Is Two Weeks Enough To Time To Know We Need A Rematch? When I say “Yes”

by cv harquail on April 23, 2016

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.

4621367697_87ff46dafa_mWith 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.


NoVA Twin Mom April 23, 2016 at 6:00 pm

Well, we once knew after three and a half days, but it was closer to a safety issue in that case than the one you describe.

Can you start with a conversation with the LCC? That way you’ll have “on the record” that you have some issues, so if you decide soon to rematch it won’t look like a snap decision, but rather something you’ve really thought about. This might be a place where the two week “remediation” would work well, if the au pair is interested in staying rather than rematching.

So, yes, I think you can know that a change is necessary even after just two weeks. What that change will be may take a little longer to figure out.

Mimi April 24, 2016 at 12:02 am

Sometimes despite our best efforts and super thorough screening, you find a situation where the AP just doesn’t work out in person for lots of reasons. If you’re hearing from the LCC that other APs have noticed that she does not handle the kids well at play dates, then it’s likely that it’s very noticeable and unlikely to really change. Experience helps, but instinct can really make or break an AP in a situation like this.

I’m not sure what kind of conversation the OP has had with the AP, but laying out your concerns in a very neutral way can be very helpful in this kind of situation and you may find that she will understand and maybe even agree that rematch is best. Even with a great attitude and lots of effort, this is a very challenging issue to have with an AP and often ends up being frustrating for everyone when it inevitably doesn’t work out. It’s one thing to adjust to cultural differences, but changing the entire way you instinctively interact with children is a really big deal. If you think she is going to struggle with this and never really hit her stride, then helping her find a situation that is better for her talents is a win for both of you.

Rematch doesn’t always have to be a dirty word, but if you’ve never gone through it, then it can be a daunting process. When it’s early enough in their year and there’s no resentments or history, it’s much easier for both parties to let go and move on.

5kids=aupair April 24, 2016 at 12:19 pm

Would you have any time to play together w/au pair and kids? Let her see you get silly and or dirty? Just a thought.

Frankfurt AP Boy April 24, 2016 at 5:03 pm

Knowing how I have often felt during the first 2 weeks, I would say it is still too early to decide to rematch. Perhaps she is just nervous. These days I force myself to overcome my nerves as quickly as I can because I know how important it is to make a good impression… but often I have felt quite uncomfortable about relaxing completely and being silly with preschoolers when there are adults around that could be ‘evaluating’ me. This is particularly true when the parents are super fun and playful with the kids. The idea of a parent giving me a list of ways to interact with the kids would absolutely horrify me – it would confirm everything I am nervous about.

The most important thing to establish in this scenario is that she likes your kids and wants to play and care for them (even if she is, for whatever reason, holding back). I am not sure how I feel about whether some people have the ‘nurturing instinct’ and others don’t. In any case though, If she isn’t happy either perhaps rematching wouldn’t be so bad for either party

Taking a Computer Lunch April 24, 2016 at 9:16 pm

Personally, I’d hand her a list of activities she can do with the preschoolers – things that they like to do, things that they need to do, things that you want her to work with them to improve their skills. Tell her that she needs to choose one thing from each list each day, but that she should feel free to choose 2 or more from one list. Tell her how frequently she needs to change activities and to learn when they’re bored or frustrated and need a change of pace. Your local library or community center might have some free activities. Local bookstores often have daytime story times. Now that the weather is nice, encourage her to make up a picnic.

Give her an idea of what is acceptable (e.g. Oh, it’s wonderful that you’re going to X Park. Do pack a towel, change of clothes and extra shoes, the kids always play in the creek and get really wet.

If she comes up in the morning for her shift dressed as if she were going out to meet friends rather than get down and dirty with your kids, then suggest that she might be happier playing with the kids in her work-out clothes.

NBHostMom April 25, 2016 at 8:06 am

All great advice. It does sound like you’re heading down the wrong path with this AP. I would be speaking with the LCC at this point and have a setting expectations meeting. Depending on her level of English, you may have to be very direct with her. Instead of “listing ideas”, tell her clearly “a very important part of your job is to play with the children. Children this age need active play, they cannot focus for more than a short period of time. I expect you to participate in pretend play and active games. Do you have any ideas for this?” The question at the end is the most important part. You’ve given her ideas, let’s see what she’s understood.

If this doesn’t turn around quickly, you’re probably heading for rematch. If I were in your shoes, I’d see this initial meeting with the LCC as setting the groundwork for rematch at 6 weeks, unless there is a drastic change.

