New Pregnancy Plus Mediocre Au Pair — How to adjust?

by cv harquail on May 24, 2016

Here’s a tweak on the now-classic:  “Mediocre Au Pair, Should We Rematch?” question….

Dear AuPairMom ~~     We have had our 2nd AP for about 4 months, and she is the definition of mediocre.

14923911084_26abd6c457_mTo be objective, she is a good driver and our toddler likes her. However, her English is very, very bad (I need to speak to her in her native language to have reliable communication), she does the bare minimum in her job, and is abusing her car privileges. She does not communicate with us….. and simply says that everything is “good, great” all the time.

She is terrified to get sent back to her home country (she desperately wants a green card), so does not give us honest communication about anything. We have not loved her from day 1, but we decided that we could make it work for the year and remain in a “good enough” situation.

However, now that I’m pregnant (due in October, 5 months from now), I’m rethinking whether or not we should just “make do” with this mediocre au pair.

I’m due about 6 weeks before her contract ends. This Au Pair is not infant-certified, so I know she will not be able to stay with us or extend (she desperately wants us to extend with her, which she asked for since day 1).

Given my pregnancy and the less-than-ideal situation with this Au Pair, I wanted to ask the group’s opinion.

Should we make it work with her until I have the baby, then look for a good, infant-certified AP?

Or, should just put her into rematch now, and try to find and establish an infant-certified AP now, prior to baby’s arrival?

I understand that even an infant qualified au pair can’t be left with any infant under three months old — I’m thinking ahead to when the new baby is 3+ months old, as well as the time when our Au Pair would take care of just our toddler.

I can see the benefits/drawbacks of both scenarios.. but wanted to ask the opinion of the experienced group. This is our 2nd AP, so we are still relatively green.

~ SickOfOnlyGoodEnough Host Mom!

Image: Big Sister by Rafiq Sarlie on Flickr


WestMom May 24, 2016 at 11:12 am

I don’t know how you have stayed with a mediocre AP for 4 months. You deserve better, someone who is stimulating to your household, chips in to help willingly, and will respect you/home/car. As far as I am concerned, the new baby is irrelevant. You don’t even really need an IQ before baby arrives (if you get a rematch). You just need a better AP.

Rematch is no fun, but you will be so relieved once you get someone who actually contributes positively to your family life. It’s worth the stress/effort of rematch.

I assume she already knows that she cannot extend with you?

How does she think she will get a Green Card?

HRHM May 24, 2016 at 12:20 pm

This +1000

You just need to ask yourself “Does her presence in my life and our family, make my life better?” If the answer is not a resounding “YES!” then she needs to go.

Taking a Computer Lunch May 24, 2016 at 11:28 am

Your AP is not mediocre, she’s awful! Your toddler likes her, but you don’t say whether or not she is doing a good job of caring for him. She lies about how she uses your car.

Stop right now and make up a list of pros and cons. My guess is that all the things that are “wrong” will add up to your need to rematch. One does not limp along with a typically developing child. One limps along with a special needs child (or goes to an out-of-country match). There are plenty of young woman who would love to care for your toddler and do the job well.

If you decide it’s just too much headache, then yes, when her paperwork arrives (and not before), explain that she cannot extend with you because she’s not IQ and it’s illegal for her to live in your house with a newborn. If you’re feeling nervous about it, then start looking soon for an IQ AP. Expect your current AP’s behavior to decline when you tell her you won’t be extending. You’ll need to contact your LCC to see if she is legally permitted to stay in your house even though you’re home with the baby. If not, it may be possible for her to begin her extension year earlier with another family.

If you decide to keep her until her contract end, then I do recommend having a benchmark conversation. You do not want to limp along with a mediocre AP. You need to reset her attitude. If she’s lying about car use now, expect it to get worse during the summer. Managing is a pain, but really, it’s good practice for having a teenager.

Anonymous in CA May 24, 2016 at 10:00 pm

+1 TACL – “One does not limp along with a typically developing child. One limps along with a special needs child (or goes to an out-of-country match).” So true. So sad, yet so true.

Full Circle May 27, 2016 at 4:51 pm

I agree 100% that things will likely get worse. When baby comes the need for good and reliable childcare will be even more important. Do you really want to have to worry about what this mediocre AP is doing while also adjusting to the new baby? I say rematch now. If AP is not making your life easier, then it’s really not worth it.

