Male Au Pairs: Not just for male host kids, by ReturningHM

by cv harquail on December 16, 2014

When ReturningHM offered to write a post about her experiences with male au pairs, I was delighted. Many new readers find AuPairMom by searching the term  ‘male au pair’. There simply isn’t that much information out there about the benefits and challenges of male au pairs vs female ones.

Folks are curious about what it might be like not just to have a male childcare giver, but to have a young adult male in the host family home.

Au pairs of any gender can do the ‘work’ of an au pair, even though it may challenge some people’s expectations.  Where the current questions lie are around how male au pairs develop connections with host children of both genders. There’s an assumption that male au pairs are great caregivers for boys, but when it comes to hiring them to care for girls, some folks get a little nervous.

just peekingReturningHM has both a daughter and a son– and has found that their family’s male au pairs have connected wonderfully with both kids.  Here’s her story:


For a long time we thought that we could not host a male au pair because we have a daughter. 

Several years ago, one of our lovely female au pairs had her boyfriend from home visit with us for two weeks, and we watched our son absolutely glow while playing with this guy: jumping for hours on the trampoline, racing remote-controlled cars around the living room, and spending long stretches of time building with blocks.  It’s not that our female au pairs didn’t do all these activities with our son, too.  But the energy with which our au pair’s boyfriend did them with him was just different, and our son – small for his age, developmentally delayed, and needing help with a lot of the playground skills that other children just pick up – lit up and thrived in its glow. 

Our daughter was then nine, though, and we thought, it’s too bad we can’t host a male au pair, but it just wouldn’t be right with a girl this age.   

For the next year, I kept thinking about those two weeks and how much our son had learned and blossomed in the presence of that au pair’s boyfriend.  I decided to talk to our daughter about it, and to my surprise, she was very open to the idea of hosting a male.  After what was at that point six years of hosting female APs, she was excited to have a “big brother” around with whom she could play and interact. 

We decided to look for an athletic male au pair who would be willing to play active games with her at her (more skilled) level, but who also could teach and model for my son the more basic skills needed to do the kinds of playground games that many boys play at school.  I worried about how *I* would feel having male energy around the house – on top of my husband’s male energy – and therefore embarked on matching very early that year, to give myself a chance to change my mind if I wanted to and still have time for the regular matching process.  

Our first male AP was amazing. 

He was the subject of one of the Au Pair Appreciation posts that CV posted last year; he simply made our lives better just by being a part of our household.  He was helpful, kind, engaged, and fun. 

But he also brought something new into our household: Male caregiver energy, which was a wonderful complement to the energy my son was usually surrounded with, from his female teachers, female speech and occupational therapists, female family members (me, his sister, his grandmother), and yes, female au pairs.  This au pair, like our au pair’s boyfriend from a few years back, brought a new excitement to games:  he and our son spent hours building lego structures that helped our son process his daily activities and events (a ferry after a long trip to an island, a chairlift after a momentous trip to the ski slopes).  He also pushed our son physically in a way that none of the female APs had done, and he was less easy about him saying he couldn’t do something or that something was too hard.

With our daughter, this AP was warm and helpful and engaged.  Although everyone knew that we had hired this male AP primarily for our son, at no time did anyone feel that he was less engaged with our daughter – or with us.  While his skills were traditionally “male” and he struggled a bit with things like laundry, cooking, and cleaning, he knew these were part of his tasks, and he took them very seriously, both because he wanted to do a good job, but also because he knew he was representing *male au pairs* in general and wanted to make sure he performed well on behalf of his gender.

We’ve now hosted two more male au pairs, one when our beloved guy tore his ACL and had to go home early, and one this year, and both have also been good additions to our household.  Our current male AP is less “sporty,” maybe, than the other two (not less athletic but less into organized sports), but he still definitely brings male energy to the household.  In addition, he is a great cook, good with the laundry, and very sensitive about engaging with both our son and our daughter.  I am not sure who loves him more – he or she – because this AP has clicked so nicely with both.

Is it weird having a male au pair with a now-12 year old female child in the household? 

Some people think so, and unfortunately, they are not shy about saying it. 

Our carpool mates last year made a big point of saying, when we were going through matching again, that they thought it was strange that we hosted males and that they felt sorry for our daughter for the fact that we did. (Our daughter rose in response very quickly – it was lovely to hear her defend our choice!). 

Our daughter also has a close friend who is not allowed to stay at our house when our male AP is at home.  I am not sure whether the parents think we would have someone in our house who wouldn’t be trustworthy on the one night their daughter might stay over (though presumably he is with ours every other night of the week?  Or they think we allow a non-trustworthy person to just live down the hall from our daughter?), but either way, we don’t push the point with them and just allow them to have their views; our daughter stays over their house instead.  

Some things we have had to sort through in hosting a male AP with an older female host child: 

  • During matching, we had to talk about what would happen if our daughter got her period for the first time while I was away (I travel 2-3 days/week for work) and male AP was the only one around.  We had to talk about what would happen if one of our daughter’s friends flirted with male AP – how would he handle it and how would it make him feel? (This has happened now and AP handled it so carefully and responsibly).
  • We have had to switch our daughter’s bathroom at her request; rather than sharing with the AP and her brother, she now shares with my husband and me (this happened between male-AP1 and male-AP2).
  • We have had to navigate the world of AP having primarily female friends – and how to ensure that he has space and room in our small house to entertain them, without him having to bring them all up to his bedroom one after another.  And,
  • We have had to navigate a female AP friend spending the night as a friend…and then the relationship morphing into more, all with AP’s room just down the hall from the rest of ours, including our tween daughter whose friends (though not quite her yet) have great curiosity about those kinds of things.

When I ask our daughter her thoughts about hosting male APs, she says that in general, she wouldn’t like *most* males as an AP but she insists that she adores ours.  There is something about the person, rather than the gender, that she has clicked with in all three cases, and for the most part, neither she nor the rest of us thinks of our au pair as a “male au pair” but as simply “our au pair.”  

I know many families here and around feel that they would not make the same choice to host a male if they have daughters, but for us, it has been a great experience. 

And I’ll add….after hosting female APs for six years, the males really are easier in some ways….or at least my three have been!  Not that I’m trying to convince anyone to make a choice outside of his or her comfort zone.  And in fact, I’d just as soon not many HFs switch to male APs, so that the same great array of choices are available come winter, when it will be time for us to select next year’s AP.

See also:

Male Au Pairs, Revolutionaries and Change Agents
What Do You Look For In A Male Au Pair?


Image: Just Peeking, by Dean Searl on Flickr


Seattle Mom December 16, 2014 at 3:33 pm

My husband was an au pair for a summer in France when he was around 19. He had 3 children, 2 boys and a girl, pre-teens for the most part. It was a long time ago and he doesn’t talk about it much, but I bet he was great.

I would be open to the idea of a male au pair.. but I have 2 daughters and it would be a step outside my comfort zone. There are all these extra things I’d worry about, so I don’t really want to go there. If I had a son it would be different. My poor husband would love to have another guy in the house. And I know that my kids respond well to men and would probably like having a male au pair- they have had male swimming & gymnastics coaches and have liked them. They are also really bonded with their father.

Hm. You have given me food for thought though. Why not consider it?

Has anyone ever had a male au pair with 2 young girls and no boys in the house? My kids are now almost 6 & 4, when we’re looking for the next au pair they will be close to turning 7 & 5.

German Au-Pair December 19, 2014 at 7:05 am

I’m not trying to call your concerns into question, I’m just genuinely wondering about where you see the issue? Families with two boys would take a female au pair right?
If your daughters like the male energy and so would you, where exactly is the problem?
Of course it should be clear that if they want to play girly things, the AP should not teach them that that isn’t for boys but should just go along with that, but that’s something that can be discussed before matching just like it can with every female au pair. Same can be discussed when it comes to physical contact, if the girls are snuggly. If they want and need it, is he willing to give them a hug?

As a general note -I’m not sure whether this is your concern or not- abuse could technically happen with females and males. So could weird situations. As an au pair, most of us get a bit of a sibling-like feeling of protectiveness for the children. When they come to hug us, it’s like a sibling. You never think of them being (or not being) a different sex than you are. I would have hugged my boy (14) all the time had he been a hugger without ever thinking of him as a boy. Had he wanted to snuggle up in bed or on the couch watching TV like my teenager brother and I still do sometimes, I would have done that without thinking anything of it. The child is not a male or female child, it’s “your” child and since I know several guys who are great with kids, who also give them lots of physical affection, I fail to see the difference.
If you end up with a bad au pair, it could harm your children in many different ways, male or female. But if you have a good au pair, I would almost promise that there is no difference between the sibling like affection we have towards the children.
If the potential issues (what if female HC wants to snuggle in bed with the AP, like she might with a female AP? He would probably need to know before if that would be okay or if the parents will freak out if they hear “we spent all morning in bed reading books”) are discussed, I really don’t see a big difference between the sexes.

Returning HM December 19, 2014 at 3:27 pm

I agree with you regarding the way the APs see the host children. And if our daughter were upset and needed a hug, I would absolutely trust that the AP would give her one without there being anything remotely confusing for anyone about the intention of that hug.

