Open Thread: May 31

by cv harquail on May 31, 2014


Welcome to our weekend open thread. If you’ve got any au pair issues at loose sends, you can tie them up here with the help of the AuPairMom community.   This thread will be open for comments, ideas and questions (subject to moderation, for first time commenters) until Monday morning or 100 comments, whichever comes first.  Sometimes Monday morning comes much to quickly, and other times I can’t wait for it to arrive!




TexasHM May 31, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Just matched w awesome AP for Nov woohoo! BUT…that meant cutting loose an amazing 25 yr old pediatric nurse from the UK so if anyone is looking (she’s available earlier than Nov she was going to wait til then if we were the right family) email me at and I’ll give you her name (shes with interexchange)!! She’s hard working and wants to really be a family member in a family that is close knit, not a sitter or sub-parent.
A pseudo related question I am curious about – where is orientation held and what are the logistics for the different agencies? I know APIA is usually they arrive Sunday, orientation Mon-Thurs and you can’t book travel to your home until evening Thursday (meaning the new AP gets to your house LATE) unless you want to pony up another $150 I think for another hotel night. It’s in Stamford CT and they hit host families up for welcome baskets and paying for site seeing trip to NYC $75.
Interexchange they arrive Sunday, orientation Mon-Thurs and you can have them fly to you thurs evening or wait until Friday (no additional cost). This way you can greet AP with kids if you want or they can site see another night/am. The orientation is at the New Yorker hotel so it’s actually in NYC a couple blocks from the Empire State bldg. They don’t hit just families up for welcome baskets and they take the APs on an NYC tour for free, they get the option to go on top of Empire State for $14ish.
I wrongly assumed all the agencies did the same thing and have been very pleasantly surprised by the differences since we switched to interexchange so now it has me curious what CCAP and APC and others do…

WarmStateMomma May 31, 2014 at 7:17 pm

APC has the APs arrive on Monday (evening in our case). They stay in a hotel in NJ, 3-4 APs to a room. They get one evening outing to NYC, no charge. No gift baskets or other extras. They fly to the HFs on Thursday afternoon. Not exactly the 4-day training the website touts – only 2.5 days. I would have been happier if she had more time to see NYC since I’m sure she didn’t get much out of the 2.5 day training while fighting jet lag.

API does online training – I have no idea what’s involved – so your AP can arrive any day you like. In our case, she arrived without knowing any other APs. A lot of APs connect on Facebook before arrival, but it’s blocked in China.

TexasHM May 31, 2014 at 7:29 pm

OMG I can’t imagine online orientation. All our APs have made friends from orientation that lasted throughout their stay that they traveled with, cried with, laughed with and it was great because they were all in the same situation at the same time and full of excitement.

WarmStateMomma June 2, 2014 at 10:32 am

AP#2 definitely had a “network” when she arrived at our home even though she couldn’t start one before arriving in the US (no FB or Google even). It made a difference. Also, our child starting choking one day shortly after AP#2 arrived. AP#2 swiftly picked her up and started doing the modified Heimlich for infants. She didn’t do it with a lot of confidence (maybe because I was there?) but she had the right idea. She said they practiced in training. AP#1 would have never known what to do. From now on, I will make sure the APs and I do this together their first weekend just to make sure.

I think we will look at Interexchange next time because they had just as many Chinese APs listed as other agencies (other than the disaster known as API) and I like the idea of the AP getting the chance to (safely) see NYC for more than a 3-hour guided tour since I’m paying a bundle for the agency fees anyway. We have a good LCC with APC this year and they have loads of APs for ours to meet, but the APs connect on FB and I think a smaller cluster would still be ok. Does your LCC know how many APs are in my metro area?

TexasHM June 2, 2014 at 10:59 am

I can ask. APIA did not at all enforce cluster meeting attendance so the APs flaked out all the time and they thought it was a total waste so even though the cluster was larger it made zero difference because only 2-3 APs showed up each meeting and usually very late! At Interexchange the cluster meetings are mandatory and from what I am hearing from the APs, they love it. They like that the group is consistent, new APs love being able to meet everyone right away and they feel like they are closer because they see the other APs every month and the LC does a great job of keeping it fun and giving them info to make them better at their jobs (water safety in the summer, homesickness tips before the holidays, etc). We had a very small cluster when we joined in Feb of this year and its already doubled in size so apparently the word is getting out here! Either way, our AP got socialized right away because here they all know each other (regardless of agency) because they see each other at kids activities, parks and there is a FB page and they have a local AP group on WhatsApp so they are constantly communicating to plan travel, tell everyone what bar they are going to that weekend, ask for advice, etc. Ironically even though we switched to a much smaller cluster our current AP was the quickest to get fully integrated and she said it was largely due to the WhatsApp group and FB page.

WarmStateMomma June 2, 2014 at 11:34 am

Thanks! We paid the extra $1500 to switch from API to APC in large part because they had more APs for ours to meet and a real LCC. That’s a hefty difference, but we felt it was an investment in her experience (to enhance our experience).

APC charges around $7,800 if you don’t have kids under 2 and $8,800 if you have kids under 2; they charge $950 if you want an extra day of infant-specialized training (in addition to the higher cost of having an IQ AP).

Interexchange looks cheaper, especially if I don’t have to pay the $500 domestic flight cost of infant surcharge. Being able to book the AP a free ticket to the airport closer to our home is another bonus. Training in NYC pretty much does it for me that we will look at Interexchange first next time around.

API had cluster meetings about 2/3 of the time, but only once were there more than two APs (including mine). APC has monthly meetings that my AP enjoys – the last one was a multi-cluster pool party with 30+ APs.

Emerald City HM June 2, 2014 at 1:36 pm

We are with APC and have a child under two. We were only charged around $7800 for this upcoming year and this current year. You are only supposed to be charged the IS amount (of around $8800) if you choose an IS au pair or ask that your au pair do that extra day of training.

Our first two au pairs were not IS (they were IQ of course) and we chose to have them do the extra day of training, and paid the extra for it.

WarmStateMomma June 2, 2014 at 2:16 pm

@EmeraldCity – I was pretty upset with APC for pulling this “bait and switch” on me with no disclosure on their website. We had detailed exchanges about it. Now that you’ve told me they charged your family less, we’d be hard-pressed to return to them.

Emerald City HM June 2, 2014 at 3:51 pm

I’m a little confused about the bait and switch aspect. They say right on their website that families with infants are not required to match with IS au pairs. They can match with standard au pairs.

Now once an au pair designates herself as IS, you cannot remove that designation to get a reduced program fee.

WarmStateMomma June 2, 2014 at 4:58 pm

@Emerald: I’m a read-the-fine-print kind of person and parse contract language for a living. I had no idea from the language on the website that there were two $950 fees related to IQ APs. If you go to the program cost page, it’s not listed as a program option like other agencies do for extraordinnaires and such. Instead, they have a link saying you can choose something infant-related for $950 more. Then you click on the link and it talks about optional training. Since much of the childcare experience is made up/exaggerated/unverified, I never dreamed they would want $950 for it and $950 for an extra day of training.

As it turns out, the extra day doesn’t include CPR/emergency first aid. All of APC’s APs get that training and they can choose to join the group with the infant dolls or the group with the bigger-kid dolls. We had planned to have our AP take a red cross child-emergency course (on the clock) once she arrived because it is a lot cheaper than $950 and we didn’t need the baby massage/sign language, but APC regular training had covered the big topics already.

I’d renew with APC if my current AP wanted to extend with us, though. She is fantastic.

APC also promised a discount if we matched within a certain time frame. We did match in time, but they said we missed the window because some internal processing did not occur in time. They were pretty difficult about giving us the discount and acted like they were doing me some huge favor when they ultimately decided to honor the discount.

Taking a Computer Lunch May 31, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Actually APIA APs arrive on Monday, unless the AP/you want an extra day for driver training. I’ve never been hit up for a gift basket, and although I’ve always been encouraged to pay for the NYC trip, I’ve never done it. I always call room service the day the AP arrives and pay for a fruit, cheese & cracker plate. Many of my APs have arrived too late for the dinner and would have otherwise gone hungry. APIA now hosts the orientation in White Plains, but still schleps the APs to Stamford for the train departures.

