Open Thread: Labor Day Weekend 2014

by cv harquail on August 30, 2014

beach chairsHappy Labor Day weekend–

and for those of us whose kids (finally) go back to school this coming week, happy last day of summer vacation.

Enjoy this open thread, to converse about anything your heart desires (as long as it fits within our Comments policy). Also, if there are things you want us to discuss on the blog this Sept., let me know!

The thread will be open until Monday evening, or until I empty the cooler, whichever comes first.  ~ cvh

 

 Photo by Rosa Say, on Flickr

 

Comments are now closed BUT if you want to READ the comments,  just click on the headline, go to the page that’s dedicated to this post, and voila!

{ 97 comments }

Cvh August 30, 2014 at 4:27 pm

Nothing?

WestMom August 30, 2014 at 4:47 pm

I am working on something… This one needs a little thinking and editing…

cv harquail August 30, 2014 at 5:02 pm

whew. I thought something was wrong with the commenting system :-)

DowntownMom August 30, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Does anyone have experience with Culture Care? I just saw how many APs of our preferred nationality CC has. CC even lists extension APs and rematch APs on their website. I was told that our LCC loves to gossip about host families and will reveal very private information and the CC LCC keeps her distance.

Anonymous in CA August 30, 2014 at 10:24 pm

I tried for several months with CC. I thought it was extremely helpful that they list extension and rematch au pairs, so I was excited about it. But quantity is not always quality. And I couldn’t put any APs on view without first sending a note to my ‘matching specialist’ who would more often than not fail to respond, or would pre-vet the candidate and make a decision for me as to whether the candidate might be a good fit for me. Overall, it was a useless and frustrating experience, and a huge time sink that never resulted in a match. Maybe it would have been different if the matching specialist had been more interested.

DowntownMom August 30, 2014 at 11:04 pm

Thank you for your insights! This is very helpful. It sounds frustrating to not be able to put them on view yourself after spending precious time on the pre-selection.

Should be working September 1, 2014 at 1:15 am

You do not need the matching specialist anymore to reserve an AP for interviewing with CCAP. That was the case awhile back, no more. It is now a very self-serve system unless you want matching specialist’s help.

AlwaysHopeful HM August 31, 2014 at 1:20 am

I just switched to CC from APC. I looked at au pairs from both agencies, and found CC to have more au pairs and offer more comprehensive info about them. However, I found more candidates that I liked through APC, and i didnt like the matching procedures at CC. In the end, I happened to go into rematch and while CC kicked into high gear to help me find a match and offer support and advice along the way, APC dropped the ball completely, both for me and for my au pair who was trying to find another family (for example, they delayed putting his paperwork in the system, so he ended up with only a little more than 1 week for families to view him. I ultimately decided that I would only stick with APC if I found the most fabulous AP on the face of the earth there. Fortunately, I found a guy who seems terrific at CC…we shall see!

Anna August 31, 2014 at 9:33 am

They screwed me up so bad last year I considered hiring a lawyer.. never again.
try GoAuPair, its my favorite agency (I’ve been with five over the years)

Marcie August 31, 2014 at 12:09 pm

I’m another happy client. We just matched with our first au pair through GoAuPair. I like that I could choose which candidates to place on my list, along with their suggestions. Even though I took forever going through the list before matching, they never tried to rush me.
The only downside is, that being a mid-sized company, they don’t have a large variety of countries well-represented. Although I found a lovely young woman from Colombia, I was originally aiming for a French-speaking one, which they had almost none of.

DowntownMom August 31, 2014 at 10:31 pm

Thanks for the comment, Anna! I had a look and liked that they are so clear about other associated costs (insurance, etc.). While I know about all the costs after several years, it is appealing that they are honest.

Anna September 1, 2014 at 3:43 pm

I kissed my money bye bye ( i paid a year in advance) because they provided two bad au pairs, and then decided to not work with our family anymore at their sole discretion, and that “allows” them to keep your money in all that fine print you sign.

Anna September 1, 2014 at 6:13 pm

This comment meant to go with Cultural Care commentary…

Should be working September 1, 2014 at 7:08 pm

Anna, can I ask what the circumstances were under which they refused to work further with you?

WestMom August 31, 2014 at 9:40 am

We had one AP from CC. I found her on a 3rd party AP Web site and we asked her to register again with our agency (InterExchange). We have done this numerous times with APs from APC and never had any issues. For this one though, I was surprised that her profile was live and available on CC, yet she had not gone through her mandatory physical or background check. She was told that they request these only once there is a match, to make sure they don’t expire before the AP applies for her visa. I am not sure if anyone else an confirm this? That experience, in addition to CC being one of the most expensive agencies did not give me a good impression… I am sticking with InterExchange… (even though I do my own search on third party sites…).

AussiePair August 31, 2014 at 11:02 am

It’s true, those forms have to be submitted only about a month before you fly out, so you have to have a match before they want them, so that they don’t expire. At least this is the information I got from CC when I wanted to get them done and out of the way (apparently wanting to be prepared isn’t a good thing)

TexasHM September 1, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Btw APIA I am told does that as well (posts profiles before they pass the background and psych), at least that a what my APs from there said which was accurate as of earlier this year. We since switched to interexchange. We went with APIA originally because they had a larger cluster but that didn’t end up mattering.

Seattle Mom September 2, 2014 at 1:59 am

Wow I’m with CC for 3 years now and I didn’t know of this practice. Learn something new every day, eh?

To the person who originally asked (Downtown Mom), I am pretty happy with Cultural Care, overall. I have found that it sometimes helps to be a squeaky wheel and ask for special consideration, if necessary. I like that I can now select my own candidates to put “on view” and release them immediately without staff intervention. I like the information available in the au pair applications, but the database itself is kind of irritating- it doesn’t save searches that easily, and loses the search criteria kind of randomly.

I’m also looking on Interexchange this time around, and I thought I would be blown away based on what I’ve read here- I’m not. I still haven’t found a single AP candidate who I really like on there. In the meantime I have found a few on CCAP. Plus the applications on Interexchange are a bit more sparse- fewer open-ended questions.

Ranger77 August 30, 2014 at 9:09 pm

My new and first au pair signed up for a Community College class after I helped her…she went to the first class and commented that she liked the teacher and format, but wasn’t sure if she knows enough about American culture to fully participate…the class is women’s studies. She got the book and a week later decides she doesn’t want to take the class due to the homework and final project required. She “doesn’t feel like doing the work.” I explained that she is here to participate in American culture/education and that she already committed to take the class. Now she is dropping out and taking the weekend “au pair” class for the three credits. I think this reflects poorly on her- am I being too harsh?

Should be working September 1, 2014 at 7:10 pm

If you aren’t paying extra for it, then I would say it’s not your problem. Although indeed if you paid for community college and then she ends up in another course that is free, that would be maddening.

dcmomof3 September 1, 2014 at 9:12 pm

I’ve been there on this one too! Some of my au pairs have really done great about taking lots of classes and making the most of their educational experience here. (These were all the ones from Central and South America who knew that college classes taken in the US would be of value at home either for finishing their education or getting a job). All of my European au pairs have done the weekend AP course route and not a minute more. While I am personally more impressed with the dedication of the Central and South Americans to the educational component, its really not my place to judge (at least openly:).

Seattle Mom September 2, 2014 at 2:03 am

I wouldn’t necessarily take it as a poor reflection on her. She may have not realized what she was getting into with a real academic course. Most au pairs take the basket weaving type stuff- they aren’t here to be students, and they work hard all day and don’t really have time & energy for homework.

If she asked you for more money, then I’d be a little concerned.

TexasHM August 31, 2014 at 12:01 am

What nationality are you looking for? And what agency are you with currently? And what are you looking for in an agency?

DowntownMom August 31, 2014 at 10:26 pm

Our agency is great (same as yours?). We just need to decide about the LCC… They have an OK number of APs. CC has more though, yet (Thanks to all of you for the great feedback on them, both good and bad!) the tedious matching process does not sound like something we would want to deal with.

