Open Thread: April 19

by cv harquail on April 19, 2014


 Welcome to our Weekend Open Thread!  

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This thread will be open for a full weekend, from today until the evening of Monday, April 21st, or when we hit 100 comments, or when I get organized because– hey, it’s spring break and I may be busy eating Easter candy.

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Threads, Gareth Morgan


CAAP April 19, 2014 at 12:37 pm

I am an Au Pair and have been for the last 2 months. I absolutely love it and by the amazing experience that I have had my friends from back home have become more interested and intrigued in also joining the program. I think this is great as I know my friends and think they’d be wonderful with children.

However I have a certain friend who already has a boyfriend living in the US, he is a few years older than her and lives alone. They have kind of come up with a plan for her to relocate to the US for a year to give their relationship a proper shot before deciding on which path to take (marriage?): She has told me that she is planning on signing up to the agency which I am with and that her bf would do the same as a “HF” and pretend that he is looking for an au pair then they would match with each other. She asked me if she thinks she could get away with this.

Obviously I told her it was ILLEGAL, not to mention if caught she would be sent straight back home and more than likely would be refused entry to the US in the future, also there are meetings etc us au pairs have to attend and it’s not as simple as just getting access into the country, staying for a year and then leaving when her year is up! So my question is: when you are the host family and you sign up to your agency do you have to provide proof (I dunno — like a birth certificate or something) that you actually have children?!

Surely a HF cannot just sign up with no children and not have to prove that they in fact would have kids for the AP to care for?

Host Mom in the City April 19, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Well that’s something. So two things – one, he’ll have to pay about $8,000+ in agency fees before you arrive like all host families do. And, at least with CC and APIA, the LCC had to meet with our whole family prior to our AP’s arrival and 2 weeks thereafter.

exaupair April 19, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Omg, what kind of idea is that? Potential Host Parents are screened, so unless he actually has a child he won’t be accepted.
If they are that desperate to get into the US they should try student exchange, as a foreign student she could live with him and he would be her money source for the time she is studying. Although the cost of that would be huge, therefor it might be too much of a commitment.

CAAP April 19, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Hi HMITC yes he is willing to pay the agency fees and what would be her “stipend” but I didn’t think it could be possible to not actually have a child and get away with this!

Ex aupair she did try looking into this first I believe but did not complete her d
final year of studies at school so she is Ineligible for student exchange.

Another thing is, knowing she didn’t finish her last year at high school I told her that when I signed up I had to provide a copy of my certificate to show I’d finished school and any extra education I’d done, she then said she could make a copied one on the Internet and asked if she could see mine to base it on!

Host Mom in the City April 19, 2014 at 9:42 pm

Does he have a family he’s prepared to have on stand-by for the required meetings? Does he have two references he can provide that will vouch for him having children? I actually don’t know if you must have a HS degree to be an au pair. You do have to go through interviews and such including for your visa and upon entry to the states, so she’ll also have to be prepared to lie thoroughly. Seems like a number of truly serious ways to trip this up. And if they are caught, she is sent home (and will have to pay her own ticket), he is out the agency fee, and she may have trouble entering the us ever again.

WestMom April 19, 2014 at 10:01 pm

Host mom in the city, I would also add that if BF is not a US citizen, he might also be jeopardizing his own ability to stay in the US if he gets caught enabling this situation…

CAAP April 19, 2014 at 10:04 pm

I am not sure if they have a back up family, although he has a sister with children so my guess would be it would be them. I’m sure they would convince friends to lie and be their references but you’re right it would be a lot of work, a lot of lying and a lot of covering up. Definitely not worth it and too big of a risk knowing what the consequences would be if caught! Thanks for your help :)

CAAP April 19, 2014 at 10:05 pm

Hi WestMom her boyfriend is a US citizen :)

TexasHM April 19, 2014 at 10:40 pm

A student visa is granted through acceptance to a local college/university so as long as she can get a university to accept her and he sponsors she can go. She might have to take a test to get in but most colleges want $ so they will help her get things aligned.
Sidenote – the counselor will surely notice that this guy doesn’t have kids. They come to the house, meet and talk with the children, will expect to see photos, toys, pictures, etc. I just think it’s a terrible idea, period. Get a tourist visa and follow the rules or if that’s not an option work with a community college to get admitted and get a student visa.
If this falls apart (and I don’t see how it wouldn’t – the other APs never see her watching kids? Aren’t going to figure out it’s her boyfriend?) then it would harm the agency she used, it would make it harder for APs from your country to get future visas and could jeopardize the J1 program as a whole because there’s a lot of people that already think it’s being abused as an immigration loophole.

CAAP April 20, 2014 at 12:20 am

TexasHM that isn’t entirely true, the eligibility requirements related to education for citziens of my country are:
– A full time, class room based undergraduate student enrolled at a university or TAFE college (minimum Diploma level course of 2 years duration) and have successfully completed the first year of study; or continuing postgraduate student completing higher studies immediately following undergraduate study; or
– Have graduated from a course specified above within the past 12 months

But I agree with everything else you said.

exaupair April 20, 2014 at 8:32 am

CAAP, as scary as it sounds, I talked this over with my partner yesterday, we made a list of what to do and how to do it based on what we’ve read on here (previous, very old articles about the visa rules, agency rules also) think the whole au pair scam COULD actually work as long as they both were extremely prepared and had their lies sorted well before *matching* and through the whole year :-( sad but true.
I’m not going to go into details because I don’t want to that I support it. I DON’T, to me the whole preparation beforehand and after is just not worth it AND if she was ever found out she could have been banned from entering the US for the next 10 years, or who knows, indefinitely even….

My advice for them – how about he could look for a 1 year long placement outside the US, i.e. in her own country, or they both look for a job in the same country provided she would not need a Visa to get in.
Doesn’t she realize that doing the au pair thing she’s the only person risking here? And possibly forfeiting her chances to actually remain in the US?

CAAP April 20, 2014 at 9:52 pm

Yes I suppose if they were dedicated and prepared enough and had other sources helping them then they could theoretically get away with it although thankfully I don’t think (and hope!) they wouldn’t have the patience nor be dedicated wholly without slipping up somehow in the scam.

He has a decent job here so I don’t think he would be open to moving so I think their best option at the moment really is for her coming over on a tourist visa and if it works out then go through the legal channels to be able to stay. Thanks ex aupair :)

HM Reality Check April 19, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Wow! It’s not April first again is it? Your “friend” is a (nutcake). (redacted) …. ‘we wouldn’t want to offer advice on how to circumvent the system, at the risk of jeopardizing it for all the legitimate participants who benefit and love this program.’

Host Mom in the City April 19, 2014 at 2:22 pm

I really hope we can maintain a polite discourse on the site. That’s one of the main reasons I look for advice here versus other sites offering similar formats.

HRHM April 19, 2014 at 2:39 pm


The PP wrote in asking for advice aI think HMiTC hit the nail right on the head. Unless he wants to shell out 8K for agency fees and rent a family for show – they are out of luck!

CAAP April 19, 2014 at 8:45 pm

Sorry I didn’t mean to upset anyone and I definitely didn’t want information on how to illegally exploit any of the program’s, I was just wondering if it was actually possible as if she did somehow manage to get through from an agency I do feel I would be morally obligated to inform them of the situation.

Newbie HM April 19, 2014 at 2:24 pm

How do I start a new thread? Sorry! My first time posting!

Newbie HM April 19, 2014 at 2:50 pm

First time posting,but I spend a lot of time here reading all of your comments. I am a first time Host Mom, searching for our first AP now. At the time of AP’s arrival I will have a 2.5 year old and 9 month old. I keep reading comments on this site about how people would not “trust”an AP with an infant, now I am getting nervous about it! We are screening for maturity (not considering younger than 23, which means it’s slim pickings), intelligence, patience, and infant experience.

We have already had 2 AP’s that we REALLY liked reject us, (and one more that dropped out just before signing contracts due to her not having the money to pay fees) and our matching coordinator said that one stated that she wanted older kids, even though during our interviews she stated and acted like she really loved babies and toddlers and said she was comfortable caring for them. The other did not give a reason for rejecting us, even though she also seemed so excited about us during interviews. We spent A LOT of time with these two candidates and I can’t help feeling rejected and drained from the process so far. We also have had quite a few AP’s reject us even before interviewing because of the age of our kids. I respect the AP’s being honest and upfront like that before wasting any time on an interview.

I try to make sure the AP knows that we realize that caring for two small children is not an easy job. I don’t really care that much about keeping the house clean or doing things like kids laundry, and I will even make them food and bottles so the AP just has to warm it and serve it. All of the AP’s ask us if our 2 year old will be in preschool, she won’t, I am sure it would be an easier job to take care of school age kids on a lot of levels. I want to stress how challenging infant and toddler care can be so they are prepared but I feel like I may be scaring them away. I am wondering what others have in terms of advice for choosing an AP to care for young kids, how to screen and interview, and how to make ourselves seem more appealing! And some reassurance that my kids will be safe and cared for!

