Layers of Au Pair Problems…Leading to Rematch?

by cv harquail on November 9, 2015

This Host Mom’s got it all falling apart.

Little seems to be going as expected. When this Host Mom emailed, I’d suggested to her that maybe it would be easier if we separated the topics and had one post for #1 and another for #2 & #3– but they feel too connected in the Host Mom’s eyes for them to be discussed as separate issues.  I have underlined some key points.

It’s complicated.

Frankly, either one would have me thinking “rematch”.

2264276166_ea9405753e_mWe are a new HF and have had our AP for 3mo.
There have been some issues I need advice on, I’ll list them most important to least importan

1. She cannot control the kids, they do not respect her in the slightest.

Every time we leave the house all hell breaks loose and it is total pandemonium and chaos. Yesterday she had only two of the 7 (both age 5) and I was in another room and could hear everything that was happening. My children listened to nothing she said, were disrespectful and rude and basically steamrolled her. I had to intervene several times in a few hours.

I have given her tools to deal with this (time outs, taking away privileges, behavior charts, naptime etc.) and she does all of them but they still just laugh in her face. I also have lectured them (in her presence) and told them unequivocally that they have to do as she says, she is an adult in this house and an authority and if they don’t comply there will be consequences (and there have been).

I also make it a point to back her up, if she tells them to do something and they don’t do it and I see it, I immediately say “You heard her. Get going.” And then they do it, when I say it. I also make it a point to not immediately jump in, I wait to see if she handles it first. But when the back talk has gone one 5 min or so with no end in sight, I shut it down.

Also, the same tools mentioned above work for both parents plus two outside (non family) sitters.
I have given her tips such as speaking in a more stern voice, only saying “please” once, otherwise it sounds like she is begging and pleading with them, to use the tools above etc. I have also told her that if they speak disrespectfully to her (“Give me some milk!!” As opposed to “Could I have some milk, please?”) to not give it to them and/or tell them to rephrase and ask nicely before they get whatever it is.
She has a very timid, sweet sounding voice and is not very loud and I think that is part of the problem, since she is doing everything I have suggested and all of these things work for dh and I plus two other (non family) sitters but do not work for her.

She is a very very sweet girl, this is not a personality or attitude problem at all. She needs to find her inner bitch and I’m worried that she does not have one.

And oh yes, I am also very embarrassed about my kids behavior towards her and also am upset at they way they have been treating her- no one should have to tolerate that. This is unacceptable in our family.

There have been serious consequences for them after every incident, from running laps in the yard, to extra cleaning chores to absolutely zero candy last night (Halloween).

It’s like sharks with a drop of blood in the water. Or maybe a swarm of bees taking down an elephant. I feel like I can’t leave her alone with them or pandemonium immediately ensues. And again, yesterday she was alone with only 2 children when this happened, never mind being alone with all 7.

(I am a SAHM and I mainly need her for when I homeschool the older ones, she takes care of one 4yo and one 20 month old then, or if some have outside activities in the afternoon, I take those kids and leave her with the others or if there are doctor appointments etc. Generally I am here with her in the house about 85% of the time, tag teaming with her basically. But I do need to leave her with all of them at times, generally for no more than a couple of hours.)

I am worried that she has lost the kids’ respect, and it’s going to be twice as hard to regain it at this point. I also am wondering if she is simply out of her depth and overwhelmed and that she might be a better fit for a family with one child or a baby who doesn’t push limits?  I hate even saying that or thinking that because she has already been rematched once. (More on that later)

2. This may have something to do with what’s happening in #1, but she spends 98%of her time off, including entire weekends, laying on our living room couch either reading or texting or using her tablet.

There is wifi, internet, Skype and netflix (via her tablet) in her room. (Same as in our living room, we don’t have cable in LR but only netflix in her room, it’s just netflix/amazon etc everywhere in the house, there aren’t fewer options in her room is the point.) *Literally*15 hours a day lying down on the living room couch, both weekend days when she is off, this is not an exaggeration at all.

I’ve asked if there is anything wrong with her room (she has her own suite with her own full bathroom, bed and desk and own temperature control) and she says no. I think she just likes to feel part of the family so she sits in the LR. Maybe that’s what she did living in her parents house last year (she had never lived away from home before now).

Anyway, I think it’s confusing to the kids that when she is in the LR, sometimes she is directing them and interacting with them (when she is working) and other times she is not, she is just sitting on the couch doing her own thing, being pleasant enough but not playing with them either.

She isn’t doing anything wrong but its that it is inconsistent for them and they don’t know what to expect from her since it’s different on weekends than during the week.

At times she even gets (understandably) annoyed when they are loud right next to her and she is trying to talk on the phone or when she is trying to read and they are climbing on the back of the couch etc. but she still stays there, on the LR couch.

I’ve said “why don’t you make calls in your room where you can hear something?” after she has shushed the kids in an irritated voice and she has just said “no, no, it’s fine.” to me and continued to try and talk on the phone in the LR. I’ve also said “If they are annoying you (by climbing on the couch she is laying on), feel free to go read in your room.” immediately after she has said to them in a clearly irritated voice “Get down! Get off!” Etc.

If it were me, I’d head up to my room to read, chat and use the internet, especially since it’s clearly annoying to try to do this with a bunch of little kids all over you, so I just don’t get it. I’d jump at the chance to go to the quiet of my room if I had that option, lol!

I’ve also told her that this is her workplace and that everyone needs a break from the kids no matter how much she loves them and to not feel bad about not spending literally every waking second of her time off in our LR. I get that everyone needs a break from kid chaos, I certainly need that. But she responds by telling me that it’s fine and she loves the kids and loves her job and still wants to spend all her time off on the LR couch. Anyway, I have brought this up with her recently so I think this part may be solvable…

3. This isn’t really a huge issue but maybe goes along with #2. She is very much a homebody and prefers to spend all of her free time lying on our couch, literally nearly every second.

I have gotten her gym membership info, gotten her a library card, gotten her on the meet up site and helped her put in her interests and showed her how to use the site, I have had a party for the other au pairs in the area and have encouraged her to go out, do things and make friends. I did research on Facebook groups for au pairs to connect and found her an app for au pairs to meet up and put it on her phone.

We are in a city where there is a lot to do btw, but not that many other au pairs. Finally, after she did not join the gym, any meetup groups or make any plans to leave the house, I basically forced the issue and told her that she had to start going out and meeting people, otherwise she was going to have regrets, leave in a year and feel like she didn’t do or see anything here and that this is not just work but a cultural exchange. Since then, she has gone out a few times with a few other au pairs, either to a club or movie etc. but it is still very rare.

I make suggestions on activities that she could be doing on her time off several times a week, but it’s rare that she does any of them. Last night I insisted that she go out with another au pair to a halloween party (plans were discussed early in the week but no commitments were made and I insisted that she firm up plans and she eventually did) but I almost feel like I am forcing her to have a social life that she does not necessarily want.

I insisted that she go out on her 21st birthday and gave her two assignments: 1. Have 3 alcoholic drinks (she was not driving) and 2. Talk to at least 5 boys. I doubt either happened.

Again, this one is solvable albeit with a lot of effort and insistence from me, but maybe it plays into #2, which plays into #1 if that makes sense.

She could not be any sweeter. Great personality, no attitude problems at all, kind, gentle and sweet girl.

So, any advice from more experienced HM’s? Am I doing something wrong? Can this be fixed?

Also, she is a transition AP who was let go due to language issues. We have had no issues with this at all, partly because I speak her native language, but she also has no trouble communicating with Dh who does not speak this language.

The other family only had her a few days before going into rematch though so I don’t know if they had the same issues and didn’t mention them – it doesn’t seem like that’s likely because she was only there a few days and the HM wasn’t home (traveling out of state) much of that time.

I’m also concerned that if we withdraw from the AP program and put her into rematch, she will take it as a two time rejection and I don’t want to crush the spirit of this young girl, because we truly do like her.

That said, if I can’t leave her alone with even just 2 kids without total chaos ensuing, it’s hard to justify having an AP at all. I feel like I need to hire one of my outside sitters to help her if I need to leave the house for any amount of time at this point. If either of the outside sitters is here they can handle it alone, they don’t need the AP, so why am I paying 2 people? I don’t want to have to pay another sitter who is only there to help her out and keep the kids from going mental.

Any more experienced HM’s have any advice? Is this normal/typical? Is this fixable?  


calihostmom November 9, 2015 at 7:52 pm

I’m just coming out of an extremely irritating au pair experience, and I have to say: it sounds like you and your au pair have very different personality types. You have the energy to be a parent to seven children, homeschool them, run the household, and actively worry about what your au pair is doing as well. I’m a homebody and if someone tried to get me to leave my house all the time, especially in an environment that was new and unfamiliar, it would drive me crazy. Some people just don’t enjoy getting out and being very active. It sounds like your au pair is one of those people, and if you’re going to be happy going forward you’re going to have to accept that.

The issue with your kids treating her without respect is a huge one. I feel for you and I’m relieved that you are at least embarrassed about it. I would look for a discipline system that really makes a difference to them. What is high value to them? Unfortunately they’re learning that this is how they treat au pairs. Your au pair needs to toughen up but at its core this problem’s solution lies with you. You are the authority in the house and if they’re being unmanageable, you need to work with her to manage them. You mentioned that if they demand something, they have to ask nicely before they can have it. How about, if they demand something, there’s a 20-minute wait before they can even ask again? Personally, I think taking things away works better for some kids than adding chores, laps, etc. I would implement big, serious consequences — no bike for a day. Next offense, a week. No iPad or computer. You haven’t found what really matters to them if they’re continuing their behavior. I don’t mean to sound like you don’t know what you’re doing as a parent; clearly you have more experience than most people. But from an outside perspective this is what sounds necessary to me.

As for the couch thing, that would make me crazy. Our au pair spent most of her time in her room. But I think your hints are not going to solve this problem. Why not say, “I’m glad you’re comfortable in the living room, but we like to use that space for family activities, too. Why don’t we decide on a time for you to use the space, and a time for the rest of the family to use the couch? Is there someplace else in the house you might feel comfortable?”

Personally, I skipped rematch and left the au pair program altogether. But it does sound like you have some fundamental incompatibilities. A more assertive and active au pair might make your upcoming year much more pleasant.

HRHM November 9, 2015 at 9:38 pm

I think this is a mismatch that isn’t easily remedied.

WRT her being a homebody/couch potato, you should sit down at a quiet time and discuss this with her. I don’t think you are within your rights to ask her to spend less time in the LR. You obviously advertised/interviewed for a “member of the family” and you got one in spades. She wants to be at home in the chaos that is your family and she should be allowed to be. However, you are totally allowed to point out that if she is being climbed on, annoyed, drowned out by the din, etc, she MAY NOT ask the other family members to stop. If she doesn’t like it, she needs to remove herself.

Personally, I am an introvert and if you tried to get me to go out more than once, I’d be VERY irritated. Not everyone wants to socialize. As long as she seems happy, leave it alone.

As for your kids, you don’t state what all the ages are, but I don’t know too many fully formed, even trained adults that would easily handle even an easy going group of 7 kids. Kudos to you for being able to do all you do, but you are probably going to have to search high and low for the AP who can handle them and balance her “inner bitch” with being good to them, warm, loving. You might want to consider an Extrordinarie in the future.

Sorry I don’t have any suggestions to deal with the behavior. I have one defiant and one compliant and have yet to figure out how to get the defiant to come in line. If all of yours are being defiant, you may have to start fresh to get everyone back on track.

HB November 9, 2015 at 9:47 pm

I’m the OP and just wanted to clarify a couple of things I wasn’t very clear on in my original question… First, I’m not just a little embarrassed. I’m hugely embarrassed. I literally feel sick and near tears over all of this. This is not how I am raising them to behave and they have not behaved this way at all until recently with her, because they can get away with it with her. The tools that work for me, my husband and two other outside (non family) sitters both take away things and add extra chores. First there is a color chart, everyone starts on green in the AM. They can go up a level to blue and then another level to purple for being caught doing something nice or by being extra helpful. They go down a level to yellow (warning), then orange (time out) then red (lose a ticket or star) to black (early bedtime.) Tickets = iPad time. Stars are earned once a day for good behavior and 10 of them earns a special treat with mom or dad alone, like Panera for a weekend breakfast or bowling or a movie etc. These are coveted, as is iPad time. Chores are only added after they’ve lost all tickets and stars. The thing is, this all works really well for everyone else. Just not for her. She has had trouble implementing it because she gets frustrated, for example I’ve told her to do it like this: Let’s say you told them to do something and they didn’t do it. Now say “if you don’t do X, then this is what is going to happen (move down a level, lose a star or ticket etc.)” being specific so they know what to expect. Then count to 3 and then do what you said you were going to do if they haven’t complied. What she does instead is something like “!!! DO IT!! DO IT!! DID YOU HEAR WHAT I SAID?!! 1,2,3!! 1,2,3!! 1,2,3!!” And then she moves them all the way down to black, several levels all at once so there is nothing left to lose essentially. This keeps happening even though I go through it step by step with her. Sometimes she does it the way I ask her to, with limited success, but mostly she gets frustrated and just yells numbers and then moves them all they way down all at once. Honestly though even when she does it correctly, it has had limited success because they are not taking her seriously. And all of this works very well for dh and I plus two other backup sitters, it’s not like it simply doesn’t work at all, it just doesn’t work for her, even on the times she does it right.
The other thing I wanted to clarify is that I am not trying to force her from the house, I swear, even though re-reading I can see how it sounded that way! Really it’s the 15 hour at a time of couch laying while mumbling, muttering, low singing, grunting, sighing etc. that is working the nerves a bit. She is essentially using her tablet with earbuds a lot of the time or reading and talks back to the tablet or book, moans, sighs, exclaims, snorts, mutters etc. I really am not clear exactly, I just know there is always a lot of noise happening and she is not interacting with anyone in the household at the time this is going on. If she would go do all that in her room, it would be no issue at all. It’s just that this is happening in my LR for 15 hours a day all weekend long, both Sat and Sun, on every one of her non working hours. She had the whole weekend off a few weeks ago and literally lay on the living room sofa all day, both days, from early morning until after I went to bed at 11PM. Admittedly, this is from the viewpoint of an extrovert, but this doesn’t seem quite right to me. I mean, If she is an introvert, shouldn’t she want to be alone (in her room) other than when she is sleeping? And if she is an extrovert, why isn’t she taking steps to develop a social life or at least see what this city has to offer? I am bewildered honestly. I do think she would be happier if she got out and did things since there is a TON going on around here, this city is probably in the top three tourist destinations in the US and she is over 21 so there are a lot of options and I do get that that might just be me and not everyone wants to leave the house, but this multi day couch surfing just seems really… off somehow. In any case, I’ve partially solved that issue by explaining that it’s confusing to the kids to have her in the LR not interacting during her off hours, but it’s still going on after the kids are in bed for hours every night. Not my preference but not a deal breaker either, and definitely not the major issue. Phew, hopefully that helped.

