Open Thread: April 26

by cv harquail on April 25, 2014


 Welcome to our weekend open thread! Be kind, and be patient with moderating this weekend– we are on a min-vacation in Quebec and the wifi at our auberge is simply awful. Awful as in “like 1997”– when wi~fi hardly existed.

Use this open thread to bring up any topic that’s been on your mind. This thread will stay open until Monday, April 28th or 100 comments, whichever comes first.

Fun fact: Last weekend’s open thread generated 25 pages of text.  !!!   ~cvh


Image:  Weaving In Threads


LondonMum April 26, 2014 at 5:06 am

I was just wondering, in US, how do you decide what the weekly wage should be for your au pair. Is it an hourly rate, does the agency tell you the amount or do you just decide yourself what seems fair? The wages here vary a lot and we decided to pay quite a high wage but I still think it’s very reasonable considering we have child care in the early morning, help with homework, cleaning, laundry, after school child care and 2 nights babysitting a week. Our au pair works 23 hours a week and we pay £110, how does that compare with US rates? We are looking for our next au pair for next year and I wondered if I should change the wage?

exaupair April 26, 2014 at 10:58 am

London is expensive, but in my opinion no, you shouldn’t. I actually think you are quite generous LondonMum, my pocket money was about £90 for 20hrs per week(split shift) plus any additional babysitting was paid extra (I have been an AP couple of years ago), and can honestly say I scored a pretty good deal with that particular Family., compared with some other APs in the area.
I think you should stick to £110 for one reason, if you offer more you might start attracting au pairs who will want to be with your family for the wrong reasons – 23 hrs only, plenty of time to explore a big city, and plenty of cash to spend, it’s a recipe for an ultimate party animal in your house. Your offer is good enough, don’t make it too good.

caring hp April 26, 2014 at 2:37 pm

London mum, in usa the government and agency sets stipend at 195.75 to 250 per week depending on whether ap has childcare academic or teaching qualifications.
Plus we pay agency 400 matching fee, 350 application fee and between approximately 8000 -8500 annual fee. Plus we must pay transportation to school and 500-1000 (depends on kind of ap) towards education. Plus room board utilities and if we let AP drive, 400-2500 per yr car insurance (varies dep on violations accident record age area ) plus 2 weeks vacation plus extra domestic plane or train from the training and orientation school to our homes plus variable, somewhat optional costs (cell, museum tiks or vacations or meals out w family), plus our aps in usa cannot do non child related duties like they can in England (so we still have to pay a cleaner), plus if they damage our cars host has to pay up as agencies only let ap contribute max 500 even if its 100% something that they did on their personal time when u let the ap borrow your car as a favor. Plus we pay agency fees for the orientation and travel days (close to a week). Many families have to buy, finance and maintain an extra car to be in the program whereas if they hire a local nanny she often has her own car and a couple of thousand a year in mileage reimbursement costs a family a lot less than thousands more to buy/run an extra car.
All in all having an ap for the last 2 years cost me 13 to 15 an hour based on my expenses and simple math based on number of hours a week she worked.
I like the program cultural component and met some great people through it but a local nanny here is only 10 per hour so having an ap is a luxury with all the not so obvious costs. I guess u can also factor into your wages other benefits to you or her to calculate a fair figure. Good luck.

LondonMum April 26, 2014 at 3:32 pm

Wow! That is expensive, but I think the cultural exchange is very rewarding, and the convenience of being able to just leave in the morning to go to work without having to get the kids ready and drop them somewhere on my way, especially as I cycle to work, this would be a real issue for me. Also, my kids get 1:1 attention when they want it, not just in a mass of kids at an after school club.
I am lucky that we don’t need a driver and we don’t need to worry about visa payments etc as APs from EU countries are free to stay and work here as long as they like. I can see why US au pairs can quite normally work a 45 hour week judging by how much you pay. In UK there is a limit of 30 hours per week but they are allowed to do “light housework” so I usually ask them to clean the downstairs and I do the two top levels of the house.
It’s interesting how the programme is different in different countries.

WestMom April 26, 2014 at 6:46 am

LM- the wage is set by the agency for regular APs and is 195.75 per week. Many round up to $200.

Host Mom in the City April 26, 2014 at 5:01 pm

We did this for our one au pair, and since it’s only four dollars a week didn’t realize that means you end up paying $216.75 extra per year in stipend. Not a huge amount, but I think I’d rather save that and give it as a bonus rather than rolling into her check so she doesn’t even realize it’s that much extra per year.

Always Hopeful HM April 26, 2014 at 6:53 am

In the US, a minimum stipend is set by the US department of State. For regular au pairs, it is 195.75 per week. One agency has an “extraordinaire” category of APs (better childcare experience) for which the agency sets a stipend of $250 per week. We also pay a fee of several thousand dollars to the agency. I believe most families pay the established amounts, regardless of hours up to 45, although some may add a bit more to sweeten the pot, or may offer more in year 2.

LondonMum April 26, 2014 at 7:01 am

Thanks, that’s good to know, seems a similar rate though we don’t have big agency fees, I use a website anyway so I only pay €39 to join.

Multitasking Host Mom April 26, 2014 at 7:44 am

We are in the matching process again (third time looking for an au pair), and it always frustrates me how many au pairs do not respond to my initial and then second email. A simple response of “your family sounds crazy and I could not imagine a year with you” would be find since at least I know that they got my profile and looked at our family application. (Of course, I am exaggerating…a little.) I hate it that I feel like I am just getting the sounds of crickets instead. This time around, about a week ago, I contacted 6 au pairs who’s applications showed the skills I was looking for, and we only heard back from one. That potential AP was honestly my third favorite initially, but of course now she looks really good since she is actually responsive to my emails. Am I doing something wrong? Should I be phrasing my emails another way since right now my communication mostly just says “read our application and let us know if you want to talk further”? Is there another way I should be doing this such as cold calling…although I am not one for being put on the spot myself? Thanks for letting me complain and rant a little!!

TexasHM April 26, 2014 at 8:53 am

Funny I always thought it was because we didn’t live in the NE or CA! (Some have told us that after I stalk them into responding because it pisses me off. ;) ). Where are you located? Could it be that? I do wish the agencies would require the APs to follow an interview code of conduct. In fairness, all the non responders were when we were with APIA so they were likely shopping around like crazy at the time too. We’ve only been in rematch at interexchange so I can only speak for their APs but I was sent 3 profiles and not only did all respond, two contacted me first but again, likely very motivated in rematch. I will be curious to see when we have a traditional search/match with them but I’d be willing to wager a bet it will be worlds better than APIA because they do exclusive matching so if you have an APs profile she would be nuts not to respond and nuts not to let you know right away when she doesn’t see the match because other families can’t look at her while you have her assigned. If you want more info on interexchange or I can help in any way ping me at Chin up! :)

Dallas Host Mom April 26, 2014 at 9:33 am

I am also with Interexchange and had every person I wrote to respond. One woman from Spain told me that she did not want to come to Texas but the others were all responsive and open.

Repeataupair April 28, 2014 at 11:35 am

That is funny to see that point of view because we as au pairs have sometimes the same experience. All my friends going with CCAP have had families on their profiles who would never contact them even if the AP had sent an email.

WarmStateMomma April 28, 2014 at 12:09 pm

I wonder if any emails are being caught in spam filters, mistyped, or some other technical issue is at play. I had one AP not respond to me, but others responded even just to say that they’d just matched with a family. I recently had an issue with not receiving emails sent to my gmail account because they were routed to some “promotions” folder I hadn’t noticed before.

HRHM April 28, 2014 at 12:16 pm

I can sort of address/maybe answer the CC non-responding HF thing. In my experience, when I first fill out the application/renewal for CC, they immediately start filling my account with APs. Generally, I have had TERRIBLE placement coordinators and have had to reject candidate after candidate that they placed in my account. I need a non-smoking, excellent driver, loves to swim, has very young siblings, no weird food requirements, any religion – they give me “brand new driver, beginning swimmer, only child, vegan, atheist” over and over again. Since I don’t check my account daily at the beginning, it may be 3-4 days before I see and reject the latest travesty that they have placed in my account. So my apologies to any young lady who has not heard from me, only to find that she has been rejected. It’s not that they were bad candidates, just that they were not the “lid for my pot!”

Host Mom in the City April 28, 2014 at 12:26 pm

This happened to me with CC too, and I admit to not contacting a number of APs that they put into my account. They would put one in, I would note that one of the my two absolutely must haves were ignored, would email the placement coordinator and the AP would be removed from my account. It didn’t occur to me that the AP would see that she was in my account and then not again and have no idea why. Sorry to those APs :(

Momma Gadget April 26, 2014 at 11:13 am

APs from your Agency or from one of the AP sites don’t reply? I’ve never had an AP from Interexchange not reply (one way or another). With their system there is an easy pre-fab list of reasons that an AP can choose from. I am sure IE insists that their potential APs respond to all inquiries.

