered to pay the money the family had spent on course materials because we realized that they had paid more than the pro-rated portion of the $500 – and we wanted them to pay the AP the money they had withheld. But my understanding of the whole situation is that (1) the family was wrong to withhold the stipend – that is never allowed; and (2) the education payment is an “up-front” expense (after all, if the AP needs to start a course in September, and she arrived in April, a host family can’t say to the AP, “well, we only owe you 5/12 of the $500 education money at this point, so we will dole out the cash for the course to you as the year goes on”). Because of that, I suppose an AP might be required to pay back the host family for the “unused” portion – i.e. the remaining 7/12 – but then the next host family must pay that money right over to the AP, as the “unused” portion of the education requirement money then becomes their burden. (I guess if an AP is going home, it might be fair to ask her to pay back the 7/12.)

Should be working April 17, 2013 at 10:52 am

I think APIA is the agency that has the HF pay the education money to the AP. CCAP doesn’t.

hOstCDmom April 17, 2013 at 11:17 am

In years past, when we have take a rematch AP (once with CCAP, once with APIA) we had to pay the full educational stipend (full $500) even though the AP was only going to be with us less than the year (9 months with one, 10 months with the other) because the AP had not yet signed up for/taken/paid for any courses and thus still needed to complete the full 6 credits for the year. We were also told, with CCAP, we were obligated to provide the full amount of vacation days that the AP had not taken, i.e. the full two weeks, since the AP had not taken any vacation days with the previous family. APIA told us we only had to give a prorated number of vacation days, but since the AP was going to be with us for 10 months, as a gesture of goodwill we just gave her the full 2 weeks (we have flexibility so it wasn’t a hardship for us, and we felt it wasn’t the APs fault that she hadn’t taken any vacation — her previous HP had not permitted it in the first 2 months)

NoVA Twin Mom April 17, 2013 at 1:55 pm

We’re with APIA – absent rematch, we don’t pay the money to the au pair. I guess I could give her cash and have her pay the school, but I’ve found it cleaner to pay the school myself on her behalf. (Probably exacerbated by the fact that our current au pair wasn’t comfortable registering for her English class over the phone. And we REALLY wanted her in English class.)

With our rematch au pair, we followed the sheet they gave us. I imagine she could have asked her new family to reimburse her directly for her class expenses, but that was between them and her. I guess I could also have simply cancelled her registration in the class and gotten a pretty good refund since the class hadn’t started yet – this was one of those “on site” au pair classes they have outside Baltimore somewhere, so there was probably a waiting list – but as annoyed as I was with the situation I realized she wouldn’t be able to get back into the full class, so we had her reimburse us instead.

As for what happens in APIA if they don’t use their whole stipend – I don’t know. Maybe the host family ends up paying some of it in cash, though I don’t remember there being a “worksheet” for normal checkout – only rematch. Our other au pairs have put their own money with the education stipend money “leftover” from their first class to take a second class.

PA AP Mom April 17, 2013 at 11:08 am

We are with CCAP. When our first AP was leaving at the completion of her year she asked for the remainder of her “course money”. We had paid $375 for her to complete her classes. She said that she was owed the additional $125 since she saved us the money by finding cheaper courses to take. I disagreed with her assessment but when I contacted the LCC she told me that we were to pay $500 for the year and that we were to pay the additional money to her.

All of our other 4 APs have spent over $500 for courses so we have given them the $500 to use towards that objective.

I’m not sure what the official ruling on this topic is. Is it $500 or is it the amount of the courses if not equal or more than $500. Never been able to get a clear answer.

hOstCDmom April 17, 2013 at 11:27 am

Interesting – That isn’t the answer we received from CCAP; we were told it was toward qualifying courses only, NOT a “no strings attached cash payment to the AP”, and we had the choice of giving the AP the money (with which she would pay for the course(s) directly herself and we could ask for a receipt) or we could pay the institution directly, but that it was NOT regular compensation to which the AP was entitled in all circumstances — it was a specified amount, with a $500 cap, that was to be used for a specified purpose– and if the AP’s courses cost less, we paid less (but we couldn’t make her take cheaper courses in order to pay less), and if the courses cost more, then the AP paid the difference.

I will find the language in the State Dept regs and post…

Taking a Computer Lunch April 17, 2013 at 1:33 pm

If you can find 6/credits/8 CEUs/80 hours for under $500 now, I want to know where you found it!

I’ve been hosting for 12 years now, and when I first started hosting the $500 just about covered it (we often paid for the books, topping it off, so it was a zero sum for the AP). Now, $500 barely buys 3 credits (not including books) at our community college. The “travel” courses are far more expensive (although the APs aren’t usually required to buy books).

hOstCDmom April 17, 2013 at 1:41 pm

I don’t disagree, my comment was more about the governing policy that the money is “for the courses” not the AP’s purse. If my AP elected for some reason not to take courses (and suffer the consequences, which I believe only impact the ability to extend) then I would not hand the AP $500 in cash.

HRHM April 17, 2013 at 2:52 pm

in PA when we lived there, Bloomsburg Univ let APs sit-in on courses for 25 per course and the professor could waive that. On the other side of town, Bucknell (one of the most expensive Unis in the country) let them do it for $125 per course.

Host Mom X April 17, 2013 at 3:14 pm

At least in the NY and DC areas, there are a lot of classes for $500 or less that au pairs can take -mostly at English-language-learning type schools geared toward recent immigrants (classes that do qualify for the required credits). For APs that want that, this is a good option. (Even APs who have good English will often want to take, e.g. a TOEFL course in case they have future foreign education plans.)

There are also those weekend 3-credit classes that I think NoVA Host Mom was referring to that are designed specifically for au pairs; the ones near NY are at Long Island Post. These classes cover a greater variety of topic areas, although our au pairs and their friends who have taken them agree that they are a bit of a joke – but they get the job done, and are a fun social experience for gathering with other au pairs. They cost $250 per 3-credit course – specifically so the APs can get 6 credits for $500. (Though if an AP does the room and board portion and sleeps over for the weekend, it costs I think $350 per course.) The LIU Post website mentions that they will consider running these programs for APs in other locations if the LCC works with them and guarantees at least 50 students – maybe your LCC can try to arrange this if there are enough APs in your area, TACL?

NY also has those “travel” courses that APs take, and those are less than $500 as well. It is $125 per course for 23 credits, and they give a discount for registering for more than 1 class at a time, so a couple of those in combo with one of the LIU Post-type classes does the trick for just about $500, maybe a bit more. A couple of our APs have had fun on those, and they get to see some other cities, or Niagra Falls.
Are the travel courses in your area a lot more expensive than that?

I agree that, unfortunately, if an AP wants to actually learn something in an academic setting – other than English – the $500 won’t cut it. But most universities (and even community colleges) – unless they have continuing ed classes – don’t let students enroll for only one course anyway; they have to enroll for more classes, either as a full-time or fully part time student. So that doesn’t work with most APs’ schedules anyway.

Taking a Computer Lunch April 18, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Our continuing ed cost almost as much as credit classes (we live in a major city and demand is high). Our LCC has ruled with the State Dept. that only one travel class can be taken. The one my current AP enrolled in cost more than her college credit class.

Host Mom in the City April 18, 2013 at 3:16 pm

We live in a big city too, and our first au pair did it for under $500. Our current AP is taking one $600 class that fulfills all her credits, so that’s too much over. Neither of them had any difficulty finding these.

hOstCDmom April 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm

State Dept has ruled only one travel course may be taken??

PA AP Mom April 17, 2013 at 3:14 pm

Ours take courses at our local community college. It’s around $125 per class depending on what they take.

FutureAP April 17, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Continuing education is cheaper and accepted by most agencies

JJ Host Mom April 18, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Our au pairs usually take their first class for free via an ESL program at one of the local community centers. They get credits based on the number of hours they attend class. That leaves them $500 for the second class which gives them more leeway to take whatever class they want.

Hmom April 18, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Do ESL classes at community centers “count”? I thought the courses had to be through an “accredited post secondary institution” — or do you mean ESL at community college? I ask because our town has ESL, offered through a town continuing ed program, and some of our APs have done it and the classes are great, and FREE!!, but we’ve always been told they don’t count for credits….

JJ Host Mom April 18, 2013 at 6:53 pm

Our AuPairCare LCC said they did. We had 2 au pairs take those classes and lots of other au pairs in the area took those classes too. We’re with APIA now so we’ll see what they say.

CAmom22 April 17, 2013 at 8:19 pm

I’m copying the language I found from the State Dept. Seems pretty clear it is a payment for the cost of the course not to exceed $500 (ie not cash payment of $500 for anything). This is consistent with what APC has told me (if the course is <$500 then that's all I pay; there is no cash payment to AP for amount not used).
"(k) Educational component. Sponsors shall require that during their period of program participation, all EduCare au pair participants be enrolled in an accredited U.S. post-secondary institution for not less than twelve semester hours of academic credit or its equivalent and that all other au pair participants be enrolled in an accredited U.S. post-secondary institution for not less than six semester hours of academic credit or its equivalent. As a condition of program participation, host family participants must agree to facilitate the enrollment and attendance of the au pair in an accredited U.S. post-secondary institution and to pay the cost of such academic course work in an amount not to exceed $1,000 for EduCare au pair participants and in an amount not to exceed $500 for all other au pair participants."

HM Pippa April 17, 2013 at 3:30 pm

When we rematched with AP#4, who had not used her education stipend with her first HF, APC made it clear that we were responsible for the full $500 toward her classes (even though we’d already payed $500 for AP#3). Had she used all or a portion of the $500 educational stipend, we would have only been responsible for the balance. When we sent her home two months later for egregious behavior, she still had not enrolled for classes and we were not required to pay her the $500 educational stipend. We were required to pay for vacation time she had accrued including time spent with the first family.

TexasHM April 19, 2013 at 10:06 am

APIA now offers a course in conjunction with UCLA that is 6 credit hours and $500 (online course). It covers USA art, history, language, culture, etc. Here the local community colleges have continuing education courses for $115-125 per hour so we have only paid $500 the year when our AP took that UCLA online course. It’s very clear the host family pays UP TO $500. We covered their books for these classes also but did not cover her third class and books and she was fine with that.

anonymous April 17, 2013 at 10:09 am

I understand that a lot of girls lie to become au pairs. What I don’t understand is HOW good they are at lying so YOU believe EVERYTHING they say, isn’t is shocking? What’s going on through their minds? What do they think the job is like? I au paired once, came back home and I am looking forward to do it again. But seriously, WTH?

CA Host Mom April 17, 2013 at 12:38 pm

anonymous, I have wondered the same. Sadly – a lot of the ones that lie and cheat are coached by others that have done the same. I settled on 2 different scenarios that might explain an AP making those choices. Likely there are more than just these two … (Maybe this is a discussion that is better saved for a separate thread.)

1. They are desperate (for some reason) to get out of their home/home country. Perhaps they understand that they will likely suffer consequences for making the decision to lie and misrepresent themselves, but they do it anyway.
2. They are immature (clueless really) about what being a responsible young adult is all about. Haven’t had to consider consequences for their actions yet – weren’t taught by their parents – and naively believe that no one will be the wiser when they get to their HF and can’t get anything right.

Bottom line, like Philly Mom said below – dishonest behavior will always catch up with you. Blatant misrepresentation and lying will undoubtedly lead to a bad outcome for the AP, as well as the HF that made the unfortunate choice to host said AP.

The AP program is so wonderful and can be such a fantastic experience for the AP and HF alike, it’s a shame to see so many APs blow it by lying and cheating the system. But I am a firm believer in natural consequences for our actions/choices/decisions. Like I told my husband about our AP#2, if there is one thing I can feel good about (re: AP#2 who grossly misrepresented her skills and blatantly lied to us multiple times) it is that I helped her learn a lesson that her mother and father should have YEARS ago. In our case, she wasn’t lying to get out of a bad situation at home – she fell into the second category. Maybe one day she will benefit from that lesson learned.

Dorsi April 17, 2013 at 1:22 pm

I would guess there is an innocent hope (sometimes) with all of this that they can pick things up quickly, kids are easy to take care of, driving is easy once you have ready access to a car, Google translate will solve all the communication problems, they won’t really be expected to cook/clean/laundry.

I think it is hard for someone in another country where APs are not utilized as serious childcare (either not used at all, or more of a mother’s helper role) to understand how important reliable child care is to a working family and how disruptive their misrepresentations can be.

This is not to excuse bad behavior, but I think a mixture of ignorance and hope can lead to a woefully unprepared candidate.

LookingFowardToBeAP June 27, 2013 at 8:35 pm

emmm… For what I’ve been reading everywhere HF lie as well and in horrorific ways, it’s not an AP thing, It something sadly some people do, in all places, all times and all ages. HF that lie to AP dont have the “inmaturity” to use as excuse, they seem just selfish and self envolved. Sad, really, and both lies are the same to me

Returning HM April 17, 2013 at 11:08 am

We had a very different experience: When we hosted a rematch AP, we were required to pay whatever educational stipend amount she had remaining. So, if she had not registered for any classes in her previous family, it was up to us to pay the full $500 amount. If she had, then it was up to us to pay the difference between what the first HF had paid and $500. I should add that the notion of a prorated amount never came up — one AP had signed up for $300 worth of classes in her former HF, which would be more than she would have “earned” having been there only a couple of months, but we still were asked to pay only $200 and it was our choice to pay the full $500 just to enable her to take classes. Likewise, even if we paid $500 for our original au pair to take one class the week she arrived, we would still have had to pay $500 to the rematch AP if she had not yet taken any classes. The time we have had to rematch, this has gotten pricey. And in no case did the agency or we ever think to ask the AP to pay anything back — I don’t understand the HF in HMX’s scenario where they demanded the AP pay them back. When we went into rematch, we were told that we were (and also considered ourselves) just unlucky, and if we could not get a refund from the college where she was registered (one time we got partial, once we didn’t get anything), then we were out the money.

In reference to the discussion about vacation days, above, we also dealt with this in a rematch situation. An AP who came to us in early November went home for three weeks at Christmas, which was six weeks into her stay. At the time, we paid her for one of those weeks and allowed her to take the other two weeks unpaid (though we had paid the agency for her time then). When she came back, we ended up having to rematch only a week or so into her return, so the LCC told her she had to pay us back for three of those vacation days. We ended up not having her pay us back – we really just wanted her out of our house – but the LCC was wonderful about handling the money side of things, including checking the phone bill with us and making sure the AP did no damage on the way out.

I am pretty sure there is a check-list on this site (because I believe this is how I found this site in the first place, when we were going through that last terrible rematch that made us leave the program for two years) about what you should ask the AP to do when she is leaving. There was a list about cleaning up, about closing down things, about finalizing things, that was really helpful. This AP actually broke a nice vase on her way out the door, and it was really stressful and upsetting, and I was glad I had the check-list to help me stay calm and organized and make sure that I had everything back and had checked everything in her wake.

I am just terrible at picking APs in rematch – both times (2006, 2009) we rematched with our overseas AP, we had to rematch again within 2-6 weeks because I picked so badly under pressure and missed essential things – so personally, I would hire a live-out nanny for a while, while I started again overseas rather than doing the rush-to-pick rematch thing. But it’s reassuring to hear others have had such great experiences with rematch APs. I would say, due to our poor experience with rematching, that it has made me much more committed to making things work against all odds, because I literally never want to go through rematch again. Our current AP would probably have been someone I would have rematched with back in 2009 but due to being so gun-shy, I have worked and worked and worked with her, and she has turned out to be just fine for the year.

Host Mom X April 17, 2013 at 11:41 am

Oh, dear, I am am sorry you went through that – and amazed that you came back to the program!

On the vacation days part of settling up, I do recall that with AP#2, her rematch profile (we are with APC) stated the number of vacation days she had used, and how many she had left, and we were required to give only the days she had left, I believe. We ended up giving more because our policy is that the AP gets to pick one week and we get to pick the other, and we always go away for longer than a week at Christmas time, so they get extra days there, and any other time we choose to go away for a long weekend or something (which is fair, since the AP does not choose not to work then; we choose not to have her work). We also wanted to be flexible with this AP since she was so great – she ended up going back to her country for two weeks between the first and second year to attend a wedding and renew her re-entry visa. (Also, honestly, we did not trust that the “vacation” days AP#2 had supposedly used with her prior host family were actually days that she chose to have as vacation; I’m sure they family somehow counted days against her.)

