Need Some Advice?

We’d love to be able to target this blog to exactly what’s on your mind now . So, if there is a topic, an issue or a question that you’d like us to address on AuPairMom — just send me an email! Tell me what you want to know, and I’ll turn it around into a post that should trigger some ideas from other readers.

Please, read this whole page before you send a request.

And, please don’t drop your request into the comments on a post about something completely different. When folks do that, the conversation gets twisted up, and it becomes really difficult for other readers to find, comment on and share your concerns. We Au Pair Moms (and Dads) get pretty excited to offer advice…. Sometimes Moms & Dads will add their advice in the comments, below, before we can even get your question up as its own post.  When responses start to get tangled in the comments, we will often move them from this page to the post set up specifically for your topic.  Moms with advice, be patient <grin>. The parents, counselors, au pairs, former au pairs, and interested folks who contribute their comments, suggestions, and insights are by and large a caring and thoughtful group. I am amazed sometimes by what folks share with each other here, just out of their own belief that having an au pair and being a good host parent is important .

1. Read Before You Write…

Before you actually compose your question, check the rest of the blog for posts with similar topics. Be clever and flexible with the terms you use to search.

2. Use the categories, tag cloud, search box and page of “previous posts” to see what we’ve already talked about.

Then, tailor your request for advice based on the questions that remain UN answered. That way, we won’t have 2,347 requests for information about Au Pair Handbooks, but instead will get one targeted request for Handbook Pages and Guidelines that address, oh, when your neighbor calls because you au pair is sunbathing in your backyard, topless. Yes, it happened.

3. Send me an email at Mom @  with your question, concern, situation, or idea. 


4. Share your issue in the weekend Open Thread post.  

The Open Thread is available from Friday night to Monday morning and is designed for when you have a little question or an emergency.   You can share your concern in the comment stream, and readers who are online over the weekend will help you out!

5. Give us enough information to help you.

We’ve discovered that it helps for other readers to have some basic information about your au pair situation, regardless of the particular issue you want some advice about. So, please be sure to include in your email this kind of information, where it’s relevant:

Tell us:

How long your au pair has been with you Your au pair’s age, language ability, home country How many children you have, and their ages Whether you work out of the home, in the home, full-time, part-time Your previous experience with au pairs (Have you had one before? Did the issue come up with that au pair?) Whether or not you like your au pair as a person (this matters a LOT to the advice other moms will give you) Whether your au pair has a good relationship with your children and your other host parent-partner What you have already tried. What information needs to be kept confidential.

  • If you are an au pair or thinking of becoming an au pair, we will sometimes but not always address your question. It’s not that we don’t love you, but instead because this blog is primarily for parents.
  • If you are a host parent from outside the USA and you have a situation that is relevant to anywhere on the globe, we’ll try to help you.


  • If you are a host parent from outside the USA and you have a situation that wouldn’t exist in the USA because of the USA rules governing Au Pairs, we will only sometimes be able to help you.  Readers often don’t have experience that’s relevant to non-USA situations that exist because of different regulations (or lack of them).

6. Be Patient. Give us a chance to gather the advice  you want. 

Sometimes it will take several days for your query to show up as a post of its own, whether you email it to me or add it to the Open Thread. We try to capture your request and then set it up for a blog post, rather than leave it on some page in the comments.  As its own post, your request gets the attention it deserves AND it’s easy for others to find the advice later, too.

7. Come back to the post and tell us what happened!

After readers offer their advice, they usually want to hear how things turned out. As a way to contribute to the learning of the community as a whole, and -yes- as a way to thank the other parents and au pairs who took the time to offer advice, please come back and share in the comments what you did, what worked, and what you learned.

CV  aka aupairmom


[Note: This post should help to clarify what you can expect when you email AuPairMom with a question. It aims to put into black and white the principles by which we’ve been operating for a while. Please email with any questions! ~cvh]

When you email AuPairMom for advice, here are some things you should know:

1. I may take your email text, in part or in full, to use within a post about the topic you are asking about.

Often in order to share useful advice, people need some of the details of the situation.

Generally, I tend to edit the emails and remove some specifics, (e.g., city you’re in, actual country you are from, actual ages and genders of host kids) where those specifics are not critical

2. I will NOT post your name, email address or other specific identifying information, in an effort to keep the conversation about the issues that are raised and not about the particular individuals involved.

3. If you want to share your situation BUT keep some of the details private, you must TELL ME SPECIFICALLY which bits of information these are.

It is up to you to determine want you want to share with me/ AuPairMom vs what you want to remain off the blog itself.

4. I expect that your emails tell the truth as you see it, and that you aren’t adding additional ‘facts’ or over-dramatizing what’s happening.

We have to take your word for things since we aren’t there to assess the situation ourselves (obviously), so your word must be as honest and reliable as you can make it.

5. I am happy to add corrections (and note that they are corrections) if any agency guideline or process is incorrectly described in the post itself or by any of the commenters.


Please email me if you believe there is something inaccurate, and send me a link to the correct information.

That said, I will not add ‘corrections’ that are the ‘other side’ of the situation. We will not get into an “X said this/ Y said that” situation.

If there are any other issues abut which I should make my policy clear, please let me know via email at mom at aupairmom. dot com.

Ultimately, the reasons to email us need to include not only to get help for your individual situation but also to create advice and wisdom for the other users of the blog who might contribute to or learn from the discussions on any post.

And as always, please make an effort to search the blog for advice on your situation before emailing. I can’t personally answer each email, and I am not able to send you replies to commonly-asked questions that have already been answered here on the blog.



Karen March 26, 2009 at 4:09 pm

My au pair has spent her time here shopping. Now it is time to go home. Does anyone know a good way to get stuff to Germany. I called FedEx and DHL but the rates are high. It doesn’t have to get there soon. Is it cheaper just to pay the extra baggage fee with the airlines? My au pair wanted to travel during the 13th month and leave from the West Coast but the baggage is becoming a big problem. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

D March 27, 2009 at 11:52 pm

I would like to know if having groceries delivered to my home once a month (very large amount) is OK to have my au pair put them away? Is this reasonable??

Of course I can’t be home…. The delivery person brings them all in & puts the pop & milk in the correct spots. But all the frig, freezer & dry goods would need put away. $350 worth of groceries as we have 6 people in our home to feed.

We are trying to find ways of making all our lives easier. As you know a working family….with 3 children & an au pair. We have to eat & we all don’t want to go them & grocery shop if we don’t have to. So this was a solution for the entire family.


dramamamma April 17, 2010 at 9:55 pm

I have hosted several aupairs. A couple that will be part of our family forever and I could not imagine them not being part of us. So I have had it good. It is kind of like great chocolate or a fine wine, once you have had it the way it is supposed to be, it is difficult to settle for less. I have had mediocre where I could work with the situation, as long as the family was happy and not negatively impacted, I am okay too. However…
New aupair has put me into a quandary. She is so sweet and I think has made an effort. She did overlap my previous au pair by a month due to previous au pair’s travel arrangements not working out as expected. This was not ideal for bonding as the children loved previous au pair and even though she was not scheduled to work, she participated and made every effort to train new au pair who took the route of staying in the background and making little effort with the children. Also it should be noted that during this month, she took every opportunity to ask anyone and everyone to help her with or actually do her tasks for her and on many occasions seemed to choose not to follow directions even after being asked several times. I made the decision to have a talk with her on the day previous au pair left and begin with a clean slate as if it was day 1. I worked with and encouraged the children to do this as well. There were safety issues through the month that had me worried also, but I want to be completely fair and so started fresh.

It has been 2 weeks and I don’t feel comfortable leaving her alone with even one child because she is intelligent, but absentminded and I am afraid something could happen. I am a SAHM with 4 children, all but the youngest in full time school. The youngest is in school until at least noon every day. I mainly need an aupair to help me when I need to be in two places at once, or to keep the younger ones occupied while I do homework with the older ones, or to give me the opportunity to connect one on one with each of my babies and give them my undivided attention when they need it. DH has a very challenging schedule and so we just feel lucky to have him when we get him. My other biggest need is in the summer if we are at the beach. I need to be able to rely on my aupair to be my partner in watching my guys and not have to worry she is letting someone be carried off by sharks because a lifeguard is saying hello to her.

After this tax check was just sent, I am more aware than ever of how much money we put into this and I am having so much trouble justifying this in my head and my gut, but she really is nice. What would you do?

Anna March 28, 2009 at 12:08 am

I think it is reasonable to ask her to put away perishables (things that have to be refrigerated or put in the freezer right away), but let the rest of the groceries wait for you to come home…

Anna March 28, 2009 at 12:09 am

If your au pair is NICE, she will probably put away the rest anyway…
But you shouldn’t ask her IMHO. $350 of groceries is a lot.

Franzi March 28, 2009 at 1:36 am

@ D, ask your AP nicely to put away the food, at least the perishables. cans/boxes that you would store in the garage/basement/further away from the kitchen can be put away with the kids if they are old enough

@ Karen, the most recent post here (getting her stuff back home) will give you some suggestions. it is solely your au pair’s problem. she knew she would go back home! she should contact her airline about excess baggage but i guess even that won’t do the job. so she needs to sort out, and ship. books via m-bags, the rest via regular airmail as the cheapest service (by ship, took 3 months for a package to travel) was discontinued years ago. dhl/fed ex is even more expensive and doesn’t ship personal moving goods.

hostmomtobe March 29, 2009 at 6:57 pm

Hi cvh,
I had noticed a serious call for advice from Franzi on this blog and had wanted to respond. Maybe the post was taken down because it wasn’t strictly an AP/Host family problem. Is there a way to get in touch with Franzi?

cvh March 30, 2009 at 2:10 am

Hi Hostmomtobe–
That is so sweet of you!
I moved Franzi’s question to its own post, scheduled for tomorrow, so that the conversation is easier to find and to reply to…I didn’t realize anyone had already seen it and was ready to reply! Can you hold on for a day? Thanks :-) cv

NY Mom March 30, 2009 at 6:13 am

Can you poll this topic? Does your au pair join you for your main family meal if she is off-duty? If you want her to join you do you schedule it as her on-duty time?

VA Au Pair March 31, 2010 at 6:01 pm

Most host family’s want there au pair to be part of the family,When my host parents get home i’m off dutie but i do join them for dinner.When i have other plan’s i let them know and they don’t set a place at the table for me.Au pair’s have to work 10 hours a day as per the goverment. The minute one host parent is home and the au pair is finished with all her duties then she is off. But no you do not have to schedule it as a on-duty time.

Dorsi March 31, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Correction: you are off when there is a responsible adult present AND you are scheduled to be complete with your day. I work all night and am home sleeping (or reading aupairmom) during the day. My AP is expected to work a full day, even if I am up.

VA Au Pair March 31, 2010 at 8:07 pm

Dorsi,i did’nt say anything about working a half day did i?,If your host family works from lets say 8:30am to 6:30 pm as most parents do that is a 10 hours a day,if a host family comes home sick or even works from home ,the au pair still has to work. I meant that when one of the host family gets home from work after 6:30 pm then the au pair is finished with her day for she has already worked her 10 hours.

cvh March 30, 2009 at 7:36 am

Will do!

Calif Mom April 3, 2009 at 10:44 pm

Just lost a key management tool — any ideas?

My AP joined us last summer and is going to extend (yay!). I have been wanting to fine tune some expectations ahead of signing those papers, and have been taking notes on specific things I would like her to start doing more consistently. She and I do not have much overlap time (she is not a morning person, and retreats to her room when I come home, which is fine, but makes it difficult to provide feedback in a casual sort of way. Our handbook is pretty good, but things like schedule and kids’ needs have changed.

During her spring break vacation, I spent a lot of time thinking abt how to launch our new “performance management system”, and a key element was going to be email (thanks to that whole discussion about extending the so-so au pair). If we don’t get some of these things to go more smoothly, I’m pretty sure I won’t be thrilled that I chose to extend with her, if you know what I mean.

Well, now it seems her laptop migrated to a friend when she was on break. She has plans to save money and buy another one but that will be a long time from now. So email will no longer work.

Here’s my plan, please help me fill gaps:
— email (defunct for now)
— Monday night meeting to go over schedule for week ahead
— establishing a system of checklists for each day

I am contemplating whether having a “yes, we want to extend, but here’s what we need to improve” conversation with her, or if that would backfire.

One other factor — her first week back from vacation was a bit of a mess, with late kid pick-ups, forgetting important items, etc. caused by disruption in routine and perhaps lingering distraction of her trip. She feels terrible about the problems, and while I don’t want to hit her while she’s down, I do want to take advantage of the opportunity to ask for some improvements.

Thanks for any ideas!

cvh April 4, 2009 at 12:11 am

Calif Mom- Your request will pop up tomorrow as a post!

Betty April 7, 2009 at 5:35 am

Missing Items

Have you ever experienced “things” missing? My kids are at school all day and my au pair is home. I am beginning to wonder what is going on. I shop at COSTCO each week and spend around $300 in food for five people. My au pair doesn’t cook and can barely reheat anything, but the groceries keep disappearing and I haven’t used them. I just bought Ketsup, I think it is a two or three bottless package There is none in the pantry which is VERY large and usually very full. Very strange!!!! 72 cans of soda are gone!!! I buy meat in large quantities and vacuum pack it. Expense steaks and other items are no longer there????????? etc, etc. etc. I have three refrigerators. The kids say she nevers feed them and when I come home they have helped themselves to snacks which they shouldn’t eat before dinner. Of course, I have to cook dinner, because she doesn’t know how to cook!! I also found wine bottles in the garbage. If you don’t write it down, and then remind her several times nothing gets done. Everytime I speak with her, she plays stupid. She doesn’t know anything. She is leaving in June, so a rematch isn’t feasible at this point. We had a meeting with the LCC several months ago and things got tolerable, but are once again falling apart. She doesn’t put gas in the car, etc. etc. Any advice on what I should do? Any clue with what is happening to my food? I guess I should check my jewelery. I am just so busy with work and trying to coordinate all the kids activities that I have no time for anything else. My commute time is more than some people work per day, including my au pair!!! I was hoping that an au pair would help, but it is just like having another child. My kids are 10 and 12 and need supervision (they are running the show) and to be driven to activities (always late) and help with homework (no clue). The au pair just turned 20. Next time definitely an older au pair, but what else? I can never understand them when I call. They all say they “don’t know”. I have called over 20 people. It is all the same. What is in it for them? The applications don’t match what they say on the phone (from what I can tell). The present au pair told me she was a wonderful cook????? Was great at school and would love to do homework????? Any countries better than others? It seems if you can’t keep them happy, they leave. The agency makes this far too easy for them and difficult for the families involved. If they signed up for a year they need to do their job. Working 20 – 25 hours a week shouldn’t be a problem, but I guess I am asking too much.

What should I look for in the next au pair? Hope you all can help. In this economy, I need to focus on my job!!!

Anna April 7, 2009 at 11:39 am

Betty, I am sorry you had such bad luck.
There is a great post on this blog about interviewing question, that plus comments is great help in choosing the au pair well.
What you look for depends on your needs. I am not a very experienced host mom (will start our third year shortly, and we’ve had one rematch).
Here is what I’ve learned about matching so far.
For our family, Brazilians and Latin Americans work well. Never again a Russian or Ukrainian au pair. I prefer somebody over 21, and in college or a better yet a college graduate (that seems to indicate certain maturity and sophistication). I also am very choosy. I read an application carefully, and call the girl only if my gut tells me that is it. The feeling you’d be looking for is “I cannot believe this girl hasn’t been snapped up already, I am so lucky and excited to see this application!”. And your hand will reach for the phone.
Also, something I learned this round – enlist help of others. Ask your local coordinator or a matching coordinator of what she thinks of the application, and fish for details, not just “she is OK”. Ask your friends to look at it. For our present match (will arrive this summer), who comes after a year of bad experiences, I had my first and favorite au pair speak to her (they are from the same country), I also had my SIL call and speak to the girl (they speak the same language).

Maya April 7, 2009 at 3:40 pm

Hi Betty. Wow, I would definitely figure out a way to check up on your belongings and what is happening there. This is just plain weird. It is one thing when sodas and snacks are disappearing, but when you have frozen uncooked goods go away with an AP who does not cook, that is just strange.

As for your next step, I would definitely read the ‘Interview Questions’ post that Anna referred to. We right now hosting our second AP and we have not even been a year in the program. We rematched our first AP after 5 moths. Reading this blog, I realized that I have made a lot of mistakes in picking and managing our first AP. If I knew now what I know then, it would not have happen. With my current AP, things are a bit better. She is not the greatest AP, but I have learned to manage the situation better, which helps a lot. Also, setting expectations and boundaries is the key. I am still reading and learning as I will be starting a selection process for the next AP in a few weeks.

Franzi April 8, 2009 at 12:48 am

@ Betty, i think you need to give yourself more time in the matching process. if you want a good level of english, look for au pairs from countries that have a good english education level (aside from native speakers) such as scandinavian countries, germany, switzerland, austria.
same goes for driving. if you want your au pair to drive well, pick a girl from a country that requires a driving test PLUS driving lessons before they can obtain a licence.
if you want a good cook, ask what they like to cook and how they prepare the food. also ask for local specialties and how to fix them (that should tell you if the girl is only talking the cook/bake talk or if she’s actually walking the walk)
if you reall want to know if food is disappearing, either take pictures of the pantry or ask your au pair straight out. say you bought xyz and now can’t find it and would like to know if she has seen it/used it.

hope your next au pair is a better match!

Karen April 8, 2009 at 4:23 pm

Does anyone have experience hosting an au pair from South Africa? Anything that you can share about the experience would be greatly appreciated.

Former Host Mum from VA April 20, 2010 at 4:19 pm

We had an Au Pair last yr from SA. I thouht she would be great as I have good friends from SA, am fairly familiar with the culture and we wanted someone who would have great English. She was a nightmare and lasted 6 weeks.
However I have heard very good things about other Au Pairs from SA.
The only one of our Au Pairs that worked out was an older Au Pair from Belgium.

PA AP mom April 20, 2010 at 4:42 pm

My friend had a SA au pair during a rematch. Her English was great and she had good driving skills but my friend found her to be rude, confrontational and not very caring.

She was 18. not sure if that matters. She lasted 8 weeks or so.

Calif Mom April 8, 2009 at 8:20 pm

Karen — Our neighbors had a South African AP (the hosts are northern European and wanted an English speaker). She was a great AP, extended to full two years, worked hard, very loving, cheerful, friendly. Not a driver. With all these ‘anyone know about country X” responses, please never forget that what matters most is picking the individual, because there is a wide range in every country.
Like Anna, we are not warm on Eastern Europeans. Our LCC was a former AP herself, from Latvia. She is great, and i’m sure her host family felt luckiest in the world. That said, we tried Bulgaria and Ukraine, and won’t go back for another dip in the former Soviet block pool. Both ended in rematch b/c those girls were looking for something much different than AP’ing. Like Anna, we have had much better ‘fit’ with Brazilians and Latin Americans. 2 of 3 of our Brazilians have been excellent drivers, you just have to ask the right questions about that. I completely echo everything said above about checking this site for interview advice. Our friends really like the German girls, and the French, but we need a girl who is used to living in closer quarters than most of them, who grew up with their own rooms and western european privileges.

Betty — this sounds awful. Also sounds like she is giving the food to someone, maybe she has starving friends? Maybe she is selling it to raise money before she goes home (that would require some ambition, though). I think it is time to loop in the LCC again. This is well beyond the normal “lame duck” slippage that happens when you get near the end of the AP year. I would put this squarely on the LCC’s shoulders to find you a solution — ask the agency what they can do about getting you a new AP who can stay at least a year. Maybe a rematch who just got here? An extension AP? you should not have to put up with this for another two months — you’re really stressed sounding. Also, be careful about thinking that age = maturity! Older APs may be more likely to be responsible adults, but isn’t a guarantee, either. We had a terribly immature 25 year old whom we had to dump because she was threw tantrums to rival the 3 year old’s!
Read up on the interview advice, and think about using Skype to interview girls overseas. Personally, I prefer rematch girls whom i can meet in person, bring to the house, have interact with the kids. The girls we have rematched with that way over the years have worked out great, and eventually extended. best of luck!