But I did have a question to TACL: why would it be illegal for the AP to be in her home? Are you referring to the fact that she is not IQ? Or the fact that APs can’t be alone with newborns? Neither would make it ILLEGAL for her to stay, nor would it be against the program rules for this AP to continue working for this family. She just wouldn’t be left alone with baby, but could definitely help the other adult in the house with childcare. HFs have babies all the time and APs stay and help out. Unless there is some agency rule against non -IQ APs being in homes with newborns (which would be bs imo), it still wouldn’t be illegal. Anyone can be in your house.

Taking a Computer Lunch May 28, 2016 at 2:31 pm

The non-IQ AP cannot stay in the house and be paid a stipend. The AP must be paid a stipend to remain in visa status. If you think you and your partner will either conceive or adopt a child under 2 within the year that you host an AP, then change your category so you can see IQ APs. Most agencies will not let you see an IQ AP unless you already have a child under 2 in the house (or are expecting when you interview). LCCs can make exceptions (mine did so I get see special needs willing IQ APs – although in my experience they want real babies – not a teenager in diapers). Your agencies rules may vary – but the shaken baby case a decade or more ago led to some agencies to adapt stricter guidelines.

Pennsylvania HM May 29, 2016 at 1:04 pm

While not illegal, I was told by CCAP when pregnant with my third that my non-IQ AP would be pulled from my house the day I gave birth since that is the only way they (the agency) can be sure the AP is not ever responsible for the infant. This was even though my AP’s year would end before the baby was 3 months old, I would be home on maternity leave the entire time, and did not intend to extend with the AP. According to CCAP this is standard among all agencies. Interestingly though, they did allow my AP to become retroactively IQ certified during my pregnancy (she said she had the necessary hours but hadn’t wanted to become IQ originally and had people in her home country vouch for the hours).

Full Circle May 29, 2016 at 3:33 pm

Wow! Ok. That is news to me! I think our LCC doesn’t know this rule (somehow?) because we specifically told her we would try to conceive during the year and she said we would add IQ APs to our favorites in case we wanted that. She never said we HAD to have one. I even changed my profile to reflect our intent to conceive but still could see both IQ and non IQ. At this point it would only happen at the end of current APs term, but we were seriously considering extending. I really wish this was explained to us bc it’s really a deal breaker. What if I got pregnant and had a baby on month 7? I’d seriously be furious with the agency bc we were VERY clear that a baby was very much a possibility (just not a guarantee bc you know, nature) ugh! oir placement manager and LCC both knew. Thanks for clarifying this. At least now I know what we may face if we do get pregnant.

MarHostMom May 24, 2016 at 12:03 pm

I would suggest calling your agency to see whether they would allow a non-IQ au pair to stay with you after the baby is born (even though I understand the rule that au pairs are not to be responsible for the baby until the baby is 12 weeks, I’m not sure the agency would even allow the au pair to stay after the baby is born). Don’t quote me on that, but it might be worth a call. If the rule is what I think it may be, then you can rematch now, or at least search for a new overseas au pair now, and you can make it less awkward for the au pair. You would want her to rematch sooner rather than later (because only having 6 weeks left after the baby is born wouldn’t make her a very attractive candidate to a new family).

MarHostMom May 24, 2016 at 12:06 pm

Just a follow up – here is what my agency contract says on this topic: Host Family agrees that if an infant less than three (3) months old is living in the home, a parent or another responsible adult shall be present in the home at all times and the au pair shall not be the sole care giver for that child at any time (including sleeping hours). Host Family agrees to notify Agency if a child less than three (3) months is added to the household at any time during the program term.

Julie Dye May 25, 2016 at 4:57 pm

With CCAP, an au pair is not allowed in the home with a baby less than 3 months unless they are qualified to be with infants. This au pair would not be allowed to stay anyways with us.

Full Circle May 27, 2016 at 5:04 pm

I’m confused about this “rule”. I’m with CCAP and our contract does not state that. It says exactly what MarHostMom wrote. I was also asked during matching if we planned on having another child and I was explicitly told that we could request to have IQ AP profile’s visible to us because pregnancy was a possibility during the year, but didn’t have to have a IQ AP. I’d hate it if that’s the case. Pregnancy is still on the table and our AP is NOT IQ and rematching just to get a IQ AP would really be crazy if everyone is happy. Sorry for the side note, but I think this can confuse OP too in making her decision so I just wanted to clarify.