Now my teens help DH pick up the AP, while I do last-minute finishing touches after I put The Camel to bed (she may be a teen, but she’s a lark – early to bed and early to rise). I generally give the AP Friday morning off to unpack her suitcases, Skype with family, and have breakfast before jumping into the family routine.

Host Mom in the City June 1, 2014 at 7:05 pm

We’ve had very similar experiences with APIA. They certainly do tell you how you can order the NYC trip and how to send a welcome package, but I’ve never done either. I let the AP know that I have a little welcome package for her in her room so that it’s not one more thing to schlep. They arrive Monday and have always gotten to my house fairly late (8:30-9pm) Thursday evening. It’s actually worked well for me because then the first three days of “training” is Friday (a typical work day for our APs) and then Saturday and Sunday, and then they’re off on their own by Monday.

WarmStateMomma June 2, 2014 at 10:34 am

Room service is an awesome idea!

Multitasking Host Mom June 1, 2014 at 8:56 am

Go Au Pair has two options for orientation. First is the au pair can do an orientation on-line and then the host family can decided whatever date they want the au pair to arrive directly to their home. Second option is they do an orientation in a city outside NYC in a hotel (4 APs to a room) for about 4 days with the au pair arriving to the host family Thursday evening. This does cost extra to the host family to do the in-person orientation near NYC ($300), but since we did not have to pay airfare for the AP from the orientation site to our home, and the NYC tour was included, we did pay for our au pair to do orientation this in-person way. Plus, when I asked the agency about what host families should send to the orientation in the way of gift baskets, they had no idea what I was talking about. Refreshing!!

AussiePair May 31, 2014 at 1:39 pm

CCAP APs arrive Sunday or Monday and training goes from Tuesday until Friday (when they bus or fly APs out to the families), training is led at St John’s University. It’s optional for HP to purchase welcome baskets and/or the NYC tour, too of te rock etc. otherwise APs pay for the tour (I think it was $40-50).

However I have no idea how much of the transportation or accommodation fees HPs are required to pay.

Should be working May 31, 2014 at 2:26 pm

On the west coast we pay an extra $500 or so transportation fee with CCAP. The training school is 1.5 hrs from NYC, really crappy. I’d like them to be closer so that they can see NYC and don’t feel they have missed it. Welcome baskets and other crap are touted. We pay for the tour and tell her that we don’t buy the welcome basket, please don’t feel bad, but we like to make our own for when she arrives to our house.

AussiePair May 31, 2014 at 2:36 pm

A lot of au pairs that arrived on the Sunday or early Monday got to go into NYC on the train on their own and really explore the city. I arrived VERY late Monday night and was very jealous of those arriving earlier.

And you’re right the training school is really craplg, the rooms are either too hot or too cold, the showers are the worstni’ve seen in the U.S and don’t get me started in the beds and bedding..

Amelie May 31, 2014 at 3:54 pm

I was an AP with CCAP and my room was really, really cold during orientation. I called the manager, they said they’d come check, but they never did. It was freezing (it was January). I couldn’t sleep, I had to go to bed with many coats…


AussiePair May 31, 2014 at 5:48 pm

I had the exact opposite, I arrived in February and it was freezing, however the rooms were so boiling hot that it was hard to sleep at all, and there was no way you could have a blanket on, we even had to open the window during the night.

Multitasking Host Mom June 1, 2014 at 8:45 am

Oh the welcome baskets offered by the agency…that cost way more than the things in it and really aren’t that great of stuff either! I really hate that part of the AP program. But I also feel that guilt and worry that if I don’t do something the AP will be resentful. I know…my issue! We also pay for the NYC trip only, because this is probably our APs only chance to see NYC, and I want to make sure they can do it. After all I wouldn’t want to miss out on that. For the gift baskets, I don’t buy the pre-offered ones. We always send a few small item including a T-shirt (that has a logo from our city or a local sports team if I find out that is what they are into), handmade cards from my kids, and a few easy to transport snacks. Yes it is saving me money doing it this way, but I also hope the AP sees that we put a more thoughtful and personal touch on this. So far all of our APs have been wearing their T-shirts when we get to the airport to pick them up. It shows me that they must like getting them…plus it makes it a little easier to find them in a busy airport that way since I recognize what they are wearing!

AussiePair June 1, 2014 at 11:24 am

I think this is perfect, the gift baskets are kinda terrible, and often APs have no space to fit them into their already close to bursting suitcases. From experience it is a little hurtful to not receive anything at all (in my intake I would guess at 95% or more APs that did get baskets)

NNTexasHM June 1, 2014 at 12:58 pm

I’m glad to hear someone else complaining about those gift baskets. We used to be with APIA and I resented the suggestion to send stuff that was relatively impractical (2 dozen cookies, really?) and obviously low cost to them at a huge mark up. I also thought the deal of putting them up on shabby hotels outside of NY was unfortunate. Glad to be with another agency that doesn’t engage in those practices.

BackHome June 1, 2014 at 5:45 pm

If I remember correctly APC doesn’t want host families to send gift baskets or other things so noone gets disappointed about not getting anything while everyone else does.

TexasHM June 1, 2014 at 6:29 pm

I believe thats the same reason Interexchange doesn’t do baskets. 1 – they are a non-profit so not looking for more ways to stick it to the HPs for profit and 2 – doesn’t want anyone left out.

TexasHM May 31, 2014 at 2:11 pm

I think the HPs pay for transportation from orientation to home regardless of agency but I think some agencies charge a flat rate and the agency books transportation and some you (HP) make the arrangements and pay that directly (interexchange and APIA I believe).

HRHM May 31, 2014 at 6:30 pm

APIA had me/let me book our own flights for our AP. CC booked them for us but charged us pretty much what they cost. APC booked them for us and charged us DOUBLE what they actually cost. When I tried to buy my own, they basically said they wouldn’t allow us to have our AP if I did… Total rip off.

TexasHM May 31, 2014 at 6:49 pm

I would go bonkers if they did that to me! I usually use my frequent flyer miles to get The AP ticket because then if by some chance something happened it’s cancelable and I get my miles back. Plus I can usually find a last-minute low mileage ticket so it’s cheaper!

German Au-Pair May 31, 2014 at 6:58 pm

APC has some kind of system for the flights. When I tried to check in the night before I left for the US my confirmation code was invalid (PANIK!!) and somehow it got mixed up with the one from my connecting flight. Someone else had the same problem. They actually book it as a normal connecting flight, the time in NYC counted as layover which is why APs don’t have to pay baggage fee for their second flight. Maybe when they’re making you pay more it’s because the flight to the Hf is not actually listed as a seperate flight with seperate costs but they make you pay a fixed fee or a percentage of the total or something like that?

Host Mom in the City June 1, 2014 at 7:07 pm

Yet another thing that infuriated me about Cultural Care and yet another reason I will never use them again. They also charged me a bunch extra for transportation and wouldn’t let me just book it myself like APIA did.

WarmStateMomma June 2, 2014 at 8:05 am

APC charged us double the cost of our AP’s flight from training to our airport – and they didn’t fly her into the convenient airport for our city. I would have preferred to use miles (no baggage fees), but the domestic flights are a profit item for them.

Host Mom X June 2, 2014 at 4:38 pm

APC was super-snippy and non-compromising with me when I questioned their flight deal this past time. They acted so insulted when I suggested that the flights were just a way for them to make more money. (Especially if, as suggested above, they book as a layover- then they are really ripping off the families.) They finally said they’d make an exception and “allow” me to book a train ticket for our AP (flying from the NJ site to our city was kind of ridiculous; Amtrak was much more comfortable, easier, cheaper, and of course the station was closer to our home since APC was going to fly our AP to the further away airport – all in all, flying would have taken LONGER than the train). But – even though the Amtrak station at Newark airport is the same airport the APs were going to be flying out of, they refused to put our AP on the airport shuttle since we were going against their policy by using the train. We had a friend who lived nearby pick her up and drive her to the train station.