Honestly, I am a first time HM and I don’t know how much of this is typical, how much of this is my learning curve with AP’s and/or if my expectations were just skewed from the beginning. Trying to decide whether to tough it out another 8 months, rematch or withdraw from the program entirely, leaning towards the last one at this point unfortunately.

WarmStateMomma November 10, 2015 at 11:52 am


Thanks for clarifying this. The disrespect was what bothered me the most about your post but I can see you’re taking it seriously.

I’m guessing that the outside sitters are a bit different from the AP in that they don’t live with the family and they exercise authority over the kids whenever they are around. You don’t mention their ages so maybe they also have more life experience, gravitas, etc.? It’s great that your kids aren’t disrespectful to everyone but clearly your normal approach isn’t working with the AP.

My oldest is almost 3 so I have no idea what it’s like to have 7 kids or kids as old as yours. When our current AP arrived, my oldest was defiant, rude and disrespectful for the first week. About once a month or so, she still does something along these lines. I’m very relaxed about discipline but HD and I come down hard on hurting others (either disrespect or physical harm). Every time. It’s different from other types of uncooperative behavior (resisting putting on shoes to go to the store, for example) and for us, it works to treat it differently.

We’ve hosted introverts and extroverts. APs don’t all come here for an adventure and for many APs, just living in the US is an adventure. While I wouldn’t let her dictate how the kinds enjoy the LR, I also wouldn’t bother her about getting out. It’s a sign that she feels comfortable with your family if she’s not hiding in her room. Introverts tend to have a small circle of people they feel very comfortable with and tend to be reluctant to have to engage with new people. As an introvert myself, I’m not at all surprised that she is around your family 24/7 but resists meeting people outside the home.

If your wifi connection were to unexpectedly fail one day when she wasn’t working, what would she do? Would she find a book to read, engage with the family, or go out and explore?

We had a tough time our first year of hosting, too. But the learning curve was steep and our second year was fantastic. I’m interested in what the parents of older kids and big families have to say. I used to think I wanted four kids but my two are running circles around me right now. I’m amazed by parents who can handle so much so well. :)

Calihostmom November 10, 2015 at 12:27 pm

It does just sound like an incompatible match. I’d start rematching now because you’re still going to have a remediation period. They’ll ask you to take a couple week to work on it and then ask you to host her for an additional two weeks while she looks for another family. So to keep this from dragging on forever, you may want to bite the bullet and start the process.

I have the utmost sympathy for you. Kids can be little stinkers sometimes!

German Au-Pair November 10, 2015 at 9:27 pm

It sounds like you truly want to fix this and for the couch part at least I may have a diplomatic suggestion. While it’s not within your rights to send her to your room if she wants to participate, this doesn’t seem to be the case. The described behavior sounds like bratty teenage behavior to me, tbh…
I’m not sure if I would count myself as an introvert or an extrovert but I know that I loved to spend some weekends and a lot of my free time during the week (school time) in bed, hanging out by myself, watching shows and my HP were a bit unhappy about that. I would also leave the house and do fun things of course, but I also need a lot of alone time. Hanging out with the family and imerging herself in the chaos would technically be fine, too. It doesn’t sound like you don’t want her around.
But I would absolutely tell her that it is a bit frustrating to you, that she is hanging out in the middle of the mess with her earbuds in and clearly NO intention to interact with anyone except for telling the kids they are being annoying. I would make it clear again, that you understand her wish to binge watch shows and talk to the phone as long as she pleases but that it is also YOUR living space and as long as the kids aren’t going beserk you’ll need her to tolerate it or move to a more quiet place. I would tell her she really is welcome to participate and interact with you but if she doesn’t wish to do so, you would welcome it if she wouldn’t add to the chaos by critizing the kids (and also confusing them with being there but not interested in any interaction whatsoever.) THAT is something you can ask for in my opinion. (To make it easy: if you wanna hang out in the living room, please do so without your earbuds in and either tolerate noise and climbing kids or retreat to your room.)

As for the other issue…I’m the first one to judge people who don’t have a handle on the kids and I think especially with 7 you really need to. However, I honestly think you have. It sounds like you have a working system down and obviously care so much. I was a child who HUGELY struggled with respect when people demanded it without earning it so I strongly feel like you can teach your children to show a general kindness and respect to every human being but you cannot install a universal “respect for all care givers” program in them. Kids are smart and test their boundaries and while they seem to respect yours, they NEED to see that she is behind that. You cannot demand respect as a person in charge, a person who’s caring and leading and teaching but demonstrate nearly no quality necessary. We respect other people as people with rights and needs but we’ll only accept them as leaders if they show the qualities we seek.
I’m not sure if this can be fixed because she will need to change her attitude. She will need to see how necessary it is for her to know her boundaries and set her boundaries and ask for her boundaries to be respected. Those are the tree steps that need to happen for her and maybe you can assist her if you really are willing to work with her. Tell her she NEEDS to define those boundaries for her and demand they be respected. Then leave the house (maybe take the kids with you who are most mean to her and maybe the baby because it might only add more confusion to the situation). Tell her you will not be there to help (but stay close if all hell does break lose…) and she needs to see what works for her.l Allow her to test out her boundaries wih the kids, let her see what happens if she doesn’t stand up for what she wants. So far nothing has happened: you stepped in and all was well. She needs to see what happens if she cannot get a handle on the situation. Maybe demand she silently observes your ways first.
As I said, I was a child who was pretty lovely to people who showed they deserved to be respected but I actively looked for weaknesses in people who demanded respect but had nothing with which to back up their claim.
I also once worked with a friend’s horse (animals are so much like children…). He was making the biggest fool out of me and absolutely ignored me while she was standing and giving tipps. (He was super well behaved with her, BTW…) Then she left and suddenly I realized I was responsible to keep that horse safe now. His behavior towards me could have been dangerous to me and him alike so I HAD to act now. There was no other option. When she came back it seemed like we’d never done anything else…I’m saying: allow her to feel the NEED to be in charge when you actually are away. Make it as easy as possible first (maybe two at a time?) but let her explore. If she doesn’t step up, I’m not sure her (too) sweet personality will ever be a match for your kids.

CAmom22 November 12, 2015 at 3:20 pm

I would rematch immediately. I went through this (the awful behaviour from one of my kids) with AP #4; was hugely embarrassed and shocked by it and worked like crazy to help AP with tools and techniques for taking control. He simply would not use them consistently — and I ended up punishing my daughter constantly and ultimately became infuriated by it. I was horrified by her behaviour but he (AP) seemed absolutely incapable of using the tools I gave him which escalated the poor behaviour and created this awful cycle in which my daughter was constantly in trouble. Kids understand consistency and consequences and when the adult in charge changes the rules randomly and reacts inconsistently it creates chaos and confusion. And unfortunately for a HM who is trying to support the AP in her role that meant (at least for me) punishing the kids for the behaviour that any other care provider (or you) would have nipped in the bud and teaching them something about respect in the process. You cannot change her personality and if she cannot be an adult in the household who can teach them and model good behaviour instead of resorting to screaming and using your tools inconsistently, it’s just not going to work. I’m on AP #5 now and when my daughter tried testing boundaries in the first week or so she nipped it in the bud and 5 months later we’ve still had no screaming matches and tears. Back to peace in the house. I can’t tell you the amount of time I spent with AP #4 trying to help him be the adult in charge. I’m amazed in retrospect and wish I had rematched. It was extraordinarily exhausting. It sounds like you are going down the path I went down and I would highly recommend that you not do it. It sounds like she’s just not the AP for a group of kids who are learning to test boundaries. They need someone who is capable of reinforcing those boundaries.

HB November 9, 2015 at 9:48 pm

Also, it’s mainly 2 (both age 5) that are being defiant.
Ages are 10, 5,5,5,4,4,20mo.

Taking a Computer Lunch November 9, 2015 at 10:50 pm

Respect. That’s what it really comes down to, doesn’t it? By acting like a lump on your couch in her free time, being annoyed by 7 children, and not really interacting with them, your AP is telling them she doesn’t really respect them – that they are in her way. She sounds like an intense introvert, which to me means she’s in the wrong family. She’s sharing the house with 9 other people, wants to be in the center of the action, and still be alone! On the other hand, your children aren’t loyal to her and feel no respect for her authority. She might be sweet as all get, but if she really loved them, then she would be willing to interact with them while she spent her free time on the couch.

It’s time to have a “reset your attitude” conversation. However, in asking her to gain more authority, you have to cede some of yours. Don’t intervene. At all. Until someone bleeds. By intervening after 5 minutes, you’ve reinforced for your kids that your AP is not really in charge, you are. Give her space to really make mistakes (as long as no one gets hurt). Ask her to give you strategies for dealing with misbehavior.

In private, and away from your kids’ earshot, call her on her couch behavior. Tell her that if she lies on the couch, then she is part of the family. The couch is not “hers,” it belongs to everyone. If she cannot interact with the children kindly in their space when she is not working, then to use her private space for her downtime. Tell her that you will call her on it, in front of the kids, the next time you see her being curt with them because she wants to talk on the phone while they are playing. Family space is family space. Remind her that she is a role model for the older children and you don’t want them behaving in a curt manner toward their younger brothers and sisters.

Bust your kids’ chops after the fact. Instead of doing laps, see if they understand their crimes, ask them how they would change their behavior, and to select their punishments.Push them to come up with something a little harder if they’re easy on themselves. Yes, your AP is over her head – but you don’t want to use that as an excuse for bad behavior. If it’s going to work in the long run, then your AP has to get to the point where she is able to mete out punishments.

Finally, give your AP benchmarks, reinforcement, and deadlines in order to stay with your family. And while you can make it easy for her because you speak her native language, do follow up, in English with an email to her and copy your LCC. Ask your LCC to follow up with a phone call about strategies to be the “adult in charge.” Oh, and give up on forcing your AP to have a social life (I so know how you feel – because I’ve lived in another country and the last thing I wanted to do is spend my weekends on a couch!). Let that go. Instead, offer a family board game night, a family movie night, and ask her to join. Some of the biggest introverts were actually the best family members among my APs.

hOstCDmom November 9, 2015 at 11:05 pm

So I guess I have to weigh in here –
I have 6 kids, I work PT from home, and we homeschool :)

First off, typically (and, of course I don’t know the OP so I am generalizing), families with lots of kids actually often run more smoothly and with less chaos (in many respects) than families with 2-3 kids….large families are “like the army” — there are rules, systems, organization, and the whims of the individual are often subjugated to the needs of the group as a whole (for good and for bad), but this often results in kids who can follow rules, know the regimen, live with structure, and have lots of personal responsibility. And if one homeschools, the foregoing is on steroids. Parents with many kids similarly have techniques for maintaining order — unless they are super super laid back crunchy hippie-dippe types with a gaggle of kids….but I’m not, so I can’t really speak to that :)

Your AP CLEARLY matched with you because she wants to live with the Brady Bunch! She really did not have to choose a family with 7 kids….most families looking for APs have fewer kids.. :) But she did — so embrace it! Let her live her fantasy. We have had only children Chinese APs…and they chose us because they wanted to live a life unfathomable to them at home, with 6 kids, 8 pets, homeschooling, contrarian independent do things our own way large family :)

So if you want to keep her, you need to tap into this aspect of her personality and figure out how to engage her on this front. You also probably need to have a “large family 101” hardcore training session with her. What is intuitive to you as a mom of 7, that you have probably learned over 15 or so years (unless you have quadruplets in the mix!!), is not going to be natural or intuitive to a 18-25 year old without kids. It is hard to wing a system for a group of 7 — you need to train her in yours. And you need to come down like the wrath of god on your kids if they disrespect her (and no, we are not religious homeschoolers ;))– it isn’t an accident that your kids respect you, you have cultivated this over time. You need to leverage your power for her benefit.

BUT, I would say, if it fits with your parenting paradigm, you should offer some carrots for good behavior rather than sticks for bad behavior. And what do kids in large families often love? 1:1 time with parents doing something special to them…reward kids who are good with the AP with this!