Also, a few other details…we live in a large US city in a great neighborhood, but we do live in a small space… 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom. I’m wondering if that turns them off too? They say they don’t care. We can’t change that part. We won’t have her using our car, but public transportation is great. They say that’s fine with them. We have a flexible schedule and sometimes we won’t use all 45 hours, but I’m not sure I want to mention that, just in case we do. Also we would want an OCCASIONAL (once a month or every 6 weeks) weekend night out, just for dinner/date night and we let them know that, but stress we will work around her schedule and plans on weekends.

Sorry if that was rambling! Advice appreciated! Thanks so much.

TexasHM April 19, 2014 at 5:54 pm

Agreed with all above. 1 – he’d have to have kids. 2 – he’d have to shell out $8k upfront plus stipend so about $18-20k a year all expenses inc. 3 – I have heard rumors at 3 agencies that they are really tightening up on single parent placements due to program abuse in that demographic (no judgment on my part, just relaying).
A student visa or tourist visa is a worlds better idea. He could be her sponsor, she could live with him legally and instead of shelling out $8k upfront he could help her pay for school. If that’s too big an investment get a tourist visa. Unless she truly loves kids and wants to work this is likely a terrible idea. What if the family decides to rematch on her? She wouldn’t be able to stay in the same city and if she went to live with him she’d be reported. This is precarious for both sides on an AP visa. She could also end up in a tough situation because the family has leverage on her. I would hope that wouldn’t happen but just exploring all the possibilities.

BropairJJ April 19, 2014 at 6:22 pm

Hi there everyone,

I’m an aspiring au pair from the UK and I suppose I have a vaguely similar question to the one above. I’m currently in a long term relationship with an american girl and I’m wondering how best to explain this to families without them thinking that this is my sole reason for participating in the Program. I have no intention of lying about this in interview.
I’ll admit that being closer to each other would be a nice change to the past two years of living in separate countries with few chances to see each other, but for me the experience of living and working with children in a brand new family environment is the main draw for me. I believe that the experience will help me greatly in my future career (I’m currently training to be a teacher).

So what are your thoughts?

Thanks in advance.

Anna April 19, 2014 at 9:04 pm

I matched with an au pair who had an american boyfriend, who lived an hour away from us. I knew it upfront. She assured me that this relationship will not interfere with her work. I trusted her.
She married him two months after her arrival and left our family a week before I was due with my fourth child…

I guess I am saying this that there are families (like myself) who don’t mind an american boyfriend/girlfriend. I thought it was a good thing, because she would not be homesick as much and would already have friends in the area.

TexasHM April 19, 2014 at 6:27 pm

Couple of things – point out its a long term relationship (2+ years), talk about it candidly upfront. Are you willing to match with a family anywhere or only in her city? I would be honest about that too. The teaching aspiration will help any that doubt your intentions and hopefully you’ve got good experience so I think you’ll be fine. I know APs that have tried to do this but most hid the relationship and then ended up in rematch.

BropairJJ April 19, 2014 at 6:32 pm

Thanks for the quick reply, most of what you’ve said confirms what I was planning on doing, which is good!

Anonymous April 20, 2014 at 2:28 am

I have just signed up with an agency a few months ago and are interviewing with families at the moment, I’ve spoken to one on Skype and the others through email.

My problem is that two potential families have asked me for my facebook account. Personally I would prefer not to give out my facebook information or have my host family on my facebook as I feel that it is my private life and a way of communicating with my friends.

I do not have anything to hide on my facebook though, which is what I will assume host families would think if I were to tell them I didn’t want to give out my facebook profile? So do you think the best option is to just say that I do not have facebook altogether?

Host Mom in the City April 21, 2014 at 10:46 am

I personally think it’s odd that they asked you already for your Facebook account – seems very personal for the beginning stages of matching. I have had a few au pair candidates try to friend me on Facebook as soon as I contacted them, and I’ve had to politely say that I keep my Facebook account fairly private until I’ve actually matched.

Unless you have it completely hidden, they can see that you have one, so you shouldn’t lie. If you’re not comfortable with friending them (and I wouldn’t be either so early in the process), I would recommend saying that you’d prefer to email and talk on Skype a bit to see if you’re a good match, but that for safety reasons, you’d prefer to keep your Facebook account personal for now. You could also “friend” them but make them an acquaintance so they can’t really see anything.

But if they don’t like that you won’t immediately open up your entire personal life to them right off the bat, then maybe they’re not the host family for you. Good luck!

Emerald City HM April 21, 2014 at 11:16 am

We also don’t ask until we match. I have friended all of my au pairs on facebook becasue that’s where I post pictures of the girls and to friends only. I let them know what my FB information is, and if they want to friend me, they can, but they are not required to.

However, I will usually try to look up au pairs that we are interviewing seriously and if they tend to be very public about everything going on in their lives on FB, then they probably are not the au pair for us, as we tend to be more private people. Our au pairs also put me on restricted access or acquantaince only status, while they are living with us and then tend to switch back to more open when they return home. Which I am fine with too.

WestMom April 21, 2014 at 11:34 am

I suspect they don’t want to friend you right away, but they probably want to see what you are sharing publicly on Facebook. Whatever you answer, it puts someone in an uncomfortable situation. I understand why you would be hesitant to share. At the same time, it might send a message that you might have something to hide (even if you are not).

I personally use Facebook to field candidates. We do maintain a ‘Family page’ online which we use to share our profile with potential candidates. Some will click ‘like’ and I will be able to see whatever is public on their profile. A few times I have stumbled on profile pages with photos and posts that were incredibly immature and embarrassing. But most of the time, it just confirms that the candidate is a fun, young woman with interesting interests and close friends. Somehow it feels reassuring to see a candidate’s page before matching.

You are completely within your right to not share this information, or ‘friend’ prospective families. But considering two families have asked for the link to your page, you may want to consider using Facebook to your advantage. A good Facebook page can be a very good way to market yourself.

Seattle Mom April 21, 2014 at 2:51 pm

I ask to connect on Facebook when I find someone I would like to match with, but usually before I seal the deal. I had one AP just not respond to my question, and I matched with her anyway and she turned out to be a terrible fit for my family. I probably wouldn’t have figured anything out by being on her facebook page anyway, but i think the fact that she didn’t outwardly say “no” yet she didn’t accept me as a facebook friend was a good indication of the communication problems to come.

If an AP candidate told me outright they weren’t comfortable sharing their FB page with me but they would consider it later on then I would accept that and still consider them as an AP.

One of the reasons I want to become FB friends with potential APs before matching is so that they can see a lot more information about my family and know what they are getting into a little better. At least that’s the theory. So far my best APs have had some pretty risque party photos on Facebook so I might raise an eyebrow but that wouldn’t turn me off to an AP. It does give me some insight to their personality, and I think each time I do this I get better at reading into things.

Skny April 20, 2014 at 8:19 am

Has anyone ever had problems with heat?
Our tropical country Au pair has a habit of raising the heat above 80 during her work hours. I have explained that there is a high cost to heat our home, that we tend to leave the heat at 70 at most, and it is ok to wear a light sweater at home.
Her room is usually at 85, and as she works she raises it in all main rooms.
Our heating bill went up 205 dollars last month.
I feel like every day I go room by room turning it down just to get home and get it all up.
Now, this is a loved amazing Au pair who returned on a tourist visa just to help for 2 months while I gave birth (and before our new Au pair would come). So I am not as comfrotational as I should. I am dealing in a very mild way…
But I had this problem in the past with other Au pair.
How do you deal with it? I thought of putting lock on heat, but it is ugly and bulky…

hOstCDmom April 20, 2014 at 8:42 am

I simply tell the APs they may NOT adjust the programmable thermostats. Period. This is in our handbook, and I tell them personally when they arrive. It costs us $10k/year to heat our home (and I tell them that), and that is with the heat set at a maximum of 64′ during the day, 57′ at night. (We live in a part of the country where fuel oil is used, and it is SUPER EXPENSIVE.) I simply make it a non-negotiable house rule. And, like a grandmother, I tell them to “put on a sweater” :)

Host Mom in the City April 21, 2014 at 7:59 am

This is just something we build into the cost of having an au pair now, although an extra $200 a month would be too much to ask I think. Our not-great au pair liked it really cold in the summer and really hot in the winter, and we spent about $100 more per month over what we normally spend in our house the year she was with us (to the tune of $1,200 extra for the year!!!). She would also leave the AC or heat on when she left for the weekend and would leave windows open with it on too. Drove me crazy, but nothing I said ever got to her. If she were a better au pair, I’m not sure this would have bothered me nearly as much.

I’m torn on on this one – on one hand, I do feel that you need to be a little flexible when you have someone living with you. Temperature is so personal and you don’t want someone to be miserable at all times in your house. But on the other hand, it’s hard to understand just how much extra it costs when you’re not paying it.

hOstCDmom April 21, 2014 at 9:38 am

For me it is a matter of disclosure – I tell them how it will be and they have to accept it — like an adhesion contract. We are not flexible on this, and will not adjust for the au pair. My family would be MISERABLE if it were warmer than 64′ (we actually prefer to keep it about 60′); we would be hot and uncomfortable. We understand most APs won’t love this, but we are the constant, they are the variable. They have to adjust to us. Plus, we are not willing to spend more on heating than the outrageous amount we already do. Thus, we lay out what it is like in our house (200 year old, drafty, rambling house that, as London Mum noted, will be COLD in the winter, and long underwear and sweaters will be regular attire! and that it will be HOT in the summer (no AC)). If an AP couldn’t live with that, we would rematch, no matter how good they were. And if an AP adjusted our heat after being instructed not to, I would rematch.

