Mother’s Day Musings, from Au Pairs to Host Moms

by cv harquail on May 12, 2013

What do our au pairs really think of us Host Moms?

Every now and then I wonder about this.

Au Pairs see us at our very worst mommyness (e.g., wet hair, no makeup, screeching about laundry) and at our very best (snuggling our kids, solving problems, singing in the car).  Au Pairs also see what we can’t see — because we’re too crazy-busy to take time out to reflect on what a great job we’re doing as moms.


Au Pairs have the inside scoop on us host moms. But most times, host moms never find out exactly what it is we do that you au pairs think is wonderful, because it seems impolite to ask for specific examples of how great we are.

So, let me (aupairmom) ask on behalf of all host moms:

What do you see when you see us, your host moms, at our very best? 

Please leave your thoughts, below, as a (Host) Mother’s Day gift for all of us host moms here at Au Pair Mom,



Image: Mom, Mirror, & Son AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by theloushe


COaupair May 12, 2013 at 1:43 pm

I’m always “bragging” to everybody I know about having the best host mom there is. This is my third year with this family (returning au pair), going on 4. My host mom is a great role model for me, she always makes me so happy and I’m beyond what I can put down in words grateful for everything she does for me. I see every day how great she is with her kids, she really inspires me to have many kids of my own one day! If I can one day be just half the mom she is then my kids are gonna be some lucky ones!! She is great and I love her so much! She is one of my closest friends. And a super host mom! I love her as a second mom/sister! Thank you K!!! :)

A B C Au Pair May 14, 2013 at 12:50 pm

So, What makes her so special?

Anneke May 12, 2013 at 4:17 pm

I see a woman who not only has to take care of her children, but has decided to open her house and home to an unknown young person from a different country, culture and upbringing. I see someone who tries to make the time, that young person is with her, a special one. She prepares a comfortable room and has an open ear. She gives advice, both concerning childcare and general life-experience, and prepares little things like special food or small presents. I see someone who genuinly cares for the young person in her houshold.
I see her doing all of that on top of her job and on top of caring for her children and tending to her husband.
She might loose her cool at times. But that’s okay. Because I can only imagine how much she has on her mind.
I love my hostmom. Even now, nearly four years later, she’s still there for me – and for all the other AuPairs she had. She thinks of all our birthdays and thinks of all of us on christmas. She makes sure the kids don’t forget us.
It’s hard to put in words what I feel for my hostmom – and for all the hostmoms on here and everywhere else, who see their AuPair’s as part of the family and go out of their way to treat them that way.
THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

polana May 17, 2013 at 3:07 am

couldn’t describe it any better!!! I love my host mom – she is a great person and always tried to make me happy (and still does). She made me feel welcome and being part of the family from the very first moment on. I respect her a lot, her opinion means a lot to me and even after four years and not living with my host fam anymore I ask for her opinion on important decisions in my life. We might not be in touch anymore as much as we used to be but I know that if I walked in the door tomorrow it would be as if I had never left.

Lisa(Ex)AuPair May 12, 2013 at 10:02 pm

My host mom amazes me every single day. She is a working mom with a very demanding job, at the same time trying to be there as much as possible for her kids and husband, and she still finds time for me. I have been with them for almost three years and the last year has been a challenging year for various reasons, but even though she is exhausted, she still goes out of her way to make sure that I’m happy and feel like a part of the family. She never leaves the house in the morning without giving me a hug and telling me how much she loves me, which means a lot to me. To me the small things like saying thank you after a long day with the kids, getting me my favorite food from the store or asking me about my day are the things that matters the most. My host mom means everything to me, I wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for her.

I think that most host moms take on the emotional part of having an au pair, which isn’t always easy. She told me earlier this week how she can’t stop thinking/worrying/wondering about the kids, her job and on top of that: me. She always does her best with the time she has, and I know that she doesn’t think it is enough and she doesn’t always have time to follow up on everything that happens in the house. But I know that she is doing the best she can and I think she is doing a wonderful job.

As Anneke said: Thank you so much to all the host moms that go out of their way to make sure that we are happy and feel like a part of the family. It means the world to us!

au pair with the best hostmom! May 12, 2013 at 11:25 pm

Unfortunately I have to disagree with all the posters above, because I have the best hostmom:) well I am just kidding, but I do LOVE her dearly! she is a great rule model for me. She taught me that if I want to become good at something, I need to work hard, VERY hard! I was very bad at math ( I am taking math classes at the College) And she sat down with me EVERY single night to practice math with me! While I did math, she did laundry, clean up the kitchen, answer e mails etc. but if I needed help, she came and helped me. She IS AWESOME! I cant put it into words! She is loving, caring and very thoughtful. She never lost patience with me ( and there were nights I was at my lowest, because I was so discouraged) she told me over and over again: you can do it! and she was right! I just got my grade in math, and I got an A on my final exam! ( this is huge for me, because a school psychologist in high school told me, that I will never be able to do math) just because of her I learned it!. SHE IS THE BEST! also with her kids, she teaches them very good values. She loves them so much. We call her often at work to say hi. ( sometimes it is just leaving her a message because she is busy) but she loves to hear the kids voices. An other thing I appreciate my host mom does is cooking. Every night she prepares a wonderful meal for the entire family. She is wonderful! She also taught me, that it is ok for a mom to work AND have kids ( it is not very comment in my country) I even consider now to have a career and kids. I think you guys sometimes don’t know how much you do and care. But I am grateful for you! For all the Moms in this world. YOU DO A WONDEFUL JOB!