That said, we had an experience last spring that caused us to talk to our AP then (and subsequent one as well) about having some clear lines in the way he interacts with our children: Our AP had offered our son, as a treat, that he could sleep in AP’s room for a night. Our son was so excited and told absolutely everyone who would listen about this. I overheard him telling one of his friend’s parents that he was going to sleep in AP’s bed with him, and I watched the mom’s eyebrows go up. After that, AP and I agreed that it would be better if our son spent the night in a sleeping bag on the floor NOT because I in any way questioned the AP – I didn’t – but because I didn’t want our son telling the world, “I slept in AP’s bed and got to snuggle him all morning” and having to deal with the questions from people who got the wrong idea about the situation or anyone making the wrong assumption about AP. So, sometimes we do need to be a little bit overly-careful. And also, I think people worry about the fact that statistically, men are way more likely to commit sexual assault than women are.

BearCo Mom December 19, 2014 at 4:01 pm

I don’t know if our concerns are the same as Seattle Mom’s, but our concerns would be along the lines of exactly what you allude to. For younger children, my concern would be with potential abuse and with teenage daughters, having an inappropriate relationship develop. My children are still little so this wouldn’t be a concern now, but using your example – for me – finding a male AP snuggling up in bed with my 14 year old daughter watching TV would be a HUGE issue. It would also upset me a lot in the reverse (male teenage son, female AP), but rightly or wrongly, not to the same extent. (You can bet I’d be watching the situation like a hawk after that though — Ugh, I already am feeling anxiety about having teenagers and my kids are still under 5!)

Regarding abuse & younger girls (or even boys), I agree it technically can happen with females also, but I believe it to be a lot less likely (statistically speaking). Of course I know it would be unlikely either way, but it would still be my biggest – and really only – fear. As much as I hate to admit it, I would question the motivations of a male wanting to be an AP less than I would a female.

All that aside though , if I overcome that, I do feel like a male AP would fit in better with our family in general and could be awesome! My favorite and most beloved babysitter when my brother and I were kids was a high school football QB and we LOVED him because any night with him became an all out 2-on-1 wrestling match in our basement. :-) And having less emotional drama to deal with (again, another stereotype I know) would be a massive plus for both DH and myself.

It doesn’t seem like our agency offers male au pairs, so I would probably have to switch agencies, but I could see myself considering it for the next round.

German Au-Pair December 20, 2014 at 7:14 pm

Okay, your last comment prompts me to clarify that while teenager host kid was in fact 14, mentally he was in an earlier stage. While he was incredibly smart and advanced cognitively, emotionally he was a child (playing with toys at the airport rather than developing interest in girls) more than a young man. Therefore, had he wanted to snuggle up while watching a movie on (not in -) the bed or a sofa, I would not have minded because it would have been perfectly clear that there was no way on earth it could have come across in any different way for him.
I would probably have drawn a line with a develomentally typical teenage boy for his sake. It never came up in our case because he wasn’t snuggly and I assume it would not come up with a typical child that age because HE would think it to be weird.
The point I was trying to make with that is just that to me, from my perspective, it’s no different than with my brother. I am confident that most good au pairs view their host kids in a similar way.
I can see and understand why parents would not encourage that though. I honestly have never thought about how a host child might develop a crush on an AP.

What I was talking about in my previous post however, was the example of a young child -6-ish- snuggling up to a male au pair. No one would see any harm with a female au pair I believe, but some might with a male au pair.

BearCo Mom December 22, 2014 at 11:16 am

OH, sorry I didn’t mean to put you on the spot or imply you were doing something inappropriate (I really didn’t think that) . I totally agree with you (or hope anyway!) that the vast majority of au pairs would only see their host kids in a sibling-type way. But if something inappropriate WAS to happen, I just feel like that’s how it could start.

But this probably says a lot more about my behavior as a teenager than anything else, hence the paranoia :-) !

Emerald City HM January 6, 2015 at 1:57 pm

We are just starting next year’s application process and are actually considering looking at male candidates. Both of our girls are high energy and it might be a refreshing change of pace around the house. Until now we needed an IQ au pair and the pool of male au pairs is pretty small in the first place, the IQ pool even smaller.

TexasHM December 16, 2014 at 3:37 pm

ReturningHM excellent insight and thanks for sharing! It never dawned on me that other parents would have an issue with you hosting a male AP. As said before, my husband isn’t comfortable with the concept so it’s off limits for us at least for now but I love the idea conceptually. My oldest is a boy and he loves sports and our recently departed rematch AP really bonded with him for one simple reason – she played basketball with him everyday. I can’t remember the name of the study but I know there’s been a lot that talk about reaching boys through active play and passive conversations (while you are driving in the car without eye contact for example). Side by side vs lecture/eye contact. Just as you have taught your male ap to be sensitive to your daughters needs I think next round I am going to try and teach a female AP to reach my son better these ways. I used to babysit with a male friend in high school and he was fantastic. In fact it worked out well because he was high energy and athletic and I was organized and motherly but strict so between the two of us we were the perfect babysitter! ;) So glad this has worked out so well for your family and looking forward to hearing more. I noticed a couple of AP of the Year agency winners or finalists were male au pairs in single host mom households, I wonder if single moms prefer male APs or if the pool is evenly distributed amongst all family types. Think there are many single dads with male APs?

Taking a Computer Lunch December 17, 2014 at 11:21 pm

My Dad, who was a middle school teacher, always said the best way to get a boy to talk was to do something active – throw or kick a ball, go biking, go hiking, etc.

WarmStateMomma December 16, 2014 at 4:11 pm

I would be interested in hearing about what countries the male APs come from when the HF has girls. Since we’re pursuing Mandarin and our female Chinese APs have had such old-fashioned views about gender roles, a big concern for me is whether a male AP from China would have an even more limited view.

I also wonder if a male AP would offer all of the snuggles and physical affection a very young child needs. Does anyone have experience hosting male APs when their kids are babies/toddlers?

Returning HM December 16, 2014 at 4:32 pm

I don’t recall ever seeing a Chinese male AP. For a few distinct reasons having to do with language and culture, we only consider male APs from Germany, Switzerland, and Austria (and have hosted one from each), though, so I can’t say I have looked closely at the larger pool of male APs

Our children weren’t really little when we started hosting male APs, but I will say my son, who is developmentally delayed, is extremely snugly and needs a lot of hugs, tickles, and affection, and he has gotten all he needs from our three male APs. There is no physical contact at all with my 12 year old daughter, but she is also not a huggy person and I can’t recall her hugging our female APs even when she was 8 or 9. I think all three of our male APs would give as much affection and snuggles as were asked and were appropriate.

The big difference in physical affection that I notice is with myself: I was extremely huggy with our female APs, but I am not at all with our males. I did hug our first one goodbye and hello after a long weekend away, but haven’t hugged our second or current one after that first initial hello at the bus station. That said, I am extremely warm with them in words and texts, as they are with me and with my daughter, so I don’t think anyone is suffering from lack of affection.

Amelie December 17, 2014 at 9:33 am

I’m a former au pair from Brazil and I’m still very active in au pair forums on Facebook. There are always a lot of guys asking questions and really into the idea of being au pairs (mostly, but not exclusively, gay guys). I don’t know if it’s really easy for them to go through with it, since there are not many agencies who accept guys.

Kiki December 16, 2014 at 4:36 pm

This is a timely post as we have a male au pair (our first, it’s all we know) and we’re in the process of adopting, so I’m about to become the mom of three boys and a three-year-old girl. Our au pair knew all this when we matched with him and I imagine him being just as good with her as he is with my two boys now. My primary concern is how he’ll transition from taking care of just two children to four non-school-age children, not that he’s a guy taking care of a girl. ReturningHM brings up some good things to talk about both as a family and with our au pair.

German Host Mom December 17, 2014 at 6:06 am

We have considered a few times having a male au pair (having 2 boys now aged 7) but the pool of male au pairs
a) interested in coming to Germany
b) having a reasonable level of fluency in German
c) with a cultural background not too dissimular
is extremely limited, so I do not think it is going to happen!
The reason I am concerned about the cultural background is that I have heard from friends who have hosted male au pairs with an Eastern European/Asian or Southern European background is that they do tend to have a traditional outlook to housework being a woman job. Not something I want my boys to adopt, and also something I do not really want to battle all year long…

AlwaysHopeful HM December 17, 2014 at 10:24 am

I can’t speak for other single moms, but for ne, being single made it mire, rather than less complicated to have a male au pair. I have one son and no daughters. I knew my son would love the idea of a male au pair, so for me, the struggle was figuring out if I wanted to tip the testosterone balance of the house in that way. I also worried that a male au pair in our family might be more susceptible to loneliness, because the majority of his AP friends would likely be female, and at home he’d have a female hm and no host dad to talk to about “guy stuff.” I also worried (a little) about what people might think about my intentions! When we had a female AP, a parent at my friend’s school mistook her for my partner, so I could only imagine what kinds of sordid things people would say when they saw my son and me with some young male! ???? In the end, it worked out. Our first male AP was warm, funny, engaging, proactive, energetic and caring. Just loke RHM’s ap, he seemed to feel the pressure of being a standard-bearer for male au pairs. He ended up making some really bad choices that led to rematch, but his time with us was special, and just how I’d imagined an AP experience should be. Our current au pair has had a bit more of a challenge in adjusting, but nothing really to do with maleness, that I can see. Each one seemed to find friends easily, and if the neighbors are talking…well, they haven’t said anything to me!

