When Your New and Old Au Pairs Get Jealous of Each Other

by cv harquail on July 6, 2014

How hard is it to see the incoming au pair making connections with the kids, settling into the AuPair room, learning to drive in the USA, and talking about all she’s going to do in her year of adventure?

If you’re the host mom, it’s not hard at all– you *want* to see this.

But if you’re the outgoing au pair? It can be heartbreaking.

29087024_92458e4f44_oAnd the heartbreak continues, as Facebook, Au Pair forums, Skype chats with kids, and emails with host moms all share the same news: The incoming au pair is wonderful.

TexasHM pointed out that we’ve really only discussed ‘inter-AuPair Jealousy’ in passing, as part of our larger conversations about Au Pair Overlapping and current Au Pairs helping to interview incoming Au Pairs.   

(Note that inter-AuPair Jealousy is all within the same host family. Jealously between Au Pairs in different host families is a subject for another. post. not. here. thanks.)

Inter-AuPair Jealousy

Inter-AuPair Jealousy appears to occur often– maybe even being accepted as normal by several of the tenured host families. TexasHM notes that TACL wrote about it several times almost as a given and natural phase of the AP year.

TexasHM writes:

I would love to know how host families are proactively managing jealousy between incoming and outgoing au pairs. Is there a way to do this so that everyone is better off — AP, kids, HPs and incoming AP? While none of my APs ever did anything that really impacted the kids or incoming APs, all have struggled with jealousy. They have all made the decision to end their terms with us, and they were good APs and part of the family to us.

Here is a little more context on the most recent flare up:

Recently, while on vacation, our incoming AP (Nov) angered our current AP by messaging her on FB saying “send me pics! I wish I was there with you all!”. Now, quite obviously the incoming AP did nothing wrong and the flare up was a mixture of jealousy (lots of talk about the new AP with our family, friends, kids etc) and fear (she had really wanted to extend but had a great oppty at home).

I let current AP rant and I didn’t push back, then chatted with DH and we decided to give incoming AP a heads up and ask her to give current AP a little space and be sensitive to the situation.

It is really hard to confront feelings vs facts and I agonized over whether or not I should have even said anything to incoming AP but in the end we decided it was worth it for several reasons:

1. It makes the incoming AP aware of the potential for frayed nerves and jealousy in the hopes she can recognize it and not take things personally vs not bringing it up and then having new AP wonder what she did wrong or misread if new AP gets upset,

2. Because in explaining it to the incoming AP I am prepping her for her leaving and having the same feelings at the end of her term and can remind her of this (since all of ours have had it I’m assuming its the norm rather than exception) and

3. So that incoming AP can see that we value current APs feelings just like we will value hers when she is our AP and toward the end of her term.

In the past I have handled it differently– essentially, by not handling it :)

With the previous APs, when jealousy flared up I reminded them of all the memories that were unique and special to them that will never change.

Now, to make this easier, lately I have been jotting notes on my phone – is that crazy? For example, for current AP I have “taught DD1 how to tie her shoes, saw DD1 lose her first tooth, taught DS1 how to win tic tac toe” etc etc. My first AP potty trained my girls, saw my youngest’s first steps, etc.

These ‘firsts’ will be different for each AP. I hope the list helps remind each one that their time with us is exactly that – their time. No other AP can take that from them.

What else have parents and au pairs done — proactively– to address the very real concerns about jealousy?

If it’s not avoidable, how can we manage it well?

 

 

Image: That’s My Box Too, AttributionNoncommercial by Marcus Metropolis

{ 39 comments }

German Au-Pair July 6, 2014 at 12:12 pm

If you actually want the outgoing AP to train the new AP I’d suggest having a talk with her about how it’s normal that she might feel jealous but that she can also help herself by making sure to help the new AP and kids adjust to each other and get off on the right foot. While I was jealous, I was also very happy that my HF had a new AP that I liked and whom I trusted. As much as you might want to show the jealousy, you will always feel better if the person taking care of “your” kids is someone you actually bonded with. Not just that you will feel better, but from a practical POV, it’s easer to stay in touch and get news if the person likes you.
Saying goodbye is so hard but in the long run you will feel much better if you powered through and have found a productive way of handling it.

Angie host mom July 6, 2014 at 1:29 pm

We’ve found this to be very au pair dependent. Some are very jealous and some are not jealous at all, depending on what is going on in their life at the time.

We base our transition plans on what we think is likely to happen given how the au pair reacts when we are beginning matching. We tend to insert ourselves into the middle of the communication chain if we think there is going to be bad feelings. Still, sometimes we are wrong!

Once you are in the situation where you have an outgoing au pair communicating directly with an incoming au pair and jealousy has reared its head, your best bet is to try to minimize their contact however possible.