Didis May 17, 2013 at 1:54 am

what I would love to see is what Hosts really think of their au pairs. Real thing, if they could on daily basis share their joy or resentment, just to see what is it exactly.

I have amazing family, but in more than a year I have never seen them sad or angry or even upset, and I am grateful that we all get along so well, but part of me would love to know are they just letting stuff go on daily basis or what they actually think.

Host Mom in the City May 17, 2013 at 9:52 am

I have some great relationships with people, but I can’t think of a single one that that is “perfect” in my eyes, that I haven’t been irritated with a number of times, etc. Even when you really really like someone a lot, there are always going to be things that bug you. But you choose to ignore those things and accept them as part of the person because overall, you know they are doing their best and in the end, they are your friend (or your family or whatever relationship).

It’s the same with great au pairs. I can guarantee you that your family has been bothered by something you are doing. But they have most likely decided (because they are good people and because they know they themselves are not perfect) that you do a great job overall and they’re going to let it go when you do little things that bother you.

Things that have bothered me about our au pairs that I have just decided to let go because they are silly compared to how well they do in other more important areas – our current one never replaces the toilet paper roll. There is extra toilet paper in the closet in the bathroom right next to the toilet, but she’ll use it up and leave the empty roll. Drives me crazy, but is it worth harping on her about? No. It’s just something about living with her that’s not going to change, so I just get a new roll myself before sitting down :) Our first one never really got cleaning up the dining room after she made the kids a meal. She would sweep and wipe everything down, but everything would be all haphazard and there was always a plate left somewhere or something. Now I admit I’m a little overboard in the cleanliness area, so I just decided this was my issue and I took an extra couple minutes to do it the way I wanted it done. She was awesome otherwise, so this was easy to let it go.

I think you probably feel the same way about your host parents. They sound wonderful and I’m sure you’ve had a great year. But I’m sure there is something (even something little like my examples) that they do that drives you crazy. But you love them anyway. That’s just relationships :)

Anonymous au pair May 17, 2013 at 6:47 am

I will post this anonymously for obvious reasons. I really like my host mom as a person, but the #1 thing I have learned from her is how unhappy I will be if I am an enabler like her and never stand up for myself. My host mom has a bad relationship with her husband. They don’t yell but he doesn’t appreciate her and is a very selfish man and she just accepts it. She relies emotionally on her young children because she doesn’t have that closeness with her husband, and it is unhealthy for them. She is always looking to save a dollar when it comes to me. For example, requiring me to go on a vacation where I was explicitly told I would be working, and then me having to fight tooth and nail to get her to pay for my suitcase as we were staying 10 days. My host mom is a kind person, but she accepts being treated poorly. She also tells me little “lies”, the ones she needs to tell herself, and its hard to have to play along with them. I know this is Mother’s Day and therefore this answer might not be welcome, but it is the truth. In spite of working in a dysfunctional family, I have had a great year. Just needed to get it off my chest.

Au Pair Australia May 21, 2013 at 12:42 am

Dear au pairs, thanks for sharing your thoughts about what you like from your host mums, this gives me a very good idea of how to be a good hosting mum with my current au pair to make her feel happy

inexperiente hostmom May 21, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Hi! I know this isn’t the right place to be asking this, however I have an issue that I need to resolve ASAP. Im talking with an aupair which I really liked however 2 things happened that Im wondering if there’s anything off. First we skyped on Friday and everything went great, she asked me if I liked her and I said yes. After that I sent her am email asking her if she would be ok working on a few Saturdays in case me and HD wanted to go out. I also asked her if she was aware of the program, that she was coming here to care for kids not to travel and have fun( I told her she was also going to have fun and study but the main goal was take care of kids). The reason I asked that is because I was an aupair my self and I saw a lot of girls with a wrong idea of the program. So she didn’t respond me for 2 days, and I saw her online and we were exchange emails all the time. I then emailed her asking if she still wanted to come to our house, she said yes and asked some questions. There’s one question that made me wondered if im doing the right decision. She asked me if she is going to have time to do the things she likes during the week, like practice sports, go to the movies and so on. I thought that she would know by now that she is going to work and her life will change. Im afraid that she is going to be unhappy once she gets here and will not have time to do all that during the week. What do you think?