We usually narrow it down to 2-3 APs we are really interested in . We usually email a short tailored version of our letter and then a blurb about what we liked about their profile and why we think they might be a good fit for us. Finally I throw it back to them to let us know whether they would like to speak further via skype.

I know our system is different than “across the pond”. But I want someone who is committed to being an AP and would not consider any candidate that took 3 weeks to respond.

We are in a desirable area and have a bigger issue weeding out the candidates who are only interested in partying in the big city.

I have recently been trying to help an IQ transition AP friend of our rockstar APs find a new family. .. She is a really nice girl, but I basically had to shake her by the shoulders and tell her to find the RIGHT family-USA is so much more than NYC and Hollywood. She called me yesterday (she is being temp housed with a really nice family far away from the city)-to say that the family is everything.
I love it when they realize I’m right!

LondonMum April 26, 2014 at 3:40 pm

I know what you mean, we have lots of applicants because we are in a nice part of London and I often wonder if they even read our family profile or just want to be in our area. To be honest I have only waited 3 weeks for one AP to reply because I really liked her, she explained that she had been on holiday so I forgave her! We actually matched with her and she was one of our top 2 APs ever! We are now on the hunt for our 6th year, I always dread starting the process again but have learnt from bitter experience that it is worth putting the effort in!

Multitasking Host Mom April 26, 2014 at 11:15 pm

To answer your question Momma Gadget…I have experienced the no replies from two of the agencies I have used. Our current one you can contact as many APs in the database as you want. I probably get about a 50% response rate. But since the AP’s can also talk to multiple host families there is reallly no big incentive for them to respond if not interested. When I was with an agency that did exclusive matching, I did get a higher rate of responses, but those few that I didn’t hear back from drove me even more nutso because I had such a short window to decide on the AP.
I am a little jealous right now that you always get responses back with your agency’s APs.

caring hp April 26, 2014 at 2:58 pm

We often see apia au pairs not bothered to respond. Initially I was surprised at tge rudeness. Now I think I am lucky to see their lack of manners and care upfront rather than after I invest time and money in them. We changed agencies and also tried other agencies. Cc and IE agency aps all replied even if not interested. Au pair care aps generally did too. I think some agencies counsel aps to send polite response.
Still look on it as a good way to weed out the rude ones easily.

Host Mom in the City April 26, 2014 at 5:04 pm

We’ve been through matching three times and probably send out 20-25 emails each time and I’ve only had maybe a few not respond at all. I always get 5-6 “you sound lovely, but I don’t think I’m the au pair for year” brief emails – at least a response, but I always wonder what it is that’s for them just out of curiosity. Maybe rephrase it, if it’s not already, to say something along the lines of “would you please let me know if you’re interested or if something doesn’t sound like a good fit, please let me know that too.”

Momto3Americans April 26, 2014 at 6:01 pm

We are entering rematch and have been looking for the right candidate for coming on 4 weeks at least. It certainly is taking time to find them. I am getting about 5 candidates a week sent to me from the agency and browse through them to get the feel of who we want to send e-mails too. The first week I sent e-mails to all (doing Due Dilligence) and received only 2 replies. One spoke very poor English and the other kind of dropped off the radar after we exchanged a few e-mails. Each subsequent week we just send e-mails to those that we feel has what we are looking for. This week I had 5 candidates but 3 of them were not available until July.
I wish this were an easier process… It is hard to know you are getting the candidate you need when they come in dribs and drabs like this!

The agency I am with doesn’t have an online list of candidates with their agencies. So you have to wait for the e-mail with matches…

Taking a Computer Lunch April 26, 2014 at 8:07 pm

MHM – I am blunt and say, “Please send me an email telling me yes or no. My feelings won’t be hurt if you say no.” In my opinion, if you want a direct answer then you need to be direct in your English – so much can get lost in translation (plus in certain cultures saying no may be considered impolite). I expect a certain percentage of non-answers, but if APs knew that if I hold on to their portfolio it means less HF can see it, they might respond immediately.

Skny April 26, 2014 at 9:21 pm

TACL, I’ve heard from Au pairs about families placing a very negative feedback in their profiles after they politely declined their job. And that would be reason some would ignore emails from families they were not interested. Now, my agency does not allow feedback on ai pair profiles, so not sure which agencies are this… But still…

Multitasking Host Mom April 26, 2014 at 11:18 pm

TACL once again you hit the nail on the head. I probably am being a little to passive in my emails. If I want a yes or no….I need to ask for that. Lightbulb moment! Thanks.

Seattle Mom April 27, 2014 at 4:34 pm

I had this problem especially when I was matching the second time- I think the problem for me was partly that I was going through the process much earlier on, I was looking in August for an AP to start in December. There were not a lot of AP candidates who said they wanted a December departure, so I was emailing people who listed Oct & Nov as well and I think they just didn’t want to wait an extra month or two. The first time I matched I was looking for someone ASAP so everyone was my best friend :).

Geography is a small issue for me- I’m not on the east coast or in CA, and Seattle is mostly famous for rain. But people who are open minded and do their homework (the best APs!) learn that Seattle is an amazing international city with lots of beautiful landscapes & cultural things to offer. And it doesn’t really rain all the time- the summers are perfect here.

My third time around I think it really helped that my opening email said- “Please respond to me even if you are not interested- that way I will not spend time waiting for your email and I can move on to other au pairs who might be interested in my family.” I never asked for a reason why, and I did get a few replies from people who were not interested- when they offered a reason it was usually something vague like “your family doesn’t seem like a good fit for me.”

OpinionatedHM April 27, 2014 at 7:09 pm

We give 2 business days. If we don’t hear from the AP candidate, we move on. I don’t sweat the ones who don’t reply to emails. If an AP is serious about getting placed, she should be checking email at least daily. we add one day to read our profile and craft a response. Anything more than that and she wouldn’t be a good match for us anyway. They have to want us as much as we want them.
Plus, we are a tech heavy family so if email communication is rough, then there is no way that AP would survive a year with us unless she adapts quickly to technology. If its a matter of being rude and not responding, then once again, not a good fit for us! Set a deadline and move on without further thought. If you get a thoughtful response later from the candidate, then reassess at that time. We have had some candidates who have acknowledged that they took a long time to respond and that’s all I need to put them back on my consideration list, some awareness that their actions affect us.
On the flip side, my husband and I have sometimes been slow to respond to an AP candidate’s emails to us. It usually happens when we are ambivalent about the candidate or too busy to focus on the selection process, neither of which bode well for the candidate. That’s why we have the attitude we do towards those who don’t reply to our emails. She “just not that into” us.

LondonMum April 26, 2014 at 7:54 am

We are going through the same process, it is frustrating that they don’t respond, I always think they must be looking at other families and we are last on their list! If they haven’t responded by 3 weeks, I tend to dismiss them and just focus on the ones we are in contact with. I always arrange a skype time and never cold call as I would hate that myself! The website I use always sends a standard message to say a family is interested and vice versa and then if they are interested, more personal emails can be sent. This is to protect personal information. I think, your initial contact sounds fine and very much what the wording is on the standard messages that get sent through the website I use. Just keep trying I guess!

Taking a Computer Lunch April 26, 2014 at 8:11 pm

Wow, 3 weeks is generous. I give it a week and move on. I do feel that APs are more likely to take the time to read my email and HF portfolio at the weekend when they have more time – and occasionally I do get a mother sending me an email from the AP account at the last minute because her daughter is away, but I figure if they aren’t taking time to read my email (APIA nows gives HF the option to send their portfolios out the AP when they say they are interested in interviewing – in the old days APs didn’t see them until the match was made – how unfair to the AP was that?!) after being granted access to my portfolio – so be it.

Always Hopeful HM April 26, 2014 at 9:47 am

My initial contact is a bit of an expansion on our profile, tailored a little to the particular AP I’m contacting, and an invitation to talk on Skype. I use a combo of email and skype through the matching process, but I want an early skype call to cull out those whose English is really terrible right away. I also really study the applications hard before reaching out to anyone. I may reach out to many au pairs over the course of hype match period, but generally I can’t find more than 2 or 3 at a given time that make the initial email cut. Maybe that could help? I’ve had some slow responders, but everyone has eventually responded with a yay or nay. Usually the slowest responders are not interested, and quite honestly, I end up losing interest in them if I haven’t heard back in a few days. On the other hand, we ended up matching with our last slow responder (a couple of days after each message), so go figure. We’ve used APIA and APC.

Always Hopeful HM April 26, 2014 at 10:23 am

On another note, does anyone know why the cultural difference blog closed so quickly? I was really enjoying reading about the various experiences!!

exaupair April 26, 2014 at 11:11 am

The discussion on cultural differences is still open.