Come to think of it, it’s possible that APC has the same education policy you are describing, Returning HM – that the host family pays the whole education requirement regardless, and might end up paying double or not at all. I am now thinking that this might have been the case, and is probably the reason why we were so adamant that the prior host family was so in the wrong for withholding the AP’s stipend and demanding that she pay them back for the course – because APC made clear that this was a cost the host family forfeited.

Momma Gadget April 17, 2013 at 11:24 am

High road, high road, high road… In the end you will feel better.
APs are still young, and not so worldly-as frustrating as it is, I can understand them not fully realizing what being an AP truly involves.

I would need to be frank with the AP if she continues to bring it up.
And point out- Although I like you, and I understand how hard it is to be away from home- it is a huge dissapointment and inconvienence that you broke your contract with our family. I am angry about this too…but you have been wonderful to my children and for this I will always be thankful. I am sorry your friends are having a tough time, but I also understand the HF point of view. Leave your friends to deal with their own HF, and Lets make the best of the little time we have left together.

We ended up in rematch with our first AP- between transition and waiting for our extendion AP she ended up staying with us another month. As irritated as I was with her we ended up throwing her a small birthday party and a farewell BBQ- because I felt it was the right thing to do… It also gave me closure.

We didn’t settle up as we didn’t know … she would have owed us both for vacation and education. As far as the car service is concerned- it is her responsibility to get to the airport. Isn’t there public transportation or a shuttle service she can arrange?

It is an aggravation, but I believe everything happens for a reason.

NYHM April 17, 2013 at 8:46 pm

I think you’re right. The high road is the way to go!

PhillyMom April 17, 2013 at 11:54 am

Dear Anonymous,
I also thought about it for some time. What is the point to lie about your work/educational experience if it will be uncovered sooner or later and resentment and anger of the HF will follow. I believe that a lot of girls are trying to either escape their parents discipline/guidance and live a “free life” in another country or escape bad economical conditions of their country (former Soviet Union, Poland, etc) at all costs. It is very sad when a young person makes a conscious decision to start her/his career with fraud. But as an adult you have to face consequences of your actions. Dishonest behavior usually gets you in trouble:))). Nothing else.

HRHM April 17, 2013 at 3:01 pm

I also think that honesty as the default setting is a very culturally decided thing. In the US we have much less tolerance and much more shaming for lying/cheating/corruption. In many Eastern European countries, the only way to get ahead is the crooked way. Our former Yugoslav and Czech APs were completely unashamed to discuss how they cheated routinely in school, bought their DL, parents bought recommendations for jobs, etc. In the US, people desperately HIDE this type of behaviour if they do engage in it. Elsewhere, it’s the norm and you are a patsy if you don’t go that route. The best liar and cheater wins.

LuvCheetos April 17, 2013 at 1:13 pm

I wanted to comment on rematch to say that you should really prepare your children and discuss it with them if they are old enough.

We rematched a couple years ago. My then kindergarten aged child got in trouble at school (clearly acting out doing something bad that she had never done). When she got in trouble for it at home, she freaked out and cried hysterically. When I inquired what was wrong, she asked if I was going to send her away to another family. :( Clearly, the AP being rematched had made an impact and hadn’t been explained very well by us. She assumed that if we’d send another member of the family away for for bad behavior, we would rematch her as well.

A Host Mom April 17, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Based upon my reading of the Department of State au pair regulations, host families are required to pay “an amount not to exceed $500.” So, if an au pair or the agency is telling you otherwise, let them know that is not what the DOS rules require.

Dorsi April 18, 2013 at 10:50 am

I think I would be willing to overlook this, if it is not really porn, but video of her fooling around with others (as many people do, when they are 20, but rarely get it on tape). I really don’t feel that lapse in judgment would affect her ability to care for my kids, and I would not confront her on it. I guess it matters whether you see this as “stupid attention seeking” or “serious character flaw”.

I do, however, wonder what you mean by “soft porn” — to the best of my knowledge, YouTube blocks porn. My understanding of “soft porn” means filming of two mostly naked people having sex, without seeing their genitals. If you are watching video of her having sex, that changes my opinion.

Seattle Mom April 18, 2013 at 7:31 pm

I would add a 5 (c) to the list: rematch with an AP from in-country who is extending. That’s what we did. It required a little longer wait than a rematch AP, but was quicker than getting someone from overseas. We had about one week with no AP in our home, which was the perfect amount of time for a detox.

Host Mom X April 19, 2013 at 10:56 am

Good point. In my marathon post above, the second rematch situation I described involved rematching with an extension AP. We did have to wait extra time for her year to end (and to accommodate a few extra days of travel time she had planned), but we were actually lucky that our AP who was going into rematch was able to stay with us (with extra supervision by HD) until our extension AP could start.

ap rematch April 24, 2013 at 12:14 am

im in rematch if want talk w/ me ..

Why me? April 19, 2013 at 8:53 am

I see my posts were pulled I am guessing because they were OT.
But I just wanted to say thanks to the HM’s who gave us sage advice regarding my AP’s reality show appearance. ( before the post was pulled)
I did read them, and you “talked me off the Cliff” so to speak.
Thank you for taking the time to compose such thoughtful responses.

WestCoastHostMom April 22, 2013 at 6:51 pm

Broke the match today

So far my “candidates” have been in rematch multiple times (??!!), but it’s only been a few hours and I’m told girls get added to the pool every day.

I can confirm that APIA provides a worksheet that requires HFs to pay for accrued and unused vacation at $39/day for APs and $50 for Extraordinaire’s.

And also that they “strongly recommend” HFs pay the unused education allowance at a rate of $42 per month worked. A suggestion I will politely ignore thanks to the advice of this group!

Wish me luck!

Host Mom in the City April 23, 2013 at 8:11 am

Best of luck and thanks for this info. I feel strongly that APIA and other agencies should say this up front. There is no chance I’m paying a rematching AP for classes she didn’t take. And then am I to understand from other posts that if she gets a new family they have to pay the full amount too?

As to the value of the vacation days – I wonder how they came up with that. And again, haven’t others said that their new family still owes them any vacation days they haven’t taken? So they get to take them and get paid out from their old family? Doesn’t make sense.

HRHM April 23, 2013 at 9:42 am

Re: the monetary value of vacation days: 195.75 / 5 = $39.15, so an accurate assessment of how much is owed, I’d say.

Host Mom X April 23, 2013 at 10:38 am

Good luck!

Island Host Mom April 23, 2013 at 8:32 am

The departing host family pays for vacation days not taken, pro rated over the time she was with the family. If she took all two weeks of her allotted vacation, no payment is made. If she was with you a month or two, and earned several days of vacation time but didn’t take it, she is paid for those days. When she goes to her re-match family, she is not due the full two weeks of vacation. She is due the remaining pro-rated amount. Ultimately, an au pair either gets to take two weeks of vacation or get paid for those two weeks if she doesn’t take them. If you had an au pair with you who took no vacation for the year she lived with you, you would owe her money at the end. It’s the same in rematch, it’s just that the amount gets pro-rated between the original family and the re-match family, so the au pair does not get paid for more than two weeks, and does not get to take more than two weeks. I hope this makes sense. We’ve been in rematch twice now with APIA and that’s how it worked both times for us.

Taking a Computer Lunch April 23, 2013 at 11:41 am

This is why, now matter how I feel about an AP, I make sure they schedule their vacation. I would not want to get caught at the end of the year owing them time (even though I’ve had several APs who were so broke from having a good time that they had no money to travel – so it was a staycation). Now that my kids are school age and it’s too expensive to hire a driver to summer camps, much less find someone to help look after The Camel (my special needs child), I start pushing in March and April to make sure all the vacation days are scheduled before the end of their year (August).

Should be working April 23, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Island Host Mom and others: I do not believe that if you had an AP for a year who took no vacation that you would owe her money. The contract is 51 weeks and she gets paid whether she is on vacation or not. If she doesn’t take her vacation during those 51 weeks, you don’t owe her money. You owed her the two weeks.

A Host Mom April 23, 2013 at 2:45 pm

I don’t think this is correct. I can’t imagine that any agency would enforce a “use it or lose it” policy.

Should be working April 23, 2013 at 3:50 pm

This is not an important point, but the visa only allows her to be paid until a certain date and then she is not legal to work. And the rules are she has to take 2 weeks’ vacation during her legal-to-work time. If she doesn’t take vacation during her legal-to-work time, then how can an agency make you pay her (legally) after that time is over! Of course you could CHOOSE to just give her money equivalent to two weeks, but I can’t see that an agency can make you pay her for weeks beyond her year.

This means that a family is obligated to give two weeks’ vacation during her legal-to-work year. Assuming they offer the possibility of vacation, the AP or agency can’t make them pay for two weeks after her year is OVER. And if they didn’t offer the possibility of vacation, they are clearly in the wrong, but I can’t see how they can be made to give two weeks’ extra pay. Just like they can’t be made to give two weeks’ extra room and board.

MonkeyMom April 23, 2013 at 10:48 am

The accrual idea seems fair to me, although at first it threw me since we are with CCAP and they do not have the same policy. The 2 weeks vacation follows the au pair if she goes into rematch. Our rematch au pair hadn’t taken any days off so for the reamining 7 months with us she we were still obligated to provide her with 2 weeks of vacation. Same thing for tuition. She hadn’t taken any classes so we still had to pay up to $500 for her classes.

So if you are with CCAP and in rematch, I would factor that into your selection. For us, the new au pair was exactly who we wanted and has worked out wonderfully so I didn’t mind taking on the extra expense.

Should be working April 23, 2013 at 1:04 pm

What if the AP takes a week (or two) of vacation and then goes into rematch and tells the new HF that she hasn’t had vacation? Does the LCC clarify how much vacation was taken before rematch officially starts? I hope so.

When we took a rematch au pair from another agency (before CCAP) she told us she hadn’t had vacation. Because the other agency didn’t allow contact with previous HFs, we had to take her word for it.

Host Mom X April 23, 2013 at 2:21 pm

When we rematched with APC, the profiles of all au pairs in the rematch pool included a breakdown of vacation days used (and still owed) and education allowance spent. (I assume this info was a combination of whatever the AP and host family reported during an exit interview – and of course it could be skewed.) So I THINK the new host family is simply responsible for whatever is left over. Personally, if I get a new rematch AP who is a breath of fresh air after a bad AP experience, I think I’d be happy for them to have a little extra vacation time if that’s how it worked out.

hm Pippa April 23, 2013 at 10:23 pm

When the rematch is a breath of fresh air, yes. When the rematch after a bad AP experience turned into an even worse nightmare and then I had to pay the for vacation she never took with her first failed placement, I felt not so magnanimous.

MonkeyMom April 23, 2013 at 3:55 pm

In our situation with CCAP, the LLC had the information that I assumed she gathered once rematch was initiated. The LLC is the one who told me that we would still be on the hook for 2 weeks vacation and $500 towards tuition. CCAP also provides contact information for the previous host family so it can be verified with them as well.

Seattle Mom May 16, 2013 at 12:49 pm

I remember that being part of our exit interview- the LCC asked us (in front of the AP) if any vacation was taken or any tuition paid. Since she had only been with us the bare minimum for rematch at that point, the answer was zero. She left us for another family with only 6 weeks gone out of a whole year, so they probably didn’t mind giving her the vacation and the school money. I just can’t imagine this girl being anyone’s “breath of fresh air,” but different strokes for different folks. I talked to the HD at length and honestly, and he went with her.

Host Mom in the City April 23, 2013 at 2:21 pm

It sounds like my confusion is because different agencies have different policies on this. I still think agencies should be clear on this policy up front. I will add to my handbook that one week at least needs to be taken in the first six months.

Island Host Mom April 23, 2013 at 4:15 pm

I may have spoken too soon about owing an au pair vacation time (that is, money) if she completes a full year and takes no vacation. I just assumed that was the case because we had an au pair for six months and then rematched with another (the first had to go home for family reasons) and she took no vacation for the first six months she was with us, and we paid her for the vacation that she had accrued but had not taken. I figured the situation was the same for a full-year au pair, but it might not be. And it sounds like agencies follow different practices on this front. I am intrigued by the idea of making an au pair take at least a week of vacation. It had never occurred to me before, mainly because we never ran into this issue until this year, which has been the year of multiple re-matches for us and doing a sort of financial reckoning worksheet at the end of each rematch.

Should be working April 23, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Island HM: Yes, if an AP goes into rematch, the HF she is leaving could indeed pay her for a week of vacation she has accrued but not yet taken. And the new HF would only owe her one week of vacation. BUT, an interesting question, what if the AP then wants to go away for TWO WEEKS and the new HF doesn’t want her to? I guess she can’t demand it?

Agencies definitely differ, because when we took an AP out of rematch, she had not gotten any vacation time from the previous HF (she spent 4 months with them) and we had to give her 2 weeks off. I would have preferred they pay her for the days accrued.

But to me these discussions show up the wiggly foundation of the whole AP thing. Because tallying up untaken vacation at $39/day is pretending that they are paid in wages, and totally undermines what we HFs are emphasizing: room and board count and cost us money.

ap rematch April 24, 2013 at 12:03 am

I can not understand I am in rematch for silly reason and still not got another family, my lcc gave me more this week, and I have good references about my work and I guarantee everything I do well as au pairs that give headache can another family fast.

A Host Mom April 25, 2013 at 11:56 am

My LCC just sent an email asking au pairs for confirmation about the classes they took. In that email, she said that APIA will not pay for the flight home if the education requirement is not satisfied. I don’t recall this policy, but I think it is a great!

HRHM May 1, 2013 at 3:43 am

Just out of curiosity, what do they do if the AP is being sent home but has no money? Honestly, I’ve only had one AP so far that had enough in the bank on any given day to pay for a flight out of the US

WestCoastHostMom May 1, 2013 at 12:44 am

First, the good news: we rematched! In only a few days, we found more than one girl we’d be happy to host, and by the end of the week our new AP had joined us. She’s been here 4 days, and so far so good.

Now, the bad news: former AP (who’s still nearby but not in the cluster) and her friends (who are in the cluster) have reached out to new AP, and have started badmouthing me and our family. It sucks.


Honestly, I’m inclined to tell the agency to stop this, immediately, or we leave the program. I’ll take my chances with a live out nanny.

Taking a Computer Lunch May 1, 2013 at 6:53 am

We had issues with this when AP #1 befriended AP #3 because they were from the same country (AP #1 still lives in the U.S.) AP #3 came to me with her concerns, and I said that AP #1 had her point of view, but that time would tell what her relationship was with us. We’ve had a very different relationship with all 8 APs, because each woman is different.

If you are concerned, then have a quiet chat with your new AP. Tell her how pleased you are with her first week of work. Tell her you know that your previous AP and her friends have reached out, and that you don’t want their ill-will to poison her relationship with you.

Here are some things to keep in mind. Don’t speak ill of your previous AP in front of your new one. Keep it light if your new AP mentions her name. Contact your LCC to see if she could find a potential “buddy” for your new AP who has kept away from the fray of the previous AP. By quietly encouraging relationships with APs who were not friends with your previous AP, your new AP will see her for the lemon sucker she is and the fracas will die down of it’s own accord.

Tristatemom May 1, 2013 at 8:28 am

TACL, the major saving grace in your experience is the fact that AP3 came to you. That makes a big difference to me. If I feel my current AP is neutral and just tries to make up her own mind, no problem.

HRHM May 1, 2013 at 8:07 am

While I know that you recently rematched, I don’t recall the circustances (maybe they weren’t discussed here). In the end, neither you or the agency can control what AP prior tells AP new. Realistically, even if AP prior was back home, there is always overlap between new APs and old AP’s friends and tongues will wag. Especially if you initiated rematch, old AP’s friends did not likely hear a balanced view of the situation. What was she going to say to them? “I’m a half-assed Au Pair and they’ve had enough?” LOL No, she told them you are demanding, unreasonable, patronizing, selfish, inflexible, cheap, controlling… the list is unimaginable. And they, in their largess, are going to try to “help” your new AP by warning her of your horribleness. Yes, it’s annoying and certainly a weak, impressionable AP may find that kind of influence to be a problem. Hopefully your new AP is smart and confident and can suss out for herself what kind of people you really are.
Take a deep breath, treat your new AP with respect and kindness, and hope for the best. This too shall pass.

