When a new Au Pair arrives and is clearly not working out, sensible Host Parents start thinking about rematch. If the Au Pair does something unsafe, dishonest, or mean — ask for rematch right away.
With other situations, it makes more sense to give it a little time.
You might think your au pair is a terrible driver, but if you give him two weeks of concentrated effort and practice, his driving (and confidence) might improve. Or, if your Au Pair seems homesick, clueless, nervous, or awkward with English, you might give your Au Pair time to get his or her bearings before drawing conclusions about their suitability for your family.
Because many situations can work themselves out with a little energy, focus, experience, and time, Au Pair agencies are smart to require that families and Au Pairs work together for 6 weeks before considering rematch.
I know this from my own experience — I remember telling my DH the first night an Au Pair arrived that I thought I didn’t really like her, that her personality didn’t work for me. In fact, she was the first Au Pair I didn’t really take to right away. So of course, within a month she’d become one of my favorites.
The other reason (I think) that we’re expected to work on it for 6 weeks is that ALL relationships take some time.
If we were able to go into rematch the moment we had our first hesitation about an Au Pair, we’d all be in rematch. All the time. So whenever it’s a personality thing, or a comfort-in-the-USA thing, I say — take the 6 weeks to work on it.
There is one situation, though, where I think it’s a great idea to let your LCC know you’re thinking ahead about rematch… That’s when your otherwise great Au Pair is not a good fit with your kids.
When your Au Pair doesn’t fit well with your kids but is otherwise great, she or he will be easy to place with another family. You wouldn’t be “dumping” a problem onto someone else. And, going into rematch wouldn’t be a mark against your Au Pair.
If your LCC/AR and Au Pair Agency know that you’re looking to rematch and that you have an otherwise great candidate to put back into circulation, they have time to look for someone who might fit your needs. This can help a rematch turn into a swap that works well for both families and both Au Pairs.
One of my friends had a situation similar to the one the Host Mom describes in her email (below).
My friend Karen’s new Au Pair was wonderful — responsible, good driver, good English, tried really hard, nice to be around. And, she simply did not know how to get down on the floor and play with Karen’s two toddlers. Karen was bummed out, because this seemed like something this Au Pair could not fix– but Karen had no grounds for complaining or going into rematch (she thought).
Meanwhile, across town, another Host Mom was in dispair about her Au Pair — a lovely person, responsible, and okay driver — who smothered her preteens with too much maternal protection and care, and who wanted to spend all her time playing with her Host Kids.
I’d like to say it was the LCC who noticed the opportunity to swap — but in this case it was the Au Pairs themselves. They met at a cluster meeting where there LCC was facilitating a conversation about how to interact with host kids, and they realized that they would each work well in the other Au Pair’s Host Family. They suggested this to the LCC, and within a week they’d switched homes.
No feelings were hurt, no family got the short end of the stick, and both Au Pairs enjoyed their remaining 11 months.
Has anyone else had a situation like this, where early notice of a mismatch led to an easy Au Pair swap?
If you were the Host Mom, below, what would you do?
Dear Au Pair Mom, I have a question about our new au pair, who has only been here for two weeks. We have three kids (8 and 4 1/2 yo twins) and so far she has really been struggling to connect with the younger kids. She doesn’t know how to play with them. They are silly, busy preschoolers who love to get messy and play pretend. I have written her lists with many ideas of how to interact with them, but all she wants to play with them is board games. They get bored with that fairly quickly and start fighting, and then spend time in time-outs.
She is our third Au pair in four years, and we have never gone through rematch. However, we are considering it for this Au pair because she really doesn’t seem to have the necessary experience for preschoolers. Also, several of the other Au pairs in our group have told the LCC that she does not handle the kids well at play dates. She is a great driver, smart, and does try hard. I just don’t think she has that instinctive nurturing nature which my younger kids need.
My question for you is: is it too early to rematch after two weeks, if she really doesn’t seem like the right fit? I think she would be more successful with older kids, and maybe two kids max.