Once we ended up basically giving outgoing AP time off to “get ready for the trip home” and “enjoy one last day trip with your friends to XXX” rather than having her train incoming AP and spend time with her – it just didn’t go well so it was the best option, I just did the training. It was a bit of a bummer, but whatever. It worked.

JourneyEC (previously CADinAUS) July 6, 2014 at 4:15 pm

I had issues when I knew that the family had begun their search. They were looking for someone who they trusted with their kids and in turn I was judging who they were looking at for my kids. At one point they wanted to look at daycares and I panicked a little as I have daycare experience (positive and negative depending on the centre and staff) and asked to tour the daycare myself. After a few weeks in daycare the family began looking for another au pair/ nanny. I was able to talk with the girls and do like them but it’s hard leaving your kids both ways. I think its best if you can become friends with the incoming girl. They become your best source what daily and ongoing contact with the family.

LondonMum July 6, 2014 at 4:31 pm

At the risk of many people, flaring up at me …. I always have our family summer holiday between the two so there is no overlap. I wouldn’t want old AP to train new AP, there is the potential to pass on bad habits or not give good, full information. However, we have had an old AP come back and stay for 5 months whilst she looked for another job here. Luckily they both got on but I would absolutely not tolerate “jealousy” if I wanted current AP to train new AP. That is just ridiculous! It’s a job, even for a “family member”, and I would expect them to be professional and adult about it, after all, they will be going home to move forward with their life, studying or working, and that was the plan from the start. My children are not “theirs” although I would want them to have a good, happy relationship, my kids also know we have a new au pair each year and life moves on for all of us. Having said that our APs have come back to visit regularly and we are always happy to see them. I guess I am lucky that my kids are social and outgoing and welcome all new comers into our home without it being a big deal, we are a very “open” household and have lots of visitors. (HD and I have both lived overseas for many years and loads of friends come and stay throughout the year).

WarmStateMomma July 7, 2014 at 9:23 am

@LondonMum:

I think this is more of a problem for the American HPs. We have less control over the length of the contract with the APs and (usually) less vacation time than Europeans to cover child care between APs.

CaptiolHostMom July 7, 2014 at 12:19 pm

I understand what you mean about the au pair position being a JOB. However, many professionals must train their replacements or come into a new job and experience the emotions of the staff. Change is difficult and jealousy is a human emotion. I would expect the most professional of business person to feel jealousy at some point in her career. It’s not what you feel, it’s how you act about it and how you let it shape your environment. These girls are young and they may not be able to identify that they’re feeling jealousy. A good role of the host parent could be to explain in advance that they may feel that and it’s normal. Then explain what emotions a host parent goes through. Then it’s not taboo, it’s just part of the transition.

German Au-Pair July 7, 2014 at 2:53 pm

I see your point but after having lived with a family for one or two years, it kinda feels like they’re “yours” in some way. Not just with an AP. I had the same when I left “my” class even though I wasn’t actually their teacher but just the helper for one child (although pretty involved with all of them). I think if you’re doing it right, it sort of feels like they’re yours a bit. Of course, the rational side is that you knwo beforehand that you’ll be going back and the kids know that, too at a certain age. That doesn’t change the feeling though that another person is not just taking over your kids but also your entire life. She’ll be sleeping in “your” bed, driving your car, playing with your kids, most likely being friends with your friends. She’ll have your every-day life, your habits, your possibilities. I consider myself very rational and I am also a bit older than many APs. I was looking forward to my life back home and absolutely had the feeling of being done with the AP gig. And I would have never acted out to a new AP because of jealousy but even I cannot deny that it is there some time. We didn’t overlap and even if we had, she was a friend of mine so it would have been okay. But I can totally see how hard it is when a stranger comes in to take over for you, especially if you happen to not like each other.
For you it’s just a cycle, the same every year and an opportunity to meet lots of new people and welcome them to your home. But for us your family is it. (Well, most of the time.) When we think back to that one increcible year, it will always be your family who is in those memories and the thought of your kids will always fill us with nostalgia and love (if we had a successful year). The experience is very different for us than it is for you. Rationally speaking we all knew before what was gonna happen but reality is that it’s hard to see the emotional roller coaster coming and to fully comprehend it. It’s not JUST a professional thing and somehow your kids are a bit “ours” to, because they’ll stay in our heart.

