New Au Pair Has Already Invited Her Mom to Visit. For Two Weeks. In Our House.

by cv harquail on October 22, 2017

The situation below features an Au Pair who’s been quite presumptuous– inviting her mom to stay WITHOUT asking her Host Parents.

I can’t even figure out how to set this post up nicely because this situation would have me fuming.

16043693756_73933e5cfa_mAs much as I want to be generous, and welcoming, I’ve found that having other folks in my house, be they au pairs, exchange students, neighbors seeking electricity after hurricanes, friends in between apartments, and even my adorable mother-in-law, tests the very limits of my humanity.

And to have someone book tickets and lock me into an untenable situation? I’d go for rematch right away.
Except in this case, the au pair has been with the family ten days. Ten whole days. Absolutely not enough time for the host family to love her so much they’d bend over backwards to make her happy.

Dear Au Pair Mom Readers —

My Au pair has been here 1 week and 3 days. We are off to a mediocre start — and that’s putting it positively.

Her English is pretty terrible and I am frustrated by the communication issues, and a few other things. But the most upsetting situation is that the Au Pair has invited her mother to come visit for two whole weeks, and expects that we’ll host her mother in our home (in the Au Pair’s room) the entire time.

Our profile said that we would be open to considering guests if we met them in advance. While I know this is not possible with her mother, we’d probably have said yes to a short visit. However, we only found out about the visit when our Au Pair asked if she could have some time off while her mom is here.  

The mom has already booked a flight here and back — without checking with us at all and without confirming which days. Today, I asked our au pair if she wants help with booking rental cars or hotels for her mom, she told us she assumed her mom would stay with her in her room, since here room was “her own space”. She didn’t think she needed to ask us about this. They have no intention of renting a car she said her mom doesn’t have much money.

I can’t imagine this girl thinks it is ok to have a guest for two weeks in our home. I am very annoyed that she did this without asking us.

Now we are in a very bad spot. How can we say no? I have read previous posts where people are happy to host immediate family. I might feel differently if I knew this girl. She is only 10 days in. Now she is exercising bad judgment (not asking permission to have a two week guest in our home).

I am a very quiet and private person by nature. I also suffer from severe OCD. I maintain my house exceptionally clean and panic about germs and hate outside people in my house. My husband also works from home. A home which is not huge.

I am So angry. Our agency says there are no non emergency rematch possibilities in the first month.

I fear at this point that her poor judgement will cross over into other areas. Things that happen with the kids that she doesn’t think she needs to ask me about or tell me about. She didn’t seem to think anything was wrong with her inviting a guest for two weeks and not asking so I don’t know if she is mature enough to handle bigger scenarios.

Our previous AP had her mom stay after about 10 months she stayed 5 days and they travelled the rest. It was different. We knew her and she asked beforehand. But seriously, I don’t want to host someone for two weeks. I’m already busy 18 hours a day and get very little sleep. This will put our family out. My kids won’t stay on routine and I will be highly stressed. What can I do?

Tiny House Mom


Image: Tiny House by Hiné Mizushima on Flickr


Taking a Computer Lunch October 22, 2017 at 9:51 pm

Okay, so let’s unpack this a bit. This isn’t your first AP. That’s good, you already know that hosting an AP requires a lot of compromise. Nevertheless, inviting her mother to stay for two weeks within the first ten days of her arrival – and asking for time off!!! – Yikes!!! One wants to have a good relationship, but when its sorely tested, I can see how it’s hard to be a good host.

Put aside your own mental health and your husband’s work-from home arrangement for a second. Your AP invited her mother to a two-week stay in your home without asking if it were okay. That’s a no on so many levels. You’ll want to set some expectations that – if you agree to host her mother – that it will not come for free. I would suggest that she and her mother would be expected to purchase and make two or three meals that your whole family is able to enjoy that reflects the cuisine of their country. Before she arrives – give your AP and her mother extra tasks that contribute to the well-being of the family that are commiserate with the burden of hosting a guest in your house. And finally – not two weeks. Put your foot down. Limit her mother’s presence in your house to one week – and tell your AP to pick one day that she would like to be off (if there are certain days that do not work for your calendar then do not give in). I urge you to do this with the mediation of your LCC. If your LCC has an experience at all, then she will reinforce to your AP how highly unusual this is, how gracious you are, and how she will have to bend over backwards to earn her mother’s visit.