L. January 10, 2015 at 9:11 am

People have mistaken my 20 year old AP for my daughter and I’m only 31. I think I would rather they think she’s my partner :)

Returning HM January 10, 2015 at 3:26 pm

I have encountered both people thinking that AP was my son AND people thinking that I’m shacking up with some young stud. Both assumptions have embarrassed me but for entirely different reasons!

Emerald City HM January 10, 2015 at 4:03 pm

I’ve had people think my teenage son was the father of my daughters. Last time I went to dinner with just my kids. Hahaha.

Returning HM January 10, 2015 at 4:22 pm

This just made me laugh out loud!

NJ Mama December 17, 2014 at 3:20 pm

Such a great post!
We interviewed a male AP during rematch once, and he said he was amazed that we would even consider a male AP b/c we have two girls. He wanted to extend in a different part of the country. He had great recommendations – including one from his then current HF. And of course once our rematch fell through we regretted not taking b/c I knew he would be a great fit for us — especially b/c my oldest daughter is so into “boy” things (she plays football, Minecraft, etc., and nearly all of her friends are boys). I also have nephews who are in their teens. Two have worked as babysitters and they’re just incredible with kids. So I was open to the idea.

That said, the reason we didn’t ask to match with him — and haven’t really considered a male AP since — is that we live in a very small house and we all share a bathroom. Now that my kids are older — the youngest is 8 and the oldest is 11, and they don’t need help with bathroom stuff/showers, etc. — it’s the one thing that has held me back. I think it’s a combo of me worried that he wouldn’t be comfortable and me worried that my girls wouldn’t be comfortable, especially b/c space is already tight. It would be interesting to hear from male APs about what they would think about a situation like that.

ReturningHM – I’d like to say I cannot believe that the family of your daughter’s friend won’t let the friend stay at the house when your male AP is home. But people are …. well people have their issues. :)

Seattle Mom December 17, 2014 at 4:27 pm

We also share one bathroom, so that would be interesting for me too. I do sort of figure that if we can share a bathroom with my husband and a female AP, then a male AP shouldn’t be that much different. It’s not like we ever actually use the bathroom at the same time as the AP!

We do have plans for another bathroom in the basement.. someday.. so that might open up some possibilities for us.

NJ Mama December 17, 2014 at 5:41 pm

Good point Seattle Mom!
My H wakes up super early and is often out of the house before the kids and AP get up. Plus he’s an army guy and therefore works out a lot and usually showers at the gym. So I think all of us girls in the house think of it as “our” bathroom — there’s barely room for his razor lol!

That said, I’m sure my H would appreciate another bro in the house. Since we interviewed that one male AP I have looked at other male candidates but never interviewed them. Perhaps next time I will. This is definitely giving me something to think about. Having grown up with 3 brothers (and no sisters) I agree that having a young guy in the house brings a different kind of energy that could make it fun for the kids. Also as kids get older and more independent, they can pick up after themselves and the house cleaning aspect — while important — is a lot different than when you have a little ones who are always making messes.

And yes like you we’ve been planning on adding that bathroom in the basement for years now. Some day!!

EVC December 17, 2014 at 3:24 pm

As a former male au pair, who faced many of the challenges that are being discussed here, it is really nice to see this happening.
I found it immensely frustrating feeling as if I had to fight to do something I was over qualified for. (A year as an outdoor education instructor, four years working in various camp settings and six years experience working with children with disabilities, all concurrently.
When I began looking into au pair programs, I was pretty shocked to see that a lot of agencies will not even accept men. The potentially legal issues aside this seemed very short sighted . Having a male au pair is not for everyone, but it definitely brings a whole different set of skills and viewpoints. I would also argue that generally speaking male au pairs are better qualified to do the job. Since there are so few males au pairs, it is typically something only pursued by men who love caring for children and have significant experience doing so, all of the male au pairs I met during orientation, and since then, had experience and skills above and beyond all but the best female au pairs. I also found it was something that we had all taken time to think through and ensure we were really equipped to do the job, before deciding to take the plunge. Contra to this, I found that there can be a tendency for female au pairs to assume they will be good at taking care of children, simply because they are a woman. This may not always be the case, but is worth considering for families who are willing to consider a male. You may actually end up with someone who has more experience and really sat down and thought out whether they were equipped to be in the position.

Lastly, the point from the OP about a friend of her daughter’s not being allowed to stay frustrates me no end. Somehow so many people still view men who want to care for children other than their own as weird or perverted. I am always curious to know if the people who thought that of me would have a problem when I have my own children, or if there is some little switch the expect to be flipped, changing me from weirdo male caregiver to loving father. The more that can be done to combat the idea that there is anything wrong with a male wishing to be a care provider the better.
Thank you for the post ReturingHM

SingleHM December 18, 2014 at 12:38 am

I am a mom of two boys (9 and 6). I would love to hire a male au pair. Like the OP, when my current AP’s boyfriend came to visit, the boys lit up playing with him and keep asking when he is coming back! I think they are at the age where they would most benefit from one.

However, my kids’ father is uncomfortable with the idea of one. He doesn’t understand why males would want to be au pairs, uneducated and unaware of any opinion other than male au pairs would abuse little boys and personally I think he may feel threatened that the kids would have a better time with one than with him. (But that’s just MY opinion of the situation).

Not to sidetrack, but has anyone else have trouble convincing their spouse, partner, ex to move in this direction and how did you overcome it?


P.s. CV…the links above aren’t working. They are pointing to wp-admin pages…

Should be working December 18, 2014 at 5:00 pm

My spouse will not be moved in this direction, and I’ve tried. We do have a teen daughter and i can imagine she would be uncomfortable–he’d have to be cute enough to be cool but not so cute that she would get crushy. Also I can imagine she wouldn’t want him doing her underwear laundry, which I understand, but then I would have to (WAIT–SHE could do it herself!!).

Amelie December 22, 2014 at 8:59 am

I guess that either with a male or a female au pair, teenagers should do their laundry anyway, shouldn’t them? That could even be a good opportunity to get her started!

futbolmom December 19, 2014 at 8:18 pm

SingleHM-I can’t help you with boys dad feeling “threatened” but I can talk to why guys become au pairs. We have had three male au pairs, all great in different ways. All of them became au pairs primarily to improve their English. One is now an engineer, one wants to be a diplomat and our current is studying public relations. They all saw an excellent command of English as an advantage to getting better jobs in their home countries. This focus on self improvement and working hard to get ahead is a great model for our boys. Any whining about homework is instantly squelched!

Always Hopeful HM December 20, 2014 at 9:41 am

I’m pretty certain males have the same reasons as females for becoming APs. Both of my male APs came during their gap year. The first really just wanted to experience America, meet new people, have new experiences, etc. He happened to love kids and had a great talent for connecting with them, so why not? The second really didn’t know what to do with his gap year, had experience with kids, and wanted to improve his English. Not really different from female au pairs!

Kiki December 20, 2014 at 9:22 am

Although my husband was the one who first suggested we get an au pair, he grew a fit when he found out I was considering male au pairs. I was really open to either gender and given that we were going to be harder to match (bases on location and number of kids) I felt like we had to cast our net wider. Anyway, All he would say is that he didn’t want a guy, but he couldn’t articulate a reason. After a lot of gentle probing (as well as some pretty direct probing because I was starting to lose my patience with him), he finally admitted he wanted to be the only male presence in the house. He was afraid the au pair would do all the fun “dad things” with the kids and then they would be tapped out by the time my husband got home. I pointed out that when we had a nanny, I was never threatened by her “mothering”, and she has a much more gentle, playful demeanor than I do. She fits more of the “mother” stereoty than I do. In my opinion, the more people who love our children, the better off they (and we as parents) are.

Our LCC was helpful in talking to him as we went through the matching process. She said that in her experience, male au pairs aren’t as picky about families because fewer families consider them and they come with less drama. I realize that’s a stereotype, but it really resonated with my husband. He hates drama and I think he imagined having to deal with a female au pair sobbing over a break-up with a boyfriend scared him more than the thought of our boys (who honestly only have eyes for Daddy) possibly being tired of doing “fun dad things”.

In the end, only one female au pair was interested in our family and the rest of the candidates were guys. I interviewed the woman to humor my husband and she was so-so. My husband finally started to realize we were going to have to consider male au pairs to find the right fit for our family. And our current au pair is a good fit and he and my husband get along really well. They’re both super into sports, so my husband finally has someone to watch football with.

Abba December 19, 2014 at 10:49 am

We are considering a male AP, too, for our soon-to-be five-year-old boy/girl twins. I think my son in particular would really benefit from the “male energy” that others have discussed and my daughter would, I think, be fine with either a male or female. My questions have more to do with wondering how a male AP would do socially and if he would be happy in our college town (a great place for the right person but it takes work to get settled, as there is not a large AP community but a small cluster of maybe 5 or so AP’s, all female). Has anyone who’s hosted male AP’s thought about/struggled with/had success with this?

Kiki December 19, 2014 at 2:21 pm

You could pose that as a “challenge question” if you have a top-contender who is male.