And, lastly, if things aren’t working, cut your losses and rematch. You have too much on your plate to manage an 8th child. Some folks aren’t cut out to be a childcare provider for 7 kids. But you can find them — we have had 9 APs, and only 2 ended in rematch. The others were decent to good to very good to AWESOME.

SeattleHD November 10, 2015 at 10:13 am

“Your AP CLEARLY matched with you because she wants to live with the Brady Bunch!”

Some rematch au pairs will match with anybody to avoid going home. I think it’s pretty clear this au pair doesn’t want to be part of a big family.

hOstCDmom November 10, 2015 at 11:41 am

Yes, I missed/didn’t focus on that part on the first read through. Completely agree that an OOC AP who chooses family of 7 is “choosing”; rematch AP, perhaps much less a free willed choice based on what is a good match.

AuPair Paris November 10, 2015 at 5:27 am

Agree with everyone saying it’s a mismatch. It’s crazy unreasonable to be in a family space constantly, without wanting to interact with the family (incl the kids). I think also it’s crazy unreasonable to insist that someone go out, drink alcoholic drinks (even prescribing the number!) and talk to boys, if they don’t want to. I’m not a big drinker – can’t stand being hungover, and I get tired late at night! Plus when I came here, I was getting over a break up and wasn’t looking to talk to anyone romantically at all. I wouldn’t have appreciated that kind of intervention. I can see that you’re trying to fix some of her problems by pushing her out of her comfort zone, but I’m not sure it’s helpful to assume that things will just be better if she becomes more like a “normal” teen au pair. Better, surely, to address the problems at the root, rather than trying to work around them, without actually talking about them?

Like some others, I don’t see how this can be fixed – it sounds like a *really* bad match! But some thoughts anyway: The reasons that your children have for being badly behaved are useful in talking to *them* about their behaviour. They could even be useful in talking to the AP about how to deal with the behaviour. But they are not useful as an excuse for the behaviour. I think blaming an AP for “not being able to manage” children is a common response children react badly to an AP’s authority. But the work needs to be done with the children too. In life they’ll meet a lot of authority figures – softly spoken, naturally authoritative or not – and they need to know how to deal with all of them. (I get that you’re embarrassed, and not getting along with AP in general probably leads to a “well you can’t blame them…” kind of attitude. But I don’t think this attitude is helpful, and working with the kids is going to be necessary.)

As for the AP in common space, not engaging – I think you need to be more direct. It’s hard and can be painful, but you’re going to have to take her aside when the kids aren’t there and say “hey, we love having you around on the weekends – it’s really great! But we don’t like to see you getting snappish with the kids when they climb on the sofas and make noise. I know it’s annoying, but it’s their space too. In the future, if you need quiet, or to take a phone call, we’d prefer that you do it in your room (as we do). Then you can join us after and join in with making noise!”

I think it’s ok for an AP to be introverted. It’s ok for her to stay in her room. I spend half my time reading ebooks on my laptop, or writing, or drawing, or playing guitar and singing in my room, whenever I’m not in town. I am happy when my social interaction is by choice, and not out of a need to feel surrounded all the time. But the issues you have with your AP seem to be more specific. I think it’s all getting muddled up together. Reasonable complaints, muddled with the other irritations, that are less reasonable, until it’s all just a mess.

On the positive side, whatever your preferences, now that they’re clearer in your mind, you can match for them! You can specifically look for an outgoing, social AP who loves going out in the evenings, and has a natural authority. Live and learn, I guess!

AuPair Paris November 10, 2015 at 5:32 am

P.S. Seven kids is more than most people are accustomed to working with. I wonder if you match specifically with APs from big families or APs with nursery or school work experiences. I just ask because even though it sounds like you’re managing it well – homeschooling and letting AP just manage two at a time – more kids, especially kids who haven’t bonded with you, and don’t obey you, could really make the whole thing seem like a team effort against the AP’s authority! (In a way that just doesn’t happen with parents and family members.) I have this issue sometimes just with three. So strategies for dealing with kids, possibly banding together against an AP’s authority might be helpful? Or like I said – matching with those with experience with lots of kids at once!

Current Au Pair November 10, 2015 at 9:22 am

Just a thought- I’m an Au pair right now and I know a lot of girls like to skype from the living room because the wifi in their room isn’t strong enough. Nothing is more frustrating than working around time differences and busy schedules only to have a barely understandable conversation on Skype!

It’s really generous and kind of you to try and help her get out there more but at the end of the day it isn’t your job. If she wants to spend her year abroad watching Netflix, forcing her to go out for important nights isn’t going to change her mind.

SeattleHD November 10, 2015 at 10:11 am

If the wifi not being good enough was really the issue, do you think it might have been brought up? There’s no good excuse for camping out in the most public place in the house and shushing people so you can commandeer the space for your “private” conversations.

Boy Au Pair Spain November 10, 2015 at 5:47 pm

To give the au pair the benefit of the doubt maybe it isn’t an case of her shushing everyone for her private conversation… I have often had the problem of not being able to sit in the living without a child jumping all over me thinking that it is play time. Often parents have been quite strict with the kids to stop them doing that during my time off. I think there is something to be said for trying to create an environment in which the au pair can be in the living room without having to be the central attraction in the same way mum and dad can also sit in the living room, and maybe have a conversation, without children jumping on them.

Rural host mom November 10, 2015 at 7:34 pm

That’s what family time is like with small kids. Our kids are not allowed past the threshold of AP’s room, and if she’s in her room we almost never knock, but if she’s downstairs and wants to do family things, well, it’s their house too and that’s how things go down with preschoolers.
We have in our handbook something about no screens when spending time with the family. If we’re making the effort to take her on a special outing, she can take time away from social media.

Boy Au Pair Spain November 10, 2015 at 8:38 pm

I guess we disagree then. I think it is okay to be around children but not let them jump all over you. It is important that children learn that an au pair will sometimes want to play rough and tumble games but other times you have to be more gentle. So for example, talking to her while she is sitting on the sofa during her free time seems acceptable to me. In that moment… jumping on her, trying to balance on top of her head, sticking your feet in her face etc etc is probably not. It is not something I would tell a child off for (as the au pair of the OP seems to have done) but I’d make it clear that I didn’t want to play that sort of game right now – even though I want to be around them. I’d expect my host parents to back me up on that.

As a parent-child relationship has a different dynamic to an au-pair-child relationship, host parents would not usually, I believe, have the problem of children using them as climbing frame but it is quite common for au pairs! And is not always a “problem” of course but it can be in such a situation. When I was a teenager looking after kids, I used to find it difficult to draw the line between responsible but fun adult and child playmate… and this is one situation that is quite useful to make that distinction.

Fortysomething HM November 10, 2015 at 9:58 pm

The way I read the OP’s description, the issue is not that the kids are trying to play WITH or climb ON the AP in an interactive way while she is on the couch just hanging out. I think that would be different.

I read it as the AP is sitting with her earbuds in trying to read or talk on the phone and the kids are playing NEAR her and their noise is annoying her (misguided) attempt to have solitude in center of the common family space.

SeattleHD November 10, 2015 at 10:03 am

In some ways the couch potato act plays into the disrespect. She pretty much disrespects the rest of the household 16 hours a day, so it’s pretty hard to claim any respect back when she’s on duty. I mean, you really can’t camp out in the hub of a busy house and shush everyone so you can talk on the phone. (Well, apparently you can, but whether you should, or be allowed to, is another matter.)

How an au pair acts in the house is very hard to legislate for in a handbook, so it’s something you need to be clear about as issues arise.

And as for the “she chose a family of seven” – not exactly, she chose a family of seven over going home early.

5kids=aupair November 10, 2015 at 11:31 am

Exactly what I was going to say, she chose this family instead of going home, in-country au pairs have limited options. Not saying anything against the family, though.

SeattleHD November 10, 2015 at 10:14 am

And aren’t #2 and #3 the same thing? Not sure what nuance was intended there, but they sure seem like the same issue.

Meg November 10, 2015 at 10:16 am

On the LR thing. If you can, help her connect to her own dream about being an Au Pair. At one point we kind of had a heart to heart about how this could be her time to experience the US and she may not be back, at least not able to really spend a lot of time here again. Her dream may have nothing to do going out but it seems likely that she took this adventure with something in mind.

On the kids. I fully would fall apart. Just one thought. My kid once had one of those master teachers and one thing I saw her do to really established authority was tell the kids, in front of the parents that it was her classroom and in her classroom everyone listens even the mommies and daddies and then she led her classroom including us. Could you use space or a symbol or something to make it tangible to the kids when she becomes “in charge” I think kids can sometimes struggle with that with mom or dad around. Take with a grain of salt. I am totally on my own steep learning curve as a HM.

NBHostMom November 10, 2015 at 11:52 am

You have a mis-match, not a bad au pair. Regardless of the root cause, you need to rematch.

We the same issue with dicipline, but less extreme (Probably as I only have 2 kids). I lived with it, coached, exhausted myself, it was not worth it. Worse still, my child got use to bossing around adults, it became an ingrained habit which resulted in so much stress / drama while she relearned appropriate manners.

Yes, my child was misbehaving, yes I was embaressed BUT my au pair could not lay down the law despite, like what you said, been given her every tool imaginable. She would have been an awesome au pair for a different family, but wasn’t a match for us.

Fortysomething HM November 10, 2015 at 11:57 am

Regarding the kids’ behavior under the watch of the AP, it sounds like this HM has a very detailed framework in place, which is successful in the hands of others (even other non-family members). Which is pretty darn awesome, I might add. (Aside: I have just one child and may need to adopt that specific chart strategy as my child enters the “I’m a pre-teen so practically an adult and you cannot tell me what to do” stage!).

It’s pretty clear that this HM fully supports the AP when the kids are misbehaving. Especially with OP’s additional information above, I don’t see how much more is even possible on that front. In the end, yes the HM needs to support the AP and hold the kids to a certain behavioral standard with the AP (and generally). But that cannot be the end of it. If the AP is not taking charge herself while she’s on the “front line” — and here, she’s been given a proven roadmap on how to do it, but just isn’t using it — that’s on the AP and the AP alone. You can lead a horse to water……. And kids, even the best behaved of them, know when the person in charge is a weak link, and they will push that limit every single time.

The couch thing would make me insane. It’s one thing to be hanging out in common space, as a member of the family and interacting, etc. That’s pretty great actually, IMHO. That’s not what is happening here though. I agree with the others that she’s being disrespectful by planting herself in the middle of the high traffic zone but acting like it’s her private space . You can’t go 10 mph in the left lane on the highway, and expect that cars are not going to honk, flip you the bird and try to pass you! I think it very well could be contributing to the overall relationship vibe with the AP and kids, especially when coupled with her inability to follow the typical/proscribed discipline pattern. They understandably don’t view her as someone on their “team” or worthy of respect. She’s an outsider who is just sort of …. there.

I agree with the suggestion of having a “reset” conversation, and set objective measurable goals so the AP and HF can see whether/how things are progressing (can you give her a chart?! haha, just kidding, mostly!) While I appreciate that the HM likes the AP and doesn’t want to ruin her chances of completing her year, it does not sound to me like having this AP is adding any value or making the house run any more smoothly, which is typically a major reason to have the AP in the first place. I would be concerned about the kids’ bad behavior becoming more habitual/hard to break once this AP leaves (slippery slope!). A bad match can sometimes lead to a lingering/hangover effect even after the AP is gone.

SeattleHD November 10, 2015 at 12:14 pm

Just curious why a first time HF has a transition au pair. That process is very fast paced, and unlikely to lead to a good match with a family that hasn’t been through the full matching process at least once. Especially given that transitions are almost never about just one reason (unless it’s a really bad reason, of course, in which case the likely outcome is a ticket home, don’t pass Go…)

SeattleHD November 10, 2015 at 12:15 pm

Oh, and especially a first time HF with a SAHM and 7 kids.

calihostmom November 10, 2015 at 2:01 pm

When we were first matching, our agency urged us to look into in-country au pairs. They’re experienced, know the culture, etc. In reality I think the agencies may whitewash a bit in order to make things easier on themselves. An unsuspecting host family could see all the sunshine and none of the shadows.

Dorsi November 10, 2015 at 2:50 pm

Also, families that decide they want child care “right now” are often encouraged to get an in-country Au Pair. Agencies don’t do a great job explaining why these candidates are in-country waiting for a family.

Should be working November 10, 2015 at 4:58 pm

I suspect that the matching specialist steered this family to rematch APs because the rematch APs are more likely to accept the match, as indicated above, to avoid going home. Which doesn’t necessarily work to the advantage of the all-new HF.

NJ Mama November 10, 2015 at 12:29 pm

Your discipline system seems really intricate. I know it’s second nature to you but I had to read it a few times before I figured it out. I wonder if at this point you should try a new tactic with the au pair (or consider something more simple with future au pairs?)