WarmStateMomma June 2, 2014 at 5:07 pm

API also charged similar fees even though they booked tickets for APs directly from their home country to the HF and had no US training. They had this info readily available, but the fees were high enough ($400+ for the largest American cities/airports) to show it was clearly a profit item for them.

TexasHM May 31, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Another question/topic:
We just early matched for the first time (5ish months out). For those of you that are regular early-matchers, do you find the enthusiasm fades? Do you regularly send them info/things to keep them engaged? Any tips? We already talked about her doing the online driving course before she comes, studying maps of the area and I’m going to send her some good US travel websites, anything else I should try to tackle/prep her for before arrival?

German Au-Pair May 31, 2014 at 7:01 pm

I matched 6 months before I came and me and the APs who were in the same boat always freaked out a bit when we didn’t hear from our HFs for a while. The ethusiasm doesn’t fade, believe me. Sending her pictures and updates, little anecdotes -things you would also share with friends or family- makes her feel included and also keeps the excitement up. If her birthday happens to be during that time consider sending her a postcard -and maybe some candy or something like that?- and she’ll die of excitement. It’s actually not that hard to keep a future AP happy…they are like puppies.

TexasHM May 31, 2014 at 7:31 pm

This is great ok. We are connected on Facebook and I have been sending her an occasional picture (the kind of thing I cc all the previous APs on – today it was the girls meeting Elsa :) and I planned on sending her the occasional tourism link or the weekend travel course link, stuff like that but seems the consensus is she will stay excited and no harm on matching early. :)

Returning HM May 31, 2014 at 10:56 pm

TexasHM, since we returned to the AP program after a two year break from 2009-2011, we have matched really early — Jan-Feb for late Aug arrival. Like you, we connect with our incoming APs over FB, and this helps keep a regular stream of interaction without having to put in too much energy or one-on-one focus. We also skype casually on a pretty regular basis (every 3-4 weeks) for a few minutes: if I see the incoming AP on skype on a Saturday, for example, I might message “Are you available to say hi for 5 minutes?” and often he is, so the children and I just say hi quickly and do a quick “how is your weekend going?” As often, our incoming AP will ping me and ask when we’re available to skype, and he also emails short 1-2 line emails with the children (9 and 12) every now and then. They LOVE getting his emails, and this interaction is all very casual and light so it’s not taking too much time and effort from either him or me. I usually try to have a one-on-one chat, whether over FB messenger or skype, about once a month with an incoming AP, to check on how they are feeling and what if any questions/anxieties have come up. This very regular contact prior to arrival has meant that our last several APs have very easily slipped into our families, because they know what is going on day-to-day and have some sense of the ebbs and flows of our family. My husband always laughs, though, as when my phone dings with a FB message, it’s as likely to be a message or photo from a former or future AP as it is to be an actual friend of mine…:-)

Our incoming AP posted a picture of himself last night holding up an American flag, and he started a FB group for APs who are arriving on Aug 25th, so I definitely don’t have any reason to think his enthusiasm has waned since we matched back in early Feb. :-) I’m sure it will be the case with yours!

Taking a Computer Lunch May 31, 2014 at 10:01 pm

I typically match 3 1/2 – 4 months out. I follow the AP’s lead – quiet when she wants to be quiet, responding when she asks questions. About 10 days before she departs I usually send out a “I bet you’re wondering what to pack…” email – because, quite frankly, it’s extremely hot in my city when the AP arrives. Also, The Camel is the The Camel because she protects her airway by spitting, so I warn the AP to pack old clothes, as well as nice ones for going out with friends (no sense in wearing a new white blouse to feed a child with special needs a spinach omelet).

I also ask about favorite breakfast foods – I like to have the fridge and pantry stocked with a few familiar foods when everything is so strange. I’m sure it doesn’t taste like food at home, but I hope it resembles it!

I do try to give the incoming AP time and space to say “see you later” to friends and family. Many of my APs have never been on an airplane before coming to the U.S. – the goodbyes can last weeks as they travel to grandparents, obtain their visa, finalize documentation, and go out with friends.

WarmStateMomma June 2, 2014 at 9:25 am

We matched 4 months out with AP#2. We emailed once every week or two. Sometimes she found a pretext for it, sometimes I did. It definitely helped us get to know each other better.

I gave her the Amazon and Target links so she could see what’s available here and what everything costs. She brought only one suitcase because she thought everything would be cheaper here (it is). I’d give her this kind of info a month or two before she arrives so she doesn’t splurge on a big ticket item if she’s better off buying that here.

MamaGigi June 2, 2014 at 1:33 pm

We’re early matchers :) 6 months before each one :)

We send occasional emails with information, updates on our kids, and pictures. Neither of our Au Pairs have lost enthusiasm (though they have been amazingly stellar in every other way as well).

Skyping occasionally with my kids has been great b/c they feel like they know them before they come (though I think skyping is totally awkward for adults :)

LondonMum May 31, 2014 at 6:27 pm

We always match early, I have a new au pair lined up for September already, I just need to know that childcare is sorted!! Usually I don’t do that much till much nearer the time but I’m a liaise fare kind of person! One au pair used to email us every couple of weeks just to say what she had been up to and ask about us etc, this built up a good rapport and we got to know each other a bit better before she arrived which was good. The enthusiasm doesn’t fade, I find it becomes more intense as time gets closer. I usually tell them what type of clothing they are likely to need when they first arrive, they usually go home for Christmas and bring back Spring clothes. Reminders are a swim suit and running shoes!

To be honest I never thought of sending a tube map or local area map but I guess they can google that. I also tell them to use google earth and put in our post code (zip code) so they can see the area.

Also I send photos now and again with the emails, it keeps them up to date with what the kids are doing. Also photos of the room/bathroom she will have so she can get used to it. I usually have to buy new bed linen for each AP (nail polish and period stains!) and sometimes give them a choice of colour which makes them feel part of the welcome process.

No other brilliant ideas I’m afraid …

LondonMum June 1, 2014 at 2:58 am

Stupid auto correct, meant to say “laissez faire”!

German Au-Pair May 31, 2014 at 6:52 pm

APC arrives Monday and stays until Thursday. (I think the IQ stayed until Friday). No gift basket. And I’m pretty sure the NYC tour was for free. No chance of actually doing anything on your own. The hotel is actually in NJ and the tour is guided and you literally have 20 minutes on Times Square (quickest picture- and souvenir-stop of my life!) You have one afternoon to yourself but your only chance is to take a shuttle bus to a mall. Other agencies stay IN NYC. But at least our hotel was good…I’ve heard horrible stories from the CC accomodation.
Teachers are fun and really try their best, content is only revelant for people who haven’t done ANY research and are still wondering on which continent they ended up.

WarmStateMomma May 31, 2014 at 7:18 pm

My AP is with APC and she said the same thing about the logistics and NYC tour. Disappointing.

TexasHM May 31, 2014 at 7:39 pm

So is Interexchange the only agency that actually does orientation IN NYC?!?! I realize these Interexchange perks (being in NYC, having free tours, getting an extra night free, not having to deal with baskets) are in the AP favor and don’t directly affect HPs but as long as I am not paying a lot more for them (we pay a lot less with Interexchange ironically) I love the idea that our new APs get a much better experience. My AP says the hotel was awesome.

Repeataupair June 1, 2014 at 11:12 am

Actually it has changed a bit since the training is in the new hotel, they have a shuttle to go to NYC and to a small mall with Walmart and such.
I’m not sure what is allowed on Monday since I arrived late, for Tuesday you may go to NYC with the tour, go to the mall or stay at the hotel (which is what we chose, there is a pool and internet actually works once 90% of the other au pairs are not connected).
For Wednesday we chose the shuttle to NYC it is about 26$ if I remember well and you get free time in NYC, 3 to 4 hours depending on traffic, it is not much comparing what some other au pairs might have but it’s still enough to go up the empire state building or do a limo tour, hang out in Times square, etc. If you’re organized you can do quite a bit.
For Thursday we leave that day, my flight had been canceled and originally I was suppose to have a new flight only on Friday morning so APC had told me I could go to NYC for the afternoon and evening once my flight and my room were booked but I ended up flying to another airport so I did not stay. The IQ who stay until Friday can go again to NYC on Thursday if they’d like.

