First Time Host Mom Overwhelmed by Regret: Can She Fix Her Mistake?

by cv harquail on March 29, 2013

 

Dear Au Pair Moms —

I am a first time Au Pair Host Mom and I am having serious second thoughts about my choice of au pair. I  need some sage advice.

Our Au Pair has only been with us a few days but now that she’s here I’m having SO. MANY. REGRETS.

It all feels so akward.  I am a stay at home Mom and this is not at all how I expected it to go.

— The au pair is not like her profile.
— We are very,  very uncomfortable with her style of dress — it’s VERY provocative. Likely it’s an extension of her culture (I am assuming) but even so we were taken aback by it.
— Her level of English comprehension is less than we expected.

I have given her our handbook and discussed guidelines, gone over how to do things, and all the rest but…

I still have this OVERWHELMING feeling of having made the wrong choice for our family of one two year old boy and baby to be born next month.

Can anyone offer me some reassurance that this is normal for a first time host mom? Or perhaps it is not?

What are my options? And are there and other stay at home Moms who can chime in on this?

~ OldBlueEyesHostMom

 

Image: Typography Print — Fabulous poster —  of quote from Ron Burgundy available on Etsy from PaperChat. Photo from PaperChat’s Etsy shop. I wish I could buy the sofa. Yum.

{ 31 comments }

HostMomStudent March 29, 2013 at 10:53 pm

I have been reading this blog for a while, and find it so supportive. I read your post and just had to chime in. I am a first time host mom, am currently in rematch, and am/was a stay at home mom.
My two are older, I’ve been at home with them since birth and they are now both in school. I’ve decided to go back to school to finish my degree, and since my husband travels every week we needed some help.
I am a very open and warm person, so I thought having an au pair would be this wonderful experience where I would learn a new culture and have a new member of the family helping with the kids. Since my kids LOVE babysitters, I thought she would be adored by them and it would go smoothly. I did expect some bumps in the road – I did not expect the situation I got.
My first au pair is a perfectly sweet girl – but her skills with the kids were lacking, and the kids just never bonded with her. They started clinging to me in a way they had not before. NOT what I expected. The more they clung, the guiltier I felt, the more I chimed in during her time with them. The more I did that, the more she would ask for me, send them to me, refer to me. Let me tell you, hearing your AP say things like “Shhh, don’t cry, mommy will hear you” is NOT a good feeling. The situation just continued to worsen. After a few weeks of struggling, my counselor advised a rematch. We are in transition now.
I think as stay at home moms we do have a hard time letting go – we LOVE spending time with our kids, so when we see someone approach it as such a chore it rubs us wrong. So from that perspective, I would say that I do understand it is difficult for you, and you’re not unreasonable to feel that way. It may feel “wrong” and “awkward.” This stage is “normal” I think, and it should pass if she’s a good AP. If she’s not, your recourse is rematch – after 30 days though.
I would say that it is a bit early to jump to rematch, but don’t struggle with the decision if things feel wrong for long. I struggled ALOT with rematch, but my counselor pushed me to it and she was right – once I made the decision there have been no regrets. Some relationships can’t be fixed.
The dressing provocatively you can address outright, in a family meeting. The language you can encourage development of with au pair friends from other countries, practice in free English groups (churches or libraries have these where I live), and online courses. Now if she’s like my transitioning AP and refuses these options, you really don’t have much recourse.

I have high hopes that my next hosting will go so much smoother. I had these dreams of this wonderful relationship – I know that things are much more complicated than that, but I had the hopes. I think that, like any relationship, the HM/AP relationship takes a lot of hard work on both sides. If one side isn’t working it’s better to stop now than to continue in dysfunction.

Should be working March 29, 2013 at 11:35 pm

Arrival is awkward for all, esp. for a first-time host family. I would suggest taking this on as a management project. At your next weekly meeting ask her to dress less provocatively when she is with your family (and add that to your host family handbook!). Give her constructive, positive messaging that you know she is going to do a great job with the kids when she feels comfortable. Try to leave her alone with them to bond with them and feel confident. Set benchmarks (TaCL is a pro at this). Inform the LCC that you are having issues and why, and tell her what you are doing about it.

To me it does sound like the au pair needs to gain confidence, which means you need to give her a chance to do things on her own. Maybe you can leave and work somewhere else a few hours a day?