Look .. I only have two kids, so I’m not going to pretend to be an expert in parenting 7. But I am a parent of a child who never had much success with sticker charts, green to red charts, or behavioral charts in general. I’ve found that with some kids everything turns into a punishment — if you take your dishes to the sink you get a reward, if you don’t you lose points. If you go upstairs and brush your teeth you get a reward, if you wait too long you’ll lose points. If you keep losing points like this you’ll be punished. For my child, if she liked a teacher or a babysitter, she behaved very well, regardless of the system. If my child was bored or didn’t like a teacher or a babysitter, she would sometimes get caught in a cycle. She felt like she was getting punished all the time – so why bother? if she’s going to eventually move off of green or get in trouble then why not get it over with and just start each day off on the wrong foot? [And yes she’s a real smart alec, but every kid is different]

So yes, it definitely comes down to an issue of respect, but sometimes you can get caught in a cycle. I’ve had better luck from taking a longer view and rewarding my kids for having good days. Instead of “one more time and you lose points” maybe a better approach is “you’ve had such a great morning. Let’s keep it going. I know you want the iPad or the computer or whatever…” Or “let’s have a good night tonight. I need you all to pick up your toys and go up stairs and start getting ready for bed. And if it all goes smoothly you’ll get XX” Identify those high-value things that caliHM mentioned, both for when the kids are really good and when they misbehave. Things that matter to kids also change over time and sometimes it can be hard to find those motivators. But if you can hone in on the ones that matter to each individual kid that may help with both the rewards and the punishment.

Sadly, things may have gone too far down the path where the only solution is rematch and start completely fresh. But whether or not you stick it out, going through a bad AP experience is truly a learning experience. Good luck!

Emerald City HM November 10, 2015 at 1:17 pm

I would come up with a list of items that you want to discuss with her, try to find some quiet time and have a reset conversation. She might not have realized what she was getting into.

As others have pointed out, she doesn’t get to sit in the family area and shush the family when she wants to do something private.

I’m an ambivert, (granted I don’t spend 15 hours a day siting on the couch watching Netflix) and that might explain her sort of need to be around people, but not interact with them.

I don’t have even close to as many children so your system seems complicated to me, but I do see why it’s necessary with a large family to have structure. Were there other non-family babysitters that haven’t succeeded implementing your system? Are the non-family babysitters also from large families where they might be more used to structure?

We use positive discipline in our family, and neither my husband nor I were raised that way, even I have to give myself a refresher every so often in the techniques and how to say something. Learning a discipline method that isn’t how you were raised is a lot like trying to learn a new language, it’s hard to erase old habits and when we get stressed we naturally fall back to what our parents did. This isn’t saying that our parents did things incorrectly, they just did things different (my default reaction is to yell when my buttons get pushed).

In short, what I’m saying is that your method might not come naturally and with take a lot of reinforcement for her, you’ve had a number of years to perfect your system, she’s had a few weeks to learn it.

Boy Au Pair Spain November 10, 2015 at 5:19 pm

I hope this isn’t too boring to read. There is so much great advice here it is difficult to know what to add. I have tried to give my view from an au pair perspective…

I have felt the worst in situations in which I feel that the kids are completely out of my control and/or not interested in me. For me it has only been in the odd moment but it can be really sickening. I feel for your au pair. It must be terrible for you too.. it is far easier to get rid of an au pair that isn’t cutting it if they are being unpleasant but you say she is a sweet person. If you really feel things aren’t working out I think the easiest thing would be to talk to her and see whether she might consider a rematch… I don’t know how it works in the USA but presumably there is a way she could stay with you until she found another family? It may be what everyone wants.

The first thing I note is that 7 is a heck of a lot of kids. Someone said that maybe you need someone with teaching experience. I have worked in schools and nurseries before and would feel fairly comfortable being put in front of 20 or so small children and do some sort of teaching exercise but I think 7 children, in their own home, when you are the newcomer, without a clear objective, is something else. It would certainly take me some time to learn how to handle it and quite frankly I would never even consider a position like that if I hadn’t quite a bit of experience beforehand. To you it is something that seems normal and manageable to a new au pair it is bound to be overwhelming. Perhaps 3 months is not so long. Have you seen any improvement at all? Maybe there is still time.

You certainly seem to have the techniques in place for her to use. I wonder why they laugh in her face. I agree with the people that suggest that a more positive approach may be needed… I was with a family with two small boys for over 2 years and during the time I went away for the summer and a friend of mine took my place. She was very experienced with children and had a reputation for knowing how to keep kids in line (she was a secondary school teacher and a real battle axe in the classroom!). I remember being shocked at how badly the 5 year old behaved with her. She would use all the right techniques but he had assumed the role of a bad boy and actually seemed unfazed, or sometimes even content, with being given punishments. It was quite surreal. I think though that sometimes it gets to the point in which kids accept that the au pair is going to punish them and enjoy watching them getting irate (aren’t children lovely innocent bundles of joy!!!). I think an au pair should be in the mindset that the severity of a punishment is not based on how irritated you are by their behaviour but rather what is fair – in my eyes it needs to be quite cold and matter of fact: it is a shame that I have to punish you, I’d much rather be playing with you right now, but this is what has to happen if you behave like this. This way of thinking about it avoids a lot of getting stressed out on the part of the au pair too – its not personal its business :D :D.

Also I note that there are a lot of other adults in the house (you, your husband, and the other babysitters) that are quite competent with the kids. It must be discouraging for the au pair and also, perhaps, a little difficult to get them interested in her? I wonder whether the kids feel motivated to play with her. Generally I feel the kids I have looked after listen and respect me, at least in part, because they know I am the fun person and it is really against their interest to not listen to me. Does your au pair know how to capture their interest? How to play high energy group games with them? Maybe you could suggest some games to her to show the kids how fun she is. 4 and 5 year olds are a dead easy to impress and win over with a bit of silliness and lots of energy.

Meg November 10, 2015 at 6:17 pm

I love the “I’d really rather play” and the responding objectively vs out of annoyance. My kids would respond well to that.

Nina November 11, 2015 at 1:17 am


I also believe it’s a mismatch. I am an experienced HM and have 2 boys who have not equally listened to all au pairs / sitters.

So I tell all the au pairs that I can not make my kids listen to them and they need toe establish themselves as authority. Also if the au pair relates better to my kids: plays with them, shows real interest, etc, my kids are more likely to behave than with an au pair who doesn’t interact with them.

I was many times embarrassed by my kids behaviors as well and we even have a point system with the au pair for the kids, and we punish kids if they misbehave. However sometimes it’s a total mismatch, with kids and/or us and nothing will change it.
While waiting for a new au pair after a rematch this summer we had 2 babysitters and it didn’t work out with either one of them as one of my boys couldn’t relate to one, while the other loved her and vice versa with the second one. It was a nightmare and I thought no one will be able to take care of my kids.
Then comes our au pair who was just great from the beginning and we can finally breathe until the next year.

You should rematch.

HB November 11, 2015 at 9:54 am

Update: we’ve decided to go into transition. We are withdrawing from the program altogether and she is going into transition, we’ve told her and called the LCC. Here is the catch: if we file the papers this week, or any time before Thanksgiving, one of the two transition weeks will include Thanksgiving week, a week in which no one is looking for an AP. So she would technically have 2 weeksto find anoth HF, but one of those weeks would be worthless. So, in the interests of fairness, we’ve decided to wait and file on Nov 30, the Monday after Thanksgiving, which gives her until Dec 14, which is 5more full weeks here. Between now and Nov 30 (before we file), she and the LCC are going to be “unofficially looking” since her profile can’t be shown to any other HP’s until we officially file.
Essentially I will be paying for 5 more weeks of inadequate childcare, 3 additional weeks than I otherwise would have, if not for Thanksgiving, which I feel is fair.

So now the question is: she currently has a vacation week scheduled during Christmas week and her family is coming to the states to visit her then. Is it reasonable for anyone to ask us to wait until afterChristmas to file so it won’t mess up her family vacation? That would leave me paying for 9-10 weeks of inadequate childcare with a paid vacation week in there as well. That said, I do get that she will be going to another family for a very short time and then immediately taking/asking for a vacation, which is difficult. It also has her looking only for rematches in this city/state because her family is flying here.
Am I being a jerk for not wanting to wait until after Christmas to file and have her here another 10 weeks (paid) instead of another 5? Opinions from the more experienced?

Second question: Let’s say she does not find another HF at all and plans to return to her home country. She will be done here Dec 14 and her family will arrive about a week after that. Should I let her stay an additional week until her family arrives?

Thank you for all the great advice everyone.

Dorsi November 11, 2015 at 11:03 am

I have a friend in rematch right now (host family). I don’t know if there really are less families available over the holidays. I do not think you need to keep her 10 more weeks.

In my agency, you can keep the Au Pair longer than two weeks after filing, if mutually agreeable. So, you could file today, and give her up to 4 weeks to look – that seems like it benefits everyone in the situation. She can keep working (as much as she is now).

Technically, she can’t stay with you if she is not working – if she finished Dec 14, and hung out for a week, she would not be meeting the terms of her visa. When she was traveling with family, she would not be here legally.

Also, shut down the geographical limitations (or the guilt about them). She has none. Her family has a vacation that has some geographical limitations. She can match with a family in Anchorage, Alaska. She can fly back to your area to meet her family and then return to Anchorage. This is a $300 problem, not a “I can’t match with 90% of the families” problem. And, it is not your problem.

AlwaysHopeful HM November 11, 2015 at 5:33 pm

I agree with Dorsi. Our family went into rematch over Easter, with a visit from AP’s family planned in between. At the LCC’s suggestion, we set a longer time frame from the outset given the holiday, and a planned visit from AP’s family. From my perspective, this was a great solution. AP was grateful to not have the visit disrupted, and did the minimum (which was more than before). I was grateful because I knew the end was in sight, could start my search right away, and had a date certain. And, because it was logistically more difficult to communicate with au pairs around the holiday, I benefitted from the extra time. I would have gone insane if I had to wait until after the holiday to start searching.

HB, your situation is a little different because you don’t plan to continue in the program, but you may want to consider just looking through the OOC pool before making a final decision in that regard. Having a bad experience can be so discouraging. If I had an alternative, I may not have continued after my recent au pair. But I am so, so glad I did because current au pair is absolutely fantastic and makes our home run so much better. It is truly delightful when you have the right experience. If you can stomach it, consider at least seeing who’s out there before you shut the door completely.

Also: when I was in rematch, I was generally biased against those who had rematched more than once. However, I still reviewed their applications, and tried to think as openly as possible. Whether she is able to rematch will depend in part on the reasons for the 1st 2– and neither seems like it would prevent a family from giving her a chance. I also ran across a number of applicants who had vacations planned. Generally, the applications said that they would like to keep the plans, but would change them if necessary. If she can demonstrate flexibility, that shouldn’t be a problem. I did skip over transition folks who listed a geographic preference, though. If she’s serious about wanting to stay, I would recommend she not make that a requirement or even preference, and instead think hard about the type of situation that would work well for her and try to aim for that.

NoVA Twin Mom November 12, 2015 at 11:40 am

Our first au pair to go into rematch had the same “family visiting so I need to stay in this area” issue. I suggested Dorsi’s solution as well – we’re in a major market, fly back for your family’s visit – it wasn’t well received because, of course, I had lost all credibility with her at that point.

I finally told myself it wasn’t my problem. If she got sent home before her family’s planned and paid for visit, either her family could visit without her or buy her a ticket to visit too – but it wasn’t MY problem. It was theirs. Keep reminding yourself of that.

As others have said, there ARE people in rematch around Thanksgiving, though I think Christmas is the harder time to rematch. Definitely don’t keep her around for that many weeks just to not disrupt her vacation. If a new family really wants her, they will give her vacation right after she arrives.

Mimi November 11, 2015 at 12:20 pm

My advice to you before your recent post was going to be suggesting rematch and using the time (however long you can have according to your agency policies) to look for a new out of country match with some specific screening requirements. Many here say that there is a lid for every pot, and those of us who have hosted for many years know that some fit better than others. Some of the most frequent problems with new HFs that leads to rematch can usually be avoided by refining your screening process. IMO, starting as a new HF with a rematch AP is not the best intro to the program for a myriad of reasons.

I also have a very structured household with 4HK and I have to look for APs who can keep up with my clever imps, adapt to our structured household, and not take it personally when (not if) one of them behaves horribly. (Yes, I’ve had some mighty mortifying moments, too!) Although family and friends can handle my children, there are no cultural barriers like language and social norms that they have to deal with or overcome. We had a similar situation with AP#6 at the six week mark which was around the holidays. She was making us miserable and was clearly unhappy and we considered rematching. Like you, we were also concerned about the availability of a new match and instead put more effort into making our match work. LSS, it was a mistake.

Moving past that, you need to do what is best for your family. You are under no obligation to house her past your agency’s contractual obligation. If you have no safety issues and feel the need to wait until after the holidays, I would still recommend following TACL’s advice on resetting with your AP. She is now in rematch for the second time. If she wants to have any hope of finding a good placement with a recommendation from you, she needs to rise to the occasion or she will be going home.

Taking a Computer Lunch November 11, 2015 at 10:25 pm

That is good advice – do have a reset your attitude conversation to keep her from disintegrating altogether as she looks for another HF!

WarmStateMomma November 11, 2015 at 2:10 pm

I would not pay for 10 weeks but I’d probably do the 5 for someone I liked. You probably really don’t want a depressed, rejected AP hanging around for Christmas, either.

Also, if she’s not great with the kids there are still ways for her to help during the next 5 weeks. She can still do their laundry, make their meals, return library books, etc. I’m guessing even a super-organized family like yours could find a lot for her to do to be useful. Just keep it directly related to the kids (e.g., no laundry for the parents).

It’s not likely she’s going to find a third family. The catch with letting her stay longer is that the agency may not pay for her ticket home if she doesn’t leave on time. Also, she might later accuse you of having her work unpaid and with no valid visa. I’d ask the LCC about it.

Taking a Computer Lunch November 11, 2015 at 10:21 pm

My advice, you owe this AP nothing. You are being generous in giving her a Thanksgiving cushion – you don’t owe her a Christmas cushion, too. It is too bad that she couldn’t rise to the occasion, given that her family was coming for the holidays, but that’s her bad, not yours.