Momma Gadget April 21, 2014 at 10:13 am

We live in a 100 year old house- We had a similar issue with our first nanny who was from a tropical climate. All winter long we’d come home to every light on in the house and a sweltering 80+ degree temperature. Needless to say our gas and electric bills were scary!
We keep our house at a reasonable 68 degrees, if you’re cold, you put on a sweater, or cozy ugg slippers. In the summer we only have window unit ACs in certain rooms. It is usually only a few days a year that the heat is so sweltering that we need to camp out in front of the AC.

We do have to remind our APs to shut off the AC in their room when they are not in it. Most have been respectful of our thermostat

WarmStateMomma April 21, 2014 at 10:03 am

@ SKNY: This AP is only with you for two months and one month has already passed if you received a bill, right? I think you mentioned before that she is a beloved former AP who returned to help your family while earning money on her vacation time. I’d let it go for her because she is doing your family a big favor, but I’d be pretty strict with future APs. Before the next AP arrives, I’d consider upgrading my thermostat(s) to the kind that you can monitor remotely (if it won’t cost too much to do that for your system).

Host Mom in the City April 21, 2014 at 10:09 am

Oh! Just noticed that this is the au pair that’s only here for a couple of months. In this case, I’d mention to her that it’s really expensive and to please watch the use of the heat. But otherwise, I’d probably let it slide for this one. For the future, say upfront that the thermostat needs to be kept in a particular range, period.

Seattle Mom April 21, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Fortunately (or not) we only have one thermostat for the whole house, and while our house isn’t airtight (it was built in the 1920s) it is pretty good and we have an efficient furnace. I haven’t outright banned moving the thermostat with APs, but I tell them that we like to keep it around 64 in the winter, and the max anyone is allowed to move it to is 67 or the bill gets too high. My husband also has it on an automatic setting that is difficult to override for more than an hour or two- it keeps going back to the auto program.

We discovered after we bought our house that the heat ducts did not go to the upper level- where our AP room & office are. For our first year in the AP program we had an electric heater in the AP room, and that easily added $100 per month to our heating bill- pretty much doubled it because in Seattle it doesn’t get all that cold. Part of the reason was that our AP would sometimes leave it on for hours when she wasn’t in the room, she knew that wasn’t allowed but she would forget, so we would go in and turn it off for her. She also kept the room at a rather balmy temperature- much warmer than the rest of the house (and this is a French girl, not from the tropics!). Soon after she left DH built heating ducts up to the 2nd floor (yay for handy DH!) and vents and all that, and removed the electric heaters- now they are unnecessary. He was worried that our Thai AP would be worse with the heat, but he shouldn’t have worried- she was an extension AP from upstate NY and Seattle was nowhere near as cold- it was like a vacation for her :).

And thankfully we do not have A/C, and really have no need for it. We used to live without it on the east coast and I could see an AP complaining about that, but in Seattle it really is unnecessary.

LondonMum April 20, 2014 at 10:42 am

We live in an old Victorian house and in the winter it is very cold. We tend to have Scandinavian au pairs who are used to cold climates but well insulated houses and I tell them up front that it will be COLD! I would expect them to wear a sweater and warm socks, the heating is very low in the day and off at night! It costs a fortune to heat our home so there is no way we would up the temperature or length of time the heat is on.

exaupair April 20, 2014 at 11:12 am

Skny@I agree with all above! Tell your AP how much it costs you to heat the whole house, and that she will have to wear warm sweaters and socks instead of turning the heating on.
Turning the heating off completely at night, as LondonMum does is a good idea, you sleep under a duvet anyway!

CanadaHostMom April 20, 2014 at 11:42 am

Hi Everyone! We’re in the process of interviewing for our second au pair. We’ve narrowed it down to a male au pair and a female au pair, from the same home country. I feel both would be great au pairs, but have different strengths. To the host families with more experience than me… Which would you prioritize: more ‘organizational’ and independent living experience OR sports minded and engaging in active play? We have two school aged, very active children. I do feel both au pairs have strong childcare experience and exceed all of our must-have requirements. Any thoughts or advice? We can’t seem to come to a decision. Thanks in advance!!!

Kassie April 20, 2014 at 1:53 pm

We live in nc, and our agency is inter exchange. Our au pair is with us until nov 10th. We are very happy with her.

My family might be relocating end of August to Florida. Which is not one of inter exchange states. I’m fairly certain the only thing we can do is have our au pair go into rematch, since she can’t move with us.

I really don’t want to do that because 1) we love her, and 2) I think her chance of rematch would be low. Are there any other solutions? Will another agency ever sponsor her? Can the visa sponsorship be transferred?

Also, for our next agency we are going to choose a nationwide one. Which agencies are nationwide. I don’t want this to happen again.


exaupair April 21, 2014 at 10:30 am

Why can’t she move with you, will the new house be smaller and there’s no room for her or is it because of her college commitments?

Host Mom in the City April 21, 2014 at 10:47 am

It sounds like since Interexchange the agency doesn’t have a presence in the area of Florida that they are moving to, that they can’t take their au pair there with them per agency restrictions.

HRHM April 21, 2014 at 11:12 am

Unfortunately, you can’t change sponsors (agencies) in the middle of a J-1 visa. So you have two choices – let the agency know you are relocating and start now trying to find her a new HF. Hopefully she’ll be successful and you can get a prorated refund for the remainder of your year. OR – since the gap between moving and her return home is only 2-3 months, don’t tell the lcc and agency you are moving, move with her in tow and send her back once a month for meetings. I know this sounds crazy but it may work out fine – depending on how many friends your AP has in her cluster and whether they can keep quiet for 2 months.

We actually had a reverse situation – CC decided after our first AP that they would no longer support APs in our remote area of PA. At that time, we already had matched with an AP to arrive in March and would be moving to the DC area in July. We told our LCC and CC that the new AP would be living in the DC area (DH was already there and so we had a bedroom for the new LCC to see, although she never actually came to look) and she flew into Dulles and then we drove to PA (she was aware of the issue prior to coming and matched with us knowing she would be living in PA) We drove to DC in April and June for meetings (they were on the weekend) and then moved at the end of June. No one either noticed or cared. The AP got to start on time, we had uninterruped child care and we transitioned seamlessly. No harm, no foul.

I realize that this is not within the letter of the law, but I feel that is within the spirit. She still gets agency support for the short remainder of her year and gets to remain with a family she knows and loves and values her presence.

German Au-Pair April 21, 2014 at 11:30 am

Are the meetings required with that agency? I didn’t attend most of my meetings so my AD certainly wouldn’t have noticed if I’d moved some time during my stay. If the AP is okay with it, I also don’t really see a problem.

TexasHM April 21, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Interexchange is nationwide, but just like other larger agencies they may not have enough demand in an area to hire an LC and LCs have to be within an hours drive I believe so you could have had this problem at any agency. Yes, at interexchange the cluster mtgs are mandatory (love that) and generally very good from the AP feedback I’ve gotten. It creates community (vs our previous large agency where the APs rarely ever attended so hard for newbies to meet the other APs or families) and I like that the agency holds the APs accountable. They usually cover childcare related topics at each meeting as well (pool safety reminders in summer, homesickness tips going into the holidays, etc).
Anyway, why do you think she will have a low rematch likelihood? I have a hard time understanding how you think she’s fantastic but won’t find another family. Have you asked the agency where the nearest cluster is?
You can’t change her J1 sponsoring agency. It looks like interexchange has an LC role open in Miami right now, any chance you are moving there? :)

Kassie April 21, 2014 at 4:25 pm

I think her rematch chance is low since it’ll only be for two months for the new family. She wants to go home in nov, and we’d want her until end of August.

Bummer to know all agencies have this limitation.

The cluster meetings are required. I was really hoping the visa was transferable.

TexasHM April 21, 2014 at 4:33 pm

You never know. There are family emergencies, burnout APs, etc. it is what it is and you have to do what is best for you all. Since it’s this much notice I would sell the agency on setting up a cluster esp if you plan to be in the program for years to come. I’m guessing not going to Miami area?

SoonToBe April 20, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Hallo everyone!!
How long in advance do HF usually start looking for a new au pair and do you take au pairs in early December?

Host Mom in the City April 21, 2014 at 10:49 am

I’ve always heard that December is not a great time to be looking for an au pair and I think a lot of host families will likely hesitate to take someone right before the holidays. But surely there will be some who will. I’ve heard a wide range of how early host families start looking – from six months or more ahead, to the more “normal” range according to most things I’ve read of about 3-4 months ahead of arrival time.