Tristatemom May 1, 2013 at 8:24 am

We had a very similar situation and sadly, I don’t think you can count on maturity from the girls. It is always them v. us and somehow they think other APs are their BFF.
The next time I face this issue, I will tell my current AP in very certain terms that I will rematch immediately if she has any contact with the old AP and I will also monitor the situation. I will also be very frank with the reasons why I rematched, hopefully with concrete examples. So when the other APs in the cluster start talking badly about you to her, she has specific knowledge to counteract whatever they say.
Treat this very seriously! All APs move on after one year but we live in our communities, schools, friends etc. and have to deal with chaos created by them.

Taking a Computer Lunch May 1, 2013 at 9:37 am

The key is to be the mature adult and not to enter their chaotic, emotional world. I would never threaten rematch over contact with a previous AP, nor would I prevent an AP from seeing friends with less than desirable characteristics. It is far better in the long run to let them learn from their own mistakes rather than micro-managing – and is a good lesson for when your own children are teenagers.

Over the years, I have considered some of my AP’s choices in friends & boyfriends pretty poor. Over time, some of those flaws were exposed and the friendship and relationships ended – some of them painfully. I didn’t say, “I told you so,” but instead related a story from my own young adulthood when a friend whose lifestyle seemed glamorous flamed out in a way that put me at risk and what I learned from it.

APs are navigating their way to adulthood and it’s up to us not to “go high school” by gossiping and taking the low road. My advice, keep it simple. “Yes, I know X, my former AP lives nearby. I know she feels angered and betrayed by our decision to rematch. We’re so happy to have you in our lives.” and leave it there. Your new AP, especially if she came to you via rematch, is going to feel on tinterhooks about her relationship with you. Start as fresh as you are able and keep a positive outlook and set a good example for her.

Tristatemom May 1, 2013 at 10:38 am

I thought this blog is about hostparents supporting each other with advice, not to criticize or judge what HFs are doing. You have some nerve calling my advice going highschool! Afterall, aren’t you the HM that wants the AP out of her room for a week?
Please don’t assume that just because your APs’ poor choices have never affected your family, that is the case for everybody.

Taking a Computer Lunch May 1, 2013 at 11:23 am

I’m sorry you are offended. It did sound as though you were intending to threaten your AP. I have been affected by my APs poor choices and their friends’ poor choices, and we all survived (fortunately my kids were not involved in any of them). Life goes on. Memories are short. And, if you followed the thread closely, I changed my mind in reaction to the response from other HMs and did not ask the AP to leave for DH’s and my respite week (not having to turn off The Camel’s continuous feeding pump every night at 3:30 will be enough of a break).

In my experience intimidation does not pay off. Everyone ends up hurt and angry. By not threatening your new AP, you have the opportunity to develop a positive relationship with her. By threatening her, you may not. [Even though I was incredibly hurt about what AP #1 said about me, I managed to talk about her good qualities to AP #3 and to not bring her up in conversation at all, unless AP #3 spoke about her first. AP #3 was mature enough, over time, to realize that she could have a different relationship with me than AP #1 and we’re still in contact 6 years later.] I believe with each new AP you get a fresh start – if you let yourself (although I admit, it can be difficult not to be burdened down by the negative energy of a problem-ridden AP/HF relationship).

By modeling adult behavior you will help her navigate the path to adulthood. When APs gossip about their friends, I try to not to pass judgment, but offer suggestions. It’s usually pretty easy to see both sides of the story when you keep an open mind – and 99% of the comments AP’s make about their HF (or their friends’ HFs) seem to be made by young women in over their heads while they navigate their first job with real responsibility.

Seattle Mom May 16, 2013 at 1:00 pm

TACL is offering a diplomatic response here. By telling an AP you will rematch if they befriend someone (including an ex-AP), you would be confirming any suspicions the AP has that the rumors and badmouthing may be true. By taking the high road you prove through your actions that anything bad said against you is not true.

Take this as supportive advice from someone who has seen a lot, it’s not criticism.

Momma Gadget May 1, 2013 at 9:52 am

Talk to your LC. If she is any good she will help nip this in the bud. Ours usually sends out a general Anti Gossip email to everyone pointing out that there are 2 sides to every story and that gossiping only makes it uncomfortable for all parties… etc. She also warns the offending AP friends personally.
I would also sit down with the new au pair and tell her that everything happens for a reason- the last AP was a bad match for your family ,so your had to move on and this is how you ended up with your new wonderful AP (her). You are sorry that the Old AP is hurt/angry but you hope your new AP will be mature enough to draw her own conclusions from her own experiences with you. I would encourage her that if there is anything she is uncomfortable/ unhappy about that she would come talk to you about it directly, or to go to the LC who is familiar with your situation -not the friends of your ex AP who do not even know your family.

HRHM May 1, 2013 at 12:00 pm

As an AP, it would be a HUGE red flag if my Host parents tried to prevent me from communicating with a prior AP. In fact, the threat to rematch would have me going directly to the LCC to start the process.
There ARE bad HPs out there and this level of controlling behavior is one example of how they can be bad. Let your actions speak for themselves and the truth will out.

Tristatemom May 1, 2013 at 4:12 pm

HRHM, you are a HM, not an AP, correct? Yet you call my behavior controlling and a sign of a bad HP? Controlling I will accept but that makes me a bad HP? I don’t think so.
We have always given our new AP access to the old ones and until the current situation that has never been a problem. However, based on that experience, I will not permit the contact again. I am emotionally drained from what our current AP is putting us through.
“letting your actions speak for themselves” is just a very naive world view.

FormerEuropeanAu-Pair May 1, 2013 at 12:02 pm

rather than telling your AP that you will go into rematch over contact with the old AP, tell her to talk to another AP of yours that was good :)
I actually spoke to nearly all of the APs that stayed with my HF after I left and this was encouraged by my HF!
I came to this HF after rematch and was told by the former AP that the HF wasn’t great. I decided to make up my own mind and we are still in contact after nearly 7 years! All the APs talk and you won’t be able to control this (I’d say you will make it worse by not allowing your AP to talk to the old AP)..

FormerEuropeanAu-Pair May 1, 2013 at 12:07 pm

You could even have one of your old (good) APs reach out to her to ask for pictures of the kids or sth like that..

Tristatemom May 1, 2013 at 4:18 pm

I think you have a good point about talking to other APs that were good. Hopefully, if we don’t leave the program all together, we will be able to do that again in the future.

I just wanted to throw in one more consideration: our current AP copies everything our previous AP did, same trips, same classes, same everything. It is like she did not make her own experience here. So I concluded that talking to the previous AP may prevent the current AP from finding her own way (I am not talking about how things work in our family, I mean the overall US experience they should gain. Isn’t that the point?).

Skny May 5, 2013 at 8:08 pm

I agree to instead of forbid contact with the previous au par, give all contacts to the good ones. Also, if this is a cocern you may want to go with a different nationality. Girls from same nationalities tend to hang out together, and if your au pair is really upset with you there is a chance you are In the “beware of this family” list in one or many on line support group for au pairs of that nationality. I am a hm but also a former au pair and part of those groups. I will say that the moment you enter an au pair’s profile, they go to the groups and start asking if anyone knows the family, recommendation, etc.
so a different nationality may help you

Host Mom in the City May 6, 2013 at 10:54 am

“I will say that the moment you enter an au pair’s profile, they go to the groups and start asking if anyone knows the family, recommendation, etc.”

Yikes! Really?

Should be working May 6, 2013 at 1:59 pm

HMitC, I think this is true for most prospective APs, unfortunately. So when I first contact them, I ask them NOT to do this and tell them I will definitely give them lots of opportunity to talk to previous APs IF we decide after some emailing to move forward. My previous APs are loyal and good, and so would then tell me if a prospective AP did try to contact them.

On the other hand, when I (politely) told a prospective AP to pls not do this, she was offended and ended contact.

Taking a Computer Lunch May 6, 2013 at 2:48 pm

I offer to provide contact information for my current and recent past APs in my initial “dare to match with us” email (the same one that states “it’s okay to say no” in the 2nd paragraph). I do this because I differ from a lot of you. Most AP candidates do not want to care for a disabled teenager, but for those who want to consider what their year will be like, I want to give them the option of contacting my current & recent APs to show them that it can be done and that they can have a great year (and yes they will be working). I’m not hiding anything, but contacting the APs who lived with us when the kids were infants and toddlers might say something about how we were as a family, but not much about how their year will go or what to expect. I have a sense that the candidates who take a while to get back to us have been trying to check us out, but since they invariably say “No,” I’m not too concerned. I would, however, hate for The Camel’s medical information to get out there, because I want to protect her privacy and her reputation since she cannot.

Skny May 6, 2013 at 5:18 pm

I ve never seem medical information been shared other than: Does anyone know family smith from Dallas, Texas? App says they have 2 kids and one is autistic…
Even on beware of the family session there will be thing like: can’t use car, hides food, works 50 hrs without extra pay… Etc… Mother/dad is rude, yells… Very rarely anything negative on child. 99% of the families who make the list is due to problems with host parents, rules… At most: child 1 will hit au pair and mom will not do anything… Or child 1 will spit, scratc and mom won’t allow me to do time out…

MidAtlantic Host Family May 6, 2013 at 5:51 pm

So the au pair program is not for families that prefer not to have an internet presence?

Emerald City HM May 6, 2013 at 6:27 pm

I emailed a question to CV along similar lines, but I’m not sure if maybe she didn’t see it amoung so many emails?

We recently experienced some weirdness when we were interviewing. An au pair we interviewed, but did not select, either posted our information online somewhere or emailed her (wanting to be au pair) friends with our information. I randomly got emails from prospective au pairs and I was wondering what other host parents thought about the idea of their information just being “out there”.

Emerald City HM May 1, 2013 at 4:58 pm

So I don’t know what happens in re-match, but our incoming au pair emailed our current au pair without any prompting or information from us. Apparently, once we matched she got access to cluster information (or the LCC sent it to her).

We only found out because our current aupair was confused about what day we thought she was leaving when the incoming au pair emailed her.

Our incoming au pair won’t be here for another 3 months, so it can happen well before they arrive.

I have not inquired about their conversations but they probably aren’t very detailed since they are from very different countries.

Should be working May 1, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Yes, my experience is that incoming APs network their way to contact with departing APs whether or not I give them that info. Even worse in my view is that APPLICANTS I interview get into touch with my current AP.

So now I tell all applicants that I get into contact with, in the FIRST contact, “If we move forward I will want you to contact my current (and previous) AP. But please don’t do that just yet–I want to get to know you on your own terms and not have you feel like you have to copy our current au pair.” And I instruct the current au pair to please tell any applicant who contacts her that it doesn’t make sense to get talking about our family yet until I decide that there is a chance we will match.

FormerEuropeanAu-Pair May 1, 2013 at 5:39 pm

All APs talk ;) and there is NO way to stop that.. I was an Au-Pair in a European city (about 1M people lived there) and I would have been able to find out sth about pretty much every AP/HF in the city had I wanted to! And this was before everyone used FB to connect.. ;) Now with FB it is even easier ;)

If she copies your former AP, why don’t you make suggestions to her where to go or give her a (cheapish) guidebook as a present.. But then, depending where you live some things might just be the typical tourist trips that every AP would go on …?!

I have spoken to and I have been spoken to by quite a few of my predecessors (I have stayed with 5 HF, 1HF i stayed with 3 times (good thing about Europe –> summerau-pair :) ) as well as a lot of my successors and neither have I copied them, nor have they copied me… So I wouldn’t neccessary agree with you :)

Momma Gadget May 1, 2013 at 5:44 pm

I found it very odd that neither of my bro-pairs wanted to contact our current or previous AP’s even when they were from the same country. My last BP said it was because he wanted
“to have his own experience”.

MidAtlantic Host Family May 4, 2013 at 9:05 pm

We had a similar but clearly not as drastic situation. We learned all the au pairs go to cluster meetings early and gossip/complain about HF’s. From a previous rematch au pair who flaked and went home, the cluster au pairs thought we had horns and all kinds of other things equally crazy. For the most part, we let actions speak for themselves and the next au pair realized it was a bunch of lies and moved-on. The cluster au pairs gave our new au pair a hard time until they realized it was all a bunch of lies and they were pretty stupid for believing them. In the end, the new au pair socialized more with au pairs from other clusters. In our experience, the LCC has very limited ability to control these situations because the au pairs put on an act for the LCC at the cluster meetings. I believe in the direct approach with your current au pair. They can either ignore the BS and make the most of the experience – or not.

AnAuPair May 6, 2013 at 5:09 pm

I’m sure this is a very frustrating situation for you, and I definitely can sympathize with the way you are feeling. However, from an au pair’s perspective, I would say that I personally would be extremely put off if I rematched with a family that forbade contact with the previous AP. Since your new AP hasn’t been with you long, if I were in her situation I would really wonder what reasons you would have for doing this (ie, am I in some kind of honeymoon phase with this family right now?), since (as we all know) there are 2 sides to every story. However, if the things your old AP is saying aren’t true, your new AP should easily be able to figure it out.

Not sure why the new AP would want to hang out with the old one anyway…seems like it would be awkward for them to me

JJ Host Mom May 1, 2013 at 11:48 am

We had this happen in a major way when we had two quick rematches in a row. One of the au pairs we rematched with ended up staying in the area illegally and still talking to the other au pairs in the cluster. The upshot is that most of the au pairs in the cluster thought we were bad news. The au pair who rematched into our family was luckily mature and brought this up with me. I told her the facts of why we rematched with both au pairs, enough to show that our decisions had basis, but not enough to gossip or talk badly about the other au pairs. Our new au pair handled it really well, considering, but it ended up affecting her the worst. She didn’t play into their games and gossip, knowing the whole story, but then they essentially banned her from their little clique and she was cut off from making friends in the cluster. Luckily she came from a nearby cluster and had already set up some friendships.

So my advice in this situation is to sit down with your au pair, say “Hey I understand that there are some rumors going around about what happened with our last au pair. Would you like to hear what happened from our POV?” It’s a good way to open up communication and address any concerns she might be feeling. Then just be patience. The drama will fade with time and the next rematch will soon be what’s going down the gossip line, not yours.

FormerEuropeanAu-Pair May 1, 2013 at 6:00 pm

For me it was usually the HF who wanted me to talk to their APs. I did so but never gave much thought to what they said..
In HF 1 the AP lied to me, because she wanted to leave ASAP! Thus she said everything was fine, when the HF was on the verge of being taken out of the programme (I managed that in the end!)
In HF 2 the AP said I should NOT match with the HF, but I did and I am still in contact with them, see the kids between at least 1-2 a year (and it has been 7 years now)
In HF 4 the AP liked things about the HF that I actually hated ;) and hated things that I loved :D
HF 3 had never had an AP and the AP in HF 5 was compleatly honest but I had only asked for some hard facts..

I have usually tried to not tell the AP too much, telling them that there is no guaranty that anything I say might help them but have rather given them information on the area, language classes and things like that which I felt where the same for everyone..

HRHM May 2, 2013 at 9:57 am

I think this is key for incoming APs to understand! Just because our current AP does certain things a certain way, doesn’t mean that’s how we expect or want our next AP to be! In fact, the rules may change, the schedule may change and the most important thing is to be flexible.

When my current AP interviews/talks to the potential new AP, I try to emphasize that they stick to things like “are they a good family to work with” “is it a nice area to live in”. I have avoided giving out contact info until we have essentially decided on an AP because I don’t want my outgoing AP to be constantly reminded that she is being replaced (even if it’s only because her year is coming to an end, it still hurts to say goodbye). And I did skip a generation and gave AP2s info to AP4 because AP3 left on a bad note after a year of lousy performance and was pissed because we spoke honestly to a family that was considering hiring her as a nanny (she married and stayed in the us).