There is no gift basket or so because APC tells the HFs not to send any. I actually got a welcome email the day I arrived and then got a welcome banner & basket once at the HF’s house, which travelling by plane is much more convenient since it does not give us extra luggage to carry.

Concerning the flights I do think they are over priced as well, the only thing I know, as it was already mentionned, is that we are on a connecting flight if we flew with United already from our home country, that helped us not to have any luggage fee if we have only one piece of luggage.

I did the APC academy twice and I find them quite organized, there is a big system and the hotels were very nice each time. We might not be in NYC but with jetlag and such taking the tour gives a first look onto the city and then going by ourselves the next day allows to do one or two things not covered by the tour.

Concerned Au Pair May 31, 2014 at 8:30 pm

Different question:
My kids had their last day of school last Thursday. (Girl 5, boy 8) the parents signed them up for a couple camps, but they also want me to do “school” with them during the summer. This isn’t my first summer with them, but the first where actual school stuff is involved. Boy has trouble with writing, he hates it! He will be in 3rd grade in August. Girl knows abc and is very interested in learning. She will be in Kindergarten in August. My question is, how do I get them to learn? Boy thinks it is not fair because summer break is supposed to be a break. I told him that I understand, but that I for want him to forget what he learned. He likes to read so that’s good. We checked out lots of books at the library. But writing and math… I asked him what he would like to do that involves writing. I have him ideas such as writing letters, dairy, reports on shows he watches etc. he won’t do it, without a temper tantrum! I really don’t know what I should do with him, because I understand him, but the parents want him to practice. I tried the reward system, it didn’t work.. I also don’t want to punish him. We are very close, but this always is the sad part of the day;( I am grateful for any advice!! Thanks you!! Sorry for the errors, typing with my phone;)

Taking a Computer Lunch May 31, 2014 at 10:13 pm

This is one of the biggest differences from when I was a child. Summer used to be summer, but now many schools send home packets of work to be turned in the first week of school. You might find out how much writing is expected. If he’s going into 3rd grade next Fall, then 3-5 sentences should be enough. Many boys find the physical act of writing very difficult. Kids who are great readers are often frustrated by writing because they can’t write as fast as they can think. Don’t correct the spelling or punctuation – and concentrate on reading. What works with my guy is to ask him when he is going to do homework/schoolwork. Give me a time and then there is no argument. If writing is a real chore, then why not just one sentence at a time several times a day?

Anonymous in CA June 1, 2014 at 12:38 am

Agreed with TACL. It would be good to find out if it’s handwriting or just the act of writing.
Some ideas:
– create some context / a larger project that involves writing and math. For example, together create a recipe (let him mix up almost anything as an experiment, with the goal of eventually writing out the recipe as if it were for 4 people); then ask him / help him figure out how he would make the recipe for 12 people (sneaky multiplication enters the scene!). Or a recipe he knows that you might not know (maybe S’mores?); he could write it out as an American recipe book for you.
– don’t laugh…I know that my son would LOVE to draw his own money! And in doing so, he would have to draw a picture, write some words, adapt it to his own liking, of course. He could create his very own currency (“Johnny dollars” for instance). Then there are all sorts of things you can do with your new Johnny dollars that will require him to do math. He might make you start paying him for all sorts of things – that’s fine! Make it a game.
– what else does he like to do? Create some larger project around that. For example, does he like music? He can write a song and eventually have a performance for his parents (I’m thinking a week-long project, maybe longer, with a fun culmination). Or, does he like how things work? Have him ‘invent’ something and then write a user manual for it.

I think the point I’m getting at is that you’re unlikely to have success (or joy) if it’s just “sit down and write three sentences every day”; but if you create some context, he might actually find that he LIKES writing when there’s a purpose or a real application.

Two more thoughts:
1. Is there something about fine motor skills that is hard for him? You can sort of encourage fine motor practice without him knowing it. Do things like play with playdough, beeswax, or modeling clay for a few minutes every day; any chance you could get him to sew something (like a pouch for rocks and stones)? That would be great fine motor practice that will benefit writing. Encourage him to use block crayons for a special drawing project (it’s virtually impossible to grip incorrectly with a block crayon). There are many many other things you can do like this.

2. Google around for homeschooling resources. Not that the family is officially homeschooling, but I imagine there are loads of resources available that might give you other ideas.

And if it’s the handwriting that’s hard, I know for instance that programs exist to help with this, like Handwriting without Tears.

Good luck!

exaupair June 1, 2014 at 11:30 am

The boy I was looking after had issues with writing and reading too, he wasn’t struggling with it, he just hated doing it.
We had this game where we were creating a story on whatever, I wrote one or two sentences, than he had to continue with his own sentence, and so on. At the end of the day we were reading each others parts as the whole story. We did it once or twice a week, for the whole day about 15 mins at the time, otherwise he would easily found out it was actually learning not having fun.
My kiddo was of similar age so it might work for yours too.

Concerned Au Pair June 1, 2014 at 11:33 am

Thank you! Those are all great ideas!! I will definitely try them out! He is a science guy:) So he likes to know how things work etc.
I hope something works, otherwise this is going to be a loooong summer!

exaupair June 1, 2014 at 11:51 am

Oh I have another idea for you, just came to me now, if he’s a science guy create a science project that will last for the whole summer, have him be a project leader and you will be his assistant, together you could write kind of a log on every part of the project from the initial stage until the final thesis, few sentences at the time with graphs and drawings etc., this will make him draw, write, read and have his science discoveries all in one.

TexasHM June 1, 2014 at 11:53 am

Is he competitive? If so make it a competition. Maybe you race or play games he likes but incorporate writing like play I spy but have him write the clues on a dry erase board? What are they trying to accomplish? Better handwriting? Not losing skills over the summer? Comprehension? Find out so you can focus on hitting whatever target they are looking for – writing is pretty broad. If they want comprehension and he loves the computer you could let him type, my 8 yr old would eat that up. Can he send emails to grandparents? Mine loves that. Or maybe find a friend from class he can pen pal with – through mail or email.

HRHM June 1, 2014 at 1:11 pm

LOVE the penpal idea. Do you have a friend or relative back home with decent english skills that would be willing to write back and forth with him once a week? Maybe a younger cousin who could also use the English practice? They could correspond about their summmer activities and both benefit!

Concerned Au Pair June 1, 2014 at 1:55 pm

He writes letters to my sister, but even that takes a lot of convincing.. He has trouble staying in the lines, and his letter don’t look very nice. Preschooler writes her abc nicer, of course I don’t tell him that. We are doing a science experiment since a couple weeks. Aquaponics. He loves that, because he learns a lot about science. Ammonia, nitrates, nitrogen fixing bacteria etc. (I major in biochemistry) but when it comes to writing the lab report, he would only do it on computer… He loves the experiment, because I let him test the water, and feed the fish and the plants are growing it’s crazy!! But writing.. Not so much..;(

Concerned Au Pair June 1, 2014 at 1:57 pm

One thing to add, he is good at spelling, so it’s not that he doesn’t know the words.