We personally start looking at around five months ahead, but we’re pretty slow matchers, and we shoot to be matched at about three months before arrival. It’s worked well for us for three au pairs now, but this does vary considerably by host family.

Seattle Mom April 21, 2014 at 3:13 pm

We took our first 2 AP’s in early December. It’s just the way the timing worked out with my job- I was hired in early November and we matched almost immediately after that.

So for the first AP it was a rush decision, and we got very lucky and had a great AP.

Second time around I had more time, matched in August or September (don’t remember exactly) and didn’t do a very good job of matching- there were red flags that I didn’t recognize, and the AP turned out to be a bad fit for our family. So she came to us Nov 30th, was in rematch in early January and left Jan 10th. Now we get APs in January and it works better for us. It is awkward to spend the holidays with a new AP, especially if it turns out to be someone who you know isn’t going to work out. Plus I do think there are more APs looking to leave in January.

But looking at it from the other side- if you are available to leave in December that may give you an edge- there is not a lot of supply that time of year so you may have your pick of families, although I imagine there are fewer families than too.

HM Reality Check April 20, 2014 at 2:45 pm

I apologize for my aggressive tone earlier. I thought I toned it down, apparently not enough.

But has everyone forgotten about how legislation tried to lump the J1 au pair visas in with the rest of the immigration reform? Or the recent post about a father’s concern of the motives for openers coming to this country? There are people in in this country, people in Washington who want this program shut down. The Au pair program is under close scrutiny.It is these people who fraudulently trying to abuse the system that will give them the ammunition needed.

The audacity to come on this site asking for help to beat the system, whether it be naïveté or reconnaissance really burns me up.

When we well-meaning house moms, so politely point out that the errors in their ploys , we are unwittingly give them valuable information that helps them come up with work-arounds to the safeguards for this program.

The au pair program is not, and never has been a program for the internationally lovelorn! I apologize if my tone seems harsh, but this is a serious issue. People The HFs & APs who violate the spirit of cultural exchange ,who try to manipulate the system for personal uses, or stay in the country illegally, jeopardize the program future for everyone.

skny April 20, 2014 at 5:42 pm

i understood it was not for her, but someone she knew… But i guess i get the point…I do also believe the program needs to be revised, but that is a completely different topic

CAAP April 20, 2014 at 9:58 pm

HM Reality Check from your recent comments it is clear you did not read my question properly as A: I in no way was asking for help to beat the system and B: I myself am in the US legally thank you very much.

midwest aupair April 20, 2014 at 10:26 pm

I think she knows that, but it could be possible that you pretend to be the friend, but in real you ARE the person that wants to stay under those conditions mentioned, or that you would let you friend know what other HM suggested.

CAAP April 20, 2014 at 11:13 pm

I’m not suggesting and nor have I wanted any information on how to beat to system, I simply posed the question of my friends idea and was wondering if it was possible or likely to be successful. I have not said “please tell me what she can do so I can help her live in the US illegally.”
All I asked was that surely HF’s have to prove they have children regardless of what agency you are with.

CAAP April 20, 2014 at 11:14 pm

And no I don’t think she does know that given the statement she made.

midwest aupair April 20, 2014 at 11:20 pm

Well i guess if you want to know if you need to show a birth certificate etc. i would just call or e-mail the agency. Then you can also ask them if kids have to be present for the visit etc.

CAAP April 21, 2014 at 1:03 am

Very suspicious? Oh jeez think what you like I don’t need to prove anything to you two and my question has been answered more than enough by all the other lovely posters and I got the answers I was looking for and suspected.

HM Reality Check April 20, 2014 at 11:29 pm

CAAP- I re-read the i first post.
The question asked is essencially ‘would this scam work’ and ‘why or why not’.
Sorry. Not buying it, whatever the back story for asking this is.

midwest aupair April 20, 2014 at 11:36 pm

Yup, I totally agree with you… It is very suspicious…

Host Mom in the City April 21, 2014 at 8:02 am

I see your point, and reading over the question, it does sound like the poster knows an awful lot about her friend’s situation. Either way, and having had experience with two different major agencies, I see no way this scam would work and I see tons of consequences for the “au pair.”

I think I’m naive in just how many people might take advantage of a host family’s kindness to get what they want. I’ve heard a number of situations that really concern me with continuing with the program, and I admit it’s a huge reason I’m so hesitant to select a fourth when our current au pair leaves in September. It just seems like a huge crap shoot right now and I don’t think the agencies are acting in good faith either.

A Brit AP Abroad April 20, 2014 at 4:01 pm

A couple of FB groups for Au Pairs which I think everyone should know about and don’t mind me sharing – one is general amusement (and a brilliant contrast to Au Pair Confessions) and the other is sharing ideas for activities etc – there are au pairs from lots of countries and in lots of countries, so hundreds of lovely ideas to do :)

Host mom by the sea April 20, 2014 at 10:39 pm

So we are currently trying to decide whether to stay in the program. We have had a very lovely but extremely IMMATURE AP. Great with the kids which is all that matters.

But we have had a string of problems with car breakdowns, added household chores for me because of extra messes. and general stress.

I am so worried about looking for another AP because I feel like its just luck of the draw. Any advice or encouragement either way would really help. We have an infant who can’t really tell us what happens during the day!

HRHM April 21, 2014 at 12:44 am

Have you thought about an Extraordinaire? I myself haven’t had one but we are switching to APIA in July because I have had a series of mediocre APs and I’m tired of feeling like I can never get what I paid for. Several HMs here have professed their love for the Extraordinaire program, so we are making the switch. Just a thought.

TexasHM April 21, 2014 at 12:57 am

We were with APIA previously, saw two families get extraordinaires and both were literally burnouts and the worst APs we’ve seen in YEARS. I think the hours of experience do not make a great AP and that the screening and expectation setting are paramount which is why we left APIA and went to Interexchange and the difference has been dizzying. Interexchange doesn’t have an extraordinaire concept, but our current rock star AP is a nurse with ER experience. I have seen about a half dozen families switch to Interexchange and all have raved about the difference in quality of customer service and the AP candidates themselves so I think being a non-profit makes a world of difference. They are very involved in helping you match and they do everything possible to be realistic with both sides and prevent rematches. I am friends with an ex-APIA LCC and she told me she never met an Extraordinaire she would have paid more for and wished the designation didn’t exist. She also said many had misrepresented their skills and hours to get the designation so they could make more money. Yuck.

CAAP April 21, 2014 at 1:15 am

TexasHM I just want to add a little bit to your post if you don’t mind :) I’m an ‘extraordinaire’ AP from APIA and began looking into becoming an AP during the last year of my schooling last year. When signing up with APIA I was honestly a little shocked at what seemed to be either laziness or incompetence with the program as I know for a fact that only one of my references was called and the paperwork I either had to photocopy or fill out was not thoroughly looked through or investigated further by APIA. For instance if I had misrepresented my education or skills then how would that be fair on the HF is paying more for me because of expectation of said skills! I was also shocked to be honest that there was no extra “proof” needed or asked of me. I have made many friends here who are “regular” au pairs and they are absolutely fantastic, more vigilant, caring and conscientious workers than other extraordinaire’s I have come in contact with.

ExAuPairGermany April 21, 2014 at 3:42 am

I am an Interviewer for APIA in Germany and at least for this country I can say that we do it differently than you said, CAAP.

We have to do three reference checks and at least one childcare reference has to be from the Kindergarten/school etc where you are working. This is non- negotiable and will definitely be checked. Moreover everyone who applies as an AP extraordinaire has to upload their school report so we can check if they are really becoming a childcare professional.

I can only speak for the girls I have interviewed but they were truly lovely, experienced and full of ideas. None of them was burned out.

German Au-Pair April 21, 2014 at 11:34 am

My experience with APIA is that they are very thorough in interviewing and calling the references. APC -not so much.

Host Mom in the City April 21, 2014 at 8:48 am

TexaxHM and I are always the “point-counterpoint” on extraordinaires :) My sample is size is only three, so take it for what it’s worth, but we’ve had the complete opposite experience from TexasHM with our extraordinaires. Our LCC, when she first came to see us before our first au pair even arrived and looked at our match, said “oh! You have a German extraordinaire – you’ll have zero issues.”

And indeed, we didn’t. Great first year with an extraordinaire that jumped right in, wanted to feel useful, had a ton of fun and creative ideas with the kids, knew enough about child development to properly engage with the kids in a respectful way, was just generally wonderful right from the beginning. Second au pair was a non-extraordinaire, and well, I’ve posted at length about her before, but she was awful. Went back to the extraordinaire program for our third and she is just as wonderful as our first was.

The difference based on our experience was twofold – one, was start-up training. Both of my extraordinaires hit the ground running, just “got it,” jumped right in and did what needed to be done, and I never worried a bit. My non-extraordinaire needed TONS of training all throughout the year, never took initiative, and never really seemed to understand what I needed or what the kids needed. Secondly, the extraordinaires were here to have a gap year, yes, but also truly to learn and grow and take the experiences – English and child care – to apply to well-planned future career plans. My second au pair was clearly here to party and have fun with a little babysitting on the side.