Anna April 8, 2009 at 10:47 pm

Calif Mom, Latvia is not Eastern Europe. Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are more western; they were annexed by the soviet union much later, in the 1940 ies, and kept their western mentality.

Betty April 10, 2009 at 6:19 am

Yes – I am definitely stressed out due to the economy. I have had to let go many wonderful dedicated employees who have done a wonderful for many, many years. You could not ask for more. Then I come home to an au pair that is basically a warm body that my kids control. Nothing is done, no matter what I say. I have to cook dinner and do homework, etc, etc. My first au pair was a rematch because the au pair I selected decided at the last moment that she didn’t want to be an au pair. The first rematch lasted three weeks. I was on vacation and spent the entire time catering to her, but it wasn’t enough. I then needed to find a new au pair in a few days. I took a rematch that was local. I did meet her, no wow factor, but I needed someone. Major interest is in having a good time. Dishes in the sink, doesn’t cook, laundry isn’t done, homework isn’t done, and all she does is complain about the kids. Now all they do is tell on her……….. Anyway, I have no time to do a rematch at this point. I used all the interview questions and hopefully my dream au pair is coming soon. What impact has the economy had on other host Mom’s and Dad’s? Are you all feeling the stress? How do you handle an au pair that is leaving and has no reason to do anything? I would appreciate your thoughts. I love this blog. It is soooooooo….helpful.

Calif Mom April 10, 2009 at 8:50 am

Anna– thanks for setting me straight on the geopolitical front.

Betty– “Lame duck” au pairs: sorry to say, IMHO there are two, disparate paths you can follow: lump it, or micro-manage her.

Micromanaging means a very detailed schedule and checklists. Hold her feet to the fire. Call her at every critical time in her schedule (“just checking to make sure you have left the house for piano lesson” or whatever). Put sticky notes on the food they are allowed to eat, marked with times on it, etc. This would be unbelievably annoying, but it sends the signal that she is not done yet and you still expect her to do her job, even if she doesn’t love or even like it.

Take photos of the stocked shelves and freezer.

Another thought — when things really got bad with a surly AP, I engaged the kids in finding solutions to some of what needed to happen but wasn’t. This was sort of a survival thing for them, because at the end none of us wanted to be around this woman, frankly. Not sure if this works with your parenting philosophy, but your kids are old enough to suffer the consequences if they don’t do their homework and the AP doesn’t get them to do it either. (And they’re young enough that a bad grade won’t jeopardize their college applications!) Homework is not your job; you have enough stress right now. If they eat a snack right before dinner and aren’t hungry, then let them be starving at bed time. It will only happen once. Allow natural consequences to follow from choices they make when you aren’t around to supervise them. I would start this by having a conversation first. “Okay, guys, here’s what needs to happen, we’re all in this together. Let’s figure out how you can be sure you get it done. Imagine how it would feel to have your homework finished when I get home… I wouldn’t yell at you, the AP won’t be nagging you, and you will come home one day with a good grade. What needs to change so you can do homework successfully, by yourself, after school?” Get them to name each logistical hurdle and figure out solutions. It sounds cheesy, but it can work.

Also recognize that this can be scary for your kids, because they know the AP doesn’t like your family (even if they can’t articulate it) and they have to rely on her for rides, etc.

Does your school offer after- and before-care? Might be preferable for a few weeks to subjecting them to this situation. just a thought. Or another idea for after-school coverage is local college students who are losing scholarship money and looking for income. colleges have job boards on line these days. Good luck!

cvh April 10, 2009 at 4:05 pm

Calif Mom– This is some great advice.. I’ll plan to pull this issue out into its own post next week. cv

Mom of 2 Girls April 13, 2009 at 3:19 am

Karen – We have had an au pair from South Africa, known one in our cluster pretty well who was friends with our German au pair, are acquainted with another SA friend of our SA au pair, and interviewed at least three during our most recent matching experience (Dec. 08-Feb.09). Because we have a toddler and a grade-school-age child who needs assistance with homework, we hoped that we could find someone with English as their native language in order to avoid problems with them understanding each other, being able to understand the homework instructions, etc. Plus, their accent when speaking is very soothing and enjoyable to listen to, in my opinion!

It would be very hard to generalize about any nationality, as each au pair is unique and has her own good and not so good qualities. Of the three we interviewed, one was an extension AP already in the US, who chose to join another family in a big city on the east coast rather than come to our more suburban west-coast home (we would have been very lucky to get her!), the second had previously been an AP in NY and wanted to come back for another year (a fairly new option that’s become available, at least with our program), but ultimately wasn’t ready to come two months hence, as she had to give 2-months’ notice to her current employer, pack up her residence and say goodbye to a large family, while the third one’s mother answered all the emails for the prospective AP, and they were gone on a 2+ week vacation, and we had already chosen someone else by the time the finally got around to emailing us back upon their return. If you’d like me to give you more personal details about the SA au pair we did have and the ones we knew, I’d be glad to correspond personally with you, if you’d care to forward you email to me; perhaps you could give me your address, or see if cvh can put us in touch? I hesitate to disclose personal details on this site since any of them could read this.

Anonymous April 13, 2009 at 6:27 pm

I wanted some advice and actually just wanted to see if anyone else ever felt like their au pair just rubs them the wrong way or just irritates them for no reason or am I just a terrible host parent/person? My au pair has been with us for about 9 mo now and we’ve definitely had some low and high points, but lately I really just find myself not wanting to be around her. We have 1 year old twins, and she takes OK care of them. This varies as well, she’s very inconsistent. Most of my issues with her don’t even have to do with her actual caring for my kids, it’s on a personal level, so I can’t really say anything to her about it. So my issues with her caring for my kids are small, but I’ve been noticing that she’s awake all hours of the night meaning she has very little energy to do much with the kids during the day. I leave the tv on kid shows when I leave in the morning and she immediately turns it on music videos or a movie. Granted, my kids don’t really watch tv but my feeling is she’s the one watching tv all day long. She’s becoming increasingly nasty to my dog, who is huge and at times also annoying, but I hear her yelling “MOVE” all the time at him, but then she’ll ask to take him for walks sometimes (but I think there’s another reason for this that I’ll get to in a minute). She has become increasingly ungrateful for things. I bought her a $10 huge piece of chocolate cake last weekend when we went to dinner. I told her about it and rather than say “thank you” she says “why?” and then after she ate almost all of it (it took me 3 days to eat this piece of cake and I like sweets) I asked her what it tasted like and she said she didn’t really like it. A really big issue for me is that I just don’t think she’s a very nice person. She has a lovely boyfriend who we’ve had over to the house and he’s from Bosnia as well. He lives two hours away and drives up to see her all the time and will drive back. She tells us she doesn’t really like him and is waiting for something better to come along. They were planning on going to vacation together and she said she didn’t care how much it cost because he was paying for everything (he does not come from money). She got mad at him when his brakes broke on his car and he couldn’t come get her and insisted we tell him over the phone that she did not want to talk to him. It broke my heart for this poor sucker. She refuses to take the bus to his house which costs $15 dollars and says “If he loves me he’ll come see me!”. I try to act motherly toward her and give her advice, but she thinks it’s funny to be nasty to him. I have a really hard time listening to her talk about all the horrible ways she is acting to this really generous and sweet kid (obviously he must like it!). On top of that, I brought her to watch my kids at a work convention out of town for 4 days, and on the very last night, they were having an ice cream social for staff and I was going to bed but told her to go down. I happened to check on her before that and she came out very provocatively dressed and the next morning I found out that “something” happened with one of the folks I am in charge of. She was very sneaky about it and after returning to work I heard from several co-workers she was on the prowl with all of the male staff. I have to take the babies to several things with me this summer for work and I don’t want to take her, I can’t risk being embarrassed in front of people who are important to my work again, or risk her going on the prowl with the wrong person! We had a party at my husbands work (it was a family party but my hubby is in the Army) as soon as she heard the party was going to be at the base she changed her outfit so she literally looked like a prostitute. We tried to convince her to change her outfit becuase it just wasn’t appropriate at my husbands work (much less anywhere except a strip club) and she said she “didn’t care”. She does take the dog for walks as well – so she can sit in town and have men approach her. We really just hate taking her anywhere with us now for this and other reasons. I am pretty young myself, and don’t expect her to dress conservatively, and know that all young girls like male attention, but it’s gotten bad. Also, and I know this is petty, but if we’re out together she won’t correct people who think the babies are hers, she will converse and act like they are her children and I will have to go up and correct them. At first it was funny, but now I see she actually does it intentionally, because she constantly has to have attention. She also is very quick to correct ME at my house telling me to be careful, to wipe my child’s face, you name it. I heard her the other night complaining to my husband that I was throwing a lot of baby clothes out and that I “should save them” because she felt so. Furthermore, despite numerous efforts, she has poor boundaries. I will put the babies in bed and they may be awake or whimpering, and I’ll walk out to see her in the middle of the room with the light on. I tell her to leave them in there and that they can cry for a few minutes and she’ll try to argue with me about it – or she’ll run in the room right before bed and start getting them excited and laughing…so they won’t settle down. I’ll see her try to sneak in the room later if she thinks she hears them. I’ve talked to her numerous times about this and she just refuses to listen. So I feel like I am a prisoner in my house where I can’t let my kids cry for even a few minutes without her sneaking downstairs and she’ll carry on about how mean I am. She’s always just in the babies face as well – if she comes into the room, they are never able to just sit, play alone, or relax, she is constantly in their face and she won’t even really allow them to play with eachother without getting in the middle to make sure she’s getting attention from one of the babies. It’s almost like the person you just don’t like, even though they really have done nothing to you and I know it’s horrible but it’s really gotten to a point where me and my husband just feel constantly irritated by her. We’re moving early in two months and she’s staying here, and we’re hoping just to ride it out . I try my best to be nice to her and incorporate her with us, but she has no friends besides her boyfriend, and that’s becuase I don’t think it’s just us she rubs the wrong way. So am I a monster and has anyone else EVER felt the same way I do? After reading this I feel terrible for even thinking this way!

Anna April 13, 2009 at 7:11 pm

Is this your first au pair? It sounds to me like you have VERY legitimate complaints, why are you feeling that it is all in your head and you are being unfair?
After reading your post I can list already a few things that with other families would put this au pair in rematch or going back home pretty quickly, such as:
1. Not following your requests in the work parties and actually hurting your and your husband’s reputation at work! this is a real biggie. As a result you cannot use her help on your business trips, but isn’t this help what you are paying for in the au pair program?
2. Not following your requests in caring for children and disrupting their bedtime routines and schedules. This is also a rematch-worthy complaint. Sleep and sleep habits are critically important to children’s health and development at this age.
3. You suspect she is watching TV all day long… while taking care of your kids? Are you sure she takes good care of your children?
4. She seems to be really unsuited for being an au pair, immature and with possibly some mental issues, self esteem issues.

I really hope your next au pair is great, if you choose to stay in the program.

Your feelings at this point are completely reasonable and understandable.

a-Mom-ymous April 13, 2009 at 9:30 pm

I second Anna’s perspective! These are not problems with you being petty. I’m not convinced she is trustworthy with your kids! Talk to your LCC and get a plan of action together — shape up or ship out conversation needs to happen.

CV April 14, 2009 at 4:28 am

Anonymous– we’ve set up your request for April 14th!

Tessa April 15, 2009 at 1:35 am

How do you handle an Au Pair that eats twice the amount as your husband. And eats your children’s food too? Also, if going out for dinner (which we don’t do often now) they order the most expensive meal and drink? We can’t afford her anymore!

Tessa April 15, 2009 at 1:39 am

What are your thoughts on Au Pairs being ready in the morning and eating their breakfast PRIOR to taking care of the kids? Our Au Pair will get the baby, feed him, and then put him in his bouncy, then she prepares her breakfast and eats. This is when I am getting ready to leave for work. I hear him whine because he just wants to be held and it breaks my heart!

Maya April 15, 2009 at 1:50 am

CVH, do you think you could make both of Tessa’s questions above separate posts? I have many thoughts about both of them, but have to run into the meeting. I will be back later to post my thoughts.


Maya April 15, 2009 at 1:53 am

Hi Tessa, and welcome! I don’t think I’ve seen you here before, but if I missed you, sorry. :)

Re your breakfast question – what time does your AP start working in the morning?

I have been struggling with this same issue, but my AP starts working at 7am, and cannot really expect her to be up before then, also considering that she works till 8pm.

I have some other thoughts, but I have to run now. I’ll be back. :)

cvh April 15, 2009 at 2:35 am

Serving them up tomorrow (or tonight). Can you hold on until they appear as a post?

Maya April 16, 2009 at 9:29 pm

CV, I have a topic suggestion. Let’s talk about playdates. It is one of those gray areas (in my opinion) that have not been discussed yet.

Scenario: Another parent drops kid’s friend off at your house for a playdate to be picked up in 1-2-3 hours, so your AP is home with your kid(s) and this other child. You, your spouse, and other child’s parents/caregiver are not there. Acceptable/not acceptable? Acceptable with AP’s agreement? Not acceptable at all under any circumstances?

What if your child can only have playdates after school on school days when you are at work? Does that mean no playdates for the child b/c AP should not be doing it? What if the child and friend are old enough where the parent should not be staying with them and drop off are acceptable?

Should/could AP pick up another child (friend) with you child when picking him/her up from school and take them all home for a play date?

Obviously, the reverse is fine, AP dropping off your child at someone else’s house for a playdate and coming back 2 hours late to pick him/her up. The two hours that she is on duty, but not working.

Abyy April 17, 2009 at 4:47 am

I try to encourage playdates at my house since otherwise the kids won’t have as many, but sometimes the moms have trouble with the idea. We are close enough to walk to & from school, which is good as many moms don’t want AP driving w their child. Others just have trust issues-espeically after the situation w my last AP (see “Rematch-NOW”) which of course the whole school knows about (from child#1’s re-enactment for show & tell).
I have tried to make a list of rules for playdates, and try to let the moms meet my AP, but admittedly there are less plays then there would be otherwise.

Former Aupair April 17, 2009 at 5:21 am

Hi Maya, I have a couple suggestions about Paly dates involving an AP.
I really think that an AP should be envolved with the playdate thing since this is a “child issue”. In other hand, I don’t think that is fair that the aupair has to deal with a bunch of extra kids every single day. What I did when I was an AP was talk to my host parents and with the other parents about the playdate rule. The rules consisted in share the playdates among the Parent’s houses, that way every parent could have they “peace moment” when their child were at My house under my care and I could have my “peace” moment when my host kid was having a playdate somewhere else. Other think that made me to talk with my host parents about the “playdate rule” was because after a while hosting kids for a playdate at my house, I felt like the other families were taking advantage of me because they knew that I was on duty every day after school and they just though that was okay to send they kids over to my Host house to have a playdate. After talking about the playdate rule, my host family and I decided that twice a week would be fear enough to host a play date at my care, and the other days my host kid should go to another house or just stay home by himself.

Aupairgal April 8, 2010 at 3:26 pm

When my family has social events in which I am formaly invited too (aka Not Working!) my host mother specifically told me that if someone tries to dump their kids on me to say very firmly say that I am not working and the children are not my responsibility right now. She is also very protective of me, which I appreciate, because some of those other parents are sometimes just ruthless. I also have the luxury of always saying “I have to call HM first to see if it is alright if your child comes over” if a parent asks to set up a play-date. If I am just having a bad day HM will back me up in saying no to a family.

Calif Mom April 17, 2009 at 6:06 am

I loathe playdates. If someone had clued me in before I was pregnant, everything might have turned out differently! ;-)

Maya April 17, 2009 at 7:42 am

Former Aupair, I absolutely agree with what you said.

To give a little more background, I will tell you why I brought this up. We don’t do a lot of playdates. For my older child I could not get a play date if my life depended on it. For whatever reason I don’t click with her classmates parents (and this has nothing to do with our AP). However, my younger child has a best friend in school. My child had a playdate at her friend’s house around New Year time. Also, this mother knows my AP because they see each other at school at the drop off and pick up time. About a month ago, she suggested that kids have another playdate, we worked out the day and time, and agreed on our house. She told me that she was fine with my AP picking up both my child and her child and taking them to our house and she would come by later and pick up her child. I talked to my AP and she agreed to this arrangement. In the end, everything worked out ok, but AP later told me that she was very nervous about having 3 kids in the house to look after. To be honest, I anticipated that, so told AP in advance that she cal let kids watch TV if they want (normaly, my kids only get 1 hour of TV before bed). Tomorrow, they will have another playdate at friend’s house and because we are leaving AP without a car for tomorrow, this mother will come to our house, pick up my child and then later bring my child back. In the end, everything turned out ok with the playdate at my house, but so far this has been one and only playdate. I want to know what other think should playdate become a more common occurence.

Dawn April 17, 2009 at 4:54 pm

I’d be interested in hearing the perspective of an LCC or someone who knows what the “official” rule is regarding playdates/caring for other children. In our family, we handle the issue similar to what “Former aupair” described. We do arrange playdates for our kids, but it needs to be reciprocal — meaning that if a child comes over to our house for a playdate (giving that parent a break), my child will then be invited to a playdate at the other child’s house (giving the AP a break). I would never alow my friends/the parents of my kids’ friends to take advantage of our AP as “free childcare.”

I do give my APs the choice about whether or not they feel comfortable having other kids over, but the reality is that playdates usually make things EASIER on the AP, rather than harder. (At least with my kids — when one of my kids has a friend over, they keep each other entertained, meaning less “active” work for the AP. Yes, she is still “in charge” and expected to supervise, but she doesn’t have to do as much actual play.)

Anna April 17, 2009 at 5:33 pm

I encourage my au pair to arrange playdates with the kids of her au pair friends. Our first au pair did that (obviously both au pairs are present during that playdate) did it a lot and on her own intiative, our current au pair hasn’t done it yet.

Maya April 17, 2009 at 5:52 pm

Anna, thank you for reminding me. Yes, I encourante this too. My former AP arranged playdates with her friend AP and her charges. They come over to our house a few times and they did a couple of outing to the museum and local parks.

My current AP, has not done that. She is friends with an AP who does not drive. And kids in that family are not in similar age as mine. So, for now, I will be doing what I can to set up playdates on my own.

But, yes, it is in my handbook, that we encourange AP to find playdates and activities for the kids.

I would just make a word of caution: If AP sets up playdates with her friends/their charges, talk to your kids to find out how it went. You want to make sure that you kids enjoy playing with those kids and that both sets of children are of the similar age. This should not become a social gathering entirely for AP’s conveniece. Granted, if they all go to the park, it would not matter as much if you kids are 7-8 years old and other kids 4-5 years old, but if it is playdate at the house, that may become a problem. YMMV.

Calif Mom April 17, 2009 at 6:24 pm

Maya, I absolutely agree.

Snarkiness aside, what I have learned about playdates boils down to a few things:
1) Unless it’s a mom I totally know and trust (ie would want to go out to dinner with), I want either my AP or myself to be staffing a playdate, especially for the under-6 crowd, whether the other children are supervised by an AP or a parent. That way we can ensure that our kid’s emotional needs are met, and the playdate ends when it needs to. I am often stunned by moms who think an after school playdate should end after dinner — my kids don’t have that kind of emotional endurance after a long day at school. They play hard and crash hard. I want the playdate to end before they crash. This is a basic tenet we try to follow–end on a high note.
2) it is risky for the happiness of older kids to allow APs to have carte blanche on setting up playdates with their AP friends. Many APs staff kids who are MUCH younger than ours and the older kids don’t enjoy this much. If it happens too often, older child may resort to sabotage
3) Playdates at a park are a great social equalizer. No fighting over playing with special toys, etc. And easier for AP to pull kid out when needed.
4) one other thing to think about is APs inviting kids to have playdates b/c APs (or former APs who are now illegal nannies) are friends, but you have never met the host or seen their house. It creates discomfort.