Concerned Au Pair June 1, 2014 at 2:11 pm

It’s funny that you pointed out the fine motor skills, because drawing also isn’t his strong suit. So maybe I need to do some research on how to improve fine motor skills. Because in 3rd grade he will have to learn cursive writing;(

German Au-Pair June 1, 2014 at 4:39 pm

Does he like the zoo?You could go with him and have him write a report about it. Maybe you can work on a little project together, I just had my brother (who is older but has the same problem of having problems and not wanting to work) do this. Find a topic and then find little individual steps to be completed over one or two days (and see how much independence you can give him with managing his own time). Some might involve Math, some reading, some writing. Can involve an experiment, too. There’s a REALLY cool and esay way to make your own paper. Google that and see if you can do this with him. Takes a while, involves an experiment, needs writing down the steps, he can read up on how it’s done AND he can later write ON his paper. Do sth like that with the goal of creating a presentation -little sister can help with creating the posters!- for his parents. Maybe buy some glasses without glass (if he doesn’t have any) and a white shirt that needs to be personalized as his project outfit.
Everything that requires him not to simply do what is asked but also learn something and take some responsibility will show him that writing is not just stupid and annoying but actually fun and useful.
Maybe you can to some kind of pacours for his sister with him. With little tasks she needs to do that he needs to write out and read to her and help her perform.

5kids=aupair June 1, 2014 at 8:32 am

Our new Brazilian AP arrived last Thur. We are overlapping w/our Current AP, also Brazilian. This new girl is 25. We went to our cottage for the holiday weekend and she’s spent a week “training.” Today she is at a cluster event. We can already tell it isn’t working. Homesickness (at 25?), wallflower tendancies, zero initiative, told us and another AP that she doesn’t know how to stop our kids from fighting and does nothing. Then the worst, she LOST our 4 year old! She was told in her native language not to do laundry and just to watch the kids. She had 2 of the kids, that was it. She went and did laundry and our daughter walked over 11 houses away! Our old AP leaves tomorrow and my DH is out of town all week. It’s going to be a long week, I’m sure ending in a rematch. Can this be saved at all? She’s crying a lot.

exaupair June 1, 2014 at 11:20 am

She didn’t notice your child wandered off 10 houses away?!? I would have sent her into rematch the very minute I found out to be honest, even if she was amazing otherwise. But from what you say it sounds like you’re not impressed with her personality at all.
IMHO being a wallflower is not entirely a bad thing, I could even probably cope with homesickness, although I couldn’t provide a shoulder to cry on, but what you said indicates she’s not a good fit for you in terms of personality. Even if she was doing a fairly ok job with your child the personality issues would have gotten down on you faster than you think, but then you wouldn’t have solid grounds to initiate a rematch.
I don’t believe your relationship with the AP can be saved at this point, you should cut your ties. I’m not quite sure what stops you, she already proved herself incapable of being in sole charge of your kids. If you’re afraid her chances of finding another Family within 2 weeks time are close to nil, you could give her a reference, although I wouldn’t for the sake of potential recipients of such a “gift”.

NNTexasHM June 1, 2014 at 1:16 pm

I have to echo the comments – rematch. This girl is too concerned with her own situation to follow clear directions (how do you not understand “don’t do laundry and watch the kids”???). That would signal an unwillingness to follow directions that would not fly with me and I worry about your 4 year old’s safety. I also agree there are some AMAZING candidates in rematch. We found 3 very quickly and I also find that because they need to find their next situation quickly they are much quicker to respond so you and be open about what doesn’t work for them.

Good luck!

WarmStateMomma June 2, 2014 at 9:42 am

In 10 days she’s managed to defy you and endanger your child. We hosted a “child” AP (26 yo) and it only gets worse as she gets lonelier. If the AP were a nanny or daycare, you’d pull the plug without any guilt, right? I’d do it now and be grateful that you found out before anyone got hurt.

I also wouldn’t give her a good (or neutral) recommendation for rematch. It’s not fair to place another HF’s kids at risk when you know she ignored yours.

I feel really bad for your family to have all this to deal with when you have to say goodbye to your departing AP and your husband is out of town.

Seattle Mom June 2, 2014 at 12:52 pm

This sounds very bad. In the first few days and weeks the new AP is usually on her best behavior, trying to impress you. It’s understandable to be flustered and maybe make a few mistakes, but losing a 4 year old is not a forgivable mistake.

TexasHM June 1, 2014 at 8:46 am

5kids= I am SO SORRY thats horrible! Sounds like a maturity issue. I think she’s in WAY over her head and losing your 4 year old would have been instant rematch for me. The little stuff I can overlook but losing my kid 2 houses away let alone 11 is insane and I wouldn’t be able to trust her plus all the other things you mentioned could be rematch reasons themselves (zero initiative, not taking your direction, crying a lot/homesickness). There are wonderful APs in rematch and you have a great opportunity to give one of them a good experience – my rockstar APs family was kicked out of the program rightfully so don’t think that rematch APs are damaged goods or less than ideal. Amazing APs get lied to and treated badly just like families sometimes get lied to and treated badly. Its important to screen just like you would for a new AP and do your diligence but just like there are gems in the regular pool they are in the rematch pool too with one additional advantage I have noticed – rematch APs seem SUPER grateful. They are enthusiastic and they know that you saved this experience for them and that if they rematch again they will likely not find a family or the agency will send them home so they are even more motivated to make it work with your family and I can’t say enough about how awesome our rematch experience was – isn’t that crazy!? A lot of that was due to the top notch support we got from the agency though (we actually used that opportunity to switch agencies). If I were you I would do it ASAP – the stress on your family will only get worse and believe it or not, she might be relieved! They usually know when they are in over their heads and if she’s crying a lot she may already want to go home so you don’t want to be surprised if she springs that on you, get a new AP in there now! If she wants to continue the program she obviously needs to find a better match. As is commonly said on here she is not the lid for your pot! Don’t waste time trying to make her fit.

Boys Mama June 2, 2014 at 5:31 pm

These moms are right. You need to let her go, end of story. Our only homesickness/incapable of childcare AP was 26 years old, it happens. And our two best APs were from rematch. If you haven’t already initiated rematch, do it today or you will spend the rest of the year wishing you had.

Repeataupair June 1, 2014 at 12:43 pm

New Discussion

I have a question for you, I am an au pair in Virginia (DC area), extending in California. I would like to bring with me gifts to the children and parents when I am moving there but I am having a few difficulties since I don’t want to bring something they already have. They seem to have a lot of things and I wondered if any of you who are from California know of a few things that you cannot find there.
The kids are a 10yo boy (loves soccer & basketball), a 8yo girl (loves soccer, monkey bars, playground…) and a 5 yo girl (loves pink and chocolate ^^). I love board games so I’m thinking about one that can be played by everyone such as skip bo (which is not too common so less of a chance they already own it). They are ton of things I see at the toy store I could bring but I’d like to find something that cannot be bought everywhere if possible.
For the parents I’m totally out of idea, the other times I would bring things from my home country, wine, etc but this time it’s different. I’m not even sure if this is expected to bring something when you are in extension.

exaupair June 1, 2014 at 12:55 pm

I think it’s never expected, but it’s always better to have an ice breaker than not to have it. I didn’t bring gifts for the first nor the second HF, partly because I knew they won’t have a welcome gift for me, but if I was to think of something I give them some handmade gifts, so that they know I’ve actually made an effort.
Your idea with board games sounds good too, a board game evening on your first weekend with them will bring you all together.

Repeataupair June 1, 2014 at 1:24 pm

Yes, expected or not I want to bring something but for the parents I have no clue right now :/ Maybe I’ll go to barnes and nobles and find a photo book about my country

HRHM June 1, 2014 at 1:21 pm

For the kids, I think skipbo, mancala, yatzee are all less commonly owned games that are also pretty small in size and good for the ages. For the parents, maybe a small book about your country (you can buy on amazon). But it really isn’t expected so try not to stress about it too much!

Repeataupair June 1, 2014 at 7:02 pm

Thank you !

SingleHM June 1, 2014 at 11:20 pm

How old are you? There are some really great Virginia wines. If you can’t buy some, maybe your host parents can.

Repeataupair June 2, 2014 at 9:51 am

I am 23 so I can, but it does hurt me to buy wine from Virginia since I am french haha :-) But great idea, I’ll look into it ! (Makes me think I might be able to find french wine in a specialized store)

WarmStateMomma June 2, 2014 at 10:19 am

If you can find one from your home region, even more personal!