I don’t know about your agency, but in my agency, you get to fill out an exit form. Be honest without being mean. Most HF will say “7 kids!” and think she had too much to do, but be honest that she came to you as a rematch AP. That will make other HFs realize that she had been in rematch twice.

If she gets to be too much of a burden, then you do have the option of handing her over to the LCC.

Boy Au Pair Spain November 12, 2015 at 9:58 am

As you can read from the comments, not every family is as compassionate towards failed au pair as you are. It is right that you do not owe her anything but I think it would be charitable to help her out seeing as she is in such a difficult position – it is due to her failure but being an au pair in the USA is not an easy job and sometimes young people fail and land themselves in trouble.

I think the best thing would be that she finds another family as soon as possible. I agree with what others have said that it shouldn´t need to be in the same state (assuming that the $300 stated by Dorsi for a return domestic price is about right) . However if she doesn’t find another family before Christmas perhaps it may be an idea to find some arrange so that she can be in the USA for when her family arrive. Depending on where she comes from, flights to the USA for her whole family may be a significant amount relative to their income and I think you would be doing her a great charity if you could allow her to stay on. I think what I’d be trying to do if I were her in that situation would be to negotiate being able to stay in the house, doing less hours and not being paid for it but in exchange for accommodation. That way the money saved by the family could be used for the additional childcare to pick up the slack but she could still do enough (I would hope) to earn her keep.

Mimi November 12, 2015 at 10:32 am

“I think what I’d be trying to do if I were her in that situation would be to negotiate being able to stay in the house, doing less hours and not being paid for it but in exchange for accommodation.” This is not legal in the US for this program.

Boy Au Pair Spain November 12, 2015 at 10:36 am

Someone wrote about a grace period with visas of 3 months?

Or maybe the family can pay the au pair but the au pair can pay them back the money as rent? If it is also against the program to charge rent maybe it could be a charge for something else. There must be a way round it.

calihostmom November 12, 2015 at 10:37 am

Compassion is an important quality, but the reality of many host families’ lives is that reliable child care is a crucial part of life. It’s not like she’s a young niece who’s staying with you and studying; despite the cultural exchange emphasis in the USA, an AP is here to work and help the family. If she can’t step up and meet the challenges of the position she accepted, she is in the way. A family shouldn’t have to put their lives on hold for an extra five weeks in order to accommodate the vacation plans of someone who, based on the quality of her work, hasn’t earned it.

I was extremely generous with my departing AP, only to find out after she left that she neglected to have the same consideration for us — having basically destroyed her bedroom and the furniture in there (which was brand new when she arrived) and then finding out from a third party that she was a pathological liar.

Meg November 12, 2015 at 10:45 am

Unfortunately, I think 300 is really optimistic if we are talking Christmas week or New Years week. And they won’t book until November or later.

I want to be clear I’m not saying what HF should do. I defer on that. A whole lot of my online HM heroes have said great advice.

HB November 11, 2015 at 9:58 am

What do host families/au pairs going into transition around the holidays normally do?

hOstCDmom November 11, 2015 at 12:43 pm

What to HF going into transition around the holidays do? They go into transition. The timing of holidays isn’t your responsibility. I wouldn’t even have waited until after TG. The LCC is probably pressuring you to do this so SHE doesn’t have to house the AP over TG….which she could have done to enable the AP to have more time…

TexasHM November 11, 2015 at 1:38 pm

HB I have to chime in here. You ABSOLUTELY need to back up the bus and do what is best for you and your family. I know you are trying to be nice and generous because she is a nice girl and that is great – we tried to do the same with our burnout rematch but waiting to file is not the answer.

You got some great advice here – specifically filing for rematch now and allowing her to work a couple of extra weeks (only if that provides some value to you) if she can’t find a family during Thanksgiving. If she doesn’t provide value then the “extra” weeks should you decide to provide them should be unpaid and with her not working. Basically you would offer to house her for an extra week or two. That’s it. I am not trying to sound harsh but believe me, the relationship will degrade, she may very well become desperate and having it drag on and on and the guilt and and and…I am getting PTSD just typing this!!

If you were to go into rematch today she would have two full weeks BEFORE thanksgiving in which to find a match. If you get to Thanksgiving week and she hasn’t found a match and she is pitching in and holding it together then, only then you can offer to let her shack up another week, and then reevaluate if you want to consider another week after that but I am telling you. PLEASE don’t do this to yourself and drag this into mid Dec. No. No. NO!

Lastly, I don’t know why the agency had you start with a rematch AP (there are gems in rematch I am not knocking the pool) but in this instance I think that was a mistake for the reasons mentioned (you may have gotten an AP match that was desperate to stay vs truly skilled/invested in your family/situation. I am a little irate that your agency recommended this but I will reserve judgment because we haven’t heard why that was but I can be irate at your LC for guilting you into considering waiting to file for rematch until Nov 30th – MADNESS!

Because you do have some time and flexibility, if you can, I would highly recommend you consider hosting again. What you have shown in these posts leads me to believe that you are a “good” host mom that is open minded and means well and you deserve an AP that can be your right hand and help you in a meaningful way. There are APs that want large families. As is said on here often “there is a lid for every pot” and if you can stomach it, I would recommend you go fishing and see what you can find because I personally know many APs that love large families and would kill to have weekends free! Given the description of your household there are certain countries/cultures that I think could be a great fit for you. I am generalizing with limited information but I would think Germans off the top of my head would be a ringer for you.

If you would consider trying again I would be willing to help you (I realize that probably means nothing to you and that and 50c might get you a phone call but my offer stands). :) I would hate to see you give up and lose money over an odd first run/sequence of events and as others have said, the learning curve is steep but you’ve seen it now. If you ping CV she can give you my contact info.

WarmStateMomma November 11, 2015 at 2:12 pm

FWIW – My last AP had a friend who was incredibly happy with a family that had 5-6 kids. The right AP may be out there.

Calihostmom November 11, 2015 at 5:41 pm

Not to sound ominous, but her childcare and attitude aren’t going to get better at this point. Especially once she knows she’s leaving… She s going to stop being even as invested as she has been so far. We had bad seniority system with our au pair and that was an amicable, mutual split.

Are you leaving the AP program altogether (or taking a long break)? If so, I’d expedite her exit. She came to the U.S. To provide quality childcare, and she’s not delivering. It’s kind of you to want to help with her travel issues but she’s an adult and she needs to use her head and figure it out herself.

We were generous with our au pair and let her stay longer (and by the way, there’s a 30-day grace period on visas, so she can stay with a friend or travel, just not with you), and I came to regret it. Once the decision is made its best to just get on with it.

Calihostmom November 11, 2015 at 5:49 pm

I mean “senioritis,” not seniority system!

Taking a Computer Lunch November 11, 2015 at 10:32 pm

I don’t know what HF going into transition around the holidays do, but when AP #10 tanked (and believe me, we’ve put up with a lot of crap from APs – including AP #8 failing to yield at a stop sign and driving headfirst into the side of a Hummer on her 19th birthday, and then waking us up at 11:30 on a weekday night), and mentioned that she might want to go into rematch in early October, I told her, “You’ve got two weeks to make up your mind, because I would want the next AP to arrive in November and not the week before Christmas.” She reacted as if she had been slapped, because I had promised her a week off to go to NYC with friends and she could see it flying out the window. In the end, we mutually agreed we were a bad match within a week.

Bottom line – don’t let promised vacations/AP plans/family visits get in the way of what is best for your family. After all, why would you pay for an AP if she wasn’t going to make your life easier?!! (My story ends well – we just made a special dinner for AP #11 who is completing her year with us on Monday – and AP #12 arrives next Thursday.)

TexasHM November 11, 2015 at 1:50 pm

PS – We were in transition during the holidays and guess what our biggest problem was? ZERO candidates! There are good families in transition year round, don’t let that noise/nonsense influence the best exit strategy for your family. And it was literally exactly the same time of year last year. If she is a good candidate, she will get interviews. If she is not, then she has bigger problems than the time of year.

DO NOT beat yourself up about this. As others have said, you enabled her and she isn’t up the to task. It happens. It’s not personal. You hired her for a job she unfortunately cannot perform. That is first and foremost. Our awesome rematch AP came to us and her family was booked to visit her two months later in Chicago (her first city). They changed their flights and it was a mild inconvenience but they actually saved money overall because they stayed with us for free so don’t go down the rathole of their vacation plans. They are adults, things happen and they can cancel their trip, move it up, change it, move it back, etc. The LC limiting her geo search to your area is frankly suicide for your AP unless maybe you are in DC or a city with a huge number of families and APs. Even then, she is on her second rematch which is going to give people pause so if she were smart and the LC were good they would be stripping out any AP requirements and saying she would go anywhere for any situation. Our rematch AP was smart and told us her mom/sister were planning to visit two months later in Chicago but that obviously with the rematch that was not our problem and they would either cancel the trip entirely or change it to dates that worked for our family should we decide to match. We matched and then told them to keep the dates and come stay with us for free and we had one grateful AP! If she had told us she would need to be off those dates because her family had already booked plane tickets so she needed to be in Chicago I likely would have passed and interviewed the next candidate. She can either fight for her experience and be flexible and maybe have a chance or stick to her guns and go home and then she really doesn’t have to worry about the their trip because she won’t be here anyway. ;)

SeattleHD November 11, 2015 at 2:15 pm

+1 to all that. Just don’t get sucked into your APs drama and try to fix everything for her. If she wants to stay she needs to work at it herself. Do your due diligence, follow the rules and let the chips fall where they may.

Host Mom in the City November 12, 2015 at 11:42 am

OP, I think it’s lovely of you to want to be helpful, but you can only go so far. Letting her stay until the week after Thanksgiving is enough and is already costing you hundreds of dollars more than you need. I seriously cannot imagine spending hundreds more dollars even after that AND hosting someone’s family for a week?? That, to me, is way too much for her to expect. I too was once looking for a rematch au pair over the holidays and was seriously distraught over the lack of candidates. She might even have a better opportunity over the holidays because lack of competition!

Why is she limiting herself to your area though? Between going home if she doesn’t find someone in your area and spending a few hundred to switch plane tickets for her family, it seems like switching the flights would be a better choice.

But again, not your issue. This is why au pairs really shouldn’t be planning major events (and host parents shouldn’t be agreeing to them) so early in the relationship. If she wants a great host family, her best bet is to step it up and do her absolute best with you so you’ll give her a good reference.

BAHM November 19, 2015 at 1:44 pm

i really hate to hijack this thread and i apologize in advance. i am desperate. i’m sure that reading back what i write will tell me i need to rematch immediately, but i’m honestly hoping the experienced HMs here can lend me some insight or shake me into realization.

we are on AP #2 in our first time hosting. #1 was IC and she broke several house rules in her first two weeks here, the biggest one was the “no overnight guests” rule.

we rematched with AP from china and this time i thought i had thought it through. she was enthusiastic, she seemed energetic, she had experience. she is young, but #1 AP was nearly 26, so i didn’t think age was a factor so much anymore. we had at least 6 skype calls, about 30 minutes each and countless emails. i thought i really vetted this one.

within her first two weeks here (she’s currently nearing the end of week 2):
-first day of training and shadowing me, she reminded me of my teenage step-daughter. she was bored out of her mind. i caught her eyes wandering, zero enthusiasm (not that i expect her to get excited about instructions). her interaction with the children is lackluster at best. zero engagement. she follows them around. i think it’s jet lag, but when we are out and having a meal at a cafe with my toddler, she perks up. we get her bank account open, activate her phone, apply for school on day 1.
-on day 1, she approaches me and asks for wednesday-sunday off, she wants to visit her aunt in southern CA. it’s her first day, i remind you. she tells me she will work extra long hours on sunday upon her return. needless to say, i say no, cite state department rules, etc. mostly i’m upset that she even asked! AD and i explain to her the vacation rules, etc.
-rest of week get worse. she’s late for her placement testing and calls me to tell me she can’t work until later because she needs to take her test. i gave her a late start that day so that she could specifically take her test in the am. i told her she cannot change the schedule, she needs to better manage time.
-social security office. she wants her #. AD and i tell her to get on bus at 8 to get in line, the office opens at 9. she leaves at 9:10, doesn’t get in, says lines are so long. i repeated “leave earlier and get in line”. next day she leaves even later, calls me and tells me she won’t be back to work that am b/c she has to get her SSN. i say no, come back.
-she loves to cook elaborate, multi-step meals for herself. i have no issue with this nor the amount of food consumed, but i don’t want her doing this during work hours. we have oodles of food for fast consumption, i took her to the store so she could get what she wants. when she does this, she puts my kids in front of a big box of legos. i told her multiple times toddler CANNOT have legos bc she will put them in her mouth. we have larger duplo blocks. then she eats at the table while my children do other things. she lets them get off the table after dinner without wiping their hands, mouths so food ends up in the livingroom.
-i decide maybe all the info is too much for her, so i cut back on her duties. they are: put children’s laundry away, put clean dishes away, make HK’s beds, dirty clothes in hamper, wipe table after HK eat. she gets about 2 of these done every time.
-i show her the park. i tell her that with 2 kids, she needs to really be aware of where they are. they’re independent and can play but toddler needs some supervision. she loses my 5 yo several times when i say where’s xxx? luckily i was there. she’s bored at the park. she stands about 5 feet from toddler yawning and not saying a word.
-on the one morning i have her start at 9:00, i ask her to be ready to work. we are away the night before and i tell her to please be ready when i come back in the a.m. as i will need help getting toddler and some groceries up the stairs. i’m 6 mo. pregnant and we have 4 flights of stairs. i get home at 9:05, and she’s asleep.
-AD and i have asked that she be ready to work when her shift starts. she works 11:00-6:00/ 7:00 most days, weekends off. she doesn’t eat her first meal until 11:00 and puts my toddler in front of the ipad while she cooks herself a nice meal.

all the above is in our handbook which i had translated into chinese for her. i’ve also translated most checklists for her and the ones i haven’t translated, i work with her via google translation to help her understand what i want.

rematch, right? is it too soon?