Mona March 30, 2013 at 2:52 am

You have a baby arriving in a month. This could mean even just 2 weeks. This is time to get serious. She needs to know exactly what she needs to do in order to succeed in her job (wear more clothing, anything else not going well) IMMEDIATELY so you are not still struggling with these feelings with her while also negotiating a new sibling relationship, sleep depreivation, recovery from birth, and potentially baby blues. Talk to your LCC ASAP as well so you can keep her close to assist. I am one for trusting your gut feelings, but it looks like uou will need to wait until after the baby’s arrival to rematch given the time crunch.

AuPair March 30, 2013 at 8:33 am

Dear OldBlueEyesHostMom,

I’m an au pair and wanted to share my thoughts with you. Maybe giving her more time will change things better. First days are often awkward. You both probably don’t feel comfortable around each other yet because you simply don’t know each other that well and all of a sudden you are living together. However, some personalities just don’t match. I would give it at least one whole week though because your au pair might not be herself right now. She might be nervous, homesick and ‘stiff’ trying to adjust to a new home and people around her.

Have you given her time to connect with your son alone? It’s much harder for many au pairs to feel relaxed and comfortable to get to know the host children and find the right way to communicate with them if the host parent(s) are somewhere listening/watching. It might be difficult for you to leave them alone so soon, especially if you don’t feel comfortable about your choice, but it makes a huge difference to be alone with kids and to be with kids when parents are home. Some kids are also much easier to handle if mommy or daddy are not around. Ask your son how he enjoyed the time alone with the au pair too.

You should definitely discuss clothes with her. Explain to her what is too provocative and not suitable around you and your kid(s) and ask her nicely to follow these rules.

Getting better in English is one of the main reasons to become an au pair. Ask her if she is planning to take any language courses. A lot of au pairs do that. If you have trouble explaining things to her, try writing important things down in a simple way.

Let your LCC know about the situation and let her/him ask the au pair how she feels. The LCC probably can’t share this information with you but she/he can come up with suggestions to both of you after hearing two sides.

Taking a Computer Lunch March 30, 2013 at 11:12 am

The first six weeks with a new AP are the hardest part, especially if you love your children and want to spend as much time with them as possible. Some tips, from 13 years ago, when my kids were the same age as yours: give her some space – to play with the kids, to show what she knows, to eat, and to talk with you. If you’re expecting a new arrival within the next month, you want to hand over the reins of your toddler care to her now, so s/he feels comfortable and loved by your AP. Have a family conversation about how much she will be needed. And I agree with some of other advice – get out of the house alone, to give her time to bond with your toddler on her terms. Get what you need for the new baby, see friends and do some things you won’t be able to do soon.

I recall when I first hosted, the other HM in the HP class was 26, the same age as her first AP. She was a SAHM with several children and imagined that she and the AP would be best buddies. She was angry and disappointed when they were not, because the AP left in the evening to go out with friends (changing at my house because her HM disapproved of her party clothes). I imagine working with a SAHM is hard on new APs, especially when their friends are granted a fair amount of decision-making.

On the issue of dress. I have always looked the other way at the ways my APs dressed. Some of them wore tight, little clothes, others were complete slobs, but most were in-between. As long as they loved my kids, could pick them up and play with them without their outfits coming apart – I didn’t (and still don’t) care.

Finally, we had our first AP talk with our typically developing child in her language. It turned out to be fantastic for him. He developed a rich vocabulary and conveyed the same sense of imagination in both her language and ours.

anonamomma March 30, 2013 at 1:16 pm

My first piece of advice would be do not panic because I get the sense that you might be panicking just a little bit.

And yes it is very normal for first time Host Moms to have an unrealistic idea of how the first few weeks will go – we get so caught up in our own excitement… Yippee our new AP is here and our lives are going to be soooo much easier – that we forget that this girl has just travelled a very long distance leaving everyone and everything she knew behind and sometimes they are not ready for the overwhelming sense of responsibility, constant talking/comprehension in another language, strange foods, and probably a little bit of sleep deprivation just from nerves/awkwardness of a new place and also the expectation that they have to be perfect from day 1 – it can take a good few girls who were super excited to be an AP by surprise..

It takes time for them to adjust is what I am trying to get across – that’s why there’s a 30-day rule. You’d be amazed at how it can all just click together around day 29!

However my second piece of advice would be go back through all the emails/notes of discussions that you made/any communications that you had with your AP before she arrived and then compare/contrast that with what you are dealing with now.