Anna April 17, 2009 at 6:59 pm

Calif mom, you are absolutely right. I forgot to mention that I do have a few guidelines: kids should be similar age to my kids, and the playdate should be pre-approved by me. And it goes without saying that our au pair should be present, I would never let her drop my kids off at anybody’s house except those of my own close mommy-friends.

Parent-anon April 17, 2009 at 9:33 pm

Please give me some suggestions on how to screen my next AP for organizational skills.

My current AP is just not adequate. We’ve had appropriate clothing and dressing for the weather issues all winter. We are talking forgetting sweaters, hats, gloves, letting kids out of the house in spring shoes in the middle of February, wearing a light shirt instead of a sweater when it is snowing and freezing outside, etc.

And now, this morning, my daughter had a sports practice this morning. I sent AP an email last night clearly stating what she should be wearing and what to bring with her, including her sports equipment. I get a call from AP this morning from the practice telling me that my kid forgot her equipment, got upset, refused to use the equipment coach lent her, and was crying and want to go home. After talking to my kid, I told them to go home.

I don’t think it is reasonable to expect for a 6 year old to remember to bring and pack everything she needs. That is what I have AP for, but apparently not. Now, my kid is home, upset, and still is crying 2 hours later. She also feels like it was her fault that she forgot her equipment, but I really think it is AP’s fault.

Yesterday, when my older kids had another sports practice, and AP with yournger kid had to be there and wait for me to come over from work, when I got there, I found out that younger kid was not wearing a sweater under her jacket and was cold. These practices take place at open fields, and even when the temperature is ok, it is very windy and feels much colder. And I did remind AP yesterday morning before I left for work, to about the sweater for the younger kid.

On Monday, she forgot to pack kids snacks when they left mid-day for the activities. They were going to be out of the house from 2pm to 7pm, and my husband reminded AP to take snacks with them around noon time when he was leaving for work and AP was starting her work day. When I talked to AP that afternoon, around 3:30pm, I asked her when she is planning to give kids their snacks as they were between the activities, and that is when I found out that she did not bring any snacks with her. In the end it worked out, since it started raining and they did not go the sports practice (5-6:30) and went home around 4:30pm. But seriously, who the heck leaves the house for 5-6 hours with 4 and 6 year old kids and does not bring any snacks with them? Especially, after they have been reminded.

Anyhow, how would you screen the next potential AP for more organizational skills? Please give me some suggestions and specific situations/questions to ask to screen for organizational skills. I will be starting the next selection process shortly, in May, and will be matching with the next AP for September.

We keep trying to encourage our AP and talk to her, but it just feels that by praising her when she does even something minute right; at this point – we are just rewarding mediocrity at my house.

A-Mom-ymous April 17, 2009 at 10:06 pm

Since you need to get from here to September, I suggest interim steps of giving her checklists, and calling her when you know she is getting ready to leave the house to nag her. I bet if you over-manage her she will get her act together.

Or maybe she’s just ADD. There are some good books and websites that have tactics for helping adults overcome ADD traits… a personal favorite is putting sticky notes on the steering wheel or stuck on your car keys(so you don’t leave home without super-important items).

Franzi April 18, 2009 at 12:03 am

regarding playdates: not only should it be fine for you to have the AP drive your kids and their friends, it should be ok for the AP as well! unless i knew the parents and knew that they were trusting my driving i would not take my kids’s friends in the car with me. not for 5 minutes, not two hours to get to a camp.

also, i made sure that the same security standards applied to all kids in the car meaning my kids needed a booster seat, the playdate-kid needed one as well. no exceptions. no seat? me no driving, sorry.

when there was a playdate with a new kid, i made sure i gave feedback to my HP to let them know how i feel it went (good for host kid or not). if your AP does not give you that feedback by herself, ask her! i had a playdate with a very ADD kid and aside from the fact that this child drove me to my limits, it was not a good partner to play with for my host kid. my child was also special needs but the needs just didn’t match (if that makes sense).

i think it is important to have a rule regarding not having your AP turn into the babysitter of the block. the rule described above sounds fair to me.

@ parent-anon: i think you ended up with a very disorganized person. or with someone who is not experienced in childcare. some girls barely have the 200 required hours. others have way past 1000. i think that does make a difference when it comes to organizing oneself and the kids.
maybe a “return-aupair”, an au pair that has completed her AP time, went back home and is now in for a second stint, is a good fit for you as those girls know what they are doing and getting into. plus, they have experience!
also, only interview girls who have experience with your child’s age group!

i believe, you also need to work on your communication with the AP. i think it is not ok to tell her what to pack for the kids via email. especially, if this is the first training ( i don’t know if this was the case).

if she is so forgetful, you need a checklist and you should remind her to go by that checklist when there is an activity. i assume the training is a regular occurance, so there could be a “training checklist” and a “museum checklist” and a “playdate checklist” etc

the fact that she seems oblivious to the weather, i can only attribute to her being from a different climate. where is she from?

Parent-anon April 18, 2009 at 12:56 am

the fact that she seems oblivious to the weather, i can only attribute to her being from a different climate. where is she from?

She is from Mexico. However, she never forgot to dress herself warm, so what gives?

And as for email, she preferes emails so that is what I do. Regardless, whether it is email or notes or any other form of communication, we have had same issues. She is disorganized! And I don’t know how to make her change that.

HulaGal March 17, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Just putting this out here because it is timely (instead of sending an email to CV). How are you all counting your au pair on your census form? After doing a google search on the topic I’ve decided to count her in Question 2 and not as part of the household.

CaliDad April 17, 2010 at 12:41 am

According to the “Questionnaire Reference Books” checking anything for question 2 will result in someone calling you or stopping by your door to make sure the uncounted person is fully and accurately counted. I won’t count my au pair at all.

MommyMia April 17, 2010 at 3:27 pm

We read it as we’re supposed to report anyone residing in our household, which includes our AuPair – she eats here, sleeps here, and probably spends more time here than the parents! We’ll see if we get anyone stopping by! Since we sent in the form, we’ve received so far 3 or 4 “reminders” to fill out and return, and see advertising all the time in print and over the air, so I can only imagine how many billions of dollars are being spent on this, which always be the time the data is compiled is so out of date that funding for local, state & federal programs is based on inaccurate data – but that’s the U.S. Census!

Dorsi April 17, 2010 at 11:10 pm

Also, your AP uses local services — library, parks, etc. She is a person living in America, living in your house and deserves to be counted.

Anna April 7, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Ok, I have a suggestion.

Lately there are as many posts from au pairs as there are from host parents on this blog.
I have nothing against it, it is just as a host parent, I want to know which comment is coming from which perspective.

I suggest that au pairs identify themselves as au pairs, when replying to posts. As in starting with “I am an au pair”, or using something like “anon-au pair” in the name field.
It is only fair to host parents who come here for advice and support, and if they need specifically an au pair perspective, they can ask for it.

There are plenty of au pair message boards (I read one), but this is the only active virtual community I know of where host parents can find advice and support. Sometimes we are not looking for bashing, complaints, and off topic messages and cries for help from au pairs in a thread talking about something else. Lets get back to the purpose of this blog.

PA au pair mom April 8, 2010 at 12:03 am

agreed. I love having the au pairs’ perspective, but it would be nice to know who is an AP and who is a host mom.

would eliminate some confusion.

Anonymous April 8, 2010 at 11:46 am

Suggestion: how about adding something like a dropdown box when you leave a comment, to say if you’re a host parent/au pair/LCC/other? I don’t know if it’s possible with Wordpress, but maybe someone here works in web design and would know?

Sarah April 7, 2010 at 11:16 pm

Hey was just wondering if you could give me the link to that au pair message board. I am an au pair and would appreciate it alot thanks!

Anna April 7, 2010 at 11:28 pm

It is in Russian. Do you read Russian?

Sarah April 8, 2010 at 12:42 am

nope is there any other sites you found?

Anna April 8, 2010 at 9:44 am

Nope, but I wasn’t looking for them specifically. I just stumbled upon that one, but I know that there are others in each language community (german, brazilian etc.)

Soccer Mom April 8, 2010 at 1:14 pm

How about everyone posts with Mom, or HM or something at the end, and au pairs put au pair or AP at the end. I do wonder why so many people post as “Anonymous” when it makes it hard to follow a conversation. If I were going to post something that I did not want attributed to Soccer Mom just because, I would at least post as a different name, like Psycho HM or something, for all my psycho posts :)

DarthastewartMom April 8, 2010 at 1:56 pm

LOL… I can add mom.

Katie PAP April 9, 2010 at 12:19 am

Hey I think its cuz they are used to the name just being up in the top name box and forget to write it :) Good idea though :)

Olga April 9, 2010 at 5:07 pm


Anna April 10, 2010 at 9:54 pm

No! She is still tired, after orientation and travel; best to have a quiet family dinner/night, settle her in her room ASAP, provide a way to call her family about her safe arrival, give her everything she needs for a shower (towels, etc.), show her how the shower/bath work, how the conveniences work in her room (air conditioner/heater, blinds, alarm/radio), tell her the plan for tomorrow and when you’ll be up and expect her to be up, and a way to bother you if she needs anything, and leave her alone for the night…

Calif Mom April 11, 2010 at 2:34 pm

I agree. I would keep things low key but celebratory. Dinner out can add a whole level of stress–oh my gosh, what should I order? If it’s noisy it will be very difficult for her to understand. Everyone feels awkward at first at restaurants until you all get more comfortable with each other. This is esp true if it’s your family’s first au pair. It can be hard to predict how your kids are going to react to a new au pair, and adding restaurant manners on top of that is a lot (again, depending on their ages).

Maybe have a small “welcome” cake with her name on it? People do seem to like cake! It feels festive (which the kids will like, too, since they’re also very excited) but is a little easier to manage.

Our second year AP still asks me to order for her–

Katie PAP April 9, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Depends how far she is travelling.. I was an au pair and I had a quite a long trip to my host families country and just remember on my first day being soo tired. If its a real long distance she’s coming then she may be really tired to go out as I was however if it isnt then I suggest dinner out :)

Au Pair Getting Raw Deal April 19, 2010 at 10:16 am

I guess my biggest question is whether or not Au Pairs have any rights. We know of an Au Pair that was verbally abused and threatened by the host family, and is now faces being sent home because the agency would rather take the side of host family for whom they have had in the program for awhile. This is not the first time the host family has had problems with au pairs, in fact, they are now working on their fourth in a six month period. Is there anyone that this au pair can contact for help. I would hate for my daughter to go to another country to be an au pair and be treated like this, and not have anyone to turn to.

Darthastewart April 19, 2010 at 2:48 pm

I would think that the AP should document everything in writing, and they should contact the agency. IMO, 4 au-pairs in 6 months is something to be concerned about. I would think that the Area Director should be asking lots of questions about what exactly is going on! Is the AP saying anything to the AD?

Taking a computer lunch April 19, 2010 at 8:16 pm

I think a lot depends on the LCC. We had a HM who went through au pairs quickly and frequently, and our LCC wrote her up and had her kicked out of the program (not that it stopped her from finding another agency). For the APs that had to endure her abuse she went above and beyond to find another placement so they wouldn’t have to go home. Unfortunately, however, the HF almost always have the upper hand, for better or worse. Rematch is the best tool for an AP in a bad situation, just as it for a HF in a bad situation. (And yes, document everything in writing.)

Anna May 2, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Hy my name is Anna, i want to become an au pair and I am looking forward. There is something that bothers me though. I wanted to know what happens when an au pair leaves the family because of some reasons after 9 or 10 months??

Do you still get a certificate for a successful stay in the US? or do you only get a certificate if you finish the 12 months??

Thanks for your answers.


MommyMia May 2, 2010 at 3:53 pm

You should check with the agency that you are interested in signing with to see what their policy is. Many offer a completion bonus, or refund of fees at the end of your twelve months. Be aware that if you are already planning on not staying the full year, that is not a good way to start off with an agency or family; you may want to re-think your reasons for becoming an au pair in the first place and think about getting another type of visa that allows you to travel or be a tourist, rather than committing to the requirements of the au pair visa.

Taking a computer lunch May 2, 2010 at 5:23 pm

I agree. We time the arrival of our au pairs to the beginning of the kid’s school year (end of August for us). That way, our au pairs have 10 months under their belt before the kids start summer vacation. One child attends full-day summer camps most of the summer (he loves sports and needs to stay active), the other has several weeks off, and then goes to summer school for half-days for a month. If my au pair were to pull out just before that started, I would be angry. I would also hate to throw a brand-new au pair into the situation of having to drive my son all over without knowing where she was at all! Not to mention having to spend full days with The Camel without knowing her and loving her.

If you’re not intending to complete your year, you better be completely open and honest in your interviews with host families. Otherwise, there might be bad feelings all around. That being said, I do know that some HF intend to move and don’t mind whether or not the AP completes her year.

Our agency only gives the completion bonus for working for 12 months, and having met the State Department’s education requirement. (My current AP didn’t understand at her entrance interview, and hadn’t really read the weekly emails to understand that she needed to get a formal document signed by her professors to state that she had completed the work – that would have been a disaster for her, because she’s counting on the completion bonus.)

Darthastewart May 2, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Another thing to consider is that you will also have the “taint” of not having finished the program. If you ever want to come back to study in the USA, then you might encounter trouble getting another visa, because you didn’t successfully finish the year.

EireAuPair May 11, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Hi y’all!

I got a question. One of my friends is in Canada as an Au Pair in a family with two sons and a divorced father. The boys are 13 and 16 years old and are just 2 weeks of the months with their Dad. The problem is (or actually there are two problems) that the younger son is trouble. He kicks his Au Pair, his her, screams at her and is not listening to her. He even got suspended from school for two days for kicking a classmate in the b*lls. My friend has often talked to her hostdad and he just said “Yeah, I’m going to talk to them”. Nothing happens.
She doesn’t want to leave the family and go back to Germany and she doesn’t have anybody over in Canada cause she’s there without an agency (that’s the second problem).
Could you give me some advice for her? She’s very desperate and doesn’t know what to do.

FormerSwissAupair May 11, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Your friend needs to leave. That is an unsafe environment, and I am sure it will only escalate.

Previous Au pair May 11, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Perhaps before she resorts to leaving sit down with the host dad again and tell him this needs to be sorted out because nothing has happened yet and you dont feel comfortable being hit and screamed at all the time and then if he fobs you off again threaten to leave if its not going to be sorted.

aria May 11, 2010 at 7:05 pm

How old is the au pair that she’s taking care of a 16 year old??

I would sit down with Dad and be as straight as possible. “Bobby is being extremely disrespectful/ hurtful/ behaving unacceptably, and unless some changes are made, I’m leaving. Here are some specific examples of Bobby’s poor behavior, and here are some examples of situations where I’ve discussed the problem with you. I have not seen a change in his behavior despite speaking to you about it. Maybe you and I can work together by doing XYZ to help Bobby overcome his behavior and make me feel more at home.”

I would also try to speak with as many official people (apart from Dad) who know Bobby as possible and get their POV regarding his behavior- it helps to know it’s not just you, and it also helps to let Dad know Bobby’s having the same problems away from you as well.

If all else fails… can’t she find another HF in Canada?

EireAuPair May 12, 2010 at 8:23 am

Thanks for all your replies. I passed on your advices to my friend. Sunny is 21 btw.

AUPAIR Momma May 16, 2010 at 5:57 pm

Being an Au pair coordinator … Do any host mom’s become area coordinators? Is this is a good or bad idea?

ARGUS May 19, 2010 at 10:31 pm

HI! I’m an Au Pair in USA for 2 months now and I’m having problems. I mean, I love the host family, I LOVE the kids! and the place. Everything is perfect. The only thing is my driving. In my country I’m a good driver, I know so. But here I’m not. I’m used to old manual cars and here I drive a new automatic car. I’m getting better used to the car. But I still can’t get it right. I know is partly the place. Laws are different, miles and kilometers.. the signs are reeeally different. And I’m nervous!! Really nervous!! I usually drive with my host mom or host dad, and that makes me more nervous. But I can’t say that to my host parents because it would sound like excuses. It is the true. Im practicing and doing my best… but doesn’t seem enough. I heard from an Au Pair that she left her host family because they weren’t comfortable with her driving. I’m scared. I don’t want to leave this family!!

NoVA Host Mom June 10, 2010 at 9:33 am

I think the best thing for you would be to ask your host family to help you find a driving school you can take. Sometimes parents are not the best teachers (even for our own kids) and an outside party is the best way to go.

Maybe you can ask if they are willing to help you pay for the lessons, if you are unsure of the costs. Some agencies will reimburse the families, however more seem to be moving away from that except for extreme situations.

Be honest with your host parents: that while you are comfortable driving back home, this environment is more challenging than you expected (I have a feeling they already know that you are having issues). Asking them to help you find a driving school (and following through with successfully completing the school) goes a long way to show them not only your maturity and willingness to work hard at difficult issues, but also your sincerity in remaining with the family and keeping the safety of the kids (and their car) in your mind.

And yes, HF will rematch if they need a qualified, safe driver for the area where they live (not someone who drives well back home). If that is part of their child care needs, they have to do it no matter how fantastic they think the AP is otherwise.

CS Nanny May 26, 2010 at 4:00 pm

I just thought I would let you know of a great website out there regarding nannies/aupairs (mainly nannies). It is called I Saw Your Nanny.

Basically, people write in when they have bad nanny/aupair sitings. They write down the date, description (who/what/where/clothing descriptions, etc) in order for parents to regonize their bad nannies or AP’s. It mainly applies to those who live on the East Coast, but there are some throughout the country as well. Anyways, check it out. It really puts in perspective how many bad childcare providers there are out there!!

A Host Mom May 27, 2010 at 2:07 pm

So, I just found my recently departed au pair’s blog and it was not very nice. In it, she complained about us host parents, the kids, and our country. She also made fun of the food we prepared for Thanksgiving. I understand that things weren’t perfect between us: we griped to each other about her and she badmouthed us online to her friends/family. I emailed her concerning my feelings and she said she was sorry, but she said that her blog is no different than every other au pair’s blog. I really hope this is not true. Needless to say, I am very hurt. So, for any au pairs who read this blog, please do not badmouth about your host family. I thought we treated her very well, but I guess she had other expectations.

Az. May 27, 2010 at 9:22 pm

How did you find it, out of curiosity? And was it in English?

Mom23 June 2, 2010 at 10:08 am

This happened to me. I found my former au pair’s blog on my computer. The things she wrote were hurtful and inaccurate. When I stepped back a bit, I was sort of fascinated how I viewed a incident one way and she another. I was also sort of horrified that I had her as our au pair for as long as we did given how much she obviously hated us. In our case the au pair had been with three families and she was critical of them all.

CS Nanny May 27, 2010 at 8:59 pm

I’m really sorry to hear that! But sometimes people need an outlet to vent to. Sadly, though, it has become the internet for all to read!

US Au Pair June 1, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Hi, I need some advice here about my decision to rematch. I been here for 2 months but basically am uncomfortable following my HF house rules.
First of all, my curfew for weekday is until 9 p.m. and weekend until 10 p.m.. I was disappointed at first especially when my HF told there’s no such curfew on our phone conversation before I came to USA but I try to follow because I respect their rules.
Second of all, I also not allowed to use their car because they said there’s no reason for me to drive as me and their only 2 yr old kid are just stay home during duty besides that, am taking an online study.
The fact is my study also need me to involve to community and volunteering but I always have to wait for their free time about my needs. Both of them are just busy/tired after work which I really don’t want to bother them every-time and if I need to get something, I have to wait they off from work or whenever they’re free..
Even I had discuss with them about using car and my willing to responsible but they give me a reason that the cost for insurance/gas is expensive, etc and end up advice me to buy my own car!
I am concern because I feel that I got limited freedom. There’s not much I can do for personal activity or atleast for fun with friends.
Am afraid even they ease up the rules, it could be hard for me and them as they have strong opinion since beginning. Do you think am I doing right decision for rematch? Thanks!