I don’t think our au pair ever had close female friends prior to coming to the U.S., (assuming that is cultural) yet now his circle of friends is made up primarily of women because he’s just one of three male au pairs spread across two au pair clusters. He’s particularly close to one of these guys, but regularly socializes with the women in the group as well. While I know he wishes there were more guys, he’s otherwise happy. He’s really social and likes getting out and meeting new people, and honestly, I think he was just relieved to discover there are other au pairs in the area even if most happen to be women. That said, the two other male au pairs are leaving later this winter and will be replaced by female au pairs, leaving our au pair the only guy for possibly the rest of his stay. He and I worry about what that’s going to be like for him, but more so because one of those guys happens to be his best friend here.

Don’t forget about the au pairs your au pair (male or female) makes friends with from the training school. There’s a small group of guys our au pair befriended at the training school and even though they’re scattered all over the country, they keep in pretty good touch via Facebook and such. Six of them are traveling together over spring break and I’m sure many of them will meet up for their travel month at the end of the year. One has flown to visit our au pair and stayed in our home. He was a wonderful house guest and when our au pair asked if he could stay with us again over New Year’s, my usually private husband was all for it because he had seen how happy our au pair was when his friend was visiting.

If there aren’t any other male au pairs, you can facilitate him meeting guys his age outside the au pair community. He has met all sorts of random people. Prior to his arrival, I put it out there that I was looking for folks in their early 20s who’d be willing to show him around and introduce him to people. My co-worker’s son took him out with friends, as did the former student of a friend of mine.

Returning HM December 19, 2014 at 2:47 pm

We do pose this as a question repeatedly during matching. We also live in a college town (of an all-women’s college, though), but we aren’t far from a big New England city, and there are a fair amount of Aps around. I definitely talk to our prospective APs about what their plans would be for making friends and have consciously chosen people who are comfortable befriending females as well as males. Of our three male APs, the first and the current have had exclusively female friends; our current AP was clear that this is the case in his home country as well. While we have had a few other male APs over here and there, he pretty much always has female APs around. He is the founder/organizer of one of the biggest AP Facebook pages, so this should say something about his personality – he is super social and super connected. For traveling, he posted on FB that he wanted to go to Florida over Christmas week and asked if anyone wanted to join him, and he got dozens of replies from other APs who are also going, so now it’s a big group. I suppose it doesn’t hurt that he is a very cute 21 year old guy — can imagine a lot of the female APs were happy to join him for a FL outing :-)

Our one male AP who was more comfortable with male than females ended up making friends outside of the AP program. He played soccer and handball, and he formed several friendships this way. Our first AP also played soccer and worked out in the gym 3 hrs a day, and he made friends that way as well. So it hasn’t been hard at all for these APs to connect with others, but I do talk about it during matching and ask a lot of questions about their plans for making connections and forming friendships, so they are clear going in that they may need to do some extra “work” on this end compared to the females.

That said, one thing we have noticed is that in all the years (midway through 8) we have been hosting, we have never seen as many welcome calls and come-join-for-coffee invitations as we have for our three male APs. Again, may have something to do with their being good-looking and athletic guys in a primarily female AP-world, or it may be that the APs in our town have just turned out to be particularly welcoming. Not sure, but either way, it’s worked well for our guys. :-)

Returning HM December 19, 2014 at 2:55 pm

I forgot to add that I agree with Kiki – they make friends in training school as well. Our AP last year became friendly with another male AP during training school, and they ended up traveling to each other’s cities and then for a week’s vacation together. The funny thing was that we had also interviewed this other male AP, so it was very nice to get to meet him (and see him happily settled with his family) even though we didn’t select him. :-)

Always Hopeful HM December 20, 2014 at 9:56 am

This was a big concern of mine each time we matched with male au pairs. Our female au pair had a difficult time finding a good circle of friends, so I was especially sensitive to how much more difficult it might be for a male. I also figured that some families with female APs may not allow male APs to visit, potentially making naturally occurring friendships more awkward. Like others have said, I address these concerns during matching, asking lots of questions to elicit info about their “friendship-making style.” Mainly, I wanted to make sure the AP fully understood that he could be walking into a situation where other males might be hard to find.mFirst AP turned out to be a social butterfly, making AP and non AP male and female friends easily, and even taking it upon himself to welcome newly arriving au pairs and introduce to the group (after a while, our AD just started forwarding him names of arriving APs and asking him to reach out to them). His closest couple of friends were female. Second AP has fewer AP friends, but has made a solid group of friends (mostly male) through church and sports. I’ve concluded that the ability to make friends is really going to depend more on the personality and resourcefulness of the AP, rather than the gender.

German Au-Pair December 20, 2014 at 7:22 pm

I can tell you that when a guy was added to our cluster we all welcomed him well. He was not terribly looking but we didn’t know that when we invited him to come. In my experience most APs realize that we’re all in the same boat so we open ourselves up to new APs more than some of us would in the real world. We welcomed him and he hung out with us. Depending on the character of the guy, he might enjoy partying with a pack of girls or even go shopping with them (yes, stereotype, but many are gay…ours happened not to be) or female APs enjoy the fact that most guys are less drama…I really don’t think being a guy makes it harder to find a group of friends. If it changes anything, it may even make it easier, because you are the shiny new toy and everyone wants to meet you so you get a good overview and can choose who suits your character best…

Should be working December 20, 2014 at 4:32 pm

A question I’ve been saving for Open Thread, but given the season there might not be one of these for awhile:

We’re starting to look for summer matching (I like early birds, well organized APs!). Every year it seems that we are more and more rejected by APs because our kids are “older” (10 and 14). I understand why this might be–most APs have more experience with younger kids and the program info mostly shows younger kids. Also our countries-of-choice tend to have 18-19 yr old APs, and so they are extra-unlikely to have much experience with teens.

Our letter is very descriptive of each kid, positive but honest. I’m wondering if I should say IN the letter, “Some APs hesitate to take a HF with older kids, but let us tell you about the advantages…” or something like that? Then again, we don’t want to come off as softies.

On the other hand, I do believe that some of the APs that turned us down owing to age of kids probably didn’t realize that there are distinct advantages to older kids–you can really do stuff with them, they will remember you, they don’t need constant watching.

DowntownMom December 20, 2014 at 5:06 pm

I like your idea of mentioning the advantages of watching older kids. We do that with our one perceived negative (“The advantage of this is …”). At the same time, we overemphasize several negatives.

German Au-Pair December 20, 2014 at 7:30 pm

I matched with the same age even though I was aming for 6-ish. Everything else convinced me.
I believe the main concern is that you want to actually do stuff with the kids rather than just being a driver and organizer. A friend of mine was not allowed to help with homework and really only drove the kids around. That’s boring as hell and it’s also not easy to build a relationship with the kids under those circumstances.
If that’s the case with your kids, I would indeed emphasize the advantages.
If your kids want and need more attention from the AP, that is what I would emphasize.
From what I’ve grasped in the AP communities, many fear (or actually experience) a great attitute of entitlement from teenage kids like “why should I do that? you are paid to do it!” It might be helpful to add something like “while the AP has chores XY, the kids are expected to do Z” or whatever suits your case.

AlwaysHopeful HM December 21, 2014 at 10:30 am

I would absolutely point out the benefits of older kids, but I suggest beginning in a more neutral manner. Maybe something along the lines of “over the years, APs in our family have found that there are unique advantages and disadvantages associated with each age group. With that in mind, our family is currently best suited for an au pair who appreciates [identify advantages], and would be able to handle [identify disadvantages].” That way, an au pair candidate can consider the pros and cons cleanly without the background thought lurking “they said some APs hesitate…what am I missing? I don’t want to fall into a trap!”

AlwaysHopeful HM December 21, 2014 at 12:23 pm

“Are you up to the challenge?” I love the way that is phrased! I’m pretty certain we’re heading to rematch with our current AP. It will be our second in as many APs, and I really want to make sure the next person we get wants to be with our family and follow our rules!!

One thing about not identifying perks right away… with my current agency, HFs complete an online profile made available to the au pairs that covers a lot of the perks/ conditions au pairs want to know about (car use, curfew, weekends on or off, etc.). So the au pairs know these things before they even respond to your initial email. I think it’s a mistake– it’s too easy to be blinded by the perks a family offers rather than considering the family itself, but it is what it is.

AlwaysHopeful HM December 21, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Oops- I meant for this to follow TACL’s post!

Taking a Computer Lunch December 21, 2014 at 10:37 am

Since you are searching so early, you have the luxury of matching with someone who wants to do the job rather than begging someone to do it. Don’t beg. Instead, I’d recommend posing a challenge in your initial email. “Are you up to the challenge of caring for older children, who want someone willing to be more than a chauffeur? Are you ready to serve as a role model?”

As my kids have aged, I’ve actually stripped some of the perks of matching with us out of the initial email – no mention of the “au pair car,” what my LCC calls the “light duty” hours (6:00-8:30 and 3:15-5:30), family holidays in destination cities, and a generous attitude toward hosting friends and family. Instead, they get offered all of the challenges – caring for a teenager still in diapers. I want to know that the candidate is interested and willing to care for my child before I offer the perks – she’ll know about them before she matches, but I don’t want her coming for them and discover she’s disappointed that there’s a job involved, too (because believe me, that’s happened).