Another ex-au pair. September 2, 2014 at 7:52 am

Back in 2011 I applied with CC. They were great until they read my application and asked me to erase some information as regards my health. I was at the time taking metformin due to insulin resistance, and they asked me on an email to erase that since families could take it as if I were diabetic. So I explained to them I didn’t want to lie, so I expanded the info, saying that condition did not affect my life at all.
They were not happy and started wanting me to change more things. On the references, they asked me to say I had more experience than I had (apparently the 800+ hours I had *for real* weren’t enough).
When I refused to lie, because it went against my personal values, and also because I had signed that “all the information is true”, the were not happy they told me that they were just trying to help me because with my “mediocre” profile I was going to have to wait for months or even a year to get a family, and then they sent me a live letter. ha! Telling me that I was not accepted in the program for lack of initiative and flexibility.
After a year, when I managed to build up a little bit of self esteem, I applied with another agency, and I told them first hand that I wasn’t going to lie, and they told me that was the whole point. After completing my application, a person from their office in San Francisco called me asking if I wanted to be shown to the families as infant specialized. By the time I had more than 1000 hours of experience, and I had always taken care of babies. So by being an infant specialized audio pair, the families who contacted me all had babies. I was happy :) the first family contacted me 2 hours after my profile was online. In 2 weeks I spoke to 6 different families but when my host family appeared I knew it was them. I had the most amazing year ever taking care of two babies and a 5 year old.

Another ex-au pair. September 2, 2014 at 7:57 am

Sorry for the typos. I meant a love letter, and I meant “infant specialized au pair” writing from my cellphone is always a bit challenging, lol!
And also, my whole point is that there may be more authentic pairs with CC, but, as it has been already mentioned, quantity is not quality :)

In the Throes of Rematch August 31, 2014 at 3:06 am

We’re nearing the end of our first week of rematch period (had the meeting on Monday with LCC and AP), and it’s been surprisingly okay. I think the chances of us getting a rematch (in-country) AP are slim to none based on the interviews we have done this week (ugh and ugh and UGH) so we are resigned to out-of-country-start-this-s*%$-all-over-again with a new start date and everything. Takes us out of our normal cycle of a late July arrival. Good news is we found two pretty great German candidates already; great email exchanges, a few Skype exchanges. We’re feeling okay, all things considered.

LCC says that we should seriously consider NOT doing a German (even though our two favorite candidates right now are German) because AP1 (who was great) and AP2 were both German, and the German APs in our cluster are thick as thieves and the networking (and gossip) in their circle starts before they even get to orientation. LCC suggests that we do a non-German year to avoid any backlash from our decision to put AP2 into rematch. AP2 made some really bad safety choices but she’s hoping to find another family rather than go home. And I’ve read enough on this site now to realize there’s little to no chance that they will send AP2 back to Germany anyway. We’re with an agency that WILL rematch AP in same cluster, if a family wants her. So, hello awkwardness. If AP3 and AP2 are in the same cluster, and it’s all the Germans hanging out all the time? Not liking this scenario.

But we love, and I mean, LOVE one of these AP candidates from Germany. So do we abandon all German candidates because LCC (who seems to have her crap together) says we should?

We have had German candidates because my mother is German (born there) and we liked the idea of the modern cultural exchange that deepens the kids’ connection to my German roots. My mom is fluent still, so we liked the idea that my mom could be a “support” to AP in the early months when things can be overwhelming. If she really needed to talk to someone in German, to better explain, we figured my mom speaking German was helpful. But it’s not THAT big of a deal to us now, we realize. It’s nice in theory, but in reality we like the idea of APs from different countries.

So, curious to know from HMs if you would take LCC’s advice and have a non-German AP this go-round, just to avoid drama and weirdness and to avoid all of AP2’s local friends from poisoning the well with AP3.

LondonMum August 31, 2014 at 4:12 am

I would definitely not go German because of the scenario you outlined. New AP will want to make friends and “fit in” so will probably become part of the gossip about previous AP, even if she really likes you and thinks its a great match. What about an AP from Switzerland that speaks German? I know some words are different but it should still enable your kids to keep up their German.

LondonMum August 31, 2014 at 4:12 am

Or Austria?

AussiePair August 31, 2014 at 9:27 am

You’ll still possibly run into the same problem, in my experience the German speaking au pairs form right knit groups..

AussiePair August 31, 2014 at 9:28 am

*tight

WestMom August 31, 2014 at 9:46 am

A friend of mine had a similar issue with their first two German APs. First one ended up going home at 6m, and according to the family, painted a horrible picture in her cluster. When the new AP arrived, she heard all the gossip about the family and it quickly soured the relationship. She too, ended up going home at 6m.

In the end, they switched agencies to break this cycle and have now had two successful years with two non-German APs.

NJmama August 31, 2014 at 4:56 pm

I completely empathize with your situation.

The first 2 German girls we had were beyond amazing (in fact, one just returned to help us out over the summer.) both young but so so mature and had a great loving yet firm way with my kids.

So of course bc we didn’t much know how to narrow our search when searching for au pairs we figured, why not stick with the profile that’s worked for us? In retrospect I can see the mistake we made. (Unfortunately it would be years before I found this web site :(). Long story short, there wasn’t one candidate that blew us all out of the water and we ended up going with someone who was probably everyone’s second choice. She talked a good game but I honestly don’t think she had much experience with kids, because after a week of transition with my former au pair and another week with my husband (when it was clear she wasn’t ready to go it alone) she was just too nervous to be by herself with the kids. My older anxiety daughter really picked up on the aupair’s anxiety. It was not going well and after working with the area director a bit the au pair asked for a rematch. But instead of putting her best foot forward during the 2-week rematch she completely fell apart, and we asked her to leave. She ended up moving in with a friend and rematching. But instead of everyone moving on, she sought out each and every one of our new au pairs for the next year through friends from the cluster and Facebook and trashed us to all of them. It was like you could see when she had gotten to the APs — things would be going well for a week or 2, and then the current AP’s attitude would completely change. Then each successive AP would make the exact same complaint to the area director that the first one did (which is that my older daughter hurt her feelings). I think they all thought it would be easy to just rematch. But I started to document everything, good and bad, and sent periodic email updates to the area director. So while the first one went into rematch the next two did not. It was so bad I actually thought of taking a day off of work and driving three states away to the troublemaker’s new town and filing a harassment complaint. But as working moms, who has that kind of time?

Months after she left I discovered that she had also trashed us — names, personal details, names of kids, town, etc – on this closed Facebook group for au pairs. All lies. The agency said they couldn’t do anything – they wouldn’t even ask Facebook to take down the site, they insisted that they couldn’t control what goes on Facebook, and they said they couldn’t control what the girls said online or to each other. All they said they could do was to remind me to remind my current au pair not to post personal info about my kids online. Huh? My then current au pair was doing no such thing and wasn’t the problem! It’s one of the big reasons I left APC.

So I really don’t think it would matter if you stuck with a German girl or not – in fact the au pair we got right after the troublemaker one was Swiss, and the German girl found her quickly. And the Brazilian girl we eventually got told me the German girls in the cluster still talked smack about us – and this was months after the troublemaker one left. Thankfully she didn’t listen.

I think the key is to find someone who us mature enough to trust you as a family. That of course is the absolute hardest thing to screen for. All I can tell you is to take your time. When things started to turn for the better is when I resisted pressure from the agency to match quickly and I spent a lot of time emailing back and forth with prospective au pairs. It’s hard bc you can’t — and shouldn’t — trash the previous au pair. But I think during the course of an interview it would be ok to tell them that obviously things didn’t go well with the last au pair or you wouldn’t be in rematch. You can say there are two sides to every story, and you can ask if she is mature enough to tune out the chatter of the au pairs in your area and give your family a fair shot. Ask her to really really think about that.

I guess maybe the thing to do is continue talking to the German candidates you like while scoping out others from different countries. Rematch is an awful time, especially when you have to patch together other care. It’s so overwhelming. But looking back I wish I had taken more time. I also wish I had considered changing agencies entirely. It’s nice that your LC advised you not to match with a German girl, but what if you don’t and they still trash you? What will the agency do? Probably nothing but it’s worth seeing IF they have a policy or any procedures,

This is all so so hard when you are trying to juggle work and patching together care. But a good long-term solution is better than a not-so-great short-term solution.

Good luck to you!