Should be working June 1, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Sorry for the bad situation.

1. Did you discuss with the LCC that they don’t give you a set schedule in advance? They should, so that you can plan social events for yourself.

2. I think online classes are not ok for the requirement, not sure though.

3. No public transportation available? Or reachable by bike?

4. I find the curfew overly restrictive and unreasonable. Have you discussed with the LCC? She might tell the HF what ‘other families’ in the cluster have for curfew.

If you’ve tried some mediation by the LCC, and it hasn’t helped, I would say your rematching is totally warranted and reasonable. Make sure to have the LCC recommend you–or get to know her/him well enough so that s/he can recommend you strongly. The family might be bitter that you are leaving and not give the best recommendation.

Good luck!

MadredeDos June 1, 2010 at 9:49 pm

Actually, there are some areas where online courses have been approved to fulfill the educational requirement, after they are approved by your agency through the Dept. of State. However, most LCCs don’t recommend them if there are other options in the vicinity, simply because meeting students/people one’s own age is such a crucial part of the cultural exchange aspect of the program. Good luck, US Au Pair, and I, too would recommend a rematch if your LCC and your host family can’t agree to some changes – it doesn’t sound like you’ll have a very satisfying year in your situation.

CS Nanny June 1, 2010 at 4:03 pm

It has been my experience that once HF’s begin to shift from what they stated in their interviews, things slowly go downhill. When matching, curfews can be a make it or break it factor. If you were told there were not curfews, and now have one (and 10pm on a weekend is ridiculous!), you need to think about whether you are going to be happy here long term. Also, the other red flag is not being able to do anything with the 2 year old. You didn’t mention if you HAD to stay in the house with him/her, or you just weren’t allowed to drive him/her somewhere. I look after 2 year old twins now, and I would go crazy if we weren’t allowed playdates, actvities outside of the house, etc. And I am not talking about things that cost money. Perhaps you could find free things to do in your community and present them to the parents? Because it is not fair, or realistic, for you to be cooped up in a house 24/7 with a toddler. And one more thing. You mention you are not allowed to use the car. Was this something that was brought up during the interview? Again, if you were told one thing and are now experiencing something else, I would call you LCC immediately. Because, in my experience, they will only continue to change the rules on you.

US Au Pair June 1, 2010 at 5:36 pm

I actually not from LCC but I had discuss about this with my local counselor. Just want to make sure about my decision because am going to talk with HF tomorrow as they are not home now.
I live in countryside part which bus is not available in my area or 1-3 miles away and taxi is definitely cost expensive. HF do remind me this place is not so much things to do but would you expect just to stay home with the kid? Even when I bring their child play outside, the mom got complain her son will get sun burn or worry he got fell down or something. It sounds like they not believing me and furthermore, HM is actually working upstair at home (too!)
I understand they gave me curfew because want me to have enough rest before taking care their child the next day but for some reason I felt it doesn’t make sense if they said they do treated me like an adult.
From what I know, au pair is opportunity for inter cultural exchange where I have chances to share my life with new family and meeting new people but seems like it’s out from what I thought as don’t have chance to socialize with other people.

Thank you so much for your convincing advice :D

CS Nanny June 1, 2010 at 5:46 pm

Judging by what you just wrote, I think a rematch is not only reasonable, it sounds necessary. Good luck!

US Au Pair June 1, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Appreciate it. Btw, I just find out LCCs is Local Community Counselor. This blog is helpfully awesome!

DarthaStewart June 1, 2010 at 9:33 pm

Let me guess- you’re the first au-pair that the family has had?

A few clues that they haven’t adequately prepared- they first said you could drive, but when you get here, and they go to add you to their insurance, they find out that *gasp* the au-pair’s car insurance is _crazy_ expensive. They knew it would cost something, but not *that* much.

They also probably didn’t thoroughly think through the curfew thing. IMO, 9PM on a weeknight is unnecessarily restrictive. (unless you are starting work at like 3 AM?) You need to talk to your LCC and soon.

I do wish you the best of luck.

West Coast Mom June 1, 2010 at 10:39 pm

This got me thinking …

What *is* a reasonable curfew for weekdays? And weeknights?

Would love opinions of both HMs and APs.


PA AP mom June 1, 2010 at 11:54 pm

We ask the AP to be in by 11pm on weeknights (before a morning shift). that’s 8 hours before the shift starts. On weekends, we ask for 3am, unless they have plans to stay overnight somewhere. In that case, we ask for a text, letting us know that she won’t be coming home so we don’t worry.

All of our times are negotiable for special events, occasions, etc.

sotaGal June 2, 2010 at 12:21 am

Our work night curfew is 8 hours before AM work, and no curfew on the weekends (unless she works in the AM). Our car does have a 1 AM curfew and also a rule of ABSOLUTELY no drinking and driving. We always knew when AP #3 was going to the clubs or parties (underage) because she asked for a ride. We do ask for a call or text if our AP will be out all night or telling us before leaving.

cv harquail June 2, 2010 at 10:27 am

Just put that up as its own post! Let’s see what everyone is doing…. cv

anonmom June 29, 2010 at 11:20 pm

Our ‘curfew’ is 11 pm week-nights, 1 am week-ends, unless I am aware in advance of their plans. Now, ask me if this has ever been an issue- no. But it is in our handbook, heaven forbid, and I tell prospective au pairs that we do have a curfew to vet them out. ON candidate said that she would not accept a curfew (as I explain that I worry about our au pairs,since they are part of our family) so, I would not accept her as an au pair. None of our au pairs have complained, but none really had to worry, the curfew was mainly for nights that there were no plans in advance- if I know the AP will be out late, or where, then no worries.

US Au Pair June 1, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Yes I am their first Au Pair! My HM actually just have a conversation with me on phone and we will continue talk further about my issue tomorrow. To be honest, I would consider back to stay here if the curfew and car use had no issue because I think it’s fair for both party (as I want focus my opportunity to work, travel & study here while they want someone to take care of their kids with cultural exchange)
For me, reasonable curfew for weekday is until 12 or 1 am, weekend/time off is unlimited because we could spend more time doing something we want without no worry to think about home/duty.
Nevertheless, this opinion is depend on situation or day AP working each week or what HP wants thought.

HRHM June 2, 2010 at 10:53 am

With regard to the car issue: Have you EVER driven the car since you’ve been here? Is it possible that you have given them a reason to be concerned about the safety of your driving? I only ask because AP2 arrived to us with an application that said she was a “daily driver” but the first day when we got into the car with her, she didn’t know which was the gas and which was the brake! We tried driving with her that day and it was truly frightening. Needless to say, our car rules changed very rapidly to limit the amount of driving she was allowed from complete freedom, to accompanied driving only. So maybe your skills need some improvement in their eyes. If this is the case, you can always offer to pay for your own driving lessons in order to make them feel better.

anonmom June 29, 2010 at 11:23 pm

I agree about the driving situation, if they are not comfortable because maybe they feel you are not ready to drive here. The other issue is cost of insurance, which is why we never add the au pair onto the insurance- our car is insured. If we added the au pair, then none of our au pairs would drive because too costly. As far as the curfew w – weeknights midnite is late- your host family has to work in the morning, and it is annoying and disturbing to listen to au pairs coming in at night, using the bathroom and waking the family up too late. JUst a thought.

Dales June 2, 2010 at 11:33 am

We are new to this whole aupair situation. We’ve had our aupair for one month now. What would you do if the aupair does not want to spend any family time with the children unless she is on the schedule. Does not watch Tv or movies with kids, would not want to get a bit to eat out or ice cream, etc. Only comes up from her room if she is on the schedule or ready to go out. However, she is eager to go out with her “new aupair friends” at the drop of a hat…

Do I really need to pay someone to come for ice cream with us???

Calif Mom June 5, 2010 at 8:58 am

Hi Dales,

Sounds like your expectations are not in alignment with your au pairs’ goals. It’s tricky at one month after arrival, because au pair orientation as a lot like the first days in a college dorm experience: everyone is meeting new people their age, suddenly free from their hometown and all its boundaries and baggage.

One of the messages they pound into the girls at orientation is that it’s very important to make new au pair friends, and it’s true that once an au pair has a network of friends it can fend off homesickness and a whole other set of issues that stem from emotional isolation. Believe me, those are no fun to deal with, either. Your counselor is encouraging socializing, and may even have appointed a seasoned au pair to be her buddy, take her out, introduce her to local au pairs. Sounds like your au pair doesn’t have an isolation problem! :-) She’s trying to find her niche in this new society she has been airdropped into.

My concern is that your AP read the program website and noticed the parts about new friends from all over the world/travel/study, while you and your family are looking for more of a member of the family.

No, you shouldn’t have to pay someone to get ice cream with you! But sometimes spontaneous outings like that are going to conflict with her social calendar. She may soon realize that all these lattes or beers get expensive and her social calendar will calm down a bit. Or maybe not. I have learned that men in clubs still buy drinks for women, so au pairs can have a good time for not a lotta cash.

Your options:
1) Don’t stop having weekly check-in meetings! can’t emphasize this enough. It gives you a place to talk about things like how *the kids* were disappointed she didn’t join them for a last-minute ice cream–at a time when you aren’t feeling hurt. I was able to shift an AP relationship from “just so-so” to an extension that is not perfect but is so good that friends just asked to see our welcome letter because they never seem able to pick the right AP. (Regular Readers, laugh along with me!) (That would be the “I Dare You To Match With Our Family” letter, as my hub dubbed it, by the way.)

2) Share this issue with your counselor. She might be able to approach this from a different angle with your AP, or in their regular meeting, without her even knowing you talked to the counselor.

3) Realign your expectations. I’ve done this with our current au pair, who has found her social network through a really active church. This means she is never available to do things with us on the weekend. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes it hurts a bit. But she’s always there for bday parties! Birthday parties are non-negotiable.

4) Decide that no, you don’t want to be mostly an employer and less of a family with your au pair. If your au pair really doesn’t want to be close, she will resist your efforts to draw her in. But don’t assume the worst; try having a conversation first and see what happens. There are people who go into the au pair program for purely selfish reasons, and they will never work out. There are also au pairs who are just young and trying to figure out how to balance the “pulls” they are feeling as they adjust to their new lifestyle.

There are several posts about the whole employee/family member dichotomy here:

good luck! keep asking questions if you need to…

Dales June 28, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Thanks for the response. She does resist efforts. Unfortunately, our au pair only wants to be an “employee”. And we now get that – even though we were originally told otherwise. We hope that our next au pair is honest from the beginning. It’s her loss. I think she will realize this as she matures. In the meantime, we just want our children happy. And we want our au pair to be happy anyway.

Taking a Computer Lunch June 5, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Why not encourage the AP to invite a friend to share dinner with you and your family one night a week?

I have a lot of food allergies, and so I make pizza on a regular basis, because I can’t just order it. I usually make several pies, some with regular cheese for the kids, and then fancier ones for the adults (my pesto pizza has been a hit). Neighbors come over with their kids. When it’s summer everyone swims in The Camel’s above-ground pool, and relax. The kids know that if they don’t annoy the adults we’ll forget it’s their bedtime. My APs have brought AP friends and boyfriends to the table, and occasionally hang around with the adults long after dinner is done (and occasionally not).

We especially encourage APs to invite friends at Thanksgiving – there are usually several whose families have gone off without them. At Thanksgiving we invite them to make a dish from home.

I have found that encouraging APs to bring friends to the table help them to feel like part of the family, too.

Dales June 28, 2010 at 10:52 pm

Thanks for your response. I’ve tried inviting her friends. It didn’t help. Instead they continue to encourage the “employee” relationship because it suits them better. I’ve decided to give up. And let it be. As long as the children are well taken care of – ultimately, that is all that matters.

Calif Mom July 15, 2010 at 1:40 am

[Coming back in late…was on break.]

Dales, I’m not sure you’re ultimately going to be really happy with “deciding to give up”. It depends on how you are defining well taken care of, right? If she’s texting during your dinner, she’s probably also texting during their lunches…kids aren’t stupid. (not sure how old yours are) I’m struck that you really don’t seem happy, and that’s a lousy way to spend the rest of the year. (Been there!)

Here’s another angle…my AP got a phone call while we were having a rare one-on-one conversation, right at the end of her stay with us. I excused her, she took the call in the other room, and came back and we went right back to talking. I wasn’t offended! Her friends *are* important at age twentysomething. It didn’t feel at all rude, and it probably saved me money in the long run by reducing her cell phone bill! ;-)

CS Nanny June 2, 2010 at 11:44 am

I am sure you are, but you need to be sensitive to the fact that she works all day with your children, and may not want to spend too much of her free time with your family. However, I always joined my family outside of my working hours a few times a week for watching a movie or eating dinner. I think if you just mentioned how nice it would be for her to join you for X or whatever, she may start to spend more time with you. I know I always felt like they probably wanted to spend time with their kids rather than me!

Dales July 9, 2010 at 6:10 pm

No – not sesitive to this at all. Just hate the idea of living with a “stranger”. Our au pair is out the door the minute her shift ends. Our au pair has not done one thing with our family. You said you at least try to join in on a movie here or there. Again – our au pair has not done one thing with us. And I don’t mean one thing per week – I mean not one thing in a total of 8 weeks. We no longer invite her on her time off and I now realized how much money we are saving! Shows, dinners, concerts, family outings – it all adds up…

Twin of Dales..... July 9, 2010 at 8:52 pm

I think maybe you have our au pair’s twin! She’s been with us for almost two months. Doesn’t eat dinner with us. Refuses to go out with our family even when she has no other plans. Stays in her room all night long. Hardly every talks with us. I am not sure what to think since we’ve never had an au pair quite like this. I sometimes wonder if she’s afraid to speak because she’ll have to talk in English. Like you, we have stopped asking her to go out with us or to come down to dinner.

Now I am starting to wonder about her as a caregiver to our children. The oldest doesn’t seem to have bonded with her, and something tells me that she doesn’t like him. I really think she’s spending a lot of time cleaning rather than with the kids. She also re-organized my linen closet and now nothing fits in there and the sheets are all mixed together rather being by size. I just realized today that she has eaten up almost all of the freezer including two 9 x 13 pans of lasagne, seasoned country ribs, steaks, pork roast, frozen veggies, and who knows what else. No wonder she doesn’t want to eat dinner!

I am just FRUSTRATED! I never realized how much I enjoyed having the au pair around as just a friend of the family.

DALES July 10, 2010 at 10:08 am

I can’t believe yours is the same. I thought it was only happening to us and couldn’t understand why. Our au pair is much better at cleaning than au pairing. Alot of it also has to do with her friends. There are approx 40 aupairs in our area – but our au pair made friends with 3 girls that don’t want to mesh with their host families. That hate americans and can’t wait to go home. They told her that being an “employee only” is better. They told her that because it suits them. She is always available at the drop of a hat the moment they call. But I do believe that as she matures, she will realize that she did miss out. And we are truly saving a ton of money anyway! I will take more time when choosing my next au pair!

Taking a Computer Lunch July 9, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Wow! Except for consuming the contents of the freezer, you’ve got my AP, too. I’ve got 4 weeks left and I’m counting down… I understand that no AP wants to do every single family activity – I don’t even want to do all of them! However, if you have an AP that is not meshing with your children after 8 weeks, then maybe she’s not a good candidate. I recently had to state bluntly to my AP, “It’s more important to me that you spend time with my children than clean my house.” After all, in the grand scheme of things, they’re only kids for a short time.

Calif mom July 15, 2010 at 1:47 am

Holy Triple Play, Batman!

I”m with you, TACL — neither of these two should be investing in these relationships at this point. Yes, you technically save some cash on meals out. And you will *continue* to cringe on a daily basis.

What saved us when our introverted AP developed a big social network of her own is that she WAS totally, unequivocally bonded to and dedicated to our kids (and us). This was in *addition* to wanting to spend more and more of her time with her friends, not in lieu of. I think it’s an important distinction.

This sounds like a brewing stew of resentment and disappointment.

And to the Twin of mom who thinks the AP doesn’t like one of the children– BAIL OUT NOW! No kidding. We went through 4 months of that misery. It’s absolutely horrible on the child who is not liked, who probably doesn’t feel like s/he can talk about it, or even identify what exactly is going on.

That’s a no-brainer. Get out now while the APs are flocking in and rematch is in the air… :-)

Twin of Dales.... July 15, 2010 at 10:29 am

Very seriously considering rematch but not sure what or how to tell the au pair. What pushed us in this direction was a call from our LCC who called up to ask how au pair was doing. I told her that it was hard to get to know au pair. LCC said she felt au pair was cold and distant (both true) and then knocked my socks off when she said another au pair didn’t really feel good about our new au pair. This other au pair felt like our au pair wasn’t “loving” which I can believe. I think the other issue is that our au pair rebuffed the advances of the other au pair because they were not from the same country.

I feel bad about going into a rematch and wonder if I should give her more of a chance. On the other hand, the LCC seems to be pushing it. The au pair is just starting to come around a little bit, but she’s kind of a cold fish.

Taking a Computer Lunch July 15, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Trust your instincts. It was my LCC who used the word “aloof” to describe my current AP. Our LCC arranges a buddy system for APs – an incoming AP is matched with an AP that has been in the US for 6 months or more – not always from the same country. Our current AP’s buddy was okay, but an AP from another cluster who had been friends with our previous AP was fantastic, and really engaged our AP. I reminded our AP how great it was to have this person in her life initially, when she was made a buddy to a new arrival. I was horrified to hear that she called her buddy and said, “People from my country don’t hang out with friends much,” and never so much as met her for coffee.

Our current AP has been able to extend with another family, and one of the HP has family from the same country as she. My hope is that sharing a similar culture will draw her out more, because I’m at the point now that I laugh because she turns on her heels and disappears the minute we’re done asking her about The Camel’s day. She’s fantastic with The Camel, but if I had a do-over, I would have gone into rematch the moment she scraped the car next to her backing out of a parking space. Hindsight is always 20-20.

Should be working July 15, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Twin of Dales, telling the au pair might be an ugly moment, but then it will be over. I dreaded telling our so-so au pair that we were going to rematch, and sure enough she cried, pleaded, etc. But because I had made up my mind inwardly, it was ok. Just give yourself a script and stick to that script, e.g. “We don’t feel that you are a good fit for us. We need someone who is more enthusiastic about being part of the family. Now what you need to do is make some decisions: Do you want to try and find another family or would you prefer to end your au pair year now?”

I tried channeling the George Clooney character in “Up in the Air”, and it was pretty helpful–“You need to focus now on your future…”

Also be sure HD knows the script and sticks to it. Treat it like a done deal (which it is) and make it matter of fact: “I’ve already told the LCC I would be informing you of our decision today, so you can call her.” Don’t give in to requests for second chances.

It’s like a breakup speech . . . and honestly I had never even broken up with someone so directly before.

West Coast Mom July 15, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Dear Twin of Dales,

Please, trust your instincts. We have had many conversations on this board about how we HMs are not always so good at that. In my case – very similar to yours – I let a bad AP who simply did not like my oldest son to stay too long. Like you, it took a call from a third party – in my case, a member of our school circle who had witnessed the mean treatment, rather the the LCC – to finally make us pull the trigger.

Telling her will be hard, and then … your house will feel happier, you will feel lighter. It honestly felt like a great cloud had passed over us and everything was brighter.

Good luck to you.

Twin of Dales... July 15, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Thanks for all of the good advice and scripts. I guess what I’ve been grappling with is that after 2 months I’m kind of indifferent to the au pair – I neither like nor dislike her. I don’t know her very well. I don’t have a good idea of how she is with the kids, but I don’t think she’s doing that well because my oldest does not talk about her or what they’ve done together like he did with previous au pair’s. She has made various comments about him that make me question if she likes him. When DH or I show up at home it’s to find the oldest playing by himself.