TexasHM July 7, 2014 at 3:32 pm

GermanAP very well said and completely understood and I think the fact that she didn’t get an entire year with us and us matching early (we had no idea we were going to find someone that quickly) put a little extra squeeze on her too. So, since you obviously totally get it from an AP point of view and sound very similar to my awesome AP, what could your HM have done to help you navigate those emotions? Should I sit APs down in advance and tell them that previous APs have struggled with XYZ feelings and they may as well and thats normal and please talk to us or is that too patronizing? Is it better to ignore it because calling it out is embarrassing for APs? Is it better to pre-empt it by doing things to try to manage it before it flares up (extra words of affirmation, reminders of memories shared only with them, make a list of plans for before they leave so they are more focused on their goals than rapidly approaching end date?)?
I think we have had this 3 out of 3 APs because I can honestly say we were very blessed in that I completely believe all 3 of our APs would have taken a bullet for my kids. My kids LOVE our APs (hugs, kisses, cuddles, surprises) and they form strong bonds with them and I can see why its hard to hand them over to a new caregiver even if the AP likes the incoming AP. Its a combination of protectiveness, territorial infringement and I think often fear/insecurity (being forgotten, new AP being “better”, etc). Add to that the fact that they literally move into your room, sleep in your bed, drive your car, watch your kids, meet your friends I can see why this is a very unique scenario likely not to be replicated later in life (even if you change jobs someone doesn’t sleep in your bed and drive your car!).

WarmStateMomma July 7, 2014 at 4:02 pm

A few months after my exchange students arrived they were “my” kids, so I can understand how an AP would feel the same about her host kids. I went to bat for “my” kids when problems arose at school; I took care of “my” kids when they were sick, etc. I’m an additional adult who loves them in a parental way, rather than a replacement for anyone in their natural family. Knowing that my child is in the care of someone who feels the same way about her is one of the best parts of the program and helps me rationalize the expense.

LondonMum July 7, 2014 at 5:30 pm

German AP, I understand your points, of course you become attached, so do we. We always have our door open to past APs and, because we don’t have visa restrictions, they do come back year after year to visit which is great. We see a 19/20 year old grow up, study at Uni, become a professional and even our first AP, now almost 30, still visits and calls us her second family. It’s not “just a cycle” to us. However, I don’t like to make anything into a big, massive deal for my kids as I think that puts the idea in their head that it’s something to get really sad about. I just gently explain our AP is going home and someone new coming and they can respond as their emotions dictate. Obviously they have been a lot sadder to see some go than others! And us too, that’s normal human nature. I totally accept and would expect a strong affectionate bond between my kids and our AP, and me and HD too.

AlwaysHopeful HM July 7, 2014 at 5:33 pm

German Au Pair, that was really lovely, and while heartbreaking, really is the relationship my family wants to have with our au pairs. It’s incredibly painful all around at the end, but that’s only because the experience was so special to begin with. Like Texas HM, I am eager to hear your suggestions. I want to do what I can to make sure outgoing au pair knows how cherished he was and to not tarnish his final memories in our home.

German Au-Pair July 10, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Well, I as I said above, I am also very rational and to me rational arguments can help with tough situations.
I love that you care so much about their feelings and want them to feel better about this. I would definitely tell them exactly that. It’s not embarrassing at all and it would make me feel much better knowing that you know and emphasize.
I would sit them down while looking for their replacement maybe (or, when there’s an overlap you could sit down the new AP after a day to settle in to let her know the emotions in the air are not about her at all) and let her know that it’s been your experience that there will be some jealousy.
Here are the points I would make:
-it is very normal and every who had a warm, loving relationship with the family/the kids is bound to feel jealous
-they can talk to you if those emotions come up and they just need someone to understand
-tell her how much you loved having her and all those great points you made before (about memories that no one can take away, the moments and mile stones they got to experience with your children, how they contributed to your children becoming happy, loved children -especially important when it’s a toddler who will like not remember them in the future…the kid may not remember but they contributed X to their development- how you can skype and keep in touch etc.)
-ALL APs love hearing sth along the lines of “you’ll always have a second family here.” Only say it, if you mean it of course, but if you do, say it often :)
-it is okay and normal to get teary-eyed about weird, seemingly normal things during your last couple of months. I’m really not that emotional but I cried when my girl had her last dance recital (the last I’d witness).
-it’s normal to panic a bit even 3 months before you leave…just don’t let the panic take away from the great things you still have ahead of you!
-while you understand that she is emotional and even jealous, you need her to not show it to your kids so they can have a great start with their new AP. She is not going to feel better if she makes it harder for the kids, plus she’s been the incoming AP at some point and should remember how her start felt
-trying to make the new AP feel welcome will help her feel better, too. It will also make her feel better to leave “her” kids with someone who she knows a bit, with whom she maybe even has formed a friendship. It will also be useful to have the new AP on your side when it comes to arranging skype dates with the kids and get updates. It may hurt NOW but eventually the jealousy will turn into joy of seeing them be happy together

If she doesn’t make a lot of plans herself for the last months (my calender was PACKED as I tried to squeeze in all the things you always wanted to do but never did because “there’s still time” -like going to a game, making a day trip to a local POI etc.) and you are willing to help, maybe you can point out what you think would be worth a visit, maybe even find something special for your whole family to do -be it only a day at the lake or something like that. Focusing on all the interesting things you still can do will make things easier.
You can also promise her that there WILL come a moment when the anxiety and sadness will turn into happiness and excitement -many have agreed with me that that usually happens ON the plane.