If you feel that the AP completely misrepresented herself and you cannot see the girl you matched with in this girl at all then rematch asap.

However if you feel that the girl you matched with is there but is just not who you imagined her to be – then give her time.

The dress (or lack thereof) issue is easily dealt with. There actually is an old thread on this site which has lots of wonderful practical advice – you should try to search for it.

As for the level of English – that’s why she’s here…

I hope it works out for you and please keep up posted (and welcome to being a HM)

AnotherSeattleHostMom March 30, 2013 at 6:33 pm

The first week with our first AP I wanted to openly weep (and I did…behind closed doors). It was awkward. It wasn’t what I expected. The AP was so needy and nothing like her application and what we expected.

My husband talked me off the ledge. I set different expectations. We had a great year and still talk to her (via Facebook or Skype) every week.

Our LCC asked:
1. Does she have good common sense? (Yes)
2. Does she seem to want to be in America (yes)
3. Does she seem to like the kids (yes)

And she thought given that we said yes to all 3, we would be fine. She had our. “2 week meeting” a week early because I was so unsure and helped us to talk through things…so do involve your LCC NOW.
Good luck and congrats on your new baby!

lifestartsnow March 30, 2013 at 7:58 pm

i agree with the others, it’s too soon to tell how your relationship with her will go. what you need to do now is make sure she is comfortable with your toddler because she/he will be her main responsibility soon.

as for the clothing, if you do address it (and i think this is only an issue if a skirt is too short or the upstairs is threatening to fall out) be very specific about what is acceptable and what not. asking her to switch to a tank top or t-shirt over a spaghetti top is reasonable and understandable. just saying “cover up” is too vague for her to understand. while you’re at it, think about pool wear also. she may have a tiny bikini in her suitcase that she thinks is fashionable and appropriate… (i have a hunch there…;-)

allow her to bond with your child and reinforce the rules and tasks verbally and in writing. it takes time to get the hang of the language and even i (after 8 years of english in school) needed written instructions at first because everything is so overwhelming.

try to relax and give yourself the time to get to know each other. if it’s not working out than you can always rematch but you saw something in her when you matched.
now, if it turns out that her application was fake, rematch asap – you deserve better! no good au pair ever had to fake her application.

CA Host Mom April 1, 2013 at 12:19 pm

You’ve received some great advice, OldBlueEyesHostMom …
I will add to what some others have said – take a breath and try to relax. Part of the initial adjustment for me was learning to deal with a significant level of ‘awkward’ for a while … I did not expect that at all. Many things contribute to that and it doesn’t mean that things are not working out. It is easy to get all wrapped up in the worry and doubt and not see the good things that are there and the potential that the AP has to be really great.
I’ll second the comment about fake applications … don’t waste any time on her if you feel strongly that she completely misrepresented herself (a.k.a. flat out lied). That strikes a nerve with me probably b/c I just (last night) had a conversation with an AP friend of our AP who admitted to buying her drivers license (in her home country), never previously caring for children – but getting ‘references’ to lie, and the fact that she intends to stay in the US illegally when her AP year is up – that was her plan all along, and APing was just the vehicle to get her here. If she is a fraud, move on – there are often great candidates in the rematch pool.
But if you think that these feelings of worry and doubt and second-guessing might ease with time, and that you might be able to get some support (from your LCC and this forum) when it comes to communicating with your AP, and refining expectations, then try and stick it out. Communicate in writing (and excruciating detail) and then ask your AP to repeat things back to you so that you can make sure that she understands (that worked well for me – though at first I was worried that I would offend our AP). Give her some chances to get it right – because she might be really overwhelmed too.
And the last bit of advice that I have received from others on this site was to “go with your gut”. Good luck – please keep us posted on how things work out.