Emerald City HM May 27, 2016 at 6:45 pm

Some agencies are stricter on interpretation of state department rules. I’m surprised CC would be more lax on this one than on the 1.5 days off per week rule.

The state department says “Au Pairs cannot be placed” before the IQ statement (the 200 hours), though they do not specifically mention anything about remaining. However, I think you would be hard pressed to find an agency that would allow an non-IQ au pair to care for a child between 3 and 6 months old (saying the child is born 6 months into an au pair’s term).

2 kids and a cat May 27, 2016 at 7:12 pm

No, she couldn’t stay after the birth. She could, however, acquire or complete the 200 hrs during your pregnancy and be IQ by the time the baby comes.

Emerald City HM May 27, 2016 at 7:15 pm

I’m not sure that could happen though, because she wouldn’t be able to do it in the US, it would have to happen before coming into the country.

TexasHM May 27, 2016 at 10:56 pm

Emerald city is correct. Whatever status the AP enters the country with (IQ or not IQ) cannot be changed. I’ve even seen APs that had enough hours but decided to be in regular pool then ended up in rematch and wanted to change to IQ and could not.
We had a family locally here that had a non IQ AP, got pregnant and was told explicitly by APIA that as soon as that baby was born the AP was being removed from the home. It’s a massive liability for them (see Louise Woodward case for context). This particular family got an attorney, hired a nanny solely for the newborn and signed all kinds of waivers and affidavits swearing AP would pretty much never touch the baby! It took months to get that arranged and I have no idea how much in legal and nanny fees.
I’ve heard of removals at APC and CCAP as well. This isn’t an agency rule it’s a state dept rule and no agency is going to risk their status with the DOS because you love a particular AP (and in this case it doesn’t sound like you love current AP anyway).
Rematch now, get IQ and someone that can provide impact and a positive presence to your household right now. You’ve got what sounds like an easy gig and life with a mediocre AP is exhausting for everyone and takes a toll on your friendships, marriage and sanity. Part ways now and you’re doing her a favor as you can give her more time to match, she will be more attractive with a longer term, it’s peak season and she could never extend with you anyway. Best for both sides this way even if she doesn’t see that right now she will later. And it just gets harder over time. Rip the bandaid off!

Taking a Computer Lunch May 28, 2016 at 2:26 pm

Actually, IQ APs can change their status to non-IQ (at least with APIA). I recommended it to one AP extending with another family, who was frustrated because all she could see were families with infants and young toddlers. When I told her why, I suggested she contact the LCC to arrange to have her category changed. She did and was much happier.

WarmStateMomma May 24, 2016 at 1:15 pm

I’d try a “friendly rematch” where you give her 4 weeks instead of 2 to find a new family. Use the baby as your reason so she doesn’t get too hurt and you can avoid a lot of the awkwardness. Let her know that you’d like her to have a good chance of finding a family she can extend with instead of getting sent home with 6 weeks left.

Also, we hosted an awesome AP when baby 2 arrived. She was amazing at providing extra love and attention for my oldest when we were preoccupied with prenatal problems, the delivery, the new baby herself, medical stuff, etc.

You need a better AP when you’re preggo, especially considering babies don’t always arrive on time, complications arise, etc.

HappyHM May 24, 2016 at 1:54 pm

At least with our agency, we could only begin looking for a replacement AP once we were officially in rematch (and vice versa for our AP), so we couldn’t do a “friendly rematch” that extended her search time. Our rematch has, so far, been very amicable, but we’re definitely on the two week ticker, and giving our AP a longer time to find a new family isn’t an option with APC. I suppose she could start looking unofficially (through FB groups, etc.), but it might be rough if she rematched right away, and you didn’t have a replacement lined up.

HappyHM May 24, 2016 at 1:50 pm

I feel like this is my situation with just a few details and names changed. :) I won’t get into all of the similarities and differences, but I will say that we opted to rematch before our new baby is born, and I am so happy that we did. Our new au pair just lights up around our toddler, and I am so glad we’ve been able to welcome her so she can have that time to bond with our toddler before the new baby comes along. This is the first time we have rematched, and I was so anxious about the process. It has been stressful, but I can’t imagine trying to rematch and take care of an infant (and recover from childbirth). I’m sure you (like us) would make it through whatever situation you were faced with, but since you have the time and one less child to take care of now, I strongly recommend rematching.

