Open Thread: Mother’s Day Edition

by cv harquail on May 10, 2014

My friend Liz, in her official author/blogger role as @Hello_Ladies, made a provocative suggestion: Instead of Sunday being Mother’s Day,mogulmommaid-cover-236x300

Mother’s Day Should Fall on a Monday.

Then, we moms would actually be able to take some time off to relax from *all three* of our jobs: Mogul, Mom, and Maid.

This morning, as my mind wandered off during my friends’ son’s Bar Mitzvah, I realized that I’d mistaken Liz’s suggestion, and begun to take three days- the entire weekend– off for Mother’s Day.

Thus forgetting to set up this post. Oops.  Here we go. And now, I’m off to Talbot’s to stare at mom clothes in slightly larger sizes than normal. What are you up to?


Liz May 10, 2014 at 4:20 pm

Three days off is a much better idea. But really, who even gets one? I’m off to Cape Cod to visit my mother.

4th time lucky? May 10, 2014 at 5:52 pm

Happy Mother’s Day Moms and Hostmoms!

Following up on comments in some recent threads, specifically lack of response from AP candidates and time lines from first contact to offering a position I am writing for a bit of a moan and hopefully some advice

After more or less successfully hosting three APs over the last 1 and a half years (we are not in the US so have option of different length contracts, i.e. anything up to a year), we starting looking for a new AP to start in July/ August / September. We are currently without AP and have made alternative arrangements, which I am very happy with, and main reasons for wanting to host an AP again are language (looking for AP who speaks my native language with children), flexibility and the – potential – joys and benefits of having a larger family/ (cultural) exchange.

We started our search just over 2 months ago and so far haven’t had much luck and not due to lack of suitable applicants.

We have looked at plenty of profiles through the agencies and have been contacted by many seemingly interested APs through aupairworld. We initiated contacted with the suitable ones by letting the agency know to pass on our details (the usual process here) or by sending personal email address via aupairworld contact feature. Many never bother to write back or bail out (again, without actually telling us) after receiving our intro email (containing “Dear Aupair” letter and some photos, same as the agencies would sent the applicants, reiteration of the most important, positive and possibly not so positive, points about us and the job and initianting the interview process by sending a list of initial screening questions), others just take an unreasonably long time to reply to emails usually without any good excuse or explanation. Interviewing one applicant was limping along for 6 weeks before we decided to pull the plug, partly because she wasn’t responding in a timely manner by anyone’s standard, partly because we had been trying for several weeks to set a time for a skype interview and she was simply not prepared to be available on a weekend evening (and then started questioning our interview questions…).
This is the moaning bit!

But lack of success also always leads to my questioning our strategy so here some questions:
Is it ok to start the interview process with emails (and possibly some intense questions) rather than jumping straight into a face to face situation (which is what the agency suggests)?
For those of you not cold calling, do you usually set the time for a skype interview and expect the applicant to be available or do you arrange a time together with them – which is what we’ve been trying. It usually meant the matching process is very drawn out (weeks to months) often because the candidates weren’t available very many times. (On a side note: Quick progress is also hampered by the fact that we have a 10+hr time difference and always have to talk in the early mornings or late evenigs, both for them and us, which often excludes weekdays for both parties).
How many days do you wait for an email response and do you ever contact them again (e.g. “just wondering if my message got lost in the spam filter”)? How much extra time do you allow in extraordinary situations (e.g. exam time in AP home country)?
Is the expectations to have at least 3 skype sessions before making an offer reasonable?

Thanks and have a great day!

LondonMum May 11, 2014 at 2:50 pm

We use aupairworld too. We have started the process in April for AP to start in August, this is because many countries finish final year of school in June and APs are wanting to sort out their plans for the next year well before that. We always start with emails and if they are interested we send them a speck of exactly how their week will be, eg, start time, what it takes to get the kids ready for school, jobs during the day etc. It is very specific: Monday ….., Tuesday …. etc. If they read it and are interested I will ask them, in an email, if they have any questions, so they have time to think of some! I usually allow a week for the initial response and then, once we are in contact, a couple of days. If they say they are on holiday or something, I will make allowances for that.

We then whittle it down to 2/3 that we like and suggest a Skype time, offering about 3 times when we are available so they have options. Most of them are working or have plans so I think it is reasonable to do that. If our times are not good for them I would expect them to suggest alternatives. We have Skyped APs from Australia, we are in UK so I understand the time difference issue, however I would expect a candidate to make the effort to get up early to Skype, if they can’t be bothered to do that, they probably won’t be the type of person you need anyway! We usually Skype twice before making a decision, but I tend to make quick decisions! Based on how easily the conversation flows, if they have a sense of humour, how they say hi and chat to the kids etc. On the first Skype it is always just me and HD, the second Skype the kids say hello and then tend to wander off!

It is a time consuming and difficult process, I dread it every year (now on year 5 and AP#6). The impression of how they will do the job, I usually get from the emails and the type of questions they ask. How they will fit with our family and how we will all get along I get a feel for from the Skype conversations.