And finally, I feel like both of the extraordinaires felt special in some way and also, felt like living up to the expectation that they were an elite group. They were well worth the extra cost, and I feel like the $250 a week is much more in-line with what au pairs should be paid anyway. I also like that it makes it much easier to search. At any time, there’s about 20 extraordinaires, which is much more manageable to me than searching through 400 applications, 350 of whom have only done occasional evening babysitting.

So I would say the extraordinaires have been well worth it and I seriously hesitate to go back to a non-extraordinaire. The fees are getting higher and higher though, and that’s where my hesitation is for this coming year. I’m happy to pay the au pair the $1,000/month directly, but the fees this year are $1,100 more per year than the already-really-high non-extraordinaire fees. Again, I would have paid five times that not to have to go through the misery that was our second year, but we’ll see.

Host Mom in the City April 21, 2014 at 8:54 am

I will also add that it’s not a substitute for thorough checking, as you should do with any au pair. The designation has nothing to do with driving ability, personality match, interest/experience with kids your kids age, etc. We continue to check references, ask tons of questions, etc. just like we would with a non-extraordinaire.

Dorsi April 21, 2014 at 2:12 pm

I have often been a defender of the Extraordinaire program. We have had 6 APs — 4 regular and 2 Extra. The second extraordinaire was our first flameout. She qualified for the title due to completion of a two year vocational track after high school. This involved 13 weeks of full time care with kids in an institutional setting. In retrospect, this did not make her qualified for managing three kids and their assorted needs. She did not thrive, alone with small children. She was not interested in planning their days, rolling around on the floor with them, etc.

TexasHM April 21, 2014 at 3:42 pm

I have no doubt there are excellent extraordinaires out there I just think that going to that program with the assumption you will get a rock star AP is like assuming all APs are great. Although you have a great point about having to go through less profiles although honestly switching to interexchange helped that immensely. Their placement coordinators are amazing and the two profiles they sent me in rematch were better than any I ever saw at APIA. I guess my point is that if you do the proper screening in the first place you don’t need the designation and there are fantastic APs (our current inc) that would not have hit the designation anyway so why pay more to potentially get less or pay more to get the same level of candidate. CAAP I appreciate your candor and you’re not the first AP that I’ve heard this from although it does vary widely by country as well so sounds like maybe German extraordinaires might be worth looking into! ;). Although I also argue using experience as a major criteria is a mistake and that tends to be what I think people are doing when they self restrict to that level of a program.

Host Mom in the City April 21, 2014 at 4:01 pm

I completely agree, as I said above, that you still have to vet extensively. Experience is just one of the many many things we look for, and there are even Extraordinaires who don’t have the experience we’re looking for, so I don’t even interview all the Extraordinaire candidates that I see. It is not as though you can just grab any one of them and be set. Believe me, I wish we could go back to the regular au pair program, but I am so hesitant because of our bad (and only) experience. Honestly, I think I’m paying the $4,000 extra a year just to have less stress at matching time.

There are certainly au pairs that meet extraordinaire requirements from the regular pool, but I seem never to be able to jump on those ones, and have to weed through hundreds of unqualified candidates to find them. I don’t know about anyone else, but I hate hate hate the matching process. I find it to be so stressful. I think that’s how we ended up with our bad au pair actually – I just wanted it over with.

I’ve signed up with Interexchange and think I will start asking the matching coordinators to put candidates in my account. So far when I’m looking through passport, I’m not seeing any better mix of experience than I do at APIA.

TexasHM April 21, 2014 at 12:47 am

We had this exact situation, so hard! We didn’t feel she would ever do anything that would put the kids in jeopardy but oh my the stress it put on our marriage (always talking about APs latest drama or dilemma or fixing whatever needed to be fixed or wasn’t done) and I’m telling you, I won’t tolerate it again. This kind of thing can’t be taught, if you see a pattern (you are) then I personally would look to rematch. As a first time HM I didn’t have the backbone to do it or the experience (I thought APs in rematch were there by their own doing now I know at least as many get crappy HPs). If you are comfortable I would tell her she’s a lovely gal and you will give her a positive reference as long as she puts forth effort during rematch. Ours never did master the work duties and could not demonstrate herself to be a great driver even after great lengths, that should have been our rematch conversation.
Yours could be sit her down, tell her concerns and make 2 week action plan – get LC in this convo to manage and if she rises to the occasion you both win! If she doesn’t you gave her a roadmap to success she didn’t take. :(. There are great candidates in rematch, it’s not luck of the draw and in fact I know of an IQ AP that a fellow HM on here is housing, if you ping me at I will connect you if interested (if you decide to rematch of course, not before). Also at that email for moral support! :). Been there! Didn’t realize how far my standards had slid and how much it hurt my marriage and took away from time with my kids until it was over! Rematch doesn’t make her a bad AP or you a bad HM. If you hire someone and they can’t fulfill the duties or damage your business, property etc on multiple occasions you don’t keep that person because they are nice. Or if you are me you do and then regret the heck out of it for years!

HM Reality Check April 21, 2014 at 8:28 am

Great suggestions THM. Someone recently referred to these lackluster Au pairs as ‘meh’ APs. We call them ‘Coasters’- and they are in the regular workforce too.
Personable people who everyone really likes, but who do the bare minimum at their job. They coast along not really doing anything particularly wrong but not really doing anything great either.

There are far more great au pairs out there that will overshadow the exasperation and exhaustion of this experience.
Good luck!

Host mom by the sea April 21, 2014 at 5:00 am

Texas HM you hit the nail on the head thanks

EnglishAuPair April 21, 2014 at 6:35 am

I am a future au pair doing the Au Pair Extraordinaire programme and am waiting to match with a family. My question is do you or any other host families you know dismiss candidates because they are a Christian, if you are not? I am a Christian, but I am not the type of person who would talk about my faith with someone doesn’t share the same beliefs as me, if they didn’t want me to. So for me I wouldn’t see it as a problem being with a non-Christian family, but I don’t know if families see it the same way, maybe because they don’t want me influencing the children with my views? (which I would not do as that is really disrespectful to the parents).

Antonia April 21, 2014 at 7:48 am

I was wondering the same thing! I am hoping to become an au apir when I turn 18 in June this year and I am an atheist but I have absolutely no problem with any religion at all and would never want to cause offence to anyone but I don’t think I could live with a family who is really religious and I really don’t mean any offence when I say this but such as a family who attends church every Sunday or follows strict religious practice’s
My cousin who runs her own day care from home is Christian and we get along great, our religious differences never cause us to clash :)
I was wondering would I have less of a chance of being chosen by a host family because I am athiest or am I just being a bit paranoid?:)

Midwest au pair April 21, 2014 at 8:17 am

My host family chose me because I was a Christian. They looked into many application to hopefully find someone that is Christian. They wanted someone that shared their belief and that taught Sunday school, or youth group. When I matched with them and saw that they were active in a church, I wasn’t afraid at all to live with them because of our common belief. It worked out great!!

anonymous this time April 21, 2014 at 9:46 am

I’m an atheist and an HM. Atheists are not widely accepted in the US, or treated with the same respect as people who just believe in a different religion. I don’t know how much trouble it will cause you with matching, but I avoid disclosing it in my workplace and among my neighbors because it’s hard to predict who will react badly. We just say that we don’t attend church and that satisfies most people. HFs are probably more open-minded than the general population and you may find a good fit with a family that identifies as belonging to a particular group but never really attends religious services. These are the people that have Easter egg hunts for their kids but don’t go to church on Easter Sunday.

Best of luck to you!

Antonia April 21, 2014 at 10:20 am

Thankyou and I think I am part of that group :)
I like to celebrate Christmas and all the things that go along with it and Easter too, I still like to Easter egg hunts with my family :)

anonymous this time April 21, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Instead of relying on how the HF describe themselves, you may want to ask them about their favorite holidays and how they celebrate. It will give you insight into just how religious the family really is. Also, most non-Christians here celebrate Christmas in all the non-religious aspects. It’s the most important holiday by far in my family. :)

Dorsi April 21, 2014 at 1:52 pm

We are also atheist (with a sprinkling of paganism — we just enjoyed Easter with a lot of talk of rebirth, eggs symbolism and the like). A lot of Au Pairs write in their letters that they are Christian (Catholic/Evangelical/whatever) but they tolerate everyone because they know there is no right way to know God. There is an assumption that everyone believes in God in some way and the AP is okay with that. We speak very plainly about this during matching, because I worry about having an AP who thinks that “we don’t go to church” means “we love Jesus but don’t find time for worship.” We have had a wide spectrum of religion (atheist to charismatic), and all have meshed well with us, but they knew up front what the household would be like and that there was the expectation that they not share their faith with the children.

WarmStateMomma April 21, 2014 at 2:15 pm

When our child is old enough to pick up on these things, we will need to feel comfortable that the AP will not undermine our message. It’s easier to know I won’t be undermined if the AP shares my beliefs, but it’s not a dealbreaker.