Emerald City HM November 19, 2015 at 1:52 pm

I can tell you I would. I have never had to call the AD before they come and do the orientation.

WarmStateMomma November 19, 2015 at 2:55 pm

It’s time for rematch. She just doesn’t care and there’s nothing you can do about that. Don’t let them talk you into giving her two weeks to get her act together. You need someone trustworthy; there are just too many safety issues with babies and toddlers to keep a careless AP around.

Fortysomething HM November 19, 2015 at 3:11 pm

Rematch 100 percent. Do not wait, do not let the LCC talk you into mediating. Safety issues like the legos and not watching the child/ren at the park are nothing to sneeze at and there is no need to take a “wait and see” attitude about those, even putting aside the rest of the hot mess she appears to be with the repeated tardiness, blatant disregard of your instructions and apparent “me first” lazy approach to APing. And you have enough on your plate with being 6 mo pregnant!

I think plenty of APs who have a bumpy start can turn things around with the right amount of effort by both sides. But they have to give you some evidence that they WANT to turn it around, or are taking in the instructions you are giving and trying their best. If this is her best, she needs to be on the next flight home b/c she’s not cut out for being an AP.

NJ Mama November 19, 2015 at 4:02 pm

Rematch. Immediately!!!! For all the reasons cited above. So sorry this is happening to you!

Boy Au Pair Spain November 19, 2015 at 4:06 pm

I think the general message from most mums on this forum is rematch of you feel you should rematch.

From my experience, I remember being extremely tired during the first few weeks as an au pair in Spain. Adapting to a new culture and being with people that dont speak your language all day is exhausting. And I was only working 25 hours a week (or sometimes less). I cant imagine what it is to work 48 hours or whatever it is in the USA. Most people do not work so many hours. The first weeks must be terrible until you get used it. If you were to wait I am 100% sure things wouls improve as she got uses to everything. However based solely on the negative information yoy have given about I believe I would rematch too in your shoes.

Meg November 19, 2015 at 4:27 pm

FWIW I think in general in the US APs first spend a week in NY then can’t really work for the first few days in the HF home. So the factors that you talk about are somewhat addressed by the program.

BAHM November 19, 2015 at 4:36 pm

meg, you are right. AP arrived to US on a monday, spent 3 days in training, we picked her up from airport on thursday and she had the whole weekend off. she spent some time with us for meals but it was time off. i forgot about this factor.

calihostmom November 19, 2015 at 2:18 pm

It’s not too soon. Because the process itself can take a month. Get your LCC involved immediately. She sounds like she’s dealing with the reality vs. expectations of being an au pair, and it’s not providing you with adequate childcare and help around the house. You don’t want to be rematching when you’re 9 months pregnant!

Should be working November 19, 2015 at 2:26 pm

You need the rematch convo NOW. And to the LCC I would emphasize the safety issues–the Legos and losing kids. That might put you on a fast-track rematch path. Otherwise they could force you to wait a month.

BAHM November 19, 2015 at 4:29 pm

thank you all so much for your comments. i was really lost in this. i definitely feel guilty, like i chose her and now it’s my bad decision that it’s going sour. i keep thinking there was something i must have missed.

i too felt that even thinking about rematch was premature given she just arrived, but the thing i keep going back to is there’s not one thing i can cling to in terms of hope. she doesn’t exhibit one thing i can feel good about. i just don’t understand how my requests (like please eat something before you start so you can focus on the kids) can be ignored.

in your experience, do APs generally try to impress or try harder when they first arrive (taking into the loads of information they have to take in, jet lag, culture shock)? if anything i feel like i have another child and i’m freaking out because i have #3 coming in february. it’s hard to get an AP during the holidays and i was so, so hoping to have someone ramped up.

my AD is coming to the house tomorrow for a meeting. we are with APC and she has suggested we give my AP a week or we talk rematch. should i not agree to this? we were also going to take AP to hawaii with us in a few weeks, but i am not going to take her now bc i can’t manage another kid or be worried about my kids if left with her on the beach.

i’ve scoured APM site here and i read that sometimes mediocre APs can turn things around. i’m being too optimistic, aren’t i?

again, thank you for your comments. it really, really helps my head space. i’m usually so good about making decision, so i don’t know why i’m so stuck on this.

WarmStateMomma November 19, 2015 at 4:41 pm

I’m hosting AP#3. All have put their best foot forward in the beginning, which means that their enthusiasm for making a good impression was best in the first couple of weeks although they actually got better at the job after the first month when they knew the family and community a bit better. I firmly believe they improved their child care skills because they wanted to improve and were interested in my kid(s). You’ve described a lousy AP, not a mediocre one.

I also think you will regret having her on your vacation. An AP’s fit in your family is magnified on vacation. A great-fitting AP adds to the fun while a lousy-fitting AP sucks up the fun like a vacuum. We just returned from a visit home to visit the grandparents. Seeing my AP laugh with my kids while they were petting dolphins and trying other fun things made the expense worthwhile. The mopey AP we first hosted was a fun sponge who dragged us all down her sad hole.

NoVA Twin Mom November 19, 2015 at 5:01 pm

Our one au pair that did not put her best foot forward lasted three and a half days. Even she managed to not lose our then-three year old twins, they just didn’t DO anything all day and she didn’t want them to touch her ever and shied away from hugs (the flat voice she used to tell me all of this prompted immediate rematch. The agency didn’t argue.)

I don’t see this improving, particularly with the attitude problems. Push for immediate rematch (you’ll still likely be housing her for two weeks) with the one week wait as a MUCH less desirable outcome.

Also, nearly every au pair we have had has only reluctantly gotten a SSN at our major insistence. I’m a little surprised she’s so eager to get one. I wonder if she has something in mind that she needs a SSN for (or thinks it will somehow help her in a way that doesn’t involve you) or if she’s just so reluctant to provide child care that the Social Security office looks like a more attractive option?

WarmStateMomma November 19, 2015 at 5:09 pm

The SSN lets her get a bank account, credit card, and (depending on your state) a driver’s license. My APs have been eager for all three of these.

NoVA Twin Mom November 20, 2015 at 10:45 am

Our au pairs have been able to get both bank accounts and drivers licenses prior to getting the SSN. None have applied for a credit card here. Even our Brazilian au pair (therefore from a country where it isn’t necessarily easy to get a visa to the US) was reluctant to get the SSN. I’m suspecting this au pair wants to overstay her visa (whenever it might end) and knows life will be easier with a SSN.

Does she realize that if she “rematches” the card will likely be mailed to your address (and not to her, wherever she might be) once it’s issued?

WarmStateMomma November 20, 2015 at 11:11 am

Our state won’t issue a DL without a SSN. It’s possible to open the bank account, but your average Chinese AP doesn’t have the English skills to pull that off when she arrives. The credit card offers just appear in the mail and my APs usually open one, but they need a SSN to pull that off.

Our APs always know other Chinese people in the US when they arrive – however remote the connection. This network shares information about how things work in the US, although the information is often faulty.

TexasHM November 20, 2015 at 11:05 pm

Actually WSM that’s not true. Our current AP and previous APs have all gotten bank accounts and DL without SSN. We go right away and just sign an SSN waiver and they can get it later.

Mimi November 20, 2015 at 11:27 pm

APs need a SSN to get a bank account here and for the DL, so it varies by state.

hOstCDmom November 19, 2015 at 5:21 pm

Great insight re the SSN- our one crash and burn AP — a Chinese AP –let my toddler nearly drown in a pool (toddler wandered away from AP, jumped in deep end, my 10 yo jumped in to save toddler, got toddler out…and AP never noticed any of it. Nothing. Instant rematch — agency insisted — they wouldn’t have LET us keep AP! this AP came with LOTS of cash (think thousands, not the usual hundreds most of my APs came with,..should have been a red flag for me when we were opening her bank account.) and she was VERY, VERY keen to get her SSN. And after the near drowning incident (4 weeks in) she left my home with no notice, left all her belongings behind except for her computer and a backpack, and moved to nearby large city. Chinatown of nearby large city. Where she continues to work 6 years on (per another AP with whom we are in touch)

hOstCDmom November 19, 2015 at 5:24 pm

(sorry, hit submit too soon). This AP wanted to get a SSN and bank account, license and generally on her feet in the USA, via the AP program bc she had no intention of every going back to China. (And actually no intention of finishing the whole AP year, she figured she’d bail after 3-4 months when things were settled.) Again, I learned all this from a subsequent AP (also Chinese) who met her and heard the whole tale from the former AP.

BAHM November 19, 2015 at 5:37 pm

ok. that’s concerning. our ap had nearly 3K to put in the bank. she hasn’t tried to get her SSN this week even though she’s definitely had a chance to. omg, what a horror story for you!

Old China Hand November 19, 2015 at 7:56 pm

I have heard from our only Chinese aps that many want to stay illegally in the us either through abandoning the family or staying on after their year is done. Some Chinese aps are apparently starting to not get visas. Probably because of this.

We only host Chinese aps. We screen for them to want to return to China and to have concrete reasons they want to be in the us for a year. They are mostly out of college, so I expect them to have some thoughts. Or at least to have thought about post Au pair life in China. Our current ap is fabulous and so so so homesick. She has no idea what she wants to do but knew she didn’t want to be in the US. So that’s ok.

For what it’s worth, if our ap gets a state Id, it expires when their visa does. Before the end of their travel month. Ohio.

WarmStateMomma November 20, 2015 at 10:52 am

I’ve hosted 3 Chinese APs and the money sounds normal to me. They’ve each come with thousands in the bank. It’s cultural as saving is much more common there than here. Also, being an AP costs them $3-6k, so it’s not surprising they have that much cash in the bank – a European AP who just paid a few hundred to apply would also have a few hundred in the bank. Most Chinese APs have a college degree and have been working, so they also have some income before coming to the US, unlike 18yo APs who have only had part time jobs.

Our first AP tried to stay in the US to go to college, but her visa was denied because she overstayed her AP visa. The second one returned to China to resume her career with American experience under her belt (but wanted to keep a US bank account and credit card). The current AP hopes to attend grad school here and has already obtained an opinion from Homeland Security that she won’t have to return home after her AP experience for two years before she would be eligible for a student visa. She is meticulous about complying with all of the rules (such as the AP meeting/education requirements).

The pool story was horrifying, hOstCDmom!

Old China Hand November 20, 2015 at 1:44 pm

I also don’t view the ssn or money thing as red flags for Chinese aps. Ours have been diligent about following the rules so they could come back. Our first ap actually just got married to someone in our area. She was granted an exception to the 2 year rule to come back on a student visa.

Meg November 20, 2015 at 2:18 pm

Wow. Thank goodness your 10yo had the presence of mind. I’m amazed at how people find the ability to stay with the program with experiences like this. I think my first instinct after that… or frankly a lot of stories I’ve heard would be to write of the Au Pair program forever and find another childcare option.

LuckyHM#3 November 20, 2015 at 3:53 pm

FWIW, all my 3 APs have gotten SSNs within a couple of weeks of arrival and none of them have wanted to stay here after their programs ( #3 is only 4 months in though)
In my state, you cannot get a driver’s license without a SSN. And driving is ONE of our non-negotiables. For current AP. She arrived in our house on Friday from AP school, Saturday morning to her to open bank account. Monday morning, took her to SS office at 6:45am to get in the queue early, we got seen at 8:15am, and her SS card arrived on Friday.

exaupair November 22, 2015 at 1:26 pm

how did she manage to obtain her legal status in the US eventually? She left you with no notice, which equals breaking the rules of her AP visa.

Dorsi November 22, 2015 at 1:36 pm

Breaking a rule of a visa does not preclude you from ever legally entering the US, or every becoming a legal resident/eventual citizen. I am not sure that leaving without notice breaks the rules of the visa – it is just bad behavior.

NJ Mama November 19, 2015 at 5:02 pm

I think if you saw evidence that she was trying hard and there were no safety issues – I think in that case it’s worth giving it a try. But in your case, there are safety concerns. Would you really feel comfortable leaving the kids home alone with her for another week? That’s the first consideration.

The other one is that it doesn’t appear that she is putting forth much effort. Will a talk really change that? It sounds like she doesn’t want to be there.

Your situation reminds me of one of my first rematch au pairs. She was charming through the interview. My kids were mesmerized by her when we Skyped. We were so excited when she arrived — but then she had absolutely no interest in being our au pair. None. She wouldn’t even try to play with my kids, let alone follow through on her duties. Mediation only works if both sides want to try. I would push to go into rematch as soon as possible.

calihostmom November 19, 2015 at 6:33 pm

I wouldn’t wait. If it were just personality issues, that would be one thing. But not taking attentive care of the kids is a whole other beast. Don’t let the AD talk you into anything you don’t want to do.

And hey, this may be a wakeup call for your au pair. Maybe if she starts fresh with another family she will address these issues. But that’s not your problem.