Hope this helps, good luck!

TexasHM May 11, 2014 at 6:13 pm

I absolutely email before skypeing, in fact I have two rounds of detailed questions we get through before a Skype interview. This significantly cuts down the pool so we don’t end up skypeing with dozens of candidates and even worse – introducing the kids to a dozen APs. I completely agree if they can’t make the effort to get a Skype interview together they are not for you. Does that mean same day? No. But I do expect “I have finals the next two days and need to study in the ams and evenings but Thursday those are done and I am happy to wake up early and Skype then, does that work? Ive had candidates stay up past midnight to Skype (we try to keep those interviews to an hour or less and wake up at 6am. We have never had trouble scheduling an interview but that may be because I weed out so many with the email rounds. The APs that make it to Skype have generally already been quick to respond to my email rounds and shown motivation through their answers. I usually have them asking me to Skype and me saying “sure just one more email (with 10 questions)”. :) I don’t want to waste their time and vice versa, we don’t Skype unless I think this really could be the match for us and I don’t have any red flags.

Sometimes I find red flags in the Skype interviews but Skype is probably the last 25% of our process. By the time we get to Skype I feel like I know them really well already and Im really just seeing if they can engage my kids, if I get a good gut feel and if conversation is easy or uncomfortable. I ask questions about anything I need more detail/clarity on and watch their body language closely, otherwise we can make a yay or nay decision usually within 2 skypes.

First – me only, second – husband and kids and then decision. Maybe a third Skype if something needs to be asked so we can see body language or if they missed meeting someone or hadn’t talked to our current AP yet. I too DREAD the process but keep the faith! You are doing the right things and if these APs can’t bother to respond in a timely manner then you are dodging a bullet. I always send a second email “did you get my last email?” and report to the agency the non-responders just in case it ends up being some extraordinary circumstance but so far I have yet to have that be the case. I think some was due to the free for fall of our ex-agency. APs would string you along because they were talking to multiple families so they would think if I don’t get A family then I can match with you but that doesn’t fly for us so I would move the process along and ask them to make a decision. We don’t want to be someones second choice.

4th time lucky?! May 12, 2014 at 12:21 am

Thanks for the comments and suggestions! Sometimes I simply start doubting myself and my actions/ approach. I so want to be tougher, more structured and prescriptive / take the lead (e.g. ask more questions by email, offer small selection of dates/ times for interview, stick to wishlist and don’t ignore red flags because “they are such a lovely person otherwise”) as opposed to dilly-dallying so much and being (too) accommodating (definitely a mistake we made with AP#1 during interview and subsequently…) but fall back into old patterns: what if… they don’t like how I handle this? they want to skype not email? they think we are too organised and have a list / planning obsession? they think 26pp of handbook is long? I appreciate they wouldn’t be the right APs for us anyhow. But the doubt’s still there.

Good to know we are on the right track and much appreciated to get that confirmation from others. Always love reading about those hard-ass, ueber-organised, OCD HFs out there, who make the rules and don’t compromise (all within reason, of course) – a standard to aspire to ;-)

Anna May 12, 2014 at 1:41 am

I think you can get around it by mentioning that your timeline for interviewing and making a decision say is 2 wks… just pick a period of time. You don’t have to explain yourself (maybe your arrival schedules or family circumstances constrain you), but this will set up the tone and keep the process moving along with a particular candidate.

Also what helps me is reminding myself that I am choosing a caregiver for my kids, not a friend for myself. (then the “she is so lovely” argument will be easier to set aside)

best of luck to you

4th time lucky? May 12, 2014 at 7:19 pm

What’s a red flag? (semi serious/ rhetorical question)

Feel in need of hand holding right now. What always gets in the way is my ability (flaw?) to always see the positive and that I probably have a ‘social worker’ / helper syndrome tendency. DH: “She’s not very good at this and that, suggest to pass on this one.” Me: “But she does this and that. And she seems soooo lovely and I am sure we can fix her” (bit of exageration, but probably not much).

I am ok with the clear cut stuff where you can just tick a box (age requirement, driving, swimming, pictures of kids/ partying in the profile, reasons for wanting to be an aupair, etc.) but totally fail on potentially more negotiable things that you can / might be able to work around (like chores to do at home, hobbies, interest in outdoors, siblings, etc.) and always find an excuse why not to reject someone: “there is very competent only-children out there, after all we got on too”, “ok, she didn’t mention emergency services at all if child has accident and is bleeding, but we can teach her what to so”, “she’s 22, still lives at home and doesn’t know how to do laundry – well I guess she can learn” [even I it did reject that one outright without excuse but really came across this in a profile recently :-)].