Multitasking Host Mom December 21, 2014 at 2:05 pm

I am glad that SBW brought up this topic, since my kids are getting older (almost middle school age) and evolving past that cuddly stage;) that so many au pairs enjoy. But my worries are more like what TACL talks about. I don’t want to attract an au pair who thinks that older kids, who are somewhat self sufficient, and with a “light schedule” of working hours (just before and after school mostly) would mean that the AP will not be coming here to work a job. They will still need to interact with my children, just in a different way than when they were younger. On the other hand, I worry that the au pair will get bored with six hours during the day, while kids are in school, with nothing to do. I feel like for my next matching search which will start in a couple months, that I am almost looking for a whole new kind of au pair than I was searching for in the past. Anyone else had to deal with this transition from younger to older kids with their au pairs?

Taking a Computer Lunch December 22, 2014 at 8:09 am

My take is that each year my kids’ needs shift – even The Camel. I look at my HF letter and I think about the changes I need to make to reflect how our lives differ.

For the past 9 years I have only had school-aged children. How my APs have filled the 6 1/2 hours between the time the last bus departs and the first one arrives has varied over the years. Some invited friends to hang out (fine with me but may not be okay with everyone), some have gone to the gym, some took long walks, some volunteered, and more than one slept (we don’t give our APs a curfew, so more than one used it to compensate for late-night activities).

Any time a vehicle is involved, I start or end the AP shift when she either must get into the car to initiate an activity or the time when she is likely to be able to return home. For example, four days a week my current AP drives the middle school carpool. In order to get there by 3:00, she must leave the house by 2:30, so her shift starts at 2:30, not 3:00. I know I have that luxury, because I don’t come close to using my 45 hours.

I do honor the State Department’s 1 1/2 days off each work by not booking my AP to work more than 5 hours on the weekend. If I really want her to work a full day at the weekend, then either DH or I take an AM or PM shift.

During the summer, of course, our needs change – and I give the AP about a 3-month heads up that she will be working close to 45 hours each week (but the bonus is that she’s guaranteed the weekends off). I do tell the AP that all of her vacation time must be taken during the school year or whenever I manage to send both kids to camp in the summer. After paying for drivers and caregivers for a week in the summer, I’ll never do it again. By mid-April if all the vacation time is not booked, I’ll warn the AP that I’ll pick the week for them if they won’t do it!

AlwaysHopeful HM December 22, 2014 at 9:48 am

I’ve only ever had an an AP for a school aged child. I incorporate questions about how the AP will fill that gap in my match questions. He or she may not really know yet, but I think just asking the question helps them realize there will be a big gap in the day that can be mind-numbing if one is not proactive about taking advantage of the time.

One thing I might add to my next intro letter is that there are certain unique challenges to being in a family with an only child. My sense is that some APs see “only child, school age” and think this wil be a cushy setup. In some ways, i think it can be harder. Yes, siblings fight and sometimes go off in different directions, but the relationship with an only child can be very intense, because he does not have the distraction of a sibling. As I’ve learned, this intensity can either lead to a strong relationship or completely overwhelm the caregiver! Has anyone addreseed single child challenges in their letters?

Should be working December 21, 2014 at 3:15 pm

Here’s my new formulation–thanks! *Fake names!

Our energetic son Felix* (age 9) loves Legos, dinosaurs, building things, and playing complicated strategy games. He wants our au pair to share his enthusiasm for these games, to play with him outside and to talk with him about what he learns in school. Our sensitive and sociable daughter Sophia (age 14) likes dance, clothes, baking, and above all being with her friends. She is a budding teenager, which means her friends and her appearance are very important to her. For Sophia* it is very important to have an au pair who remembers what it is like to be 14 and how intense life is at that age, but also has enough distance on adolescence to provide a calm perspective and wise advice. Are you willing to take on the challenge of being an au pair for older children–to be their role model, to help them navigate the mixed-up process of adolescence and to support them as they develop more and more autonomy? Our 4 wonderful au pairs have truly become part of their lives and memories forever, shaping their perspectives in a special way that we value and seek to continue with our next au pair.

AlwaysHopeful HM December 21, 2014 at 3:44 pm

This sounds awesome to me! I want to be your au pair! :)

NJ Mama December 22, 2014 at 11:31 am

I completely agree. I had to learn the hard way that it’s best not to oversell yourself. (Once again… really wish I found this blog – and TACL’s great advice — years ago!)

When I was in my unlucky rematch after rematch stretch, I realized that one of the big problems was that we were getting au pairs who looked at our situation as a cushier one, b/c our kids were older, they rarely had to work 45-hour weeks, we live close to NYC, we give our APs their own car, etc. And the reason they saw that is b/c we were trying so hard to sell ourselves. Now I turn it around and mention the drawbacks first — we don’t live in a big house, we all share a bathroom, we have a curfew, etc., then go on about the perks of our location. I’ll also say that my older daughter is very independent and self sufficient, but she also has anxiety. I’ll mention that the hours in the summer are usually less than the school year — but that the AP will have to work a later shift and will likely not be done at night until 830/9 pm. That sort of thing. I remember it really stung the first time we got really close to matching with a great au pair, but she went with another family who gave her more perks. But then I realized that it was better to be turned down up front than to go through rematch again.

The other thing I emphasized this last time around was that I was looking for an au pair who was willing to find ways to bond with my older daughter. I said outright that this could be difficult and gave examples of ways APs have successfully bonded with her in the past. [I really really like the “Are you up for the challenge?” approach and will definitely steal that the next time around.] The amazing AP we got took this very seriously, and she worked very hard to establish a bond with my older daughter before she arrived. They emailed each other a lot and read the same books – that sort of thing. It was really wonderful.

finally – and I think I read this on this blog somewhere — but as my kids have gotten older I’ve looked for APs who had a lot of siblings and said I was looking for someone who could come in like a big sister — but be the big sister who is in charge. Yes, the big sister will have to do all the driving. And while she’ll be the one responsible for doing the laundry and cleaning up after meals, I wanted her to approach that part of the job as overseeing the operations of my house. So I want her to make sure that the kids put away their own laundry, cleaned their rooms and took their plates to the sink (b/c they’re still too short to put dishes away without climbing). This can be harder than it sounds! And it’s definitely a work in progress. But I also think it’s important b/c it’s another way of treating the AP like a member of the family and not like an employee. And for us at least, an AP that wants to be part of our family has always worked out better than one who doesn’t.

AlwaysHopeful HM December 22, 2014 at 1:26 pm

NJ Mama, and others who have dealt with back-to-back rematches: how do you handle requests to speak with former APs?

NJ Mama December 22, 2014 at 3:43 pm

Thankfully before my back-to-back rematches I had two wonderful APs. So I offered to put candidates in touch with them. Most of the candidates that I had interviewed in rematch were also in rematch, and none of them ever asked to talk to the APs that didn’t work out. Also I was with APC at the time, and they didn’t let families contact families (or AP candidates to talk to rematch APs). I’m not sure how I would have handled that request.

I also tried very hard not to badmouth the rematch APs. I presented the issues we had to the new candidates as, “Here were the challenges we faced before, and this is why I think it didn’t work out. How would you handle X, Y, and Z?” I think in the early rematches I felt very pressed to rematch quickly b/c we just didn’t have long-term backup childcare and no family members in the area. There were also a lot of good candidates in the rematch pool, so my husband and I were definitely more in the sales mode. As time passed and we had so much trouble we just slowed it all down, took our time and honest to god, it was like we were convincing the APs not to match with us. I think in some ways I then went overboard in that direction. But I did that because my first rematch in my chain of bad luck would always find our new APs on FB or through friends from her cluster. She said awful things about my kids and also made it sound like it was so easy to rematch, and I didn’t think that the subsequent APs gave us a fair shake. That was a very difficult time. And I think the reason we finally broke the cycle was because I swung so far the other way, so when we finally got a good AP who worked out, she trusted us and didn’t pay attention to all the talk.

I will say that I did have to look for a rematch in mid November and there were so few in-country candidates to choose from, and many I had to disqualify b/c I needed a driver, and a lot of the candidates who were in rematch had gotten into accidents and what not. We did end up going out of country – although that was also hard, because everything at the agency level sort of shuts down from mid December until the first or second week of January (ie, no new candidates are flying in). And who wants to be interviewing around the holidays and New Year (that went for us as a host family as well as the APs). Rematch … it’s just hard for everyone. It’s difficult – and expensive – to patch together childcare for 6-8 weeks.

Ok I guess you can all tell that it’s a slow time at work for NJ Mama lol! I’ll stop babbling now

Anonymous this time around December 23, 2014 at 10:32 am

In the interest of not being identified by my au pairs or LCC, I’ve not mentioned in my posts the two rematches we’ve had. Both were au pairs that were ill-suited to the program and returned home within a few weeks of their arrival citing homesickness. Although it was incredibly difficult, I worked as hard as I possibly could to maintain good relations with these two the entire time – through their lack of engaging with our kids from their first days, through their total lack of interest in forming their own lives in the US, through their announcement that they were leaving and through their actual departure. I figured I had two choices – (a) be the bigger person and perhaps maintain some semblance of relationship in case I needed to rely on it later or (b) make sure this immature and essentially selfish person knew I was really pissed about her choices and their costs to our family, but burn the relationship.

I saw no point in choosing (b) since I figured if they saw me angry about their choice to bail, they would just use it as fodder that I was a mean, bad host mom and that’s why they were leaving. So I chose (a) and am so glad I did.

When we are about to match with a new au pair, I send them contact information for literally every one of our previous au pairs. I give a little information about each of them in the email – about why we loved each of them, why they were a good fit for our family, how our relationship with them has continued through the years; or, on the flip side, why they weren’t a good fit and that they did ultimately decide to return home.