Confused future au pair April 26, 2014 at 11:27 am

I am a potential au pair and a few families have been interested and set up an interview but they never went through with it. After that they never contacted me again and when the agency tried contacting them there was no response. Has this ever happened to anyone else before?

hOstCDmom April 26, 2014 at 2:11 pm

I’m copying my post below here from the Cultural stereotypes thread, prompted by WestMom asking about whether there are rematch statistics (or anecdotal trends??) by country of AP origin?
This is a side tangent, but WestMom’s last sentence made me wonder if rematch rates are higher with APs from countries from which people can easily get visas to the USA? And for whom rematching and going home doesn’t mean that they will possibly never get a chance to come visit/live in/work in the USA again? (I guess this is more appropriately posted on the open thread for this weekend, so I will dbl post it there also.)

Should be working April 26, 2014 at 2:25 pm

I feel like the threat of a small, 2-week window to find a new family would be VERY discouraging to APs from poor countries, poorer families, and/or paying higher fees. And that enables HFs to take advantage of APs. It’s one of the things that makes the AP program questionable, in my view, although I have made good use of it and treat our APs very well.

hOstCDmom April 26, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Yes, that is my gut instinct also. i.e. if you are a German, French or Finnish AP, you would hesitate to initiate rematch much less than if you are from Moldova, Ukraine, China, Thailand, or less economically advantaged countries/areas of S America. And agree that this could create significant power disparity and/or HP could take advantage of this.

Should be working April 26, 2014 at 3:03 pm

This article has its flaws, including focusing on one extreme case, but I think ultimately it is correct that the “cultural exchange” rhetoric often underplays the guest-worker component of the program.

TexasHM April 26, 2014 at 8:09 pm

Honestly I haven’t seen a rematch difference. I have found that it’s definitely personality driven (aka princesses often have little problem shouting rematch) and I am shocked at how many APs from affluent homes/countries or otherwise stay in abusive situations for too long. Probably for the same reasons first time host moms I think are much less likely to rematch (they think they committed they need to see it through, I can fix it, if I rematch I’m a bad AP/HF etc). I feel for rematch APs and the families. I almost wish they got 4 weeks and that you could get a temp AP during transition. Once rematch is initiated for whatever reason, it’s really difficult to house them (for both sides) and I don’t know how you would fix it but boy wouldn’t it be great if we could? :). Maybe second year APs that want a different family experience could temp in transition households. Then the families have someone to cover while the family searches for new AP or decides to match with transition/extension AP… Ok I’ll stop now while I’m behind! ;)

rematch hp April 27, 2014 at 9:53 am

At least 2 or 3 agencies informally give rematch aps filler hfs until a permanent solution is found. Example if a hf has an ap who needs to rush home for a funeral, or their Aps year is up and the new AP isnt scheduled to fly to America for a little while, and the LCC or the original AP knows an AP they like whose 2 weeks are up, they can “house” the rematching AP temporarily with that HF.

Anna April 26, 2014 at 10:24 pm

I think rematch rates depend on how good a match of skills and expectations and motivations are between the au pair and the job, and some countries it is not so good. Many rematches are initiated by families so I don’t think it is dependent on ease of getting a US visa necessarily.

I would love to see statistics also, but anecdotally, when I was in rematch, I saw a lot of transition au pairs from Russia and China, which makes me think they are not very successful au pairs since there are not too many of them proportionally, yet many of them in rematch. For Russia, I think the candidates are not very suited for the job and have the motivation to leave the country whatever it takes. For China it may be cultural differences and driving.

hOstCDmom April 26, 2014 at 3:11 pm

Interesting – a law review article on APs (!) – thanks for link.

massaupairmom April 26, 2014 at 3:15 pm

I am standing in line on Saturday afternoon at sears auto center to have some routine maintenance done on one of our cars. we maintain three cars so our au pair always has one available for her use. I am asking myself whether it would be unfair to ask our au pairs to spend some of their free time maintaining one of the cars they drive (at our expense of course). does anyone else ask their au pair to take the au pair car for its regular oil change or other routine maintenance during non work time?

AussiePair April 26, 2014 at 3:38 pm

I have been asked to take the au pair car (I essentially had almost sole use of this car) in for it’s service on a Saturday in my free time, I happily did it. I’m not sure how this looks from a “rules” situation, but I was given plenty of notice of the date (about a month) and I see it as tif I had my own car back home I would have to do this outside hours, so I didn’t see it as an issue. My host mom was also very generous and paid for me to get a coffee at Starbucks while I waited for the car.

In saying that I had a very good relationship with this host family and would have jumped through hoops to do anything for them, if it was a family that I was not as happy in then perhaps I wouldn’t feel the same way..

Should be working April 26, 2014 at 3:55 pm

Surely if she gets to use the car for her free time she could spend the time maintaining it. You could even make that a condition–you are allowed to use this car in free time if you take your free time to maintain it, including oil changes etc.

Didis April 26, 2014 at 8:11 pm

as au pair, once or twice a year I take car that hosts drive and me as well with kids, and car that I use to get checked up. I never considered it to be “not my job” . If kids are in school, or I can take them with while doing it, or possibly host offer me to be done hour earlier that day, I think there shouldn’t be reason for your au pair to say no.

Also, I do many non-au pair stuff for my hosts, I am more like a personal assistant sometimes :) and I don’t mind it. If you make sure to show your au pair you appreciate her and ways she is making your life easier, then she will be more willing to do some chores for you.

Taking a Computer Lunch April 26, 2014 at 8:46 pm

Very reasonably massaupairmom. We ask that the AP drive “her” car for routine oil changes and maintenance (of course we pay for it). We also ask that the AP have the car detailed at the end of her year, so her successor has a nice, clean car to use.

American Host Mom in Europe April 27, 2014 at 3:37 am

In our country, winter tires must be put on the car for winter and removed in spring. I ask our au pairs to take their car for this 15-min appointment most of the time (we pay). No one has batted an eye. We also have our cars professionally washed/detailed once or twice a year, and our AP usually takes the car for this (actually takes two of us, one to drive the car being cleaned and one to drive another car to pick the other person up).

Recently we decided to start asking our APs to wash her car regularly. We will buy the tokens for the do-it-yourself car wash, and they do it once every month or two. We live on a dirt road in the countryside, and our cars get filthy, and we realised we need better care taken of the AP car too, and as she uses it almost exclusively, it only seemed fair (and current AP agreed, she felt it is no different than if she was at home, she’d do the same with her own car.).

OpinionatedHM April 27, 2014 at 7:47 pm

We do the same. We have a plan at a drive thru car wash, she has to take it there once weekly. The kids think it’s fun so she can take them with or do it on her own time, but its her responsibility as the user of the car. Same with keeping the tank at least 1/2 full and helping to drop it at the workshop for routine maintenance. It all falls under the heading of Being A Responsible Driver Of An Automobile.

SingleHM April 27, 2014 at 12:31 pm

Yes. It is part of their responsibility to get the oil changed, state inspections, and other maintenance.

My au pairs have a lot of time (I have school aged kids)…so they have time to do it during the day.

Skny April 26, 2014 at 8:46 pm

Our Au pair shares a bathroom with the kids (2yo, 4yo, and 17yo). We have a housecleaner who cleans the whole house (including said bathroom) once a week on Fridays.
However I have noticed the bathtub gets really dirty by the middle of the week (with all of them using it daily).
I am wondering if would be wrong to ask Au pair to clean it (tub only, not whole bathroom) once or twice a week. I just hate to go bathe the girls and see the dirty and hair floating…

Should be working April 26, 2014 at 9:22 pm

I would say that BOTH the 17 yr old and the AP should be told to clean the bathtub. Each one once per week–that will keep it clean, along with the cleaning lady on Fridays!

hOstCDmom April 26, 2014 at 9:38 pm

My kids clean the bathroom that they share with the AP on the weekend. AP must clean it mid-week. And not just the tub — tub, shower, TOILET, sink, vacuum wood floor and damp mop it, and wipe mirrors, change handtowels. I (obviously :)) think it is very reasonable to ask the AP to clean the bathroom s/he uses! (and fwiw I very much agree with SBW that the 17 yo should also be cleaning it once per week!!)

hOstCDmom April 26, 2014 at 9:41 pm

and, to be clear, kids do the exact same bathroom cleaning jobs enumerated above once a week re the shared bathroom also!