I’ve fired people at work but this feels completely different to me. I guess because it’s so clear cut that the person is not doing their job.

Taking a Computer Lunch July 15, 2010 at 4:03 pm

If you’re worried about the moment in which you say, “This is not working…” ask yourself, Has she ever asked a question. My current AP has rarely ever asked us a question, unless it relates to the care of a child. So, when I got anxious over the “We’re not going to extend with you” conversation, DH reminded me that she probably wouldn’t ask us why, and he turned out to be right. She hid her emotion over the issue well, and our LCC reported that she felt depressed about it. It’s been 3 months, and she’s never brought it up. My guess is that if your AP is extremely shy and reserved, there will be no confrontation. Do encourage her to contact your LCC to maximize her potential for rematch. I don’t consider my current AP a bad person or bad AP, just not the right person for us.

MommyMia July 15, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Yes, trust your instincts, bite the bullet (the pain is over quickly) and enjoy the happy feeling that you’re all entitled to. It bugs me how some APs refuse to even just talk to a newcomer, meet and welcome them. We’re not asking them to be BFFs, but just to remember the feeling of being all alone in a foreign place and reach out to them. Even if they’re not “your type” you may know another AP you’ve met who would be a better personality match with them and maybe you can help them meet each other. I’ve got to say, though, that our LCC seems to be the poorest judge of personalities (or else the girls are acting totally different when they’re with her!) in whom she recommends to be the “buddy” of the new ones. If anyone is thinking of switching agencies, I’ve just had some really great, positive interactions with staff from goAuPair, based in Utah. They’re small, but so far have impressed me greatly with their attitude, information, ease of previewing APs, etc. And the price is SO much better than APIA with all the discounts they’re offering. No application fee, and they even allowed me to view applications without having received all of my paperwork – amazing!!

US Au pair June 4, 2010 at 8:00 pm

MY HF made decision : No cars. Am on rematch :D

US Au pair June 4, 2010 at 8:02 pm

And yes I never been drive since I reach USA but you should use common sense that not every au pair is the same and I have no doubt that am mature enough to drive. Thank you

Host Mommy Dearest June 5, 2010 at 1:22 am

Did your application state that you did not drive before coming to the US? Maturity does not equal driving experience, and lack of driving experience significantly increases the risk of an accident (as proven by one of my au pairs – and she was convinced she could hack it – even wanted us to replace the car she totaled so she could try again). HFs usually don’t appreciate you trying out your driving skills for the first time with their car. I agree you should be in rematch, and you should be honest about your driving experience and look for a family that does not need a driver and lives near ample public transportation so your social life does not hinge on driving or getting rides. I hope you find a math that is great for you and the HF! Good luck!

US Au pair June 6, 2010 at 11:14 pm

Dearest Host Mommy, my application didn’t state I need to drive but I have asked my HF before I arrive here. I hope I can drive happily or taking the public transportation at my new host area and thanks so much for your advice :)

Sofia, Future Au Pair June 7, 2010 at 7:46 am

Dear HFs and APs,
As you can read on my name, i’m about to become an Au Pair, but for some reason (I will be in the US this summer working as a camp counselor) I am not able to start my application now. I wont be able to star as an AP till mid February, how much earlier do you recomend me to apply? October (5 months)? Novembre(4months)? How earl do you start looking for a new AP before your current AP leaves?
An another question, what agency do you recomend me?
Thank you very much! :D

futureAUPAIR June 7, 2010 at 8:00 am

Hi, I’m future an au pair too (I will start my year in the US on August) and I had my on-line au pair room opened 5 months before I wanted to start, but I know girls who did it even earlier. Don’t wait too long – sure, there are host families who start looking for a new an aupair late, but it will give you more time to find that perfect match ;). I’m with Cultural Care agency. Good luck!

Anna June 7, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Start as early as you can; the agency will put your earliest availability date on the application.
I know many au pair candidates who spent as long as a year waiting for “their” family, so don’t count on being able to start when you are ideally planning to. Competion is high now, there are many excellent au pair candidates, many more than families I hear…

Sofia, Future Au Pair June 7, 2010 at 7:07 pm

So you may recomend to find a family on my own and star with the agency with the match already? Seems like an idea with pros (you don’t have to wait or compete with other au pairs) and cons ( without an agency support it is harder to get to know each other properly).
How HF feel about spanish AP? I haven’t found many spanish one that are living as APs there and I don’t know if it may be a difficulty.
Thanks to all of you!

Taking a Computer Lunch June 7, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Sofia, If you’re seeking an AP position in the United States, it is my understanding that you should go through an agency. There are several agencies that are regulated by the U.S. State Department and meet their requirements. Even friends who have brought nannies into the US, have pre-matched through an established agency. Using an agency will afford you protection in a bad situation, offers health insurance, and establishes minimums for families. I know that APs in Europe have the opportunity to match directly with families.

Sofia, Future Au Pair June 8, 2010 at 1:16 am

Oh, I know it is is illegal to go without an agency, I was meaning pre-match after doing the whole applying thing, and then, once both the HF and I agree that we want to match go to an angency and go for it. But I think this way can have some problems, as experienced HF are already working with agencies, so they are not looking “outside” to pre-match (always going through and agency after pre-matching). Thanks

DarthaStewart June 11, 2010 at 7:03 pm

fwiw, some agencies do not allow pre-matches. One trick I have seen employed by some au-pairs is to register with multiple agencies. Then they can get their choice of host families, and the most people looking at their application.

MadredeDos June 10, 2010 at 5:11 pm

You’re right, Sofia, there don’t seem to be as many AuPairs from Spain, as some other European countries for some reason. It may be that their desired arrival months don’t coincide as closely with family’s needs, or that their English is not as good, or maybe the agencies don’t have as many local offices in your country? I personally would have considered a Spanish au pair had I been able to find one when we were looking, as I studied in Spain while at university. We used AuPair in America, but some other agencies may have a larger pool of applicants from Spain. But your goal is to improve English, not let me practice my castellano, si? And don’t worry, you will find a great family and meet lots of au pairs from many parts of the world, which is one of the aspects of the cultural exchange. Buena suerte.

Sofia, Future Au Pair June 11, 2010 at 6:07 pm

You studied in Spain? where? :) I can see by your name that you use spanish :D
Well, not being with spanish APs in the US is not a problem with me (I have plenty of spanish people right here, hehe), so it’s and advantage from my point of view, more cultural exchange and learning oportunities.
But i was afraid that the short number of spanish APs is due to a “cultural” idea, maybe the way Americans see Spain and their inhabitants, (just guessing), or that people in Spain doesn’t like to have this kind of experiences. (I only know one person who has ever been an AP or that is thinking to become one), well, more chances for me! :D

CS Nanny June 8, 2010 at 3:24 pm

In light of recent topics, I am curious to know how much “family time” you would like your Aupair to participate? Keeping in mind, of course, that many families here require her/him to work up to 10 hours a day? I hear a lot of complaints that you wanted them to be a part of the family, but I don’t think people realize that when you come home, your AP wants a break from your children, and to enjoy her time off, regardless of how much she loves them. So in an ideal situation, how much time would you like her to spend with your family?

DarthaStewart June 10, 2010 at 11:55 am

We typically ask them to just spend a few minutes with us (during time on duty) going over information (status of the household, etc). But they’re welcome to join us for whatever it is we’re doing – going out to eat, or on trips. Those are all optional. The only things that are less optional are the kids’ birthday parties, or major family events, but those don’t happen all that often.

Melissa June 10, 2010 at 6:33 pm

That’s a really good question. But I do have a difficult time specifying an amount of time, not to mention that it feels pretty funny to have to actually ‘quantify’ the need to spend time with a HF. As with most things, striking a balance is the ideal – the AP spends a good part of her free time with friends or just relaxing/doing whatever by herself, but also spends a reasonable amount of time being part of the family. We’ve been lucky to strike this balance with our best APs. If I had to nail down some specifics, I’d say a few dinners with the family each week (if the HF eats together 5 nights/week, then at least 2-3 of those the AP should participate in). Also, a couple of activities with the family a month – this doesn’t have to be anything elaborate and could vary depending on the schedule and habits of the HF, but going out for ice cream, hanging around for a BBQ with the neighbors, kid’s soccer game, etc. We have young children and HD and I are at a point where we are very busy with work and school (HD is pursuing a degree program, so spends TONS of time studying), so we generally don’t plan lots of formal activities for the weekends. Rather, we do little things, as time allows, like going out for ice cream or doing a BBQ, and for those APs that we’ve had who are never there (i.e., the ones that dart out the door the minute they are off-duty and don’t return until they “have to”), they’re not ever there to have the opportunity to do anything with us. Some of my best experiences in getting to know our APs and feeling like she is part of the family have just been her hanging around with us after dinner for an hour or two, or sharing a glass of wine with us and some of our friends after the kids have gone to bed. But, back to answering your question…. I’d say it all adds up to about 3-8 hours a week. However, if my AP is thinking about it in the ‘exactly how much time do I have to spend with them to make them happy?’ way, then I’d be pretty disappointed.

Dales July 9, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Yes – a break at the end of the shift is very normal. However, having an au pair that is part of the family is not one that is texting her friends the one night she comes out to dinner with the family. An au pair that is part of the family means one that would like to get to know the family – especially the children – instead of being an “employee only”. In return, the family gets to know her as well. A good relationship will make for a positive experience for all involved. And everybody will feel comfortable around eachother. Of course the au pair should have plenty of friends and time off to go and have fun. Some au pairs come to the US with intentions of only making friends and partying. And if this is the group of friends they make, then that is what they will follow. They tend to forget what they are getting paid for. That is why the au pair should be able to handle a happy medium with family and friends. If you are not looking for any family time at all, then maybe you should consider working at McDonalds or Walmart. Maybe being around kids really isn’t your thing after all and if you are miserable, want to bring other au pairs down and don’t enjoy living with another family – then it’s not for you.

Taking a Computer Lunch July 9, 2010 at 9:32 pm

In my experience, APs who work 8-10 hours a day want down time at the end of their shift. Most of my APs who have looked after school-age children, tend to participate in family activities after their shift and on weekends. However, I’ve had one extremely private AP who couldn’t disappear fast enough at the end of every shift.

For me, if I’m going to extend with an AP, it’s one who wants to be a member of our family – to eat dinner with us, to tell us about her day, to see The Camel in her special activities, to cheer on at least one of my son’s sporting events, and to play board games with us once in a while. I don’t just want a babysitter for my kids – I want a family member. Some of my best chats have been with APs who have come in late in the evening while I’m studying or washing the floors.

I don’t begrudge my APs a minute of friend-time, clubbing, working out, etc. Because a healthy year in the U.S. is not just about childcare, it’s about a chance-of-a-lifetime opportunity to explore a country on their own terms, to figure out what is really important in their lives, and to connect with other people.

Dales July 10, 2010 at 10:14 am

I believe they should have plenty of friends and plenty of fun. But should’nt they try to connect with the children? Shouldn’t that be one priority? Our au pair is not the one cheering on the kids at games, does not play any board games, does not want to be asked about her day. Only wants to go out. That’s it. I am very fortunate that I have an excellent husband cheering there with me :)

Dales July 14, 2010 at 10:54 pm

Can I get a copy of your “Dare to match” for my next au pair? Is that possible? I would love to see it…

Calif Mom July 15, 2010 at 2:10 am

Well, hub made me tone down the original “Dare to Match with Us” letter…. but basically, I took all the criticisms or complaints I had had levied against us, and all the things about our family and lifestyle that give me angina and I addressed them head on.

Things like this:

Many other APs in our neighborhood will live in fancier houses.
Many APs nearby will have nicer cars to drive.
It is difficult to get from our house to a bus to the train into the city. Not impossible, but annoying and time consuming.
You will have to split up fights between siblings.
Your room has ugly floors. The house is falling apart and we are planning to tear it down but we don’t know when.
The house is cold in the winter.
Our dog smells when he is wet and you will have to wipe his feet, and clean up the floor if he gets sick during the day.
We are not super tidy or overly organized people. Each of us has piles of books and papers of various sorts everywhere.

Straight out of the Au Pair brochure, right? ;-)

I did also include the corollaries, such as us being generally kind people who value doing things over having a pristine home, invitations to travel with us, no real curfews, etc.

My goal was to weed out the princesses and find someone who does want to hang out and enjoy what our area has to offer. Including us!

Melissa July 11, 2010 at 12:55 am

Dales, We had a very similar experience with one of our APs. She had no interest in being part of the family. She was very nice and had a pleasant attitude, but she was always gone in all her free time. She was very into making friends and developing a social life, which at first I thought was good and healthy, but I soon realized that was her main idea of fun was partying, not spending any time with us. We tried at first to invite her to dinner and activities, but after awhile, we pretty much gave up. I did even have a few straightforward conversations with her, explaining that we would like her to show more interest in our family and why (in a nice way), and she assured me that it was not her intent to shun us, but truthfully, not much changed. We also encountered numerous issues related to her social life, such as curfew, car usage, internet usage, that we had to address throughout the year. However, she was pleasant, very easygoing, never complained, and most importantly, very good with her AP duties (great with the kids, very conscientious, helpful, showed initiative, very reliable, etc). If it wasn’t for all of that, we probably wouldn’t have made it through the year. She was a nice girl, but at the end of the year, I felt like we didn’t really know her at all, which to me is just plain weird for someone living under your very own roof.
So, my advice to you is… decide whether you can let go of this and accept that chances are she will probably be more of an ’employee’ than a ‘family member’. If she has other really stellar qualities, that might be possible. Or if you have a frank talk with her and she is will to make some changes (who knows, maybe she has no idea how she is coming across??), there might be hope. However, this is something that will most likely really frustrate you as time goes on, and you are at the very beginning of your AP year. I say, talk with her and be clear about how you feel and how her actions are perceived by your family. If things don’t change very quickly after that, prepare for rematch.

Twin of Dales.... July 11, 2010 at 8:03 am

I am having very similar problem with a new au pair, but she’s not partying. She has made friends with a couple of other au pair’s who live close by. When we ask her to do something with the family she will say no even if she’s staying in for the night. She has been this way since the beginning. I am not sure what’s causing the problem, but I have thought it might be she’s shy to talk in English. I also found out she has a boyfriend back home that she didn’t have when I interviewed her on the phone. Maybe he has something to do with it.

I haven’t said anything to her about it, and I’m not even sure how to approach this, but I know that I can’t live a year like this.

Dales July 11, 2010 at 9:18 pm

I am starting to wonder if our au pair’s are friends. Her friends told her to be this way. She came straight out and told me that. Without giving it away, does your town begin with the letter M? I am so curious…

Twin of Dales..... July 11, 2010 at 10:08 pm

No, our city doesn’t begin with an M but it’s later in the alphabet. Our au pair’s country is a B. Her friends live in towns with C and S.

How’s that for scrabble?

Taking a Computer Lunch July 11, 2010 at 10:28 pm

I had one new AP like that – it was as if a dam holding her back had been let loose when she arrived in the US. She rarely participated in family activities. And then, that “best friend,” she had made turned out to be no friend at all. And we were there for her, sharing our stories of friends who had turned out to be less than honest and reliable. After that, she was more interested in participating in family activities because we had managed to connect with her. She ended up being one of our best APs – great with the kids, willing to share in their activities and events, but also a really good friend to other APs.

After she returned home she asked me to write a letter of recommendation, and I did not lie when I said she had managed to have a good balance in her year with us: an excellent family member and caregiver, a great friend, and someone who had fulfilled her State Department requirements as an AP.

If your AP is new, try to figure out if she’s just quiet, immature, or needs a means to connect before she’ll be willing to “opt in” as a family member.

The ones you don’t know after 8 months are the easiest to say goodbye to after 12 months. If she’s doing her job well and you find it possible to continue to live with her, so be it. But if she’s just an employee and you want more, don’t extend.

potential AP in match process June 10, 2010 at 3:00 am

Hi DHM&DHD! My name is Karelin & im a potencial au pair in the match process with 7120hours of childcare experience, I trully love kids so Im looking for a lovely family which would love to spend an incredible experience with me, Im with Au Pair In America & I did a page about me & my environment & my skills specially for you, dont hesitate in call me or ask me anything. Good day!

Anon for this one June 10, 2010 at 9:00 am

:/ I need some advice. My time with my family will be up at the end of July, and I’m literally itching to be finished. I adore the kids, without a doubt, and I would love to stay with them forever, but lately, my HM has been driving me NUTS! I like her as a person, and she’s done a lot of nice things for me, but lately, I really feel like we’ve been sort of snapping at each other’s throats a LOT.

She comes home late every night, with no notice, and I finally started ‘putting my foot down’ and saying I had plans, etc, only to get scolded! and reminded that flexibility is why they chose the AP program, and she has no idea what time she’ll be home tonight. < I just feel like this, actually *refusing* to give me a time when they'll be home was such a passive aggressive reminder about "who's in charge." Is it so bad to want to know when they'll be home so I can 1) make plans of my own and 2) get the kids to bed at a regular hour?

She also feels like the kids' English has been declining (I speak English with them, they speak French everywhere else) and this is "not acceptable." Lately, I've been taking the kids to the park every afternoon because the weather has been beautiful and they like to play with their friends. Obviously, they speak French when they play, and they're at the age where they don't WANT me to cramp their style on the playground. The mom didn't say it explicitly, but when I told her this was probably the reason, I almost feel like she would prefer it if I kept them cooped up inside reviewing irregular verbs instead of taking them out everyday. They have a test at the end of the month to get into a fancy English school and I feel like if for some reason they don't pass, it will be completely my fault. They're not even in kindergarten yet!!!

She has no problem reading me the riot act if I'm five minutes late in the morning, but when I tried to get her to stick to a more regular schedule, she gets offended and says that she doesn't feel like she abuses anything. The thing is, lately I've been a lot stricter with the kids about a host of things because their mom has been coming down on me, but I feel like I'm taking out some of my frustrations with her out on them, and that is the last thing I want to do. None of my issues are with them, and I don't want to be the Wicked Witch for the rest of my time here, but I also want to keep Mom off my back. Heeeeeeeelp!

NoVA Host Mom June 10, 2010 at 10:16 am

I am going to guess from some of the things you said that you are an AP in Europe. Did you go through an agency?

You started off saying that you are towards the end of your year and that the HM behavior has changed only recently. If this is so, it very well might be more due to the fact that the change is coming. It is not uncommon for all kinds of anxiety and stress to show up where there was none when a known conclusion is about to occur.

I think you and both host parents need to have a sincere conversation about expectations for the last two months and how to better address concerns and potential issues.

As for your interaction with the kids, you need to continue to be aware of how your emotions are showing when the kids are around. If you worry that you might be getting short or strict with them simply because of the stress you are having with the HM, then try to give yourself a timeout (count to 10, 20, 50 whatever to bring yourself back down) and just keep actively reminding yourself to be happy towards the kids. It’s not easy to do, as any parent knows. We all have those days where work just went very badly or there is some other stresser and we might be more likely to snap at the kids for a minor infraction. We have to remind ourselves to breathe and not snap at them, too.

Anon this time June 10, 2010 at 12:11 pm

^^ thank you for the advice; I love the idea of taking a timeout to cool myself down. Only two months left!!

TX Mom June 10, 2010 at 3:15 pm

The end of the year is hard for HP’s too. There is a topic on this from the HP perspective (Lame Duck) but unfortunately I didn’t find a lot of input on the post – compared to other topics. I think it helps the AP and HP’s to have a mtg about 2 months out to be really clear with eachother about expectations. Stick to the “musts” and try to let the other stuff flow off your back. Definately don’t start a pi$$ing match about trying to enforce a curfew on your HM; it’s only going to escalate from what you wrote.