Gianna May 1, 2013 at 2:50 pm

This is a very painful topic. I honestly don’t see how the LCC or even the agency can stop it without perhaps making it worse. I really do like the idea of an anti-gossip email. From a distance, I think the best idea would be to ignore but to be honest, if I were the victim, I would not find it easy to ignore it all. I really like the idea suggested by the last poster about sitting down and talking. I would tweak the idea a little bit by saying to the new aupair ” I don’t want to say anything that might hurt the old aupair’s feelings and I don’t want to talk about her the same way she is talking about us … I just want you to know that there is another side to this story “. I would not say anything specific about what went wrong , not because I am a wonderful person, but because I would not want to give the old aupair an opportunity to prepare her arguments and to keep the conversation alive by refuting everything on an incident by incident basis. I have found that argumentative people tend to do that. Stating that there is another side rings a warning bell and keeps her off balance. I would not give the new aupair ( no matter how wonderful she seems ) any specific information that can be quoted out of context. Sometimes I hear aupairs complain about a family and I think ” oh, grow up “. Most host parents , I think , have a sympathetic reaction when they hear gossip about other families. I might also consider asking the new AP not to tell me nasty things people say about me but the truth is I lack the emotional maturity to do that. I once heard someone say that ” what other people think of me is none of my business “. I wish I could internalize that idea.

LuvCheetos May 1, 2013 at 3:59 pm

We had an absolutely hideous experience with rematch. Our agency actually allowed the AP we were rematching to change families with the one we were getting (so our old AP went to new AP’s family). It was horrible!!!!! The circles of friends completely overlapped and they got together quite a bit. I was angry that the agency did that. The new AP gradually lost interest in the old AP (I think — or at least she stopped talking about her) but she hung out with the old AP’s “bad influence” friends. The new AP, who seemed like a nice girl when we picked her in remathc, ended up getting in trouble a lot and causing all kinds of problems, some of which I attribute to her being friends with AP 1’s friends (who were not from our cluster).

The only way for us to break the cycle was to get an AP from a different country the next year (who had no interet in the old AP and her friends) and to change the phone number so the “bad” friends didn’t reach out to her (although I guess they could through facebook or something).

Bottom line is that I don’t think there is much you can do about it. We were probably not as mature as we should have been. We started out nicely saying the old AP was just “not a good fit” but as time went on, more and more details came out and I’m sure they made their way back to the old AP. I’m sure old AP had nasty things to say about us, too, though. Thankfully, that’s all over now. I don’t miss the drama at all.

FormerEuropeanAu-Pair May 1, 2013 at 5:43 pm

I usually disliked hearing anything bad about any other AP! While I was sure, that the HF liked me as their AP and while I did share some of my experiences with them and while I did enjoy the odd talk it always left a bad feeling when someone said too much about a not-so-great AP of theirs.. It always made me wonder if they would end up discussing everything the disliked about me (and there is always something ;) )

Host Mom X May 1, 2013 at 6:42 pm

TriStateMom – can you share with us more details of your frustration with your badmouthing rematch AP? I think other hostmoms’ suggestions about “taking the high road” mean well, and probably have worked for their experiences, but clearly something is going on with your prior AP that is maybe even beyond what some of the other posters have experienced, or what WestCoastHostMom is currently experiencing. I think if we heard more about it (if you are comfortable sharing details), we’d either (1) have more constructive advice; or (2) show more sympathy; or (3) at least be able to learn from your experience; or (4) help you see that you are not alone, if any of us have experienced something similar.

WestCoastHostMom – I am glad to hear that you found a good rematch candidate so quickly. I do think that approaching the situation with a forthright conversation with your new AP should do the trick, if she is a mature, good egg, as others have suggested. While we did not experience the same, AP#2 (from rematch) told us about halfway through her year that AP#1 (who we sent into rematch) approached her in a club, because AP#1 was still friends with some clustermates that AP#2 was going out with that night. (AP#1 stayed in the country illegally.) AP#2 clearly seemed a little bit thrown-off by the experience, but didn’t give us too many details. We got the sense that AP#1 may have said some less-than-flattering things. But we had a great relationship with AP#2 by that point, so we were lucky that she had already made her own judgments. We had also been very careful – while not badmouthing AP#1 or saying anything mean-spirited – to let AP#2 know exactly why we rematched, and what hadn’t worked for us during our interview with AP#2, and soon after she joined us. So I think AP#2 already had a clear picture of what we felt went wrong, and was able to evaluate whatever AP#1 said in a neutral way, coming to her own conclusions.

CA Host Mom May 1, 2013 at 11:40 pm

This is a tough one. I am not sure that I have anything new to offer in terms of how to handle the APs bad-mouthing HFs situation.

In our experience, at the end, I was REALLY exhausted by and frustrated with the AP that we sent into rematch. But I mustered every bit of self control I had and treated her kindly and bit my tongue when other APs and HFs in the area asked about our situation. She did not respond in the same way. She slandered us (never ever to my face) to other APs in the cluster (some of whom, I later learned, went to bat for us at the time) and posted really rude video blogs in Swedish thinking that we would never be able to translate them.

I just kept reminding myself that we were free of her – and that was all that mattered. And I hoped that the next AP we chose would be bigger than the whole situation (she most certainly is!). And I tried my hardest to lead by example (take the high road, I guess) and not badmouth the outgoing AP to the new one.

Believe it or not, what ticked me off more than anything was that the ringleader of the group of “BFFs” that the outgoing AP hung out with in our cluster was so rude to our new AP as soon as they learned that she had taken over for their buddy. Our new AP came home after a cluster meeting trying to brush it off but when she told me about it I could tell it really hurt her feelings. It rattled my Momma Bear cage and I am still bothered by it when I think of it.

Host Mom in the City May 2, 2013 at 9:01 am

These stories are scaring me! We’re just beginning to look for our third AP and haven’t been thrilled with our second. I’m feeling down on the program in general. I feel like we’ve sacrificed (and paid!) a ton and our AP is dropping little hints a few times a week about perks her friends have. She’s doing fine at her job and the kids are safe and happy but definitely the bare minimum. She doesn’t seem to get that there are pros and cons to every family and the things she’s complaining about we were very upfront with in the beginning.

Anyway sorry to hijack, but all this that we’re discussing here is pure immaturity. I’m afraid I’m going to pull a contrast effect on our third and get someone who’s almost 27! Not that that always means they’ll be more mature. Feeling kind of bad about the program lately.

Momma Gadget May 2, 2013 at 10:17 am

Host Mom In the City- I am so sorry you are feeling down on the program. A poor match can do that! But a good match will more than make up for it.
FTR: We have re-matched twice and never had an issue with the slander. The first after 4 months,ended up staying in our cluster ( The LC asked me first). She never bad mouthed us (or at least it never came back to us or our new AP) Her clique was all french and wanted nothing to do with AP’s from other countries.Our replacement AP was from South Africa, and was a mature extentending AP. She had no issue/contact with AP #1 and actually ended up winning AP of the Year for her stay with us. Had it not been For AP #2 we would have dropped out of the program. She was absolutely a lovely person and showed us what a valuable wonderful part of the family an AP can be.

Our 2nd Rematch happened less than a month in with AP #3- there was incredible homesickness, culture shock and immaturity on the AP’s part, and some “Lord of the Flies” behavior from my dear children. Although She went to another local cluster she still had friends in ours and attended some our cluster events (because our awesome LC always plans some great activities for meetings). She never reached out to our new Au pair or said anything bad about us to others… Not even the LC. Her departure paved the way for our first Bro pair…. and again this great AP opened our eyes again to just how enriching this program can be for everyone.

We took the high road with both rematches. We gave them both a nice (small) send off and told them that although things did not work out the way we had planned, everything happens for a reason and we wish you well in the future.

As far as the hints about other APs in more privileged situations , I would sit the AP down the next time she drops a hint and say that there are families with more, there are families with less. You didn’t choose/or get chosen by a “more” family.We don’t have the expendable cash but we have a lot of other things to offer. This “entitlement” issue is the main contributor to our rematch with our first AP.

We have never had an issue with this since.

Everything happens for a reason-even if it’s only to show us what we REALLY don’t want. The bad experiences help us define what is really important to us in childcare and help us make better matches the next go-round.

Good luck in finding your next wonderful Au Pair!

Host Mom in the City May 2, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Thanks Momma Gadget. I guess coming on here all you hear is bad stories. It certainly could be worse with ours, but we’ll make it. More good stories please! :)

Seattle Mom May 16, 2013 at 1:11 pm

This is why we never talk about our previous APs with our current AP. She actually doesn’t even seem interested, so it’s fine.

Momma Gadget May 2, 2013 at 10:21 am

Actually our 2nd rematch was with AP #4.
AP #3 was another lovely extending South African AP .

Ann May 7, 2013 at 10:45 am

I’m with Host Mom in the City–need some more good stories! I can see how a site like this would attract a lot of commiserating about the horror stories. As a first time host mom (now in rematch after four months with a well-meaning au pair who couldn’t quite “get it”), I’m feeling tremendous trepidation (even dread) about re-entering the process and am terrified I’ll make a terrible mis-judgment like I did last time. What a draining and exhausting experience this has been–but here’s hoping there’s gold under the au pair rainbow.

CA Host Mom May 7, 2013 at 12:49 pm

I am not sure if everyone that has gone through this feels the way that you do Ann, but I sure did after our disastrous experience (ending in re-match) with AP#2. I think you are right, we all seek advice (and to advise) about the tough stuff more so than the good stuff.

I felt the same dread that you do, but it passed quickly. After the initial frustration and anxiety passed re: the need to rematch, I spent some time thinking about how I missed warning signs/red flags, and then tweaked my interview questions and read a ton of advice on this site.

I ended up a lot more confident with the decision about AP#3 because I went through the exhausting and tedious (and sometimes frustrating) experience of evaluating everything we did and didn’t do (with the added benefit of hindsight). I found some obvious areas where I went wrong … why didn’t I ask more questions that required longer answers about her infant care experience (though billed as “infant qualified”, it turned out, she had none!)? Why didn’t I ask her to tell me more about what she feels like her responsibilities will be as a “roommate” in our home (she had never picked up after herself, her mom always did it at home)? And the list went on and on …

And the biggest lesson was to trust my gut feeling. I let our match go on for about 5 weeks too long. I should have re-matched way sooner to spare our family (and the AP) the trouble. I’ll never make that mistake again. I have tried to define “measurable” criteria that will help me decide (beforehand and afterwards) if a match is likely to work/is working. And when it isn’t (or doesn’t seem likely) – we will move on.

Hang in there. Good luck finding a great candidate in re-match. I ended up making several trips to drive to neighboring cities to meet potential APs in person. If you have that option, I would highly recommend it.

Host Mom X May 8, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Yes, Ann – I know it is exhausting and terrifying, but there are good outcomes from re-match too – take heart! We thought we were done with au pairs after AP#1 (I posted a mammoth rematch-post above). But then AP#2 – who came from rematch herself – was so amazing! And AP#4, an extension AP who we got when we sent AP#3 into rematch, is great too. We are just hoping that with AP#5 we finally truly incorporate all the great interviewing advice from this site and end up with an overseas match that sticks.

Another thing that I hope gets you through this time is the amazing sense of relief felt when finally, officially pulling the plug with an AP who wasn’t working. The feeling that a dark cloud had lifted as soon as we officially entered rematch – even while we still didn’t know what would happen next – was palpable, and immediately confirmed that we had made the right decision. And then within just a few days meeting a variety of rematch au pairs to interview in person. several of whom seemed like good candidates was so heartening. Because of that experience, we probably even felt over-confident when we went into rematch with AP#3 that we’d immediately find someone good. And we did!

Seattle Mom May 16, 2013 at 1:25 pm

I think I’m a good story! Our AP#2 ended in rematch, but we knew almost the instant she arrived. Rematch was not as terrible as I feared it would be, and we got a great new (extending, not rematch) AP. I think it helped to get our new AP from a different country. She actually does hang out with the AP who replaced AP#1&2’s friend sometimes (the AP friend finished her year soon after AP#3’s arrival), but only on playdates with the kids (because the kids all get along well and they live nearby and have the same preschool schedule). They aren’t from the same countries as each other or the APs they replaced.

And our current AP (#3) is so mature and self-assured that she wouldn’t listen if anyone gossiped- she has a certain aloofness about her, she’s really impervious to negativity. She is really an amazing woman- she is 27 years old, from Thailand, soo nice and sweet but never a pushover- she’s kind of a badass! I love that she does thai boxing, very active, always full of energy. Unfortunately she doesn’t hang out with us as much as AP#1 did, but there are trade-offs to every situation. We wanted an independent AP, and we got one.

Skny May 8, 2013 at 1:52 pm

I will say that my current au pair out of rematch is awesome. I love her. She is leaving at the end of her time in June (her college won’t allow them to hold more than one year), but I’ve tried everything to get her to stay more (including offering to sponsor student visa (yes, she is worth the cost. She is the best ever). Did not work so now I am considering being done.

MidAtlantic Host Family May 13, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Two questions. After two in a row au pairs who have gone home from home sickness, we are thinking to try for an extension au pair because he/she has already been here for a year and hopefully successfully coped with home sickness and understands the demands of the program. Does that make sense or should we be doing something different to address these two issues ((1) home sickness and (2) realizing that watching kids can be exhausting)?

This three month thing I have read in random posts. What is it? We pushed the first au pair from three months to almost six months but having an overly emotional upset person in the house for that long did not bode well – screaming at kids, hibernating in her room, etc. Where is the line between helping work through it and knowing when to throw in the towel?

While I am at it, I will go for a third question. Au pair selection is very draining. How often do au pairs make it through the year?

One more side note: somewhere there should be a bullet point list of things to mentally prepare you and your spouse for when entering the program so if those things happen you are not as surprised and prepared a response, i.e. car accident, lost phone, damage to house, severe home sickness, eating disorder, etc. I have read some of these things in separate posts dedicated to each one.

Taking a Computer Lunch May 13, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Well, in no particular order, I have hosted 8 APs and have never gone into rematch (gritted my teeth with two – both of whom cared well enough for my special needs child that it didn’t seem worth while upending our lives waiting for an out-of-country AP) and extended with 3 (and invited 3 others to extend with us). While some HPs on this list have bandied about a 25% rematch rate, that certainly hasn’t been my experience (given that in the past 12 years my APs have had a fair number of friends).

APIA does provide a booklet to HF each year on strategies for surviving the year. I have found over the years, that reaching out to APs goes a long way toward building a successful relationship (rather than waiting for them to come to you).

The three-month “thing” is the time one HM estimated when even a seemingly well-adjusted AP will suddenly go through a rough patch. At the three-month mark many APs don’t see that 1/4 of their year is behind them, the 3/4 ahead looms large (especially since most arrive at the end summer when that mark is reached just before the holidays). The seemingly well-adjusted AP is likely to push through.

I have learned over the years that my LCC (a very very good one, grant us) is my first-line of defense to communicate with APs to determine if their issues are isolation (homesick and depressed APs will be less likely to seek out new friendships, and even doing things like seeking out classes, working on obtaining a driver’s license, or finding friends may seem like overwhelming tasks). Over the years, my LCC has been proactive, when an AP seems particularly homesick, in arranging for another AP to contact her. She also seeks out an opportunity to chat with my AP. As someone who lived abroad without my family, I often tell a particularly homesick about the day I went shopping and burst into tears because the sizes were completely different and I couldn’t figure out what would fit to replace some worn-out clothing.

Au Pair selection is very draining. I forget each year how much work it is (and I’m really picky – I can only see special-needs-willing APs, but will only consider those who have actual special needs experience). We ask pointed questions about prior travel experience – we ask candidates if they have traveled without their family, without friends. However, that isn’t the only indicator of success – my first LCC said to look for candidates who have had to work to acquire a skill: playing a sport or instrument, practicing a martial art, or something that shows she can persevere and succeed.

Finally, it’s okay to be human as a HP. It’s okay to make a mistake in reacting and apologize for it later. By apologizing, you teach your AP that it’s okay to make a mistake and apologize for it.

MidAtlantic Host Family May 13, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Thank you for the detailed response. You rock!

LookingFowardToBeAP June 27, 2013 at 10:55 pm

I must say, TACL, you seem like a GREAT person, I always stop to see your comments, for they are very centered and simple.
I hope to meet a lot of people like you from now on, and I’d be the luckiest if I found a HM that has such a view of life like yours.

Host Mom in the City June 8, 2013 at 7:10 pm

Has anyone had experience rematching in the last 6 months of an au pair’s year? I’m getting to the point where I think I might not make it with our second and just gathering information. We actually don’t NEED the childcare, so a huge gap wouldn’t hurt that much. But if you have rematched toward the end, what was the final straw for you? How did you approach it? How did you decide to just end it rather than suffering through the last few months? Did you find someone else that could cover just a few months or did you have to rematch with an au pair that was here longer than your original year? Thanks very much.