More concrete: We just skyped with a decent candidate who has great references/ experiences and did well during email interview. She came across very straight, extremely tidy and more like a business executive than a girl in her late teens and it’s the first time we were unsure (and asked) if she was up for floor play and getting mucky and whether she minded lack of matching bed sheets/ cups and plates. Apparently so…
We tentatively agreed to have another skype when our son was to be around and said we’d confirm a time by email. Due to time difference this has to be our morning/ her evening and I emailed her on Sunday morning (her time) suggesting one weekday evening or the upcoming weekend as possible times. She didn’t bother to check her emails till Monday afternoon (I am receiving “read email” confirmations), though did reply right away when she read it. She told us she wasn’t available in the evenings till next week (all day first aid course and possibly home late one day; birthday party on another) and that weekends would “probably be more suitable”. So I am slightly put out and am thinking “lack of effort and motivation, BUT she’s so nice otherwise”….


sorry about another really long post – always glad to find someone is actually reading them.

American Host Mom in Europe May 11, 2014 at 4:46 pm

Maybe try Great Au Pair as well? I like the message feature, and use the site almost exclusively to find my APs as there isn’t really an agency in my country. I have had 10 au pairs for various lengths of time, almost all successful, but also find the process to find the right one incredibly time consuming and painful every time. And I don’t use Skype, so haven’t had that constraint. I think a LOT of candidates are window shopping, so actually do two rounds of emails before I get to phone calls to avoid wasting time.

Regarding times to talk, I try to take into consideration their constraints…but this is a job interview and I expect them to find a way to make it work. We often also have time zone considerations, but I expect they’ll find a time in the week we are trying to talk, or it tells me they aren’t really serious.

If I’m really keen on someone based on their profile, and I haven’t heard back, I will try one additional follow-up mail where I give a deadline (pls get back to me by xx or I’ll remove you from our list of candidates), and that is it. Again, tells me they are just window shopping.

I generally have 2-3 rounds of emails and then at least 2-3 phone calls before deciding. Haven’t ever used Skype or similar, although might try FaceTime if a candidate had an iOS device. My 3 kids are still a bit young to participate in the interview process, maybe in another 2-3 years, and then I’d probably need Skype or something similar.

WestMom May 12, 2014 at 10:34 am

Sounds like you are doing the right thing. We use APW and GAP too. I start super early (February for August arrival), and I give myself until end of May to find/match. I let candidates know that I like to take my time and there will be many rounds of questions. As a matter of fact, I email probably 3 rounds of questions before considering a Skype. By that time, I am 75% close to making an offer, and I suspect the AP is quite interested as well. We Skype at least twice, and we ask our lead candidate to Skype at least 3 of our past APs before making a final offer.

I think a lot of the AP candidates on these sites are not very serious about becoming APs. I can imagine some signing up late at night, just for fun, to see what might happen. I think that’s why many don’t reply. They probably freak out a little bit once they receive a message from an interested family. For that reason, I prefer to field requests from APs as opposed to actively sending requests. I won’t consider candidates without a full profile, or photos. When I do send a message, I absolutely expect a response within 48hrs. In this day in age where everyone is connected 24/7, there is no excuse for not responding. It shows a lack of interest and professionalism. If she needs more time to respond, then let me know that.

4th time lucky? May 12, 2014 at 6:24 pm

Thanks – really good advice and points to consider!

Yes, on APW we also wait for candidates to contact us rather than expressing interest ourselves for exactly that reason: I assumed if the AP contacts me and shows interest I exclude those who have a profile but aren’t actually interested in becoming an AP. Still, the statistics don’t look good: almost 70 who contacted us, 20 we replied to expressing interest, 10 responded via email but most fizzled out right after that and only 2 seemed truly interested, one who wasn’t for us and a great one who accepted an offer from another family (also struggling with the amount of competition on the website esp from families in other countries; where we are is often not first and only choice, which makes agencies attractive again – at least the girls have already decided they want to come here specifically).

So somewhat disheartened. Thanks for the words of support! Will also look into great aupair again.

Momma Gadget May 10, 2014 at 6:19 pm

Yesterday I panic ordered flowers for my mom, my stepmom, and mother-in-law, because I forgot to mail the cards.

Today after my nephew’s first communion, I’ve binge watched the (BEST) A&E version of Pride and Prejudice , and drooled over young Colin Firth.

Tomorrow I will get breakfast in bed. Then I’ll sit under the big old copper beech and re-read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon in preparation for Starz release of the miniseries this summer.

And then tomorrow night I’ll probably toss and turn all night because I really should’ve been working all weekend. I’m so swamped.

cv harquail May 11, 2014 at 11:33 am

OMG. Binge-watching Pride&Prejudice. My idea of a perfect indulgence.

Seattle Mom May 10, 2014 at 8:12 pm

We don’t “do” mother’s day or father’s day in our family. That being said, the kids make cute trinkets in school and I gush over them appropriately. The reason we don’t do mother’s or father’s day is because it feels false to us, and we don’t need another holiday where the stores and the corporations guilt us into buying things we don’t want/need. We get enough of that on Christmas (and I’m Jewish, for goodness sake). My mother demanded a card this year though, after I hit her up for some help with summer camp money the week my au pair is on vacation (it’s Jewish and expensive, therefore she will help pay for it). I looked for a card but didn’t find one that I wanted to spend money on, let alone 50 cents for postage. So instead I splurged on a box of chocolates which will arrive late for Mother’s Day.