Skny April 26, 2014 at 8:56 pm

Just to add our Au pairs basically watch the kids. We do request: breakfast, lunch and snack for the kids, keeping bedrooms and playroom organized, and laundry, but no additional chores (our 17yo is responsible for dishes and kitchen daily as her chore). The kids usually nap for 2-3hs in the afternoon, and we usually allow the Au pairs to use net while kids sleep because we know it can be a tiring job. I would think this would add 10-20 min to their tasks once or twice a week.
At the same time 17yo is not really Au pairs job, so not sure it is fair to ask Au pair to help with tub…

AussiePair April 27, 2014 at 12:00 am

Totally fair, you use it, you’re responsible for helping maintain it, be that cleaning it whatever it may be. I’m sure it wouldn’t even take 10 minutes to clean the tub, and the more it gets done the easier it will be to clean (no build up etc.)

Alternatively you could make a house rule that it needs to get cleaned/wiped down after they shower. This way it could be more of a routine than a chore

WestMom April 27, 2014 at 9:52 pm

This. I would keep a sponge and some softscrub handy and ask the tub be wiped after each use. Not a chore, but a family rule…

exaupair April 27, 2014 at 5:53 am

Absolutely, you should have no problem asking your AP to clean the bathroom every other week, especially if it’s the tub only.

Seattle Mom April 27, 2014 at 4:43 pm

If it’s a task you would ask your daughter to do, and your AP is using the tub too, then it’s completely reasonable.

OpinionatedHM April 27, 2014 at 7:59 pm

Our AP is responsible for wiping down the tub after the bath before leaving the bathroom. It’s a simple job to do in the moment, usually while the kids are swaddled in towels getting dry and/or putting on their pajamas and brushing teeth. If you have a handheld sprayer or keep a large pitcher by the tub, it’s a simple matter of some foaming dish washing liquid and a washcloth followed by a quick rinse. Plus, this ensures that all the bath toys get drained of water and dried before the next use.

NYCBurbs April 27, 2014 at 6:30 am

Hi there. I’m new to the site (and not yet a HM) and ave been trying to catch up on all past topics and threads. Lots of great information here.

I will be a FTM in the fall and getting an AP seems to be the best option for me. I’ve read comments from HMs on this site about why they would/ would not use an AP for a newborn but success seems to come down to the experience and/or temperamentof the AP. I’ve seen comments that Go Au Pair have their APs in China trained at a hospital or orphanage which could be useful. There is also good feedback on the Extraordinaire program from Au Pair in America (although I’ve also read some skepticism about this really being a differentiator on the quality of an AP). Interexchange seems to have the most positive feedback (although not specifically for newborns).

I’m posting here to get any tips or advice that might help me get off on the right foot as I start the search.

My approach will be to look for someone who has some sort of infant experience (taking care of younger siblings or work experience) and who would happily work a 45 hr M – F schedule without issues. The driving skills and level of English are not deal breakers for me as long as they can manage in an emergency (calling a cab, getting to the ER and communicating the issue). If they don’t drive, however, I live in the suburbs which could be isolating for them (but easy for them to travel into NYC on the weekends on the train). As far as the timing, my options would be to get someone in November (which could be a difficult time due to the holidays) or at the start on January which would only give the AP and me a few weeks together before going back to work. All in all, I need responsible and quality care from an AP where there can be 100% trusted without the any drama. In return, the will benefit from a stable schedule in a comfortable home and free weekends.

Would love to get any feedback, suggestions or words of wisdom. When should I start looking considering the timing? Anything that I have overlooked? Would being flexible on driving and language help my search or cause bigger issues when the AP is in place? Happy to go back into the archives and look for more articles (although I think that I’ve already exhausted the relevant threads). Many thanks :)

OpinionatedHM April 27, 2014 at 8:10 pm

Success relies as much on the host parent’s ability to manage an employee who lives in the home as it does the AuPair’s experience and attitude. The most important thing you can do is be honest with yourself about what kind of Host Parent you have the energy, skills, and willingness to be. Do you want an AP who likes to chat with you and hangout at the end of the day, or one who disappears and gives you your privacy? Do you want an AP who does things exactly the way you ask her to do things, or one who figures it out on her own and doesn’t want much training? Also, pick the dealbreaker qualities that you need to have in an AP and do not compromise on those.

WarmStateMomma April 28, 2014 at 8:12 am

As far as the December holidays go, remember that most Asian countries don’t celebrate Christmas and some celebrate a lunar new year more than the calendar new year. So those APs won’t feel like they are arriving at your home on the cusp of their most important holiday.

Being flexible on driving and language will help your search, but you have enough time to find the right person who can drive and who has the language skills you want. My daughter was 3 months when our first AP arrived and she is now 16 months. I can’t emphasize enough how pleased we are with her bilingual skills (and overall language skills), so I think picking a language you’d like your child to learn is a factor in the decision. Your AP is likely hoping to improve her English but a baby won’t help with that anyway, so it’s no loss for the AP to speak only her native language with the baby.

Depending on which country an AP is from, her application may contain a lot of false information. My experience is with Chinese APs, but I’d guess that any country known for having a culture of corruption will have this problem. (Exchange student profiles are also falsified in countries like Vietnam, for example.)

My AP said the Chinese agency told her to change a lot of her information and gave her the “cheat sheet” with the “correct” answers. Any Chinese AP you see on APC’s website has 3 of the 4 following traits: loves children, is patient, is independent, and is a good example for children. I can’t tell the APs apart from their applications so we end up contacting all of the ones that claim they can drive. We did end up with a wonderful young woman who speaks English pretty well, drives well enough, and engages really well with our daughter. We used API last year and they had this silly “interview” report from the Chinese agency that had all these character traits listed and a box to check if the candidate had those traits. As you can imagine, every single AP had every “positive” trait (except for traits that showed spunkiness, which must not be tolerated as well over there).

In your shoes, I’d probably choose an AP from Western Europe or Latin America who is looking for a gap year but doesn’t have the resources to just travel for a year (i.e., not a princess) and speaks a language you’d like your child to learn. If the AP doesn’t drive yet, she will at least understand the concept of driving. The culture shock will be manageable for your AP and your family, and you will have a large enough pool of APs who speak the language going forward if you want to continue the language.

NYCBurbs April 28, 2014 at 9:20 am

Thanks! This is very helpful! Gave me a few new things to think about. Hopefully there will be a few more responses from “HM Experts” before the thread is closed:)

hOstCDmom April 27, 2014 at 8:26 am

Help – does anyone on here remember what the name(s) of that device(s) that can go in a car that will track where the car was driven and HOW FAST it was driven? In the past month or so this device was mentioned by a few HMs in response to the HM whose AP was speeding (and took the car to NYC for NYE, I think).

We are now facing a possible need to get one of these for our AP….unsure if we will end in rematch over our driving issue, or if we may consider such a monitoring device.

Advice welcome — AP got speeding ticket (in fact, not a ticket, rather a court summons), using car on own time, with permission, going 30mph over the speed limit. Told HP immediately. To make matters worse, one week ago pre-teenaged host child told me that AP was speeding (a lot – like more than 30mph over speed limit) while driving him somewhere, but I hadn’t yet addressed the issue with AP (my bad, I regret not having done so immediately, but for several reasons AP didn’t need to drive kid on this particular highway again, and only needed to drive locally where limits are 25mph, so I didn’t jump on it due to other chaos in our lives at the moment. Mistake on my part.)

But now we have an objective assessment of the fact that AP is driving WAY over the speed limit, to the level of reckless driving, courtesy of the state trooper….

hOstCDmom April 27, 2014 at 8:30 am

more details, in case folks think relevant, ticket was NOT received on a highway — rather on a small, one lane each way, very narrow, no shoulder, windy, rural-ish road where folks bike. Driving 30mph over the limit was UTTERLY DANGEROUS. (it was not like going 85 on a posted 55 highway, which IMO is also dangerous, but perhaps “done” more, if you know what I mean.)

Should be working April 27, 2014 at 11:33 am

Now I’m going to add a line to my handbook that speeding tickets will result in lost personal driving privileges (which means the AP will be really isolated). What about red lights/stop signs? I can see that red lights, in particular, get run without the extreme carelessness that speeding would take–or am I naive?

I got my first moving violation ever (rolled over a stop) since getting my license THIRTY-ONE YEARS (31 yrs) ago. Honestly I think an AP should be able to manage one year without getting a moving violation. Or how often do most people get moving violations?? My husband has had 2 in 15 yrs.

Seattle Mom April 27, 2014 at 4:51 pm

I’ve had my license for 14 years, and I’ve had exactly 2 speeding tickets- that is it. One was after I had my license for about 4 years and the next one was 3 years later. I think that’s normal.

I have done things while driving that would have resulted in a ticket if someone were watching, mostly because of extreme sleep deprivation. I am very lucky… both that I wasn’t hurt or that I didn’t get caught because the more recent thing happened while driving a work car.