Host Mom in the City May 21, 2013 at 12:31 pm

inexperiente hostmom – if this is a serious question, I think you need to put your AP search on hold and do some serious reading on this site about how to put together your expectations, schedule, and house rules before matching with any candidate. Yes, being an au pair is a job. For 45 hours a week. All the other time is her time, and she will most likely use that for “practicing sports, going to the movies, and so on.” Have you put together a sample schedule? Handbook?

inexperiente hostmom May 21, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Im finishing writing the handbook and I will send it to her soon. I read 99% of the posts in this blog! My concern is that if she really gets it that she will be working the entire day and she will not going to have the time to do all the activities she likes to do and if she is going to be OK with that. Is there any way that I can know that?

Host Mom in the City May 21, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Well if you tell her up front and she agrees that she will be expected to work say 8am-4pm every day and then occasional Saturdays, I would think she would therefore assume that she could practice sports and go to the movies and have fun and travel after 4pm every day and most weekends plus her two weeks off. Being an au pair is indeed a job, but no more than any other full-time job and most full-time working adults also have fun and travel outside of their work lives. I guess I’m not getting what you’re asking.

Emerald City HM May 21, 2013 at 1:33 pm

I’m also not really sure why you think she wouldn’t have the time. What kind of work hours will you have for her? Are you requiring a really early curfew? Even if she gets 8 hours of sleep a night and works 9 hours a day, there are still 7 hours left of free time and it’s not like she has to pay bills or run a household in her non-working hours.

Little M. May 21, 2013 at 1:57 pm

If I only worked eight or ten hours a day I would be the happiest person on earth. And I would go to the movies :).

Ruth May 21, 2013 at 4:20 pm

When we were matching with our current Au Pair and I was running through the list of expectations I had for her and always asked her if she had questions, she responded with one question and that was whether she would have time to study since she’s really dedicated to learn English. Of course, I responded with the typical hours she would be off and it would be for her to use however she wanted to (we have yet to have her work her full 45 hours, so that wasn’t even something she has had to worry about). Granted, we just have a baby, so if her chores are done, I’m perfectly fine with how she wants to spend her time during work hours too. I think this Au Pair may have a perception, possibly from others she has spoken to, that she will be expected to work all the time verses letting her know you plan to respect the maximum 45 hours a week and if you can provide a typical schedule for her, that will likely help ease her concern. Just remember, you have no idea if she has friends who are Au Pairs, etc whose schedules may have been abused. I think it’s a fair question, although, do be sure to use your gut to assess whether it’s a year long commitment she’s signing up for to enjoy both work AND play! Good luck! One other thing to keep in mind though, if she’s not responding, is that how she will react to “conflict” or other issues that need to be discussed.

Ruth May 21, 2013 at 4:38 pm

To Didis: I think you may be able to chalk it up to everyone is different in their approach to having an unpleasant conversation. If you’re concerned about it, ASK! Your host family may appreciate your maturity and awareness to ensure all is going well. I can’t say I was that mature at 19/20 when I was a live-in nanny to be as aware as you are! I am now a host mom and there is no way I can live a year with someone in my house – I also work from home, so someone I encounter often throughout the day without saying what bothers me! For instance, if they used up the last of the gas and my husband goes to take the car on Monday morning and it’s empty, then we need to discuss it quickly and move on. I then hope as I’m speaking to an adult, I don’t have to have that conversation again. Same goes for anything else. I’d rather work out the issues, no matter how small, than stew about it and not say anything. Our Au Pair has been terrific at nailing almost everything we have discussed and I am very appreciative that she is cognizant enough to want to adhere to what we ask of her. on the flip side, we try to think of everything we can to ensure she’s happy and enjoying her time here. We’ve had our fair share of frustration since she arrived, but I see it’s to be expected when everyone is transitioning to the dynamics of this program and it’s nice that after 2 months we are settling in and there are less “egg shells” to walk on for everyone.

Au Pair Report author May 22, 2013 at 5:24 pm

As a former au pair counselor, I heard a lot of negative stuff from au pairs about their host moms, and it’s fascinating to see how much the host dads escape scrutiny (the moms get blamed for so many more of the problems). However, there were many au pairs who spoke highly of their host moms, and those are the ones with generous host moms who were not always penny pinching at the au pair’s expense (moral of the story is don’t have an au pair if you can’t afford it because that will cause stress). I hope you’ll ask au pairs the same question for Father’s Day! I’ll also add that I was an au pair in France over 20 years ago, and I felt daily resentment of my host mom partly because she was always trying to justify to herself how she was not taking advantage of me (but she was–by not counting hours when kids were sleeping or when she was home but she required my presence as work hours). In her constant quest for reassurance, it became obvious that she knew something was wrong. But I would blame this on a lack of program oversight at that time–no counselors to make sure families (and au pairs) weren’t breaking the rules.