I once passed on an exchange student who wanted to attend church 3 times a week because it would be too much of a hassle to arrange transportation. Instead, we ended up with a (great) kid who made the school sports team and had practice 4 times a week even farther away. Life is funny sometimes.

exaupair April 21, 2014 at 10:46 am

Screening for religion is screening for certain values that will correspond with family rules. One may be indifferent weather you are Christian, Atheist, Agnostic or anything else, but a devoted Christian family may expect you to live up to some rules they imply for every household member. The question is, would you be able to live with something you possibly haven’t experienced living with your parents, and I’m not talking about praying before meals here.
I was interviewed by a Christian Host Dad. While the Family didn’t expect me to attend Sunday service with them, they had rules about everyday life so that their daughters would understand what’s acceptable and what’s not. It was too hard for me to do a 180 and adjust their habits.

Antonia April 21, 2014 at 12:17 pm

I feel the same way about what you have said about values. Thankfully my parents have brought me up with good morals and good manners :) I don’t think I could live with a family that needed me to be or act a certain way within reason. For example I can understand a family asking an au pair who smokes to not smoke in front of the children and to do it when they are not around but not to require them to go to church with them every Sunday or live a certain way everyday to comply with their religious practice’s.

HM Reality Check April 21, 2014 at 8:15 am

I don’t think religion is a problem for most families, aside from those who are very very religious. As long as you are not trying to convert the children, or your religion doesn’t cause the HF extra work like having to drive you to church every night, or needing extra time off, it would not be a problem for most HF. One of our au pairs best friend worked for a Jewish family. She had the added cultural benefit of experiencing their rich culture and holidays. It made her HCs very proud to intoduce their traditions. She would come then to our house to celebrate Christmas and Easter and any Christian holidays.

Emerald City HM April 21, 2014 at 11:32 am

I’m agnostic and we have matched with christian and catholic au pairs. We let them know that there are churches they would be welcome to attend, but we would not be attending with them. We let the au pairs application select this for us, if she says that her religion is very important to her and that she goes to church every Sunday with her family, we won’t even interview her mostly because we do think she might be uncomfortable in our house if she doesn’t feel that she is able to talk about her beliefs and would be better with a family that shares the same values.

EnglishAuPair April 21, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Thanks for all the replies :) I have gone to church my whole life, I lead Sunday school at my church and I went to a church secondary school, so Christianity has played a big part in my life. At the same time I now go to college where I am the only Christian in my class , but I get on really well with everyone and I am very open minded to other peoples beliefs. I think if I did match with a Christian family it would be beneficial as I think It would make things a bit easier, but I would be more than happy to go with a non-Christian family if I felt like they are a good fit for me. Fingers crossed I find a good family :)

NoVA Twin Mom April 21, 2014 at 1:25 pm

My family is quite religious, so you may well find a family that has traditions that are like the ones you described. However, if you spend a lot of time in your application talking about your church experiences – and you absolutely should if they’re important to you – you may also want to include the sentence you wrote about being at college and getting along with everyone and being open minded. That way host families will see that you’re considering other perspectives too and perhaps open to situations not like your own.

Taking a Computer Lunch April 21, 2014 at 10:04 pm

As a humanistic Jewish family with a special needs child, DH and I prefer candidates who have some experience in caring for special needs children, show a preference for children in their educational background, can swim, and have had a driver’s license for over a year. We don’t pay a lot of attention to the candidate’s religion, unless a) they make it clear that they won’t consider working on their preferred day of worship at all or b) give us cause for concern that they might attempt to convert our children (some candidates have very strongly worded host family letters or the interviewer’s notes indicate some issues). Just as I would consider it illegal for a potential boss to ask me questions about my religion in a job interview, I don’t discuss religion when I interview potential candidates by email, telephone or Skype. Most of our APs have been Christian, a couple of others have been non-Christians. All have been welcome in our house.

TexasHM April 21, 2014 at 8:45 am

We are a practicing active Christian family. One of the first questions I ask in interviewing is if the AP is religious, if they plan on attending church here, etc. I don’t ask because we want to make sure they match us in faith, but because I want them to be comfortable in our home and support our practices with the kids. This means we go every Sunday (they are always welcome but never required or tracked), we pray at meals and bedtime and we openly discuss our faith in conversation, with friends, etc.
We almost matched with an atheist last round but here was the deal – she was from a country where the vast majority are atheists, had no disdain or distrust of organized religion and while she was clear she did not think she would have any interest she did ask if she could go once just to see what it was about and was willing to bow her head at dinner in prayer and support our faith to the kids. We would have matched but timing was off.
I would love to find an active Christian AP! We just haven’t yet. We’ve had two ex-Catholics and current is an Easter/Christmas catholic so all three definitely considered non religious. I have a HM friend who I think is honestly an atheist and I promise you she would love an atheist but it’s not a criteria for us either way. The criteria is whether or not they are open minded and supportive of our values and would be comfortable in our home.

Host Mom in the City April 21, 2014 at 9:02 am

We are a non-religious family and feel exactly the way TexasHM does – would happily match with anyone of any belief system (and have interviewed all over the place in terms of religious affiliation) as long as the au pair seemed as though she would be fine with what we do (or don’t do, as the case may be). I admit, though, that if someone seems very very religious (e.g., mentioning it in detail in the first sentence of their letter, signing off with a religious salutation, etc.), we usually pass. I wouldn’t be opposed, but it just worries me that we would be way way too different.

Seattle Mom April 21, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Same here.

I am a barely-practicing Jew married to a non-practicing Catholic. Our kids would tell you they are Jewish but don’t make them give up their Christmas tree or easter eggs!

I wouldn’t match with someone who is uncomfortable with that, but it doesn’t matter to me what they practice or believe. I also wouldn’t want someone who proselytizes their religion, but if they want to share their beliefs & practices with us that is cool. We have had Catholic and Buddhist APs so far.

Antonia April 21, 2014 at 9:22 am

Thankyou all for your feedback makes me feel a lot better now, I would definately be open to matching with a family of any religion as I think it would be quite a good learning experience and a good cultural exchange too :) I think I would be more comfortable with a family who wouldn’t try to convert me and I in turn wouldn’t try and do the same to them and just all live together butsharing our different views with each other :)

Host Mom in the City April 21, 2014 at 9:34 am

And isn’t that the point of the au pair program? It’s certainly one of my favorite things about it :)

Antonia April 21, 2014 at 9:37 am

Yes definately! :) I’m really looking forward to all and any family activites too. This will be one of the most important things I will look for in a host family, is to be part of it :)

HRHM April 21, 2014 at 11:22 am

My only advice is to be HONEST. You will find the right match for you if you are truthful about who you are. The worst thing that can happen is that you’ll be passed over by a family that you won’t be a good match for anyway. This is a blessing, not a tragedy.

Antonia April 21, 2014 at 11:34 am

Thanks for the advice :) I definately plan on being honest, I would hate to lie, match with a family based on lies and then have a horrible experience with a family that isn’t right for me and me not be the right au pair for them

M.R. April 21, 2014 at 9:51 am

NEW TOPIC – 2 questions:

Question 1: Do you find your APs like mine are rarely using traditional TV these days? They all seem to be using tablets, online content, Netflix etc.
Question 2: If you use a ROKU box for your APs TV please share tips with me as I am useless on technology stuff.
Background: We dont have a TV in our house except for 1 for the AP. We have a generous package of cable, with movie and international and sports channels for that AP TV. It is VERY expensive (with the taxes and everything even if I reduce the fancy package to a basic it is still about $50 a month) and I can no longer afford it. I have found that while that was a popular perk a few years ago, ‘modern day’ APs use their laptops, netflix, streaming and dont really use old fashioned TVs.
I am looking at canceling cable and either (1) leaving the TV with whatever channels come free; and/or 2) buying a ROKU box instead. Roku is a 1 time big payment instead of many monthly bills. Somebody said you have to leave a credit card # attached to the ROKU – even though there are no monthly payments (you pay for and buy the box upfront), there is the option to use it like PAY PER VIEW to ‘buy’ or ‘add’ extra programs or services. I do not want to leave my credit card attached to a ROKU box an AP would be using exclusively. We have had too many issues in the past where APs ran up bills on things and we didnt realize til they had left. Do you ‘have’ to attach a credit card to the Roku? Is there a way I can buy the “Box”, and then leave it in the AP room and have the AP activate it with his/her own Credit or Debit Card if (s)he decides to use it?
We are getting a new AP maybe next month so i would like to have it in place before (s)he arrives.

WarmStateMomma April 21, 2014 at 10:25 am

We have a Roku, an $8/mo. Netflix account and an Amazon Prime account. APs can watch anything free on Amazon Prime on the TVs (they don’t have the code to order anything that costs $) and anything on Netflix. HD just switched our internet provider to one with a lower monthly cost, free extremely basic cable (10 channels or so) and free HBO Go.

I don’t believe we pay anything to maintain the Roku; it just makes Netflix and Amazon (and others like PBS) work on our TVs. There are some services that you can choose to pay for, but it’s not like buying a pay-per-view movie in a hotel room. You need a code or something.

Momma Gadget April 21, 2014 at 10:30 am

Our APs have used both.