I didn’t have a close relationship with my Hm (but a friendly one and she did promise me that I would skype with the children) so I really love that you care so much. Just this very simple fact, more than any of the actual words you can say, will make your AP feel cherished.

TexasHM July 10, 2014 at 4:46 pm

This is so great to know – thank you!!

Didis July 10, 2014 at 5:55 pm

I would agree. I had the best possible relationship with my HF whole 2 years and I loved them all like they were my own family, but as my contract was almost done and they got sucked in all “new au pair coming thing” they were not very kind to me. Of course, I understand their busy schedule and they did the best they could to prepare kids and themselves for new situation, but it made me feel really bad in the end.

I felt like they were nice while they needed me, and now that they got another one, no need to put effort into making me feel like part of family.
left me bitter taste of my 2year with them, regardless how I tried to rationalize it to myself.

TexasHM July 10, 2014 at 11:57 pm

Didis I’m sorry to hear that. I know this probably doesn’t help you much but as many on here have mentioned before it’s hard for HFs too and sometimes people don’t handle grief/stress/sadness well and it’s easier to say goodbye if you’re angry or frustrated with someone so some people pick fights or create drama to make the parting process tolerable. Crazy I know but true. I struggle with saying goodbye and for years would say goodbye like people were going to the grocery store (no emotion) and it bothered people. I was super sad on the inside but put on a front to get through it and acted unaffected. Took me years to get over that and I upset people doing it. Not my intent and still a work in progress myself, maybe think of your HPs that way. We are all broken! :)

NJmama July 6, 2014 at 7:23 pm

I think you should have a frank discussion with both incoming and outgoing ap about this. Just address it head on with the outgoing one. Tell her you know she’s having these feelings but that she can’t jeopardize the transition because it will only make it hard on the children (keep the focus on the children). Assure her that you will always be in touch and she will always be a part of your family and the time she spent with the kids will always be a special time for them.

That said, don’t be afraid of giving a little tough love /tough talk if the soft approach doesn’t work. This may be one of those times when you have to act like you’re parenting a teen.

The best transition I had was when my outgoing au pair had a brief spout of jealousy and tried to act like it was her friend that was upset and jealous about leaving her kids with a new au pair. I didn’t realize at the time that she was talking about herself and I responded with something like, “That is absolutely ridiculous! I thought XXXX was much more mature than that, and I think she needs needs to grow up!” But it worked! The outgoing ap began actively communicated with the incoming au pair in the months before she arrived, sending her pics and videos of the kids and skyping with the kids. And she asked the incoming one to do the same when she left. And she did. It was very sweet. And it’s something I have encouraged.

Depending on how old your kids are, you could also set up an email and Skype address for them to keep in touch with your outgoing au pair. My older daughter even “practiced” by emailing and skyping with the au pair while they were I different parts of the house before she left. They only did it a handful of times but each time it was really funny and made the au pair feel that she was not going to be cut off from the family.

Good luck with this!

TexasHM July 6, 2014 at 10:39 pm

Thanks for all the great insight everyone. Just to touch on a couple things real quickly I want to make sure and emphasize that we LOVE our current AP and that her comment out of frustration was very out of character for her and she later admitted that her reaction was out of sync with the situation.
Also, current AP came from rematch so already felt kind of cheated out of three months with us (time she was in bad situation) and really wanted to extend and had to make a very hard decision between two great scenarios and admitted she has angst over that.
Current AP was an integral part of interviewing for the incoming AP and she was TOUGH! I know many on here think I am a bit of an interview zealot (you are right!) but I had nothing on my current AP. Incoming AP was the only one she liked and current AP was a big part of the process. Current AP got a little emotional for the first time when we matched with incoming (we have a special tradition that we do for matching that we also had done with her so I think that made it real for her) but she was happy for us and incoming AP and I know she loves us and wants only the best for us so I have zero concerns about her training the new AP and overlap.
I wrote to CV about this because I wanted to know what I could do better as a HM to help manage the situation – specifically how I can help her realize she will never be forgotten and she’s been AMAZING so we are forever grateful for her and we matched early so we are looking forward to enjoying the next 4 months with her before the incoming AP arrives and definitely don’t want her to feel we have already moved on or that she is replaceable or that we are dialing it in waiting for new AP! Quite the opposite actually! I wish current AP was extending (but understand her awesome oppty and would’ve done the same myself) and incoming APs as we all know on here are always an unknown! No matter how much we screen and interview we never really can guarantee an awesome match, its a leap of faith so the idea that we are ready to run with the new AP couldn’t be further from my feelings right now. :)
In fairness, we do talk about the incoming AP because we are very candid with the kids and we think it helps the transition and this particular day current AP had to listen to three consecutive conversations about incoming AP (family and friends asking) and then incoming AP says she wishes she was with us on that vacation and current AP felt the squeeze.
I don’t think we are “tolerating” anything other than our APs feelings which she is definitely entitled to! She did not make these comments in front of the kids or say anything negative about the new AP. She read me the post and said “I DONT wish she was here, this is MY time and MY vacation with you!!”
Nothing since and we have talked about all this so I think the situation is mitigated, I am more looking at this in hindsight and asking myself what I could have done better and how can I help prepare both current AP and incoming for the transition because I am sure when the days are numbered it will be very hard for current AP.
Current AP is AMAZING so I can only pray that a fraction of her attitude, work ethic and spirit passes through to the incoming AP so definitely want to have her train, but also want to mentally and emotionally prepare her as best I can for all this! :) Thanks for listening everyone!