Host Mom in the City May 22, 2013 at 7:02 pm

This post struck a chord with me because the one thing I’m really struggling with right now is that I suspect that our au pair thinks we’re being cheap or at least that she’s getting less of a deal than “all” her friends. Now I don’t know this for sure, but there have been enough comments about how all her friends have their own cars and “can you believe that all my friends host parents pay for their personal gas?” and some other general comments such as these. Yes, she has to share a car, but that’s absolutely typical in this area at least. And yes, she has to pay for her own personal gas, which she actually has yet to do at this point in the year incidentally.

She would go out to lunch with the kids every day if I gave her the money – the first few times, I went with it and noticed that she was going to HER favorite restaurant rather than where the kids wanted to go and spending $20+ on lunch including bottled waters for all three of them, which the kids never finish. If she’s not 100% comfortable in the house, she wants the heat or AC on rather than dressing more appropriately. Etc. Etc.

We most definitely can “afford” an au pair. We could “afford” to send them out to lunch at her favorite restaurant every day if we wanted to. But it’s not how we choose to spend our money. She will notice that we pack lunches for ourselves when we go to the zoo, that we put on a sweater before turning on the heat, that we buy the store-brand of something or wait for something that we want to go on sale. It’s very easy to accuse someone of being cheap when it’s not your money you’re spending.

I’m sure there are some au pairs with host parents who truly are pinching pennies with them. Or working them for more hours than they’re supposed to. But some au pairs don’t seem to understand that living with a host family is not an “all-expenses whatever your desire” deal.

I’m really not sure how to address this, but I can feel my resentment building. Especially since she’s doing the bare minimum at her job anyway and only working 20-25 hours. I honestly don’t even feel like she’s worth what I am paying for her services at this point.

Host Mom in the City May 22, 2013 at 7:31 pm

Ha – obviously I’m at a boiling point with the comments. Need to address this.

MidAtlantic Host Family May 22, 2013 at 7:53 pm

There is some grass is always greener that happens. I am not sure what questions to ask in the search process to find someone who focuses on other things.

Tristatemom May 23, 2013 at 8:12 am

In my experience, European APs always come with a sense of entitlement to the AP experience. They expect a lot of material perks. They also do not weigh the fact that every family provides different perks and challenges but expect to receive all those perks from their family. On the other hand, they do not realize that they have to bring something to the table too. If you want a lot of material things, you better bring your A game: be fun and proactive with the kids, a respectful roommate etc. This realization does not seem to resonate with them and that creates a lot of bad feelings in the AP/HF relationship.

Host Mom in the City May 23, 2013 at 11:13 am

Well I don’t know about all European au pairs, but my European au pair definitely fits this description. And yes, she is a younger, fresh out of HS au pair (never again). I’ve learned a ton about au pair selection and am currently trying to implement my lessons in our selection process for next time (we’re just starting to look for our third au pair to arrive in September). Although to be honest, I just looked back at my requirements for our first au pair and they are exactly what we’re looking for this time around. I sacrificed most of those requirements in our search for our second because I didn’t give myself enough time. Lesson learned. Now to salvage the last four months…

Taking a Computer Lunch May 23, 2013 at 1:02 pm

While I’m currently hosting an AP that fits that description to a “t,” I have also hosted 2 fresh-out-of-high-school APs that were mature and generous (and received extra time off when they asked just because they went the extra mile without being asked – like putting peanut butter to get glue trap goo off a beloved hamster to quiet a sobbing child even when she couldn’t stand the smell of the peanut butter). But, they were both Extraordinnaires and had enough job experience that we didn’t have to start with how-to-work. All of the Extraordinnaires could have made more money working at home, but gave it up for a cultural experience.

This time around, I spent more time looking for generosity of spirit – babysitting children with special needs for an extended period, doing a voluntary year of service, not just my usual litmus test of having had experience with people with special needs (I can only see “special needs willing” candidates anyway). So yes, don’t rush and be patient. The best match is out there (notice I didn’t say the perfect match).

Taking a Computer Lunch May 23, 2013 at 7:11 am

I think, especially for the younger APs who are fresh out of high school, their expectations are determined by their own family’s lifestyle. I think the agency’s “part of the family” pitch, sets up the expectation for many of them that they will have the same position they held in their own households, and the adjustment to becoming an adult is hard, especially if it feels unexpected. I have found that it’s best to be proactive and to tell younger APs that I understand that the adjustment is hard, but they have to learn to live in my household. They don’t have to like or even necessarily understand my choices – but a successful year requires that they live with them. I am usually open with APs that if they find a guideline stupid, I’m willing to talk about it. (We had an AP chafe at having to determine, before we went shopping, what she might like to have in the house to eat for the week – she was used to buying whatever she wanted and having her parents reimburse her. After a couple of days of $20 tabs for prepared foods rather than cook a meal with similar ingredients in our home, we nixed it quickly. DH told her – that our household rule was that he went shopping twice a week and it was up to her to adjust, not us. BTW – we do adjust in that we have always purchased several items each week that the AP enjoys eating but we would not typically eat.)