Keep in mind you still need Wi-fi. If you don’t have good/fast internet service, it can be a problem, when multiple people are trying to surf the net etc while the AP is trying to stream.

We have been considering cutting the Cable, but have not done so yet mainly because of HBO shows I am addicted to, and the sports my husband likes to watch. We do have Apple TV in our bedroom, which I got as a gift.( I would have preferred the ROKU).

I don’t think you need to give Roku a credit card- There is a faq site that seemed really helpful :

WestMom April 21, 2014 at 11:13 am

Our APs watch very little TV. They might sit down with the kids to watch a cartoon everyonce in a while. Or a movie on a Friday night… We did have on AP who liked to watch LOST with me, and another who watched Game of thrones with DH. But overall, they watched series on their laptops.

Your TV package is quite generous… I am not sure you actually need to offer anything more than a fast internet connection. Roku won’t give you much more access than what she will get from her laptop anyway. If you have a Netflix or Amazon Prime account, you can share the account with her without requiring the actual TV and Roku.

We do have a Roku and love it, but we use it primarily as a family TV watching experience (movies, series). If I were a 22yr old watching TV, I would probably prefer to watch on my tablet/laptop while laying in bed with a pair of headphones!

Len Mullen April 21, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Hi. I’m not an AP mom, but I host that ‘helpful Roku FAQ site’, and I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Momma Gadget is right that you need very good internet access for any of these streamers to work and they work better when the internet is less busy. The ‘goodness’ has to be from the source right to your tablet or roku. If you plan on going wireless, you also have to be concerned about interference from neighbors. The Roku 3 is not welcome in my home because it used WiFi to stream audio to the headphone jack on the remote and to stream commands from the remote to the Roku. Each one of these sets up its own wireless lan. If it happens to compete with your data network and you get a lot of errors, your router will slow things down (which is no fun when you are streaming video). Bluetooth remotes cause problems to a lesser extent mostly because you are not streaming very much very often. If you get a streamer, it’s best to hard wire it to your router if possible.

I have a lot of streamers and really like the Roku. I prefer the Roku 2 XS. It is no longer being manufactured, but there are lots of refurbs available via ebay, woot, 1saleaday, and other outlets. Most of the refurbs are open box returns indistinguishable from new.

I don’t know where you all hail from, but you may want to check out broadcast television. We get 40 channels in my market. This is free and requires no network at all…

When we stream, it is mostly netflix. If you have good internet, netflix provides a LOT of value for $8 per month.

Right now, I like two streamers. I mentioned the Roku. Amazon has a new Fire TV which is pretty amazing. It supports parental controls so you can prevent your AP from buying stuff and FreeTime is coming in May. FreeTime lets you manage your kids’ access to content by rating and time. Worth a look.

If you are looking at a Roku, here are some of my free favorite channels…

ADC: Free movie channel
Amazon Cloud Player: Play all the free music Amazon sends my way
CNN: Includes CNN International Live for background news and information
Crackle: Sony’s FREE version of Netflix
CS50: Harvard Intro to Computer Science course
Comedy Time: ‘Play All’ makes for good background noise ‘Play All’ feature makes for a nice sports news channel
CNBC: Streaming business news for news and information
FoxNews: Stream from web site plus clips of popular shows with ‘Play All’
Kaplan College Prep: Help your kid with his SATs
Lecture Kings: Librivox audio box is hidden in a channel of university lectures
Now This News: MSNBC News mash up
Nowhere TV
Nowhere USB: Play files off usb drive
OVGuide: Free movie channel
PlayOn: has a lot of channels via plugins
Plex: has a lot of channels via plugins
Popflix Classic TV: 26 Men, Adventures of Robin Hood, The Beverly Hillbillies, Bonanza, Burns and Allen, Date with the Angels, Dragnet, Life with Elizabeth, The Lone Ranger, The Lucy Show, Man with a Camera, Petticoat Junction, Sherlock Holmes, Westerns, You Bet Your Life
PubDHub: The stuff your dad used to reminisce about — ancient cartoons, PSAs, commercials, and movies
Smithsonian: Better than the Discovery channel
TWiT: Steve Gibson, Leo Laporte, and others talk tech
WSJ Live: WSJ had good election coverage
YouTube (VideoBuzz for Roku 2 XS)

Of these, Crackle, Now This News, PlayOn (side load), Plex, Smithsonian, TWit, and YouTube are also on Fire TV. All of these are better on FTV except Plex which looks better on FV but cannot yet stream continuously.

HRHM April 21, 2014 at 11:27 am

We have wifi and bunny ears on our main tv. No cable TV service at all. We never watch TV and only occasionaly watch movies on the weekend. (no screen time M-F in our house)

Our AP tv has a bluray player with smart features, so she can stream if she chooses to. Our current AP got her own Netflix account and frequently borrows disks from the library. None of our APs have been big TV watchers. No one has complained thus far…

Host Mom in the City April 21, 2014 at 11:31 am

I think you’re overthinking it :) We don’t have a TV in the house, and obviously therefore don’t have cable. We do have a Netflix account and Amazon Prime, and offer those to our au pairs. All three have watched things on their laptops exclusively. No issues at all.

Emerald City HM April 21, 2014 at 11:42 am

Do be aware that Amazon Prime on a computer does not allow for disabling the 1-click feature. It is disabled on blu-ray devices and TV’s with internet, and no offense meant here to au pairs, but I wouldn’t let one use the Amazon Prime account on a computer. I myself have accidentally “purchased” a whole season of Voyager because they won’t disable that stupid feature and my laptop mouse is terrible.

Emerald City HM April 21, 2014 at 11:43 am

I mean Amazon Instance Video. You are able to disable 1-click purchase for goods, but not for video. It’s terrible.

Seattle Mom April 21, 2014 at 3:43 pm

We have an AP TV with bunny ears, and a TV in the basement that the family uses (AP can too if she wants). No cable, no netflix, nothing paid. We do have wifi.

We have had 4 APs so far. First AP watched a lot of TV and was happy with network TV and whatever she got on her laptop. Second AP watched less TV. Third AP requested that we remove the TV from her room so she would have more room for her stuff, and she never watched TV in the basement. Fourth AP did not want us to replace the TV, but occasionally uses the one in the basement (especially when we have her work on “date nights”). We also have a pretty extensive video collection down there.

We’re thinking about just getting rid of the AP TV- it takes up space, and nowadays it’s easy to get a freebie if you don’t require a flat screen.

So I don’t think you need to spend any money on TV for APs.. unless you really want to.

Mimi April 21, 2014 at 4:10 pm

We also only have basic cable (15 channels?), but we have 3 roku players in our house. We use it for Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. The AP machine has no account info at all while the other two are protected with a pin that prevents purchases. We show the AP how to sign up for a free 30 day trial of Netflix and talk about the other paid channels they might like. The rest is up to them unless they want to watch tv with the rest of the brood. We’ve only had 1 AP do this and when she realized her viewing history was available to the kids (before the profiles feature was available on the roku3), she quickly picked up her own $8/month subscription.

SoonToBe April 21, 2014 at 10:40 am

Hallo everyone.
This question goes out to all host parents. I am a soon to be au pair and I was wondering approx. how long ahead of time do you guys start searching for a new au pair and do you take in new au pairs early in December before Christmas and New Years?

SoonToBe April 21, 2014 at 10:55 am

I’m sorry, I see now that my earlier attempt to post a question went through.

Momma Gadget April 21, 2014 at 1:53 pm

STB- It is possible, and other families have had success with this time frame.
We used to be on the schedule of having APs start early December. It is such an emotionally charged time, that it proved to be dissasterous for us with out of country APs.

CanadaHostMom April 21, 2014 at 12:59 pm

Hi Again, I posted this questions earlier but it got caught in moderation… I’m reposting with the hope of getting some of your incredibly valuable insight :)

We’re in the process of interviewing for our second au pair. We’ve narrowed it down to a male au pair and a female au pair, from the same home country. I feel both would be great au pairs, but have different strengths. To the host families with more experience than me… Which would you prioritize: more ‘organizational’ and independent living experience OR sports minded and engaging in active play? We have two school aged, very active children. I do feel both au pairs have strong childcare experience and exceed all of our must-have requirements. Any thoughts or advice? We can’t seem to come to a decision. Any strategies for helping to make a final choice? Thanks in advance!!!

Momma Gadget April 21, 2014 at 1:44 pm

We are major fans of the bro-pair. Because there is less drama, and they tend to take things less personally, especially when the HC are evolving into (volatile) teens. There are fewer families willing to host male au pairs, they tend to be pretty dedicated to making things work. I will also say that the 2 bro pairs we had were both more confident drivers, and took better care of a cars that any of our female au pairs.

When our kids were younger, female Au pairs were great at nurturing them and doing crafts. Now that our kids are older, they need less cuddling, and more action to release some of that energy. The male Au pairs we have had have been much more apt to take the kids outside, kick a ball around, take them for a hike or to the gym.We never had any issues with a bro-pair being too self conscious to put on a bating suit , (or wearing one that was too skimpy for the town pool)- they just jumped right in .