TexasHM April 25, 2016 at 12:02 pm

This is the most concerning part for me “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.” As someone that has hosted many years and often hears the APs dish at my house, I have never known of an instance where the APs went to the LC. There have been a couple of scenarios where APs thought an AP was not great with the kids but they covered themselves and told their HFs (me) or other APs but did not go to the LC.

For one, usually APs don’t want to be the one to “rat out” another to the LC. For two, if they do and you decide to keep the AP then they have bad blood in the cluster/area because odds are your AP would know who told on her. If another AP (who presumably has only known your AP for a week or two and has no ulterior motive for taking her down) felt compelled enough to go to the LC about my AP that would snap my head to attention. I would really try to find out what “does not handle them well at play dates” really means. Again, if she just wasn’t super playful would that be enough for other APs to go to the LC about her? I don’t think so but maybe I am missing something. Makes me wonder if maybe when out they get bored and fight and sit in timeout at the playdates as well (same thing you are seeing at home). Worst case scenario is other APs see unsafe behavior – this would be more likely to be reported to LC than “she doesn’t play with them much”.

Regardless, get LC over there for a reset conversation with clear action items, desired outcomes and timeframe = 2 weeks because that is what agency will make you do anyway so get it on the record and the clock started. Then if she figures it out – awesome! You keep her! If she doesn’t then you have done everything by the book and on to rematch immediately instead of then being made to have the reset conversation and wait even longer.

Seattle Mom April 26, 2016 at 4:23 pm

All good ideas above. I also vote for looping the LCC in pretty early with your thoughts, even if you’re not sure you will eventually rematch. You might find that your AP has been complaining to your LCC and also feels a mismatch, and it might pave the way for a mutually agreeable rematch. Or your LCC might be able to counsel your AP and it will be helpful if she knows what you need to happen.

We have had 4 successful APs and one rematch. With our rematch we knew on the second day that she wasn’t going to work. She had the wrong personality for us and our kids. We also had little kids and thought she was a scold and cared more about keeping things orderly than creating a fun atmosphere. And she found a new HF where they appreciated her sense of order and didn’t care that she wasn’t very playful, so it was a win-win.

Seattle Mom April 26, 2016 at 4:27 pm

I want to add that though we knew on day 2, I wasn’t fully convinced until after a full week (though DH was). I told LCC somewhere around week 1 or 2, and we waited until almost a month in to tell the AP because our agency would not allow us to rematch until after a month. But my LCC was extremely helpful and understood that there was no chance for reconciliation- I think that our AP had also told her that she was unhappy, so it was mutual. I gave our outgoing AP an honest and mostly positive reference- she was safe and organized and energetic, but not fun. Some families are ok with that.

Charlotte HF April 27, 2016 at 11:01 pm

I wish I didn’t have experience with this however we recently had a similar situation. This was our 3rd au pair, 5th year as a HF and we requested rematch after 4 weeks however knew after 2 it was highly unlikely to work out with the new AP. After 2 weeks with the AP, we had concerns with regard to the AP not communicating,engaging or showing any emotion at all with our children. However our neighbors and preschool principal identified safety concerns with the new AP and our 3 young children (3,6,8 years). I spoke with our LCC who informed us that we can not rematch until at least 4 weeks has gone by with our new AP. For the next 2 weeks I rearranged my work schedule, inconvenienced neighbors and checked in on the AP and children periodically…. It was worse than we thought. We even took the au pair on a family vacation week 4 to try to help her engage the children, relax and get to know the children and our family. The one and only time we asked that she watch after the 2 oldest children while I and the youngest slept in and my husband showered, she fed herself breakfast, neither offering the children breakfast nor cleaning up after herself. I was awoken by my 8 year old jumping off the balcony staircase and the AP was nowhere to be found!!!!! I put the kids in timeout with a book and found the AP in the wing of the house she was staying, texting/emailing on her cellphone. I wanted to fire her right then and there but instead calmed myself enough to speak with her and her excuse was that the kids weren’t listening to her so she left them. When we returned that weekend, we discussed with the LCC again and requested rematch. We spoke with the AP the next day and the last 2 weeks were ridiculous! She worked maybe 25 hours/week, she was late coming down each day, would leave late at night and stay out until she felt like coming home (she is 19 so she had curfew of 2am and could not abide by it since arriving yet didn’t seem to understand the rule nor did the LCC support us). There is even more with regard to safety but in the end, she stayed with us for two weeks, we paid her according to APIA rules for those 2 weeks and I am now being asked by the LCC to pay the AP $ for vacation days and education days for the AP having spent 6 weeks with us. We paid her $225/week to help with vacation and education however since we did not document specifically the vacation day this covered nor had the AP enrolled in any classes, we are Told by the LCC that we need to pay…. We will not. I am furious with the lack of support. I am also VERY concerned as the AP has rematched and our LCC is happy to just have her rematched…. No concern for the family that is getting an AP that had not ensured the safety or wellbeing of our children. People don’t change overnight and someone is getting an AP that is incompetent and potentially a risk to another HF.