NoVA Twin Mom June 2, 2014 at 8:39 am

I LOVE your game idea, but wanted to add a few ideas in case you’re looking for something else/additional or if someone else reads later with the same question. What about something DC-specific for the kids? You say the two oldest are into soccer – what about a DC United shirt for each? Or Wizards for the boy into basketball? I know they make a “pink” Redskins jersey, look into if they make a “pink” version of the others for the youngest? (I know my three year olds only demand that a shirt be pink, they don’t really mind what else is on the shirt, so even if she’s not really into sports, the PINK would be enough to carry it).

Or try one of the “nicer” souvenir stores – like the “White House Gift Shop” run by the Historical Society – it’s just outside the security of the White House. The stuff there is a little more expensive but definitely better quality than other souvenir stores. The Virginia Shop in Old Town Alexandria has some nice Virginia souvenirs that are Virginia-specific rather than DC-specific, so a “parent” gift from there may also work. (Yes, both of these places have some VERY nice/expensive stuff. I’m not saying you have to get those. They also have some more affordable stuff that may work out for you).

You don’t say where you’re from – can you find a local place that sells items from your country? Even the chocolate eggs from Kinder that seem to be everywhere but here? There’s a German Gourmet (I think?) in Falls Church or IKEA in Woodbridge that may have something similar to “from home” that would be fun. Or I’m starting to see some of the Haribo products here that I haven’t seen before – are those popular “back home?” My kids loved getting gummi bears from our new au pair!

Or – will amazon (or your parents :)) ship a soccer jersey from your home area to you for even a reasonable amount of shipping cost? Because that would work for ALL of the kids and a nice connection to your own country.

And I agree that while gifts aren’t expected they’re definitely a nice ice breaker.

Repeataupair June 2, 2014 at 9:58 am

Thank you for your great ideas, I have a nice candy shop in Tyson’s Corner in VA that sells many candy from Europe and I was thinking about getting them a little package to share of those, the fact you mentionned it as well makes me want to get those even more. Concerning the Kinder Eggs they actually are illegal in the US, apparently the toy inside of it is too dangerous for youger children. Haribo candies are for sure on my list (I am French btw), not so much of a melting risk !

For the jerseys I have looked into it and found one boy one that could work but since I could not find something from home for the girls I wasn’t sure if wanted to get that, I might look into other websites, with the soccer world cup coming up the prices have gone crazy :( I’ll check with my mom to see if she can find something too, thank you for the idea !

WarmStateMomma June 2, 2014 at 10:20 am

Jerseys are expensive and the kid may not wear it, but a poster, t-shirt or other small item would be nice.

AussiePair June 2, 2014 at 10:38 am

In regards to Kinder eggs, it’s not that te toy is dangerous, it’s that there is a law concerning items contained inside foods, it’s illegal if the item enclosed in the food has no function (so lollipops and Popsicles are ok). I know a French AP who has successfully had her family ship some of these to her with some other items. Another place to look would be World Market, I’m not sure where there is one in VA, but I know there is one in Rockville in MD.

I felt really bad going to my rematch and extension families because I didn’t have any nice Australian books to give them (my preferred gift), and had to make do with some Australian cookies.

TexasHM June 2, 2014 at 11:04 am

I agree we don’t expect gifts but it is a good icebreaker and this might be too big a pain but honestly, if you even made cookies and brought them on the plane that would thrill us and our kids to no end (or some other kind of food that travels well). Its the thought that counts. Other good gifts from APs – little perfume bottles for the girls and candies (french AP these were from the area of France she is from), kids book in APs language, magnet for the fridge of APs city or country, keychain of APs flag, etc. Definitely not anything expensive or big, little stuff is great!

NoVA Twin Mom June 2, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Or – to expand the flag/pin/magnet idea – there’s an Alamo Flag in Seven Corners by Target. They probably have a LARGE number of things with the French flag on it, and their prices tend to be pretty good.

WarmStateMomma June 2, 2014 at 10:03 am

As a host mom, I really don’t think it’s important for the AP to bring gifts for the HPs. We asked our AP to bring lots of photos from home so we could see more about her life and her personality. Host dads are super hard to shop for and people’s taste varies a lot even for wine/chocolates. My AP gave me a pretty scarf – which packs well. Honestly, we just wanted to see photos of her in her normal life and have her share what’s going on in the photos. When my family is invited over to another family’s home, we often bring something for their kids but not for the parents. Gifts for kids are like indirect gifts for the parents.

I think it’s important to bring something for the kids, but don’t spend so much that it becomes awkward (our first AP did this). The game idea sounds appropriate to me. If there’s a fun game from your home country that doesn’t require language skills, that would be even better. For the soccer fans, perhaps you could get them a t-shirt/poster/whatever with the logo of a soccer team from your country. Five-year old girls like almost everything, but hair accessories would be an easy item to pack for a little girl. We loved that our current AP brought a couple of books for our child from her home country – especially since the AP speaks her native language with our child.

For the family you are leaving, consider sharing any photos you took of their children during the year. You could load these on an SD card for the family or upload them to a site like Shutterfly and send an invite to the HPs. If you like your current HF, I would also write them a farewell letter and leave it behind as a surprise. Our beloved former exchange students left heartfelt letters and a video, which still make me cry. There is nothing they could have bought that would mean as much as those letters and video.

Boys Mama June 2, 2014 at 5:37 pm

It’s very sweet that you want to bring a gift and I’m sure you can find something that conveys that intention without costing you money and inconvenience. I always tell our APs not to spend money on us… our kids too but definitely not for us. If you are crafty at all, make something or write a heartfelt letter. Make a little “gift certificate” for each child promising them a one on one date with you… like “I’ll take you out for ice cream” or “to a movie”.

I just want a nice warm hug and to see my kids greeted with love when I meet each new AP. Gifts are absolutely never expected! Good luck to you!

Repeataupair June 3, 2014 at 9:20 am

Thank you for all of your inputs, that really helped me, I think I’ll go with something more personnal than material. I had started to create a game where the step were to do activities with me, I think I will stick with it and bring a couple of things to share for everyone :)

Peachtree Mom June 1, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Wow, we had that experience last year. Within two weeks I started I told my husband this will not work. Our daughter was 5 years old. Our new au pair would not leave her room, was silent, would leave the house and drive the car for hours, not engage at all with our daughter and the finally the breaking point was when I found my daughter crying at the breakfast table that she missed our departed au pair and the new au pair just sitting there with her arms crossed and lips tight not doing anything looking the other way. I thought to myself you are done and put my daughter on my lap and helped her with breakfast. We got a fabulous girl who sadly completes her year in August. We used Euraupair who also has orientation in NYC. With some flags you can tell early it will not work.

HRHM June 1, 2014 at 3:21 pm

New topic: Where is the line between our AP encouaging independance and sloughing her work off onto the kids?

Our current AP is NOT the neatest person in the world and despite having a very light schedule, doesn’t devote much of her “non-kid” hours to taking care of business around the house. Nothing I ask her to do is out of line with the SD rules (not having her do my wash or clean my bathroom) unless it is part of being 50% of the adults in our house (yes, I would like her to take out the trash when it’s full every so often and help make a dinner now and again) but it is like pulling teeth to get her to pick up after the kids. When I mention it, she acts like it’s their faults, since it’s their mess. And to a degree, I concur. However, their teeth don’t get brushed, homework done or shoes put away without someone enforcing it. And she doesn’t…

She’ll wash their clothes and fold them, but she leaves them on the dresser for them to put away – which would be fine if she actually then made sure they did so, but she doesn’t so they sit there until the weekend, (allowing her to forgo dusting the dresser since she won’t move the stuff to clean – same goes with the floor) and then over the weekend, I have to be the hammer and get things back to where they should be.

This scenerio repeats itself in every room – kitchen, living room, hallway, their shared bath, you name it. It’s driving me nuts.