NBHostMom August 31, 2014 at 9:50 am

I wouldn’t discount Germans all together, but I would take a serious look around at other nationalities. If the German candidate is still your top choice, would you be comfortable have an honest conversation with her about the situation? Her reply may also be a good gauge of her overall maturity.

Our friends have somewhat similar situation, with a different nationality, in their local cluster. Their au pair, of that same nationality, avoids the girls from her home country as she finds them “immature and gossipy”. You never know how it will play out, but if you do want to stick with the German candidate, I’d suggest being very open about the entire situation prior to matching.

AlwaysHopeful HM August 31, 2014 at 11:11 am

My German au pair made a point of seeking out non-German speaking friends to broaden his experience, so I’m not sure your new au pair will necessarily immediately cling to the Germans in the cluster. On the other hand, my au pair had friends across agencies in the area, so if he wanted to spread bitterness, changing nationalities or agencies would not necessarily prevent my new au pair from being tainted. FWIW, our match ended in a reasonably amicable rematch, and I’m waiting for our new (German) au pair to arrive. We did switch agencies, but, as I mentioned, our former au pair had friends in the new cluster as well. I think he probably told his friends what was going on, but I don’t have any reason to believe he was unfair in his characterization. We’ll see!

It sounds like you may be in a similar situation. From my vantage point, it’s hard enough to find a person that you really click with and want to invite to care for your child and live in your home. I wouldn’t discount the AP based on what “could” happen. Instead, I’d just accept the possibility, and prepare to head it off as best as possible. I agree with NBHostMom that you should be very open about the entire situation in advance.

Taking a Computer Lunch September 1, 2014 at 9:10 am

A mature AP will see through the gossip and decide for herself. We had a fantastic first AP, and tried to sponsor her as an employer. After 3 1/2 years, while still waiting for the U.S. Dept. of Labor to review her application, the relationship fell apart. AP #2, not from the same country stayed for 1 1/2 years. AP #3 was from the same country as AP #1, and the first time she entered a store catering to immigrants from her country with child #2, the owner offered to put her in touch with AP #1. The 2 APs became friends and often worshiped together, went out together, and mutual friends in common. AP #3 asked me what happened and I told her honestly – including my own faults, and told her that AP #1 would obviously have a different story. We had a good relationship with AP #3, and remain friendly with her.

TexasHM September 1, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Agreed, doesn’t matter what nationality you get if there are APs that are going to gossip new AP will hear it regardless. Have seen this play out and the clusters are ever changing so a German heavy cluster now could be a Brazilian heavy cluster in 6 months. I get what your LC is saying but if that’s the problem she’s trying to prevent I don’t see it making a difference and I agree you should head it off by being upfront. I’ve seen success in this but as said, it takes a mature AP who is not a lemming that can say “well that hasn’t been my experience” and they move on. The ones that get sucked in and are weaker personalities will fan the flame and/or sour as stated. We haven’t had this problem but I still say something about it in my interview process. (Ex – we aren’t perfect and sometimes APs like to compare families or brag/complain and I see how they respond to that. Those that say ok I worry about, those that have a negative reaction I know will be fine.)

Cali hostmom August 31, 2014 at 1:17 pm

I’m having a really tough time and am feeling really conflicted.

We are currently 5 months in with AP #1 — our first ever. In many ways, she’s perfect. She has a quiet energy, she doesn’t like to go out and drink, she’s perfectly happy to work with our flexible schedule, and she adores my daughter. She doesn’t expect to be included in all our social situations (I work from home, so I’m with her all day, and at the end of the day I just want time with my family).

But in a lot of ways, she drives me completely bonkers. At 24, she had never lived away from home before. Her mother was doting and I assume spent all day cleaning the house. Because AP can be so sloppy. It’s weird, because she’s not messy — she will try to put things away. But there are basic cleaning-type things — not getting food all over the counters or touching the fridge handle with food on your hands (I never felt compelled to clean my fridge handle and now it’s a weekly thing). Not leaving the microwave a mess. Loading the dishwasher in a reasonably ordered way instead of just stuffing dishes in randomly so it needs to be run every single day. Putting my daughter’s toys away randomly in the bins so no sets of toys are together. Stacking clean laundry on the shelves instead of putting it away.

She just seems to lack the ability to think ahead to the consequences of her actions. She caused a huge gouge in our living room floor by dragging a heavy box. She rearranged the furniture in her room without help and I’m so not looking forward to someday finding out how much damage that did to the floor.

Despite having a really clear outline in the handbook of tasks she’s expected to do, she still won’t reliably change my daughter’s sheets or do her laundry without being reminded.

She eats us out of house and home. Her first day here, she ate almost an entire box of Thin Mints (!!!!). We’re the type of family that will buy ice cream to have for a month. She would finish the carton in three days. I finally had to ask her to get her own and not to eat the one I bought for DH (she has a credit card and a $50 a week grocery allowance because we only provide dinner 2-4 nights a week, but she also eats from the family pantry, and anything she buys for my daughter or for the family doesn’t come out of her budget — only food for herself). I dread cooking because I know that no matter how much I make there won’t be any leftovers or second meals. One week she’ll eat all of something, so I’ll buy extra the next week and she won’t touch it.

I work from home, and there are times when my daughter will be standing at the baby gate and screaming for me, and AP is just sitting in the playroom sort of watching her. I’ve asked her in the past to be proactive about making sure my daughter doesn’t disturb me, but she always seems to wait until I ask her to do something before actually taking action.

She’s careless with the car. It ended up with a big scratch down one side, but I couldn’t even reasonably chastise her for doing it because she literally had no idea she’d done it. One day my husband saw her cutting a turn too close in the driveway and jumping a sharp curb, and she had no clue she’d done it — or that someone was shouting and waving his arms and trying to get her attention. She leaves a mess in the car (which is spelled out in the handbook as a no-no) and has spilled sugary drinks and sunscreen. She asks to use the car quite a bit for personal use, which leaves me feeling like I’m basically car-sharing (I have no legitimate reason to say no, except that in the handbook we requested that she not count on being able to use the car off-duty).

And the biggest thing that’s happened so far is that she was going into our master bathroom to use the scale without permission (when going in our bedroom without permission is specifically forbidden in the handbook). I happened to find out and asked her about it and she stammered out an excuse about when we went out of town and she had to lock the dogs in there — but that was a lie, as I know she’s done it multiple times since then (our scale logs weights to an app). So she lied. Even though it was a minor lie, it was still a lie.

These all seem like minor things, but they are adding up and it’s making me a little nuts. I’m starting to wonder if I’m cut out for an au pair at all, or if there might be another candidate out there who would be a little more attentive to detail and conscientious about keeping things tidy.

I guess what I’m worried about is ditching a decent au pair and ending up with someone awful. A party girl or someone who doesn’t deal well with my daughter. But I also don’t want to put up with an aggravating situation just because I don’t know what the other options are.

I’ve already decided that if we get another au pair, I’m just going to give her a slightly higher grocery budget and tell her to plan all her own meals and buy all her own food and ingredients. It’s not the money for me as much as the not knowing what or how much to buy or when something will have magically been eaten without being replaced.

I’d love to hear honest thoughts. I promise I’m not an ogre — we actually get along pretty well, although the bathroom/truthiness thing kind of took a bite out of my friendliness level.

Overall feedback is welcome as well and any ideas for specific solutions to any of our issues. She is interested in extending for a second year, and I don’t know if I can take these small day-to-day irritations for another year. But we’re expecting a second baby right around the time when her first year is up, and that really complicates things with regard to finding a new au pair or trying a new type of help, like a daytime nanny.

Sorry to go on and on!

MamaGigi August 31, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Um – that sounds horrible.

If she’s letting your daughter scream at her gate then she isn’t that good with her. I had an au pair with some of the similar traits (forgetting the household duties, not seeing the mess, etc), but she was AMAZING with my kids.

I think you aren’t getting a baseline on this one.

Try having a re-set convo and then talk to you LCC about what to do?

Cali hostmom August 31, 2014 at 3:27 pm

Thanks for the reply! I was wondering if anyone was going to read all that.

In general, she’s really good with my daughter. I don’t mean to give the impression that she lets her stand there screaming all day. It happens a few times a week — she’ll let her come and interrupt me while I’m working — and I love to see my duaghter, so I’ll always take a minute for her, but even when I’m saying, “All right, sweetie, time for Mommy to get back to work,” the au pair will just be sitting in a chair watching passively.