Keep in mind that you want to end the year on a good note. The kids have short memories and will remember the last part of the year more. Plus, you never know what will happen in the next 2 months and you may need your HP’s to be strong supporters of you (to let you store stuff at their house while you travel, to help you with some visa/driver license/etc issue, to give you a recommendation for your next job/activity.)

Anon for this one June 10, 2010 at 7:07 pm

“Definately don’t start a pi$$ing match about trying to enforce a curfew on your HM; it’s only going to escalate from what you wrote.”

^ TX Mom, that’s exactly what my dad told me. HM and I had a meeting tonight about “the last two months” and I have mixed feelings about how it went down. On one hand, my HM told me plainly that my behavior was annoying her and she was frustrated, but she also asked me how I felt about it. I told her I was frustrated as well, and, well, I was a little annoyed too. At least we got it out in the open.

It’s funny you mention storing luggage!! I had asked her a few weeks ago if I could leave a bag in their basement for a month, and she told me sure, no problem, but then she brought that up tonight, and she sounded a little offended that I had asked! Either way, I’ve changed my mind and will be checking out storage facilities this weekend!!

KM June 10, 2010 at 9:33 pm

As our AP’s programs draw to a close, we sometimes find ourselves in similar situations. It could be for a variety of reasons. We began to withdraw – sort of like a psychological divorce. We sometimes notice “short-timers” attitude. I guess we all try to move on, knowing we will soon part company. Another thing I notice is the last six months seem to be filled with AP social activities that involve seeing more, doing more outside the family. I guess our AP’s know their time is coming to an end and they have only so many free weekends left. I’ve heard some mention they don’t have enough time left. So perhaps they squeeze in as much as possible, spending less time with their families and more time with their friends. This hurts a bit.

One au pair wrote us little notes toward the end of her program year. The notes would mention something we had done during the year and acknowledgement about how much she appreciated it. So even tho she was out with her friends more, she let us know she had not forgotten us. The notes were a small gesture, but it made a big difference to us.

So give it a try. Write your HM a note and let her know how much you appreciated the time you had with the family. Showing appreciation is one thing that can make your year end on good terms.

Good luck and congrats on making to to the finish line.

aria July 1, 2010 at 2:57 am

This isn’t really to ask for advice, more like a question/rant: my HM has this weird (and annoying) habit of stripping down and walking around in her underwear. For example, yesterday, she came home early and ate dinner with the kids, and she spilled some sauce on her nightdress, so she literally just peeled it off right there in the kitchen and walked to her bedroom in her underwear. She does this ALL the time! Does anybody else do this in their house with the AP around? I live in an independent room on the top floor of their building, so it’s not like I live with them, I think it’s strange (and really really awkward; I wish she would stop) that she does it even when I’m around. Anyway, I’m leaving in another 3 weeks, so I don’t care, but I just wanted to know what others thought! :)

Az. July 1, 2010 at 4:55 am

Yep, definitely weird — even if you’re close!

Pa host mom of Two au-pairs July 1, 2010 at 3:38 am

I haven’t heard this one before HP stripping down, you more so hear on the blog about HP speaking to the Ap to dress in appropriate clothing. The only advice I would give if you don’t feel comfortable now speaking to her about, tell her upon your departure how it made you feel so the next AP doesn’t have to deal with this situation too.

Fee July 4, 2010 at 12:23 pm

I have matched with an aupair from China and she should arrive in end of June. However, her visa was denied by the US Embassy in China. She has requested for 2nd interview to appeal which will be in 2 weeks. Did anyone has similar experience before where the aupair’s visa was denied? What is the chance of the appeal?


HRHM July 5, 2010 at 11:39 am

Our first match was from Moldova and was denied. The agency didn’t even offer an appeal, so I’m not sure how it would have turned out. I got the distinct impression that this was a frequent problem in Moldova, as a lot of people don’t seem to want to go back once they leave. Not sure with China.

Jan July 9, 2010 at 9:50 pm

I had three au pair’s who were denied their visa’s – Brazil, Ukraine, Brazil. I wrote support letters for each of them, but none got their visa. A visa denial makes planning difficult, and it’s nerve wracking while you wait for the appeal date to roll around. It may take a day or two before you even find out the results of the appeal.

Have you talked with your agency about this problem? Do you know why the au pair’s visa was denied?

I know it’s really disappointing to be denied a visa. You were probably looking forward to meeting your new au pair in person. You had invested a lot of time into the matching process which (I think) is really stressful and then bam! just like that no visa. I hated that someone thousands of miles away could have such authority over my decision, but that’s the way it is or so my husband says. Meanwhile I bawled my eyes out and it felt like l was having a nervous breakdown.

My advice is to plan on a denial and secretly hope for an approval. In the mean time I would try to figure out if I wanted an in country or out of country au pair and start the interview process right now even though you may not feel like it. You may also need to start planning for alternative childcare coverage since you may have a period of time without an au pair.

Good luck!

Taking a Computer Lunch July 12, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Yes, our 2nd Brazilian AP was a denied a Visa the first time. I was angry that the agency hadn’t warned me. I wrote a letter of support and the agency coached her on her 2nd interview (she was willing to do a 2nd interview because she was from a wealthy family that could afford a 2nd flight to the nearest consulate). Because of the The Camel, DH and I spend weeks looking for APs, usually interview 5 before offering the position to one. This AP was unusual in that she insisted she have interviews with 3 other families before talking with us – because she said we sounded too good to be true. She was perfect for me – headstrong and determined. I thought China had good interview coaches – the women are supposed to stress their ties to home and make it clear that they will be returning. Hesitate, and they’ve lost. However, if there is a high “failure to return rate” that will affect the ability of subsequent APs to get visas (which is what happened with Brazil).

If this AP is THE ONE, then push your agency – make it clear that you are angry that she was not coached properly.

BTW – the opposite happens with most European APs – they can return to Europe during their first year and get a new visa which permits them to come and go from the US during their 2nd year. It’s all in relative wealth, I suppose.

Jennifer July 12, 2010 at 8:11 pm

We have an extremely social au pair. My boys are 13 and 9 so pretty self-sufficient. I have been trying to establish a schedule with them and an activity each day. My activities are being “ignored” and they are resting each day as she is next to her computer and phone socializing. My boys are very active and I wanted them to play a little tennis and swim today. She took them shopping… for herself!

I’ve stopped the cell phone, at least for the next week, because she is over her minutes and now it is .45 per minute. I guess without going into rematch any suggestions on how to get her off the computer and WORKING?? I gave her the example today that a math teacher did not have the option to not teach because the kids didn’t want to. If you give the boys the option to lay around and watch TV they will choose that but I want them up and moving. They are sleeping in until 11/12 and eating lunch late. If they are going to sit around and do whatever they want, why am I paying for an AP? I’ve been over this with her 3x already. I feel like I need to threaten rematch to get the point through to her.

Taking a Computer Lunch July 12, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Yup, been there. My current AP is so there. For me, the boiling point was the day my son was home with stomach flu, and I asked what she had done with him that day, and she said “Nothing.” And then I had sick, bored child glommed on to me, because he’d been ignored all day, while I tried to keep him away from The Camel (nothing brings The Camel to the ER faster than stomach flu) while I fed her dinner.

You need to make it clear to both AP and boys that watching TV and playing video games is not acceptable. Tell the AP to take them to a park, batting cage, bowling alley, swimming pool. Give her a budget and keys to the car or bus passes. Unplug the TV, untwist the cable line going into the house (only if you’re sure it will work when you retwist it) – or ask your cable company if it’s possible to disturb the internet and TV signals from 8:30 to 5:00.

Coach her on the way to motivate older children. Don’t ask “Do you want…?” because the answer is going to be “No.” Give them choices, “You can go to X or Y, which do you prefer?” or “Come on, we’re going to X.” She’ll have to deal with rolling of eyes, feigned indifference, but she just might find they they are fun and have fun.

I enroll my son in summer camps (yes, I’m paying double), because my current AP can’t keep both him and The Camel happy at the same time. I’ve had several who could. It used to be that I put The Camel in post-ESY camp so my boy could have AP time – now I book several sports camps (some half-day, some full-day) through most of the summer for the boy so The Camel can have AP time. Alas, my current AP’s last week with us will be a full-time two-kid week. I predict boredom and disaster, because she will no longer care, but I’ve tapped my funds.

And yes, if your AP can’t motivate a tween and a teen to move, she’s watching the wrong kids for her personality. Have the chat – not threatening, but “I don’t think you’re happy watching a tween and a teen….”

hOstCDmom July 12, 2010 at 10:56 pm

To solve the computer problem — Change the firmware on your wireless router — most routers come with “firmware” on them, i.e. Linksys has firmware that makes the router run/work with your computers. Remove the firmware that came with the router and wwitch to an open source firmware called “Tomato” — it is awesome. It lets you block internet access to certain computers, and only those computers, (or all computers, or no computers) during certain hours or time blocks!!

You can give your kids internet time when you want them to have it, and the same for your AP. For example, you can let your AP have internet between 9.00 and 10.00 in the morning, between 4.00 and 5.00 in the afternoon, and then after 8.30pm (and until X time if you want the internet to go off at 1.00 or 2.00 am).

It’s not a content filter or net nanny — rather it simply makes the WiFi signal available to designated computers during designated times. The default is that all computers on the network have 24/7 access — but you can selectively limit, and limit by specified time blocks on certain days/not on others. So Saturday can be different from Tuesday.

It is kind of like a programmable thermostat that lets you program many different time blocks with different temperatures, on different days.

I LOVE it!!! :)

Should be working July 13, 2010 at 2:24 pm

This is great info, I forwarded to DH so that he can have this for future reference–more for our soon-to-be-tween daughter than for our AP, who never uses her computer while working (hooray).

MommyMia July 13, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Thanks so much for this info. – sounds like just what we’ve needed with some of our APs, and one of our kids who likes to use our laptop when TV isn’t an option! Since I’m not very tech savvy (and will let someone else actually implement this), must one know the IP address of the computer that you want certain hours enabled on “Tomato?” Because it might be tricky asking our AP to supply this for her computer.

Jennifer July 13, 2010 at 4:11 pm

For my kids I use Norton family online. It is free and has been great. You can set limits and monitor from any computer. It will also log them off when they are out of time and blocks for content.

My AP has her own computer and I can’t set this up on her personal computer. But it’s been great for the kids!

PA AP Mom July 13, 2010 at 12:57 am

Our last AP had the same problem with following the guidelines and using her computer all day while the boys were left to watch tv or play video games. First, I tried reminding her that the rule was “no personal computer use during work hours”.

I came home from work early one day because I wasn’t feeling well. I was in the house for over 1 hour before she noticed that I was there. She was in her room using her IM to chat with friends on her laptop.

After that, HD put a security key on the wireless router and she couldn’t access it because she didn’t know the “password”. A neighbor had an “unsecured network” so she could log onto that.

We chatted again about the expectations, without improvement. The laptop was ours so I took it with me to work each day. She was really upset, but she was given a ZILLION chances to follow our requests and honored NONE of them.

DarthaStewart July 13, 2010 at 9:38 am

That was part of my last AP’s problem. And an integral part of the reason why I sent her home early. She couldn’t stay off the computer during the day- She was skyping for hours on end and ignoring the kids. :(

Calif Mom July 15, 2010 at 2:17 am

Dead-on accurate advice. Never ask them “do you want…?” Heck, I have stopped giving people as many options as I used to because it always devolves into a negotiation. “Here’s what we’re doing today” works better than you might expect.

I also agree that some folks don’t have the skills to work with preteens/teens. She needs to find and use ways to overcome that inertia. Including her own!

Sota Gal July 12, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Sounds like you do need to tell her that you need her to do X, Y and Z with your kids during the day and if she will not follow your instruction you will need to rematch. After having the same conversation with her 3 times already, she is clearly blatantly ignoring you. When we had an AP abusing cell and computers during work hours we cut them. Cell was gone and we turned off wireless during the day. I had to ask a neighbor to password protect their as I found out via the kids that she was still able to use the computer during the day. I think it would be one thing if she were coming up with different activities for your kids, but letting them do nothing all day or going to the mall to shop for her is not what you want her there for.

Good luck!

Jennifer July 13, 2010 at 8:31 am

Thank you for the feedback. Yes we have given specific activities to do as well as a list. We have a TON of things for her to do. I’m not going to pay for movies/shopping/eating out every day. I think it is to the point that she is ignoring me. I don’t think she realized this was an actual job! My conversation with her yesterday was pretty harsh – she also broke curfew Sunday night by 3 hours with no communication to us. She’s not a party girl but she definitely likes her friends. I have another post coming regarding American friends and boyfriends. I will look into blocking the internet but feel I need to trust her to make good decisions and don’t want to micromanage everything she does. School starts in a couple of weeks so need to make it till then…

DarthaStewart July 13, 2010 at 9:44 am

IMO, time to either put her on a performance improvement plan, or bring in the LCC to do so. You need to have a small, concrete list of the tasks/behaviors she needs to model in order to stay. I suggest keeping the list to no more than 3 items. (Even if your list is a mile long, pick your three most important topics). For this conversation, you also need to pick out some behaviors that you appreciate. You should also give her a chance to express concerns, and you maybe want to ask her if she really wants to continue.

Calif mom July 15, 2010 at 2:22 am

yep. Summers are awful. This is a pretty common situation, and good advice from DS. You need to give her something to rally toward, script out the first few things she needs to do, make them do-able, and identify some early successes so she feels there’s hope of making it to the end of August.

No one really likes knowing they are failing. She may be drowning. Or she may be perfectly happy to sit alongside her new peers on the couch. She doesn’t sound coach-like at all.

rural AP mom July 13, 2010 at 1:57 pm

In a little under a month, our first Au Pair will arrive. We live in a small town about 50-60 minutes from the nearest city, and even in that city there is currently only one other Au Pair through our agency. I’m concerned about how our Au Pair will be able to make friends. She’s older than the typical college student, so I’m not even sure how much she’ll want to hang out with the other students from her classes. Does anyone have any advice on how to help her meet people her age?

NewAPMama July 13, 2010 at 2:01 pm

It is hard living in a remote place. Will you provide some sort of transportation if she does want to go into the city once in a while? As far as meeting people, is she religious? Are there churches or a synagogue where you live? What about a gym or fitness center? There is a great site called where she can join local groups and try to meet friends that way.

Olga July 14, 2010 at 8:37 pm

How would you handle this situation?? My son asked my au pair to ride bicycles outside and she said she couldn’t because she had a “cold”. But then my son was confused and wondered why she went out with her friends if she wasn’t feeling well. What should I tell my son and should I say anything to the au pair?

Taking a Computer Lunch July 14, 2010 at 10:44 pm

I must admit, this is one area that always gets my goat. If I take a day off from work because my AP is too sick to work, I don’t want to see her heading out the door to party with friends that evening. I don’t care if she’s feeling better – I sacrificed a day at the office. I’ve been known to take away the keys to the AP care in a pique.

Personally, I’d take a deep breath and then confront her. “You confused my son yesterday, because you said you couldn’t ride bicycles and then you…” Explain to her how a child might interpret her actions, and then how you interpret her actions. Give her a chance to defend herself and really listen. And then, if she hasn’t given you a decent answer, ask her what she might do next time. Tell her not to lie to your son, that answering, “I don’t really feel like going for a bicycle ride right now, could we do it early tomorrow morning when it’s cooler?” is better. And encourage her, when she deflects his plans, to make a big deal of it – offer to pack a picnic lunch, or to drive the bikes to a good spot, or to invite a friend. Tell her why anticipation of a better event will put your son in a better frame of mind than just saying no. And do make it clear to her that she may not shoot down every activity that he wants to do, but if she really can’t do them (because she’s not physically able, because the rules of the game are beyond her, to let you know so that you and your husband could consider the activity when she’s not in charge).

My bottom line is – don’t lie to my son. It’s a message that I don’t want him to have – and make it clear to her why.

calif mom July 15, 2010 at 2:24 am

TACL gets two thumbs up!

anoninPA July 16, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Wondering…has any HM ever bought their aupair something extra just because – a bag of chips they like, gift certificate to nail salon, great book, etc? And did they get offended or were they happy about it? We would like to do a little something extra for our aupair but want to hear some ideas first…

DarthaStewart July 16, 2010 at 4:59 pm

I’ve never had an au-pair get upset at a little something extra. Heck, I think that semi-random extras are a _good_ thing to do. And making sure to throw in some extra praise when they do things right… That’s important too.

JJ Host Mom July 16, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Bought her a couple dozen red roses for Au Pair appreciation day, accompanied by a hand-written card that thanked her for specific things that she does. Also I bought her a magazine in her native language when I went on a business trip. She was happy both times, albeit a little flustered. But I still think it’s a good thing to do!

JJ Host Mom July 16, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Oops, I mean peach-colored roses. Red would’ve been a little weird.

SotaGal July 17, 2010 at 10:39 pm

We do fairly regularly… It depends on what has been going on/how she has gone above and beyond. If I know that the kids have been particularly challenging for the day or week, I’ll give her money for dinner and Starbuck’s with her friends. I often buy movie passes at Costco and hang on to those for our AP to surprise her for a night at the movies with a friend just because. I also like to send our AP’s to my hair stylist and we go out for pedi’s on occasion to bond and catch up with one another. The biggest we have given was when *I* traveled for 6 days for work just over a month after our first AP’s arrival – she was a true lifesaver to my husband and allowed me to focus on my work without a worry of what was going on at home. We bought her an iPod as a gift when I returned because my husband was SO grateful for all of her hard work, dedication and genuinely caring about what was going on with the kids. Just like my parents did when I was young, we try to give some extra pocket money for vacations as well.

We try to keep the pantry and fridge stocked with food, drink and snacks that our AP likes to some degree, or buy her favorite chocolates to keep on hand or to give to her to hide from me! :) IMO, that is part of the spirit of the program…she is here as a part of my family so I do the same as I would for DH or our kids.

All of our AP’s have seemed thankful for the gestures and we always let them know that it is for all of their hard work (or whatever specific might have happened) and write a note expressing our thanks.

anon July 26, 2010 at 10:39 pm

How do you find an Au pair like that? Any advice?

MTR July 18, 2010 at 11:36 am

We do that occasionally. Things like her favorite candies or juices and such that I normally don’t buy for the house. Also, she likes fast food, so sometimes, when I don’t feel like cooking, I give her money to take kids to McD or BK for lunch and obviously give her enough for herself as well. She is always excited about that, as are my kids.

One thing that she has had problem with when came here, was managing her money. Eventually she learned and even saved for her vacation in Hawaii and a new laptop, but it was a struggle for her in the begging.. At one point last year she managed to go over her cell phone allowance to the tune of $160 and she did pay it all back to us while still saving for her vacation. That made me so proud of her. I plan on giving her that money back when she is going on her vacation for some extra spending money.

CS Nanny July 16, 2010 at 4:55 pm

That is so nice! It is always to hear about an aupair doing a good job without having complaints go with it! And I think all of those suggestions were great! I am sure even if you just gave her a card saying what a great job she is doing, etc., she would really appreciate it! It is always nice to hear praise instead of critiscm.

CS Nanny July 16, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Oops! I meant to say, it is always GREAT to hear about an aupair who is doing a good job. And you seem like great HP’s! :)

Olga July 16, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Am I the only HM that has an au pair that gets offended if I do something nice? I just don’t do anything extra because she is way too sensitive and takes it wrong. Has anyone else dealt with this? Or is that her way of pushing us away???

Taking a Computer Lunch July 16, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Sounds like you’ve got a communication problem, or an AP who holds a grudge for some slight that you didn’t even notice. When our the relationship with our first AP fell apart (after 3 1/4 years – and then we eeked out another bad 1/4 of a year), it come to pass that nothing that I said or did was right – even if I was trying hard to be nice. She was the kind of a person who held a grudge, could catalog my list of faults down to the date (who remembers?) and after a while I gave up completely. On the other hand, if your AP is leaving in the next few weeks, then it is perfectly natural for her to push away.