Ann April 8, 2013 at 2:25 pm

This post could have been written by me three months ago. We, too, were met by an au pair who bore little to no resemblance to the one I thought I knew from our interviews–instead of sophisticated and warm, she was dour, chilly, and low energy. I cried daily (often more than once) about having her in my home and was terrified that I’d put my kids at risk. Flash forward three months: things are better. They will most likely never be great, in part because I am a perfectionist with very high standards and also because she is wildly mismatched with us, personality-wise (a true introvert, and a somewhat lethargic one at that, in a family of super social and active extroverts. How I missed this in interviews is beyond me). However, she HAS managed to bond with my kids, and I take a lot of comfort in that. It has taken an unimaginable amount of work on my part in terms of coaching, following up, managing, writing things down, and giving constant feedback, but it’s worked. Given how desperate I was to get rid of her immediately in the weeks after she arrived, and how much better (still not great, but much better) things are now, I am hoping for you that you will see a similar shift. Whether or not you have the time and energy to devote to that with a new baby on the way (or already here?) is another question.
And speaking of questions–as I’ve described above, a big part of our issues with our au pair is that our personalities are just so different, and I find it difficult to live with the differences (the low energy, lack of initiative and creativity really bug me). The child care is decent–not inspired, but adequate, and the kids are happy and feel secure. Has anyone ever rematched just because you don’t gel with the au pair and her lifestyle? There have been questions posted here before about personality conflicts, but those seemed so clearly problematic that rematch was the only answer. I’m wondering if anyone has ever passed on “so so” and held out for “just right.” Would love any advice you all can offer. (and I’m sorry to hijack the thread–just thought this question seemed relevant here).

Should be working April 8, 2013 at 7:40 pm

I think a lot of HPs deal with “so-so” and then once they decide to rematch realize it was actually not so-so but instead “bad but rematch is too much work”. CV, I believe, once had a poll to ask something like “for those of you that rematched, did you ever once regret going into rematch?” and the answer was NO ONE regretted it.

My own baseline is, if I’m fantasizing about rematching, it’s time to rematch. But maybe yours is different if the AP is truly good and liked by kids.

Our first au pair was 4 months of “meh” and “so-so” but I was so annoyed about the whole thing that I slowly decided it wasn’t good enough, and then later discovered it was SO not good enough compared to what was possible. She was ok with the kids, and my older daughter seemed to like her a lot. But she was sour, uninterested in us, did the bare minimum. After we told the kids we were going to rematch, my daughter said she hoped that maybe the next au pair would smile and hug her when she picked her up from school (3rd grade). And then I KNEW I was right to go to rematch.

Ann April 9, 2013 at 9:36 am

This is so helpful–thank you. This is our first time hosting, and we have had such fabulous childcare from live-out nannies before that we know what “great” is. I have actually been fantasizing about rematch for the whole 3 months–by your barometer, it’s time to move on!

Should be working April 9, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Ann, glad the perspective was helpful. I advise that you read around on this site. I found this blog when I was 3 months in with our first AP and fantasizing about rematch. Many of us have been through the “so-so” au pair that in retrospect was actually totally inadequate.

Be sure to also look for posts about rematch that explain how to give it one last shot, how explicit the “last chance” conversation should be. Some posters here report success with that.

Seattle Mom April 10, 2013 at 11:29 am

I had the same response in my head to Ann’s comment. I was in a similar situation with an AP who I probably could have convinced myself was “O-K” when in fact she was not at all what we needed. Luckily for me my husband was not willing to compromise, he pushed that we needed to rematch as soon as possible, and we did. It was logistically challenging and a leap of faith, but the AP we have now is much more suited to our family. She’s not perfect, and in some ways falls short of the AP we sent packing, but the areas where she is better are SO IMPORTANT to us- she’s warm, caring, funny, interested in our family, loves the children (and they her), etc. We just can’t live with a cold fish.

It also helped us that the rematch was with our second AP- our first one was great, so we knew what was possible. I can’t imagine if our second AP had been our first, that would have been hard.

And to the OP- our first AP was not fantastic in the beginning, but we could see potential there.

I like AnotherSeattleMom’s questions-
1. Does she have good common sense? (our rematch AP= sometimes)
2. Does she seem to want to be in America (sure)
3. Does she seem to like the kids (Not really)

I would add a fourth- Is she honest? – That can be a tough one to answer, but when you suspect the answer is no you may have a problem.

Ann April 11, 2013 at 2:01 pm

I have indeed scoured this blog–my husband recently accused me of being “obsessed with it,” and I think I’ve read everything written here about rematch. Looking back, I should have rematched as soon as the agency would let me. Now it’s gone on long enough that things have gotten better, at least as far as her relationship to the kids go. They really are fond of her, and I dread the idea of springing another caregiver on them. That said, I still have lingering doubts about her common sense and ability to keep them completely safe, even thought she’s improved significantly. And if I could sum up her attitude in one anecdote, it would be this: last night I spilled something on the floor and she surprised me by getting the vacuum to clean it up. When I thanked her, she answered in her native language (which I also speak) with an expression that translates to “don’t get used to it.” Sayonara!