It’s more like she’s just sort of… flaky. She does try, but there are ways in which she’s just not reliable.

I think you’re right, we need to have a big talk. I think the lying bothers me on some level that makes all the other stuff seem worse.

LondonMum August 31, 2014 at 3:42 pm

I think it may be helpful to her to make a bullet point list of the things she does that drive you mad. If she is just flaky she is probably completely unaware of her own lack of awareness! Also, make it really clear that when you say to your daughter, “time for me to get back to work”, that is also a message to AP to take her by the hand and lead her out.

It may be that once you spell everything out very clearly, she will step up her game. Refer to what’s in your hand book and show her relevant aspects of it, ask if she full understands what it mean as you want to help her to do a great job.

Also, if your daughter is standing at the gate shouting for you, maybe she needs some ideas about how to distract her with an activity (although I honestly would expect an AP to be able to do this!).

If that all fails, ask yourself if she is really making your life easier, or do you spend more time in the evening cleaning up after her, as well as all the other things you need to do. If she is making your life harder and can’t change, maybe it is time to consider rematch.

There really are some amazing APs out there, don’t give up!

NewAPmom August 31, 2014 at 8:24 pm

Wow, I can totally relate to a few of these things and I totally get the day to day irritation! Sounds like your AP is just stupid and careless though. We’re 1 month in and I’ve found ours is not consistent with the daily tasks listed in the hand book. Also she neglects to help out with the dishwasher some days and lets the sink pile up with dirty dishes while I’m at work all day. She has 5 hrs off every morning when she can help out with this stuff. I’ve made up a cheat sheet of daily and weekly chores to give her. Also she has friends over that sit themselves down to dinner with us uninvited which I also need to address with her.
I’m not sure if I’m cut out for an AP so I’ll work with her and see how the year goes, but may consider getting a nanny/sitter for the odd hours I need and daycare for the rest. I’m beginning to think a lot of these girls aren’t here because they want to take care of children, they want to see America and have fun.

Taking a Computer Lunch September 1, 2014 at 9:57 am

This sounds like a mediocre AP to me! Time to set some boundaries and enforce the handbook. If you’re at 5 months and she wants to extend, then she has 3 months to prove her worth to you. Set some goals. She probably won’t develop common sense – the AP I hosted who lacked it, never did in the year she stayed with us.

As for the driving – if she doesn’t yet possess a U.S. driving license, then I would mandate it. Don’t loan your car to a woman who can’t avoid spilling in it. When she does spill, have her pay for interior cleaning of the vehicle. Having real consequences that hit her in the paycheck may make her more careful.

Finally, you’ve mentioned her just sitting there a couple of times. Since you’re working from home, find an excuse to “pop in” randomly a couple of times a week. If she’s just sitting there while your little girl plays, then she’s not doing her job well.

Dorsi September 1, 2014 at 9:58 pm

Cali host mom — I have had APs that I loved at 5 months but was happy to say good-bye to at 12 months (we have never extended, not always our choice). I can’t imagine planning an extension with an AP that has so many issues. I welcomed AP #4 with 2 weeks left in my second pregnancy, and AP #6 when I was 3 weeks post-partum. It was actually nice to have the energy that a new AP brings into the house at that time. They were excited to show me what a great job they could do, I was excited to lay in bed a lot. Also, I had minimal work to do, so orientation could be slow and piecemeal — AP got lots of time with the older child(ren) and I got lots of time with the new baby. This is not a luxury that most moms of second children get to have — I watched pretty much 6 seasons of a tv show while nursing #3 in those busy first weeks. My other kids did art projects and went to the park.

Anyway, separate from your current issues, I wouldn’t worry too much about bringing the new AP into the home when baby #2 comes along — it is not the peaceful homecoming of 2 parents and a tiny new baby and the toddler changes the dynamic considerably.

SeatleHD August 31, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Well, that’s not going to get better, and I’m at a loss to think of how you could do worse. I can identify with all the issues you’ve had, but only to about 1/10th the degree. And while our au pairs can be car hogs, they’ve never once left it messy, and they’re solid drivers.

I mean, really, on scale of 1 to 10 you’ve got a 1, maybe 2, so sticking a pin in a random website you should be able to do better.

Seattle Mom September 2, 2014 at 2:12 am

I completely agree- this AP sounds way below mediocre. It’s too bad you got stuck with her as your first- if you had a good experience you would NOT let this person stay in your home and do those things!

Ranger77 August 31, 2014 at 3:24 pm

My new and first au pair signed up for a Community College class after I helped her…she went to the first class and commented that she liked the teacher and format, but wasn’t sure if she knows enough about American culture to fully participate…the class is women’s studies. She got the book and a week later decides she doesn’t want to take the class due to the homework and final project required. She “doesn’t feel like doing the work.” I explained that she is here to participate in American culture/education and that she already committed to take the class. Now she is dropping out and taking the weekend “au pair” class for the three credits. I think this reflects poorly on her- am I being too harsh?

TexasHM September 1, 2014 at 4:54 pm

In the words of Elsa – let it go! What classes they take and how they handle is outside your sphere of influence with the exception of if they aren’t taking classes at all or in a timely manner (same for vacay).

Cali hostmom August 31, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Thank you! Great suggestions. “If she is just flaky she is probably completely unaware of her own lack of awareness!” is totally the case, I think. And that’s what frustrates me — it’s so opposite my own tendency to notice everything and plan everything. She does unload the dishwasher a good deal of the time, but it’s like she never notices that everything she’s taking out is in a different place than when she put it in, because I had to rearrange things to make room for more dishes. At SOME point, wouldn’t you think, “Oh, this must be a more efficient way to load a dishwasher, because someone goes to the trouble to do it almost every time”?

LondonMum August 31, 2014 at 3:53 pm

Take a photo of the loaded dishwasher and stick it on the door, say “I thought you hadn’t noticed that I always reloaded it, so this photo should help” LOL!

Cali hostmom August 31, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Lol… “I also took a photo of the toys sorted by bin. And the laundry in the drawers. And the car without any damage. And my bag of Doritos with Doritos still in it.”

LondonMum August 31, 2014 at 4:03 pm

Maybe she should have a star chart on the wall like kids so she knows when she’s done a good job. 10 stars and she can have the Doritos!

Cali hostmom August 31, 2014 at 4:24 pm

Lol!

Angie host mom August 31, 2014 at 4:06 pm

After 10 years hosting and no rematches, I have a simple rule that has served well for all those things that drive me crazy. Fix it, let it go, or rematch. Then, move on. Don’t let it drive you mad all year. Try hard to fix, if that doesn’t work, try hard to let it go, if that doesn’t work, rematch and get it over with – there is no use having a year being driven crazy. But do try fixing and letting it go first.

On your issues, here is what I personally would do:
Sloppiness – I would assign clearly Au pair areas of responsibility and public areas. APs room, my daughters closets, toy bins – these are all AP areas of responsibility. I may hate or like the level of cleanliness and organization. But I will butt out and forget about it. I assign it, and then as long as I can reach the clothes I need in a reasonable amount of time, I forget about it. Once a year I go through the toy bins myself and reorganize them. Other than that, it is on the au pair and the kids. Closet is totally on the au pair. Public areas like the kitchen, I fix what drives me MOST crazy – reminding au pair to put food away until she gets it. Put a sticky on the fridge with reminder notes, but keep it to the ones that really make you bonkers, the rest just let it go. For the car – make her clean it once a week and teach her to do it properly.

Food – We don’t really have our food vs au pair food. You will never get it right in terms of buying stuff that will all be eaten, or not running out of stuff, and the AP will take the last of the milk or eat your daughters lunch for the next day and won’t even think about it – it’s part of sharing a house and a fridge. Absent getting her her own kitchen, embrace the craziness, overstock the freezer and pantry with things you can throw on in an emergency, and forget about it. Get groceries delivered by walmart for big brand stuff – and let AP add to the order. More importantly, teach AP to cook so she can cook once or twice a week for you. Then you will feel better when she is eating the food you cook!