I personally think our record speaks for itself – multiple au pairs who count their au pair year as the best of their lives, whom we still exchange packages with on birthdays and holidays and Skype with frequently. And two au pairs who never gave us a chance. None of the candidates for whom I’ve taken this approach have ever contacted the au pairs that left.

I’m mostly for being the bigger person and for total honesty and transparency. If any candidate is scared off by this approach or doesn’t understand that two bad experiences doesn’t mean we’re bad host parents, then I’m not interested in them anyway.

cv harquail December 22, 2014 at 7:35 pm

Sorry- really overwhelmed here. If I could just find some scotch tape and the kitchen scissors, I could get all these gifts wrap and sit down for a break in front of the keyboard. But no.
I think I am buying every. other. person. in this household his or her own scissors and tape dispenser.

OpinionatedHM December 23, 2014 at 11:05 am

Hah! I finally did that last year. I am not kidding. Costco. Pack of ten rolls scotch tape and pack of 5 scissors. I have a bin that holds the tubes of wrapping paper upright and I put the scissors through the hole in the tape dispenser and then into the top of the wrapping paper tube.

Susannah December 28, 2014 at 11:55 pm

I’ve worked as a sleepaway camp counselor with 8,9,14, and 12 year olds in respective 6 week-long- sessions, and its actually because of that experience that I’m going to request older children, probably 9-16 when I apply to become an au pair in future years. My reasoning for this is similar to what has been described above/below. You get to guide them through figuring out how to have a grown-up conversation and solve more complex conflicts in a way that isnt as present in the under 8 set. It has been really rewarding to me to feel as if i get to help young people figure out how to be in a world that’s usually very different from their home environments, and to guide them through all of the choices that start to make up adulthood. Do i eat more than just a piece of white bread for lunch? Do I sign up for that hiking trip although i’ve never spent a night in the woods before and I’m scared? Do i forgive my friend for tracking mud over my towel that i left on the ground outside? How do i remember to not leave my towell on the ground outside? Although I’m very open to younger children, and I’ve really enjoyed the work that i’ve done with 0-5 year olds, the chance to feel like a role model and to get to help kids figure out how they’re going to navigate the adult world is rewarding if given a chance.
I would try to emphasize the chance to develop a more adult relationship with older kids, and the benefits of getting to help them with more than basic needs.

ProPair December 21, 2014 at 11:08 am

As an au pair (and I think I speak for others as well) I would LOVE to see more families embrace male au pairs. I lived in a small village of 300 in the Netherlands, along with two other au pairs. Coincidentally, we were all hosted by two-girl, one-boy families. The topic came up on more than one occasion and we all agreed that our boys would benefit from male au pairs for a variety of reasons (sometimes they felt left out being the only boy, all three fathers worked very hard and the boys missed them, all three were highly sensitive and needed the security of a male acknowledging that feelings aren’t “for girls”) as well as the girls (again, they missed their dads while they were busy with work, and 5/6 of the girls would never otherwise have an “older brother”).

I have to admit, I missed my male friends at home, and frankly, as much as I love my au pair friends and believe they will last a lifetime, hanging out with exclusively girls is exhausting. Boy drama, struggling to find a gym companion or someone to see a soccer match with, all made me secretly hope that a nearby host family would one day adopt a fabled ” bro pair”.

Should be working December 24, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Unrelated note:

Some people don’t like CCAP’s exclusive matching system, I love it and have found it incredibly useful–no competition, forcing me to evaluate each candidate on her/his own merits as opposed to comparing apples and oranges. BUT CCAP appears to have just introduced a new feature where they post “pending” applications to their search-and-select function. This means that some of the candidates appearing there now have no letter to the host family, no DiSC profile, or other key items.

I wrote to CCAP to complain. The placement manager has explained that this new feature is only for families with very specialized needs–except the pending APs don’t, from what I see, have any particular special qualities, not IQ, not special-needs/disability care.

What it means, from what I can tell, is that CCAP can show dozens and dozens of candidates who can be snapped up into exclusive matching, and once their documents are complete the match can be completed without anyone else ever seeing the profile. Which in turn means that the snap-up process will be mainly based on PHOTOS!

Photos are huge, indeed, as we all know. They show the candidate’s judgment in presenting her/himself and can be read really carefully by savvy HPs. But a complete application is a complete application, and anything less is not. Posting APs with incomplete applications seems shabby business practice.

Just letting you all know!

AlwaysHopeful HM December 24, 2014 at 5:00 pm

This does sound bad, but it’s similar to how host family apps are handled as well. When I signed up with CCAP, I was able to search with almost none of my HF info filled out. APs who responded to my requests were walking in nearly blind (basically just HF letter, basic demographics and some pics). I had to complete the app before I could finalize a match, but that hardly seems fair. In my defense, I send a redacted version of my handbook once I determine that I want to keep exploring a potential match, and the handbook pretty much covers everything in the app. Still, it seemed a little unfair that incomplete profiles (like mine) should be allowed to go live. So maybe this move is CCAP’s attempt to even out the unfairness!

HRHM December 26, 2014 at 11:01 am

This is just an attempt to “move the meat” faster by CC. Let’s not forget, this is a business and they only make money once a match is formed. The more matches they move through the system, the more money they make. They don’t lose much money on a rematch, especially if they can find some other, unsuspecting family to foist the poorly prepared AP onto.

Who are the families who are willing to start a match based on pictures alone. Other than seeing that the AP isn’t stupid enough to pose with a red Solo cup and a baby tee, what does the picture tell you?

Should be working December 26, 2014 at 1:00 pm

I certainly agree that photos are not nearly enough to initiate a match. But photos tell me a LOT. I don’t even want to post about it on here because I’m afraid the applicants or agencies might pick up on this and thus the “diagnostic” uses of the photos will be reduced. Broadly speaking, the photos tell me about an AP’s personal style, her self-presentation, her friends, her family, and above all about her judgment–what she includes (and excludes) says a whole lot. Even small things say a lot–e.g. I’m not willing to accept a blonde applicant who wears heavy, dark eyeliner all the time. Probably lots of HFs don’t care about that, which is fine. I have a blonde, preteen, makeup-obsessed daughter to contend with, so I’m sensitive to that admittedly superficial criterion.

I easily click “delete” on tons of applicants quickly based on their photos. It is a great first criterion for review for me, since the letters and recommendations are so very similar to one another.

AlwaysHopeful HM December 26, 2014 at 2:43 pm

Photos and videos make a huge difference for me also, especially for ruling out. When I am not feeling desperate, and can take my time in matching, i study photos and videos very closely before moving on to read any applications. When I’ve had less time, the photos have still been important, but I’ve tended to review the more quickly and not get the same level of information from them. Among other things, I look for family dynamics and to see if the AP seems to be truly delighted by the children in the photos, rather than just smiling for the photo. These two things are at least as important to me as a lot of what’s in the written application. Also, when I’m comparing a couple of applicants, photos or video may break the tie. Until I speak with the applicant, either by skype or email, I can’t really get meaningful info other than the basics anyway, so I just use the application and photos/videos to get a feel for the person and get the real info through interviewing. By the way, the blond hair/ makeup comment made me chuckle. One of the things that are a “rule-out” for me is obviously dyed hair, or pics of the AP with numerous hair colors. I haven’t had a problem with hair dye and an AP but I’ve heard enough stories here to be wary!

TexasHM December 26, 2014 at 5:05 pm

I noticed the new CC “application pending” profiles as well but I was surprised that the vast majority of the information seems to be filled out even for these candidates. I have a couple I am looking at now and the only thing they are missing are their DISC profile and perhaps a video but some don’t do videos ever so I can’t really say if their info is incomplete or not. I definitely agree that it would be more convenient to just have everything finished before they post and you can select at the top (or deselect) pending applications but so far I haven’t seen much of a difference between these candidates and the “cleared” candidates honestly except maybe the app pending candidates have talked to less host families. I wish CCAP would make them all do videos, I find that to be a really helpful tool in weeding out (vs trying to read everything on every profile to get a feel).

Leaving a Comment December 29, 2014 at 3:19 am

I’m a HM with “very specialized needs”. When you look for a great driver speaking a particular not commonly spoken language and you happen to have a child under 2, that makes the pool so small that you may suddenly find yourself asking the agency staff whether they have any pending applications meeting your basic criteria queued up. So there you go. I’m not looking now, but I like the feature already based on your description.

Professional Juggler January 19, 2015 at 9:15 am

We have just matched with our first Male Au Pair (I am a single Mom with a 10-year old son) and we are very excited! Our previous Female Au Pair, I have to admit, while super reliable and fairly organised, seemed to have no genuine interest in children (at best, I would say she tolerates them as a means to an end, etc.)!! On top of that, she had little or no interest in our lives but could talk forever about hers and in many respects, it was all about her, her friends, her social life. Towards the end, I started to feel resentful and frankly, used, especially because she had a really easy time at our home (we are fairly laid-back, not to mention, generous and there was minimal house chores to be done and she knew that too when compared to her AP friends’ experiences).

While I don’t have a daughter myself, there are lots of young women/females in late teens in the family circle and I have to admit that my single AP experience has affected how I see them and question to what extent they are being raised as ‘Princesses’ who think the world revolves around them and who are accustomed to being waited on and catered for constantly by Mom & Dad??