It sounds like your AP has been living with you for a while (your comment about gas). We had to have several talks early in the year with our current AP and explicitly stated that she was an adult member of our household and that they coveted position of child in our household were held by our own children. (Our current AP has settled into an employee-employer relationship while most of our previous APs did navigate their way into a 3rd-adult-member one.)

I do think HMs experience the brunt of AP frustrations because we tend to be the ones that schedule the AP’s work week. In my case, I’m the parent who returns to the household first every day, so I get to react to the boyfriend on the couch and child #2 having been on the computer for an hour more than allotted and child #1 whining for his dinner because he has special needs and doesn’t understand why it’s late. I’m the one who gets asked for special time off and sometimes has to say “No.”

Momma Gadget May 23, 2013 at 9:31 am

“I do think HMs experience the brunt of AP frustrations”
Great, insightful post per usual TaCL!

Melissa May 23, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Host Mom in the City — Based on your post, it doesn’t sound like it’s an issue of being cheap or not, but rather that your AP just has unrealistic expectations and is displaying immaturity and poor judgment. I think there are definitely some things that can call into question whether a host family is being cheap (resenting an AP packing a lunch or dinner to go, for example). And some recent posts brought up the touchy topic of whether a family can ‘afford’ an AP. I get that to a certain extent — I don’t think there should be any expectation on either part that a HF should entertain their AP by having to take her on vacations and such, but I do see a point in saying that HFs have to accept that there will be intangible costs such as holiday gifts, inviting the AP along to family gatherings (even when we sometimes would rather not), buying the extra ice cream cone at the amusement park, etc. If a family is on a very bare bones budget, then the AP program may not be the best fit at that time because there are lots of incidentals that come with someone living with you (vs. the more employer/employee setup of daycare).

However, in your case, it sounds like you are not being cheap by choosing to make economic choices about where to go to lunch and what to bring to the zoo. If you bought lunch for you and the kids while at the zoo, but expected her to bring her own, well, then that would be cheap. :-) But your AP making comparative comments about what “all the other HFs” are doing is clearly immature on her part. We are almost at the end of our AP year (and possibility done with the AP program all together) and I am soooo over it right now, so my comment may be a bit skewed here, but… what about just countering her passive-aggressive approach by responding directly with, “It sounds like you are frustrated that we are not providing you with a car or paying for your gas. Is that what you are trying to say?” At the very least, regardless of her response, you might just feel a little better.

I feel for you. Even though you’re mostly through your AP year, 4 more months is a ways to go when you’re at your boiling point and, in particular, don’t feel that she is doing a great job. I am at a point, after 6 years of hosting, that I am so over with and overwhelmed by all the “stuff” (although a stronger word comes to mind here!) that comes with hosting an AP — the personal life, the car usage (which seems to ALWAYS be an issue – why is that!?), the disastrous AP rooms, the whole ‘part of the family’ thing, that I was ready to throw in the towel 6 months ago, BUT, our current AP actually does a near-stellar job when it comes the actual ‘job’ part of it, taking care of the kids and child-care responsibilities, that made it all manageable for me. But I feel your pain. Let us know how it goes.

Host Mom in the City May 23, 2013 at 1:51 pm

Thanks Melissa – I appreciate your comments. I am going to try the direct approach to the passive aggressive comments that you suggested. Honestly if she truly values a family with an extra car just for her over all else, then I’m happy to go into rematch. I’m that over it :) I’m sorry you’re down on the program too. I really hope I can recover my enthusiasm because it really is the best child care solution for us and it does have its good times. I need to find a way to not feel like I’m putting in and sacrificing so so much and then getting resentful that I’m getting the bare minimum back. I’m going to be doing some serious thinking about my approach for next time.

Tristatemom May 24, 2013 at 7:50 am

Can we form a club of bruised and delusioned HMs :)
Someone told me recently that the families fare best in the program that have no expectations. Why do I have to have so many???

Momma Gadget May 24, 2013 at 8:49 am

Just think of it as funny story telling ammunition…for the distant future!
It is interesting to me how looking back, even the most aggravating, stressful AP incidents are rendered hysterically funny with a little time, and a great AP between them.

Host Mom in the City May 24, 2013 at 8:56 am

Ha – Tristatemom – I’m in. No expectations? Then what would I be spending $24,000, a room in my house, and all this time for?? If it comes to just having no expectations, then we’ll go back to the significantly cheaper option of before/after care or an after-school sitter.

American AuPair in Europe May 22, 2013 at 6:15 pm

This is a bit off topic, but Au Pair Report author, your post really stood out to me while I was reading because it seems like your situation as an Au Pair was similar to something I’m going through right now. I could kind of use some advice I’m very far into my Au Pair year in Germany (9 months) and the first 6 months or so were pretty good in terms of expectations. The one problem is my host parents are sort of bad at communicating feedback (which may be a cultural thing, I’m not sure).