Scale – This is fixable, buy a scale for her. Yes, she should not go in your room. Yes, this is a big deal. But, if the issue isn’t that she’s a snoop she is just a normal AP who is terrified that she’s going to turn into a balloon while she is in America. Every AP you will have will want to weigh herself. Just buy a cheap scale. Get a travel one, too, that they can use to weigh bags for traveling internationally. Better than the struggles they will have trying to weigh bags on your scale in the middle of the night before she flies home!

Kid screaming at the gate – This needs to be fixed, or you need to rematch. This is where I draw the line. You need to just tell AP that if you wanted the kids to just run around while you worked you wouldn’t have an AP. You want the kids having fun while you are working, learning, playing. And you really need to work! Not all cultures or families seem to really understand that a mom working from home is working – and she really has to work – and it is very hard to concentrate there anyway, without the baby unhappy in the background! Address immediately when it occurs. If it is not fixed and AP doesn’t step up, rematch. You can work with a messy closet, you can work with buying more ice cream, you can’t work when your baby is calling to you from the gate.

Cali hostmom August 31, 2014 at 4:24 pm

Thank you. This is all great advice (although I chafe at the thought of buying her a scale to “reward” her for lying about using ours). I think it’s time we have a big “fix it” session. Maybe with a full review of a revised handbook.

Angie host mom August 31, 2014 at 6:00 pm

I get it – but you are buying a scale for the house, not for her. It isn’t a reward, it’s fixing a problem. She doesn’t take it when she leaves.

We had to get a new fancier GPS than I use myself for one of our APs because she kept getting lost and the one we had was too complicated. That chafed a bit but after it was done the absence of further issues was worth it. And the next AP loved it too, and we never have to worry about getting APs lost anymore.

You sound very irritated. I think you should make your own honest list of what is a must fix and what is a minor issue before you sit down and meet – don’t overwhelm her with tons of small stuff – just hit the biggest issues for you.

Some people are not meant to host APs – that doesn’t make them bad people or their APs bad people – it just means that an AP living in their house will drive them crazy because it just will. I don’t think this is you – I think you are a new host mom and are being driven mad by a non-stellar AP who is not stepping up. But be honest as you go through and reset on what YOU need to be happy with your AP, and what you can let go. If you really are going to need the house kept in the same order that you keep it and don’t want to buy food that you normally wouldn’t and don’t want to cook for someone else you may not be a fit for the program – some people aren’t.

skny August 31, 2014 at 8:09 pm

I agree.
And keep in mind young adults can eat a LOT. Between my 17yo teen girl and my (former) au pairs, any cookies, snacks, etc I bought on Sunday was gone by no later than Wednesday.

AlwaysHopeful HM August 31, 2014 at 8:44 pm

I really think you have to separate the lying out from the rest, and talk with her specifically about that. Let her know that you know she was dishonest, that it’s a problem for you, and that it cannot happen again. Lying, even about inconsequential things, can be corrosive to your relationship with her– it sounds like it’s already troubling you quite a bit (understandably, in my view). I completely agree that you will need to find a way to compromise and let some things go, but you also need to be honest with yourself about what you cannot let go. If lying is one of those things, let her know now before she develops a pattern of telling little “okay lies” that may not conceal serious transgressions, but are damaging all the same.

Angie host mom August 31, 2014 at 10:17 pm

The problem is, the AP can’t admit she lied. Once it has happened, the lie can’t be untold and can’t be admitted without serious loss of face.

For us, lying means rematch. But the other stuff that bothers HM here doesn’t bother us, so I”m not sure where she is on the spectrum!

Cali hostmom September 1, 2014 at 4:46 pm

Yes, this is definitely a talk we’re going to have. The main reason we haven’t had a serious sit-down is that the whole thing happened late in the afternoon the day before her birthday. She made herself scarce that night and then we couldn’t really do it on her birthday… but I think later this week we’ll have a big conversation about everything.

HRHM September 1, 2014 at 7:04 am

Honestly, I may be the outlier here, but I’d be moving toward rematch right now. She is not making your life better/easier and this is my sole criteria for who gets to stay. I also think that with a fresh start you’ll be able to improve your management so that you can get the work product you need. At 5 months with this AP, there is NO WAY you should still be having to monitor sheet changing and other listed chores. She either is not smart enough for this job or is shining you on. And neither of those things is going to improve since you get the best performance from an AP in the first few months when they are still energetic and putting their best foot forward.
As for the food, some suggestions for possible things that might work: we don’t give ours an allowance for food but she can add to the family grocery list each week and if it’s not crazy (filet mignon, organic everything) then I’ll happily buy it. If there is something that I’m going to need to cook a meal, I mark it so that she knows she can’t cook my pork chops or beef roast (etc) for lunch. Is it possible that she has an eating disorder? AP1 was anorexic/bulemic and would eat nothing but apples for a couple weeks and then binge like crazy (2 bags of tostitos in one afternoon) so if she is eating like this and still slender, it’s something to consider. She also has her own shelf that we don’t touch (we don’t want her storing food in her room) and so do we. So she can’t take DHs expensive protein shakes or my macaroon coffee or DDs special cereal but we don’t use her Nutella or tea. In addition, if she uses up a staple (bread, eggs, milk, butter, etc) she will run out an buy more during the day and then I reimburse when presented with a receipt. I don’t want to be in the middle of dinner prep and find I can’t finish because I’m out of something. I have in the past, interrupted an evening Skype session to send her to the store to replace the milk she used up and didn’t go buy during the day.
The lie about the scale for me would be the absolute death knell for this AP relationship. Having been burned by the previous AP who’s little lies escalated into full on theivery and worse, I’d consider that a huge red flag and would not wait for it to get worse. She violated your privacy (even if not in the HB, going into your room to use your things without asking?) broke a written rule, hid the fact from you and then lied when confronted. This is not a simple white lie. As for the car, she either knows how it got scratched and just doesn’t want to tell/pay to fix it OR she really shouldn’t be behind the wheel if she is that clueless…

NJmama September 1, 2014 at 8:06 am

I agree – there are a lot of issues here. It sounds more than just a few little things that have piled up from an ok au pair. There are many red flags – letting your daughter cry, “not knowing” how a car was scratched, etc. she definitely seems clueless about a lot and I also don’t think at five months you should have to be reminding her to do anything in her routine (except for the occasional lapse). I also think $50 food supplement is plenty.

I think you need to set up a convo with your area director and the au pair and go through each issue, not in a confrontational way but in an approach that says to her you want to make this work but she has to step it up.

Funny and as an aside, the au pair that we had who was too nervous to be alone with the kids and had a hard time sticking to the routine once told me that through her entire life she never had to make lunch for herself – her mother always did it for her because her mom was afraid if she didn’t make it she wouldn’t eat. This girl was 20 years old. From that point on, I had my kids (then 5 and 7) help to make their own school lunches.

Taking a Computer Lunch September 1, 2014 at 10:19 am

I think a lot of new HF underestimate how many calories young adults need to survive, especially if they are active with kids and work out when they are off duty. It’s good prep for having teenagers – suddenly I have to double what I make or I don’t have leftovers either! I do adjust my cooking around family preferences, and that includes the AP. We don’t give our APs a food allowance, nor do we reimburse them for purchasing food only they will eat in the middle of the week (we had one AP who headed down that road, and we made it clear that was plenty of nutritious food in the house, and she could cook for herself, but if she wanted to eat frozen pizza all week then it was on her). If there are special things you don’t want her to eat, then let her know. A shelf in the pantry does solve certain amount of problems.

caring hp September 1, 2014 at 11:18 am

On the part about her needing reminders to do jobs, or do them properly. ..
We had an ap who was, I guess our best and most loved ever. She is still truly a family member to this day. She was a great ap and is an efficient worker. However she needed a micro-managed list and instructions. I can, if needed provide this but I prefer not to. It is work for me to write it out and is better for her, maturity wise, to learn to work on her own initiative. I would try to phase out the list of reminders and she would get stressed and things did not get done- not intentionally avoided, just forgotten. She really needed and liked a list. I had to make a list on Microsoft Word showing daily weekly and monthly tasks plus a list of “kid related things to do when everything else is done”. Low and behold our house ran like a machine on kid related stuff after that and our ap was a happy camper. We also had to do what the other hm mentioned above, take photos of things where they should be so she could follow them.
On the car, we had a similar thing and we wrote reminders in her schedule to work on cleaning it out daily which left it ok most of the time… and it only takes a few mins to wipe down the cup holders and remove the days trash daily bUT if you leave a week or months worth it is a big job.
She may not know what to do with your kid for entertainment. … our ap was great with kids bUT short on ideas and welcoming of new ones. We gave her guidelines like “make sure you take kid — outdoors for_ minutes after breakfast and ___ in afternoon. Do not just sit on chair while child wanders. Make up a ball or running game to get her running and moving with you”

The ap we had to give all this guidance to was a great ap despite needing so much guidance

Cali hostmom September 1, 2014 at 5:06 pm

HRHM, thanks for your perspective. I think I will see if having a big reset talk can ward off rematch. I know this is a great living situation for her for a number of reasons and I’m willing to bet she’ll work hard not to lose it or have to start over in an unknown situation.