Taking a Computer Lunch June 10, 2013 at 7:45 am

I came close to rematching with AP #8, and when DH decided it wasn’t worth it to him (because of The Camel and our family’s need for a driver an out-of-country AP is usually the only viable option for us – we don’t have enough flexiblity at work to arrive late/leave early for 6 weeks), we sat down with our AP and had a chat. We made it clear to her that at the 6-month mark we were usually begging APs to stay, not talking about rematch.

Before you sit down and have a chat, contact your LCC for tips as well as asking her to follow-up. When I have a “reset your attitude” chat with an AP, I find it helpful to have my LCC follow up with a telephone call to see how the AP is doing, how she feels about her year and to help the AP to see that what we ask for is typical of most HF. If you feel like you need a mediated chat, then invite the LCC to the conversation.

AP #8 has been a good-time party girl who has not been serious about her tasks in a way that APs 1-7 were (and a major reason why we matched with an extraordinnaire as #9). [Believe me, other APs had a great time and had a blast in their off time, but they worked their butts off when they were “on”]. We’ve done much more job coaching than we’re used to, having constant “reset your attitude” conversations, and dealing with the aftermath of an accident that nearly totaled a car that definitely poisoned our relationship with her (hindsight, being 20/20, I should have pushed for rematch then).

Nevertheless, we limped along until month 9 with AP #8’s mediocre performance, when she announced she was in a serious relationship with her boyfriend and that he would be staying over at our place since he had a roommate. (DH and I are more flexible than most HP.) I used that chat as an opportunity to say that if we were going to be hosting her boyfriend she had a choice to do all of her tasks well or sleep with him elsewhere. Her willingness to do her job has improved.

Host Mom in the City June 10, 2013 at 8:39 am

Thanks TaCL – It sounds like we might have similar au pairs. Our first was an extraordinaire, this current one is not, and we have also matched with #3 already – yes, going back to the extraordinaire program ourselves too. Obviously a sample size of one doesn’t mean that all regular au pairs are going to be like ours (or that all extra. are going to be hard working), but I’m not willing to take the chance again.

We did have a talk with her this weekend and she is so good at having talks, I always feel better after them (and then it takes about 24 hours for me to notice she hasn’t changed). She’s done this to me a number of times – she is happy to talk, always has good answers, swears up and down she’s happy and she loves the kids. She actually does take direction very well, as in whatever I specifically tell her not to do (or to do), she listens to the letter. But then something else we haven’t discussed will slip or another thing will come up that I think should be obvious.

Honestly, I think she is doing the au pair year because she doesn’t know what else to do, isn’t that into kids (although she thinks she is and told us on her application that she wants to be a teacher), and is kind of lazy, immature for her age, and lacking in integrity. She’s a really nice person and I think she’ll be fine when she finds her way, but I don’t have time to micromanage and check up and feel like my kids are getting sub-standard care while she figures out what she wants to do with her life.

I don’t know what to do honestly. We should have rematched after the first few months. I knew then. Definitely learned that lesson. We don’t have that much longer. But ugh…the next few months are going to be tough and she’s costing me way too much time and money to be worth the care I’m getting.

I’m also really afraid she’s going to poison me for the next one. I started revising the handbook and I’m adding in all these “don’ts” that are 100% in response to things this one has done. Not a good idea, I know, but it’s hard to resist.

Rematching Host Family June 11, 2013 at 4:52 pm

We have had a really bad run of AP’s going from crazy to unbelievably crazier. Our agency is probably trolling all the blogs in hopes that we are not posting about it – which we have not done.

The agency we use which we picked because our friends used it and were happy with it and no other reason does not have extraordinaires. From random comments throughout the blog, looks like it might be worth switching for the option?

After all the other expenses and trouble, a few extra dollars a week for someone more reliable seems like a no-brainer. However, I wonder if you can still encounter some of the crazy situations even with extraordinaires, like undisclosed drug dependencies, running off to marry an American, etc. I looked at the web site for an agency that offers extraordinaires and it looks like you can find someone with the same qualifications as an extraordinaire through our agency if you look hard enough.

Tristatemom June 10, 2013 at 8:32 am

We rematched with an AP that had about 5 months left. The relationship was bad before then but we thought we could “manage” the situation and it seemed that 5 months was not such a long time. Moreover, we had already selected our next AP and I was worried about finding a perfect match, i.e. another AP that had 5 months left on her contract and was in rematch and was a good fit for us.
Anyway, the AP put our whole family in danger (left doors unlocked or gave keys to friends so they could enter our house without AP being there) and then was very disrespectful about it. I decided to rematch then and there without having a plan. As feared, there was no “perfect match” and we ended up hiring a local person to fill the gap. It was a very good decision as it gave us time to purge and regroup.
I am currently in a very bad situation (the worst yet) that is a clear rematch but for the fact that the person is going home soon and we again decided to “manage” the situation. I guess we didn’t learn from our first experience :( Stupid me.

Host Mom in the City June 10, 2013 at 8:52 am

Thanks Tristatemom – I’m so sorry you’ve been having so much trouble. We too have our next match and that’s part of my concern – finding someone to fit into that little amount of time. Although we don’t actually need the childcare, of course it would be better NOT to have a four month gap :)

I think one of the reasons we didn’t rematch is that it’s never been BAD. She’s never done something dangerous or stupid and she’s actually always very respectful to us (if not to the kids). So we always just limped along thinking surely it would improve after she got more experience.

If things go back down hill after yesterday’s talk, I’m pulling in the LCC. I’ve actually been emailing her little details all along, so she knows we haven’t been happy.

Momma Gadget June 10, 2013 at 11:19 am

By the time we went through mediation,transition, and waited for our rematch AP, we hit the 6 month point with our unsuitable 1st AP.
Honestly-as someone else so eloquently put it, we “limped along” from the very beginning- mostly due to our inexperience as HPs, and fear of the “horrors” of rematch.
Once we decided to rematch it was like a black cloud was lifted from over our home. Everyone was on their best behavior, plus we ended up with the best AP ever.
We will never wait that long again. After many great AP experiences (Now on AP #6), We have the confidence to initiate rematch if l it becomes aparent that despite all efforts it’s just not working.
We weren’t sure if we would go forward with the program, so we didn’t have the pressure of matching with a new AP for a specific amount of time. We ended up matching with an 6 month extension AP. ( in hindsight we all wished that she had signed up for a full year!)
The other time we re-matched was after 1 month. The transition AP we matched with had 3 months less time. Interexchange prorated the weeks, and credited the amount to our account (we were on extended payments)
6 months is still a long time to have someone in your home you are unhappy with, and conversely it is an awful long time to be living with some one who is obviously unhappy with your work.
I know there have been several awesome AP’s who have recently been forced into transition because of economic issues with their HF. There is a good chance you could find a wonderful temporary AP who would be grateful for the opportunity to stay and finish out their contract.

Rematching Host Family June 9, 2013 at 4:27 pm

There are always AP’s rematching at every time of their year so it is possible to find an AP for only a few months. That said, bear in mind if you enter rematch, you will need to go through the rematch drama, interviewing, etc. (which is a time commitment for only a few months) and if you welcome a new AP into your family you need to make the time to welcome the AP and show them everything. Every family operates differently so just because you get an AP out of rematch does not mean the AP knows and understands how your house operates.

Should be working June 10, 2013 at 8:45 pm

Age of kids is also an issue. My 6 yr old can adjust quickly. The 14 yr old not. So if the kids are ok with the ap I might choose to limpalong as well.

IT-Aupair June 16, 2013 at 10:34 am

Hi to everybody,
I’d like to know your opinion on what behavior/attitude you think will make you consider entering into rematch and what behavior/attitude you think will make you consider extending.

HRHM June 16, 2013 at 12:57 pm

any behaviour that endangers the kids
failing to do your job even after being counseled about the shortcomings

maintaining that “energy” that most APs start the year with by month 9.
Doing a complete job without having to be asked or reminded
having a loving relationship with both my kids, even when they are acting up
following the rules without whining about how much better other APs have it.
Honestly, most of my APs have never come close to being asked to extend. Current AP was there in month 3, but by month 9 I was ready to be done, and now in the last couple weeks, I am thisclose to just firing her for the last few weeks, she is so utterly NOT doing her job…dissapointing to say the least

Should be working June 17, 2013 at 2:14 pm

HRHM, I like the concision here. This is a really EASY way to not overthink the decisions. We decided to extend because (despite some personal aspects of our AP that we aren’t crazy about) she loves and is connected to all of our kids, even the teen–who isn’t easy to be connected to. And she does her job and doesn’t complain when we point out things she missed. So yes, I like this as the no-brainer rematch/extend decisionmaking rubric!

Taking a Computer Lunch June 17, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Take a quiet moment and tell her what a fantastic AP she’s been all year and how much you’ve enjoyed her company. Tell her that you understand her last weeks with you are difficult but that if she works as hard as she did all year, your door will always be open for her.

I’ve written about this endlessly elsewhere. I moved frequently as a child, so I became used to saying goodbye when I was very little. However, I have learned over the years that most of my APs have never really left the villages or towns in which they grew up, so this is their first experience in really saying goodbye, not “see you later.” It is an adult experience – think of the number of friends that have come and gone from your live since you left high school.

Recently a colleague said that the senior year of high school was god’s gift to parents to make it easier to send a child off to college. The last weeks of an AP’s year make it easier for HP’s to say goodbye. And while it might be easier to say goodbye when you’re mad, it isn’t nicer.

SKNY June 18, 2013 at 4:56 pm

I replied to what I thought was here but ended up above… but meant to be to this post…

Host Mom in the City June 24, 2013 at 9:57 pm

Is any lying at all grounds for rematch? Last week I had to have a reset conversation with our AP about phone use while on duty. She told me she is never using her phone at all and acted very surprised that I would even suspect she was on her phone. First time I’ve done this and I’m not proud of it, but I checked our phone records and indeed, she’s texting and using the Internet throughout the day. So now I’m in a pickle – I know she’s lied to me and the only way to prove it is to let her know I’ve checked the account. Suggestions for what to do? This one has really really challenged me to the point that we may be checking out of the program entirely if this next one doesn’t work out either.

Taking a Computer Lunch June 25, 2013 at 7:29 am

HMitC – it sounds like this AP really frustrates you, but before you go into rematch, print out the log and have a second meeting. Ask her if she thinks a good AP spends this much time ignoring the kids. (No matter how much people think they can do 2 things at once, they can’t). Tell her that you are considering rematch, both for the volume of her use but also for telling you that she didn’t text or use the Internet while on duty. My advice, don’t use the words lie or liar – I’ve watched many mediocre APs goes into a tailspin when the word is used (I can’t tell you how many friends of my APs have come into my house sobbing because they’ve been called liars – sometimes I roll my eyes and sometimes I think the truth lies in between what the AP says and the HP thinks).

Your AP, knowing that you can log her phone and Internet use may try to elude it by purchasing her own phone. If you suspect the quality of her work has not improved, then show up unannounced and unexpectedly, have your neighbor pop in to borrow ingredients, etc.

If your AP has only been with you a short while, she might not care if she goes into rematch. If she’s been there several months and has built up a network of friends, she will. Put her on notice either way. Utter the word rematch.

Host Mom in the City June 25, 2013 at 8:28 am

Thanks TaCL. We were an extraordinaire family (like you?) and decided to try the regular program for a change this year and boy do I regret it. Not that I’m sure there aren’t great regular APs, but the immaturity in this one has just continuously confounded me. I sat there and watched her tell me that she never ever texted during work hours (she had texted multiple times during work hours just the hour before our conversation!!!) and I just felt so sad. Seriously if she had just admitted it and said she would try harder to stay engaged, that would have been so much better.

I’m afraid to show her the logs because I didn’t want to be in a place where I felt like I had to do something like that, but I think that might be the only option at this point. If she was great otherwise, I’d probably let it slide, but my kids have never liked her much. They still cry and complain when I tell them it’s an au pair day, and we’ve had so many little issues that scream immaturity that at this point my gut instinct is going crazy. We’ve scheduled a mediation for this week too, hoping we were going to be able to cancel it, but I think we’ll keep it to let her know we’re serious (because we are). She’s in the last third of her year and has tons of friends, by the way.

CA Host Mom June 25, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Print off a report and show it to her. It’s well within your rights to check these things. And she lied to you.

The hardest thing for me is balancing the expectation that our AP behave like an adult (and treating her like one) with the often disappointing reality that she just doesn’t quite know how (or make the right choices) a lot of the time.

IMO your AP deserves to feel a bit “checked up on” if she’s lying to you. Would you have checked if you didn’t get the feeling? (I assume you are paying for the phone …)

As a side note, we have a shared cell phone plan. We get the obnoxious “you’ve used 75% of your allotted minutes” messages, so I have to go in and see who’s been using them all up. And I’ll admit that I absolutely use that as an opportunity to highlight excessive use during the work days …

Host Mom in the City June 25, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Yes, we are paying for the phone. I’ve walked in on her on the phone, my kids have told me she ignores them because she’s on her phone, and she is practically glued to it at all times when off-duty. We’ve had to have a few conversations about not bringing it to the dinner table for example. So I’ve had my suspicions for a while.

I did tell her in the beginning (and it’s in our handbook), that anything other than a few texts or a few minutes of phone call is not ok with me when the kids are awake. I told her that was my rule because it’s important to me for two reasons: (1) because I think it’s rude to be on your phone when you’re physically with someone else and I don’t want my kids to feel like they are playing second fiddle to a phone; and (2) to set a good example for the kids because I know I’ll be having this same fight over phone use with them in ten years or so.

A few weeks ago after I first started to suspect it, I clarified my expectations and she said she never uses it while on duty. I got more suspicions on the weeks following that first talk, so I had one more talk about it and she acted surprised that I would even bring it up again. So I pulled the phone records, and I am horrified. Especially assuming that the phone records show just the actual text messages counted by the phone company (anything done over WIFI or on Facebook doesn’t show as a text).

If this were my only issue with her, I might not be as upset, but we haven’t been happy for months. This feels like the last straw.

And yes, do try the extraordinaire program. Honestly looking back at our au pair’s application, I have no idea what I was thinking. I think a lot of my hesitation to start mediation with her is because I’m worried that it’s unfair to hold her to a standard that she’s obviously not mature or experienced enough to meet. But then, if she’s not meeting my needs as a service provider (and now lying to boot), then I need to move on.

HRHM June 25, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Did you check the records before or after she lied to you? What happened to make you think she was using the phone on duty? I think you have nothing to fear by pointing out to her that any phone, home computer use, wifi access, is easily seen by the HPs. I’m frankly surprised that she isn’t savvy enough to know this already. I think it’s a great idea to put APs on notice at the beginning of the year that this is not only possible but will likely be done on a random basis. I think it helps quell the temptation to break the rules…

LookingFowardToBeAP June 25, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Is it a usage that sugests she’s neglecting your kids? If it is, then don’t be ashamed, its your children and as a mother its your right to double check this things.

If it isnt much then I’d be more carefull, 1 or 2 text msg doesnt mean she’s not paying attention, also the data transfer can decieve you, many aps like facebook and twitter download news in a pre stablished timing such as 15 or 30 minutes wich would make you think she’s on the phone but she isnt, weather apps can do this too. I used to have a radio app, something like that can make you think she’s online all day.

Even so there is a nice way to ask, why did u suspect this? can you tell her? maybe something like this “I know we talked about this last week but to be honest I still was uncomfortable because of……, so I checked the account and I found something that makes me think you lied to me, I’m giving you a chance to explain this or to accept your mistakes and say you are sorry”

Host Mom in the City June 25, 2013 at 9:14 pm

Thanks, LookingForward. I’m always happy to hear an au pair’s perspective. It’s lots and lots of texts during prime engagement times, not just a few here and there (which I would be totally ok with). I’m also not looking at data usage at all as I know there are apps that continue using data even when off, but mostly because I know she uses our WIFI and Facebook and whatsapp, so I know the Internet records wouldn’t tell me much.