So fairly early on, I asked if we could meet regularly to discuss schedule, expectations, what I’m doing well and what I can improve on, etc. I am a pretty open person and communication/feedback is a big deal for me, so this was important. Gradually, however, these meetings stopped, which meant that communication was a problem and I never knew how I was doing. In March we had an argument that started because the mom thought I thought she was taking advantage of me. To be honest, I work 5-6 hours over the agreed contract a week, which is unfortunate, but fairly typical in my city with Au Pairs. However, I don’t receive extra compensation or even always warning ahead of time that I may need to work extra. When I pointed this out, the parents got defensive and said they don’t count the time their baby is sleeping as my work, nor the times the parent who works at home helps out (this is always at their wish, not mine, and for short tasks such as cooking lunch or putting the baby to bed). So they don’t consider I’m working full 30 hours a week, despite the fact that I have to be home at that time and I did my best to do chores/straighten up around the house so that I was doing work and not being lazy. They said they consider chores as being “part of the family” and that they don’t consider that being part of my work hours. In my feeling, I think that any time I’m required to be at home with the kids counts as work hours and that while obviously I’m not going to protest to emptying the dishwasher or folding some laundry when I’m off duty, they should at least consider the work I’m doing on duty. I also think that if they were generous they would offer to help with my transportation ticket so that perhaps I could take their child on some outings occasionally, but I’ve given up on that option. I decided that since my time is limited and that since for the most part our relationship was good that I would let it go and finish the year.

I really love the children and my relationship with the parents had been friendly, if not somewhat distant. However since then, I’ve really felt less a part of the family and like they exclude me from a lot more things than in the past. In addition, they never really offer compensation for me to take their two year old to do things. They mostly seem content if she is at home or on the neighborhood playground, despite the fact we never play with kids her age. I have tried suggesting activities/play dates, but the parents express little interest. The mother in particular has seemed distant with me, even though I had thought in the past we had a good relationship. Basically at 9 months in I’m at a loss of what to do. I’m afraid having another conversation at my request will spark more resentment, but with having no feedback, positive or negative to work with, I’m always super self-conscious about the job I’m doing. I really love the kids and don’t want to just be some girl living here, which is sort of how I feel now. If anyone has advice, please let me know. I somewhat foolishly found my host family through a website rather than an agency, so there’s not really an LCC to talk to about this. I really like my host parents, but am feeling more and more anxious about the situation as it is now and I want to make my last 3 months with the family nice and not full of tension.

Tristatemom May 23, 2013 at 8:06 am

Hi AP,

we have weekly meetings early on in the year to address any issues, give feedback, etc. I do not particularly enjoy these because they often happen Sunday evening when I am exhausted from the weekend and just want to chill. However, my expectation is that these meetings happen less and less as AP settles into her job. If we still need to have meetings 6 months in that means to me that the AP is not doing a good job. If your family no longer has meetings, it most likely means that you are doing a good job (or, they have given up and wait out the end of the year:)).
You mention the need for feedback. This may be your personality or immaturity (and I don’t mean this in a negative way, you are probably in your early 20’s right?) but try and derive pride from within. If you are giving it your best than that is all you can do and take pride from that without your HPs mentioning it. This attitude will serve you well in any job.

Momma Gadget May 23, 2013 at 9:12 am

I can tell you that knowing that your AP is departing in a few short months can be hard on HPs too… especially When Your AP has has been great to your kids & family. I cried my eyes out at the airport when we dropped our last few AP off.
They may very well be distancing themselves as defense mechanism.. Probably not consciously. Three months goes by very fast and you will soon be leaving them. Many of my APs friends had HPs all of a sudden turn supper critical and unreasonable in the last couple of months of their year… It is easier to let go when you can find fault with someone.

Now is NOT the time to try to change things. But maybe if you told the HPs that you really want to make the last three months “special” for their child/ren and you would like to take them to XYZ if they would give you the additional cash ” It will cost XX.xx$”, maybe they would oblige. If not, you just have to do the best with what is available. Three months will fly by no matter what.
Good Luck!

Host Mom in the City May 23, 2013 at 11:30 am

American AP in Europe – it does sound like your host parents are taking advantage of you (scheduling you for more than your contracted hours, not counting sleeping time, etc). I definitely don’t agree that they should be doing that. If you’re expected to be home in charge of the kids, that’s on duty. That said, things like “emptying the dishwasher,” I wouldn’t count as part of on-duty hours either. Folding kid’s laundry, yes. Emptying the dishwasher of things that you contributed to or helping clean up after a family dinner that you ate, no.

A couple of other points just to give you the host parent’s perspective. Of course, I don’t know what’s going on in your house, so I have no idea if any of this is on point. Feel free to ignore if I’m off-base.