I don’t think she has an eating disorder. I think she just has poor impulse control and hasn’t had such unfettered access to a variety of foods before. When she first arrived, she cooked a lot, but now she doesn’t cook nearly as much.

The only reason I won’t treat the scale as a death knell is that I surprised her by mentioning it and I think she was bewildered. I think she would have told “more truth” if she’d taken a second to think about it. But I’m going to make it clear that I was the whole, actual truth when I ask questions. (She was probably in shock that American scales can rat you out, lol.)

NJMama, ha! Yes, my daughter is going to learn how to load a dishwasher well. And the “going out all day and coming home to devour the leftovers” makes me crazy. A few times I’ve written “Cali hostmom’s lunch” on a post it and stuck it on the container, but that makes me feel rather like a troll under a bridge. Although my husband’s thing is, if she’s gone during dinnertime, she’s on her own for dinner.

TACL, she’d on the older side for an au pair, and I remember being that age. Maybe I’m skewing it based on what I remember of my own appetite and my friends’ appetites, but she doesn’t expend that much energy. I honestly think she eats out of boredom and habit and on impulse. At any rate, if I had an older child I’d be really concerned about the eating habits she’s modeling. I think it would actually be a big help to her if I told her that after X date we will no longer pay for her unhealthy snacks and junk food. As someone pointed out in a thread I read when I was first searching for info on the food thing, “room and board” doesn’t mean “everything you want to put in your mouth.” It means providing three reasonable and healthy meals a day. When I was in college I paid for room and board and I certainly didn’t get a ton of free junk food out of the deal!

Caring HP, that sounds like a really sensible solution. I guess you have to go with what works. Just over the past day or two since I’ve been thinking a LOT about this I’ve been paying attention to how much my daughter obviously adores her and how good the AP is in terms of patience, responding to her the way I would — she’s always been great about modeling her own interaction after my preferred methods. So in some ways she is a very good au pair.

I was talking to another friend about this and she pointed out that some of these are au pair issues and some of them are simply roommate issues. And then she told me some of her own roommate horror stories that made me feel a lot better, lol.

So I think what we will do is have a meeting, talk everything over, put an absolute red flag on the lying and breaking the rules, and go through the handbook. I’ll offer to print out a daily/weekly checklist and talk over all the little stuff.

I do think she’s a lovely young woman. I just need to know, for my own sanity, that she’s paying attention to the things that are important in our household. Ironically, since I posted the original complaint, she’s been angelic and has taken out the trash and done a few other general household things she’s never really done before.

Thanks so much to all of you who took the time to read and reply. I truly appreciate your varied and informed points of view!

old au pair mom September 1, 2014 at 11:22 pm

I am with HRHM. 5 months in, the baby should not be crying at the gate while the ap looks on. The baby is not a science experiment to see how quickly you come out of your office. I have stayed at home for years and am happiest with an AP who understands that little ones love to be outside. Our kids lived in the pool, the tennis court, riding bikes, digging, finding worms, etc.
What the heck is she doing in your closet? too weird for everyone. She should go to the gym or how about just asking if you could bring the scale out of your room so she could use it? How easy is that?
Also, you are not her mother so tell her to stop being a slob and pick up after herself. Mess in the car? What is she a 2 year old with a happy meal? When you see a mess that is of her making or her failure to clean properly, don’t stew just bring it to her attention and say, this isn’t okay with me, I like it more tidy or more however you prefer. Good luck. We have had APs for years and I have found so many of them just wonderful and amazing. This one sounds immature, but in one conversation you could restart and tell her you want her to clean up after herself and the baby all the time. If she doesn’t snap to, then she can leave but at least you told her what you wanted and that type of management will help you with your next AP.

Taking a Computer Lunch September 1, 2014 at 10:01 am

Buy her the scale – and then mention the AP that made it clear that she continued to go into your room when you had asked her to ask for permission first. Tell her not to go into your room again.

NJmama September 1, 2014 at 11:37 am

We are very similar about the food. We try to accommodate within reason. We also leave money and ask them to replace commonly used items when they run out – nothing worse than running out of bread and not knowing until the next morning when making lunches.

Funny we had one au pair who was a big saver – to the point where she would go out on a Sunday, not eat all day and consume just about everything in the fridge when she got home. So goodbye Sunday leftovers lol! But she was a wonderful au pair. And yes I do think when you have little ones it’s easy to underestimate how much teenagers and people in their mid-to-late 20s consume. I wish I could consume even half that amount without facing the consequences!

skny August 31, 2014 at 7:38 pm

Any tips or recommendations for POWER ORIENTATION?
I usually plan on my au pairs arriving during summer or school holidays so that either husband or I can be available for a week long orientation.
This time (due to rematch) all I can take is 1 DAY off. Our new au pair is arriving on a Thursday night (1am), but we live in the middle of nowhere and will be a very long trip for her. So I am guessing she will be exhausted and that it will be silly to orient her on Friday all day.
Thought of having her use Friday to unpack, rest, and when I get home from work on Friday (4:15sh) take her driving, some light things… Which means Sat, Sun and Mon would be power orientation days.
thought of reviewing handbook, driving, locating places, remembering how to change a diaper, how to turn on stove, etc… over the weekend, and a lets follow what your typical day will be on Monday (days are very similar… routine… Changes are something like on Monday we go to library, Tue to parent resource center…). And Tuesday she will be on her own…
Which also bring the question: is it even legal to have her orient over the weekend? I will still need 45hs that week…

HRHM September 1, 2014 at 7:08 am

it’s totally legal to orient over the weekend, and probably preferable to spend less actual work time at home with her. I orient Sa/Su and then I let her work with me on Monday. Tuesday I’m in the house for the AM period (kids are in school) but don’t intervene unless requested. Wed I can be reached by phone if needed. Sink or swim, although my kids are 6 & 9…

NewAPmom August 31, 2014 at 8:41 pm

We have had our AP a little over a month and things are going ok but could be better. I’m planning on sitting down with her to go over things. This is our first time hosting. Here’s what’s bugging me:
1. Cell phone glued to her hand always texting. My kids are 2.5 yr and 3.5 months. AP will be on duty until the kids bedtime in the evenings which means she overlaps with when I get home from work. I notice she seems to stop working and is always on her phone. I was hoping not to have to say anything bc it’s in her handbook.
2. She doesn’t do a lot of chores listed in the hand book like the kids’ laundry, wipe down where they were at the table etc. what’s frustrating is one day she will do it but not the next. So I was giving her a chance, but it’s too inconsistent. I’ve made up a chore list to give her.
3. She lets the sink pile up with dishes when the dishwasher is clean and I end up emptying it when I’m home from work.
4. She has friends over who eat our food and stay over uninvited for dinner.

TexasHM September 1, 2014 at 5:01 pm

Phone is a dealbreaker and potential rematch offense for us. If you can’t responsibly manage a cell phone and provide care I can’t keep you. There are plenty of opportunities while kids are occupied (gymnastics class, library story time, kids are at table finishing lunch) where AP could check phone without issues. The fact that you’ve seen it makes me wonder how much she does it when you’re not around and your kids are way too little to take the chance, at 2 and infant they need constant supervision.

Cali hostmom September 1, 2014 at 5:19 pm

I’d definitely say something about the phone use! You can actually monitor the number of texts she receives and sends through your carrier’s website, if you need to keep tabs on her. But I’d start by telling her she needs to limit herself to X texts a day (whatever’s reasonable to you) unless they directly relate to the family/kids. As for phone calls, she needs to return them after she’s done for the day.