Anyway, we are now moving on to a Male Au Pair for many reasons. Like others, they were lots of raised eyebrows among family and friends when I announced that our next Au Pair is male, mainly because most of them have never even heard of the concept! But from reading what everyone here has to say, I am honestly expecting it to be a better fit for our family. I am actually curious to see how a young man will manage in this situation and I am really hoping he will bring the Triple-E factor: Energetic, Enthusiastic and Easy-Going (I will let you know!).

Professional Juggler January 19, 2015 at 9:19 am

p.s. And maybe a little less selfish too?!! :)

Nina January 21, 2015 at 12:29 pm

So we just matched with our first male au pair. We’ve been interviewing for months and just couldn’t find the right match, mostly with female au pairs (a lot of them) and then with 2 male au pairs. We had few more weeks left and we were nervous we wouldn’t find a better candidate and this male au pair has the right experience, great references that I all checked, BUT..But my husband doesn’t like his hyper energy and thinks he is immature, but he went with the decision cause I liked him. I did like him, but maybe I didn’t invest enough time as I just got tired of interviewing?
I am now worried that maybe I was just too impressed by his experience and references and dreamy about my boys having a boy au pair maybe I didn’t talk to him enough. And the other good girl candidate, great personality didn’t have such good experience. I spoke to him twice for an hour on phone and twice on skype. So now I am going back in my head and analyzing his answers and wonder if he is responsible enough and mature enough? He just came across so relaxed, which makes me a bit nervous. So, I don’t know I guess I am wondering if male au pair interview differently than female au pairs…

Did I make a rash decision? Any input on male au pairs aside from above would be helpful. Would you say the male au pairs communication style is same as girls?

Emerald City HM January 21, 2015 at 12:42 pm

We are interviewing male au pairs for the first time so I don’t have any experience with actually matching with one. I have found myself wondering if they are just telling me what they want to hear to find a match. However, I’ve realized, thinking about our previous au pairs that females do this too and I try to ground myself and not try to hold male candidates to a different standard than I would a female. If that makes sense.

Nina January 21, 2015 at 1:04 pm

Thank you Emerald City

I know I was thinking about that as well. It’s just that I worry if I got influenced by my and kids desire to have a male au pair for a change, after almost 9 female au pairs some great and some less now it felt the kids really needed someone who gets them more, their silly jokes and energy level as well.

Returning HM January 21, 2015 at 4:40 pm

I have interviewed five male APs over the years: Two each time we matched from out of country and one in rematch when our first male AP tore his ACL. I cannot say there were any commonalities that made their interviews particularly “male” at all. In fact, the thing that struck me the most was that when we picked our first male, I stopped thinking of him as MALE and really thought of him as just a great future au pair. The only one of our male APs who remained a MALE AP to me was the one I picked in rematch — while he was a perfectly fine au pair, he wasn’t anyone I would have picked from out of country at all.

Professional Juggler January 21, 2015 at 12:35 pm

Nina, how old is the Au Pair you have chosen?

From my experience, boys I interviewed came across as more ‘honest’, as in ‘real’ so I would think that what you see is what you get..

Nina January 21, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Professional Juggler: he is 22.

Hope you are right!

TexasHM January 21, 2015 at 3:58 pm

Nina, it’s never too late to send a challenge email (IMHO). You might say you are super excited but you also want to make sure he knows how much responsibility this is, what your expectations are and that he feels prepared to take this on. Hopefully he will perk up and maturely respond and address your concerns in a way that inspires your confidence and he will be aware of your concern and work to make sure it doesn’t become prophesy. :). Plus it starts the communication cycle and you can see how he handles that and set the tone for open and frank communication.

TexasHM January 21, 2015 at 4:01 pm

Assuming you know your AP criteria go back through his profile and check it back against your criteria now that the emotion has cooled. I find that the great APs I like more each time we chat over time and rereading their profile makes me more excited remembering all the reasons I reached out to them originally, do you feel like it’s progressing that way?

Returning HM January 21, 2015 at 5:38 pm

I agree completely. Only one of our out-of-country APs did I have qualms about, and the closer it came to her arrival, the more I worried that I had picked badly and just gotten tired of interviewing. You know what? I did pick badly because I had gotten tired of interviewing. She was not a good fit for our family, for all the reasons i worried about during those months between matching and arrival. Now, she completed her year with us and DID become a good AP, but this process was the subject of a LOOONG post on here about all the steps needed to help coach a so-so AP to become decent. So, my advice: DO push this with your future AP. Have a conversation about your expectations and what will be needed to do a good job in your home. If AP doesn’t seem to get it or understand what your concerns are, I would pull the plug. Seriously. It’s never too late and your chosen AP can go back to the matching pool.

Nina January 21, 2015 at 10:34 pm

Texas HM and Returning HM – thanks for the advice. I was thinking about it as well, but now I’ll definitely send and email and see how he responds.

When I look at his application I still see the facts why I chose him and I chose him mostly because I feel he would be a good fit for the kids and has good experience. Also his references all stated that he is responsible, still I am not sure if it’s his communication style or what he didn’t try to convince me so far that he is responsible. I think I’ll ask him to describe specifically what makes him a responsible person. Thanks so much!

Professional Juggler January 22, 2015 at 11:38 am

I agree too, Nina, the direct approach is always best (especially if there is a language barrier). Spell out your expectations and 22, I believe, is an age where he should be easily able to handle both the responsibility of the role, but also your honest communication.

Best of luck! Our 22-year old (first) male AP arrives on Sunday :)

NINA January 25, 2015 at 5:35 pm

Just giving an update: I emailed him, spoke to him and feel much more confident in our decision!! Thanks for all the help.

Should be working January 30, 2015 at 12:53 pm

A week or so ago I posted on my dalliance with the idea of a match with an au pair way out of our usual categories–gender, nationality, religion, and DiSC profile. It was interesting, but ultimately too big a reach.

Now I find myself looking at male au pairs very much WITHIN our usual profiles. My husband doesn’t love the idea, I think he enjoys having another woman around the house (in a very correct way, don’t get me wrong, but he does get along better in all realms with women than with men). Meanwhile I was feeling like my sons would love it, my teen daughter might have a lot less competitiveness/drama, and so on.

But what I also realized is that I FEEL like managing a male au pair would be easier for me. The girls get into drama, they get resentful, and ultimately I think I am not as good at taking on a “boss” role with them (and maybe they don’t like being “bossed” by me or by a woman, not sure what it is). Things always start well (note recent thread on how some of us are intimidating in interviewing and turn into softies over the first few months). But then when everything slides, and AP gets sulky or I have to remind her about duties and stuff, it just never keeps the same energy.

Am I imagining it, or would a male au pair be less complicated? 2 of our previous APs have advised a male au pair. They say they are really dutiful, less drama, you can tell them what to do and they are fine with it. They are just less emotionally complicated. Is it true? My feminist self tells me it can’t be true. But from a management/HM perspective, are the male au pairs “easier” to manage?

ProPair January 30, 2015 at 1:13 pm

I have a hard time accepting this too, but I think it is partly true. The qualities my host family liked best about them were probably things that are easier to find in men. They liked that I didn’t mind dirt, that I showed up to work in old jeans and a sweatshirt and that I had no qualms about handling garden snails and killing spiders. They also liked my “dutiful” approach to the schedule; dinner at 5:30, bed at 7:00, and if the parents came home late it wasn’t a problem. I feel like this is generally a more “masculine” attitude.

They REALLY didn’t like that my room was a mess-but I think that one can go either way.

AlwaysHopeful HM January 30, 2015 at 11:14 pm

While I think there may be an “estrogen conflict” dynamic with a female au pair, I wouldn’t count on male au pairs necessarily being easier than female, or having any particular characteristics. My 2 male au pairs have been as different as can be. Our current au pair is much more emotionally needy than either my previous male or female au pairs. He also spends a tremendous amount of time in the bathroom getting his hair blow dried properly and applying the right lotions, sprays and other products (whereas previous male au pair often smelled like…boy) :)

Current au pair has always accepted feedback graciously (although sometimes a bit defensively), but so did my other 2 au pairs. Honestly, each au pair has been so different from the others, that I don’t think it’s a male/female thing; I just think it’s an individual personality thing.

Returning HM January 31, 2015 at 10:18 am

The feminist in me didn’t want to accept this either, but it is true in our experience. We hosted female APs for 6 years and now are on our second year of male APs (we had two last year due to one tearing his ACL in month six). We are now dithering about what to do for next year — my almost teenager daughter very much wants a female and my son (who is 98% of the AP job due to my daughter’s school and sports schedule) very much wants a male. I was feeling like it was only fair to go back to a female since my daughter wanted one so much, but honestly, *I* am having a hard time facing the return, for just the reasons you specified. Males, in our experience (with an N of 3, so take with a huge grain of salt), are simply much, much easier than females. We loved most of our female APs in the six years we hosted them, but MY job was so much harder with the females, and I am not sure *I* want to go back to that.

SBW – you’re the DISC lover, right? I have become a convert too. The male DISCs – at least those of the males we consider – are just SO much different from the average female DISC. I am not by any means arguing that there are differences between males and females fundamentally. Just in our experience, the KIND of males who choose to become APs, when I consider the tiny subset of them whose applications I consider, have very different (and more harmonious to our family structure) DISC profiles than the average female AP candidate we consider.