Anna April 27, 2014 at 10:32 am

In order for your au pair to retain his license after the court date he will need a good traffic lawyer. Good traffic lawyer costs money. So the question of whether or not your au pair will be able to drive for the rest of his year is up in the air – it depends on whether or not his license will be suspended by the judge. He may even go to jail depending on the penalties in your state. Contact your agency, some of them may have lawyers on staff that can consult you.

hOstCDmom April 27, 2014 at 10:43 am

Agency won’t get involved; won’t refer to atty. I will not provide one for AP nor will I represent him (I am an atty.) Initial review of violation doesn’t indicate jail as possible penalty, since no accident, “just speeding”, but at level where court summons rather than “mere ticket with fine/pts” which one could opt to pay, or contest.

hOstCDmom April 27, 2014 at 10:44 am

AP doesn’t yet have state license; was driving on IDP + home country license. Not sure how that will complicate (or not) legal process.

HRHM April 27, 2014 at 10:34 am

We have a viper smartstart in our minivan. It was initially installed as an “autostarter” so that you can remotely start the car to warm it up (yes, I’m a princess!) but the app for the smart phone revealed the full extent of it’s function! It has a gps locator, speed alarms (you have to set, so not useful for 50 in a 30 so much but good for >65, etc) gps fences (you get an alarm when the go outside them) DH thinks it was around 250 installed but I honestly think it was more like 700 (in 10/12).

I now routinely use it to spot check location and have at times set the speed alarm (when DD has complained about AP speed). I don’t know that I would spend the money just to monitor a rouge AP but since we have it, we use it. As I’ve said previously, if you have that little trust, better to rematch and move on…

FWIW, I can sympathize, AP just came home with a ticket for going 55 in a 35, no maked fine, just straight to court (6 points too) Fortunately the kids weren’t with her.

hOstCDmom April 27, 2014 at 10:39 am

HRHM- what are you planning to do re your Speeding AP? (My AP also didn’t have kids with him)

HRHM April 27, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Nothing – she is going to court to face the music. Honestly, I speed like the devil and have been lucky not to be caught. So, it would be pretty hypocritical to feel like I have to do something other than let the law take it’s course. She may lose her license and then, that will probably result in her being sent home since I need a driver. And FWIW, she was approaching the airport from a 55 zone and just didn’t notice that the speed had decreased, so it’s not like she was careening through a school zone.

I realize not everyone has my sense of calm about this particular topic, but I’ve been in the car with her and she is overall as good a driver as any other 20 year old I know (realizing that’s not saying much)

Seattle Mom April 27, 2014 at 4:58 pm

I feel the same way. I don’t speed like the devil but I have been known to speed and have occasionally made blunders while driving. In fact I matched with our last au pair after her previous HF (who she spent a whole year with- she extended with us) took away her driving privileges because she got a speeding ticket. And I needed her to drive. But I talked extensively with both HPs- the father didn’t agree with taking away privileges, but the mother couldn’t let her drive after that. She got the ticket after driving safely for a year, they said she was a good driver just got caught going too fast. And it happens that I knew well where she got the ticket- her old HF was about 30 minutes away from where I spent my summers as a kid and where my parents live, in rural New York. So I know how the cops are there, and I know that everyone speeds but you have to know where the speed traps are. You don’t speed on route 22 in Columbia County on the weekends, you just don’t. So anyway, I decided to take a chance and I’m glad that I did- this AP worked out for us, drove all over and never got a ticket or an accident of any kind.

skny April 27, 2014 at 8:42 am

It may be radical but i tell au pairs upfront that while I will forgive a parking or toll ticket, cell phone ticket or speeding ticket means loss of driving privileges. It raises my car insurance, shows lack of judgement and a HUGE no.

hOstCDmom April 27, 2014 at 9:32 am

I agree re distinction between parking ticket and speeding ticket.

When you say you would take away driving privileges do you mean AP wouldn’t drive at all- not personal and not while on duty? Or just personal driving? Do you need your AP to drive your kids? If so, does that mean you would rematch over a speeding ticket?

Ugggh. I’m trying to sort out what I should do. Taking personal driving privileges away seems to make sense if an AP flaunted our driving rules (re curfew, or where car can go etc.) but speeding is a judgement issue that seems to be just as, or rather more so (!), important re driving my kids while on duty. So in this case taking away personal driving privileges doesn’t seem to match the transgression/ or address the primary issue. But taking away all driving means me having a non-driving AP…. (Theoretically possible in our situation, but certainly not desirable). But AP is very good at one particular thing that we require, and that is very hard to find. This particular skill is our priority, but driving is also important, just our third most important priority after two other skill areas. Sigh….

Always Hopeful HM April 27, 2014 at 11:32 am

It is tricky when there is a crossover issue, like speeding that just happened to occur during off duty time.

In your case, since it sounds like you need this AP, and taking away driving would be a PITA for you, I would recommend getting a tracking device. You could set one general speed setting (highway speed), but also run and print a report once a day to share with the AP. The report will show her speeds everywhere she traveled that day, so you can compare speed to road. If she is seeing her speeds in black and white, and knows you’re seeing them also, and still doesn’t do better…well, that’s information too…

caring hp April 27, 2014 at 10:04 am

The device our friends and now we use is from the mastrack website.
It can be set to txt or email u if theres a crash or speeding or if car is towed or taken beyond a geofence. Theres a montly monitoring fee but it is maybe 49c a day and I have slept more soundly and been less worried for my kids ap liability and insurance since getting it.
A friend said onstar has a version she uses regarding her new teen driver too but I don’t know it.
Employers who give company cars use similar systems nowadays.
Delivery trucks and taxi companies also use this system.
The peace of mind is worth a bucket of gold!

hOstCDmom April 27, 2014 at 10:08 am

Thanks!! I am considering installing one of these devices. One option (not sure if it is insane to even consider letting this AP drive again, on or off duty….thoughts fellow AP Mom readers -???) is to tell AP that he is on notice and this device has been installed and I will know if he ever speeds again (in which case I will immediately rematch). Other options are to rematch over this, or to have a non-driving AP (in which case AP himself may want to rematch, but LCC doubts he will find a family with this driving issue)

caring hp April 27, 2014 at 10:13 am

Ps : you can also log into tge website and pull a complete list of locations speeds and driving events going back weeks or months. I know hfs whose aps have denied car tickets or damage claims relating to times the ap borrowed the car weeks before and the issue didn’t come up til ticket or legal letter came in mail or plaintiff subpoenaed security camera video from the night club or mall parking lot. There have been hps in our area where aps did hit n runs on small fender benders leaving damage on 3rd party property but not much noticeable damage on host car so ap covered up. Sometimes the ap thinks she got away with it and it can take weeks for police or investigor to contact the car owner.
It is easy for ap to say she was not using the car til the mastrack shows it was outside her favorite club or haunt at the time of the accident and maybe the hp was out of town. Just 1 example of how these are worth a few dimes a day.

Always Hopeful HM April 27, 2014 at 10:34 am

With thanks to Caring HP, I am the HM who had the speeding/ driving to NY issue (I’ve since gone back to my “real” name). I looked at a bunch of different devices and ended up getting the mastrack. You can see from reports where the car is driven, direction, speed, miles, etc. Plus, as CHP mentioned, you can receive alerts for certain activity. I have mine set to receive alerts for exceeding a speed threshold, exiting designated areas (geofence), harsh braking/rapid accelerations (signs of aggressive or inattentive driving), towing, and removal of the device. The alerts go to both the AP and me. I check the reports frequently, and share any that I print with him. The first day after installation, AP sped a couple of times, once triggering the alert. It took nothing more than a very brief discussion and there have been no driving issues since. Another benefit is that it gives miles driven–it was really surprising to me to learn how many miles could be driven in a day for not unreasonable travel (for this area)

On the flip side, I do find the tracker to be invasive, and it just feeds my obsession/ control / nosiness beast. I find my self often checking reports, and learning things I’d be happier not knowing. Nothing bad, or rule breaking…more like ” really? That’s what you do with your day while HC is in school? But if you’re able to control your curiosity, that won’t be a problem for you!

Always Hopeful HM April 27, 2014 at 1:42 pm

NEW QUESTION: former AP who extended with another family last year has entered her travel month, and just wrote to ask if she could visit us next weekend. We would just get together for a dinner. It will be great to see her again before she goes back home. My son had a love/hate relationship with her (more hate than love towards the end), but is excited to see her. He’s especially eager for the APs to meet. I’m wondering how visits from former APs have gone for others, in terms of any awkwardness between former and current AP. My son adores current AP, and it is apparent to everyone who sees them together. But, he’s really excited to see former AP, so may cuddle up to her. Also, current AP and I have had some recent tension, and things are…delicate right now. Should we just avoid having them meet at all, or is that silly? It would not be difficult– current AP is usually away each weekend, so we’d have to affirmatively ask him to come home (or meet us out for dinner), but it seems a little weird not to do so. Also, current AP has friends visiting in town (not at our house) this weekend, so I suppose they would come, too. Maybe a good buffer? Or is it a recipe for disaster?