There are a lot of ways host families are responsible for shepherding au pairs during the initial transition, and throughout the year. But the safety of the kids isn’t one of them. Anyone who wants to be an au pair should at least demonstrate the basic desire to keep the children safe.

BAHM November 19, 2015 at 6:52 pm

i’ve read every comment at least twice and i know what i have to do now. riddle me this: why do we HPs approaching the inevitable rematch dread it so much that we start rationalizing? i find myself saying things like, maybe this or maybe that.

i feel i should add one or two positive things about AP, but even these come with caveats. she improves immediately when i have an issue with something, but the improvement has a very short life span, like less than 12 hours. next day, back to the same lackluster, poor time management attitude. when i have to bring up a criticism, she ‘seems’ to take it in stride. she doesn’t argue too much and says, “ok”, but this could be due to my delivery… except she forgets soon after and it’s bad habits again.

i keep saying she’s trying and then i ask myself is it enough? bottom line is do i feel good leaving my children with her? we’ve had nannies before so i know this isn’t my issue, like i can’t leave my children because i have for long stretches. i just know i can’t trust her judgement and frankly if something were to happen, i don’t trust that she’d do what it took to keep my kids safe, but that’s pure speculation on my part. but i mean, legos for the toddler? teeny, tiny pieces? sigh.

and NJ mama, you’re right. i don’t think a talk will change her level of effort. i think this is who she is and she’s not really that interested in being an AP. seriously, why would anyone ask for time off on their first day at work? it feels like she’s here for the american adventure and american schools and travel and oh, BTW there are some kids she sometimes looks after occasionally.

ok. rematch! thank you all for the experienced points of view. i really, really appreciate it and i feel so much better just getting this conundrum out there for clarity!

Should be working November 19, 2015 at 8:17 pm

If you’re like me, in a few months–or hours–you will be asking yourself why you doubted yourself. It could practically be a separate part of this blog, entitled “Rematch?: Reality Check”, because it’s SO much easier to see it when it’s not your own situation you are evaluating.

Mimi November 19, 2015 at 9:20 pm

I’ve never hosted a Chinese AP, so some of the might be cultural, and I’m usually one for mediation, but if I were you (pregnant), I would insist on an instant rematch. Stress like this is not needed when you’re expecting. I would also share all of these other details with the agency and ask them to verify her experience. Her lack of attention to any safety is a huge liability for the agency and they need to address it before allowing her to match again

As for why do we second guess ourselves? I think many of us are too hard on ourselves and are afraid to admit defeat (whatever that means given the circumstances) because we take it as a personal failure, even when nothing we do can “fix” the problem(s). But that might just be me. ;)

Anna November 20, 2015 at 8:44 am

Not only I would rematch immediately, I would insist that the agency sends her home and doesn’t push her onto another unsuspecting family.

Giving her a chance at the expense of potentially endangering another kids’ life and safety? I would feel responsible for not letting it happen.

I had a similar situation, where I rematched with an au pair for lying. Right after she left, my older child and others (neighbors, friends) started telling me things about my au pair – that she put my kids in danger (like living the baby alone with the 4 yr old sibling on one level of the house while going to the basement to Skype with her boyfriend, living the baby in the car strapped in the carseat while dropping off other children at school….granted parking was right next to the small school but she was explicitly told by me, more than once (why? intuition maybe?) to NEVER do it).

Guess what, this au pair took criticism great too, she enthusiastically said “yes!” “of course!” “sure!” to everything I said, looking straight at me, into my eyes. We had a different set of issues than you do, but their verbal response to your suggestions really has nothing to do with their attitude or intentions. She may just be saying yes to get you off her back, and because she doesn’t really care.

She was in the process of looking for another family. I wrote a letter to the agency detailing all the incidents and telling them that if they pass her on to another family there will be trouble for all. They sent her home.

BAHM November 20, 2015 at 3:13 pm

so our AD is here now and she brought an extension au pair who is also chinese and able to translate for my AP. after all the communications and explanations, my AP didn’t understand why they were here even though the AD contacted her via phone and email and i explained to AP 2 days ago why they were coming except i didn’t say “we’re going to rematch” then. i told her i had some deep concerns about her ability and interest in being an AP, so on and so forth and that the AD and extension AP would come here to sit and talk to us.

it’s weird because my AP must have sensed something off even if she says she doesn’t understand as yesterday was literally the first day where she did most things as i asked. so far it was her best effort, but i don’t want her best to be because i’ve hit my limit. on wednesday night (friday now), i left her a note telling her i needed her to not leave her dinner dishes in the sink, counters dirty before she rushes out to go out. she told me she didn’t realize she did that and that she would clean it up when she got home. never cleaned it, but whatever. and for the record here, i have literally no issue with her leaving her dishes once in a while IF she was a good AP. i feel like the fact that she’s so clueless and a disappointment, i am resentful at having to do anymore than i want to. so petty, i know, but i think frustrated HMs can understand this point of view… i think.

***side question here: is it reasonable of me to expect that AP shows up for work ready? to elaborate, her hours 4 days a week (only one day where she starts at 9:00) are 11:00-6:00/ 7:00, but 6:00 end time is more common. i was getting frustrated that she would wait until 11:15/ 11:30 to make her first meal of the day and eat it while my toddler played by herself or watched a movie. i’m getting different perspectives on this. i feel it’s reasonable bc she should be able to manage her time before work and eat right before (i get that it’s sandwiched between breakfast and lunch) and then perhaps eat lunch with my toddler around noon/ 12:15.

so, my AD brought the extension AP as a “mentor” and translator and now i’m feeling pressure to give my AP another chance. in my gut, i don’t want to but i want to be fair. but i shouldn’t use my kids as the medium for this experiment. i told them all exactly that. they suggested that i give AP time for her to spend with my toddler solo at the park bc it seems like 2 kids are too much for her to manage at the park and in general with multi-tasking. i don’t know if i buy into this as she matched with us knowing we have 2 with one on the way! AP didn’t offer words of encouragement, like “i want to try”, but in all fairness she was most likely overwhelmed. so i’ll take this weekend and mull it over. i told AD that i would contact her monday on whether i was willing to give it a week trial or if i wanted rematch. she’s great and seems like she’d support me either way.
anyhow, i told them i’d take the weekend to think about this.

Should be working November 20, 2015 at 3:40 pm

Problem is that if you wait until Monday to decide, then the 2-week period in which you must house your AP (but not pay her if she doesn’t work) only begins on Monday. If you decide TODAY and they let you out of this match starting TODAY then that’s already closer to this AP leaving your house forever. So I vote for TODAY as the first day of your 2-week good-bye.

If your gut says no, no. You are totally right that you do not have to be the experiment nor exhaust this terrible AP’s every last possibility to redeem herself.

And yes she should show up for work ready to go and not hungry, BUT ftr this is something that should be in a handbook and that you can simply state as a rule.

WarmStateMomma November 20, 2015 at 4:08 pm


calihostmom November 20, 2015 at 5:26 pm


Do you really see your feelings changing over a weekend? Sounds like they are trying to avoid having to do paperwork before the end of the week.

The suggestion of sending her to the park with one child is ridiculous. I wouldn’t trust her at the park with any number of children at this point.

Mimi November 20, 2015 at 5:18 pm

Please don’t wait. Based on the reaction you describe, it’s not going to improve long term IMO.

Being ready before shift start is common and she clearly has time. It’s helpful to have this in your handbook.

AlwaysHopeful HM November 20, 2015 at 7:47 pm

This is incredibly unfair to you.

You laid out facts that clearly show the AP has placed your children in unsafe conditions and is unwilling to or incapable of doing the job she’s required to do. There’s nothing that you need to think about.

I’m particularly troubled by the AD bringing another AP as a mentor/translator to a highly personal meeting. Whatever the benign motives of the AD, that put you in a very awkward, uncomfortable situation… essentially it was 3 against 1. It’s not right, and you should insist that the rematch start today, OR take until Monday, but only if they agree to backdate the start to today should you decide to rematch.

The agency will pressure you, intentionally or not, and only you can ensure that your family is protected. Remember also that each additional day she is in your home could be money lost for you (depending on how the next placement works out). The money to consider is not just the au pair’s stipend, but the agency fee, which is prorated, but somehow doesn’t match up with the time you have left. I lost a ton of money over 2 rematches, in part because of dithering around so that I could be “fair” and ‘reasonable.” In the end, my family lost the time and money, not the agency. Don’t lose sight of the financial component of what they are asking you to do.

anonymous November 20, 2015 at 8:04 pm


Emerald City HM November 20, 2015 at 4:05 pm

“they suggested that i give AP time for her to spend with my toddler solo at the park bc it seems like 2 kids are too much for her to manage at the park and in general with multi-tasking.”

This particular piece bothers me. Particularly coming from the area director. You hired an au pair to take care of 2 children. If she can’t handle that, she needs to go.

TexasHM November 20, 2015 at 11:30 pm

+100. The fact that they clearly agreed she can’t watch 2 children equals out now. Personally the tardiness, attitude and rough start would have had me. We had to rematch due to safety issues but that AP was giving 200%, she just didn’t have the skills.
This will get worse. This is her best foot forward and you can’t waste any more time in this cycle. You mentioned the older posts, there is one on when to have a reset convo and when to bail and to even have a chance at a reset convo the AP has to be willing to take and apply feedback (she can’t), have the attitude to give it 200% to make things work (nope) and have the basic skills the job requires (safety awareness, ability to manage 2 kids = double nope). There is no conversation to be had here. Period.
I hope you already called AD because they can’t backdate rematches but I would absolutely explain to both AD and AP that if she doesn’t contribute, work and be a great houseguest she will not be working or paid for the two week rematch period. I would also revoke any risky privileges (AP personal car use, credit card etc).
I agonized over our burnout because she loved my kids, tried so hard and was so nice (or so I thought). Now I regret waiting so long as she endangered my kids multiple times and hit both sides of car and garage. Sigh. You have to separate and put your boss hat on. She can’t do the job, she’s got to go. There are gems in rematch and you’ll be so relieved! I bet you see her true colors come out in rematch and we, like others learned of a lot more issues after she left. Everyone saw it plain as day, even people that didn’t know us that well!
Hang in there. I’ve literally written a guest post on here about my 12 step interview process and we got a dud. It happens. It wasn’t you. APs overestimate their abilities, get excited, fudge and outright lie. The important (crucial) piece is that you quickly assess if they can do the job or not and if not cut bait and run. Fast. I’m not a proponent of rematch all the time, in fact I usually discourage it because it’s disruptive and can be painful and not everyone has the time/money/bandwidth but here you have no hope as you said.
I’m a terrible manager so I screen like a crazy person. A HM friend of mine is an exceptional manager and hardly screens. Both can work but one thing we agree on is the basic required traits have to be there to even attempt. we hire for attitude train for skill (we have 3). I’ve had 3 APs with little childcare experience and all rocked it. But they were honest, worked hard, gave 100%, took feedback and were committed. My heart goes out to you. Find someone that can contribute day one!

TexasHM November 20, 2015 at 11:56 pm

Hang on. Does she even understand you? You translated handbook, use google translate (which is horrible – I did this with ap1) and AD brings a translator over. Is it possible this AP doesn’t understand anything you’ve been telling her? It would explain a lot. Also AP1 nodded and said ok to us for months and would turn around and do the same thing I just told her not to do. Later on when her English was much better she admitted not understanding a thing!

It could still be grounds for rematch (if she can’t understand you and take feedback how can you possibly train her in time?) but it would change the tone from entitled selfish AP to completely lost/clueless AP.

BAHM November 21, 2015 at 2:28 am

as hard as it is, yes she does understand me. after every sentence i say, i ask her if she understands me and if she says yes, then i ask her to tell me what she thinks i mean.

she doesn’t seem so entitled to me as she does sheltered and mostly clueless. i think her standard for childcare is really different than what i’m used to in terms of engagement and basic safety via common sense.