WarmStateMomma July 7, 2014 at 9:35 am

My daughter was AP#1’s whole world during her AP year. On her last night, we gave AP#1 a Shutterfly photobook we’d made with all the photos from her year. It took a whole afternoon to find the photos and design the book, but it showed her how much my daughter changed that year and is a reminder that no other AP will have had that experience with my daughter.

My guess is that such a book is something you already do or could easily put together. What about a farewell party for your outgoing AP on her last night? Her friends can all come over and she’s the focus, but they will also meet new AP (and hopefully help her establish a network quickly here).

With 4 months left, it’s too early to have this much departure anxiety. I’d remind your current AP of her US/TX bucket list and tell her to start crossing things off the list. If she hasn’t seen my city yet, my AP would be happy to play host for a weekend. :)

TexasHM July 7, 2014 at 3:20 pm

Great ideas and she hasn’t been there yet, after August it’ll be the only city she hasn’t done so that’d be great!!

WarmStateMomma July 7, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Just email me if she’d like to visit or ask her to message my AP on FB.

Taking a Computer Lunch July 6, 2014 at 10:56 pm

We’ve had a lot of “to overlap or not to overlap” threads here. Now, in theory, it doesn’t really matter whether or not there is overlap for the outgoing AP to feel jealous of the incoming. Some AP’s “own” their job – they fall in the love with the kids, put them on their cell phone wall paper, and go out of their way to spend extra time with them. You know who they are – they are the most likely to take your kids to the movies, even when they’re not “on,” the ones who ask if it’s okay if they come and root for your kids at Saturday soccer games, and want to join you on family trips. In my experience, they are the most likely to come back and visit, too. Because they “own” their jobs, the are the most likely to feel a pang when they realize that saying goodbye means that someone else will be hugging “their” kids. They will feel jealous by an incoming AP with too many questions.

Then there are the APs who love your kids, but make distinctions between being “on” and “off.” They’ll hang out with the family when they are “off,” but your kids are unlikely to be invited to do something with them. They may feel like they have their lives mapped out when they return home after their AP year. They will be annoyed by an incoming AP with too many questions.

I don’t overlap. I want DH and I to train each AP, and for each AP to create her own rhythm for preparing The Camel for school in the morning. The outgoing AP has the morning routine down pat by the end of her year. She could do it in her sleep (which probably happens more than once) – she’s memorized the medicine schedule, has her own favorite clothing in which to dress The Camel (who can’t say “No!”), and has figured out how to eat her own breakfast and get a load of laundry into the wash before the schoolbus arrives. I don’t want the incoming AP to watch this spectacle, and think, “I’ll never be able to do that!” And so I don’t overlap.

That being said, with Skype, FB, and email, it is very, very, very easy for incoming and outgoing APs to communicate. When I hear of it, all I say is “It must be very hard to think about the end of your year.” And they either say, “yes” or “no” and I know where I stand. Some have been more open, about not wanting to imagine someone else sleeping in their room or kissing the kids.

Most have come back for a couple of days at the end of their travel month (in my case 2-3 weeks into the incoming AP’s year), and that I enjoy. The outgoing AP gets to see the familial relationship, the success in completing a year. The outgoing AP sometimes takes over a morning or evening routine, “one last time.” Often the outgoing AP will show the incoming the best malls, the best places to eat, etc. And then, in 48 hours, the outgoing AP is gone – and the next thing I know, the first month with the incoming AP has come and gone.

NJ Mama July 7, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Great insight and as always, great advice from TACL.

One thing I’d like to add about the overlap — I have not done it often, but the few times I did I used the outgoing AP more as a social resource for the incoming one. Outgoing would show incoming the mall, the movie theaters, Target, etc, and introduce her to other au pairs. Either DH or I would go over duties and the schedule, and the outgoing au pair was used more as a resource. The overlap was typically 3-4 days.