Should be working April 27, 2014 at 2:55 pm

We have had a variety of experiences with former APs visiting. A beloved former AP’s visit went mostly well, except the then-current AP became terribly jealous of her bond with the kids and how the kids paid her a lot of attention. And THEN HC1 became jealous when the two APs eventually bonded with each other. Lots of jealousy that time.

Another time a beloved former AP visited and current AP was happy, they became friends, no jealousy, no problem. Current AP was more mature than the jealous AP, and had more her own life.

It is hard to say how this would play out in your case, if you are having a rough time with current AP.

HRHM April 27, 2014 at 4:14 pm

If it’s easy enough to avoid, I’d avoid them meeting. I don’t think it’s wierd to not purposely invite current AP to your time with Former AP. If your Uncle or cousin was coming into town and wanted to get together for dinner, would you make a point of inviting current AP? If not, then this is no different.

We did have an old AP for dinner at Christmas this year and new AP stayed for the meal but then left right after. It was all very pleasant and benign. BUT, both of these young ladies are mature and secure in their VERY different roles in our lives. I have plenty of APs I wouldn’t trust in this scenario.

Angie host mom April 28, 2014 at 1:21 pm

It’s just dinner, I wouldn’t worry about it. Invite current AP but say she doesn’t have to be there and you won’t mind if she is or she isn’t. If former AP was staying with you I’d think harder about it.

We have had a bunch of visits from former APs at our house and there has been serious tension and issues but always it has been when they are staying over for a length of time, not just for dinner. Dinner is never an issue.

Taking a Computer Lunch April 28, 2014 at 2:28 pm

This often happens to us, as often the outgoing AP heads out on her travel month and returns to our house for a day or two to say goodbye, reorganize her luggage, and do last-minute shopping for family and friends. It’s been very helpful, 2-3 weeks after the incoming au pair has started to establish her routine, to spend time with the outgoing au pair.

A couple of times we have had longer experiences. First, the outgoing au pair had planned to spend a week with my parents in the destination city in which they live. By coincidence DH was sent to that city for the entire week and brought the family along. We had planned one overnight alone (while my parents were officially caring for the kids, we knew they’d have plenty of help), and when The Camel tanked and got severely ill, we were grateful to have an experienced AP there who knew exactly what to do (and that it was time to call DH and I back home).

Another time we took the outgoing and incoming au pairs to a rural island for a week. That was a disaster from the standpoing that the incoming AP was from China, and now stuck in a cultural wasteland (from her standpoint) and try desparately to cook food she wanted to eat. The kids didn’t bond with the incoming au pair because she just wanted to be alone. It didn’t help that the incoming au pair had no driving skills, but the outgoing AP was great and drove her around (we had taken both cars, so the outgoing AP and I could drive back home in one day).

Finally, both AP #2 and AP #5 have come back and stayed with us for a week at a time. AP #2 came back alone once and once with a friend. AP #5 came back with her boyfriend. Both we’re great at folding the AP into their activities when she wanted to be included. While our kids loved these special return visits, they no longer had the same tight bond with the returning APs as they did when they lived with us, so it didn’t stress out the current AP.

Bruna April 27, 2014 at 2:12 pm

I have a question for HMs :)
What do you think about the Educare program? Before applying to Au Pair program I heard about Educare and looked for more information and the agency totally discouraged me (I even changed to another agency for Au pair because they didn’t seem helpful at all). I mean, is it because there aren’t many families interested because the work shift? Is it more expensive for you somehow? She wansn’t very clear and I got curious, It didn’t caught my attention because it’s only 30 hr/week (I’m very used to work even more than 45 h in my country), it was because I would be able to study more, which is not my main goal with AP program but I want make these credits really worth it, I’m even willing to invest my own money if required for credits.
I read a topic here in AuPairMom, but it’s kinda oldie.. What do you think moms?


JenNC April 27, 2014 at 7:25 pm

The educare programs are only available in certain areas of the country, the stipend is a little less than the regular program, I think $150/ per week but don’t quote me. The fees for getting an educare aupair really are similar to a full aupair program, so financially not a lot of saving to get an educare aupair vs traditional. I think the educare program is a possibility for us later in life when our kids are older and all in school, and when I just need a little help vs what I need now. But with small kids I need help more than 30 hours a week. But sometimes I feel 45 is excessive. Also the educare aupairs are required to take more credits, but I don’t think the stipend is much more, maybe $1000 vs $500…. So still the aupair loses out because most cannot take true American courses in a university because of expense, you would have more free time, make a little less money, but again smaller need for this type of aupair and is limited more to areas of country and families because of this. Jen

HRHM April 28, 2014 at 7:43 am

I will add that most families don’t use the program because while 45 hours is too much during the school year, during winter break, summer break and spring break, most use every minute. The educare program doesn’t have any flexibility for those times when HPs need someone full time for a few weeks. In addition, most APs find that if you are a regular AP with HKs in school full time, you are probably only working 30-35 hours a week anyway. So the Educare and the regular AP are working the same hours during the school year but the Educare makes 50 per week less – it’s a recipe for discontent in your AP And finally, as Jen points out, it is only available in areas where the agency has negotiated a discount with local universities because although the AP is expected to take 12 credit hours, the allowance for that is only $1000. 12 credit hours in most schools here would run nearly 4 times that or more. Most HFs would not be able to afford to pay that extra money and would feel bad making the AP do so.

Host Mom in the City April 28, 2014 at 7:50 am

And the final “nail in the coffin” for educate in my opinion is that it’s not all that much cheaper for for host families because besides the $50 less in stipend a week. There’s $500 additional in education costs, that huge agency fee, and housing/feeding/transporting/etc cost all stay the same. So it’s a huge deduction in available hours for not that much deduction in savings.

And another thing – very few candidates to choose from, so chances of really getting to search and find your perfect personality match are slim.

Tons of families (us included and probably anyone with kids ages 5+) only use 30-35 hours must weeks anyway. As the PP said, it’s the 12 weeks a year of school breaks that we need the whole 45 hours.

WarmStateMomma April 28, 2014 at 8:41 am

That’s exactly what we thought, HMitC. The savings is only 5-10% of the total cost of having an AP, but you cut her availability by 33%. Terrible deal.

TexasHM April 28, 2014 at 8:44 am

It’s not even available in our large city of 7M so you might check first and see if it’s even an option, but we won’t consider it due to all the reasons already covered.

Bruna April 28, 2014 at 9:33 am

Thanks for the answers Moms! I got intrigued because the agency didn’t even care to explain much. I ended up choosing the regular Au Pair program with another agency and I’m very happy with the attention my agency is giving me, hopefully I’ll be online this week. But I have to say that most of things I’m learning about the program is here and I’m really greatful for that! Thank youuu!!

Returning HM April 28, 2014 at 9:36 am

We had an educare for a year, and I agree with everything posted so far. We had to pay quite a bit to subsidize our educare’s education, in order to make her schooling worthwhile, so in the end it didn’t end up saving us a dime; in fact, we probably paid more overall, but this was a particular circumstance (we adored AP and wanted her to have the classes she needed and wanted).

The 30 hours sounded fine to us at first, as I was coming off a 25 hr a week babysitter during our two years off from teh AP program, but in the end, I had to hire a HS babysitter on Monday afternoons because my schedule changed mid-year and I needed 33 hours instead of the mandated 30. Being limited to 30 hours also meant we rarely had hours left to go out on an occasional Saturday night.

Also, although our educare was wonderful, I could easily see how others would end up resentful: ALL of our educare’s friends worked the same (rough) hours she did, but made $50 more a week. Now, ours knew that we were subsidizing her schooling to the tune of thousands AND we gave her six weeks off during the year to travel and have friends visit, so she knew she had a good deal going, but someone else could easily focus on the fact that nearly all the APs around here work 25-35 hours a week and make a good bit more.

Plus, I agree – there were few candidates to choose from. The year we did the educare program, we ended up interviewing only one candidate and loved her, so the slim pickings didn’t hurt us. The following year when we briefly considered another educare, there was NO ONE I wanted to even interview, so that combined with my schedule change (which happened mid-year) meant that we went back to the regular program and are much happier with it. I do not recommend educare because I don’t think it saves money but it definitely does add restrictions (also, I don’t think that in general, the candidates who do it understand that they are APs first and students second…ours did, but I think she was on the rare side of things).

Host Mom in the City April 28, 2014 at 9:37 am

I think you’ll be much happier choosing the regular program, but I am sorry that the agency didn’t take the time to explain to you why. Hope you have a great year!