And then, put your foot down. No guests without advance permission again. Obviously this AP is accustomed to having her own way and assuming ownership where she has none. Make it clear that she is a family member in your house and her room is owned by you. If you need to be more precise in your language with her, then edit your handbook now. If you don’t have a handbook, now is the time to make one!

That being said, I had one AP whose parents came early in her year. Her mother and I bonded, and it pushed my relationship with the AP to the next level. We ended up having a great year. (She was not mediocre at any point, however.)

Anna October 22, 2017 at 9:54 pm

To every agency rule there are exceptions. If you want a rematch now, demand it. If an Au pair is so different that she doesn’t get it, no mediation or retraining will make her get it.

I had an Au pair who did this to me, informed me that her mom and aunt are coming next week, they already bought tickets, and are staying in her room. But we were talking about it before, she just imposed timing on me and an extra guest. I didn’t do much hosting and I am pretty relaxed. I was upset but I couldn’t rematch with her over this, she was mostly a good Au pair and I let it go.

GER-BRIT HM October 23, 2017 at 8:43 am

I have to say that I feel like cv sets out in the intro. To me this is a clear no to the aps request and a reason for emergency rematch! The reason for rematch, to me, is not bad judgment but sheer disregard of hf’s authority in general. There is a huge misconception of what belongs to the family’s space and sphere of decision. If this happened to me I’d feel tricked and put on the spot. IMHO you are not reasonably required to compromise (e.g. commiting to one week or likewise) in this case. Your profile saying ‘open to consider guests’ combined with general agency information plus orientation should make it pretty obvious to any ap that you need to ask prior consent. Opening your house to an ap and yet-to-become family member is one thing. Hosting overnight guests in your home – and this is what it affected by her mother staying in ap’s room – is a totally different matter!
You are a private person and don’t like outside people in your house. Your house is not huge. Your husband works from home. All this is enough to absolutely decline ap’s family members staying in your house. Her playing the card that mother doesn’t have a lot of money, airplane tickets booked and arguing her room being her personal space does not change this, in my view. Regarding this line of argument (now I don’t know how this was put by her) I see a huge red flag, by the way. Where exactly does she draw the line of what happens in ‘personal space’ being her own matter? (What happens in Vegas,…I do hope NOT!)

Whatever inconviences or financial losses resulting from this are due to her actions. You shouldn’t have to feel bad. Ten days in, you have not even started to benefit from her childcare. We all know how much work and consideration it takes in the first weeks to get everyone started! To me, having guests stay in you hf’s home is a perk or at least a gesture of friendship and generosity. And there are family situations (like the OP’s) where asking this favour simply is too much.

DC twin mom October 23, 2017 at 9:54 am

Just tell her no. Offer to pay the cost of changing the ticket, but tell her this is not happening.

Actually, scratch that– I would tell the agency you need to rematch. The “non-emergency” rule is BS. Call them up, tell them she has 2 weeks. Let the LCC explain it all.

If you can’t tell, this story gets me all fired up. What entitlement this AP has!

exaupair October 23, 2017 at 3:41 pm

I second that, it is beyond believe your AP just assumed you’re happy to be a free hotel for two weeks. Tell her this isn’t happening and if only you have a backup childcare option opt for a rematch.

ChicagoAttyHM October 23, 2017 at 9:58 am

I would search on AirBNB for some inexpensive accommodations in your town, print out a list of 3-5 choices, and tell the AP, “I am sorry we are unable to have your mother stay here. This is a list of inexpensive places in the area. I will help you to make the reservation for her if you have never used AirBNB before.”

DCmom October 23, 2017 at 11:50 am

It sounds like you attempted to set out rules for visitors and the AP has inadequate language skills (best case) or has chosen to deliberately misinterpret them (“her space”).

Do you know when the dates are? If you rematched after the “required” month, would it avoid the entire issue? You have a trust and a judgement issue with this AP. Neither seem likely to magically resolve after that month. Ask your LCC if there’s any recourse to the “month.” Does the two week rematch period count (as in you can rematch after the end of the second week and the two week period counts as the “month”)? Explain to the LCC that you would also like their area director’s contact info for an appeal as well. Let the agency reps know that you fully intend to rematch as soon as possible and the AP is better off using the time to find a new family than knowing this is where it’s headed in a few more weeks.