We are slated to change out in July and in many other ways she is superior to most of our past APs (although, we’ve had some major duds!) and it’s not something I’m likely to get her to change without riding her like a donkey the last month – don’t really want to end the year that way. Any advice on how to explain the fine line to the incoming AP so that I don’t have to spend the whole year micromanaging this aspect?

Concerned Au Pair June 1, 2014 at 3:32 pm

How old are your kids?

HRHM June 1, 2014 at 3:51 pm

6 and 9. Old enough to put their dishes in the dishwasher, make their own beds, etc. They do some of the stuff without prompting but when they don’t and she doesn’t make sure they do, in my mind, it is her not doing her job…

She doesn’t have to be the one to actually do it, but if it doesn’t get done it’s her issue, not to be blamed on the kids. It would be different it they were 13, but even then, if they need to be ridden to get things done, so be it.

exaupair June 1, 2014 at 4:50 pm

In defense of your AP – she is in a situation where one of your kids is perfectly capable of doing some simple “chores” unsupervised but the other isn’t. Maybe she thinks that if she asks the older one to do easy things like making the bed, brushing teeth, putting folded laundry away etc, but still does it for the younger one she will come across unfair, therefor she chooses not to assist both of them. But on the flip side she doesn’t remind them to do things and as a result nothing is done…
And there’s the cultural thing too, maybe in her home country for kids as young as 5 or 6 being somehow self sufficient is obvious?
For your next AP-make a chapter in your handbook and point out which chores your kids will need help with and what they can do with a little supervision.

Repeataupair June 1, 2014 at 7:10 pm

The thing is, whatever the way things are done in our country, we are not here to educate the children but to reinforce the parents education, for that reason if things need to be done, she is in charge of either doing it, helping the kids doing it or supervise them doing it. She should not be just telling them to do it and stop there.
I would have a discussion with her, we know why are here, and if there is extra hours you could do, i would add to her schedule 1/2h everyday which would be called “pick up time” where she goes around the house and make sure the room is neat. You could with time have an arrangement where if the pick up has been done with the kids during the day she can use the 1/2h for something else.

Taking a Computer Lunch June 1, 2014 at 3:55 pm

It sounds like you’re in countdown mode. I would recommend telling this AP, “You know I think you’re a fantastic AP, but there’s one thing that’s bothering me…” She’s right, she shouldn’t be picking up after older children, but it is her job to supervise its completion. Tell her it’s really bugging you – and you really want to end the year on a positive note.

For the next AP – put the need to supervise picking up, finishing homework, checking that teeth are brushed in the handbook – and then reinforce it. Most of my APs have done the household talks with one word of reminding. The ones that require job coaching, need constant reminders. When the job coached AP asks for a favor, then it’s okay to say no when the work hasn’t been done.

WarmStateMomma June 2, 2014 at 10:17 am

Our first AP was raised by wolves and left dirty diapers and smears of food on the floor, so I understand your frustration. To make a long story short, it wasn’t a problem we could fix with that AP. With the second AP, I was more prepared. I made a daily log for her to complete as the day progresses.

There are spaces for her to fill in nap time start/stop, what the child ate, what activities they did, what we need to get from the store, and then there is a daily checklist and a weekly checklist with a yes/no to circle. So I can reinforce each day that the AP is expected to do activities with the child, straighten up the daily toy scatter, etc. And I can reinforce the specific weekly tasks (change crib sheets, clean baby/AP bathrooms, etc.). I knew it would be hard for me to keep nagging – super awkward – so the daily log does it in a way that makes it her responsibility. I look at the log each day when I come home from work and ask any questions I have. It spares the AP from getting “grilled” about the day by both HD and I. The hour or two I spent on creating this log was so worth it because the tasks are done about 90% of the time and I’ve never had to nag.

Maybe you could even ask the current AP to use the log for her last month so you can see if it covers everything you need and get her feedback. I was in your shoes earlier this year and it’s a HUGE relief to have one less person to clean up after. July will arrive eventually.

WarmStateMomma June 2, 2014 at 10:18 am

FWIW – she tells me it takes 5 minutes or less to fill it out because it’s largely box-checking or listing foods/activities.

HRHM June 2, 2014 at 6:41 pm

Do you just print out individual sheets or did you make a book online? Is each day the same or do you have them customized to reflect specific tasks on specific days (sheets on friday, vacuuming on tuesday, etc)?

I am really looking forward to the change over . Kind of exhausted right now.

WarmStateMomma June 3, 2014 at 6:19 am

I print out individual sheets. It’s just a Word document. The top is fill-in-the-blank or small areas for daily stuff (naps, food, activities). The middle has more places for her to list new words, stuff we need to buy (for baby, AP or home) and things to add to the family calendar. So the middle isn’t used every day. Then there is a yes/no for daily activities (straighten up the toy explosion, empty the dishwasher, etc.) and finally a yes/no for weekly activities (clean floor of nursery, clean baby/AP bathrooms, etc.).

I learned here that “clean the nursery” is too vague. So I have “change the crib sheet/mattress cover,” “clean the nursery floor,” and “baby laundry.”

The baby sleeps 3-4 hours per day, so anything other than cleaning her room can be done then. The AP is not scheduled for 45 hours per week and she can get to the baby’s room whenever she wants – after a long day of watching the baby or on her days off. We are only 2 months in, but it works so far.

Seattle Mom June 3, 2014 at 12:10 am

Wow this is genius… I think I’m going to create something like that for my next AP. My APs keep a little journal but it’s up to them to guess what I want them to write. They usually get it about 50% right. I could even start with my current AP, she probably wouldn’t mind…

exaupair June 1, 2014 at 7:37 pm

Repeataupair@all you’ve said is true the AP should adapt the parenting model of the HF, but in all honesty, if I was looking after a child of 10 or 11 who doesn’t know how to put folded clothes away, get themselves a glass of water and the like I would drop parents rules and started to reinforce my own. Partly because I’m not the kind of person who will abide by the rules I personally find pointless. Worst that would happen-they would fire me, best that would happen-they would stop raising an individual who has no idea how to wipe their own bottom, to be completely blunt.

AussiePair June 1, 2014 at 9:24 pm

I don’t think this sounds like an issue of the children not knowing how to do these things, they probably just need reminding.

Maybe it’s too late for this au pair, but with the incoming au pair you could either create or get her to create a chart with the kids, include all the chores that need to be done (can either be a daily or weekly chart). Explain to her that the children need to complete these charts and that you expect her to help and encourage them to get them done. Sometimes a visual aid is helpful for both children and adults. Hopefully that way the chart will remind the children too and you and the au pair won’t need to harp at them.

Perhaps if they did a really good job at completely the chart every day for a week or every week for a month they can do something fun with the au pair or as a family (go get ice cream or see a movie together etc.)

HRHM June 1, 2014 at 9:34 pm

You are right, they “know” how to do all these things themselves (certainly the older one) and just need to be ridden. I don’t know why, but they do (personality?) and I ride them when I am “on deck” hence the fact that everything is put right over the weekend. Then, I’m irritated when I have to step over stuff every day because she isn’t either getting them to do it or doing it herself (I would prefer first that she get them to do it, but whatever…) I work full time and don’t think I should have to do this while I paying her to do it as well.

I like the idea of the chart and will definitely implement this with the new AP in the beginning. As for current AP, I think half is cultural (I know that mostGerman children are independant earlier and she has a sister the same age as little DD) and some is that she just doesn’t see/isn’t bothered by a slimy dishwasher handle/crumbs on the counter, dusty furniture, crap all over the floor, food under the table. (her room is routinely a condemmable hazard zone!) We have had conversations about mess previously and she seems puzzled by what I think is amiss…


AussiePair June 1, 2014 at 9:59 pm

I don’t think you’re being unreasonable, and it’s not like your au pair has an infant or young children that can often make getting these chores done difficult. But if au pairs with infants and toddlers can get these chores done (and even occasionally have the kids help). I don’t see why you shouldn’t be able to expect that of your APs.