Dorsi April 11, 2013 at 6:03 pm

My last Au Pair was incredibly well loved by my kids — she had her faults, but their relationship was really great. It shocked my how quickly they moved on to the next AP. Granted, new AP was happy, positive and bubbly (and from the same country, so some similar loving warmth). My kids are pretty little (under 5) and everyday is filled with momentous, shocking transitions (stop playing! we are going to the store!), and new AP was not so different. I know all kids are different, but if you holding onto a bad AP because of a decent relationship with kids, I would move on.

Should be working April 11, 2013 at 7:06 pm

I think Dorsi is totally right about smaller kids. They move on really easily if the new AP is fun, nice, and all my APs have arrived with gifts for the kids, which helps a lot.

With my teenager it’s different, I believe. The transition is harder. It took her awhile to get comfortable with the previous AP and the switch to the new one was not easy–lots of comparisons getting made, lots of testing. Still, if I thought an AP really wasn’t good, I guess I would go to rematch. But if the AP had a great connection with my teenager I would think carefully about whether the other aspects were simply annoying to me or major issues.

Busy Mom April 12, 2013 at 9:29 pm

I have also found that teenager transitions are more challenging than I would have imagined. We’ve had nannies/APs for 15 years and, when my kids were little, they warmed very quickly to anyone who would get down on their level and play with them or take them to the park. My teens are much more particular and much slower to develop a relationship with new APs. I sent CV a guest post a few weeks ago on the topic of teen-AP relationships as I would love to start a dialogue on this topic.

Momma Gadget April 13, 2013 at 12:20 am

I think teenagers can be tough on APs in general.The Two transitions I’ve gone into have been because of my teenager.
We were quite concerned about how he would react to our new AP who started today… because we dropped our last beloved AP off at the airport yesterday. Afterwards both boys told me they don’t want APs anymore because saying goodbye hurts too much.
We were happily surprised with how well it went! Both my teen and preteen were on their best behavior and took an instant liking tou our new Bro pair. Even more shocking to us was how rather than wallowing in their sorrow, they both really went out of their way to make the new AP feel welcome! I know it is early in the game, but guys are pretty black & white. … If they dislike some one initially, there in no winning them over.
We are breathing a big sigh of relief (for now at least).

Momma Gadget April 13, 2013 at 12:22 am

I meant “my” guys.

Taking a Computer Lunch April 12, 2013 at 6:45 am

We tolerate a lot when the AP is doing even a slightly-more-than-acceptable job at caring for our special needs child. Taking care of the The Camel is hard work, and if the AP is doing what we ask in terms of her care, then we tolerate a lot of bad behavior (I do complain to DH about it). This has happened with a couple of APs – one who was absolutely fantastic with The Camel and did a super job with her and one that has been okay.

I don’t think my teenager will miss my current AP. She hasn’t made much effort to develop a relationship with him and spends as little time as possible with our family. What I have learned from this year is that I don’t really want an employer/employee relationship. I enjoy having a member of the family.

Ann April 12, 2013 at 9:13 am

My kids are little–twins who just turned three. They have surprised me by becoming attached to this au pair, despite how truly awful she was for a good two months. It’s helpful to hear everyone’s perspective that the little kids will move on and not be traumatized by losing someone they’ve grown comfortable with (especially because I find her so endlessly annoying and don’t love the way she interacts with them). One reason I have struggled with the idea of rematch so much is because it almost felt selfish (i.e., “if the kids like her and they are doing OK, then what’s the big deal?” and “if I didn’t have such high standards, things would be fine,” etc.). But I’ve realized from thinking a lot and from reading here that not being comfortable with the person who’s living in your house and spending 40+ hours per week with your kids IS a big deal, and can be a dealbreaker, even if there is no one precipitating incident.

Unlike TaCL, I think I need something a little different from an AP. While I like the idea of being a host mom and enjoy sharing and learning about another person and their culture, I need something closer to employer/employee–maybe somewhere in between. That “in between” state seems hard to cultivate.