Meanwhile, she has violated the spirit and actual rules that you set out. It’s perfectly within your right to tell her no. No, her mom cannot stay with you. No, she cannot have any time off since it sounds like she informed you rather than asking for it. Yes, she is welcome to ask for a rematch as well because you will be doing so too.

HRHM October 23, 2017 at 1:58 pm

This is the tactic I would use. Just say NO. If she is smart, they will cancel the plane tickets asap and move forward. If she is insistent, she can initiate rematch on her own. Maybe if you both ask for rematch, it will move it along more quickly.

FWIW, I read on this site, about an AP who brought her family in for a two week vacation early in her year at the host family’s house and then as soon as the vacation was done, decided that she had had enough being an AP and went back home. So, even if you come to an agreement, there’s no way to guarantee that she and Mom aren’t just using you as a free Hostel.

DCmom October 25, 2017 at 9:48 am

That’s a good point too. Mom might pressure her to go home because it’s not working out well anyway.

Also, I see a maturity issue here. “Her own space.” Really? Is she 13 or 20? Can you envision her reaction if you just told her no because she didn’t ask in advance? Is it sulky? Whiny? Acting out and slacking off? Or does she apologize and tell you she will try to do better with considering her HF? If it’s not the latter, I’d be thankful about the early red flag and rematching sooner rather than later.

TexasHM October 23, 2017 at 9:14 pm

What agency are you with? CCAP explains to APs in their materials (native language) Never to expect your host family to host anyone and if they are willing to do so that you need to be respectful, get permission well in advance, be thankful even if your host family is unable to accommodate, and make sure that your guest is in no way a burden.

My gut reaction was the same. Get the LC involved immediately. I mean she needs to come over to your house and mediate the situation. This is not a HF being a bad guy conversation. This is a completely unreasonable request. Just like if my AP asked for four weeks of vacation instead of two or told me that she was going to take vacation at a time that I had told her would not work for us this is a dealbreaker and straight to mediation. You’ll also need that to rematch earlier so might as well get it out of the way. I would also laundry list everything that she has not mastered. 10 days in the priority is mastering the job and bonding with you, not inviting out of country guests without your permission.

Tell your LC this is an emergency. She invited a stranger from another country to stay in your home without permission. Now you are concerned about her judgment. That’s an emergency. LC needs to get her butt over there, she needs to say no go on mom visiting (the her space comment is laughable – she could run a brothel in her room by that logic!) AND she needs to master job IF she doesn’t want to go ahead and part ways now. The problem with situations like this is it makes you out to be the bad guy even though you completely are NOT and it will be very hard to recover the relationship from this and you’re only 10 days in!

I am a pretty laid-back host mom when it comes to visiting family and APs having guests and friends over/spend the night and consider it one of our perks but I would lose my s%*t if my AP put me in this situation.

OP, advocate for your family. Tell that LC to get her butt over there for mediation or you will consider this your notice of rematch and your 2 week clock to house her starts right now and send it in writing. Yes, the beginning is always tough but this is crazy outside the norm, not adjustment jitters.

AlwaysHopeful HM October 24, 2017 at 7:08 am

I would be furious about this as well, although I don’t know if I’d go straight to initiating rematch. I’m a problem-solver by nature, though, so once I got through the anger,, I’d just figure out how to take back the power in the situation. When is the mom coming? Are the dates convenient for you to accomodate her for a few days, or a week? If so, let AP know that you’ll be happy to do that, and will help her find inexpensive housing for the rest of the time. If the dates are not convenient, she can’t stay with you at all. You can let her know how sorry you are that it won’t work, and how much you wish she had checked with you in advance so you could work out something mutually acceptable.

As for days off, again… if that works for you, great. If not, so sorry AP. Really wish you had checked in advance. The AP may not be venal or entitled, just clueless– and this can be an eye-opener for her. Certainly, having to explain to her mom how she screwed up will be uncomfortable enough for her to (hopefully) honk twice about such things in the future.

As for the visit in general, it might surprise you! My current so-so au pair’s mom came to visit for a week. She was extremely careful not to get in the way a AT ALL, and was friendly and engaging when she was around. She and AP cooked dinner for the family a few nights, which was great. Most importantly, she saw AP’s shortcomings, and “encouraged” him to step it up. We were all sad to see her go! :) And, her influence over him has persisted. He’s still not a perfect AP, but he definitely tries harder to do the things his mom suggested. So, in the end, although I was anxious about a visit from home for a mediocre AP, it worked out well.