SKNY June 16, 2013 at 6:44 pm

I have a very unusual situation, and thinking of ending it…
We said goodbye to older au pair on tuesday. We had a great talk, resolved some unfinished business that were bothering her, and ended on a great note. She is already missed (best au pair ever for us!!!).
We initially decided to take the summer off (hubby is off anyway) and bring my brother to watch our kids in the fall for 4 months (and only then decide to take another au pair).
Wednesday before our au pair left we got a call from a desperate au pair. Sounded like a very nice girl++ who was placed in rematch 2 days after arriving at family house from training (due to having no English). After 2 weeks and no family willing to take her, she would be booked a flight home next weekend.
So we were asked if we wouldn’t take her for the summer to give her time to learn some English and find a family. I felt bad for girl and agreed (agency would pro-rate fee).
Au pair arrived on the next evening. Worked Friday with departing au pair. I arrived home and asked how did she feel about her day. Answer was that the work was too hard (2 kids under 3… so yes, it is work, but there are naps and i let my au pairs relax during nap… no chores during this time), and hates the location but can take it for 2 months…
Next day I take her driving… and she is TERRIBLE. the worst driver I have ever seen. I was actually going to call LCC this weekend to say it was not going to work, but she actually stepped up the next day with the kids and did a good job (even cleaned the fridge during nap time).
I drove with her all week and it is slightly better, but nowhere close to drive my kids. I let her take the car for the weekend (against my best judgement), and spent all weekend worrying about the car.
So I have a situation here. I don’t feel she is capable of driving, but we live in rural/farm land, the closest au pair is 30 min away from here, and she must drive to be able to live independently from us.
We have a busy life and can’t be driving her around. At the same time I am not sure I can continue to play games with my car… (every time phone rings I have this feeling it is au pair telling me she had a crash).

Momma Gadget June 17, 2013 at 10:21 am

I think it was really Kind & generous to take on a temp AP, when you hadn’t planned to, in order to give her time to improve her English skills. But in addition, you are expected to help her improve her (misrepresented?) driving skills?

If she is as bad a diver as you imply, than she is not only a hazard to your car & herself, but also everyone else on the road. If she is an incompetent driver, she shouldn’t be driving regardless of how far away the next au pair is.

We live in a busy aggressive driver area (and IMHO the worst drivers in the country)- something we heavily stress in our interviews-. Any AP who misrepresents or over estimates their driving skills would just not work for us… I have ZERO sympathy for any AP who buys or lies about their license.
If you need an AP that drives, I would send her home, If not, I would not let her drive your car. Better a lonely AP than a maimed or dead one. Either way the LC needs to be made aware of this deficiency. The AP either needs to change her dossier to non-driver, or find an instructor to get her skills up to snuff.

Multitasking Host Mom June 17, 2013 at 10:40 am

You have agreed to host this au pair for a few months, so that she can gain the skills to be a better applicant for another family. I admire you for taking of this challenge, and I am sure your history as a former AP allows you to have this empathy. I think you need to return to this original way of thinking…this is temporary, and this is the time for the AP to work on improving her skills. Because at the moment, let’s face it, she can’t drive, has limited English skills, and her dedication to the job (ie “saying it is hard work”) might be a little questionable. Sit down with her when you have a quiet moment and discuss with her how she is going to work on these issues. This discussion also might help you decided if it is worth the investment of time and emotions, for both you and your family.
As for the driving issue…Our current AP was a horrible driver when she first came. We don’t need a driver as it relates to taking care of our children, but if the AP wants to go to the mall in the next town, or visit a friend a few miles away, I do not always have the time in my schedule to act as a taxi. We did pay for our AP to take driving lessons from a driving school. It was worth it to me to make the investment because I was so worried she would get hurt in an accident, and also I didn’t want the inconvenience of dealing with a banged up car. It helped my sanity. I would encourage you to recommend driving lessons for your AP, and that she must complete them before she can drive your car again. If she really wants to get around the area, and also look better on her application for another family, I would think she would want to do the lessons. Now who pays for them, would be your decision. Our AP is great with our kids, plus I knew she would be here for at least a year, so I was willing to help her out by paying for the lessons. You are in a different more temporary situation. It would help me see that this AP was really dedicated to bettering herself if she paid.

MidAtlantic Host Family June 17, 2013 at 11:59 am

This seems more dangerous than a loaded gun not in a safe and I would treat it as such (I clearly am not advocating unsafe gun storage). The amount of damage someone can do with a car is often underestimated, especially by teenagers. Imagine if she kills one of your neighbors’ kids while driving your car. In addition to the obvious, you will likely have to move. There are ways to address it but feeling badly for her because she underestimates the responsibility of driving a car is not the way. I apologize if I have put you on the defensive. The rematch discussions have many comments by HP’s worried about AP’s driving so this comment is generally directed at those comments. One can spend months thinking about it while risking extremely grave consequences. It is something that should be addressed immediately – first by not giving the AP the keys to your car until you are sure the AP is a safe driver. Others may feel differently.

Taking a Computer Lunch June 17, 2013 at 1:13 pm

We housed an AP who was absolutely brilliant with our special needs child, mediocre with our typically developing child, and absymal with us, the HP. It turns out we can put up with a lot to get absolutely brilliant care for our special needs child.

This AP could neither drive nor speak English well. She had a valid license from her country, but that did not mean she knew how to drive. She was hopeless at parking and professed not to have spent a long time on it with her driving coach. It made me laugh, becuase everyone has to bring a car to a stop at some point (but I guess, if you’re working with a driving coach, perhaps you don’t need to pull into a parking space or parallel park to stop the car). If we asked her about her home life in her country, she could answer in flawless English, but if we asked what she did that day, she was flummoxed.

After a week, we sat her down – no driving the car until she had her driving evaluated. We paid for 3 2-hour sessions with an off-duty police officer, who at the end, said she could not pass a driving test and recommended 10 sessions, and specified the skills on which she needed to work. We told her that if she didn’t want to go into to rematch then she needed to pay for the lessons (in the end the agency paid for half). We also told her to work on her English. Becuase we rarely ask APs to work 30 hours a week, we specified that 10 hours were work time for English and driving skill acquisition and that she had to chart those hours.

She worked hard enough to stay, but we chose not to extend with her, it was amazing how quickly her skills lapsed. While we pay 100% of the costs associated with acquiring an American license, this AP never bothered, and found it difficult to find a family with which to extend.

It’s sounds like this young woman gets it that even though she finds the work hard, she has to do it in order to stay. However, if you’re worried about your car when she drives away from your house, then say “No.” If she really wants to drive to socialize, then it’s a skill on which she’ll have to work in her free time. Most driving schools will pick up students.

SKNY June 18, 2013 at 5:08 pm

On the other hand, how do you help an overwhelmed au pair?
I left home at 9am. 18mo sleeping (according to au pair she slept till 11:30). (just turned) 3yo stayed behind in meltdown mode that she did not want to stay with ap.
I returned home at 1 for 2 overly energetic kids running around the house, toys ALL OVER the place (every single room), and the 26yo au pair looking like she was going to cry.
I looked and said hello (confess I was scared to say hello). She turned to me and said that 3yo had refused to get dressed (wearing her play costume instead), refused to eat lunch, refused to pick up her toys, and now refusing to sleep. And was now clearly instigating 18mo to run all over…
She looked like she was going to melt down at any point.
I did the only thing I could think of. I told her to take 18mo for a stroll and I’d lay down with 3yo in bed for a while. 3yo was very happy and proud of her dress. I’d have yelled at 3yo at that point but I don’t think she would have understood why.
Anyway… I laid down with 3yo until 2:45, and 3yo wouldn’t sleep. (in transition to give up nap, but still needing it)
So we came out of room and au pair was clearly distressed that 3yo was not sleeping. She returned 3yo to bedroom. So 30 min later I hear 3yo whining, and find 3yo sitting in bed, and au pair with arms crossed, standing, looking really really upset.
I decided to get kids in the car and take them for a drive (just because they were very wired, and I don’t think au pair could take them any longer. Gave her off for the rest of the day.
10 min into the ride they are both sleeping (sigh). Get back home, both kids in bed, au pair locked in her room and very upset.
Not sure if I go and talk to her? if I wait till tomorrow? If I what… outgoing au pair gave me some tips on how she handled 3yo when she was in a mood (which was very creative and smart, if I must say. Surprising so). But not sure au pair would appreciate me arriving there with tips.
Tomorrow she is staying alone with kids for good 9hs.

MidAtlantic Host Family June 18, 2013 at 5:24 pm

We also have younger kids but old enough to run and get into everything. I would proactively encourage AP to get the kids outside. It is a long day, but she could do a 3-4 hour trip to the park or something, picnic at the park and then let them run around some more. The kids will run around and be happy and AP will be happy because kids are happy. I find the kids will run – its just a matter of where. Also, the kids at every age learn to manipulate the adults. They need to get outside and use up the energy and know it is not an option to stay inside.

Our kids were at the neighborhood pool in the rain earlier today.

I would try to prevent the cycle of AP getting overwhelmed which results in shutting down/not having the energy to take the kids outside which results in kids shooting through the roof inside and, in our case, AP camping on sofa with kids plugged into AP’s iPad etc. and/or TV and then AP shutting herself in her room the second she is relieved and me putting kids to bed with excess energy.

Momma Gadget June 18, 2013 at 6:10 pm

LOL… sounds like quite a day!
I would go in and talk to the AP to the effect of “Hey, I know today was rough. It will get better. I have some ideas to make things go more smoothly- do you want to have a cup of tea and talk about it tonight, or would you rather we sit down tomorrow morning?”.
Frankly though, I would be skeptical about this girl’s experience with little kids -to allow things to get that out of control that quickly. Maybe she needs to be told that it’s ok to “pick her battles”. If getting the kids outside is the most important, and that means going out in costume so be it … or at least that would be my take- I have made many a trip to the grocery store with Thomas the Tank Engine and Spiderman when my guys were little…( actually what I wouldn’t give to be do that again! ).
I know our nannies could get my boys to do just about anything if they made it a game. Even I used to resort to turning into my British alter ego “Priscilla”… for some reason if they would do anything Priscilla asked (in an awful British accent) with smiles and giggles that mommy couldn’t get them to do.

SKNY June 24, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Ok, I know I am posting a lot lately but I am not sure of what to feel about our “temp au pair here”.
Nice things: She loves to cook and is cooking dinner even if not asked (as in while kids sleep she will surprise us with dinner). She seems to be getting used to our end of the world rural area. She seems interested in things we do and has participated in family activities with us.
Now the I am not sure:
She does not really get the whole au pair thing… She rather do household chores. If hubby is home (and he is sometimes) she leaves the kids with him and go helping with a lot of things she was not asked or expected, and I am making sure I say thank you, but it is some problem because I want her to focus on the kids. they are young and need a lot of attention. (even though it is nice all the help).
2. She quit her English lessons. She says she will take them online. It doesn’t affect me because she speaks her native language to my kids. in a selfish way, the least English an au pair speaks higher the chances she will speak in her native language to my kids. BUT I have a feeling by our talks that she may be thinking this area is not so bad after all, and is expecting that we will take au pair for the fall, and it will be her. Which brings the question number 3…
3. I don’t really don’t want her to be our au pair. I feel bad saying this but something is not working. Kids don’t want to be with her (it was a problem for ap1 for a week, and not at all for ap2). I feel bad leaving them when I go to work because they are crying and unhappy… And they actually enjoy day care. Also we don’t feel comfortable with her in our home (which only happened for a few days with ap1 and 2). not sure why. She is very nice, but we don’t look forward to spending time with her. We feel awkward with her around.
We go on a big vacation once a year and were looking forwards to have an au pair with us during this vacation so we can have a few hrs every day to go out, but now are considering on giving her the time off. Instead thinking of inviting our teenager sitter to come. It just dont feel like it will be relaxing with her….
I feel awful to be writing those things because she has not done anything specifically wrong. but I dont know… it is just a feeling of not being right.
Is it crazy???

Momma Gadget June 25, 2013 at 12:12 pm

I agree With MHM below- By taking her on for the summer you have fulfilled your obligation.
It does not sound like she fulfilled her end. She was essentially given a second chance, through your generosity, to learn English. Yet, she dropped out of class?!!! She can’t drive, doesn’t relate to you children, and you don’t ‘click’. What is there to feel guilty over?
As MHM said just be sure that you are up front with her that though you appreciate how hard she has been trying, you are sticking with the original plan. After all, you are looking for childcare not a housekeeper. Perhaps she will find another family with children she can relate to ( maybe with older children?).

SKNY June 18, 2013 at 4:55 pm

your advice works.
I followed it a few weeks ago when my outgoing au pair was acting weird and irritated towards us. And you were right. it was more than anything we did. It was a combination of sadness, fear of unknown, fear of going home and not making it in there, regret for not extending, etc…
I also finished our talk with something that (I think) Gadget Momma said: that even though she was leaving, she made a difference in our lives, and she was welcome to come back and visit, spend a season, and even stay for a while while going to school (if she saved enough money for it).
It worked and we ended things in a great note (and I miss her A LOT!).

Multitasking Host Mom June 25, 2013 at 10:57 am

I can’t seem to respond closer to your last post above, so I will answer here. This is just my opinion as someone who is looking in from the outside. I worry that you are trying so hard to help this AP…and let’s be honest, the better word might be rescue…that you are ignoring your own feelings. You are not “crazy”. This is not working for your family, and it is okay to admit that. I also see that you might be more invested in this than she is…for example, quitting English classes and just doing them online shows me she is not willing to put in the hard work needed. Also, she would rather do housework than be with the kids. Listen to what this is telling you. She might just not be cut out to be an au pair. That is OK, because not everyone is. You have an out, anyway, if that makes you feel better. You agreed to keep her for a few months, and then bring in someone else for child care if I remember correctly. Frequently mention to her that you are sticking with the original plan, so it does not come as a surprise.

A Host Mom June 25, 2013 at 11:31 am

I agree with this as well, because your post raised a whole slew of red flags to me (quitting English classes, kids crying, her passing kids off to HD to do housework instead, etc.). You are doing both the AP and the agency a favor and if it works for you on a short-term basis, so be it but you have no obligation to keep her. If her presence is causing you stress, cut her loose because it doesn’t sound like you need childcare anyhow.

Host Mom in the City June 25, 2013 at 12:03 pm

SKNY, I’m having a similar issue where I’ve been having gut feelings that things were not right for a looong time. You need to listen to your gut (and to the evidence that it’s not working). You are a saint for even taking her on and doing as much as you’ve done. I think you can let her go completely guilt-free.

SKNY June 29, 2013 at 8:35 am

Thank you all for the advices.
This week I decided to give her a detailed schedule. Not too detailed, but things like: xh breakfast (toast, cheese, fruit), yh nap, during nap (leave lunch for you 3 ready). After nap: playground.
Was a little better but she was still unable to follow all (and yes, I reviewed it in our native language before I left). One was that during afternoon nap she packed a bag for day care for the next day (only task during the 2hr nap). Wasnt done. Instead she was on computer during nap (all the nap).
I only realized it was not packed when at 7am I was looking for the bag.
Anyway, I did talk to her that she is welcome to stay here until the day we offered (August 3rd), but I will only need her to work for 2 more weeks (our day care provider is on vacations those 2 weeks).
The “breakthrough” came on that day when I took and picked up my kids from day care. Instead of climbing to me and crying when I was leaving, the older one was happy and went straight in. the younger did cry a little, but I could hear her stop from the parking lot (less than a min or two after I left).
Throughout the day I got some pics of the girls playing, making their own pizza for lunch (which included mixing ingredients for homemade crust), picking up strawberries in the yard….
And when I picked them up the caregiver was calm and didn’t look like she was ready to kill my kids. She actually said she got no behavior problems.
We never had problems with day care (this caregiver is great), and it is cheaper than au pair by 100 dollars a week. The only reason we chose au pairs was to have the au pair teach my kids my native language.
But… to see the difference in experience made me feel bad for my kids. So we told au pair she can still stay here, but will only work 2 more weeks.
I felt bad because she did tell me she liked us and hoped she would stay here for the end of her year. She also said she felt very anxious about searching families.
Oh well. there is it…

Taking a Computer Lunch June 29, 2013 at 9:05 pm

If she had really wanted to spend the rest of her year with you, then she would have risen to the occasion and completed the tasks you outlined.