Returning HM January 31, 2015 at 10:20 am

Just to be clear: My “this is true” referred to SBW’s query about whether males were easier to “manage” as APs.

Should be working January 31, 2015 at 12:41 pm

Thanks ReturningHM. Yes, I am realizing that me wanting to try a boy AP is not just about how my son would love a boy AP and my daughter might be less b*tchy with them. I can so easily imagine myself directing a boy AP without any of the inner conflict I get into when it comes to motivating/correcting/handling our female APs–even the ones I love.

About the DiSC: Do you mean that the boy APs have more of the patient/social DiSCs and the girls have more goal-oriented/achievement ones? This would make sense. But I suppose you could just look for girls with the DiSCs that have worked for you (I exclude all but 3-4 DiSC profiles no matter how good the pictures and everything else is).

Last night I was poring over all the posts here on male au pairs and I found my own repeated comments about how I would love to have one but DH is against. Guess what, DH for work will be away next year for 4-5 months (with visits). I’m not sure, for the sake of marital harmony, whether I should leverage that particular piece of info in this selection process.

Returning HM January 31, 2015 at 1:01 pm

“About the DiSC: Do you mean that the boy APs have more of the patient/social DiSCs and the girls have more goal-oriented/achievement ones?”

Yes, this is exactly what I mean. For whatever reason, the female APs with the kind of experience and interests I gravitate towards tend to be goal- and achievement-oriented, and the male APs with similar experience (high level involvement in a sport, a lot of work experience, long days (often 24 hrs/ for a couple of weeks) in a camp experience, etc) tend to be social and laid back. I really can’t explain why this is, but it’s pretty standard for me to love a female application but not think the DISC is all that compatible but then love a male application and find that the DISC is pretty much perfect for us.

hOstCDmom January 31, 2015 at 2:30 pm

CAVEAT: serious speculation to follow; but with some basis having had both multiple male and multiple female APs, and from personally having lived in 8 different countries, from US to W Europe, to Central Europe to Central Asia.

Maybe to be an AP, for a female, candidates have to have a personality inclined to buck certain social norms about “what girls do” (i.e. to leave home for a year and be independent) that makes them more goal/achievement oriented; but for a male to be an AP, in particular from all but the most “liberal” W European countries in respect of roles for men (i.e. all but perhaps the “Denmarks, Swedens”), male APs have to contravene DIFFERENT social norms i.e. goal oriented men in most cultures would not choose childcare as a vocation, even for a year abroad, but men who are relaxed, laid back and don’t as strongly share their respective cultures notion of what is a “goal oriented, achieving man”, are more likely to choose to be APs? and more likely to be laid back, less rigid personalities?

SKNY February 1, 2015 at 7:53 am

I would love to try a male Au pair but having 4 girls (an 18yo and 3 under 5 who still need different levels of bathroom help ) can’t get my husband to agree.
On the other note: SBW I am more and more interested in disk profiles. You should write a guest comment on it. I have so many questions.
CV would it be possible to open a topic on this? I have many questions but don’t want to hijack other topics

Should be working February 1, 2015 at 1:16 pm

Ha, I’m the hijacker. I’m imagining other HMs seeing my name on a comment and rolling their eyes and gagging at the thought of another DiSC plug!!!

AlwaysHopeful HM February 1, 2015 at 11:51 pm

I would join the chorus of those crying out for a DISC/ personality post. I switched to an agency that used DISC for my most recent match and though I read them, I didn’t really know how to use them properly.

Looking back now at my AP’s profile, I see that everything about him that drives me crazy (overly cautious, lacks initiative and problem-solving skills, emotionally dependent on approval of others, very conservative) could be gleaned from his DISC had I understood how to read it properly. Instead, i read it as: not likely to break established rules, not likely to be defiant, and wanting to integrate into the family (these things are also all true). Granted, I was also rushing through rematch, so I just fell back on the standard criteria: good student, good internship experience, played sports at a high level, several years as a camp counselor for kids my son’s age, friendly demeanor. I didn’t know my own profile (still don’t — I tried to take the free online test, but found myself guessing at a lot of answers where none seemed right…) or how mine would work with various profiles.

It makes sense to me that agencies can’t match personality profiles– there are too many other important variables. It would be nice if they could explain better how to use them, though. Barring that, I always look forward to SBW’s DISC posts, and just try to glean whatever info I can from them!

Should be working February 2, 2015 at 2:23 am

My advice: Pay the $35 and do the normal online test. Don’t think hard while answering the questions, don’t try to second-guess anything, just answer them very quickly without trying too hard. Then study the 15-page document you will receive. I learned a lot about myself and found it very helpful, it explained why some parts of my job I’m really good at and some others I struggle with. (I like the Classic DiSC, more than the newer ways of graphing the results, but some might find it intimidating.)

But more important for this context, it explains all 16 possible personality profiles in a very balanced way. Study those. The agencies, as you noticed, offer a very positive version of each personality profile, and there are positives to each but as you saw in your case there are also clues to certain disadvantages. The “packages” of qualities each have their downsides.

Then if you can, study the profiles of au pairs you have had and see them through that lens. I had my last-guy-at-the-party DH take it, with hilarious and accurate results (“With this sort of person you may need to put a time limit on conversations or no work will get done.”). It’s just interesting see the different profiles in action.

If CV wants I can try to compose a spiel about this.

AlwaysHopeful HM February 2, 2015 at 9:32 am

“Don’t think hard while answering the questions, don’t try to second-guess anything, just answer them very quickly without trying too hard.”

Hahaha! SBW, clearly you know me well. That is EXACTLY what I do! Multiple choice questions are always pure torture for me! There should be a separate DISC category for “people who can’t help overanalyzing every question.” Lol

WarmStateMomma February 2, 2015 at 12:40 pm

I would definitely be interested in a post like this. Most of the AP applications I see are full of falsified information and we don’t care much about child care experience, so the disc profile might be a more useful tool for figuring out who would be a good fit for our family.

AP#3 arrives in 6 weeks and I’m starting to get nervous about whether she’s going to be as good of a fit as we hoped when we matched with her…and I’m feeling sad already for my toddler to say goodbye to AP#2.

Returning HM February 2, 2015 at 12:55 pm

Another vote for a guest post about this – thank you.

Also, would you kindly post the link again to the “classic” test you took and recommend? I googled and there were so many options, it was overwhelming.

Thank you.

TexasHM February 2, 2015 at 4:24 pm

Another vote for SBW DiSC guru schooling us all in a guest post! ;) Funny thing, I had our last (rockstar AP) take the DiSC for kicks and turns out she too is an inspirational (High DI like myself and our incoming April arrival AP). In fact, she (ex-AP) and I literally were within 1-2 points on each category! SCARY. BUT – had a fantastic term and literally zero issues so I am hoping the DiSC becomes something we can use more in the future. SBW out of curiosity – what are the 3-4 profiles you consider out of the 16?

Should be working February 2, 2015 at 4:33 pm

TexasHM, the names for the different profiles are not very accurate or helpful, just as a caveat. That said, I only consider Agent, Counselor, Practitioner and Specialist. There are a lot of Inspirationals (together with Counselor the most common AP profile) out there who look really really good and I could probably be tempted if I were convinced that s/he had developed tact and sensitivity. Mostly I look for that high S that means patience and loyalty and prefer it be combined with the I that means verbal/enthusiasm. It means we miss out on that dynamism of high D, though.

My only Inspirational had a (DiSC-predicted) stubbornness and tactlessness that put me off that profile, although she loved us passionately and was a great leader and motivator for the kids. She also came from a terribly abusive home, so the toughness served her well in living through that, I imagine. Some of the DiSC’s more subtle explanations say that Inspirationals can evoke a contradictory sensation of feeling drawn to the person but also distanced by them. Fascinating!

TexasHM February 2, 2015 at 6:43 pm

My husband is a creative and I would love to know what our burnout AP was just for reference. So funny thing, when our rockstar was a little stubborn about not trying something new (fried XYZ at the state fair) we just told her quit being so French (HER joke originally when I was being stubborn about something). LOL I guess what I am getting at is I wonder if an inspirational raised in a very respectful culture (SA for example) acts more like an IS than say a German inspirational (raised in a very frank culture) – any merit to that do you think?

Anna February 2, 2015 at 8:22 am

It would also be interesting if host moms could share theirs (if they know); I wonder if a decision to host an au pair self-selects for certain host parent traits.
I took workplace DiSC at work with my immediate work group; we didn’t get the description of all the 16 profiles in the detail, maybe I will invest in it too. It still helped me a lot, in terms of self-understanding (and a surprise there, as an engineer/scientist I was sure I was a C, but was humbled by the result), and in terms of figuring out the au pair profile I am after. Reading this thread, it is humbling to realize that other people are after different au pair profiles than myself…. i.e. my “star” is not somebody else’s “star”.

Should be working February 2, 2015 at 1:20 pm

Hm, I tried to post a comment with a few website recommendations but it says my comment is awaiting moderation and it isn’t showing up. Maybe the blog doesn’t allow those because of the plague of advertising.

WarmStateMomma February 2, 2015 at 2:08 pm

I took the short free test and came up with a combo of C and D. I don’t know how accurate it was because I could see myself choosing different answers in different contexts.

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