Right now one of my former au pairs is helping out while we wait for the next one to arrive. She has been beyond awesome. But this time, the new one is arriving at a time when I will be very involved with work. So the old au pair will be more involved in showing the new one the routine when she does the overlap (with DH there every step of the way.) In this case, she hasn’t been back long enough to establish bad habits (then again, she was pretty solid to start out with). I also think it will be good for the new one to see how the old one goofs off and interacts with the kids, since the older one can be “challenging.” So we’ll see how this goes. Always a new adventure!

TexasHM July 9, 2014 at 11:28 am

Great points. Our first AP never really mastered everything and was wedding planning so training the new AP was definitely not an option and the right decision for sure in hindsight. AP2 had family emergency so we matched with a rematch candidate and within days she arrived but AP2 did ALL the training! No joke and did a fantastic job. Between the surprise of being thrown into the rematch pool and a super busy time of year it was a HUGE blessing because we (DH and I) honestly did not have the bandwidth at the time! AP3 arrived Tuesday night, we took her out to our fave BBQ place as a welcome, Wed-Fri she shadowed AP2 and we had dinners together but Sat am when I got up ready to train we realized I didn’t really have anything to teach her that hadn’t been covered already (even the little nuances like how to tell when my youngest needs a nap – rare occasion and how to fit more in the dishwasher)! AP3 was a fantastic driver and license exchange so nothing there and current AP had already driven her and had AP3 drive to all my kids favorite parks and play places, extracurricular activities and schools!
I am guessing this experience is probably not the norm but I have a HM friend thats on AP9 and she always has them train (unless they have bad habits or attitude). She has a detailed training plan, logistics and end dates. She too has the departing AP move out of the room so she can clean and new AP feels welcomed properly and then they dive into 3-4 days of training and then departing AP goes.
Current AP is amazing and it was such a blessing for previous AP to train her and this AP saw how that went and wants to return the favor so I see no reason to say no (unless things got hostile which she would never do) especially considering I think at this point she runs my house better than I do! :)
Even though AP2 was rockstar trainer she did get emotional and was protective of kids but once she saw my kids bonding with new AP she brightened up and said it made her feel much better about leaving knowing that they would be with an awesome new AP so I am hoping lightning will strike twice and that will happen again.
I know I am a broken record but I would really love to hear from any APs on how HFs can proactively prevent these emotions from flaring up or HFs that have figured out how to proactively manage the emotions of transition.

Taking a Computer Lunch July 9, 2014 at 1:53 pm

I know you want APs, but as I HM, I have learned over the years that acknowledging the change and the emotions tends to give APs a lift – and a permission to feel sad and happy about the end of their year. The last 4-6 weeks are an incredibly emotional time – they look forward to seeing family and friends at home again, but they’re also leaving home. For some of my APs their trip to the U.S. has been their first airplane flight, a real opportunity to be independent and make decisions, and they know that by returning to their parents’ home they will be giving some of that up, too. They are not only saying goodbye to their HF, but they’re new best AP friends – some of whom they will never see again. For us, it’s just part of being adult – that you say hello and goodbye to people in your life all the time, but to many APs it’s a new experience.

Some APs respond to the upheaval in their lives by complaining more and acting angry. It is very difficult as a HP to pull back and realize it’s the second hardest time of the year (after the first month). When my APs have acted out over the years, I remind them that while I may feel easier to say goodbye because you’ve distanced people with anger, it’s actually harder. Ending the year on a good note means the door remains open to return. I’d rather cry at the airport when I say goodbye to an AP than end the year on an angry note, but as the HP, I feel part of my role is to recognize and verbally acknowledge to the AP that I understand the anger.

My other advice – is to let the little things go in the last weeks of the AP year. When you feel frustrated by something, ask yourself, “Am I going to inflict ill will by insisting on this or not?” I often find myself irritated by the little things the outgoing AP does “wrong” as I look forward to the arrival of her successor. Relish the things you’re going to miss and let the little things slide.

There are times when big things start to slide, and that’s the perfect moment to say, “I know you are looking forward to being done with your AP year, but I need you to keep going your job just as well as you have the previous 11 months, so we end the year on a good note.”

WarmStateMomma July 9, 2014 at 3:51 pm

Good points, TACL. For my APs, they will also be leaving a lot of political and social freedoms behind. I can’t even imagine not having uncensored internet access after seeing what’s really out there.