BAHM November 21, 2015 at 2:56 am

again, thank you for all your input.

i have made up my mind and i will rematch. i called AD, but it was probably too late as it’s friday and i called her just a couple of hours ago. i’ll have to deal with the two week clock starting on monday instead of today. AD hasn’t called me back understandably and i don’t expect to hear from her until monday.

and about the eating before shift thing– i neglected to add that to my handbook. i wrongly assumed APs would know this and/ or they would learn this in training. it’s definitely in the handbook now. i guess when i get mad about it now i have to accept part responsibility.

after the AD and translator left, AP really tried her best and her best wasn’t even to par. i feel bad for her, really i do. i think she’s really sheltered and is self-centered in a clueless way. she told the AD that my kids are sometimes mean to her and they throw things (not at her). i think she was trying to convey why it’s hard for her to bond with them… i think? anyhow, i am aware that my girls have pushed boundaries with her and i was intervening for a few days until i realized that AP was too dependent on me and was deferring to me, which the girls then picked up on and then it was downhill from there. i did what i could to help her ingratiate herself to them (project ideas, play ideas, activities) but it’s like the saying goes: you can lead a horse to water…

so what did it for me was seeing AP try and then realizing that no matter the effort, i could only seeing her go up a couple of notches on my AP scale: if she’s a 2 on the AP scale, at best she’d be a 4. and then there’s the fact that doing so is not second nature or even in the realm of common sense to her. she was so confused about my needing her to engage with the kids more. she did just that today. she exhausted herself and them with constant in-your-face play (i’m talking shaking stuffed animals at their faces with funny voices, not giving them any personal space to enjoy, doing every task for them like bending over halfway and hovering over my toddler while she walked anywhere– toddler is 3 and a v. experienced walker). the kids lost it with her toward the end with my 5 yo saying, “just leave me alone!” sigh.

and the cooking of elaborate meals, what i told her via the translator was exactly this: i want you to eat whenever you’re hungry. you can eat as much as you want. you can also cook as much as you want, but i need you to do this before or after your shift. you can always use the kitchen to make whatever you want in your time off, but i need you to pay attention and be aware when you are on duty, so please eat foods that you can prepare quickly, like fruit, crackers, nuts, yogurt, reheated chinese, hardboiled eggs (all foods she picked out at market). so what does she do after the translator and AD leave? she asks me when she can eat and if it’s ok to eat while the girls are eating. i know she absolutely did not mean it this way, but i felt like a slave driver who was starving my AP!

being “on” constantly and doing something so out of her nature is not just exhausting for her, but i feel it will burn her out fast. and i really like what texasHM said about putting my boss hat on. i need to do that. i feel bad for AP bc she’s a sweet girl, but she has no place in my home as an AP to my children. if i keep her, i will never be able to relax so long as she’s with the kids and with #3 coming, i need to rely on whomever my AP is.

and finally, it is rather absurd that i should try to let her take one kid at a time. she was hired knowing there are 2 kids, with another on the way. if she can’t look after two without feeling overwhelmed, what’s going to happen when she starts looking after the baby? sure, the baby will be older by then, like 5 months, but still. babies can be stressful and it defeats the purpose of an AP if i can’t ever leave 3 kids together.

so that’s it. i feel crappy bc i know it will crush her. she’s trying, but it’s just not enough and i can’t compensate anymore. she can only keep up for so long before she falls back into her comfortable ways. AD was totally shocked when she asked about the AP’s duties. i took off all food prep, laundry and other smaller child-related duties. i took them off because i thought they were overwhelming her. this also made me realize that i’m picking up the slack and when i do that, i’m only trying to hold back the inevitable.

thank you all again.

LuckyHM#3 November 21, 2015 at 5:29 am

Wow, I feel for you. Good luck. Totally think you are doing the right thing. Do make sure the agency starts the rematch on Monday and not Tuesday because the AD may not can you back to Tuesday to delay things. I would also send an email to her cc her boss to protect yourself in the event that she says she didn’t get your voicemail

Dorsi November 21, 2015 at 11:50 am

Also, as a future note, don’t try to control how and when the AP makes food – require certain job performance. Focus on the job that needs to be done. I won’t judge a parent for using an iPad to entertain a toddler. However, a paid child care professional, who has at least 14 hours per day to attend to all of her/his personal needs should not be allowed to use electronics and TV to occupy their charges. Start strict on this, disclose it during matching, and loosen as you go.

Dorsi November 21, 2015 at 11:44 am

I will just add, in case you need more confirmation, that I had a situation that was in some ways similar. We had an AP arrive when my third was 1 month old. I was home for the next two months, so she had primary care of the two olders, though some supervised baby care. Once I began leaving her at home with all three, she was overwhelmed – this was an AP that was adjusted to our family, had found community in the area, and had a bright and pleasant attitude. She also had 2 months of full-time (45 hours a week!) child care experience. Three littles, especially a baby, is hard.

Fortunately, for us, we were able to make it work. It wasn’t easy. However, we had invested so much in each other (driving lessons, learning all the things about our home), that we pushed ahead. I can’t imagine doing the same with an AP that didn’t have good engagement, wasn’t a good roommate, and hadn’t already proven herself as willing to work hard.

The transition to three will be a challenge for everyone in your family- you need an Au Pair who can get through that, and it doesn’t sound like this one. We are about to welcome AP8 – we have only had one rematch. However, the first two could have never handled more than one child. The pool of great candidates for 3 kids is not that big – but they exist (we have had particularly good luck with South Americans). As you go into rematch, you really need to hire for someone who can manage three – I look for candidates who have been alone with two kids, under five, more than 6 hours at a time – for a good chunk of their child care experience. Not preschool teachers (though we had an excellent match with one), but lonely, diaper changing, meal preparing, building with duplo block hours.

Mimi November 21, 2015 at 12:34 pm

Don’t beat yourself up for this. There is a short term loss here, but in the long run both AND your AP will gain because the reality is that she will likely be as miserable as you are. She can find a great family with more structure/time to train/as a mother’s helper/etc. and everyone wins (and learns from the experience). I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but many here will tell you it’s true.

I have a lengthy and specific HH, but not everyone needs that level of detail. A family philosophy or bulleted list of expectations might work best for you. See if your AD can give you some help with areas you want to improve on or expand. If she can point you to an experienced HM in your cluster, that is also a great resource.

For your next match, stress that you need someone who can be independent, multi-task, and is a self starter. There are great posts on here about screening techniques and questions that might help in fleshing out these qualities. If you’re looking for a particular culture, there are great online resources for HFs that talk about cultural and social norms that may be helpful, too.

Your perfect lid is out there! :)

TexasHM November 21, 2015 at 10:25 am

This sounds eerily similar to our situation and you’re doing the right thing. Make it explicitly clear to the AD that you are rematching due to safety issues and end of conversation. Letting her drown isn’t going to help anyone (SO been there). You’re smarter than me, you’re resolving it faster and you’ll be very glad you did. We don’t have eat before shift in ours but we do explain during training that if they can’t manage eating with kids we will ask them to eat before shift. It’s never been an issue. I think if she were making quick meals and able to manage that and the kids we probably wouldn’t even be having this conversation so don’t overthink it, just train next AP and if she’s smart and capable she will get it.

Gah we had an AP that could read my mind after a month and could do things as good or better than me and often beat me to my neurotic details (straightening things, putting things away while cooking, etc). They are out there! Even APs that don’t have ESP can often take initiative and contribute in a meaningful way right away. You’re right – this time is as good as it will get from an effort perspective. :/

Old China Hand November 22, 2015 at 6:16 pm

We had to add “eat breakfast before shift” to our handbook because AP1 arrived when my older one was still napping in the morning and she could eat/shower then. When he stopped his morning nap, she basically fed him a second breakfast every morning to keep him occupied while she ate breakfast. Now I require the AP to eat before her shift if she wants to eat before kid lunch. Our current AP comes downstairs 30 min early and eats breakfast. I always make her some of whatever we have and save it for her. In exchange she helps me with getting the kids things they need as they finish up breakfast. It’s wonderful. Nothing we could have required because it’s outside her work hours, but so helpful for me with using every single minute of my 45 hours each week for my work day.

HMwithproblem November 23, 2015 at 12:19 pm

I’m sorry, can I hijack this thread again? Would you rematch if your Au Pair got a DUI? It was our car. The kids were not in the car and she was not on duty. Otherwise she has been a pretty good but not great Au Pair.

BAHM November 23, 2015 at 10:08 pm

so it’s done. i got in contact with AD and i just got through talking with AP. my decision was confirmed for me this morning when i once again witnessed AP make herself an elaborate meal 15 minutes before her start time. she worked 1:00-7:00 today (i let her go early tonight on account of our talk), so i KNOW she had plenty of time to eat. at 12:45 when she came out to make food, she asked me which pan she could use to make noodles. i showed her and said in the most benign voice i could muster, ” it’s almost 1:00, so of course you can cook, but i need you to be ready to work at 1:00″.

at 1:00 it seemed like she abandoned her food, but then the minute i disappeared, she put my daughter in front of the ipad and ate her lunch. i was flabbergasted. we just had our big talk last friday! then she followed my daughter around and then i ran into them leaving the house. i asked where they were going (park?) and AP said she needed to go to the store to buy something. i asked if it was something for the kids and she said no, for her. i didn’t ask what she needed, but i told her that i don’t want her to bring my 3yo on a personal errand and then she told me they were going to buy ice cream and cupcakes from the store. i was very confused. i told her that we have ice cream here (4 flavors to be exact, still in fridge) and if she really needs to run this errand, i will stay with toddler. of course if this had happened, i would have relieved her of her duties right then and there.

anyhow, it’s done. talk with AP over. she wanted to keep working, she didn’t want to rematch. i explained to her in writing (had my translator translate my essay i wrote explaining) and followed up by as much verbal backup as i could manage while constantly asking, “do you understand? what did you understand?”

she understood. she wanted to know if she could stay in the US. i told her i don’t know the exact rules, but that she would have to ask AD about details. i told her i think it’s 2 weeks, don’t know if extenuating circumstances apply, etc. and then i gave her the option of finishing her hours this week or not. she told me she didn’t want to work, but wanted to be with the kids. i told her it’s either/ or. i’m around and my husband is around, so it should be fairly easy. we’re gone next week, and i told her that she will need to stay with our AD or we will get her a hotel but that she can’t stay here solo. none of this went over that well and i feel like shit, but it is what it is.

thank you all for your support.

calihostmom November 23, 2015 at 10:24 pm

We had a perfectly cordial, basically mutual parting with our au pair and I still felt like shit! But let me tell you… the relief you’ll feel when she’s gone will be priceless.

NoVA Twin Mom November 24, 2015 at 9:34 am

You’ll probably start feeling better about your decision tomorrow. Calihostmom is right that you’ll feel better when she’s gone, but just not having the “should we rematch or not?” question hanging over your head will relieve you of the indecisiveness. Unfortunately we’ve rematched twice and once everything’s in progress it feels much better.

SeattleHD November 24, 2015 at 11:51 am

And seriously don’t beat yourself up about it. When you look back you’ll wonder why you waited so long or why you questioned it.

The key thing is to figure out how you can adjust your screening so you never end up with a candidate like that again.

Mimi November 24, 2015 at 12:04 pm


BAHM December 7, 2015 at 1:39 am

hi AP HMs,
final update on my now departed AP. two weeks ago tomorrow, i had the rematch conversation with my AP, contacted AD and she was over on tuesday of that week to start the process, going on monday 11/23 as the official rematch start. for those of you (basically all of you) who said that once i:
1.) made the decision to rematch
2.) started the rematch process
would be less stressed and happier, you were 100% correct. i was indeed happier and less stressed but i did not expect what happened next.

on the day i had the rematch conversation with AP, she was shocked as she was under the assumption that i was going to give her a week per our last meeting with AD. i explained to her that i thought about it and decided that rematch was the best option. it was a long conversation with me having to call my father as a translator eventually. AP seemed to understand all of it. she repeated to me and my father what her understanding was and it was absolutely aligned with my explanation.

on tuesday, we met with AD, started process and all was explained again to AP. again, she seemed to take it ok and understand. she asked a lot of questions to the AD about the process and it was agreed that she could spend her first week of rematch here and her second week at AD’s home as we were set to go on vacation.

tuesday, wednesday, thursday night this happens: AP works during the day and then when her shift is over, she either comes upstairs to knock on my door or approaches me downstairs to have the same conversation each night.
-will you reconsider
-i understand what you want now
-i don’t want to rematch
-i came here to be your AP
-i planned for this for a long time
-i don’t want to go home
-i don’t want to work with another family
-i want to live in your home only
-i want another chance

and each night, i explain the same thing, which boils down to:
-i will not reconsider

she keeps at this for 3 nights, including thanksgiving night. and it’s not a casual, “can we talk?” it’s can-we-talk and then she doesn’t leave until i agree. the first two nights when she asked me to talk, she knocked on my bedroom door. i told her ok, i’ll knock on your bedroom door after i shower. both times when i opened the door to go downstairs (about 20-25 minutes later), she was sitting on the floor, in front of my door. it seemed as if she was there the entire time. both nights, she followed up the conversation with 33 text messages over two nights (i counted). the third night, i was cleaning up after thanksgiving dinner and she cornered me in the kitchen and refused to take “now is not a good time to talk” for an answer. i told her that i was tired from cooking and cleaning (and being 7 months pregnant) and that i did not want to have the same conversation again. she got irritated and told me that she’s trying and she wants me to give her another chance. this goes on for 45 frigging minutes! i could. not. shake. her. my husband driving some people home so he couldn’t be there. luckily my FIL was around, but suffice to say, i was creeped out. i emailed the AD and said, i’m not having AP work tomorrow, explained why and asked that she be removed from my home because i’m now feeling harassed in my own home.

AD gets her the next day. i felt awful that the AD had to come the day after thanksgiving, but i honestly felt harassed in my own home and pretty creeped out. after AP left, she sent me text messages for two days asking me to reconsider. i finally blocked her number.

what an ordeal!!!

Should be working December 7, 2015 at 2:45 am

Phew! At least you can have NO doubts that you did the right thing–what a strange person. On our one rematch, the AP cried and begged for one night, I held firm. She moved out that night (to a boyfriend, and stayed illegally). I was actually totally relieved at that.

Thanks for coming back with the update!!

Now start reading about selecting au pairs out of rematch. Good luck.

WarmStateMomma December 7, 2015 at 2:43 pm

You made the right choice. Can you imagine a whole year with this person?

calihostmom December 7, 2015 at 2:46 pm

That is bizarre! Who knew she could be so focused and determined? I think you did the right thing having her leave your house. I wouldn’t have felt safe or comfortable with her there, either.

Boy Au Pair Spain December 7, 2015 at 3:47 pm

A sad outcome. Sorry you had to go through that. She would probably be great in a nursery but it unfortunately seems that extremely sensitive fragile people cannot cope with being an au pair. You have to be pretty resilient and tough.

It is also a good lesson for how the idea of “falling in love” with the family you work for can be quite dangerous. There is a need for a certain distance, from both sides, in order to deal with the eventual end of the relationship (whether prematurely or not).

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