Hi! I am Frances Scher, and I am taking a turn at the APMom mailbox.
First up is a letter from a new host mom.
Her previous expectations of the au pair program don’t seem to be lining up with the current reality.
The au pair is not doing her job and following the guidelines like it was thought she would. This host mom also expected more support from her agency. She does seem to be getting a little bit, but in the end it doesn’t seem to be enough.
I think I need help/advice?
I am brand new to the host parent thing. I would say for the most part after reading your blog we have done everything wrong. I really expected that she would “own” the au pair role. What that meant for me was, she would understand what was laid out in the contract as far as her role and would do it to the best of her capabilities and of course ask questions when she didn’t understand something. Of course, I walked her through her tasks and showed her how to do each thing but where I failed was if it didn’t get done, I didn’t follow up on it. For example, one of her tasks is to do the children’s laundry. If it wasn’t done, I would do it on the weekend #HPFail, or if I got home and their toys were all over the living room, I wouldn’t say anything (though I’ll admit on the weekends we don’t pick up their toys either).
Where I would have wanted help from the agency was around school schedules. How it was explained to me was AP would attend the required education courses on her off time as long as it did not interfere with the HF schedule. When our LCC came to review the rules during the first week of our AP stay, I asked the question about schooling. I assumed the schooling schedule would have to be mutually agreed upon. My AP signed up for classes that would be 4 days a week (without talking to us first). When I told her that two days a week would be more acceptable, she said she would get rides for the other two days. Then AP agreed to use the bus, but later changed her mind. My husband and I work 50-60 hours a week and taking AP back and forth to school 4 days a week for half a year was a huge inconvenience, especially because she doesn’t get out of class until after 9 pm.
Then vacation conflicts arose. We go over her hours weekly. What she worked, any vacation taken, how many days off she had and of course impending/desired vacation is talked about as well. When she requested an additional 2 weeks off after already having taken her all of her vacation, I said I would give her an additional week, but I wasn’t going to do 2 weeks. All hell broke loose. I contacted my LCC. The LCC supported me during this conflict and called and talked to her and followed up with me by text later. But I feel like I might need more support from an Au Pair agency.
When my AP told me she suffers from clinical depression and used to take medication for it, I reached out to my LCC for support and questions (don’t they screen for this?). My AP was/is extremely home sick and always tells me that she’s sad. I don’t know what I can do for her. I try to talk to her and reach out but it is also (I hate to say it) very draining and I really want to spend time with my children when I get home. We have taken her on excursions and vacations to try and cheer her up, but it’s not working. My LCC did check in with her and told me she’s not sad anymore. But she is and because it is clinical depression, it’s not just going to go away.
I was really hoping to meet and connect with other HF in my area. I live in one of the largest metropolitan areas in the US. Though when we have attended the events hosted by our LCC, there are no other families present. (We have met their Au Pairs though.)
Really my husband and I had no idea what to expect from our au pair or even what was expected from us. When it comes to what is expected from the agency, I also have no idea.
So all of this to say/ask, is it me? Is my family not cut out for hosting? Should we re-matched? Or should we go with a new company next time?
Image from Spkn Words