JJ Host Mom April 13, 2013 at 11:14 pm

I have 4 year old twins. We had to rematch twice when my kids were 3. They have no memory of the au pairs we rematched with. (I asked them about one the other day, just to see.) However they do have an awesome relationship with the au pair who finally did work out and still talk about her constantly. In case that’s helpful for you to hear…

BoysMama April 13, 2013 at 6:19 pm

Ann I feel like I really want to offer something helpful here because what I have learned from years on this blog is that while I thought I wanted a “part of the family” Au Pair, what really works for us is the in between employee and member-of-the-family Au Pair. I don’t know how to advise you to cultivate that, it just seems to happen naturally for us and it works beautifully. Maybe that’s what you are looking for and need to identify it so you can work toward creating it.

We have three wild little boys on different schedules and a hectic life and we have German Au Pairs in their very early 20s. It just seems natural that we don’t really have anything in common and we can just appreciate each other when we are together and live our separate lives under the same roof otherwise. While we avoid Party Girls like the Plague we look for young people with active, independent social lives and they take care of themselves. I’m guessing I must put off a distant Aunt vibe rather than a Mom Away From Home vibe… and really, it works. We have developed lasting, fantastic relationships with most of our Au Pairs.

It took the recent conversation about the Taking your Au Pair on Vacation to make it click for me – I do not believe that I need to be a parent to an AP. I do not feel obligated to take him/her on every single outing and vacation. I do not feel responsible for the amount of personal money they spend or don’t spend, it would never have occurred to me to notice. I know this probably makes me sound cold and awful but really I am a warm and fuzzy employer, not a Mother to these young people.

We have our own kids, we have our hands full, we are in this program for HELP. The HF AP relationship is based on matching mutual needs – we provide the warm friendly home, the food, the perks and s/he provides the childcare in a friendly, loving way. We get to know them and basically what is going on in their lives, we spend time with their families here and later on when we visit them in Germany, we reward them with gift cards and flowers and overflowing thanks when appropriate. I guess that’s just a really outstanding, personal employer relationship, not a “family”. We didn’t sign up to adopt young adults, rather to host them. Warmly.

I don’t think I would be the person she would come to if she had her heart broken, and frankly, that’s preferable to me. I’m not crying to her when something is hard in my life either, I have my friends and she has hers. There are plenty of APs who will cry foul about this and say we are obligated to include them in every single aspect of our family life – I’d say that’s not the kind of AP that would work in our family. We need strong, happy, independent types with their own families and friends.

So Ann before you give up, do consider frankly what you want and then figure out if that’s possible within the program. We love it and our APs have loved being part of our lives too… while they have their own personal adventure. Someone who just wants to move to another country to join a new family sounds sad and disconnected to me, not adventurous and independent. Know what you want and then you can more easily find it.

We’ve had tough ones too… but there is often a pot of gold at the other end of the rainbow.

anonamomma April 14, 2013 at 3:56 am

BoysMama – what great insight you have. I totally agree with your perspective and I although I’ve never really thought about it I would say that I probable share the same sort of relationship with my AP that you do with yours.

In my case – I adore my AP, we have a fanatic relationship and do many things together but we are not friends and there are unwritten boundaries and I am probably more of a distant aunt/mentor.

I just read a post by Aupair2b on another thread about how her own family hosts APs and her mother pays for “everything” for the AP. I assume from her tone and the post itself that this is what she would expect from any HF she would join. It seems to me that Aupair2b already has certain expectations/entitlement issues before she’s even embarked on her experience and I am sure that a lot of candidates also built up preconceived ideas as to how their AP/HF relationship will be.

I suppose what I am trying to get at is the (sometime) unrealistic expectations that Au Pairs have coming into a family. I too keep my distance from our Au Pair for the first few weeks to enable her (and grant her the freedom) to create her own social/support circle. One of my previous APs did not take any interest in doing this and started to rely on me for all her emotional needs. I found this exhausting and it pulled time (and energy) away from my children so we had explain to her that she needed to be a bit more independent which she took as rejection and the whole thing ended in tears.

Therefore I agree that strong, happy, independent types with their own friends are the way to go,

Because right now we have a rare jewel of an AP and hope she stays with us as long as possible.

