Too much connection, then too little: Rematch Again, Au Pair Asks?

by cv harquail on November 20, 2017

Dear AuPairMom,

I am an Au Pair in the U.S and in my 3rd month right know. About 2 weeks ago I came from one state to a new one through rematch. My first situation wasn’t horrible. I just had a hard time connecting with the kids (7, 9, 12) and the host mom openly admitted that she expected a different kind of personality. I am more the sweet type. She felt like we wouldn’t have a relationship as good as she had with previous Au Pairs. They’re really close.


In the time period I worked for them 4 prior Au Pairs came and stayed for 1-2 weeks each which definitely made it harder for me to gain the girls’ interest. A problem for me was also that the mom was a stay at home mom, so the kids would always want her to do everything for them and get really angry with me. … Despite all that I could still have fun with the family and all. There would be long conversations on the dinner table, movie nights etc. I also had a very friendship-like relationship with the host mom.

A main argument for the rematch from my host parents was that they thought their family was too loud and wild for me. I admittedly sometimes need time for myself, alone in my room so I didn’t argue.

My new host family’s reaction to that was that their situation might be ideal since they are always gone during the day. I definitely prefer being the only adult in charge and won’t complain about that.

I decided to go for younger kids this time (2, 4) and my relationship to them is really good. The parents are nice too but nonetheless I am feeling quite bad about my situation lately. The problem is that the host parents come home at around 7 and are in bed around 8. In the meantime they just put the kids to sleep. There is no shared family dinners or time to chat a little. They don’t even have a living room.   

During the weekend they never ask me to come along to activities and just leave in the morning and never tell me what they’re up to. They live on the country side and I honestly see more horses than human faces. I really loved the suburb I lived in before and really don’t like this area or cities here. (Is it weird that the location has such an emotional impact on my feelings?) What I need is a good relationship with my host parents. So many Au Pairs see their host mums as their friends and even though they’re super lovely people I don’t really see that happening here.

There was also another situation. On Friday I found out they had sent me an email on monday listing things I did wrong/should do differently. I am not saying that I am not guilty of some of the things (i.e. forgetting to rinse my plate) but that Email felt like we had a business relationship and the weird thing is that they never talked to me about that Email personally. Since I don’t usually check my Emails everyday I went on for 5 days not mentioning or changing anything because I didn’t know about it but they didn’t say a word. I find that very weird.

I am going to wait for at least two more weeks how things are going, but would you say:

Is this is a good enough reason to go into rematch for the second time? Are my expectations too high?

I only have this one year and I don’t see why I shouldn’t spend it as happy as possible, but I am still unsure. I am not homesick but coming here at 18 years old, just graduated from high school I just need more quality time with the family. I just think that mentioning or asking for that would make everything really forced.

This family only had 1 from 4 (or 5) Au Pairs that stayed the whole year. The other ones all left. Everyone is telling me they had bad luck but maybe it’s just the way they approach the Au Pair-Family-relationship? What do you think?

Also to all the host parents out there: If you saw a girl’s profile that is in a second rematch for the reasons mentioned above, what would you think? How wanted will I be if I only have like 8 1/2 month left? The last time I had several offers for the job but I feel like this would change a lot.

Sorry again for the length of my text I am just struggling with my feelings like never before! I feel very lonely. Thank you to everyone who took the time to read!


Image: Horses, by Paul on Flickr


Anna November 21, 2017 at 10:49 am

Yes if I saw your profile with your reasons, I would not take a chance on matching with you, unless I was really desperate and needed you for a very short time. The impression is that nothing makes you happy and you are not able to work with people or adapt to different situations.

You need to learn to work with people, and to communicate. Your host family may have approached it wrong, but so are you, by considering rematch instead of first talking to them and trying to work it out because “it would look really forced”. Well, quitting without trying to work on the relationship for a reason that you are afraid or reluctant to talk to them and would rather abandon the job and the kids and go look for more “happiness” elsewhere, because you are entitled to a “happy” year…. looks really bad, and is doing yourself a disservice by not taking an opportunity for personal growth.

What have you done to improve this situation already? Have you tried to find friends, hobbies and activities in your new area in your time off?
Have you tried offering to join your family on their weekend outings? Have you spoken to your host mother or your host father? You can have expectations of others, but you also have to have some expectations of yourself. You are really young and you have to learn to take care of your own happiness, and not depend on mom/host mom etc. to provide most of it for you.

DC twin mom November 21, 2017 at 1:07 pm

If you rematch again, chances are you will go home. I know of only one person who ever took an AP with 2 rematches and that was because of clearly extenuating circumstances.

But you are jumping ahead. You need to try to address the problem yourself. Ask to sit down with the family. Go over the issues you are having from communication to family events. You are in the country so you need access to a car 100% and you need to find people your age. Are their other APs around? Ask your LCC. If there are not, ask your host parents for help finding activities where you might meet other young people.