Thankfully MIL doesn’t do mother’s day either. She would laugh if we sent her anything. I guess that’s where I got the inspiration.

I totally hear you on looking for clothes bigger than normal… this has been a bad year for me in that regard!

Should be working May 10, 2014 at 9:52 pm

What is with this clothing/body issue…I was looking at clothes larger than normal too, debating just getting rid of the stuff that makes me sad in my closet.

Seattle Mom, glad I’m also not the only one who hits up my parents for Jewish summer camp!

Seattle Mom May 11, 2014 at 11:23 pm

Lol, I have a pile on the top shelf of my closet of clothes that I hope (realistically, maybe) to fit into again someday. The sizes of clothes that go up there are creeping upward. I remember two years ago wistfully putting the size 4 pants up there, then the 6s, and now even most of my 8s…. So the 4s have all been given away at this point. The 6s are next. I am tall, and I wore a 4/6 for a short window in my life (it was so exciting that I bought too many clothes- then got pregnant again), so this is not disastrous. But it makes me a little sad.

And yes, I think Jewish summer camp is one of those things that grandmothers are made for :). I’m also thinking in a few years Hebrew school. My husband’s step mother paid for gymnastics this spring, there’s no way my mother would pay for that. Different priorities.

Taking a Computer Lunch May 10, 2014 at 9:24 pm

I told my son that I wanted a card, a hug and a kiss (he’s a young teenager). He told me I could have a card and a hug. My daughter “made” me a card with a lot of help from the aides at her school. We have a tradition of going to a nursery and buying a permanent (if we can keep it alive) plant for the garden. 15 years ago I was pregnant with my first-born. Today I was on my hands and knees washing the floors because she spits to protect her airway and the floors turn black in spots (and then we adults managed to drop eggs, tonic water, and milk on the floor – sigh). Other than a nice brunch and some planting, I expect to be doing a lot of typical mother things tomorrow. (One of these days I’ll take a school day off from work to have some real down time!)

HRHM May 11, 2014 at 1:03 am

I sent the kids to the movies with AP and watched 24, played Lego LOTR and drank wine coolers. DH is on the other side of the country (only comes home every other weekend), so my mother’s day breakfast will be Eggos (they insisted on making SOMETHING) :) All in all, not a bad way to spend Mother’s Day weekend.

hostmomincolorado May 11, 2014 at 8:02 am

My mother’s day gift to myself was to ask our less-than-mediocre au pair to be packed and stay with her friends the last few days before her departure (she has been spending all weekend with them for several months now and her flihgt out is on Tuesday).

Contrary to looking for larger-sized clothes, the stress from this gal (she crashed the car AGAIN just 2 weeks before her departure!) has left me 10 lbs lighter. One question, we collected the $500 for the first accident (running into the side of the garage doorframe 2 months into her year), and added her to our AAA so it was “free” to pull her out of the ditch (first snowstorm), but could/should I have collected another $500 for the latest accident? What are your thoughts/experiences?

Taking a Computer Lunch May 11, 2014 at 8:56 pm

If she’s gone, I’d say you’re too late. However, if she asks you for a letter of reference, you have the option to be brutally honest!

HRHM May 12, 2014 at 2:32 am

I agree it’s too late now, but YES, I’d collect it PER ACCIDENT. After all, you have to pay the deductible each time.

TexasHM May 11, 2014 at 9:07 am

It was my understanding that the dollar amount is PER accident so yes, you would collect for both accidents. You should probably reference your host family agreement and chat with your LC but I don’t see any way that she doesn’t have to pay for a second accident thats her fault.
Ironically Mothers Day stresses me out a bit not because of my family, but because it means I have to shop for and gift my mom and MIL. My dad tends to stand by waiting to see if we screw it up and isn’t shy about sharing his disapproval, my MIL is a sweetie so no worries there.
I got flowers and chocolate covered strawberries “from the kids” – yummy breakfast! (The strawberries not the flowers.) :)

LondonMum May 11, 2014 at 3:45 pm

Shouldn’t the MIL get a gift from her son!? I would be quite upset if my sons don’t make the effort on Mother’s Day, and simply passed this “chore” on to their partner!!

TexasHM May 11, 2014 at 6:00 pm

LOL so because my MIL is great I want her to get something great and we do the same thing for both moms (professional photos of the kids for example) and don’t want anyone getting something better or worse so thats self inflicted like most things I do. :) The hubs is involved, I run ideas by him, he picks things up if I tell him but at the end of the day I drive the bus on that. And for those of you wondering, if I didn’t do it it would likely be forgotten until the day of – costing me much more when he panics and orders same day flowers or something crazy. He does her birthday and therefore, she has never gotten a bday present. She gets a call. :)

LondonMum May 12, 2014 at 2:07 am

I bet your MIL loves you! My husband asked me to “do both” about 15 years ago but I took the hard line – your mum, your job! He does do it but it’s usually a panic on the day even though I remind him. I even say to him that I want the kids to choose something themselves for me (they are 6 and 8), which results in some strange gifts! Last year my 5 year old said – I got you your 2 favourite things – it was some wine and a ball of wool LOL!