All in all, I’d suggest keeping an open mind about the visit, and just allowing as much as is reasonably comfortable for you, on your terms.

HMof2 October 24, 2017 at 10:20 am

Regardless of how long the AP has been with the HF (10 days makes it even worse), the AP should clear it with the HF before making any arrangements for out of town visitors who will be staying in the AP room and having those days off. AP may be totally clueless or intentionally manipulative … regardless, AP still needs to be told that what she did is wrong.

For me, the answer to the AP is no, period. She needs to get HF approval in advance. It sets a bad precedence and conveys to the AP that she does not need to ask first. If HF agrees and jumps through hoops to make it happen for the AP, I doubt the AP will fully comprehend or appreciate the HF’s effort.

Since you and your family will be adversely affected as you described, all the more reason to say no. I would give 1-2 main reasons, short and sweet, and leave it at that. I would not get myself into a lengthy discussion where I sound like I am defending or justifying my decision.

OP asks “How can we say no?” My answer is “it’s easy – just say no to her”. She might think this is totally unfair and mean etc. You have almost a full year left with her. You need to be firm, especially in the beginning to set the tone so this AP thing will make your life easier, not harder.

To preempt this kind of situation, in the handbook, I write that AP must get approval (not FYI) in advance and if AP did not, then the AP is responsible for any expense incurred through change or cancellation, if the request is denied. This applies to her travel, visitor’s travel, event tickets … anything that she pays in advance and needs time off to do or impacts us as a family.

HMof2 October 24, 2017 at 10:24 am

I would give the LCC a heads up that this happened and that there is no action for the LCC to take at this time. Just an FYI but you plan to talk with AP about it and will follow up with the LCC if the talk doesn’t go well. This heads up is setting the ground work for a mediation or rematch in the event the situation goes south quickly after the talk with AP.

2 kids and a cat October 24, 2017 at 2:06 pm

We no longer accommodate overnight guests, ever, for several reasons. I don’t even pretend in my handbook anymore that I might consider it case-by-case. Many APs come from cultures where doors are always open, so I can see how a particularly young/inexperienced AP might do this. But it’s not okay for all the reasons already mentioned. The fact that your husband works from home means that your AP invited someone to be in his workspace. There’s also the part where she may or may not be able to fully care for your children while entertaining her mother.
At worst, you do have grounds for immediate rematch. At best, you could present your AP with some options: she can take at least one week of vacation during her mother’s visit, and the mom can only stay for one week. Offer to help find a reasonably priced destination and accommodations (the mom may not have much money, but AP can start saving her stipend). Or the AP can pay the change fee for her mom to come for one week only in months 10-12 If you go one of these routes, I would still bring in the LCC to talk about boundaries and family space.

Dorsi October 24, 2017 at 4:48 pm

Curious why you decided to never accomodate (genuinely, not judging). We’ve had only a few APs ask, and it turns out Latin American Moms want to spend their vacation time cleaning my kitchen and being unobtrusive. (We prepared the guest room for 2 night of APs Mom and Dad, with her brother to share her room or a couch. She ended up giving her bed to her parents and making brother sleep on the floor with her, in order to avoid inconveniencing anyone). However, this year we had a European Mom and 2 Sisters for a few nights, as well and a BFF for 2 weeks, and the use of our house as a hotel (instead of a cultural exchange – they seemed to hide from us and not make eye contact)and it really chafed. It doesn’t help that the AP in question is not particularly successful.

Anyway, just curious as to your reasoning and experience with this.

2 kids and a cat October 24, 2017 at 5:02 pm

If we lived in another house and my kids were a little older, we would in a heartbeat. We don’t even have a guest bed for the grandparents right now. We have one and a half baths, meaning we all share the one shower. It works fine right now, but it is a delicate scheduling balance with 6 people. We added a third child last year, and I am just running on empty trying to give my kids enough of me. I am definitely in a “fake-it-till-you-make-it” stage of cheery-ness trying to support an AP make connections and navigate things. And since my husband works from home, it would put him out to have a houseguest around all day. When our last APs parents decided not to come visit, I was overwhelmingly relieved, which showed me how much I had been dreading it. We would (and have) gladly give our AP extra time off to travel with her family, but extra hosting is not in the cards. Also, in all my travels and stays with host families, it’s always been so nice to be able to go somewhere with someone, I don’t think the APs candidates who asked about it even minded as much as we feared.