The chore list sounds like something we’re going to have to do, too. I think I need to let my AP know that (since she doesn’t work 45 hours a week or 10 hours a day) getting those things done is her job, even if it’s “after hours” or on a weekend. She tends to finish up at 6 and goes right to Skyping with her family, when in my mind your job’s not over until the work is done! It drives me nuts to finish a full day of MY work and have to finish someone else’s job.

Sounds like the timing of your dishwasher is off. Who runs it, and when? Can you start running it at night and emptying it in the morning (you or her)? Or have her run it at the end of the day? Dishes piled in a sink make me crazy.

The food thing is unbelievable. I think you need to be clear that she is responsible for providing food for her guests. And if you want guests gone during dinnertime, let her know that you consider it to be family time. We don’t eat with our au pair so I don’t care if she has someone over, but if she fed them our food on a regular basis I’d be apoplectic. (But I have food-sharing issues!) If your kids were older, I’d think about designating one night “guest night” and having her invite other au pairs over for the cultural exchange aspect, but that’s not going to make a difference to kids as young as yours.

exaupair September 1, 2014 at 7:23 pm

If she’s being paid for said amount of hours a day than after that time her job for the day is done, even if not all the tasks are 100% completed, unless obviously you feel like paying overtime, and I bet you don’t…

Some may not agree, but you can’t expect her to do her chores after hours, time off is a time off and you can’t violate it…..if someone knocked on my door when I was skyping with my boyfriend or family wanting me to finish washing dishes etc. quite frankly I’d be very upset, and just asked them out.

exaupair September 1, 2014 at 7:33 pm

On the flip side, the AP is texting a lot, and if she cut on that she might have been done with the workload on time, however the fact that she doesn’t do 10hr days doesn’t justify making her finish up her tasks on weekends or evenings….better make her work for 10hrs instead of 8…maybe during 10hr days she will manage to have her job done. Even considering potentially asking her to “work” during her time off puts me off.

NZ HM September 1, 2014 at 8:54 pm

I partly disagree. I think it’s absolutely fair to expect her to finish off jobs ‘after hours’ that she didn’t get them done during the day, providing that a) the work load is reasonable and could easily be managed during working hours; b) you make this clear to her in advance (in handbook or during conversation).

I always find some chores are difficult to assign to a day or time and we have started scheduling x hours for ‘contact time’ (actively looking after kids) and app. 3 hours per week for child related chores, to be done any time at the APs convenience BEFORE the end of the week, i.e. if by Friday end of shift some duties weren’t completed I would have no qualms pointing that out and making the AP do them then and there (or on Saturday, day off or not).
On the other hand, if you have someone who requires micromanaging and loads of chore lists, you might choose to assign specific tasks to specific days and times (and use more hours per day for these things).

Always Hopeful HM September 1, 2014 at 8:57 pm

I don’t think there’s anything wrong wih asking her to add to the tail end of her day to finish, especially since she’s not using all her hours. For example, if she got HC in the bath late, and the bath was only halfway finished when the clock struck 6, she would expect that her job required her to finish the bath, dry off HC and do whatever other finishing touches went along with the bath. Same for chores. I do think it’s different if she’s already off heme you notice the undone work. In that case, if she failed to finish within her hours on day 1, I would extend her scheduled day by an hour on day 2. The last hour would be solely for chores. She will quickly learn to be more efficient within her regular (shorter) hours.

Taking a Computer Lunch September 2, 2014 at 7:34 am

I think telling her that she will need to complete the chores in her free time if she can’t complete them during the day will help her learn time management.

The phone issue aside (and very annoying to me personally – I hate when APs ignore my kids because they’re too busy texting or talking – we check the logs when an AP first arrives and point out to them all the minutes they spend on the phone if it exceeds the handbook), do check your chore list and see that it can be done when your kids take a nap. When I had infants, I wanted my AP to be “on” when she was with them and I did the chores when I got home. (She did do her dishes from the day.)

Assuming your AP is permitted to drive your children, sign her up for some “Mommy & Me” classes that force her to get out of the house and interact with the kids. Ask her to keep a log of the activities, and even offer her a camera to record some of them. Your kids are too young to tell you what they did reliably, although sometimes actions speak louder than words. If your toddler pretends to talk on the phone or text, then she’s being ignored.

I wouldn’t complain about other au pairs coming over and eating. Do ask what they did with the kids. A group of au pairs sitting at the dining room table and eating and ignoring the kids is not healthy for the kids. Ask about relationships your kids are developing with other HF kids (child #2 had some fantastic relationships with other AP’s HKs when he was a preschooler).

If you suspect that your AP is not doing her job, then drop in unexpectedly. Yes it means taking time off from work, but come in unannounced. That will give you a sense of how she is working. If you don’t like what you see, don’t dump on her immediately, but ask for a chat after the kids have gone to bed.

Cali hostmom September 1, 2014 at 8:46 pm

No, my AP doesn’t work a full 10 hour day or a 45 hour week. She probably works, on average, 37 hour weeks and 5-8 hour days. So I expect her to find some time when she’s off-duty to finish things that she’s not getting to on-duty. I know it can be done because my caregiver before AP (a nanny) was able to handle those tasks during her normal 8-hour day.

I don’t expect her to work overtime. Especially not unpaid. I don’t even ask her to share in the general household chores. I have a lot of respect for the way the system is set up to protect the au pairs from being misused by unethical families.

Cali hostmom September 1, 2014 at 8:48 pm

(And obviously whatever time she puts in after hours she can count toward her 45 hours.)

dcmomof3 September 1, 2014 at 9:08 pm

In 7 years of hosting, I’ve never seen au pairs consistently finish chores during their off-hours. Thus, I don’t give them the option! Even though my boys are in school full time, I schedule a 40 hour week. My AP works 3 hours per day while the boys are in school – cleaning up after breakfast, straightening their rooms, doing their laundry, helping with dinner prep, grocery shopping, etc. The girls know during matching that they will have 3 hours of chores without the kids each day. I have both a weekly chore chart of things that need to get done each day of the week (i.e. Tuesday is kids laundry day) and also write down daily tasks (i.e. go to Michaels and buy the stuff kid # 2 needs for science project). I also don’t allow the girls to get away with not finishing their work. For example, my last AP was supposed to do laundry on Fridays. The wouldn’t start till Friday afternoon and then would leave all the kids clothes in the dryer for me to fold over the weekend. Laundry day then got switched to Tuesday. The great au pairs will do the daily chores in the time allocated and not have any problem with getting them done.

Dorsi September 1, 2014 at 9:49 pm

I am very sensitive about the phone issue — we have had one rematch (of 7 APs) and it was centered around phone and texting — well, and not seeming to like children very much. I would come down harshly about it. I have little kids, and they can’t tell you how much she is doing it when you are not around.

Also, don’t rely on what the phone records say. If they say she is texting all the time, that’s true. However, most APs are using Whatsapp, Facebook Messengar, etc. in order to text, so they can communicate with people at home. These may show up as data usage (but can be hard to sort out how much volume there is), or may not show up at all if she is doing it over wifi.

I committed (with the bad AP) to always CALL her if there were any problems and told her to turn her text alerts off while she was working. That way, there was no excuse to have her phone in her hands at all — it could be on a shelf across the room. The phone is for your convenience during working hours, not hers. And is a special benefit to have after working hours.

When I talked with current (stellar) AP about this recently, specifically that it was one of the reasons #6 went into rematch, she said, “Oh! that is why you were so crazy during matching about cell phone use.”