Though female Au pairs vary also in their strengths and weaknesses, If you are a neat-nick, you may need to do some extensive training with household tasks for a bro pair. We are a very casual family. We had one who was proactive in keeping things tidy, and the second one, even with our being easy going on this, drove me crazy with not cleaning up after himself or doing the minimal house hold chores required. One was a great cook.One could barely heat a frozen chicken tender.

Be careful with “organizational” and “independent”- some times that can also mean “rigid” and “uninvolved ” with your children.

If you don’t mind training some of the household responsibilities, I really would highly recommend a male au pair for very active children.
Good Luck!

CanadaHostMom April 21, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Thank you for sharing your experience… those are all excellent points!(especially the swimming pool one: a struggle we’re having with current female au pair).

TexasHM April 21, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Do you have boys or girls? Our two younger kiddos are girls that love to dress up, dance, do makeup etc so that rules out bro pairs for us (that plus hubs says absolutely not – he’s super protective of us girls rational or otherwise). If however I had three preteen boys I would fight my husband for the right to have a bro pair. :). I don’t like to generalize so I will say we had a female AP slob and I’m sure there are detail oriented bro pairs too! In final buzzkill thoughts, it concerns me a little that you are having trouble deciding. The times I have struggled between two candidates it was because both were great APs but not our puzzle piece match in some way. Our two rock star APs I knew 300% with both had no doubts. I’m not saying you’re settling or haven’t dug deep enough but I hope you’re not settling and that you’ve dug deep enough. :)

CanadaHostMom April 21, 2014 at 3:27 pm

@TexasHM… we have one of each, but our girl is very much a sport loving, rough-housing little spit-fire….no princesses or dance lessons anywhere in her set of interests. I’m actually comfortable having a male caregiver for them, as is my husband (as well as both kids) at this point.

I absolutely see your point about being 300% sure… with our current, generally awesome au pair, we knew right away. As of now, for both au pair candidates, I keep looking for a deciding factor between the two but can’t come up with one. My pro/con lists just aren’t cutting it. I’m making myself (and husband) crazy. When you say dig deeper, any suggestions on tactics?

WestMom April 21, 2014 at 3:39 pm

When in doubt, I would suggest having someone else interview and give you their honest opinion. Would your current AP be available to interview? Or maybe your LCC? Or perhaps a good family friend? We had one year where it was super difficult for us to choose between 3APs and it helped tremendously to get an honest second opinion…

Host Mom in the City April 21, 2014 at 3:46 pm

TexasHM has a good point – maybe neither is the one for you? Or, rational comparisons aside, is the one that you just feel in your gut is the one?

CanadaHostMom April 21, 2014 at 4:02 pm

If I was picking for me (make my life easier), I’d pick the girl au pair…. she clearly has more experience around the house without a lot of ‘coaching’ (ie could take on the kids’ laundry easily) and she has more driving experience. She was engaging with the kids on Skype and both kids have stated the liked talking to her. If bro-pair wasn’t an option, I’d have no hesitation about matching with her.

If I was picking for the kids, I would pick the bro-pair. He has more a spark to him, he has been googling NHL games to learn the rules (the kids’ sport of choice), he has offered to my son lots of fun things he can teach him and genuinely appears to look forward to doing it (not a sales pitch). Help around the house… I think he could hold a vacuum? (in other words, more ramp up work on my part).

Host Mom in the City April 21, 2014 at 4:09 pm

I’d definitely go with the female candidate based on this description. Both kids like her, she’s engaging with them, and she wouldn’t need a lot of coaching or driving practice. Sounds great.

Mimi April 21, 2014 at 4:20 pm

Tough choice! The tipping part for me would be what makes my life easier after the kids’ needs have been met. If they like both equally, cash in that chip for yourself. :) Good luck!

TexasHM April 21, 2014 at 3:53 pm

Depends on your criteria. My dare to match email tends to peel off the interview personalities of the APs and show me their true colors. Tell them your pro/con list and see how they respond. Definitely have current AP weigh in (assuming you trust her and have a great relationship). Don’t compare them to each other, tell them your concerns and see how they react. Be respectful but honest. Tell them the last thing you want is a rematch so you need to cover every base. Also shows them your handbook and concerns are real and won’t be brushed under a rug when they arrive. Also gives you a clue how they handle constructive criticism and conflict. Does he/she give up and just agree with you? I’d be concerned about resilience. Does he/she create an action plan to address concern? Shows initiative and maturity. Does he/she get combative? Shows insecurity, immaturity and that you will struggle to be able to give feedback on performance.

CanadaHostMom April 21, 2014 at 4:15 pm

You’re right… I think I need to stop comparing them to each other!!! (I just had a minor epiphany)

They’ve already both ‘passed’ the dare to match with us process, which is an excellent method to weed out the non-starters earlier in the process. You’ve got me thinking a final ‘challenge’ type email to gauge their individual responses against my concerns for each of them. Obviously the emails to each would be drastically different, but action plan / problem solving responses is what I’m hoping for :)

Angie host mom April 22, 2014 at 5:07 am

Hi! To avoid your dilemna is why we only interview one au pair at a time – we review a bunch against each other based on the profiles, but we pick one to talk to and make a go/no go decision on and then if we decide no we move on to another – otherwise you end up comparing against each other instead of just focusing on if you want this au pair in your house or not. We’re probably fairly unique in this, but we just can’t engage fully with an au pair candidate while still shopping others.

CanadaHostMom April 22, 2014 at 8:09 am

The concept of interviewing one at a time gives me an entirely other set of anxiety …. I’m always concerned about other “perfect au pair” that I might be missing out on. But, yes, I absolutely agree, I wouldn’t be caught in my current dilemma I was able to limit myself to one interview at a time! :)

Should be working April 22, 2014 at 11:37 am

I totally agree with Angie regarding one at a time. Comparing potential APs just makes it feel like there might be a better one out there, much more (to me) than just evaluating each on their own merits.

I am sure some sociology students out there should be studying this and comparing to internet dating. My friends who have done internet dating say that the feeling “but the next profile might be even better” makes it impossible to just like someone and feel right about him/her.

Angie host mom April 22, 2014 at 1:12 pm

We look at many in the pool but only pick one to interview at a time. I think it is just too hard to fully evaluate someone if you are thinking about someone else in the back of your mind. It’s like having two boyfriends….

NJmama April 22, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Wow this is so interesting! Have you ever decided to go with the first one you interviewed? I’m sort of in that situation now — I’ve emailed A LOT with a bunch of candidates (thanks to TexasHM’s advice) and it was amazing to see how they dropped off as the emails got more intense. We’ve had two great interviews with one candidate, and my kids love her. Just trying to decide if one interview candidate is enough, or if we should move ahead and interview a second.

I just want to say I’m learning so much on this site and wish I had found you years ago!

TexasHM April 21, 2014 at 4:21 pm

An AH HA moment! Love those. You’re dead on, let us know how it goes please and what you decide.

WarmStateMomma April 22, 2014 at 7:33 am

Just curious – what do APs usually call their HPs? Does it depend on the size of the age gap? We use first names.

CanadaHostMom April 22, 2014 at 8:12 am

We prefer to be called our first names. During the interview process I’ve been addressed as Mrs and ma’am – I always ask to be called by my first name, anything else feels too formal to me.

AussiePair April 22, 2014 at 11:31 am

I’ve always used first names, although if HP requested something different I guess I would adapt.

This also makes me think, what do you as HPs call your au pairs, and what do you have your kids call your au pairs. I’m guess this would also depend on location.

I have been called both by my first name (and a variant of it that the baby made up) and by Miss first name.

WarmStateMomma April 22, 2014 at 12:26 pm

We call the AP by her first name; the baby tries to do the same. :)

exaupair April 22, 2014 at 8:15 am

WarmStateMomma@ I used first names with all of my HFs regardless of the actualal age difference, mostly because this was the rule in my family home when I was little – we only used first names speaking speaking to parents, grandparents, aunties, cousins ect.

exaupair April 22, 2014 at 8:18 am

I accidentaly posted the same answer twice, can this one be possibly deleted? :-)

exaupair April 22, 2014 at 8:16 am

WarmStateMomma@ I used first names with all of my HFs regardless of the actual age difference, mostly because this was the rule in my family home when I was little – we only used first names speaking to parents, grandparents, aunties, cousins ect.

Taking a Computer Lunch April 22, 2014 at 12:39 pm

While we introduce ourselves by our first names, most of our au pairs have skirted the issue, unless they want to get our attention.

Angie host mom April 22, 2014 at 1:15 pm

First names. We’re in America.

We call our au pair by her first name, too, and so do the kids. The kids sometimes call former au pairs by wrong other former au pair names – which is better than the times I have slipped up and called current au pair by former au pair name!

London Mum April 22, 2014 at 3:31 pm

First names, I would hate to be called Mrs, much too formal. I like a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. My kids have always called the AP by her first name, or their own version of it if they find it difficult to say. I never think of the AP as a daughter but more as a good, younger, friend so first names seems natural to me. We are on AP #6 and this has never been an issue and 2 APs have remained good friends and still visit 4/5 years on!

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