TexasHM July 9, 2014 at 10:40 pm

TACL this is exactly what I was looking for thank you!!! I was hoping as much (being proactive and discussing it would better prepare and equip them to recognize and navigate the emotions as they come). I definitely second your latter advice too – we looked the other way on a lot of smaller things at the end of AP1 and AP2 because I reminded myself of the great memories and tried to give grace assuming it was a hard time for them and it definitely wasn’t intentional, they were just a little scrambled and some details slipped through the cracks. A week into the new APs and it was all but forgotten – the combination of new AP enthusiasm and getting off on the right foot keeps all that in perspective.
Our AP had already lived on her own and will after she leaves so I hadn’t thought about the impact of losing some of their adult privileges in going home, thats an interesting point. I know AP2 for us appears to be struggling with reverse culture shock – she can hardly stand living with her parents now! She comes from a culture of high drama and we are big communicators and anti-drama so after being here 14 months she went home and within minutes the parents were trying to drag her into their argument and she told them both to grow up and leave their kids out of their messes and took her little sister out the door and bought her an ice cream! LOL

aupair July 10, 2014 at 10:31 am

From an au pairs perspective:
It is incredibly hard to leave “our” second family behind. So many memories have been made with the kids. I taught them how to ride a bike, I was there when their first tooth fell out. I brought them to their fist day of school, I stayed home with them when they were sick (older one puked on me once, that was actually a really good bonding moment:)) I took them to the doctor, I taught them how to swim, play tennis, bake banana bread etc. I was there for all those “first things” and I loved it of course! When the time came for my hf to find a new au pair, it literally broke my heart. For one thing, because HD told me that he doesn’t want to have another au pair, because he thinks it would be too hard on the kids. HM wanted another one, because I did make her life a lot easier. She had a harder time to understand why I would be sad that they got a new au pair. Until my HD told her that being an au pair isnt “just a job” we put our whole heart in it! the kids aren’t like computers at an office that we can just leave behind without looking back. A piece of our heart will ALWAYS stay in this house, with the kids and the parents. I think what really helps is to say, that we are not replaced as a person, the only place where we are replaced is the job. It helped me to hear when my HM said: you know, I know how much you love my kids, and I know you would do anything for them, that is one of the many reasons why I was able to do my work without having to worry about the kids because I knew they were with you and they are safe. I will always be grateful for that. I hope that the new au pair loves them as much as you did, but she will NOT be you. She won’t do things the way you did. You won’t be compared to each other, because you are two different personalities. We will always love you, and you will always be a part of our family. The kids will hear stories about you forever:).This did help me a lot. It made it clear for me, that I am not replaced as a person, and I will be missed. It was also very heartwarming to hear this for my HM. I think you just need to try to put yourself into the aupairs shoes. what would you like to hear if you had to leave something really important behind? Good luck!

WarmStateMomma July 10, 2014 at 10:49 am

@aupair:

Thanks for providing the AP’s view! As an HM, I need to find another caregiver after our AP leaves, but that doesn’t mean our current AP is any less important to our family. Just as you can have multiple family members and love them all, multiple APs can join your family and each has her own special place.

TexasHM July 10, 2014 at 4:47 pm

aupair – this was great and very helpful, thank you for sharing!

Mimi July 8, 2014 at 12:58 pm

I’m also one who doesn’t like to overlap for the same reasons as TACL and LondonMum.

Our last AP (#4) has a serious case of short timer’s syndrome. She was unhappy that she had chosen not to extend with us and not happy about the family she’d chosen to go to. Add to the mix not getting along with my oldest and I was happy she would be leaving so we could preserve the relationship we had enjoyed until then. Unfortunately, AP4 procrastinated in booking her travel time so she was there for a week when the other AP arrived and then was back after 2 weeks for another week. HD convinced me it would be ok, and now he knows not to question the spidey senses.

The first week, there was jealousy and she cried a lot and that made it harder on the boys. They also wouldn’t listen to the new AP and I had to step in a few times. When she came back after travel, the boys had gotten used to AP5 AP but the #4 would try to manipulate situations where they would pay her more attention or follow her directions. Instead, the boys didn’t listen to either and played the two against each other. They ate a lot of illicit snacks during this time, citing the other AP as the source of permission and generally ran amuck. AP4 didn’t feel any responsibility for keeping the house tidy and AP5 was barely able to keep up with the messes. If AP5 hadn’t been as mature and easy going, I think she would have run for the hills!

So no training overlap for me. I have too much going on to deal with the drama, whether it’s jealousy or tears in the APs or my kids. It’s hard enough to start an AP year out right (which I think is very important) without adding to the mix. HD and I split the 2 or 3 days between the APs and clean/reset the house and kids so it’s fresh for everyone. Our departing AP usually comes back after their travel time and then the social (or other) resource comes into play with less pressure. They are all friends on FB and have visited on a return trip. AP3 who recently came to visit luckily undid the damage done by AP4 with AP5 and helped with the social pieces and complex reverse psychology piece I call “charming the beasts.”