Part of the challenge and reward of an AP year is that you are forced to be independent and self-starting. This is one of those moments where you learn how. Take a deep breath and step up to adulthood on this before you throw in the towel on the year.

JamieH November 21, 2017 at 8:18 pm

I agree with the others that it is time to step up and find a community for yourself. You accepted a job with a family that has more of a business type relationship with au pairs it sounds like. So you need to find other personal connections! Find several meetup groups or facebooks groups with local young people. Join a club. Force yourself to leave the house when the parents get home 3-4 times per week. Pack your weekends full with your own activities. If you have nothing to do, then go to a library, coffee shop, gym, language meetup, college class, etc etc. Talk to other people and focus on making connections.

This family situation isn’t going to look exactly how you hoped, but you can still create a great and happy year for yourself.

txmom November 22, 2017 at 1:21 pm

I agree with the previous posters. I’d be anxious about matching with an au pair in rematch, let alone two rematches. There’s no way I would match with her…just too much risk. I also agree with the statement to “find your own happiness”. If you’re unhappy, fix it. Don’t run away from it. In English, we say “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” That means that other situations will always look better than yours, that doesn’t make it true.

Elizabeth November 22, 2017 at 4:12 pm

I’m sorry you have had a rough time and are confused and lonely. You came to a group of “old” mom ladies ;) for advice though so that’s the perspective you will get. No one can make another person happy, you have to do get there yourself. You have been dealt a hand of cards and now you must play them the best way – that’s up to you. The first AP family ultimately rejected you bc you weren’t a good fit for them, what can you learn from that now? Your second family wants you but deals with you differently, but what’s the positive here? It’s hard when you’re 18 and imagined and “heard stories” of amazing AP experiences but nothing in life is what you expect nor perfect, it’s how you react to it all that you can find the positive and also feel in control of your happiness. Things like disciplining via email and kooky weekends are the type of things that every AP has to deal with – role your eyes and vent to your friends. Trust me, the family thinks you have kooky ways too but that’s what everyone puts up with – to some extent of course- in the program. LOOK TO WHAT”S GOOD IN THIS FAMILY and focus on that. You can roll the dice with a 3d rematch but I can’t imagine a family better than this one taking you on. I would think a family willing to take a 3d rematch has challenging kids, no extra car and lives in the wilderness with no APs for 90 miles. Kidding, sort of, but you get the idea. Good luck.

Previousaupair November 22, 2017 at 7:20 pm

I was an au pair in France after college and I didn’t have a particularly close relationship with the family. The best advice I can give you is to make friends. Look online or try through the agency to find other au pairs. Explore the cities near you, even if you have to sight see alone sometimes before you make friends. I know it can be frustrating with extremely lacking American public transportation but your best bet is to keep trying since the posters above don’t think rematch is a likely option. Yeah it’s weird that the parents sent you an email of complaints and then didn’t say anything about it but you spent a lot of time and money coming here, don’t give up just yet. It can be hard and lonely at first but don’t give up yet :)

HMof2 November 23, 2017 at 10:12 am

Since your HF opted to email you instead of just speak with you face to face about things that you should do differently or did wrong, sounds to me like they do not like confrontation. They might be thinking that since you didn’t respond that you just don’t care and just not willing to do anything to improve the situation and their impression of you is getting worse with each passing day. Have you said anything to them after you realized that they emailed you or did you remain silent?

Someone in this situation needs to start the conversation. If your HF is not naturally inclined to do so, then you can step up. If you haven’t yet, tell them today that you have not been checking your email and just saw the email from them and want some time to talk with them. Tell them that you did not, on purpose, try to ignore their email. Tell them that you do not check your emails regularly.

I have seen AP with 2 previous HF and still get re-matched again. However, the situations are usually viewed as not AP fault – maybe HF lost a job and cannot continue or child had behavior issue and HF acknowledge that they need alternate childcare etc. In your situation, the HF is telling you (email) that they are not satisfied with some of your work performance. That will make it harder to rematch. There is also no way to know if you are able to rematch, the next HF will have a relationship with you that you are wishing for.

For me, it starts with AP doing a good job, then I have a warmer feeling towards her and will be inclined to be more friendly and inclusive with AP. If the AP bugs me, I certainly would not want to spend more time with her and invite her to activities. It is impossible to separate a personal relationship from a working one.

Dorsi November 23, 2017 at 2:48 pm

Parents of young children are often chronically exhausted. They may still be getting up frequently at night, or every morning at 5a. I used to giggle when Au Pairs would ask what my hobbies are. I wanted to answer with the truth at the time: “Going out to dinner with my husband while the Au Pair watches my kids”.