We too started off with weekly chats about the schedule and expectations but have tapered off. Honestly I probably needed to continue them, but at some point after the first few months, my expectations and schedule doesn’t change. I would really appreciate it if my au pair asked me for feedback and would happily sit down and talk to her whenever she asked me to. But finding time to sit just she and I every week (either I’m with the kids, making dinner, or she’s out with her friends) is really difficult. Particularly when all I really need to say is “schedule is the same as it’s been for the last 6 months, I was serious when I asked you not to excessively text while on duty.” After 9 months, I’d really expect that you’d need very little guidance. If you need feedback, I would ask. And be ready to take what you hear and consider whether there’s any truth rather than reacting defensively. I’m not saying you do since I don’t know you, but the few times I’ve tried to give my au pair constructive feedback, she has an answer for everything. I’ve just stopped giving it because I know she’s not going to listen. Something to consider.

With regards to this – “In addition, they never really offer compensation for me to take their two year old to do things. They mostly seem content if she is at home or on the neighborhood playground, despite the fact we never play with kids her age. I have tried suggesting activities/play dates, but the parents express little interest.” …could it be that they are content with having their 2yo do free activities? I do think it’s strange that they wouldn’t be into play dates. But at two, I’m sure she’s perfectly content going to the park or taking walks or whatever. You don’t need to be doing an expensive trip out every day with a two year old. I would ask yourself – is it the two-year-old that seems bored? If yes, then present that to the parents with some free suggestions. Is it you that’s bored? Then to a certain degree that’s not going to convince the parents that they need to be shelling out activity money.

So in summary, remember that host parents are typically really busy and technically are getting an au pair to make their lives easier. Remembering to sit down every week with their au pair who has been with them for 9 months for discussions about feedback and expectations may seem like a lot to them. They may assume you know what to do, expect you to take the initiative on something you’re not sure of, or expect that at this point you should be comfortable asking if you need feedback. Also, despite some of the conversations on here, host parents are not typically swimming in money. If my 2yo was perfectly happy doing free things every day, I’d be completely fine with leaving it that way. I’d also be completely fine with my au pair suggesting playdates and activities that my child would enjoy, so I do think it’s odd that they haven’t been interested in that.

American AuPair in Europe May 23, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Thank you all so much for responding to my questions so quickly! I’m always amazed with the amount of time and thought you all put into responses here. It is interesting hearing from your perspective. I suppose it makes sense with the feedback tapering off. I guess the problem is I never got much to begin with, so I always sort of doubted myself. However, worrying is definitely a personality trait of mine.

I mostly try to find inexpensive or free things for the two year old to do. This isn’t every day, but mostly once every two weeks or so because our schedule is complicated and being in a city I don’t have access to a car, so relying on public transportation can be difficult when it comes to toting a stroller and needing to be home at a certain time. Mostly I feel like the day is always me and the toddler and that she could probably use some variety of people she sees. I have (finally, as I’m not with an agency) found some other Au Pairs with two year olds recently and we have been scheduling play dates, take the baby to the library, etc, but most kids her age seem to at least be in part time preschool, so other than these Au Pairs’ kids, there aren’t really any kids around for her to play with. I asked the mom if she knew anything about free play groups, etc, but the response was sort of indifferent. I realize as an Au Pair it is my job to find this stuff (that’s not the issue), but it’s just really awkward to ask about money for transport or activities (and most of the activities are free or require perhaps 50 cents for food at the petting zoo) if the parents don’t seem super excited. I guess asking for money really intimidates me. I was offered a raise and compensation for company expenses at my previous job without having to ask.

Anyway, I guess it’s just 3 more months, so I will certainly make a suggestion to the parents that I can do some stuff to bond with the older girls and meanwhile just enjoy the baby no matter where or with whom we are playing. Thanks guys! And happy belated mother’s day to all of you. You seem like very conscientious host parents.

American AuPair in Europe May 23, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Apologies, somehow I have been messing up the nesting with my posts…

Host Mom in the City May 23, 2013 at 1:55 pm

American AP in Europe – that all does sound a little strange. Do you get the feeling they are happy with you or that there’s something they are not telling you? Can you approach them and let them know how you are feeling and ask for some honest suggestions for ending the last three months on a high note? It seems a shame to just say wait it out and you’ll be gone before you know it.

American AuPair in Europe May 23, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Yeah, you are right that I should probably approach them. It just does feel strange. I am their first Au Pair and sometimes I think they just don’t really know what to do with me. The parents are both pretty reserved by nature as well. My family at home is a lot of talking about feelings, verbal appreciation, etc. I guess what makes it harder for me is the distance that has emerged. I really like the parents as people for the most part and while I have these complaints, I don’t think they are doing anything to purposefully spite me, but it’s hard when it comes to talks and confrontations because I like to keep them positive and constructive and I think they get sort of defensive (mostly because “talking about stuff” isn’t really something they do.) It’s also weird because some evenings we will have really great conversations and other times I feel like they totally don’t give a shit that I’m here, they will be short with me, etc. I want to express to them that I really love their kids and will miss them and want to make my last few months special. By all means I don’t want them to think it is just a chore for me and I fear the current atmosphere maybe is reflecting that unintentionally.