Yes, talk with your LCC now but if it’s not a match, it’s not a match and I would push for it sooner rather than later.

Taking a Computer Lunch April 30, 2016 at 5:02 pm

My advice, as a APIA HM, is to pay for the vacation days – unless there were days when your AP did not work while you went on vacation – and you can document it with a schedule. As for education, tell the LCC that you will reimburse your AP’s HM when she presents you with evidence that your AP is taking a course. It sounds like that AP won’t be any more successful with her second HF than she was with yours, so don’t pay for education now.

Finally, it’s your money, so if you aren’t happy with the support given to you by the LCC, complain to HQ – in writing – documenting when you had conversations with the LCC, what you did in the interim, the moment you found your child unsupervised, and your concerns that the AP was permitted to rematch. Take a deep breath, and edit it heavily before you send it (either by mail or email). You want to take the venom out, but make your dissatisfaction with the process clear.

TexasHM April 30, 2016 at 11:10 pm

Several things I wish I had known sooner in the program and want to bring to light for Charlotte HF in this situation.

1. If there is ever a situation where there are safety issues you absolutely do not have to wait a month to rematch. I had an LC that told us to rematch for weeks due to safety issues and then an hour after we did it she called me back and said “I didn’t realize it had not been 4 weeks yet”. BS and I told her as much. The minute I talked to her AD and explained what AP had done she was immediately sent to rematch and actually after full interview with both sides decided to send her home rather than send her to another family. They absolutely cannot insist that you leave your child with someone that endangers them and the minute an LC or agency employee says as much you need to literally say “I’m sorry you want me to endanger my child?” No. Unfortunately often times the LCs have zero power (esp at APIA) and the ADs often deal with so many cases they gloss over the details, you need to advocate for your family.

2. If you have an AP that is unsafe, do not have them work during the two week rematch period if at all possible. It’s directly contradictory to your reason for rematch so future HFs that are looking at that APs transition document will not believe you (myself included I always look to see if HF had them work during rematch). I always figure (maybe I am wrong) that if AP was that bad the HF wouldn’t have them work during transition. If they are not working during those two weeks you DO NOT have to pay them. You have to house them but you have the option to choose if they work or not.

3. IF you rematch and its not due to safety issues – make it explicitly clear to the AP during the rematch meeting that you will allow AP to work during the rematch period IF AND ONLY IF they complete their duties and hold it together. If you so much as suspect AP is poisoning the well, talking to people in the community, being passive aggressive, not holding it together emotionally, emotionally blackmailing you via the kids – WHATEVER – then pull the plug on the spot. The condition of being able to work during transition and have your support is that they do their duties and conduct themselves respectfully as an AP and houseguest.

4. Try – if at all possible – to let it go if its not something major. There is a ton of emotion involved (disappointment, insecurity, frustration, anger, fear, sadness its a mess) and trying to interfere with if or where AP gets matched will not only paint you a crazy person and the problem but won’t make you feel any better. Unless you have evidence that AP endangered kids in which case take that case up the chain as far as you can go. Leave the emotion out, stick to the facts. Don’t get in the weeds, just state the facts and don’t let anyone convince you that it wasn’t a big deal. If it is bad enough and you have strong evidence (video, stills, etc) then take it to the very top and if needed, tell them you will go to the news, BBB, state department whatever it takes. Make sure though that the punishment fits the crime. IE – personality mismatch = house them, have them work and let them go and wish them well, harm child on video = AP packs immediately and stays with LC, does not work another minute and you demand agency send AP home right away and if they do not you go to everyone and anyone that will listen.

More specifically for Charlotte HF – I would quit dealing with your LC immediately and go up the chain. Make sure you have documentation of how much was paid every week and when and explain that education was factored into that so actually you are due a refund. Go ahead and do the settlement worksheet and say you will follow the rules and pay for the vacation days due but as such, you also need to be refunded for all the education money you paid that was above and beyond what was due her. As soon as they see that the AP actually owes you money they will try to get you to just walk away and not collect from the AP which it sounds like is fine with you anyway.