It is impossible to understand how much work it is to keep a house running with small kids until you do it yourself. You are fresh out of high school and have never balanced bill paying, grocery shopping, swim lesson sign-ups, laundry, general housekeeping, new snow boots for winter trip, preschool applications, birthday card for grandma from the kids, vacation planning, Au Pair needs AND a full time job. I didn’t get it until I was in the middle of it.

However, you don’t have to “get it” – you need to work hard and off-load ALL of the child-related work. ALL of the dishes, toys, laundry, tidying. You will not have a successful year until you embrace that being an Au Pair is a lot of work (and in my opinion, something that you receive a lot of compensation for). Your host parents aren’t happy with the work you are doing so they don’t want to be around you. (This is the situation I am in right now, so it is possible I am projecting, but based on your letter, I feel like I know your situation well).

I often communicate with my Au Pairs via email. I find 18 year olds terribly defensive and I don’t like argument and confrontation. I also want clarity in the conversation. REPLY to the email. Do not argue. EXPLAIN what you will do differently.

I can’t imagine that a family would ever rematch because they felt they were too loud for you. You do not understand what rematch does to a family if you think that they would do it just so you could find a quieter family. They rematched because you were not providing adequate services to their family.

This is your second chance. You have 45 hours a week to convince the family that you are a tremendous help. When you do this, you will find that the family will want you around all the time. You have 123 hours per week to find joy and connection and a little sleep and class time.

You are very unlikely to get a third chance. Every non-abusive Au Pair host family can be the place to have a memorable and growing experience. No one cares as much about your happiness and self-fulfillment as you do (this is true for all of us once we are adults). Make you amazing year, it is not going to be given to you.

HRHM November 27, 2017 at 12:55 pm

“I can’t imagine that a family would ever rematch because they felt they were too loud for you. You do not understand what rematch does to a family if you think that they would do it just so you could find a quieter family. They rematched because you were not providing adequate services to their family. ”

THIS! They may have told you a nice story about why they were letting you go, as you said, you had a nice friendship with the HM. But in reality, you weren’t providing what they needed. HMs don’t (generally) need a nice friend to have fun dinners and family movies. They need someone to take on the work of day to day life so that they have a chance to breathe. If you aren’t that for this new family, don’t expect to last long here either.

Lots of HFs don’t like confrontation and so if you don’t quickly step up, they too will find a “nice” reason to send you on your way.

Callie November 28, 2017 at 2:28 pm

YES. I’m sorry, but I don’t know any HF, including us, that would go through the frustration and difficulty of rematch because they were worried ‘they were too loud for you’.. Rematch is very difficult process for any HF, it is an uncertain time. If you were doing a great job as an AP for the family (not talking about off-hour hang out time), they wouldn’t want to deal with the hassle of rematch. You yourself said that you couldn’t get the kids’ interest and that they would get angry with you. As a mother, I would hear those arguments and (she probably had to step in, which defeats the point of an AP) feel like my AP and children weren’t bonding. Not bonding with the children would be a HUGE red flag for me.

You are 18 years old, unfortunately with 2 rematches in 3 1/2 months due to personality mismatch, I would never look further at your profile. Those are quick time to leave a family in the lurch merely for personality mismatch.

You need to talk to your host family. You shouldn’t be offended that they sent you an email, people communicate differently. An email is not necessarily a symbol of them only wanting a professional relationship. Perhaps, they just thought it would be easier to say it that way and let you read and digest it. Not responding to the email, to me, would come off as more rude or uncaring than sending the email.

You want to hang out with them on the weekend, but have you even asked to come? You don’t say where they go, if you even want to go, or if they’ve told you you cannot. It sounds like you think they aren’t talking to you well (and they may not be), but it’s also clear that you are not either.

Also, you say that your location also is impacting your feelings. This, to me, is a major concern. 1) you chose this location when you matched with the family. They didn’t move. & 2) part of this experience is new locations. This comment makes you sound like you don’t really know what you want, and that would concern me as a HM, that you would think you want to be part of our family, and then change your mind 2 weeks later, leaving us with no childcare.

Should be working November 24, 2017 at 6:10 pm

I was an HM who communicated mostly by email when there were things I needed to criticize or correct or improve. With written communication the nonnative-English AP had time to look it up and digest it. I could avoid conflict and do the communicating when I wanted to, not wait for a ‘quiet moment’ when kids are asleep and I’d rather be doing my own stuff. AP could decide how to react without immediately being defensive.

The best APs simply wrote back and said, “Thanks, I’ll remember to…”. I might say when I next saw the AP “I wrote you an email with some feedback about how things are going, let me know if you have any questions or want to discuss.”