I often try to purchase little things “just because,” especially when I know what my AP enjoys having (whether it be food, a phone card, iTunes downloads, etc, a book).

Olga July 16, 2010 at 10:03 pm

She actually has 10 months to go. And I don’t feel like she is holding any grudge. No reason to. She just doesn’t want me to be extra nice to her. I think she feels that if I am too nice, then I am not treating her like an employee. And that’s how she truly wants to be treated. I was just curious if there were other ap’s that were like that. This is all new to us…thanks for listening.

Calif Mom July 18, 2010 at 11:50 pm

Oh boy, Olga. That sounds sad. I bet she has some confidence issues, and prefers to have her real very clearly delineated for her. Somehow, that way it’s more comfortable for her. Maybe over time you can convince her–through repetition–that you really appreciate her for who she is.

Does she see you working like a dog and struggling in the economy, and she doesn’t want to be a burden or “cost” you anything extra? Maybe she is worried?

Maybe she is not comfortable with a fuss being made about her in general. I had to argue with an AP once about my desire to buy her new sheets. She didn’t want me to, didn’t want to cause us any “extra” costs. She took personal pride in being someone who doesn’t need a lot of glam or extras. She was a reliable, tough, not spoiled person, and having me splurge on nice sheets for her room did not fit that image of herself. I finally wore her by down by explaining that knowing she was sleeping on the old ones depressed me because it didn’t feel right to me. Sometimes people DO need to be convinced they are valuable to you.

It strikes me that a host parent’s desire to reward an AP really needs to be in a form that they are open to receiving. Otherwise it could be misunderstood, and cause angst instead of cementing your relationship.

Calif Mom July 18, 2010 at 11:51 pm

typo… needs to have her ROLE clearly delineated.

Taking a Computer Lunch July 19, 2010 at 7:01 am

Is it a cultural thing? Our Chinese AP has not meshed with our family, and small gifts have seemingly flummoxed her. She pointedly asked that we not do anything for her birthday, although it bothered me that we never did. She is great with The Camel, okay with my son, but can’t get away fast enough when DH and I are around. Although she talks with DH more than I, he and I had a conversation, too, that made it clear this was not the AP relationship that he wanted to have either.

If you are not having the type of relationship you want with your AP, it’s okay to go into rematch. You’ve already posted about her unwillingness to do one activity with your son. If she’s maintaining her distance from him, too, then in my opinion, it’s time to go…

pia aupair July 26, 2010 at 10:53 pm

well in the beginning i was always really thankful for my hostmum being nice but after a few month i started to hear about it.
so maybe she had a bad experience earlier in life that some people only do nice things to get nice things back. and so she doesn’t wanna ‘owe’ you anything.

Euromom July 19, 2010 at 3:42 am

Hey Olga – God you sound nice!

But I have to ask – did you initiate a employer/employee relationship when matching believing it would suit you / your family and now find that it is hard to be a boss in your free time? Is this why the AP is reacting negatively – are you shifting the lines on her?

I once had an employer who wanted to have be in with the gossip, have coffee and chat but in the next breathe would say “I’m the boss”. I found it easier to avoid her (unless work related) in the end as I never knew when she was going to play the “boss card”. It was a very difficult situation as she was a genuinely nice lady but she did not understand the lines and she crossed them when it suited her.

Did you discuss what type of relationship you would like in matching?

Olga July 24, 2010 at 5:15 pm

We originally wanted someone to be a part of the family. (Meaning that I didn’t want it so business around here. I thought it would be too rigid.) But after 2 months, our au pair expressed that she wanted to be an employee only. Now we are in our third month and I really seem to like it. I didn’t think I would – but I do. I hope that doesn’t sound bad. This is all new to us so I truly didn’t know what to expect. I really do love the flexible hours of childcare an au pair provides.

Calif Mom August 4, 2010 at 9:40 am

No, it doesn’t sound “bad” of you!

In some very real ways, it’s much easier to have her in that role of employee. (We prefer more integration into the family, but it has varied a lot with different APs.)

hOstCDmom July 21, 2010 at 8:32 am

If you are with CC – look closely at the contract. It actually says that the Host Family is obligated to house the AP in transition for up to 2 weeks (and here is the key) *IF THE TRANSITION WAS INITIATED BY HOST* This may not be verbatim from the contract (I don’t have it to hand, but will excerpt and post later).

We successfully argued this point with CC re one of our APs – the only one with whom we went into transition. AP said she wanted to go to another family, and that was ok with us (after a long list of her issues – she expected me to cook her 3 hot meals a day, including weekends/off days, even though that wasn’t what I was cooking for our family! She thought we were mean and unfair making her get a state driving license (only cost was $40 for the license, and we were paying for it, and this was because our auto ins required that she have a state DL!) etc.)

Suffice to say her expectations of the program and ours were not aligned, but SHE actually initiated the rematch. So we told CC – per your contract we are only obligated to house AP for 2 weeks if ?*we* initiate rematch. CC will need to make other arrangements to house her after X date (a date 2 or 3 days from when we communicated this position- we wanted to be reasonable.). We prevailed.

Anna July 21, 2010 at 10:00 am

You cannot ask au pair just to leave, but you can ask LCC to take her in.
We had a situation like that – the rematch was because we discovered a big lie and we decided we cannot trust the au pair in our house anymore. With the agreement of the LCC, we asked her to stay her 2 rematch wks with her boyfriend (otherwise LCC would take her in, but she wasn’t very eager to live with LCC).
In a situation like yours, where if she remains in your home it is unsafe, the agency should arrange a place for her to stay – usually with LCC. But read your contract fine print.

anon July 26, 2010 at 10:45 pm

What about the au pair that does not plan on spending any minor or major holidays with the family? Should I just go into rematch? Or let it be because for the most part, she is nice when “on duty”?

My 2 cents August 4, 2010 at 12:45 pm

What do you mean by nice on duty? Her personality or her performance? If your au pair is providing you good childcare and is otherwise satisfactory in her job performance, I’d let it go and try not to take it personally (hard, I know). Having a responsible au pair who performs her job well is overall a very good thing and one you want to hold onto IMHO.

If you can think of any reason why she may be avoiding spending time with you and your family, then confront that as diplomatically as you can. This is an area where underlying negative feelings could quickly escalate a solid performing person into a not solid-performing one and that you do want to avoid.

Olga July 24, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Ok – so you have heard some things about my au pair. She has been with us for a total of 3 months now. Is it odd that she hasn’t taken one picture with my children yet? Or of my children yet? She has her camera all the time and loves to take pictures. So what does this really mean?

MTR July 24, 2010 at 6:17 pm

To me that means rematch. There are other issues here, besides the pictures. Lack of pictures is the evidence of her not bonding with kids. We had an AP with us for 5 months and she did not take one single picture or or with kids. Another AP we had for 4 months, she took pictures of kids, but not with kids. Our current AP has been with us for 13 months now, and she always takes pictures of kids and with them and send me random pictures to work of things they did that day, like fashion show where girls put on her high heels and cool scarves and sunglasses and posed for pictures, or kids just playing in the back yard, or even just watching TV while dressed in their Sunday best and wrapping themselves in blankets on living room floor.

JJ host mom July 24, 2010 at 6:35 pm

I wouldn’t read too much into it, necessarily. Our fantastic au pair doesn’t take many pictures. Then again, neither do we. We’re always so busy interacting with the kids that we don’t think to pick up the camera. That’s why it doesn’t bother me that she doesn’t.

Anna July 24, 2010 at 10:45 pm

Sounds like you are new to hosting, and don’t know how good it is supposed to be with the right person for your family.

If your au pair is into taking pictures and carries her camera with her all the time, but hasn’t taken one picture of your children, I think it is clear she doesn’t like your children. She probably doesn’t like children at all.

Olga July 25, 2010 at 12:17 am

I think that is the real problem. I don’t know how good it should be…LOL

CSNanny July 25, 2010 at 5:36 pm

I don’t think it’s fair to say your aupair doesn’t like kids merely because she doesn’t take photos of your children. I know many nannies who do not take pictures of the kids they watch due to the fact that they aren’t their kids, and they do not feel comfortable. Some parents do not want their kids photographed. And before someone makes an issue out of nanny vs. aupairs, when I was an aupair, many of my friends didn’t photograph they kids they lived with. So I don’t think it is a fair to jump to the conclusion that she doesn’t like your kids or any kids, for that matter, as Anna would suggest.

darthastewart July 25, 2010 at 6:33 pm

I am a GS leader and NEVER take pictures. There are too many parents who have issues with their daughters being photographed/photos ending on on the GS website, or whatever that I just don’t do it. Not worth the hassle and aggravation.

It’s not that I don’t want pictures, but I’m scared to take them.

Melissa July 25, 2010 at 6:35 pm

CS Nanny – You make a good point about some parents not wanting their children to be photographed, or not wanting the photos to be posted online (myspace, blogs, etc). That’s the perfect opportunity to talk with the HF about it, if the host parents haven’t already shared their opinions about picture-taking with their AP.

I do think, however, that if an AP takes lots of photos of other things, but never of the kids, it would make me pause for a moment. It doesn’t mean that she flat out doesn’t like the kids or is a bad AP, of course, but it could be an informal indicator of how she views her role, the HF, etc. For example, one of our APs viewed her year as an adventure in which she wanted to experience as much of “American life” as she could and was very much ‘part of the family’. She took lots of pictures – of her own adventures as well as life with us and the kids (e.g., her 1st thanksgiving, xmas morning). Another of our APs was a wonderful caregiver to the kids but viewed her role as an employee and never participated in family life, either in activities or even routine things like dinner. She rarely took any pictures of our kids, but lots of personal pictures of she and her friends out partying. Didn’t mean she hated our kids (in fact, I think she really cared deeply for them), but it was a telling sign of the type of ‘fit’ we had with her.

Calif Mom August 4, 2010 at 9:48 am

“Liking” Anna’s comments (and Melissa’s, and others’ below):

1) you’ve got qualms about a few different parts of the relationship. They are starting to add up, even though no single one of them is a deal-killer.
2) being a frequent picture-taker but not taking pics of the kids is a red flag. You’ve got a self-interested AP on your hands, and you’re at the point where you have to decide how to handle it.

The 3-month mark is often a watershed in so-so AP/host relationships.

–take a risk and rematch NOW before it spirals farther
— suck it up and deal with it. Watch this trend to continue to play out for the next several months while you hold your breath.
–prophylactically manage your relationship. Take a more active approach and have a chat (See Computer Lunch’s excellent post below.)

It *can* be really good when your AP actually enjoys being with your family and wants to help out!

anon July 26, 2010 at 9:21 pm

What about the au pair that sleeps out at another host family home the minute she is off. What does this mean? Am I reading too much into things? And thank heaven for the blog…It really is helpful. P.S. What does “The Camel” mean?

darthastewart July 26, 2010 at 9:24 pm

To me, it means that it’s just a job for her. Maybe she doesn’t want to be with the host family at all, and is just counting time until she can leave. It’s not something good.

anon July 26, 2010 at 10:30 pm

And what does is mean when someone refers to the Camel?

Taking a Computer Lunch July 27, 2010 at 7:03 am

The Camel used to be Queen of the Geckos. She’s got a wicked sense of humor, but she’s severely retarded, multiply handicapped, and medically fragile. Sounds rather pathetic, but as The Camel, she’s intelligent enough to protect her own airway by spitting food she can’t swallow, laugh at her own jokes, and do smart things, despite her limitations. I can’t imagine life without her and have worked extremely hard to keep her around.

That being said, I understand that my APs have to work a lot harder than most. Picking up a 25 kg. (54 lbs or so) child, changing the diaper of someone who gets her period, and feeding someone who’s capable of launching a bite of food right back at you, is not pleasant. However, the benefit to APs that live with us is that we understand that they are adults, doing a job we would only ask an adult to do. Most have joined us at the dinner table, on family vacations, cheered on our son’s soccer games, and embraced the exchange part of the program. We also understand that they are young woman forming intense friendships, and that they want to go out and party, visit friends, and explore the country. We don’t impose a curfew on either our APs or our car (well, with the exception of our current AP who is a novice driver).

If you are not happy with your APs participation in your family life, then ask yourself a couple of questions: 1) Is she fantastic with the kids – have they bonded with her (some APs are great with kids and lousy with HP), 2) is her failure to connect with you as a family impeding your interaction with her (meaning – are you angry at her for not wanting to be with your family more). If the answers are no and yes, then it’s time to have a chat with her.

Our current AP is extremely private (to the point that we have not met one of her friends since December) and does not want to participate in family life. Life with The Camel means that the venn diagram of available special needs willing APs in rematch who are able to drive is almost nil at any given point in time, so we took a deep breath and said the AP is fantastic with The Camel and we can survive. Her failure to meet the benchmark goals we established (getting an American driver’s license by 8 months into her stay was one of them) meant that it was easy to say, “Good luck with the rest of your life, but we’re going to look for someone else.” She’s not a bad person, just not a good fit for our family.

We invested an extraordinary amount of time and energy into making this year’s relationship work: driving lessons, family meetings, establishing benchmarks, encouraging family participation, and quite frankly, having done it – I wouldn’t do it again. And I have changed some of my interview questions to seek out dynamic and curious women.

JBLV July 27, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Good luck Computer Lunch. Please let us know how it goes.

Dorsi July 27, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Any comment that includes the term “Venn Diagram” is automatically awesome.

Calif Mom August 4, 2010 at 9:54 am

Leaving the house for a friends’ the minute she is off means she is wrapped up in her personal life. You have to decide how much it bothers you to be seen as just an employer.

(Interesting how often this theme is popping up lately, in different contexts.)

CS Nanny August 4, 2010 at 10:18 am

Leaving the house that mean she has completed her days worth of work and needs (and deserves) time away from your children. While you may want her to spend more time with the kids, you also need to realize that she has spent up to 10 an hours that day with children. She needs social stimulation from her peers. If you would like her to spend 2-3 dinners a week with you, then I think that is reasonable. But at the same time, I think you need to respect the fact that while you are her “family” for the year, as many of you point out, this is still a full-time job. I doubt any of you would want to spend your free time with your boss’ all the time. I love the kids I watch dearly, and I enjoy their parents, but after spending so much time with them, I don’t want to spend my nights off with them all the time as well. Just trying to give you a different point of view.

OnceAnAuPair August 4, 2010 at 1:53 am

Hi Everyone,
I’ve been working for my current family as a nanny since May. When I first signed the contract, I said I’d stay for a year. In June, my husband was offered an amazing job that we decided he can’t pass up (he works in a very specific field that right now isn’t full of jobs-watchmaking). We have to move an hour and a half away. I knew I would have to quit my job, but we decided it’s something that would be worth breaking the contract for.

As soon as I told my husband knew about the job, I told my employer, in June. We knew then we would have to move in August. I told my employer we would be moving in August, though I wasn’t sure of the exact date. 1 week ago I told her we’d be moving August 15th and she had told me the day before that they had found a new nanny that could start around the 15th. I thought wow, perfect! Then monday morning she says “she needs me to stay until the end of the month” meaning I’d have to live with my in-laws and away from my husband for two weeks. I’m really frustrated because I’ve given her 2+ months of notice (it’s 1 month here in Switzerland) and she still is trying to keep me longer. I was also more or less forced to take a 2 week holiday without pay two weeks ago. I’m really upset that I was forced to take unpaid holiday because they went on vacation (it said holiday in my contract, which I thought meant paid, I guess it’s my fault for not asking further). And she constantly asks me to stay 1-1.5 hours longer, 2-3 a week. Last week I worked a full 8 hour day, and then came back and worked 8-midnight and the father was off the next day but they still expected me to be back in at 8 am! Even though they know I have a 30 min drive and wouldn’t be getting for much sleep.

I’m so frustrated, should I just tell her “sorry, I won’t be able to after the 15th?” or just stay for the two weeks because it’s the right thing to do?

Thanks for the advice.

CS Nanny August 4, 2010 at 8:44 am

Personally, I would tell her, “I’m sorry, but I cannot stay past the 15th. Please let me know if you would like help training the new nanny.” And end it at that. If you have given her adequate notice, which is sounds like you have, then it is her responsiblity to find someone. Not yours. Oh, and stop staying late! Remind her of your hours. Are you in Switzerland or are you in America? Not that it matters. I am just curious.

Calif mom August 4, 2010 at 9:52 am

Taking the opportunity to completely agree with CS Nanny!

OnceAnAuPair August 4, 2010 at 11:50 am

We’re in Switzerland.

Anyway, today she told me I can have the 16th off so I have more time with my move and the 20th off too, and if all goes well with the new girl she’ll start working the following week. I’m happy with finishing the 19th, but I do not want to come back the following week, if it doesn’t work out with the new nanny. I hope it works out! I’ll just tell her no, I guess. This woman stresses me out :P.

CS Nanny August 4, 2010 at 11:53 am

I guess if you’re happy with that, then that works!

PA AP mom August 4, 2010 at 12:52 pm

I also COMPLETELY agree with CS Nanny on this one. You gave more than enough professional notice and it’s not up to you to “fill in” until she can make another arrangement. You did the right thing. Stick to your guns and complete your work on the 15th and then politely say goodbye.

Busy Mom August 5, 2010 at 12:00 am

I also agree with CS Nanny that you have given ample notice and could walk away knowing that you have treated the family well. However, at least in the US, references are exceptionally important when hiring nannies. It’s not like a ‘normal’ job where, if you don’t have a good relationship with your immediate boss, you can compensate with a reference from another colleague. So, you will need to balance your desire to move on with the degree to which you need a positive reference from this family to get a new position. Best of luck!

OnceAnAuPair August 5, 2010 at 1:58 am

This is exactly my dilemma, I would really like a good reference, especially something like “even though she had to give us notice before the end of her contract, she did her best to work it out with us until we could find someone new”. That’s why I’m going to stay until the 18th, it’s a halfway point I guess.

CS Nanny August 5, 2010 at 10:33 am

What part of Switzerland are you in? I only left a few months ago, and I know quite a few of the girls who got married.

OnceAnAuPair August 5, 2010 at 10:52 am

Geneva right now, Neuchatel in one week :). Where were you?

Today right before I left the mom said “I need you to be available after the 18th”! I almost screamed at her. She said I could say no if I HAVE to. I told her I’ll talk to my husband tonight and tell her tomorrow. I’m telling her no. How can she expect me to work there for another week when she lives an hour and a half away?

Host Mommy Dearest August 5, 2010 at 12:54 pm

OnceAnAuPair – It sounds like you must somewhat care about the kids and the family if you didn’t tell her no right then. Maybe the mom could absorb some of the extra commute for you (I am just throwing out a suggestion – trying to be creative in the solution). You could propose that your start time be 45 minutes later and your finish time be 45 minutes earlier than normal – and she would pay you for a normal day. She would be splitting the commute time with you essentially. If she is really in a bind and needs your help temporarily, I think it is fair for her to make some consessions for you to make it worth your while or at least fair. Or maybe she can cover your extra commuting costs? I bet there are some other solutions that she may be willing to consider that could make things better for you. To show her you gave this some thought, you could write up all the options with all the variations that are acceptible to you (including your last day is the 18th) and let her chose the option she wants.

PA AP mom August 5, 2010 at 2:01 pm

It seems to me that your host mom is going to continue to see how much she can eek out of you before you leave. First it was the 15th, now the 18th. What’s next??? She is clearly trying to bully you into doing what is best for her. She isn’t even considering what you need.

Tell her firmly when your last day will be and stick to it. It’s not fair for her to keep bullying you into more time.

OnceAnAuPair August 5, 2010 at 2:33 pm

I do like the girls, a lot which isn’t helping obviously.
But I’m going to tell her tomorrow I can’t stay past the 18th. I really don’t think the mother thinks of anyone but herself. She’s like this with all of her “employees” (there’s two housekeepers, a gardener, and me). It obviously doesn’t matter to her that I have husband, a home, and a kitten that I’d like to see (it might seem little to her, but these things are important to me). I’ll post how it goes tomorrow.