WarmStateMomma May 11, 2014 at 4:10 pm

The best part of Mother’s Day is that HD believes me when I say I prefer an easy day over anything from the store. He cooks whatever I want and handles all diapers and tantrums while I watch a chick flick or paint my nails. He even took some great photos of the baby today. Perfection.

Seattle Mom May 11, 2014 at 11:27 pm

That’s my kind of mother’s day!

Should be working May 11, 2014 at 4:45 pm

I helped my teen daughter do a huge clean out/cleanup of her room. She was grateful, we got rid of 3 bags to donate and 2 huge garbage bags to eliminate. And I got mom-time with her, which at this age is precious, you have to take what you get, even if it involves going through piles of junk to sort for donate/eliminate. My younger guy sat nearby and played video games on my phone and received, gratefully, a very few castoffs from his big sister (a pink plastic safe that he wants to spray-paint black, for instance).

I also made them sign a “coupon” for visiting a museum with me some other time. I had written on the coupon “with no complaining”, they made me change it to “with only a little complaining” and then signed.

OHM May 11, 2014 at 9:07 pm

LOVE that!

Laupair May 11, 2014 at 5:52 pm

Hi! I’ve found you blog months ago when I decided to be an au pair for the summer months. And well, I’d like to have as much opinions as possible upon what tasks are OK to ask from an AP and which are not. So, I’ve found an agency this year and last Friday, I’ve received a profile from a family. They run a small family business and have a cottage that they let.
I don’t want to appear lazy, but it bugs me a little that a family asks for an au pair to clean the guests’ rooms.
They sound like nice people, I wouldn’t have to work a lot per week (about 25h plus 2 evenings babysitting when they’ll be there). I don’t really mind doing some housework (I live on my own, I know that if I don’t clean my mess, nobody’s going to do it for me. Plus I don’t like mess.) but seriously, the “cleaning guests’ room bugs me.
Running the business when they’re away scares me the most. I’m not sure that they mean literally running the business for them or not, but I will have to make this clear. It’s a place for only the summer months of July and August.
Beside that I don’t mind looking after their child and taking care of the pets or doing other light household chores.
I’d like to have your opinion on these points, if possible.

WestMom May 12, 2014 at 10:44 am

I am assuming this in not in the USA.
This has nothing to do with being ‘lazy’. You are looking for a position where you will take care of children and maybe do some light house chores. Being a housekeeper for a bed and breakfast, and running the business when the owners are away is far from the job description of an Au Pair. I think you are right in questioning your assigned tasks. I am curious, what does the agency say about this? Do they present this an Au Pair job?

Laupair May 12, 2014 at 10:50 am

Thank you for your reply
No, this is a family from GB and they have a few rooms that they let.
I’ve asked my agency about what they think of this and they will ask the family before I have an interview with them on skype. I’m waiting for their answer. (I’ve also seen in their profile that they’re searching for someone over 22. I don’t fit in this category, I’ll be 21 this summer.)

LondonMum May 12, 2014 at 11:21 am

I know that in UK you are not allowed to ask au pairs to do more than “light housework” which I would take as a quick hoover and doing a couple of loads of the children’s laundry. It seems like they need someone to take care of their property and business whilst they are away.

If you are only coming for a couple of months, I would look for a job as a “mother’s help/au pair” for the summer holidays which should allow you enough time to enjoy the area you are in. Many families just need a few hours help with the children each day during the holidays, if the parents are working, they will probably book the children into clubs and just need someone to drop off and pick up. That would probably be a better option for you in the short time you will be here.

Host Mom in the City May 12, 2014 at 11:33 am

It doesn’t sound like they’re looking for an au pair, but rather, using the program to find a housekeeper/business manager…. If it sounds off or, on the flip side, sounds too good to be true, it’s probably not going to be a good fit. Be patient! Hope you find something soon.

Laupair May 12, 2014 at 12:20 pm

That’s what I think too. I’m waiting for my agency to tell me what they the family wants. (besides a bit of childcare and some other child-related chores)
Thank you for your answers.

HRHM May 12, 2014 at 1:08 pm

Honestly, if they are openly asking for these tasks and for someone older, you should just move on and look for a different family. Even in the US, there is almost always someone desperate enough to accept a position that doesn’t fall within the rules/guidelines. If that’s not you, don’t even waste your time, look elsewhere. They will want what they want and you won’t fulfill that need. Not saying it’s right, but it is what it is. You should be able to find a family that wants an AP, not a house elf. :)

exaupair May 12, 2014 at 1:16 pm

With only the AP contract you are not allowed to do anything beyond childcare related chores and light housework (which is also only child related).
What you could do, provided you don’t need a work permit for the UK, is to make them sign another contract with you which will cover cleaning the rooms and running their business while they’re away. Also make them point out exactly what your duties would be for both roles/contracts.
For the cleaning you should ask for an hourly rate (I for instance pay £10/hr for really light cleaning), and I think if I were you I’d agree on a fixed rate for looking after their business, keeping in mind that it should be high enough to cover any unexpected “overtime”.
It’s a win-win, if they agree you squeeze make pretty good money out of them, if they refuse and insist on only paying you the AP pocket money, the run fast and consider yourself lucky – you’ve just dodged a bullet.