Vanila Ex AuPair October 24, 2017 at 4:06 pm

Well, she did wrong. I think there are some privileges (hosting a family member or a friend in your employers’ house is a privilege) that must be earned. That kind of privileges are not earned at 10 days of work showing a so-so performance. Besides, thinking in her room as “her space” is an entitled attitude, and you’re only 10 days along.
I think I would ask for a rematch because of her lack of judgement. She doesn’t follow rules, and above all, OCD is not a thing that should be taken lightly, so your integrity is on risk.
I’m sorry for her mom (she does not have too much money) but she should have thought as an adult.

txmom October 24, 2017 at 6:14 pm

We love hosting family and guests, and have hosted lots of friends and family for weeks at a time. That said, this would have set me over the edge because she didn’t ask in advance. I cannot tolerate inconsiderate behavior – especially in someone who I expect to be a role model for my child. If this is how she starts the year, how will she act when she’s comfortable in your home? I would call the counselor ASAP!

massmom October 25, 2017 at 3:18 pm

Nope. Nope. No way. This shows so much disrespect for you, and that she is looking at this year in terms of what she can get out of it, versus what she can do to integrate into the family and get better at her job.

Family visits can be some of the most fraught times for both AP and HF. The AP often doesn’t realize what a disruption it will be for her to have her regular life upended for two or more weeks and the pressure that comes with being solely responsible for entertaining her family. And hosting parents tends to be more stressful for host families because they feel a higher level of pressure to host or impress than they do with visiting AP friends.

We’ve added to our handbook after every visit to reflect what we’ve learned and make expectations clear. I’d say most experienced host parents have learned to ask their AP to not have visitors in their first three months, as the focus should be on learning the job and getting established. Most put a limit on how many days someone can stay in the house (ours is 7), how many times during the year they can have someone visit for more than a weekend (ours is 2), whether they are required to take vacation to accomodate visitors (possibly), and what they are expected to provide for their guests (pitching in for some groceries, etc.) This doesn’t help you at this point, but make sure you get all of this stuff in your handbook for next time so there is absolutely no question about the protocol. We always try to be flexible for good APs, but she hasn’t given you any time to get to know her to want to make it work for her.

At this point, I would bring your LCC into the conversation so she can point out what a faux pas this was (and start to lay the groundwork for rematch if you’re headed that way). I would also say to AP “I’m sorry that you made plans without consulting me. That is a very big ask to make when we are still getting to know one another and you are still learning your job. This is what we will be able to accomodate (whatever that is, up to those dates do not work for us and you will have to rebook). Good luck! It is perfectly OK to say no.

falafeloof October 30, 2017 at 6:22 pm

That is horrible, and I am sorry your agency has such a strict policy. We had an incident recently where we had to rematch within two weeks of an au pair arriving. She was not nice to our 10 month old baby (can you even imagine???), never really tried to bond with our almost 3 year old, and it was quite clear that she did NOT have the experience with children she claimed to have had. There was a laundry list of other reasons, but within 13 days, she was OUT.
That said, you have every right, and in fact in my opinion, should, tell her straight out that because she did not ask you first that it is not something you can accommodate. I would then sit her down and go through a list of rules with her, because this one sounds like trouble. Ours had poor judgement too, and, in the end, is that who you want taking care of your children?

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MayaWV November 5, 2017 at 4:24 pm

I was an Au Pair almost 8 years ago and I would never EVER do that to my HF. That AP has no common sense and I am afraid that for a longer period of time if you would decide to keep her, it’s gonna cost you a lot of nerves. REMATCH ! Tell her how you feel about it and that you are not okay with that. I assume she is very young too, well, a lot of young girls are very irresponsible.

You my dear host parents need to be very straight forward with your feelings, sometimes you just don’t get a right AP at the first time, it happens. But rematch at this case will be just for better.

I have a family on my own now in the US, and if it would be me I would def go for a rematch, even if I understand how was it like to be an Au Pair. She will find a new HF so you will a new AP.

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