LondonMum April 27, 2014 at 3:47 pm

We had a wonderful AP who returned home after her year with us and then changed her mind and wanted another year in London, however we had already got a new AP. I spoke to the current AP to ask if she would mind the old AP staying, luckily she said it was fine. Old AP came and found a job in the cafe on our street and stayed with us for 5 months till she found a place of her own, eventually she returned to being an AP and found a local family. The APs became really good friends and still have nights out regularly and our kids loved having them both in the house. We were lucky they got on, I know, but actually it was lovely having a “houseful” and all the fun of 2 young women in the house and lots of people coming and going! It could work out fine, kids tend to look back at the good times and forget the conflicts!

Always Hopeful HM April 27, 2014 at 4:25 pm

In our case, the visit would only be for one evening. I guess it can only be so awkward, right? Especially with the other folks around (current AP’s visitors and former AP is traveling with a friend). I’ll ask current AP to join us. Who knows– maybe they already have plans for that evening, so the issue is moot!

ShenValHM April 27, 2014 at 9:28 pm

Returning to the non-responder thread: Currently we are at 3/15 responses on our search for our second AP. The thing I don’t like is that when I mention this to the placement agent, she tells me to tell her when we have a non-responder so that she can remind the potential AP to check the spam folder. I have heard from rematch APs that the agency puts a lot of pressure on them in the re-natch process, perhaps the first match is the same. The agent does not acknowledge that many simply don’t respond (as I’ve learned from this thread).

The thing is, we don’t really NEED an AP for next year, we are on the fence about the whole thing anyway, so unlike some of you that just tolerate it, it could be a show stopper for us. I’m not enthused about chasing a bunch of candidates around when we were hoping on providing THEM a nice opportunity for next year.

new ap April 27, 2014 at 10:32 pm

I am a future au pair and I am so excited wit the idea but I hardly talk with the family. I sent them e-mails but they didn’t answer me. I’m worried about that. Do you speak with your future au pairs before they reach your home?

WestMom April 28, 2014 at 8:04 am

New topic

Any of you have au pairs who do couch surfing? Our current AP was initiated to the concept by a more experienced/adventurous AP during her first few weeks with us and this has become her de facto means of spending her weekends in the city (note, we are a short 35min train ride from the city, but APs find that the last train is too early and that the $13 round trip adds up…).

We used to have a “let us know where you are, so we don’t worry” kinda of policy, but we have dropped it last year when AP #4 clearly preferred not to tell us where she went. So we don’t ask anymore.

So back to couch surfing… A typical weekend means three 22yr old French Au Pairs staying for free at the apartment of 2-3 guys. My understanding is that it’s more than just offering lodging, and the hosts might prepare dinner/breakfast or accompany you on sightseeing activities (or in their case, clubbing). AP has also taken advantage of couch surfing for short weekend trips to Boston and Philly. Sounds like a fun and cheap way to see new things and meet people.

Of course, I would have had a blast doing this in my early 20s. But I am a mom now and I can’t help thinking there is an inherent risk in going to sleep at a stranger’s home, and three young men offering to host three young French girls must have other designs than just being hospitable… So far she has assured me that the young hosts they has met have been very nice and proper.

I am not planning to prevent APs from couch surfing, but I have expressed that I think to is a risky behavior and she should be careful. Any of you been in a similar situation? How would you deal with this? Are any of you couch surfers who could provide more insights into the concept?

Host Mom in the City April 28, 2014 at 8:14 am

Our second au pair frequently couch surfed. It’s more than just staying at a random stranger’s house – they have “ratings” and comments from previous surfers on the site. Obviously that doesn’t eliminate the risk, but I do think it makes it better. She had all great experiences. I also had a friend that did it (both invited people in and stayed with others) and she also only had great experiences.

We personally don’t ask our au pairs where they’re going or anything when they’re off-duty, but If you’re concerned, perhaps you could ask that she at least leave you the information about where she is staying – not so you can check up on her, but just so that if she goes missing, at least you will know where to start looking.

WarmStateMomma April 28, 2014 at 8:29 am

I’d be uneasy too about the couch surfing. I’d ask the AP to leave a note with the names of the hosts, their address, etc., so you know what to tell the police if she doesn’t return.

I also set up a code with my AP when she spent the night at the home of another AP she hadn’t met yet. She knew she could call me and ask about how the sick baby was doing. That would let me know she wanted to leave. If she was really scared, she knew to make the baby’s illness sound more severe. Then I could be the unreasonable HM who demanded she come home to help us with the baby. I slept easier knowing we had something worked out for pretty much any kind of uncomfortable scenario.

AmericanAP in Germany April 28, 2014 at 10:32 am

I had great experiences with couchsurfing (not as an aupair, actually, but during my study abroad). I recommend it to everyone, but this is really good advice. Even if a person has the best ratings in the world, there is still risk involved. I always gave out the contact information and location of where I was staying to friends and family. I would feel a little weird if my host parents always demanded the numbers and family names of everyone I was seeing, but I think it’s very easy and sensible for Westmom to explain the wisdom of this to her aupair. If AP is unwilling, that’s her shortsightedness…

Angie host mom April 28, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Our general policy for au pairs going out is that we need to know:
1. when to call the police
2. what to tell them
And she needs to take a cell phone with in case we have an emergency and need to contact her.

This makes them responsible for deciding the level of risk and what they are comfortable sharing as a protection to them, without us prying.

When traveling on vacation, I ask that they text me when they arrive safely at wherever they are staying, once every couple of days after that to just let me know things are ok.

exaupair April 28, 2014 at 2:28 pm

I used Couch Surfing once, when I was in high school, the experience itself was nice, we didn’t screen the guys we were staying with, they didn’t even have too many positive recommendations from previous surfers, we picked them only because of where they lived. They turned out absolutely normal decent guys. Although it’s true – some twisted people out there probably think it’s more like sex for a free place to crash, but I can assure you, 99% of hosts are not sex predators, but people who love a bit of multicultural company.

If your AP decided to give it a go try not to discourage her, just have her tell you roughly where she will be staying. I would tell you to ask her about names, adreses ect. for your own peace of mind BUT, as an ex AP, I must tell you, I personally would have been very unhappy if my HPs wanted me to give out details of people I was seeing.

Think positive, I’m sure she will have a great experience, just like most people who tried couch surfing.

WarmStateMomma April 28, 2014 at 11:07 am

I wouldn’t ask the AP to give me the contact info for the couch surfing, but to leave a note in her room with the info – or email it to a friend – so it could be located if she didn’t come home. That’s my suggestion for balancing safety with privacy; perhaps others have better ideas. AP#1 was super naïve/vulnerable so my perspective may be skewed on this issue.

WarmStateMomma April 28, 2014 at 11:19 am

New question: When and how do you tell your AP you’re pregnant? It’s early days yet, but I’ve been exhausted and had to stop taking allergy medicine so I’m in bad shape. I subscribe to the belief that you tell the people who you’d tell if you miscarried. Someone living in my house would expect an explanation if I were suddenly distraught, so I think the AP would fall into this category. She jokes about my love of coffee and wine, so I don’t think it will take her long to notice my new herbal tea habit. Will she feel misled that she signed on for one kid and the family will have 2? She doesn’t know a lot about family planning issues, so I don’t think she knows that people can’t predict how long they will try to get pregnant before it happens.

Follow-up question: Is it fair to ask her to take her vacation time during my 12-week maternity leave? It would remove a huge burden if we don’t have to scramble for back up care for 2 weeks. AP#2 will have about 12 weeks left in her year after the baby arrives. She can take long weekends now without counting vacation days since I don’t usually work on Fridays.

Repeataupair April 28, 2014 at 1:55 pm

I had that issue as an au pair. I remember that my HM was getting more and more tired and had gained weight but to be honnest it did not come to my mind she was pregnant (they were not trying to). She did miscarried and that is when I learned about it because it changed a lot of things and she was really sick. I helped as I could through that time and that was not easy but if this is going to affect your au pair I would think it’s best to tell her. She will be more understanding, will have time to get used to the idea and can also help out. If she does not feel ready to be taking care of another kid you actually want to know it ASAP so you have time to find another au pair.

WarmStateMomma April 28, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Thanks for that input. Would you feel like it’s unreasonable for the HF to ask you to take your two weeks of vacation during the last 10 or 12 weeks of your AP year, if you’re able to take long weekends throughout the year?

exaupair April 28, 2014 at 2:52 pm

I have read somewhere on this website that agency rules state that half of her paid leave is up to her, and the HF decide on the other half (maybe I’m wrong??) If so, it would have to be an agreement between the two of you, but as long as she doesn’t have any concrete plans, she might go with that. New baby in the family is a big deal after all, so I wouldn’t find your request unreasonable :-) That said, if she has things booked already, she may not be too willing to change her plans. I know, that in such case (flights, hotel, activities and boyfriends time off booked) I would have to say no.