Laupair May 12, 2014 at 1:32 pm

The agency keeps sending me other profiles, so I think I’ll find a better match. Anyway I certainly won’t accept to be their au pair, even for 5 weeks. (I think I’ll check their references too, they had au pairs before so I’d like to hear from them)

Should be working May 11, 2014 at 7:18 pm

P.S. got a lovely Mother’s Day email from previous AP thanking me for being so supportive and a great HM! Makes me happy that she really saw how I went the extra mile for her more than once.

Anna May 12, 2014 at 1:38 am

This is so cool! I got Mother’s Day’s emails from two previous au pairs… nothing about me, just wishing me a good day, but it still is touching…

HRHM May 12, 2014 at 2:35 am

I got a facebook post from a previous AP wishing me a happy day and telling me what a great mom I am. Love that girl! :)

Momma Gadget May 12, 2014 at 9:33 am

Me too! ” Happy mother’s day to my 2nd Mom”!

Anna May 12, 2014 at 1:37 am

My mother’s day started with a car accident (someone crashed into my commuting car that the husband was driving home having bought flowers for me), and ended with a trip to ER with my baby who was dropped by the oldest child and possibly bumped his head. Thankfully he is all right, but now is almost 2 am I have to wake up at 5 for work…

London Mum May 12, 2014 at 9:48 am

You poor thing! I think you should have next weekend as your own personal Mothers Day!

WarmStateMomma May 12, 2014 at 11:42 am

You deserve a do-over.

Mimi May 12, 2014 at 12:47 pm

I have to work every year on Mother’s Day (graduation day to everyone else!) but like Seattle Mom, I’m not much for the ‘Hallmark Holidays.’ I do make sure HD gets his mom a card and a plant to save the peace, though.

My kids really like to show their appreciation, though, so I look forward to their gifts. Our APs have been really creative in the past with what they’ve helped them make and I think it really gives the APs a good opportunity to ‘conspire’ with the kids in a positive way. This year I got cards with hand print tulips and laminated hand/foot print magnets for the fridge from the twins and a handmade coupon book from the 10y/o.

HD and the boys pitch in for a big breakfast before I have to leave so I don’t have to cook and (even better) don’t have to clean up afterwards! I usually give the APs a little something that day with a note thanking them for making it easier for me to be a better mom.

We have AP #3 visiting right now so she and the current AP pitched in to do my usual Sunday cleaning/chores yesterday which meant a lot to me this year since I’m @7 months pregnant and 6 hours on my feet was tough so I didn’t have the energy for it when I got home. APs 1 and 2 are married and living fairly close so they both came to see AP 3 last week and brought me plants for my garden and gummy bears for my cravings :). AP 4 who is in her extension year on the opposite coast texted me a happy Mother’s Day message.

WarmStateMomma May 12, 2014 at 1:31 pm

You must be a great HM to have former APs doing so much for you!

Mimi May 12, 2014 at 3:07 pm

You’re sweet to say so! I try hard but have to give credit to my boys and my husband. We are a team in it together and have been very fortunate to find good matches.

Host Mom in the City May 12, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Our current au pair is leaving in September to start university. We would love to have her stay, but she’s ready to move on with her life in her home country. We were admittedly back and forth on whether we were going to go for au pair #4, but after lengthy conversations, scheduling mock-ups and budgeting, we’ve decided we will do it. With two elementary-aged kids, it’s $5k-10k more per year to have an au pair ($9k-14k more for an extraordinaire!), which is why each year we do this “can we swing not having one and save the money???” dance before we realize how much easier it is on our schedules (and our job leave balances) to have one.

So here we are, thinking about the matching process again. I’ve posted previously about how our two extraordinaires have been wonderful. But I’m not seeing a whole lot of options in that program right now (though I just started looking today), and I know many of you out there have had luck with not-so-experienced au pairs. Our not-experienced au pair was awful, but I think it was more of a personality mismatch than anything else. I’m really hesitant though because that year was so bad, I really don’t want to repeat it and this northern European extraordinaire thing has worked perfectly for us twice. Why mess with a good thing? But on the other hand, I have a longing to try something new and would of course love to save the money.

Am I crazy? Should I just go with what I know works? Or has anyone had success with mixing up their “formula”?

Dorsi May 12, 2014 at 2:02 pm

We just had an awful extraordinaire. Out of 6 APs, we have had 4 standard and 2 extra. Our first extraordinaire was great and really was what the program promised — a child care professional. I went back to that because I feel like we are in a particularly challenging place right now (3 small kids, no one in full time school). I don’t know if the flame-out lied about her education, or what, but she was not equipped for the job. When we rematched after 6 weeks (would have been sooner if I hadn’t had some travel), she didn’t even try to find a new family.