The APs who don’t try hard don’t realize what they’re missing. I have one who does the minimum and occasionally pushes herself a little harder, despite demanding time off from us, and giving herself other perks. She invited a family member to stay in our home without asking first. It’s a time when both kids are away and DH and I are having much-needed down time (child #1 is a teenager in diapers). What she doesn’t realize that if she was the type of woman who always went above and beyond, then not only would we welcome her family member, but we would also have given her the two additional days off when her family member is here and child #1 is home. Instead, she is booked to work.

Momma Gadget June 26, 2013 at 10:14 am

I agree that age is no guarantee for maturity. But ,because of the age of my kids ( now 11 & 15), and our need for an experienced driver, we prefer older au pairs. Our 2 best au pairs came to us at 24 & 23. The 20 year old flamed out within the first month.
The “not used to having to accept living under someone else’s rules” was a concern of ours when hiring our current (oldest)AP, who will turn 26 this year. But he has been very respectful of us and our rules. The bigger issue is probably my need to “mother-smother” all who live under my roof :-); Which aside from an occasional lifted eyebrow, he has been very patient with. It is good practice for me now that my teenager is itching for more independence.

Ruth June 26, 2013 at 2:14 pm

My rematch comments are below in this comment, but our first AP was older, to the point, we hired her a month earlier than we wanted an AP b/c she needed to be in the States before her 27th birthday. She was a great AP, had grit, the right amount of independence, yet, willingness to listen and adhere to instruction and I still miss her, but she lied to us about a very necessary skill we certainly asked about in our interview; driving! We discovered after she kept trying to put off driving, then insisted on a training course and then took her out ourselves that she just really couldn’t drive. We tried working with her, but, to no avail, she just didn’t have the ability to naturally control the car and we feared the responsibility of her endanging a neighborhood child, herself or someone else and we couldn’t accept that. She needed to be able to drive herself to school, etc. to fulfill her obligations as an AP and really to be happy and independent. We had to let her go after 2 months and she went on to another family (ironically, another family in the suburbs). We then rematched with another older AP and, wow, 2 days into the job it was evident she was emotionally unstable and quit on her own, thankfully! She still writes to me and I still shake my head wondering how she got past my friend’s 6 hour interview with her (my friend lives in her same country so we asked her to meet her and see her interaction with her own kids).

We are now on to AP #3 and she is a wonderful caregiver, but we had some very rough and turbulent times in the beginning b/c she’s stubborn, baby of the family, early 20’s, super sensitive and chose to ignore some very explicit things we had mentioned in our interview would not be tolerated and also chose to ignore some of our childcare scheduling, etc. I thought we were on a great track forward, but it feels like 3 steps forward, 4 back, 2 steps forward, 3 back. I notice a lot of advice here is that if she’s a great caregiver, turn a blind eye to the rest. Unfortunately, given our overall 7 month experience into the AP program, I’m just not sure this program is for us after all. We provide all the perks, we rarely ask for the full 45 hours, we provide a full use of car, cell phone, very private room, bathroom, suite, food, accommodate additional requests when we can, vacations, 98% of weekends off, etc and I feel like I’m falling over myself trying to please an AP who is, otherwise, really not that happy to be here and who tells me she’s only here b/c she loves my children. Again, a great caregiver, but we have a VERY close knit family, so if our AP chooses not to engage, feels put upon when I ask for a weekend day (which I rarely ever do), or a few hours on one of our vacation days and I feel like I’m spending my time and effort making sure she’s happy and taken care of, but only feeling resentful when she makes me feel like I should cater to her, I don’t think I can turn a blind eye and carry on. At this point, if she decides to go and rematch, then GO and we will not rematch again. It has not been fair to our family all the ups and downs we have been through. And all of this with an equally frustrating LCC who badmouthed us to the second AP (b/c the 2nd AP told me). The LCC pushed hard for us to keep each one, even the one who didn’t drive! When I say can’t drive, she couldn’t even freely turn the steering wheel to turn a corner, but our LCC made us feel like that just couldn’t be true! Overall, I’m just really sad that I have subjected my family to all the stress and ordeal when we really never needed this program verses childcare who can come to my home 5 days a week. I guess with all the entitlements and expectations of this generation, I can’t keep HOPING for a better situation. And, CA Host Mom, a partner is exactly what we were hoping for, not a teenage daughter! I hear you! ;-)

Host Mom in the City June 26, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Hi Ruth – I definitely agree with you that “turning the other cheek” on anything else if she’s great with the kids is not what I signed up for (especially since the program costs so much in money, time, and house space!). We too offer many of the usual perks, don’t have any house rules, and seriously I spend so much time trying to make our au pairs happy. We had a very good au pair for our first year, but even that took so much out of me that I took a year off of the program. We’re with our second now and it’s been a continuous immaturity struggle the whole way through. If I hadn’t already selected our third, I think we would be bowing out of the program based on this experience. If our third doesn’t work out, I’m also done and going back to (much cheaper and easier!) before/after care and babysitters. Don’t feel alone :)

Host Mom in the City June 26, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Woops, wrong saying – I meant turning a blind eye!

Ruth June 26, 2013 at 10:47 pm

Thank you Host Mom in the City and CA Mom for your replies! Tonight, our AP said she didn’t want to stay and will go and stay in NYC with friends (seems it’s the second AP who has come here with an agenda since our 2nd one is still in the US illegally living with a guy). Anyway, that means we will happily be withdrawing from this program b/c we cannot put our family through this anymore. Of course, I don’t know what that means for us since we’ve only been in the program since December 2012. I’m just dreading the meeting with our LCC who will put pressure on all of us to make it work. When an AP says they want to leave, why would I want to force the issue?

Momma Gadget June 27, 2013 at 9:41 am

Dear Ruth-
I am so sorry for all your frustrations with the AP program. We have been very fortunate to have a fantastic, caring, and level headed LC. Our agency (Interexchange) has seemed to have a decent pool of APs, and overall has been responsive and fair in all their dealings with us.
Though there have been some crazy, frustrating, stressful issues along the way, in the 5 years we’ve been hosting, we have had mostly good experiences, and made some lasting bonds with wonderful young women/ men from different countries.
Just like au pairing isn’t for every young person, this program is not for every HF either. In all fairness, we had live in nannies up until the time our youngest turned 6. I am not sure we would feel the same way about the program if I had gone with it back when they were babies/toddlers/preschoolers.
I remember how draining our first bad match was, and if I had a bad rematch(never mind 2 in a row ),we would have been out too.
Finding the right child care is so critical to the balance and happiness of a family. I wish you luck in finding what is best for you and yours. Who knows , maybe down the road, with a different agency, you will successfully try the AP program again.

Ruth June 27, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Momma Gadget, thank you kindly for your advice. Ironically, we are through the same agency, but have just not had a good LCC and the problem stimulated from her pushing us to keep the first one, not trusting us that it was in all of our best interest that she move on if she can’t drive (the AP would have been bored out of her mind here, regardless of the fact she couldn’t drive to school, etc). Then to badmouth us to the 2nd AP who quickly told us b/c she was so thankful we were not unkind to her when she realized this program wasn’t for her at all and graciously accepted her departure, etc.

I am just at a loss at to what these AP’s in this generation want b/c, yes, while I have had to get stern about a couple of issues, I am in no way yelling, screaming, verbally abusive as that is not even in my nature, but if I need to address issues with you and you have no grit to withstand when someone is upset, why would you ever move to another country, culture with another family and enter this program? Oh, right, b/c their recourse is always a “backup plan”. Wow~! She had been telling me for weeks she needed to go back to her country to re-enroll in school, then she told me her father was getting test done for cancer, but when I asked her about it last night, there was no registering our previous conversation last week. We were also going on vacation and she was going to NYC. We had planned all along we would go early to the airport and drop her off, but, suddenly, she was trying to figure out how to get to the airport on her own. I realize now if I hadn’t have pushed her to decide what she wants to do, she was probably going to leave on her “vacation” and never come back.

As a result, I will likely quit a job that is a dream job in the sense I work for a global company, a dear friend is my boss and I work from home. Terrific! Thanks AP program! We have given all the perks and bent over backwards to accommodate. I fear from reading these boards that the more you try and accommodate, you will just never be able to please. I’m sad and fairly angry right now, but our AP has provided terrific childcare and, for that, I will grit my teeth and show her as much hospitality as I can muster until she is gone.

Momma Gadget June 27, 2013 at 2:27 pm

“I’m sad and fairly angry right now, but our AP has provided terrific childcare and, for that, I will grit my teeth and show her as much hospitality as I can muster until she is gone.” Been there, done that!!! Though I am sure it was much easier for us with the help of an experienced LC to talk me down from the proverbial “ledge”.
I admit we have been “underwhelmed” with many of the other LCs we dealt with while interviewing rematch or extending Aps .
I always chalked it up to having been spoiled by ours.
I am sure with a few deep breaths, ( and perhaps a cocktail or 2 :-) )you will figure out a solution for your child care needs, and be able to keep your “Dream Job”.
I am sorry you did not get to experience the calm, euphoric piece of mind of having a great AP that you clicked with.
I promise you, one day you will look back at these experiences and laugh…Good luck to you!

Ruth June 28, 2013 at 11:57 am

Thanks, Momma Gadget! I was a live-in nanny many years ago and knew AP’s during that time who had the utmost integrity, commitment, etc. In fact, I went to visit them in their country and they have been back to visit me many times, so I had hoped when I mentioned the program to my husband and, with excitement, we pursued it, I thought I was recreating this wheel of all good things I had experienced. However, the system is badly flawed today with social media as the outlet for these girls to know they can rematch just at the drop of a hat, (through my agency alone, Interexchange, my first AP told me an AP she met locally through our agency had rematched FOUR times just b/c she didn’t like her situation, and not that anything was extreme, just didn’t like it, and was finally happy!). WHAT? For that to be acceptable both from the agency and the AP to just leave a family high and dry b/c you have no integrity, grit, commitment to your responsibilities, honesty and the family has to pay for that, both money, time, investment, etc. Whether it’s b/c they want to be in a new location, they met a boyfriend some place else, whatever the case may be, just say you want rematch and the LC/Agency doesn’t stop it. So, no, I will never, ever enter this program again. Ironically, I had about 4 families interested in the program when we started it, but they have seen how badly the program has just dismantled around us and left our family in such a disarray that they want no part of it. I really wonder how sustainable this AP program will be with these girls lacking the commitment to follow through and with families feeling so used and abused after they have fallen all over themselves to get great childcare.

So, to recap, 24 weeks into the program we found our first AP 4 months prior to her arrival (had ample time to look for what we needed). She was great, but lied about one very essential skill we needed so we couldn’t keep her, we had to hurry and select our 2nd AP in order for her to arrive after the last day of the first AP. The 2nd AP lasted 2 days before she realized this program wasn’t for her at all and the LC let her just go and meet up with some guy that she is still in the US for illegally, we had to scurry again and find temporary childcare for 5 weeks and also hurry to select the 3rd AP. Our 3rd AP plans a vacation to NYC as her first vacation in the first 3 months she’s been here (after she was already there for orientation), she’s been talking to someone in NYC nonstop from the cell phone log, we had to help her pay for her vacation flight to NYC and then suddenly we find out she’s flying to NYC and then on to Walt Disney World…hmm…wonder where the money came from and then she says she wants a rematch before vacation and will stay in NYC while waiting for rematch. We’ve offered nearly every perk under the sun and have bent over beyond backwards. And now we’re exiting the program and our LC I’m sure is laughing all the way to the bank! These AP’s don’t care that they leave you in the lurch, I thought yesterday I might just need to quit my job, but I think we will explore one more avenue of pursuing an American nanny now. No more language barrier, cultural barrier, hopefully none of the passive-aggressive behavior (when I was having a discussion with her she decided to take that time to blow a bubble and pop it…really?). And she comfortably stays in our home until we all leave on vacation. NICE! Of course, I would love to take away the car privileges, cell privileges for the duration, but then we would just be stooping to a level that is not who we are at all.

On a good note, I do know of several really good AP’s in the program, so I’m not trying to throw all good AP’s under the bridge, but I would make a fair assessment that it is 60%, or more, who take advantage of the system and 40% who honor their commitments and return the investment to the family.

SKNY June 29, 2013 at 7:55 am

Where have your au pairs been from?
I have noticed that au pairs from some countries can be more engaged in the program than others (although we cant always generalize

Ruth June 30, 2013 at 9:58 pm

HI SKNY: 1st one was from Montenegro, 2nd from Czech Republic and 3rd from Colombia. I’ve since heard there are few girls from Colombia who actually finish the program. Of course, understanding that can’t be said for all of them.

MidAtlantic Host Family June 30, 2013 at 10:10 pm

Ruth – we have had a similar experience to you with a different agency. I think it is too easy to rematch rather than focus on the responsibilities that come with the program and the au pairs know it. There are circulated strategies on how to rematch to see a different part of the country. It is all very frustrating. That said, I am impressed the TACL manages so well with the program and it gives me hope. I am beginning to think it is the extraordinnaire option which our agency does not provide.

Ruth July 1, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Yes, MidAtlantic Host Family, there is too much social media and knowledge for these girls and the Agencies are deeply flawed to allow a rematch at the drop of a hat or in this case b/c I think our AP wants to be in the NYC area. On top of it all, I am dealing with a near death in the family any day now and another family member with stage 3 cancer and my LC is just like, “no need to have a 3 part meeting since your AP wants to rematch” and knowing we want out of the program. But then follows up with, “wait, she is owed her vacation time and school if she hasn’t used it”. WOW!! It’s a business to Interexchange, not a personal relationship to these families. I thought for a split second about doing the extraordinnaire program too, but I really cannot put my precious son or our family through this anymore. I’m just spent! No more lies, manipulation, dishonesty, lack of commitment. I was a live-in nanny when I was 19/20 for two different families each for a year and the second one for a year plus and had such an amazing experience and honored each of my commitments and have had a long standing relationship with my second family and left on great terms (was asked to extend) with my first family, I was just trying to recreate the wheel! The lack of integrity is sad!

HRHM July 1, 2013 at 4:34 pm

If she’s bailing out early for no good reason and you are leaving the program without having reaped your 7K worth of agency fees, I would suggest they pay her vacation and tuition out of your money that they won’t refund! LOL There is no way they (or she) would get one more red cent out of me.

MidAtlantic Host Family July 1, 2013 at 5:03 pm

I agree with HRHM.

Ruth July 2, 2013 at 1:14 am

Definitely leaving for no good reason and is actually leaving us on really good terms. She just knows the agency will rematch her!

familyof6 July 7, 2013 at 11:59 am

I am so thankful I found this website. We are a first time HF and our Aupair has been here for 4 months. Quick background, we had wonderful nanny for 2 1/2 year and decided that we needed earlier and later care and the au pair program would fit our needs better. Love our agency and the support that we have gotten from them. We have 4 children 13, 10 and twin 3 year olds and I am a SAHM. Any way we have a very homesick and weepy aupair on our hands. We have addressed this issue before with her and thought things were getting better. We even took her on vacation to the Caribbean and she didn’t really work and she complained about not having enough free time. Really?? We asked her to help us with the little ones so I didn’t have to run back and forth and I could relax. It was my vacation right? I even stayed in the room and said she could go out and enjoy the show, but she said she didn’t want to go by herself. Again, not my problem. We had a talk then and told she had to get it together and help out. I told her that I was concerned that the 2 little ones might me too overwhelming for her. So we were home a week and I was leaving again to go out of town and I decided to leave her home and give her a week to compose herself and “get a break”. Yes, I have given more than what has been given back. Her accommodations are an aupair’s dream. She lives in the guest house by the pool, a car to use, cell phone etc. We even extended her curfew to feel she had more freedom.

So this week she asked to talk to me and she is talking about being really home sick and not feeling welcome in the family. She goes every where with us when she is not on duty. Really??? She even said she really doesn’t know what to do. Her family is scheduled to come in September and she is taking her other week in August. She made the comment that after that she will feel like she is stuck here to finish out her year. I told her she really needs to get out of the house and create a social life her to enjoy her year. There are about 8 or 9 other aupairs in the area that all get together and do fun things. I really think she is fallen into a depression and I am tired of always trying to make things easier for her or making sure she is ok. We are scheduled to have mediation tomorrow night and I am going to make the decision for her. She either needs to go to a home with older and less children or go home. I just can’t deal with a weepy and depressed 20 year old for the next 8 months. Our LCC is great and she is very good at her job. I just don’t want the time frame between au pairs to be awkward for both parties. What is the maximum time that they can stay?

