Making New Year’s Resolutions WITH Your Au Pair

by cv harquail on January 4, 2016

Number 5 on the short list of stupid, true things about life that I try not to let annoy me is this:

It’s hard to change things* when people around you resist having you change.

*”things” being: yourself, your situation, how you do things, what gets done, what is prioritized, etc.

6616006039_f0cf746c79_mWe forget that our lives are so enmeshed with the lives of others, whose lives are also enmeshed with the lives of even more others, that to make and sustain a change over time we have to get a whole lot of other people to make supportive adjustments in their “things”, just so that we can make the changes we seek.

This means that every time you make a New Year’s resolution to eat “less beef and more vegetables”, for example, you not only have to shop and cook a bit differently yourself, but also you have to pull everyone else in your household onto the “less beef and more vegetables”-bandwagon.

No wonder it’s so difficult sometimes to change.

Simple Truth #5 is what sinks the best of New Year’s Resolutions. It also sinks so many of the efforts we initiate to improve our host family – au pair relationships.

Which is why I’m surprised that so few of the articles I’ve read in the last two weeks about making changes for the New Year have suggested that we make resolutions WITH other people. Not just as “accountability partners”, but in tandem with the people who also need to change things in order to help support us and our change efforts.

A better New Year’s practice would be to make resolutions WITH the people whose partnership is critical to the success we seek.

For example, if you want your home to feel more calm around mealtimes, why not talk with your Au Pair about how to work together to achieve that goal?

Even more better would be to talk with your Au Pair about what child, household, or au pairing things s/he would like to change or grow in the next three months, and then set a few resolutions/ intentions/ key words/ core desired feelings around these.

Has anybody tried to team up with their Au Pair or Host Parent(s) to create resolutions WITH them?

If you could make some goals with your AP/HP to change something together,  what would you like to resolve to do? 


See also:
9 Host Mom Questions for 2009: Reflect before you resolve,
Au Pair Host Parent Word for the Year: Hygge


Images: New Year’s Resolutions by Memphis CVB on Flicker
New Years Resolutions by John Watson on Flickr




Hostmom (now LCC) DP January 4, 2016 at 3:41 pm

Such an interesting idea! This could also be a creative solution to the recurring problem (recurring at least in my experience) of how difficult it is to impose new “rules” in the middle of an au pair’s program year. If there’s an issue that has been bothering you and you’ve made a note to yourself to include a rule or expectations about it in your household handbook for your NEXT au pair, approaching it as a “collaborative New Year’s resolution” might be a way to gently raise it with a current au pair without creating resentment or hard feelings about changing the rules in the middle of the game.

TexasHM January 4, 2016 at 5:17 pm

This is actually well timed as my AP and I were just discussing doing 21 day fix together and we make all the meals in the house so that would give us full control and accountability. :)

She also had a list from me this am of things to do with the kids today before they go back to school tomorrow so we could all be on the same page and I do regularly (not just around New Years) solicit her feedback on fixing challenges. IE – we keep having problems finding girls dance clothes, where can we put them and when should we wash them to enable fixing that? And we do the same with the kids.

I think this came up once before but my husband is a programmer and likes to bring AGILE home which of course plays into all this because you (as a team) share issues, prioritize, implement, adjust, execute and repeat! :) There are several books and recently a TED talk so you know that makes it legit! ;)

Mimi January 4, 2016 at 6:17 pm

This is an ongoing process for me. It’s a variation of happy wife–happy life…happy AP–happy me!?! I have a big, busy household and I work more than full time. Our household is all about team effort. Without the AP, I couldn’t accomplish half of what I do and my home would be a wreck. We look for potential APs who want to be part of the family and who will be invested in a home environment that runs well and I believe that means that everyone has to be invested in making it work. Although we have established routines, there is a lot of room for customization and for the APs to have a say in how things get done. I value their opinion about ways to improve the day to day activities of our household and I’m always looking for feedback on how things could be improved. (TexasHM, I’ve even got the kiddos into how we can “kaizen” things, but HD is more of a six sigma-engineering type so he looks for data…)

Some of our best organization solutions have come from our APs. They are usually able to see a situation (mostly) from a neutral standpoint and can offer a solution that we hadn’t thought of before. I had a problem area in my kitchen that had turned into a dumping ground for office supply things and school work, etc. It is now a lovely organized area thanks to AP#4’s ideas, my sketching skills, and HD’s handyman skills. The boys had some ideas on how to use their sections and their buy in means that they have an interest in keeping up with staying organized.

We usually pick goals for the year that have to do with finding ways to have more fun together, but this year the kids want to pick goals for each other. I’m not sure how this is going to work out but we will be talking about it this week.

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