Should be working September 1, 2014 at 7:16 pm

I would have the LCC in on this and call it a mediation, so that you are well set up for rematch 2-week countdown if she doesn’t improve right away. Chores, texting on duty, bad roommate, and uninvited guests are four things that should be corrected and done with, otherwise cut her loose.

old au pair mom September 1, 2014 at 11:36 pm

phone has got to go. A 3.5 month old needs constant watching. It is a deal breaker. The toddler needs even more supervision. Unless the phone goes, except during nap and that is only for a quick check, she should be packing her bags.
Now for you, she can only do chores while they sleep. Give her laundry which can be done over the whole day, and dishwasher duty, but otherwise, she should be fully engaged in babycare.
Are the friends other nannies or aps? Are they there while she is watching the babies? She needs to attend to the babies not her friends or their food needs. You need to have a big restart pronto.
You have to say something about the phone and not just hope she sees it in the hand book. These are your babies and she is offering substandard care. They deserve much more attention. I often let the phone go unanswered and I am just playing with my 5 year old. She is far more important than the phone. If your AP doesn’t feel that way, then she shouldn’t be with your babies. You may be a new AP host family, but you are not managing this woman properly. Good luck, it does take some perseverance.

QuirkyMom August 31, 2014 at 8:49 pm

Argh! Our au pair announced to us Friday evening that she wants to rematch. She has been with us for almost a year, although we did have a two-month period where she had to go home to recuperate from a broken elbow (and couldn’t drive). It wasn’t long after she returned that we had to make the call whether to extend or not. She was eager to extend with us for another full year, and had made up her mind several weeks before we were willing to commit. We were initially a bit hesitant — although in many ways she’s been great, there have been issues and drama in other ways — but given how much she stepped up her game after her return, we did commit to extend for a full year.

We had what I thought was a good summer, and we’re only a week into school, and now this. She really didn’t identify any particular problems or issues, but said that she would be happier with younger kids than mine who are 12, 9.5, and almost 7 (her childcare experience was with with preschool kids), and that she’d like to see a different part of the country. Both my husband and I got the strong impression that she wasn’t telling us everything, but honestly we just said yes, fine, let’s rematch because if she’s not happy we don’t want to keep her here.

And now — I have one month (until the end of her original term) to find a replacement au pair. I am trying very hard not to be super angry at having to deal with this on such short notice, especially after the stress of having her leave (and arranging back-up care and a temporary au pair) and then return again — I really thought we’d be able to cruise forward for a year without more disruptions and lack of continuity in care. It’s going to make my girls so sad, as they thought we’d have her for another year, and they are super attached to her. We only moved here a year ago, and so my kids had to change schools, and my middle daughter is going to yet another new school (magnet) this year, so this will be even more upheaval in their lives. And we bought a house that we have to renovate/add on to before we can all move in so that is keeping us super busy and stressed.

OK I am just venting. What I really want to ask is — what are your best ideas for finding a stellar au pair either through rematch or through a year 2 extension? Should I register with another agency to expand my options? We are with APIA, and have had a good experience with them — our LCC is fantastic — but I’d also consider InterExchange as I have heard such good things about them. Or should we bite the bullet and start looking for out of country au pairs? I do not want to rush into matching out of desperation and make a bad choice only to face rematch and disruption again in the near term.

Sorry this is a novel!

TexasHM September 1, 2014 at 5:10 pm

Why not do both – look at rematch and 2nd year and out of country? Like you said, do your diligence and don’t rush but we found a gem in rematch at Interexchange (actually that’s when we switched I reached out to IE for help and they were AMAZING). I know a HM that now only takes rematch APs (says they are less star struck, more motivated and appreciative) and swears by it. I’m not brave enough to only do rematch APs because I am a planner and don’t want to feel rushed but if you have a limited timeframe why not?
Have you thought about first looking at rematch and year 2 APs at both agencies? Then go out of country if you don’t see anything promising? Probably won’t make you feel better but now the AP rematch options should be better because of the influx of APs at this time of year (meaning more APs in rematch too).
If you want any tips or help checking out Interexchange feel free to ping me, we were APIA until this year so I’ve walked this road recently. Texashostmom at gmail.com

TexasHM September 1, 2014 at 5:14 pm

And I think as long as AP has a room you’re fine. Doesn’t have to have a private AP bath and AP room can be changed (when addition is finished). I don’t know of any state dept regs that they could decline you on this unless there was something obviously dangerous but with kids in the house I’m sure you’d be managing that anyway. We had an AP come mid-out if state move and LC didn’t flinch. Had no curtains, basically a bed and closet and they were fine with it.

Should be working September 1, 2014 at 7:24 pm

TOTALLY stinks, considering you held out for 2 months for her return after the elbow!!

My suspicion is that she got another family by way of a third-party website and is moving to them. But whatever, she’s old news and it’s time for the next thing.

Rematch APs can be great! But you MUST talk to previous host family, even if to decide they are crazy or awful or you simply don’t share their concerns (maybe they hated having a vegetarian and you don’t mind). CCAP gives you this contact info, some agencies do not. And the previous LCC is a must. The two APs we took out of rematch were very good–each had their own downsides but the previous HFs’ extremely negative recommendations included nothing that affected us (and we decided they were nuts).

My experience with 2nd-year APs is that they are competent but simply don’t have the delight and family-feel. YMMV.

Out of country AP is a bigger investment. All that startup. I might consider sticking with in-country. But the enthusiasm and delight of the newbies is great for kids.

Please keep us posted!

Aussie HM September 1, 2014 at 8:14 pm

SBW – you took the words right out of my mouth!
Sounds like something if definitely up with this AP!

Quirky mom, I think your intuition was right when you initially hesitated to extend with this AP.

As you say you have a great LCC, so get them on board with the rematch process. We have just rematched with a young lady out of rematch who is turning out to be an amazing AP! She was in rematch through no fault of her own, however if our ( also great) LCC hadn’t suggested her, we might never have found her!

Good luck – I’ll be crossing my fingers for you!

exaupair September 1, 2014 at 7:47 pm

I’m so sorry it happened to you, especially when you held the job open for her when she had her arm broken and had to go home…
She has 1 month to go anyway, if I was her I would have just let the year finish with your Family…bearing in mind that you’ve waited for her when she was off sick for so long.
good luck with your new match!

Angie host mom August 31, 2014 at 10:18 pm

I have a great strategy for Power Orientation that worked for us on Stellar AP.

Get sick, go to the Hospital so that on the day of arrival you are in the ER.

AP will have to take care of kids for 3 days with no real help.

She’ll figure it out.

DowntownMom August 31, 2014 at 10:43 pm

SKNY, I used to stay home for a couple of days. They actually do much better on their own w/o the performance pressure. Send her a detailed outline before her arrival, discuss it after her arrival (before her first day), and then review after her first day and two weeks in. Good luck!

In the Throes of Rematch September 1, 2014 at 1:31 pm

I’m pretty bummed out right now. Favorite au pair candidate just disappeared from our favorites list (we’re APIA so we can interview multiple at a time, and do). We are fairly confident that she decided to match with a different family earlier today. This is my least favorite part of the process.

TexasHM September 1, 2014 at 4:42 pm

We had this happen a lot with APIA, it was one of the reasons we switched agencies. I think for families in “hot” AP areas there’s probably not a big difference with exclusive interviewing but for those of us that are not I saw a huge difference.

TexasHM September 1, 2014 at 4:46 pm

And even with exclusive interviewing we can interview several APs at once, they only chat with one family at a time which I’ve found makes them much more responsive, engaged (if they don’t think it’s a match they tell you so they aren’t locked up and they seem to really read beyond location and number of kids because they aren’t comparing you to other families all the time) and I got a lot more feedback.

Dorsi September 1, 2014 at 9:52 pm

It seems like it is time to revisit the “did you ever regret rematch” topic. I think both of the posters above have clear situations where they need to get over the mental hurdle of rematch and start moving in that direction. I still regret that AP #2 did not have the rematch flag waved at her — I remember thinking “only 6 more months of this” at one point — what a mistake to put up with her mediocre performance for half a year!

BearCoHM September 2, 2014 at 12:37 am

Hi, this is my first post. I have been following this blog for awhile and have found it so helpful. I love how supportive everyone is and how everyone seems to want to so right by the program.

We are looking now for AP#2 and are wondering how long people typically take to find their next one, and how many interviews you do? We didn’t love our first au pair (should really have rematched early on but were too afraid/unsure/indecisive/busy) and are hoping to find a better fit this time around. So far I’ve gone through tons of profiles and only found one so far to interview, but it seems like a mistake to take the first one without interviewing others, even if she seems great (that’s what we did the first time). But how do you balance the risk of possibly losing a “good one” while waiting to see if others who are better come up? What are people’s strategies here?

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