“She doesn’t know a lot about family planning issues, so I don’t think she knows that people can’t predict how long they will try to get pregnant before it happens.”
I assume that before matching you said you only have one child for the time being, but indicated that you’re trying for another one? If so, she shouldn’t feel misled at all – your attempt has just turned into a great success.
If she has been told that you’re a Family with one child, and she signed up for that only….well, things happen, sometimes people don’t try for a child and get pregnant, so it’s just a matter of working around the very new situation, but it’s only fair to tell her as soon as possible, so that in worst case both of you will have some time to initiate a fairly painless rematch.

WarmStateMomma April 28, 2014 at 3:09 pm

At this time, she doesn’t have any plans made but I think she’s looking for people to make plans with. She knows we need a lot of lead time to accommodate vacation because we need grandmothers to take time off work and fly in to visit. APC rules say that the AP and HF have to mutually agree on the dates. Depending on work schedules, some dates are simply not possible for us.

We matched with AP#2 before deciding to have another child and we didn’t really believe we’d have a baby before she left.

I guess we’ll share the news with her tonight.

Repeataupair April 28, 2014 at 4:45 pm

I think it’s okay, that gives her more time to get money for it with or without long weekends beforehand. I finish my year mid August I have vacation early May + late June.
I think it also depends of the season, if it is not during the Summer it might be more of a problem since some areas arent really to visit out of that period.

TexasHM April 28, 2014 at 11:36 am

Congrats Warmstatemomma!! I am probably not the one to ask because I can’t keep my mouth shut so I just told everyone when I found out I was pregnant each time! We are very much an open book family so I would tell my AP the minute I found out but thats just me.

As far as being misled, I don’t really think thats a claim she can make as these things happen (and are a blessing) and while yes it will impact her year it will impact the last couple of months, not the entire term. I know of an AP here that arrived terrified because she had one kid to watch and the orientation leader said “oh your host mom must be really pregnant and just didn’t tell you”!!! That’s a different story.

But just like the only thing constant in life is change, that goes for new pregnancies, adoptions, death in the host family, job losses and all kinds of other unpredictables that impact the AP experience. I think as long as you tell her ASAP so she has time to process, plenty of time to think about extending with another family if she doesn’t feel up to tackling a newborn, etc then you have done everything right. Who knows? She might be super excited. Some APs LOVE babies (even knowing how much work they can be) so she might surprise you by being even more excited. No way to know in advance without chatting about it. I would also tell her the truth – we wanted another but thought it would take longer or we’ve been trying since HC1 but its taken a long time, whatever you are comfortable sharing.

To answer the vacation question – if you are asking about having her take both weeks back to back during your maternity leave I think that might be a hard pill for her to swallow. Traditionally, in cases where the HF and AP did not agree on vacation the policy at our previous large agency was that the AP gets to pick one week and the HF picks the other if they can’t agree. I think it is definitely fair for you to ask her to take one of the weeks during your maternity leave. But asking her to take both in the last 90 days of her year back to back? Then I might as an AP resent the pregnancy surprise.

We tend to try to align things as best we can with the year schedule as I know others on here do as well. Meaning we try to have our APs take one college class in the first 6 mos and the other in the second 6 mos, 1 week of vacay in the first half, other in the second half, etc. It keeps things balanced and seems to help keep the APs from getting burned out or even worse – taking all vacay upfront and then leaving (rematch or otherwise) or not taking their vacay and then end of year sitting on two full weeks that need to be taken or having an emergency and losing them entirely.

Sorry that was a tangent but over time and through my own experience and watching other HFs in the area, it just seems to work out much better if one tries to keep the education and vacation aligned with the year as best they can. We have a rematch AP right now that came to us with 9 mos left on her year and no vacay or education credit taken so we immediately had her book a weekend course and she took some vacation around it so she could tour the city (it was in SF) and took a couple days during spring break and now we are all breathing easier. She has lots of options and now time for her second course and she’s going with us to FL/Disney for her second week vacay in a few months so everything settled out nicely but I was a little tightly wound until she got some of that crossed off and caught up.

WarmStateMomma April 28, 2014 at 11:57 am

Thank you, TexasHM! HD and I are thrilled. AP#2 is a real catch and I want to present this in as positive a light as possible so she will stay with us.

For the vacation, I wasn’t sure how most APs take their time. The agency told her that she gets no vacation in the first two months and then starts to accrue one day a month. AP#1 took both weeks together in one trip to visit friends in another state. I’d be fine with giving AP#2 an extra week or two if she took all of her vacation time during my leave. She has a 3-day weekend almost any weekend and we don’t mind moving our once-a-month date night to a different night or a different weekend if she has plans. HD also gets a floating personal day every month, so he could easily take a Monday or Thursday, which would allow AP#2 to take a 4-day weekend without using her vacation days. We love to travel and encourage her to do so. I suspect her biggest constraint is finding other people to go with her.

TexasHM April 28, 2014 at 12:26 pm

In that case I would tell her and ask her to think about what she thinks is fair doable. Explain what you just said – 3 day weekends, possibility for 4 day weekends and then explain that it would help you a lot if she could consider saving her vacay for your maternity leave. Let her think about it (she will probably be shocked by the pregnancy so don’t ask for an answer right away). If she seems to be frustrated or balking then I would toss in that you know this kinks her plans for the year and you could potentially throw in an extra paid week if she was willing to help you out and take it all then. (You can always be more generous and you have a long way to go before then! Sorry to sound so cynical! I really hope it stays awesome.) Maybe you can ship her off to some crazy HM 4 hours north of you for a week of it. ;) Or, we could connect our APs and maybe they go somewhere together. I know thats a stretch but isn’t it amazing how I can flip from cynical to rainbows and butterflies in the same paragraph? ;)

WarmStateMomma April 28, 2014 at 12:49 pm

LOL! If she’s not excited to hear about the baby, she may be interested in reducing her exposure by 2-3 weeks anyway when the baby is here. :) AP#2 is thoughtful, so I’m pretty sure she would give us time to find someone else we like before she rematched.

If your AP is not a huge party girl, I’m sure AP#2 would be happy to host her here or to visit your city, and maybe they could make plans for a trip together somewhere…. AP#2 even speaks some French.

TexasHM April 28, 2014 at 1:18 pm

Our AP doesn’t party AT ALL. No interest. Long term boyfriend back home, she’s much more interested in travel then spending money on booze or “on the prowl”. lol She too struggles to find mature, organized APs to travel with. Maybe they would get along, I’ll ping you on email. ;)

TexasHM April 28, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Hey Warmstatemomma for what its worth, I would tell her that. “We didn’t plan on having another baby during your term but here we are and we wanted to let you know immediately. I would also probably tell her that you haven’t (or aren’t) telling friends, family whatever yet so that she understands that you are making telling her a priority. I would think she would have to appreciate all of that. Any chance you can tell her about the happy addition and then wait a few days on the vacay conversation? Just thinking it might be best to let her process how the news will impact her year and how she feels about all that before you have the vacation conversation. Obviously if she asks for vacation tomorrow then you go ahead and have the conversation. Thoughts?

WarmStateMomma April 28, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Thanks, that’s good advice. We don’t need to discuss everything at once and certainly more questions will come up along the way that we didn’t anticipate at this point.

My mother-in-law is coming for a visit tomorrow and AP has the rest of the week off so MIL can have the baby to herself. (AP didn’t choose the dates and doesn’t have plans, so we aren’t treating it as her vacation.) HD is convinced his mother will figure it out as soon as Wine Time rolls around (nice comment on me, right?). The AP would probably appreciate not feeling like the only one who didn’t know. Maybe she can help me come up with a fun way to share the news with the grandparents. I’d rather have her as my co-conspirator than feeling like an outsider.

TexasHM April 28, 2014 at 3:51 pm

Thats a GREAT idea! We always did something cheesy to surprise my parents and DH parents with the news, I would totally have her play a part in that special moment (if she’s up for it). We are theme park fans so when we got doubly prevented baby #3 so we dressed our other two up in their Thing 1 and 2 shirts and bought an infant “Thing 3” onesie and taped the sonogram picture with “ETA April 2010” on the front! It took everyone a minute to put the pieces together but there was lots of screaming and mass hysteria (with the exception of my dad and dad in law that both stood there puzzled saying “I don’t get it.”). LOL Good times! Maybe put current HC in a big sister or big brother shirt and see how long it takes them to piece it together. ;)

WarmStateMomma April 28, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Love it! With our daughter, I was visiting my parents and took their photo with our new camera. I asked them to say “I’m pregnant” instead of “cheese.” The next several shots are so funny! But we have no trips back home planned yet, so Facetime will probably have to suffice. I like the idea of putting a “big sister” shirt on my little one and seeing how long it takes anyone to notice.

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