So, there was probably some screening fault on my part. However, I went back to the standard program — I was impressed by the number and quality of South American regular program APs — which is a demographic we have had success with in the past.

NoVA Twin Mom May 12, 2014 at 2:14 pm

We JUST matched with a “regular” au pair from northern Europe that may not have had the degree required to be an extraordinaire (is a degree required?) but had a year of solid experience in a daycare setting. Are you with APIA? I know their new website design would let me toggle between looking at au pairs and extraordinaires, maybe toggle to see “regular” au pairs to see what is out there. I know that for weeks and weeks I wasn’t terribly impressed by the pool, until I found our new match. Nothing wrong with the pool necessarily, just nothing that really stood out as impressive. To the point that our “match coordinator” was beginning to be concerned we were too picky. I wasn’t concerned, I knew we had to wait and see and eventually the right au pair candidate would show up. Then I found this one, and we started talking and clicked, so matched very quickly. So maybe look at both pools, but remember to be patient. You definitely don’t want to settle for something you won’t be happy with later!

We’re one of the families that has had good luck with the younger crowd – our two that didn’t work out were both older, but then again our total flameout was in our usual age group. I chalk that one up to a total anomaly.

I will say, our current au pair found the process from our side fascinating. We didn’t give her details, just “nothing new in the pool” vs “a few new ones we’re looking at” but I think knowing the kids that would be cared for gave her a new perspective into what we’re looking for and WHY – for instance, we told her we were looking for someone that had worked a whole day before and not just a few hours at a time – and now she understands why!

Host Mom in the City May 12, 2014 at 2:37 pm

I am with APIA. Thanks, NoVA Twin Mom. You give me hope that I can find both :) It’s not so much the extra money to the au pair (our extraordinaires have been worth it for sure), but the extra $1,000 to the agency bugs me. I actually do see some pretty experienced candidates with APIA, but most of the candidates in there seem to be looking for a June/July/August arrival. I guess it’s early yet, but I like to have it locked down so I don’t stress about it all summer.

NoVA Twin Mom May 12, 2014 at 3:12 pm

We wanted a late July arrival date, and I will say that the quantity/quality of candidates for that time period picked up significantly very recently. So give it time! I know how you feel about wanting to be DONE, but you *can* wait until about six weeks in advance of arrival date to match (not that I would want to, but was faced with that reality after a rematch :))

Host Mom in the City May 12, 2014 at 3:33 pm

Another good point. I think once I get something in my head, I just want it over with, but we have plenty of time.

NoVA Twin Mom May 12, 2014 at 3:14 pm

The other thing we began looking at was extensions, with the theory that if they didn’t start out with the experience we were looking for, a year of being an au pair would probably do it :) So maybe look at the Year 2 candidates Available Now (you can see them on the website, but for some reason only if you’re NOT logged in). Though I think you might need a little more time before the extension au pairs for your time frame will be identified, we LOVE the extension au pair we have now.

Host Mom in the City May 12, 2014 at 3:33 pm

Great idea. I hadn’t considered that.

Host Mom in the City May 12, 2014 at 3:34 pm

When do au pairs get their extension paperwork again? After 8 months?

NoVA Twin Mom May 12, 2014 at 4:06 pm

I think so, but then they need some time to turn the info around. If you look at the ones available now (the furthest arrival dates out are at the bottom) you’ll have a good idea of how far out the dates are. Your own LCC may know when the ones you’ll be interested will be on the website. I will say, the “current hostparent recommendation” is all the way at the BACK of the packet on the website, and most of the packet is the original information the candidate used to apply. Be sure to read the current hostparent recommendation, there’s sometimes what another hostmom here called “faint praise” that you’ll want to be aware of before contacting them. I think your current LCC can add an extension candidate to your profile if you tell them the name/country/au pair number you’re interested in, which is sometimes faster than trying to get headquarters to do it. Your LCC can also call their LCC for any additional information that might not be in the packet.

WarmStateMomma May 12, 2014 at 2:17 pm

I haven’t hosted an extraordinaire AP, but maybe that’s effective at increasing your odds of hosting a competent AP. Both of my APs have had minimal experience – with wildly different results.

The current AP is better than I’d hoped for. She reminds HD and I that we need to use our date nights and she gets excited when our toddler says her name. She insisted on taking our little one to story hour at the library – on her day off – when I wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t take her myself. She’s a dog lover, so my pups aren’t ignored when she’s home. She also cooks, drives and swims. She comes home excited about seeing/doing something new with her new friends, but she texts if she’s going to be late and she’s not a drinker. We are really lucky to have found her and haven’t given a second thought to her minimal child care experience.

It may come down to whether your time poring over more applications is worth the savings.

WestMom May 12, 2014 at 2:47 pm

We are with InterExchange and they don’t offer extraordinaires. We actually mostly do pre-matches and I search for our candidates all over the Web: Agencies Web sites, Au Pair World, Great Au Pair, Facebook, etc.