For those of you that have chosen through rematch did it work out better or should I go with one that wants to extend. I feel like those aupairs know what the job expectation is about and choose to want to be here. Any advice is most welcomed.

HRHM July 7, 2013 at 7:02 pm

There are pluses and minuses in both pools. With a rematch, they are leaving their current family for a reason – and that may or may not translate into problems for you. They are available quicker and may have better skills since they are not new to the job. However, their “use year” may not match up well with what you have left on the books and they may leave earlier or later, forcing your next match to occur at an awkward time of the year (March??).

Host Mom in the City July 7, 2013 at 8:14 pm

It’s so hard to know what’s going on from one post! She definitely sounds like a poor match for your family, so perhaps rematching at this point might be the best decision. We are struggling with an au pair right now, so I completely get how frustrating it can be and also, how difficult it can be to describe your frustrations in a single post.

But in case any of these are helpful, a couple of things popped out at me and please take them for what they’re worth and if they don’t apply at all, please ignore.

Firstly, working when a parent stays at home is frequently described by au pairs and nannies as difficult because boundaries between what is on-duty versus off-duty time can be unclear and also because it’s difficult for some people to know how they can be helpful and when they’re in the way when another caretaker is present. If that sounds like it might be an issue, I would suggest making a very clear schedule for when you expect her to be working and when you respect her off time (and then seriously expect nothing from her when she is off) and also a clear list or instructions on what exactly you want her to do when she is on duty.

The other thing that popped out is a similar issue and I apologize again if you did do this and it just wasn’t clear to me – on vacation, there needs to also be a set schedule of on-duty time. There cannot be just a general “please help us with the kids this week” – it’s too confusing and makes someone feel like they really don’t have any free time at all. We just got back from an extremely frustrating vacation with our au pair ourselves. We did actually have a set schedule, but she moped around every minute that she was off and didn’t take advantage of doing anything fun for herself even though she had tons of off time and there were so many things to do where we went. We had her on duty for some times just to help us with the kids at the park during the day and she was completely useless. She waited for specific direction and took no initiative and basically followed us around pouting. So I know how miserable it is to be on vacation with an unhappy au pair. But do consider whether it was clear to her what you wanted her to do and when.

I also wouldn’t get hung up on the great package that you offer her. You hear all the time from au pairs that a good match in a host family is much more important than plush accommodations. If you two aren’t a good match, all the comforts in the worlds aren’t going to make her appreciative and it’s only going to make you more resentful. There are families who don’t have a curfew (us included). Is her curfew fair? Is there a strong reason for a curfew? She sounds like she needs some more independence – perhaps she could handle not having a curfew at all?

Finally, consider that is really difficult to make friends in a new place, particularly when there are only 9 or so au pairs nearby. We live in a big city with au pairs on every street and it still took my au pair 3-4 months to make any friends.

So anyway, you could certainly just have an unhappy or depressed au pair and you need to just bite the bullet and rematch. But also consider how things might look from her perspective and see if there’s anything you can change that might make her a better au pair. Good luck!!

MidAtlantic Host Family July 7, 2013 at 11:13 pm

We had a very similar experience with an au pair who went home instead of rematch. Sometimes there is only so much you can do and they are supposed to be making your life at least a little easier. Afterwards it was like a big weight lifting for everyone including the four kids. The AP was screaming at the kids regularly and the kids starting acting out. Once she left everyone was happy again.

I would focus less on benefits or vacations except to realize that there is probably nothing you can do to make her happy.

In terms of rematch, I would be pissed if I ended up with her next and you did not warn about her severe home sickness. There is a system issue where the ap must pay for plane ticket home if they leave for homesickness reasons but not if the agency is unable to match them. So your ap is saying everything she needs to say to get into rematch and not sent home on her dime, but she likely will end up someone else’s problem.

Taking a Computer Lunch July 8, 2013 at 7:21 am

I agree, it is not up to you to make your AP happy. If she has not made an effort after 4 months to make a life for herself in the US, then she probably won’t. You may find it easier to go into rematch now, than have her suddenly leave with her family when they visit.

Rather than blindsiding her by invoking rematch with your first mediation (unless she does it herself), I recommend establishing benchmarks for her improved work behavior (which includes not crying on your shoulder – with 4 kids you don’t need a 5th!). Set a deadline for improvement. As the deadline appproaches and you feel she’s still dead weight around the house, then invoke rematch – she will have been warned.

I too, question curfews. In my city the party doesn’t really get going until 11 pm, so unless your curfew is 2 or 3 am, then your AP may be missing out on activities with other APs.

Momma Gadget July 8, 2013 at 11:21 am

We also had nannies for many years. We ended in rematch with our first AP too, mostly due to our inexperience interviewing APs .
IMHO- 4 months is enough time for an AP to at least feel comfortable with her host family if not make at least a couple of acquaintances to go out with. If she doesn’t feel “welcome” now, most likely she never will. Chalk it up to just being a mismatch. I would definitely go into rematch for your own sanity, and the happiness of your family. We wished that we hadn’t waited as long as we did to initiate rematch our first go-round.
We have rematched twice (2of6)- Once with and extending AP, Once with a rematch AP. Both were beyond awesome. They were both already over any homesickness, and familiar with most of the customs here in the USA ( including driving on our busy highways), and both were grateful for the opportunity to stay in the US longer as part of our crazy but loving family. The extension AP wished that she had signed up for a longer extension, and the rematch AP ended up extending with us.
Just because an AP didn’t work out with another family doesn’t mean that they won’t be a good match for yours. I would explore all your options if you can- extending, rematch, or out of country really focusing on who will be the best match for you and your family.
In rematch you are supposed to host the AP for 2 weeks, however; if you really feel uncomfortable with this, the LC must take them or find them another place to stay. Because of the timing, we let both the leaving APs transition with us for about a month- which worked to the benefit of all. Everyone was on their best behavior, and it gave everyone time for closure.
Good luck to you what ever you decide.

familyof6 July 8, 2013 at 9:03 pm

Thank you all for your sound advice. We had mediation tonight and we are going in to rematch. Basically our AP is too overwhelmed by the 4 children. I am proud of her for standing up for herself and not giving up on the experience. I still don’t understand how she said she didn’t feel welcomed. Oh well, move on. At least these next 2 weeks won’t be awkward. I feel like a huge cloud has been lifted now.

Our LCC is fabulous and is going to be working very hard to help us find the right AP for our family and the right family for our AP. So now I ask for those who have gone through rematch what are your must ask questions that you ask during interviews. I think we were new at this and probably not as direct as we should have been. Again so thankful to have found this site.

Host Mom in the City July 8, 2013 at 10:25 pm

Glad to hear it’s worked out! As this post says, rematch can be a great opportunity for a host family! Best of luck to you!

Should be working July 9, 2013 at 2:58 am

Familyof6: I believe that “not feeling welcome” in the family is a phrase that APs who want to rematch learn to use. They talk to each other, have Facebook with each other, and learn the phrases and reasons that will induce the agency to permit them to rematch. I have seen exactly that phrase used in numerous instances by APs who want to rematch, and it has come up on the blog before.

It implies that the AP wants to be closer to the family but they were unfriendly–which makes the AP look like a great candidate for a rematch family.

Meanwhile, you are moving on, which is great. Take a look at the site’s areas on rematch and interviewing, there are TONS of suggestions.

Dorsi July 9, 2013 at 10:40 am

Just to second TACL, don’t sell yourself very hard to candidates. I lose a lot of candidates early in the process — they say that they are not prepared to handle three kids, don’t want to work 45 hours a week, including evenings and weekends, etc. (Usually because they are worried they won’t have enough time to “study”). I am very blunt about how hard the job is at our house. I tell them that we use cloth diapers (because I don’t want anyone to be surprised that they have to handle them) but don’t tell them that we have a service that washes them. Matching is hard for us – I eail 5 people for every meaningful response that I get. Each of our APs (now #5) have told me at some point how much better the job was than they expected and how much they appreciate the perks we offer (not discussed at matching). All of our APs have travelled a lot with us (something we never talk about at matching), we are flexible with their schedule and give them extra vacation days, and incorporate them into the family as much as they want.

Good luck with the new AP!

Taking a Computer Lunch July 9, 2013 at 7:09 am

Don’t take it personally. You bent over backward with this AP. I recommend not telling candidates about all the bonuses they’ll get for matching, but about all the hard work you want them to do. While our APs learn we offer an AP car, no curfew, and don’t mind their having boyfriends stay the night, what we try to focus on is the fact they’ll be changing a teenager’s diapers, as well as feeding and dressing.

Although we’ve never gone into rematch, we did choose not to extend with one AP, and it was amazing to me what questions potential HFs didn’t ask. (The AP did her job, but never bothered to get an American driving license and went out of her way to avoid family time.) If you can’t speak to the HF, ask to speak the LCC — or ask your LCC to speak to the candidate’s LCC. As several HMs on this blog have pointed out, some times the chemistry that isn’t right with HF #1 is perfect for them, and sometimes the AP is treated badly, but most frequently a rematch candidate is just not suited for an AP year. Make your agency work for you!

Host Mom in the City July 9, 2013 at 8:54 am

Out of curiosity, TaCL, how is it that all of your au pairs have been willing to extend? We’ve had two Germans, neither of which we would have wanted to extend with anyway, but they both have had plans for after their one year and were never interested in extending. Not a single one of their friends did either. Maybe Germans tend not to? I always read that you have had so many extensions and even when you didn’t want to extend, au pairs that would have wanted to. Maybe you guys are just that awesome? :) As we’re facing down starting the whole training process again this fall, I’m sort of hoping this one will be amazing and will want to extend.

Taking a Computer Lunch July 9, 2013 at 9:09 pm

HMitC – The APs who have extended with us have been from Brazil and Austria. The AP who wanted to extend with us was from China. The rest have been from Sweden and Germany. In fact, we seem to be stuck in a rut with German APs, but the Educator Ausbildung makes the German Extraordinnaires so well-prepared.

In my experience, Europeans view their AP year as a “gap” year between high school and university/the-rest-of-their-lives. It’s an opportunity to work, have a bit of fun, explore the United States, and figure out who they are. Several of our APs came to our home saying they would not go to university. One is now working on her M.A. and three are working on their B.A. Because of the intensity of the caregiving in our household, most APs leave armed with a letter written by me, signed by our LCC and put on agency letterhead that states what skills they have learned in the year with us. Several APs worked in group homes for the disabled to pay for university.

Having a boyfriend/girlfriend definitely plays a role in the AP’s willingness to extend.

Host Mom in the City July 10, 2013 at 8:10 am

That makes sense, TaCL, thanks. Both of our Germans have definitely been in a gap year between HS and whatever was next (career for our first, university for our current). They both seemed to come here for exactly the reasons you stated – travel, be on their own, learn English, have fun. We’ve matched with our third already and purposefully chose a non-German, mostly to try something “new.” Though our two Germans were very different, so I fully realize every au pair, no matter the country, will be bringing newness with her :)

CA Host Mom July 9, 2013 at 11:28 am

Familyof6, I agree with everyone else – dig thru the site for great information about the re-match process.
We’ve had 2 great APs that came out of rematch. Our current agency is pretty good about providing the current host family contact information – I hear that some other agencies do not provide this. Do your best to get in touch with the host parents and have a candid conversation about the candidate (keep your mind open), and whenever possible, meet the candidate in person! Also, look on this site for interviewing advice. There are a couple of posts about how to ask questions that will reveal good information about the potential match … things that require more than a yes/no or easily rehearsed answer.
I can totally relate to that cloud lifting feeling … what a relief that is. Good luck to you!

Momma Gadget July 9, 2013 at 3:47 pm

I know what you mean- once the decision is made, it is like a huge weigh off your shoulders ( and conscience). I hope both you and the au pair move on to find perfect matches- and get the most out of this program.

familyof6 July 9, 2013 at 6:53 pm

Thanks everyone. We have been matched with a potential au pair and I am planning to contact her tonight. She seems to have what we are looking for. I am not going to try to sell myself but make it very clear what the job expectations are if she is interested then we will pursue. Our agency provides the HF contact and the LCC as well. So I will get to talk with them. I am hoping and praying that this goes smoothly and quickly but I most importantly we choose the right one for our family.

Today has actually been good. I think our AP feels like she can see the end in sight and so her mood has changed drastically, from being “so miserable here” to being pleasant.

CA Host Mom June 25, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Interesting … we are switching agencies so that we can host an Extraordinaire for this exact reason. I am sorry to hear of your struggles, but I thank you for sharing and confirming our decision to try the Extraordinaire program …

To date, we have had APs that were (20-21, 19, 21-22). Next up, 26 y/o … my fingers are crossed that the decision to switch will work well for our family because the immaturity issues to date have been incredibly frustrating.

Taking a Computer Lunch June 26, 2013 at 11:09 pm

Yes, of the 8 AP’s we have hosted to date 5 have been Extraordinnaires. Our 9th, an extraordinnaire, comes in a few weeks. One of the regular APs was older and mature and fantastic. The other was great with the special needs child, but dropped the ball on so many other fronts that we chose not to invite her to extend (and on the advice of our LCC waited until her extension paperwork arrived to tell her). We pressed by extension families interviewing us, I told them that our reason was that she failed to even try to get a U.S. driver’s license (mandatory in our state for extensions).

Our current AP has been the most immature and has caused the most work for our family. If she had been our first, we might have walked away from the program altogether. However, we know how fantastic it can be (and know that managing nursing for our special needs child is no piece of cake – imagine all the stress of managing an AP without the emotive love between caregiver and child!) I’m in countdown mode.

For us, age has not been a huge factor. Our favorite AP was 19 when she arrived (an extraordinnaire with a good head on her shoulders). Our least favorite turned 19 a few weeks after arriving. Our au pairs have mostly been in their early 20s, but a couple were 23 when they arrived.

I look for a commitment to children in their studies, in their free time, and in their employment. My first LCC said to look for success. Does the candidate have a skill which required her to persevere? Does she play an instrument? Is she on a team sport? Finally, has she worked more than a couple of hours a week consistently?

No match is perfect. Every single one takes compromise on the part of the AP and HF. As a HP, you do have to look the other way some times – as long as your children are loved and they aren’t endangered. As long as basic tasks are performed. (And yes, for me, constant phone use is not performing a basic task nor loving toward another human being!)

Host Mom in the City June 25, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Be careful about assuming older equals better though! I think it’s really more work and life experience that makes for a better au pair. Our last extraordinaire was only 20, but she had tons of experience and education, and she was great.

Should be working June 26, 2013 at 9:11 am

I agree about older NOT meaning more mature. The only AP we sent into rematch was 25, and all the others have been 18 on arrival and far better in every respect. Older can mean “not used to having to accept living under someone else’s rules”. And it can mean “I don’t know what to do with my life so I’ll go abroad for a year, I guess I can handle kids”. Younger CAN (but of course doesn’t necessarily) mean, “used to living under someone else’s rules” and so forth.

CA Host Mom June 26, 2013 at 1:16 pm

I hear you on older not always being better …

I just have to try it out before throwing in the towel on hosting APs all together. We are one of the homes that the APs like to spend a lot of time at (which is mostly good, sometimes bad) so we are exposed to lots of APs on a regular basis. I can’t imagine most of the 18-22 year olds that I meet actually living in my home or caring for my little (under 3) children – they are no more than children themselves!

We have few non-childcare related rules, straightforward expectations about pitching in with “community tasks”, so the best match for our family is someone who respects that and can demonstrate a significant level of maturity. We look forward to our next AP who will hopefully be more of a partner and less of a temporary teenage daughter.

I have read here about some of the issues that come with older candidates as well, so I’ll be on the lookout, but I am optimistic about the change. And I’ll continue to gratefully read all of the advice that everyone posts here. Thank you!!!

Taking a Computer Lunch June 26, 2013 at 11:12 pm

If you haven’t had the “reset your attitude or rematch” conversation with her, then I’d recommend it. Remind her that lip service is when you promise to do one thing and then go ahead and do as you please. If you’ve caught her on the phone and the kids are old enough to complain, then she isn’t the AP for you. If you have a good LCC, invited her to the table when you have the chat. Sometimes it’s good for APs to hear that expectations about not using a phone while working are standard.

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