You can always talk to the au pair, like others have said “I want to finish your time off here on a good note, if there’s anything you need let me know. But I really need you to do x, y and z. It makes me life much easier, which is why we have an AP and it means I spend the weekend having a good time with my family instead of nagging them to do chores “. But the most important thing is that you start the year off right with the next au pair, just remember to be clear and specify about your wants and needs, and modeling how you want things done helps so much. When your au pair first arrives try and have your house crazy near and clean, if the AP thinks this is the way the house usually is I would think she would be more inclined to pitch in and keep the house at this standard (I know I always try keep the house tad close to how it is at itt’d cleanest)

As for the au pairs room, I must admit that no matter how clean and tidy I try to keep the common and children’s areas of the house I can be really terrible about my bedroom. I do tidy it about once a week, but it can get pretty bad until the next time I tidy it, I think this is a personality/age thing, and might be something you need to just accept or ignore.

I hope you have a lot of luck with your next au pair!

Should be working June 2, 2014 at 12:50 am

I will confess that my 7 and 10 yr olds are NOT good at putting away their own clothes, picking up their own stuff, etc. We parents fell into the trap of finding a lot of things easier to just do ourselves and we are not as consistent as I’d like to be about making them help out, take care of themselves, etc. Probably my kids count as ‘spoiled’ and ‘lazy’ in some cultures, I would guess–although we are STICKLERS for politeness, kindness and hospitality.

With the new AP coming in August I’d like to increase the kids’ sense of having to do things for themselves (a resolution we have made before, with only mixed results), but I don’t know how to explain to the AP that I’d like her to be strict but pleasant about kids doing normal tasks for themselves. I want the au pair to ‘encourage’ them to do it, i.e. remind them but be PLEASANT about it (we had one that barked orders like a drill sergeant). It is hard to say it in a way, however, that strikes me as achieving the right balance.

Seattle Mom June 3, 2014 at 12:15 am

It sounds like your AP lacks moral authority on the issue.. she is not a very clean person, the kids pick up on the fact that she doesn’t really care, so they know they can get away with doing nothing… I’m just inferring of course. A neat AP would probably be more effective at getting the kids to pick up after themselves.

It takes one to know one of course- I’m not a complete slob, but I have a higher tolerance for mess than DH. Therefore I let the kids get away with more than he does. They are only 5 & 3, so it hasn’t had a big effect yet. There is personality involved- my younger DD is clearly more interested in work & tidiness, whereas older DD is lazy like me.

SingleHM June 1, 2014 at 11:33 pm

About 6 months ago, my au pair was reversing out of my garage and wasn’t paying attention and the antenna got caught on the garage door and broke. She claimed the door didn’t go all the way up. I asked her if she was on or off duty. She said off.
I told her that I will require her to help pay for the fix.

Well, her year is almost up (she leaves in the beginning of July) and the kids are in school for only about 2.5 more weeks. I asked her to go get it fixed. She is now fighting back on having to pay for the whole thing. She claims she doesn’t remember if she was on or off duty and claims it’s partially my fault because the door didn’t go all the way up.

I asked her to go get an estimate and then I will see how much it will be. I think she’s irritated that she will have to use some of her savings to pay for it, but in theory…it’s her responsibility if she wrecks the car off duty.

I’m irritated because she has taken NO responsibility for her actions and is not remorseful in the least. The other two APs that have left their ‘mark’ on my car were totally sorry about it and offered to pay for anything that they did…

Thoughts? Thanks!!

HRHM June 2, 2014 at 12:22 am

My first thought is that you’ve let this go too long. No offense, but why didn’t you insist that it get fixed when it first happened? At this point, she probably was figuring that you’d forgotten about it/gave up on her fixing it and that’s probably why she’s pushing back. That and the fact that you are basically asking her to possibly pony up two weeks of pay, which she will likely need for the travel home/travel month coming up. Do you have any idea how much it will cost? If she was off duty (you didn’t ascertain this 6 months ago?) then she can only be held to pay the deductible up to 500 or 250 depending on the agency. If she insists that it was on duty, I don’t see how you can prove otherwise at this late date and LCC won’t make her pay for repairs. You can’t withhold pay even if you KNOW she owes you money, you have to pay her in full and trust that she will give you any money she owes you.

I wouldn’t leave this to her to arrange an auto repair, that is BEYOND the scope for an AP and not something I would trust a foreign younger person to be capable of. Each of my APs has damaged our AP vehicle at least once (they are not getting a replacement until it is totally dead!) but we have always picked the shop, arranged the payment, approved the work, talked to insurance, etc. I’d have no qualms about making her run it back and forth to the shop when the work is being done, but arranging it, no.

As for the “sorry” ness, I totally get it. This I think is very much in their upbringing and not possible to predict until it’s too late. The vast majority of my APs have been pretty entitled young ladies, sadly. All but 1 has broken something of relative value (stained the carpet with nail polish, put a big hole in a wall, melted utensils on the stove, bleached new towels) and not said a single word that they had done it, let alone apologize and/or offer to replace the item they ruined. When I’ve noticed and asked the response is very “oh, well (shrug)” Obviously the response of a person who has never had to pay for their own stuff…

SingleHM June 3, 2014 at 9:36 am

As a follow up. The final estimate is about $200…which is far less than I thought it would be.

I talked with the AP and she said that she would be willing to pay for it, since it was her fault. So it seems to be good this time.

Moving forward I will be more vigilant with this stuff and clearer.

I do think its a bit stupid of the agencies to make us pay for the deductible on duty. If this had happened while she had the kids in the car doesn’t distract from the fact that she wasn’t paying attention and hit the car into the garage door. I can see the reasoning for it in some circumstances, but not others. Oh well.

Thanks again.

Peachtree Mom June 2, 2014 at 7:17 am

She should pay. When our aupair totaled our SUV (her fault), she paid the deductible, no questions asked. It was either pay the deductible or car driving for personal use stopped. She was off duty at the time. It was clearly stated in our guide. I am now questioning the agency with a new au pair coming in, even if they are on duty and the accident is clearly their fault, should they pay the deductible or pay the damages? For that accident our aupair was very sorry and upset about it. As far as “sorry-ness” or not getting it, aupair #2 used the ceiling fan to hang her clothes on not her walk in closet or laundry room….really??

SingleHM June 2, 2014 at 7:58 am

Maybe it was 3 months ago…dont remember the exact timing. ..with this au pair time has been dragging.

The past few months has been busy with spring break akd vacations. We’ve been once to the dealer for an estimate but they forgot the labor costs. The parts are only $150 or so.

As a single mom without help otherwise and a very fluent AP I rely on her to do my errands a lot. I don’t have time to run around different places getting estimates.

I think she did the damage…why shouldnt she pay for it.

exaupair June 2, 2014 at 9:55 am

I agree she should pay for the damage, regardless on whether it happens on or off duty because she simply didn’t pay attention.

But, it happened a while ago, it will be very hard to determine whether she was on or off duty. Also since you didn’t take photos of the damages clearly stating the date, and didn’t react right away you have no proof of when exactly it happened, so it will be her word against yours.

Frankly, you should still ask her to pay you back, but if she refuses it will be quite hard to execute in any other way. Sadly she probably will get away with it.

AlwaysHopeful HM June 2, 2014 at 11:16 pm

I’m confused. Why would she not have to pay if it happened on duty, but was her fault?

OpinionatedHM June 3, 2014 at 1:20 am

Some agencies don’t require the AP pay if the accident occurred while the AP was “on Duty”.

HRHM June 3, 2014 at 7:20 am

Ive been with CC, APC and APIA and ALL of those say that if the AP was on duty, she is not obligated to pay anything toward repairs. You have to check your agency’s rules.

hOstCDmom June 3, 2014 at 8:04 am

My APIA contract said if on duty deductible should be “split” 50/50, HP/ AP…?

HRHM June 2, 2014 at 6:45 pm

I didn’t mean that she shouldn’t have to pay for it, only that you may find it difficult at this point to actually have that be the outcome.

exaupair June 2, 2014 at 9:36 pm

It will be difficult to get the money out of her, but if she’s a decent person she will at least pay half. Although you never know.

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