Anyway, thanks again for the suggestions. Will talk to them again in an informal way (maybe it’s the formal thing that freaks them out) and let you guys know how it goes.

kat May 24, 2013 at 8:07 pm

i think the weekly meeting is a very american way of doing things and they just might not like it.
also i personally found that my german host family ( years back) had problems with addressing anything and when they did it was in a totally inapropriate way ( with kids in tow, when i wasnt dressed, including issues that had absolutely no connection with the problem/ were even part of the deal, being rude compared to an english speaking person [and i am not even english])

AnotherSeattleHostMom May 24, 2013 at 11:38 pm

You might just suggest a small monthly stipend for activities and supplies. We allow up to $50/month for activities, parking, and art supplies for kids. Our AP never even comes close to spending that.,,

Ruth May 23, 2013 at 6:50 pm

Going back a few posts on this thread, I noticed some of you had an issue with European AP’s feeling entitled. I don’t mean to generalize and I am certainly so new at this, I probably shouldn’t be generalizing this early on, but we are 6 months into hosting and are on our 3rd Au Pair. We hired two Europeans: one lied to us about a very essential skill we needed, but we didn’t find that out until about 3 weeks in. During those 3 weeks, we got her a smart phone. Of course she had to let us know her AP friend got an iPhone. She would come home with this person’s HF is so rich and this AP only has to watch 4 grown children and do their laundry. I felt really used with this AP since it was our very first and we had cultivated a relationship prior to her coming for a good 3 months and I laid out EVERYTHING explicitly of what would be expected of her. We hired her a month earlier than we wanted to b/c she had to be in the states by then in order to qualify for the program since she was turning 27 and we have all the perks someone could want and, yet, it still felt like it wasn’t enough. After spending 3 w/e’s taking her to all the malls with a 2.5 month old baby, mind you, throwing a party for her to meet other Au Pair’s, etc and then getting an attitude from her one day that was just out of line, I had enough and had a chat with her. I do have to say, that was the last chat I had to have with her and she did a 360. We ended up only keeping her 2 months while our LCC looked for another host family for her and had to let her go due to the necessary skill she was lacking. In the end, it was sad to see her go b/c she was really great with our baby and ended up being a great AP. The second one we hired was a flame-out as I’ve seen the term called here and lasted 2.5 days. Even in her 2.5 days I had to hear how rich this person is, etc. I always laugh at that comment. How do you assess someone’s wealth? Anyway, she is now living with some boy and still in the states illegally. Ironically, she still keeps in touch with me, for whatever reason. After that, my husband said no more Europeans! We are overly generous with our time and truly provide all the perks and just felt used and abused, so we went with a Latin girl. We are in a MUCH better place and are happy and finally benefitting from this program. My point is, I don’t think it matters sometimes if you’re a HP who doesn’t have all the perks or one who does, it just depends on the attitude of the AP and how much she expects or how much she’s willing to go into this program for a year and be happy with what h/she signed up for when they agreed to match with your family. Having been on both sides though it’s no fun to have someone come into your home that you have such high hopes and expectations for only to wonder why you ever agreed to enter this program when you find yourself working even harder than before, etc. etc etc. I am finding from all the posts I’m reading and our own experience, it just seems like a luck of the draw. Or, in our case, prayer b/c we were at our wit’s end with a new baby and exhausted. I hope you don’t mind me being the “newbie host mom” commenting among all of you very experienced moms who have some great ideas I’ve been adopting in my own approach.

Angie host mom May 24, 2013 at 1:05 pm

We’ve had six European au pairs. They’ve all been individuals, some more “entitled” than others. All have made it through their time commitment. Our friends who have had non-European au pairs have had issues with entitlement and au pairs who haven’t made it through their commitments.

I don’t believe you can generalize that an au pair will feel entitled to extra stuff because she is European and she won’t if she isn’t. It comes down to the individual girl, her family at home, her family here, and in large part her friends here.

Angie host mom May 24, 2013 at 1:08 pm

That said, everybody should draw the boxes for the au pair they want with honesty about what they want – so if hubby says no Europeans then don’t get a European who would have to work twice as hard to overcome a negative opinion!

FormerEuropeanAu-Pair May 25, 2013 at 4:16 am

I believe this might be a cultural thing too… I guess many German parents wouldn’t necessaryly want their children to do too many things at that age. I think playgrounds are a very typical place for a German child to go and that would be counted as an outing, esp. for a baby and a two year old, as much as any other trip. Also I think playdates are typical American. I don’t think a lot of German parents would actually schedule playdates for two year olds, unless the mothers are friendly with each other.
However I can not imagine, that the parents wouldn’t want you to go and see some other places, unless they aren’t comfortable with letting you use public transport with a 2-year-old and a baby.. If you suggest any outings, I would probably look up the public transport, the cost +the money for whichever activity and tell them that you would enjoy any such outings and also that you believe that the kids would benefit from it..

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