Taking a Computer Lunch July 8, 2014 at 4:52 pm

We tell the outgoing AP that she is welcome to stay, but that she will need to move into the playroom the morning after her last day, so I can get started on cleaning the room for the incoming AP (I’m a get-down-on-hands-and-knees and wash-the-walls kind of cleaner – when I have to). I tell them far enough in advance (usually two months out, sometimes more), because 99% of the time, the AP wants to leave the next morning on the first flight out. We had one AP, whose semi-homeless boyfriend was more or less living in her room, that I told she was welcome to sleep in the playroom, but she couldn’t have overnight guests – because I could see the two of them hanging out in the playroom for a couple of weeks, coming in at all hours, and up-ending the house. She, too, left the next morning.

I always welcome back the APs who want to return after their travel month, for a couple of days. I try to convince them to stay for 48 hours, because 24 is not enough to unpack, wash their clothes, and repack, as well as buy some gifts for the folks at home.

Always trust your gut, though! It’s fine to change your departure rules to fit the needs and personality of the outgoing and incoming APs.

#FirstTimeAP July 12, 2014 at 12:11 pm

I know I’m commenting a little late. I’ve matched with a family and I’ll be au pair #3 in their home. Their first au pair really impressed the family a lot. They have regular contact with her and she is still going on vacations with them even though she is not the au pair anymore. They really do have a close bond. I’m not jealous of their bond because I think it is normal to feel like a family member after spending a whole year in a family’s home. The parents told me that I can contact the au pairs before I arrive to ask some questions. The first au pair talked to me and answered my questions, but not in a manner that it actually meant something to me. She wasn’t really being helpful at all and just stated the obvious. As for their current au pair, she didn’t even accept my friend request on Facebook…. nevermind replying on my messages. I’m concerned that it may cause some problems if the previous au pairs still have an influence on the family, what they do and what they’re going to expect of me. On the other hand I’m telling myself to just let it go and leave the questions because I assume they are experience me as an invader. Any thoughts om my situation?

4th time lucky?! August 4, 2014 at 3:51 am

bit late replying too ;-) your message probably got lost in a sudden flurry of activity on the site…

I only have limited personal experience with AP jealousy (although our last one was a bit prediposed that way and seemed anxious about living up to expectations set by AP#1) and overall we had a bad run of APs so didn’t keep in touch with any of them (clean slate for the new girl). This also means I do wonder/ worry what former AP (who agreed to be contacted by new AP) or former AP’s friends might have to say about us considering things didn’t end well and how new AP might be influenced by that…

Yes, the outgoing AP might be less than helpful because she is jealous or due to a wide range of other emotions going on, considering her imminent departure. Or maybe she is just an unhelpful person. Difficult to judge for you and I from a distance. But I’m sure everything will be fine and that it’s best to stop worrying! The HF might or might not have consulted with their current and former APs during the selection process; either way they chose you for the job. Hopefully your HF is mature and reflective enough, and know their former APs well enough, to take anything they might say or suggest with a grain of salt.

Good luck!

anonforthisone August 4, 2014 at 3:11 am

Our new AP is the best we’ve had so far. I’m not sure how to avoid inspiring jealousy in former APs. I am a fairly heavy FB user and am FB friends with all but 2 of our prior APs. I am posting photos of new AP doing fun stuff with our family A LOT and also occasionally sending her messages thanking her for going above and beyond (she seems to do that a lot as well). I don’t want to make the others feel “unappreciated” but she is pretty much a superstar AP and really puts the previous 6 to shame. On one hand, I want to be able to sing her praises (and hopefully be sure that she feels appreciated). I just don’t want any hurt feelings from the peanut gallery.

WarmStateMomma August 4, 2014 at 10:58 am

Maybe some of your praise could be directed offline. I sometimes slip a thank you note under my AP’s door. Whatever you do, I’m sure your AP enjoys knowing that her know her efforts are noticed and appreciated.

We just moved this weekend and my AP was incredibly helpful. She played with the toddler while I managed the movers; she also insisted on helping us with (too much of) the unpacking. I want to spoil her this weekend to say thank you. Any suggestions are appreciated!

Taking a Computer Lunch August 4, 2014 at 9:24 pm

If you haven’t moved too far, then a gift certificate to her favorite restaurant – enough to pay for her and a friend to go. If she’s now in a situation where she’s got to look for new friends, then maybe a gift certificate to have her nails done (if she’s that kind of woman). Or – cook her favorite American dinner?

WarmStateMomma August 5, 2014 at 2:43 pm

Good ideas! Thanks.

Aussie HM August 5, 2014 at 1:50 am

WSM, the notes under the door are a lovely idea! I struggle with how to thank our AP for doing a great job. I thank her often and honestly, but cant seem to manage it without sounding like I’m talking to her like a child ( or that I am a moron myself!)

Movie tickets for her and a friend, or a voucher to a tourist attraction in your new area could be a nice thankyou gift, not too expensive and something fun for her?

WarmStateMomma August 5, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Thanks! Thanking her in writing makes it less awkward sometimes. I found an event on Groupon for a glow run in our city; and got her a pair of tickets to take a friend.

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