CS Nanny August 5, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Simply tell her you are sorry, but your husband has already moved (even if he hasn’t) and so by staying to the 18th, you are having to stay with your mother-in-law and that is just inappropriate. I would get a reference letter from her NOW, and tell her I’m sorry, but I cannot stay past the 18th. Don’t let her bully you into staying longer. You are married, and it’s not just you who is affected by her actions.

And I was in Zurich for 3 years. I love Neuchatel though!!

OnceAnAuPair August 5, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Neuchatel is beautiful! I can’t wait to get out of Geneva, so expensive and crowded, though the scenery’s beautiful. Did you love Switzerland? I love it here :).

So you also speak Schweizer Deutsch? So bizarre sounding next to the the french I speak and hear all day! Though I took a lot of German in school, Swiss German is a whole different thing.

Anyway, I’ll update tomorrow about the mother.

CS Nanny August 5, 2010 at 3:23 pm

I speak Swiss German and High German. And I know!! It’s such a crazy language!! Especially because it’s different in every Kanton you go to!! And I LOVE Switzerland. I only came back to go back to school.

OnceAnAuPair August 9, 2010 at 11:44 am

I finally talked to her today, I didn’t see her Friday so I left a note. Today she told me “it’s fine, we’ll work it out” and didn’t seem upset at all. I’m really happy with this compromise- I leave the 19th.

CS Nanny August 9, 2010 at 11:56 am

I’m glad you stood up for yourself. Hopefully she will give you a positive reference. Glad it worked out :)

PA AP mom August 9, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Glad it is working out well for you. Good luck!

OnceAnAuPair August 9, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Thanks everyone for the advice :)

newhostmom August 5, 2010 at 8:32 pm

Can you please start a topic about au pairs and sleeping out? Is it normal for an au pair to not sleep home every single weekend? And what about when they start sleeping out during the week as well because they are “off” the next morning. Does this mean they do not want to be around the host family at all? I understand here and there, or even occasionally if they are going out. But every weekend? Even when they are going to a movie locally? And live in the same town as the other au pairs? My au pair is 19 and we are so confused with her behavior. Is she really truly homesick or does she not want to be around us? Advice please…

Taking a Computer Lunch August 5, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Do you have an early curfew that makes it impossible for her to do activities with her friends? Do you permit her to have friends in the house?

I certainly wouldn’t expect a young woman to want to spend every waking minute with my family – the year is her’s too – but if she takes a powder every opportunity, then I would recommend a chat to see if she’s unhappy about something. (She might not tell you.)

I had one AP who was gone every minute she could be, until a friend betrayed her. And because I was there to back her up, she became a became a member of the family – mixing socializing with her friends with being part of the family. Be open, be receptive, be flexible.

To me, it helps to think of the Au Pair year like the freshman year of college – lots of figuring out who she is and what she wants, too.

newhostmom August 5, 2010 at 10:27 pm

Between 12 – 12:30 am during the week. Very reasonable. I believe. And 2 am on the weekends. At 19 – do you think it should be later? I can make it 3 am. Also, I continue to encourage friends all the time. I’ve even had her friends over. She prefers them to not come.

Chev August 6, 2010 at 12:58 am

Your AP staying out every weekend and some nights might not have anything to do with you, does she have a new boyfriend maybe?
If she’s staying out on weeknights do you consider that breaking her curfew? I’d suggest you talk to her pretty quickly about that since breaking one ‘little’ rule like that can lead to breaking the bigger ones quickly.
As an AP i don’t really think having a curfew on weekends is really necessary unless there’s alarm systems or really light sleeping children in the room next door. Having a curfew on your car on weekends i completely understand, but on the 19 year old that’s adult enough to be responsible for your children?
With my first HF my first year round i left their place almost as soon as i finished work on the Friday and came back at curfew on the Sunday. But i was also pretty miserable there and not wanting to be around the HP’s when i didn’t have to be, which doesn’t sound like the case with your AP.
With my second HF i spent most Saturday nights sleeping over at friends houses, and that wasn’t because i didn’t like my HF, they were wonderful, but at 19 there’s not that much else you can do on weekends other than see movies and have girly junkfood nights with your friends.

Jan August 6, 2010 at 7:33 am

Maybe she has a new boyfriend, but I don’t think it’s unusual for an au pair to stay with her friends. Our au pair’s often stayed with other au pair’s, and we also had guests in our house about once a month.

CS Nanny August 6, 2010 at 8:38 am

By the time the weekend especially rolls around, you want a break. I know for me it is extremely hard to sleep in when you have young kids around. I generally sleep elsewhere on my time off.

Jennifer August 6, 2010 at 8:41 am

We’ve had 2 AP’s and both are usually gone all weekend. I don’t mind at all as it lets me really have my family time – which is pretty limited during the week. We are also usually running around with activies and errands all weekend. When I have a problem with it is when there are excessive miles on the car and when they claim that we don’t talk enough and I am not spending enough time with her.

PA AP mom August 6, 2010 at 2:06 pm

I agree with CS Nanny on this one. Our first AP stayed overnight at a friend’s house nearly every Friday and Saturday night. She didn’t work on weekends so it was never a problem. We knew when she left on Friday after work that we likely wouldn’t see her again until Sunday at curfew.

I asked her once why she always stayed at this particular friend’s house and she said that the girl had her own “suite” where they weren’t awakened early by the kids playing in the house.

Seemed reasonable to me and everyone was happy with the safe arrangement.

Calif Mom August 6, 2010 at 10:20 am


She might be sleeping over in order to avoid breaking the weekend curfew. I would have a chat with her. (We don’t have a weekend curfew, instead we use the “be home 8 hours before a work shift” guideline, because it sounds very reasonable and is hard to argue with.)

But before you talk to her, you need to decide which parts of this are bugging you. Is that you are worried for her safety? Are you feeling rejected and wanted more of a closeness in the relationship? Are you worried there is more of a problem than you realize? Is it affecting your kids or are they clueless?

This may sound crazy, but you need to ask AP these exact questions, be honest with her about how YOU are feeling, and see if you can figure out what’s going on with her. Better to know than to keep worrying. Maybe she needs your help. Maybe you can change some of your expectations and she will appreciate it.

At this age, building a strong network of peers is developmentally appropriate. (Brains mature at 25 or so.) It hurts us 40+ers when they run off, but it’s really the work of this age stage. Some have a stronger need for peer support than others. Or yes, could be a BF. Whatever’s going on, you will clearly feel better if you know more. And you need to know more before you can decide what to do about it.

TACL — YES! it’s just like freshman year of college, esp for someone who’s 19. First homesick, then find friends, then spend too much time with them, and then settle into a sustainable pattern. I’m finding my new au pair is a lot less experienced than our 25 yo’s have been. Sort of surprised me because she’s over 19. She had never pumped gas, even though she’s a college grad from a westernized country. Her dad has always done it. Very cute, how she’s really feeling proud of herself for coming here and doing this.

OnceAnAuPair August 9, 2010 at 11:51 am

As an au pair, I often stayed out overnight. My room was on the lower level with all the common space. The children would be up at 8 am screaming, playing, jumping, etc so I could never get any sleep. The parents also encourged the boy to practice piano around 8:30 am, right outside my door.
I had a boyfriend (now husband) who I stayed with often. He and I often would leave for the weekend and go to his parents’ beautiful country home. I also stayed with with another au pair friend who had a studio apartment in a Swiss ski station.

I don’t know if you should be worried about it, but maybe ask where she’s going. I always told the family who I’d be with and where. A 19 girl might just want personal freedom and time to hang out with her peers.

HRHM August 12, 2010 at 4:25 am

Here’s the real question – is there a reason you care? If she is doing a good job, not breaking the rules/curfew, showing up to work on time and ready to go that should do the trick. I remember when I was 19 and home from college for the summer, I never slept at home on the weekend. Could be she has a secret boyfriend, could be the sleeping in thing, could be she’s afraid that you’ll ask her to do something “work-related” if she’s hanging around, could be she’s just needing some time away from the family after spending all week immersed. Also, it could be that they’re getting drunk and/or high and it’s easier to not get caught by the other host family. :) either way, as long as she’s doing a great job and is pleasant to be with when she’s there, don’t take it personally.

Mommy3inLA August 9, 2010 at 12:40 pm

would like to send you and email for advice but i cannot find your email address.
please post it. thanks.

cv harquail August 9, 2010 at 6:46 pm

mom at au pair mom (dot) com

OnceAnAuPair August 12, 2010 at 1:35 am

An update on what I posted about my giving my *final* notice.
We’re moving this Saturday. We spent last weekend moving some large new furniture to the new apartment and are spending every evening after work this week, packing. We took a break last night since it was our wedding anniversay and went out to dinner. My boss told me I wouldn’t have to work pass my normal hour of 4:30 any time this week, except maybe Friday, but only if I felt like I had the time. She sent me a text last night at 8:30pm asking me to stay until 6:30 tonight, 2 days before I am moving! Of course it completely ruined the night because I was angry with her for treating me like there is nothing going on in my life that I can just get home at 7pm, 2 days before I’m moving!
I wrote her back that, no I’m sorry I can’t but I am moving on Saturday. GOD WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS WOMAN? This almost tempted me to tell her Sorry, I won’t be back at all.

ConflictedHostMomof2inSoCal August 17, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Hi all, I am new to this site but am so impressed with all of the great ideas/ advice everyone seems to have. We are sort of at a crossroads with our current au pair and are trying to determine whether we just need to suggest rematch- I feel desperately in need of input from those that have been in this position.
This is our second au pair, our first stayed a full year and extended for 9 months. Of course, as with any au pair, there were issues, but nothing we couldnt navigate.
Now, 3 months into our match with our new and current au pair, some issues that started off as trivial are beginning to take their toll. My husband and I work full time and our au pair is responsible for our 2 children- 2 and and 4 years old. (Our four year old goes to preschool 3 full days per week.)
Before I hired our au pair, she and I candidly discussed car use and dietary issues.
She does not have her own car, rather she shares my car with me. She typically gets the car 4 days per week while I’m at work to take the kids out or do her own errands, in the evenings once I get home to go to the gym, etc, and on the weekends in the morning before I need it for activities with the children, again in the afternoon when we return with the children and at night. Lately, she has expressed discontent at not having the car for entire weekend days or overnite. Strangely, it is an issue that started out small and trivial, but that has evolved into a constant stuggle. Generally, she will announce that “she is going out” rather than ask permission for car use and has been very sullen about having to return the car for our use. (As an aside, we place a curfew on the car of 11PM during the week and midnight on the weekends- I dont care if she wants to spend the night out, she just cant do it with my car.)
We also ask that she carry the cell phone we provided her whenever she is taking the car, for emergencies and the like. Further, we often ask where she will be going with the car. Evidently, these are are insults to her independence and we have been met with sulky responses.
She has inquired into whether we would buy a car for her use. And, while we have talked about it, we’re reaching the point where concessions and perks such as this make me feel a little resentful- not a great mix in the relationship.
The other main issue is dietary. Prior to hiring her, we chatted about what I typically cook for the family. This was a non-issue, with everyone typically participating in meals until she elected to go on an all protien diet about a month ago.
She has begun buying her own food on a near daily basis, while relying on some of our staples (though this is diminishing). She prefers organic, good quality food (who doesn’t?) and it is very expensive. I typically make what I think is very healthy fare, keep some protein options in the fridge/ freezer for lunches so she doesnt have to eat chicken nuggets :-) along with cut fruit, veggies, yogurt, etc. She has expressed concern that this is not enough, we are to be paying for her food, etc. I feel as though I am to take into account (within reason) portion sizes, preferences (again within reason) and come up with a dinner all can eat while maintaing healthy foods for breakfast and lunches. I do not feel its my responsiblity to support a newly acquired diet. I have tried various options such as asking her to let me know which items she needs and, if it is something my family eats as well, I’ll pick it up. If it’s something only she will be using, I feel that’s something she needs to purchase. I certainly dont want her to go hungry but my running to the store 4-5 days per week is just not an option for me.
We have considered the option of simply providing her a food allowance by dividing the adult food budget by 3- there are 3 adults- and simply paying her a weekly stpiend to buy what she needs. This would mean that, unless she runs out of something, she’s on her own with food. (Which, by the way, she eats a substantial amount of food).
Even as I’m writing this, I’m wondering what trivial and what is simply getting blown out of proportion. And, I have no reference point for when the match is just not a good one. She is sweet and mild mannered with the children. Not stellar in terms of activities and creativity, but nothing nearly as serious as safety issues (aside from not remembering cell phone) or distrust. Her english is very good, so I am not worried about some sort of language barrier.
I guess after all my rambling, when do you know that the relationship is not salvageable? It’s my impression that once the parties start to feel resentful or withdrawn, it is very hard to fix. My fear is that we start to make concessions to keep her happy and then it is difficult to determine if that’s the last of the demands or if there will be more. And more. I guess I am put off by what I percieve as a sense of entitlement.
As an aside, she returned from a cluster meeting and announced that an au pair (whom I’ve never met) would be coming out to stay for a few days while that other au pair was on vacation. I again bristled at the “I am going to…” when I’ve never met this other girl and certainly dont want a stranger taking care of my kids. We explained we would at least need to meet this other au pair and were met with sulky behavior (again).
She’s a nice person but I’m just not sure how to address something so fundamental so as to make all happy. We’ve talked to each other, our conselor and have no clear answer short of the ideas I mentioned above. I am so conflicted with this and really would appreciate any input you might have.

Hula Gal August 17, 2010 at 2:55 pm

This may become its own blog post or others may refer you to previous posts on this topic. But you might be looking for some quick responses and here is mine. I’ve been in your position and I rematched. You could start by being more firm and direct with her by making it clear that she needs to ask permission. You can begin this by just telling her that her friend cannot stay over at your home. It is within your right to do this. If she takes the car out and doesn’t bring it home when she was supposed to you can call her and tell her she needs to come home with the car immediately or she is not to use the car again for personal use. If you haven’t involved your LCC/AD now is the time. Document everything in emails. It doesn’t sound like you think she is a stellar au pair so I see no reason to not start moving towards rematch. The entitlement thing is a real problem for me, especially when they know in advance what the setup is. It is a serious sign of a lack of maturity. Since my first two au pairs that did not work, out I’ve just completed a successful year with one and am starting another year with a new au pair. She will be great too! It’s worth it to try to find someone better that makes your life easy, such as they should! Good luck to you!

conflicted... August 17, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Thanks for your reply- its uncomfortable to second-guess your gut instinct, so I really appreciate the thoughts!

Gianna August 17, 2010 at 4:33 pm

I’d suggest taking a quiet moment privately and reading your contract. The contract may state that an aupair cannot have long term guests. I’ve read lots of agency contracts and some state this very clearly. Now, if things were going well,
you might enjoy having her mother or sister visit but in this case you are being imposed upon and pressured. My experience is that the agencies can look the other way on stuff like this if it isn’t a problem but if it is a problem, you can blame it on the agency. The LCC can tell the aupairs if you find that easier.
Or, you can say that you talked to your agency and they told you that you may not do it. You can call corporate if you want to have that as backup.
Personally, I would address this issue first because it could easily become such an aggravation and expense. I am very curious about how the LCC has addressed this until now. Did she have any constructive ideas about how to handle things ?
If you read your contract, you may find that the matter of an unwelcome guest is
very easily handled and doesn’t require alot of creativity – just gumption on the part of the LCC. I have a suspician that not all LCC have carefully read their agency contracts, either . What does the LCC actually say about all of this ?

conflicted August 17, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Thanks to all of you for the input. Oddly, as for the friend/ other au pair staying for a few days, it was our LCC that evidently suggested it to our au pair. It was sort of a – oh, so and so doesn’t have much to do this week, why don’t you hang out with your friend (our au pair) for a few days? Our LCC has apologized to me for putting us in this position, but its a little unfortunate given the other “tension.” And, while this other au pair may be wonderful, I don’t know her. Ugh!!!! Again, thanks for all the responses.

HRHM August 17, 2010 at 4:19 pm

I agree with Hula Gal – lots of red flags with this one. With regard to the car, you are going to have a hard time if you start making concessions. This is a slippery slope and you don’t want to go there. My inclination would actually be to TIGHTEN her use for a few weeks, so she is reminded that it is not her right, but a privelege. Perhaps then she will be more appreciative.

As for the friend staying over, I again would say no. I would tell her that if she wants to invite guests from out of town, #1 it has to be only on a weekend and only if she’s not scheduled to work that weekend #2 there has to be at least 3x the number of days prior to the arrival to submit the REQUEST (not TELL you) So at least 3 days for an overnight, a week for 2 nights.

The food is a little dicier. If you are vegetarians and she’s not, you do need to provide her with meat even if you don’t eat it. It doesn’t have to be filet mignon, some chicken breasts and pork chops ought to do, but you’re under no obligation to cook special meals for her. If there’s fruit/veg in the house, but she wants organic, she can buy it with her own money. I warn my APs in advance that I won’t be buying their starbucks grind, red bull cans, hagen daz with my money. They can use what we have at home, or get their own. I wouldn’t give her extra stipend for her food because she will still be using/eating a substantial amount of your stuff (she’s not gonna buy separate condiments, spices, etc) and it will just anger and frustrate you and validate her entitlement.

It does sound like you are headed toward a rematch. Trust me, I had one of these and stuck it out and I really wish I had just bit the bullet and done it early. Good luck.

Firts Time HP August 17, 2010 at 4:30 pm

I’ve dealt with some of this as well but not as bad as you seen to be experiencing. The entitlement piece is something I struggle with and my best advice is to be honest and straightforward. Seems like there is a belief that host families must have lots of money and if so why not just go out and buy another car? Now I wouldn’t go into a lot of detail but to say that buying a third car isn’t an option due to finances.
Regarding the food, I wouldn’t recommend a food allowance because it would be hard to monitor what she is eating of hers versus yours and will likely lead to another area of contention. Our AP ended up not eating many meals with us, our view is we make a decent meal each night and its there if she wants it. We buy enough for the whole family and she is welcome to make whatever she wants for herself but with just a few minor exceptions we don’t buy stuff specifically for her.
I hope you don’t end in rematch but the sulking behavior might lead you there as she doesn’t seem to be mature enough to deal with the issues and would rather pout about them.

CS Nanny August 17, 2010 at 5:08 pm

I am a live-in nanny, and was placed on a special diet from my doctor. I do not expect my employer to purchase special food for me. Instead, I eat what is in the house, and I also supplement my meals by buying my own food. I simply label what is mine, and no one else eats it.

You should not buy her separate food (unless you are a vegetarian, etc) or prepare her special meals. I would suggest telling her that she is welcome to buy her own food, label it, and you will make sure no one eats it. As for the car, it is simply ludicrous for her to suggest that you *just* buy another car. As someone else suggested, tighten the reigns on the car use for a bit, and then remind her that you are not obligated to provide her with a car. And I would NEVER think of telling my own mother that a random person whom she hadn’t met would be staying in her home, let alone my employers. And that the person would be taking care of the kids. That is just insane. Tell her no, and make sure she understands that while this is her home too, overnight guests must be approved beforehand, unless it’s a good friend or something.

Europhile August 17, 2010 at 7:51 pm

Conflicted — indeed, lots of material for conflict. I agree overall with the others, and this might end up in rematch.

My philosophy is that we are happy to work with our AP to make her happy and appreciated and believe a LOT in give and take. However, we set out the basic framework in the beginning. And so did you — this included car use and what you eat. I wouldn’t budge on these items. Once you start giving way, it might never stop. As far as the au pair visitor is concerned, I would probably be inclined to be a bit more lenient, above all in the light of the other (overall bigger) issues. However, she has to work on her tone…. I like to bring up stuff like this immediately. No need to eat it all up and get frustrated. Again, you got her to make your life easier, not harder. Best of luck.

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