And to put it very bluntly, I think being unsure about whether to rematch was actually worse than rematching itself. I kept saying to myself, “What if the next one is worse?” Well, if the next one is worse, then at least you will clearly know you have to rematch and won’t waste all those hours agonizing over whether you should rematch. I really think the agonizing is the worst part. I had been agonizing since March.

Plus, you have the time now before the baby is born to rematch AGAIN, worst case scenario.

2 kids and a cat May 24, 2016 at 3:06 pm

Once she finds out that she can’t stay past the birth, she may go from bad to worse.
I’d decide with her on a mutually agreeable time to rematch giving her the maximum opportunity to find a new family (say, 4-6 weeks from now, where she still has half her term left and you have enough time to find a replacement). At the same time remind her that she will need a good reference from you and list the problem behaviors she needs to fix for you to do so.

DCBurbTwinMomma May 25, 2016 at 7:18 am

I agree with the advice already given here by the wise ladies. In addition, do you really want such change to a new au pair right after having a baby? I too am pregnant and could not have a non-IQ Au pair even in the house when the baby arrives. Check with your company but CCAP is clear on its rules even if non-IQ would not be taking care of the infant.

Why settle for mediocre? There are amazing people out there who can add value to your family immediately. Good luck.

OpinionatedHM May 25, 2016 at 1:19 pm

If you are feeling guilty about rematch, you could look at it this way: you know she wants to extend and you will not be able to extend because you need an IQ candidate. You are doing her a favor by allowing her to find another family who might want to extend with her. Do a friendly rematch with the stated reason being your need for an IQ AP. You could also mention the car issues to be fair to other families but many families have no restrictions on car use and this will not be an issue for them. It’s better for both of you to find the ideal situation now. Your toddler will have time to bond with the new AP before the new baby arrives and your old AP has a chance to improve her situation.

Mimi May 25, 2016 at 2:18 pm

I agree that the win-win for all here is a rematch now when she has a good chance of finding a family with a reasonable amount of time left in her contract. It would be generous to offer her longer to look but definitely have a conversation about her performance issues, especially if they worsen while you are in transition. I’d also like to reinforce that your toddler is going to have a lot of adjustment when the baby comes and a new AP is one less adjustment needed if you rematch now.

"SickofGoodEnough" Host Mom May 25, 2016 at 6:48 pm

Everyone, THANK YOU for taking the time to comment! This group is just fantastic. I hear loud and clear.. REMATCH. We have decided this is the best thing to do.

After speaking with our LCC, turns out that she would need to leave the house in October after baby arrives. Given that, and the fact that we don’t want to spring 2 major changes on our 3 year old at once (a new baby AND a new caregiver), we are going to put her in rematch now. We will be reasonable about it.. give her several weeks to find another family, and I’ll write her a fair recommendation (not glowing, but fair). She is a good driver which will help her during rematch, I think, as many rematch situations are due to poor driving.

Another consideration for us was financial. If rematch occurs within 6 months, we can get a substantial refund on program fees. After 6 months.. next to nothing. Not a risk we’re willing to take, especially after she gets wind of the fact that she’d be getting the boot in October.

We actually are going to postpone matching with another AP until after baby is born, as I am hoping to take an extended maternity leave (4-6 months, fingers crossed!). So, during my leave we’ll search for a great IQ AP, and we’ll put my son in daycare for now full-time, and back him to part-time when the new AP is here/acquainted. I think some “school” will be good for him at this age– he told me he wants to play with friends and learn to read.

Hoping it all works out. Life throws curve balls… and you’ve gotta learn to play with them!

Thanks again to everyone!

WarmStateMomma May 26, 2016 at 10:24 am

Great plan!! Good luck to you and congrats on the pregnancy!

Leidy lu May 27, 2016 at 3:39 pm

It’s ok if you are worried about your baby, but let’s be honest, if she is mediocre as you said, get rid of her, if she is not infant qualified, I mean you weren’t when you had your first kid and even though you learned how to do it even having mistakes. Parents use to do things worst that the Au pairs, so seriously just think about it

ChiHostMom May 27, 2016 at 5:54 pm

We actually asked our awesome AP to extend so that we didn’t have a transition while a newborn was arriving for our older kid. It worked out great. But in the OP situation, switch now or your plan seems to be best.

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