Going forward, just do yourself a favor and pay the stipend and don’t pad it with anything and pay the classes actuals as taken. Is this AP already out of your house? If not it is not too late to go high at APIA and make them aware of the danger this young woman is. Fall on the sword and explain what you did to cover during the rematch period to make sure she wasn’t alone with them and leave the emotion out but be explicit with them that you are very concerned about her intentions and ability and mention the staying out way late, ignoring curfew and leaving children to be on her phone. If you want to go for broke I would ask them for a refund for the rematch period given that you were told you had to pay her and have her work and that is not true. PLUS your LC and agency made you suffer through two additional weeks even after you made clear there were safety issues so you could potentially even ask to be refunded back to the two week mark where you made clear to the LC that your kids were not safe. Are they likely to pay it? No. But you will have made clear that this situation was mishandled and will likely crush any future attempts to collect even more from you.

Unfortunately LCs are very little paid, often barely trained and especially at APIA – have little to zero authority so they just parrot from above so if you ever feel like you are in trouble and not getting the support you need, do not be afraid to go higher – as high as you need to get the support due. I think many of us (myself included) had different expectations of the LC role coming into the program and honestly it’s not even their fault but should be positioned VERY differently than they are sold today. You have to advocate for your family. Not the LC. If you have one that does truly advocate for you – they are a gem.

momo4 April 28, 2016 at 9:50 pm

Speaking from my experience with 9 APs, if it is a personality mismatch you can absolutely know within days that it is not a good fit.

My biggest mistake and regret in all my years as a host mom is that I did not rematch with an AP who rubbed me the wrong way from day one, and who did not bond well with my children. We kept her for her whole year, and it was not a good one. As is usually the case, there were a number of other issues and complicating factors (including my overly accommodating personality and family health issues) which contributed to why I did not rematch, but I should have, and will not be willing to go through another such experience.

Our 2 worst APs over the years were both really happy with our family, and that made it extremely uncomfortable for me to tell them that they were not a good fit for us. And I never did. They both completed their years. One was incredibly sweet, adored the children, but was unable to set any limits with them and was utterly incompetent with any and all household chores. The other was lazy (admitted as much) and did not bond well with the children since she seemed only capable of arguing with them and saying no. The first I kept because she really was so sweet. The other I kept for more complicated reasons, but at the end of the day it was their personalities that did not match well with what we needed, and while you can train someone who lacks a skill you need, you cannot change their basic personality structure.

4 year olds are usually really easy to entertain and bond with, if she can’t do it naturally I seriously doubt it is something she can learn. Let her find a family with older children.

If your AP doesn’t bond well with your children for whatever reason, don’t make my mistake and let them stay. Talk to your LCC immediately and rematch as soon as your agency allows you. Save yourself a miserable and frustrating year.

randh May 10, 2016 at 11:22 am

My friend rematched in around 2 weeks – the au pair left the baby in the car, in the summer, and she reported the AP and the AP was deported. With four kids, it’s important the AP knows basic stuff like don’t leave the baby in the car. The agency had no issue with rematching so early.

With any job, sometimes the applicant fudges their experience a little. If she said she had preschooler experience and didn’t, that’s her fault as it appears she does not, and consider rematch. If she didn’t say she had preschooler experience, that’s the HF’s fault and give her some time.

As for an AP swap, unless the agency is the same (here in the US many people use agencies), that is looking for trouble.

My friend’s current AP is great with three of her kids, and has significant trouble with her youngest who is in kindergarten. Her daughter will scream at the AP and not let her help her at all. But she is still afraid to switch because all of the older ones get along with the AP.

I still wonder though, if you can’t explicitly tell someone, AP or not, to play certain types of games with your kids, what can you do? Remove the board games from the house?

Charlotte HF May 19, 2016 at 2:59 pm

Update: the AP that finally left us (we watched her like a hawk the 2 weeks we were told we had to still house her) she was allowed to rematch and went to NY with again young children. Although we had identified some serious safety concerns, we were not contacted by any other family regarding her being in rematch. She matched with the help of our LCC. 1 week and 2 days later, she was pulled from the NY house and is no longer in APIA…. I do not know what happened but our problem obviously became another’s and they got her out in 10 days?!?!? We were
Told to wait at least a month and then 2 weeks more…

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