I have no doubt that paying the premium for an extraordinaire would be helpful in weeding out inexperienced candidates, but I have to say that we have been very lucky to find very experienced APs on our own via the regular AP program. Out of our six APs, our last three have been licensed special educators with training in schools, hospitals and youth shelters. (We started to require professional experience in education-related field 3 years ago after one of our daughters experienced some neuro-psychological issues). All were also all excellent drivers and cooks.

So I guess there are some really good APs out there outside of the extraordinaire program. I wonder if APIA might not tier all their top APs in that category to get more money from the families? Other agencies don’t have that concept, but they must have those top APs too…

Host Mom in the City May 12, 2014 at 3:07 pm

We just opened an interexchange account too, but I love love love APIA for a number of reasons. I do find very experienced candidates in the “normal” pool, but they are few. FWIW, I haven’t found the interexchange pool to be all that different from the APIA pool, but I will keep looking since we just started. Just hate to make the switch since I have been happy with APIA. But I’ll do what I have to for the perfect match of course!

WestMom May 12, 2014 at 3:15 pm

I haven’t been necessairly impressed with their selection either… I guess that’s why I find our APs elsewhere and then convert them to IE. Actually 3 of our APs were originally registered with APC.

Bruna AP2B May 12, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Hi everyone!!
I still didn’t have time to read everything new, but I want to tell HAPPY (late) MOTHER’S DAY!! I hope you had an amaaazing day with your children and moms, I had a great day with mine!
Second, I’d like to share that I HAVE A MATCH! I’m so happy!!

NoVA Twin Mom May 12, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Congratulations! and thank you!

Host Mom in the City May 12, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Congratulations! Hope you have a great year!

WarmStateMomma May 12, 2014 at 2:43 pm

Congrats! Best of luck to you for a great AP year!

Always Hopeful HM May 12, 2014 at 7:02 pm

Awesome! You seem to have a really great attitude, and I am confident you’ll have a fantastic year!

Bruna AP2B May 12, 2014 at 7:18 pm

Thank you all!!! Can’t wait, i’m so excited!

Always Hopeful HM May 12, 2014 at 2:46 pm

I just wanted to say thank you to all the wise HPs here who talked about using your match coordinator to really help in your search. We just jumped back into the fray this weekend, and I was feeling a little overwhelmed. Today, I had a great conversation with the match coordinator. She listened to my (many) criteria, then prioritized them with adjustments by me. About an hour later, she added her first candidate to my favorites-someone I had not noticed in my search through the sea of candidates, and who seems to fit much of what we’re looking for. So, I have high hopes for this search!

I also considered branching out and registering with additional agencies at the same time (especially because I’ve the LCC here for CCAP and she seems to be fantastic), but I think I’ll stick with one, and cut down on the overwhelmedness…

4th time lucky? May 12, 2014 at 6:37 pm

Unfortunately, here the placement coordinators aren’t much chop but I partly think it’s due to the overall small number of applicants (had it happen twice now with different agencies that they sent me a profile I had already rejected a few weeks earlier) and them generally not listening to preferences.

The biggest and most professional (and most expensive) agency put a lot of pressure on us in the past to make a decision/ make an offer to the AP (“there is a lot of families out there looking for someone like this…”) which we succumbed to and resulting in chosing the wrong person. Another time, they stopped sending us profiles (nothing’s online here) saying there was no one suitable out there, I believe (without proof) that is was because we had shown interest in a male candidate who are very difficult to place…

Always Hopeful HM May 12, 2014 at 6:59 pm

Yes, I’ve definitely gotten the push “if you’re interested in someone, interview right away!”, but I ignore that because I can’t work that way!

I have a matching question: I’m looking for a September match. Many of the au pairs on the site now are looking to match in June or July. Does it make sense to contact them anyway, or should I focus on those looking to match in August/September? Has anyone out there sought a match with an au pair whose preferred dates didn’t match your own?

Returning HM May 12, 2014 at 8:09 pm

Absolutely! Au pairs are told to list the first possible date that they CAN arrive, but this doesn’t mean at all that it’s the only arrival date or even the first possible (often just the preferred). Some may have a reason why they have to be back home the following year at a certain time, but many European universities start in October, so it’s likely a Sept return could work even for those going back to school. It’s getting late, now, to match for July, so many APs with July arrival dates will likely be happy to have a potential match at all to consider, even if it’s later than they ideally wanted. This year we actually looked at arrivals from June to Sept to find our next AP – due to arrive in August :-) Good luck finding someone great!

Always Hopeful HM May 12, 2014 at 7:09 pm

Okay, one more post…I’ve been doing a lot of complaining about our au pair lately, here and to my friends. I just want to mention that late last week, he took my son to my son’s baseball game (as he was required to do, but booorrrringg!). My parents arrived during the first inning and offered to take my son home, so he could leave– he was meeting friends and could head out early. Instead, he stayed until the bitter end, chatting with my parents and cheering my son on. Just one example of why, despite his flaws, we really do love him!

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