Bitka November 26, 2017 at 10:03 am

Loneliness is essential while being an Au pair. Don’t wait for HP-what is important for 99% of them is the wellbeing of their kids and making their life easier. In general Au pair don’t live ‘with’ HP of the children. Au pair has a room in hosts house. To have great Au pair year you have to organize yourself-find free activities or buy courses, trips, things. It is possible traveling alone during weekend trips and especially in your last travel month. Every Au pair has different schedule so it is hard to pair up with someone. In USA density is low. People are locked in cars. Local people work long hours. Local students study or study and work. HP will be spending time with their kids so you could be off. It’s very rare to have relationship with HP and you would have to be extremelly lucky to keep this relation when the program end.

2 kids and a cat November 27, 2017 at 4:14 pm

I’d suggest thinking about about what the host parents want out of the AP experience and why they are sponsoring a J-1 visa. We truly want an AP who is going to take advantage of her year in the States, but not necessarily rely on us for her socialization. Very young kids are exhausting, even with an AP in place. There are so many behind-the-scenes details to making sure that everything is in place for you to have a successful day with the kids, plus their jobs, plus running the house, plus wanting to spend time with each other.
Going up for rematch is not going to change what YOU are bringing to the table. So, you should probably look again at that email and think about A. how you can do your job a bit better; B. how you can be a better housemate; and C. how you can take responsibility for your experiences in your off time. Even though you say it’s rural, you are part of an AP cluster, so other people can’t be too far off. It’s also okay to go back to the family and let them how you are going to work on what they mentioned in the email, and also ask them for more support in the most challenging parts of your job, or for some suggestions on making community connections.

Elizabeth November 28, 2017 at 9:57 pm

One thing I would add is that although we are a HF who VERY much wants our privacy and find it challenging to have a stranger in our home at first, I do think as the “adults” here (18, 19, 20, these girls are just learning and lack power obviously living in someone else’s home), we should STRIVE to communicate directly and invite an AP to dinner, an outing or to watch a movie. To expect them to invite themselves is unfair. If my AP asked to go on an outing I didn’t want her to I’d be annoyed. No one wants to ask to be invited. And all APs deserve some consistent and warm interchange. I am stressed and harried every day of the week and though inside I so wish I didn’t have to do pleasantries with my AP in the beginning and at the end of the day, we owe her at least that. It also send a bad message on many levels to my kids if I do not treat her as family. I think this AP should stick it out, accept the situation and empower herself but she should also know that the cold, isolating family is not the norm or good representatives of the spirit of the program.

HMAdvice November 29, 2017 at 10:01 am

Great advice here. I hope you take it to heart what these host families are telling you. I agree with almost every comment here. The reality of it is there is no “perfect fit” . There are families that will probably match your personality better than others but at the end of the day it is about understanding that no family will be perfect. It is a lot about embracing the experience and picking your battles. If you have serious issues with the family talk to the LCC but if not,figure out what YOU can do to improve your situation. There are some good points here about how busy Host Families really are and there are probably lots of things that go on “behind the scenes” that you don’t even know about. I guarantee your HF’s workload is probably triple what yours is, so take that into account when you are evaluating your feelings.

NJ Mom December 2, 2017 at 3:04 pm

When we started in the AP program, our kids were very young, and the last thing we wanted was a teenage child to take care of. If you were our AP (at that time), complaining about me not providing you a social life would have irked me to no end. I would suggest taking ownership of your own life instead of expecting your host family to cater towards your happiness (the way your parents might). Your AP year is not going to be handed to you. You need to work to be a good AP. When there is a challenge, you need to work through it instead of throwing up your hands and giving up.

Find things to do during your off time. There are all sorts of social media and apps to meet people. Find any other APs in your area. What do other people do for fun in your area? Be willing to try new things. Contact your LCC to find out what you can do.

When you are in charge of the kids, come up with ideas on things to do. Walks, scavenger hunts, playgrounds, games, art projects, etc. My guess is that one factor in your first rematch is that you needed to take waaay more initiative with the kids. “Sweet type” was probably a nice way to say that you let the kids do whatever they wanted instead of taking charge of them.

CO Host Mom December 11, 2017 at 1:49 pm

As a host mom, I agree with what others have said, I would be very hesitant to take on someone that has had two personality mismatches in the first quarter of a year. I would ask myself “can anyone make her happy?” Have you started taking college classes? That might be a way to meet new people and find ways to keep busy.

I think the bigger lesson that the OP is illustrating is the importance of talking about the type of relationship you want when matching and/or especially when rematching. Be very honest and be very open. If having family dinners is important, say that. If you are a host parent that doesn’t cook (like me), then say that. In the matching process, it’s human nature to be optimistic and think about the best case scenario but too often we fool ourselves into thinking we can something work when it’s too big of a hurdle.

Good luck and please let us know how things work out.

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