Tristatemom April 15, 2013 at 8:50 am

Boysmama and Anonamomma
I think your discussion deserves its own post! I am struggling with my “hostmom identity” but I feel I fall somewhere close to your positions.
When we started this journey, I never expected the AP to be so close that she would give me a kidney or that I would become her second mother in the truest sense but I did expect honesty, trust and loyalty. We opened our house, we spent all holidays together, we observe the rules, we were honest aout our expectations etc. We don’t just leave our kids for her to deal with and always think of how to make her job more manageable. We respect the APs as equal human beings and do not see them as servants.
We have had 5 APs, incl. 2 rematches and should have rematched with the current one but it is close to the end of her year and we decided to suffer through it.
In return, we had APs where one got her own cell phone on the side so she could continue her texting addiction without us being able to monitor us, she gave our housekey to other AP friends so they could sleep in her room while she was out partying. We had APs that snoop through our personal stuff no matter how mundane, that gossip about our private life that has nothing to do with them and don’t seem to think that we have a right to live our life the way we want.
We are at a breaking point and are not sure if we will continue with the program. I am just wondering if we picked many bad apples (we did have one wonderful AP and one very good one) or if I need to change my attitude similar to the posters I cited.

Momma Gadget April 15, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Love it: “Hostmom Identity” .
I think I am more a chameleon HM-
Some times personalities just click better than others.
We have had 2 great AP’s that really connected with the whole family, and with them our relationship was more like a very close Aunt- niece/nephew. We had wonderful years together and we really enjoyed going our of our way to give them as many experiences as possible.
We have also had a good AP that although she did a conscientious job, and was a very nice person, we really didn’t feel like she was a family member- we had more of a benevolent Employer/employee relationship.
Although personally I prefer the closer family type relationship, our budget and DH (keeper of the budget) definitely prefer the employer route.
So far we really like our new Au pair. It could go either way ( family member/Employee), and I am ready to adapt to whichever path our relationship naturally leans toward.
I would not/could not put up with a mediocre, disrespectful, dishonest AP. Being an AP is not a lucrative “job”. It is participating in a program that offers the opportunity to come to the US for an extended amount of time in exchange for child care. We sacrifice a lot to participate in this program (yes, this is our choice). We could put our children in “After Care” and hire a local driver for much less. But we prefer having a responsible adult around while giving them an opportunity to explore our area, country & culture. Snooping,lying, gossiping, stealing would just be a major slap in the face and an immediate trip to transition-ville.

Tristatemom April 15, 2013 at 1:12 pm

I hear you Moma Gadget! But, sadly, the lying etc. was not obvious and coupled with “seemingly” good work performance, it was not a clear-cut rematch situation. I actually thing our current AP has an anxiety disorder and/or depression and I think this has caused her to become a pathological liar to cover up.

Ruth April 20, 2013 at 10:35 am

OldBlueEyes Host Mom,

Wow, I feel for you as we have been in the same boat as you! I have a 6 month old baby and am on my third Au Pair and not by choice. First one lied to us about a non-negotiable skill, the second one was just a little crazy, seriously, and the third one is our keeper but it comes with so many challenges! I waffle every day whether to just eat the cost we have paid the agency and quit my job (I am also a work from home mom).

I had a friend of mine interview our current Au Pair in her language and dress was definitely mentioned b/c I could tell in her pictures, her dress wasn’t always appropriate. Of course, when she arrived, she is a cute girl but I have often wondered if I just moved a Latina version of Pamela Anderson in my home. I don’t need to see her cleavage and have gestured to her she needs to pull her top up. When we were going out for a walk and that entailed a full on wardrobe change into a tight and brightly colored tank top and uber tight jeans, basically, the whole outfit looking like it had been painted on. I just flat out asked why she had changed. I told her, going forward, that would not be acceptable when she is out with my son but I let her wear it since I was going with her that day. Sure enough, she got honks and cat calls and my point was made. I told her I need to protect my child and my friend discussed the attire with you before you came, I do expect you to dress appropriately when you are working. If she dresses inappropriately again, I will go ask her to change. I have found I need to be very direct with her because my subtlety just had no affect on her. She understood and so far, so good. I have a host of other issues I’m still working on and feel as though I have a teenager living in my house most days and I have HUGE regrets that we decided to go with an Au Pair. We are more than generous with our Au Pairs, have never asked them to work a full 45 hour week, they have off every evening, all weekend, I am cooking all meals and cleaning up after b/c she only cleans her dish and that is it and then waits to be called for dinner. We pay for her cell phone, give her a car for her use all the time, we engage her in conversation, etc. I just feel used and abused – both by the agency and these Au Pairs! Would love to hear how you are doing with your situation. Please post an update.

Ruth April 20, 2013 at 10:53 am

One more thing, b/c the dress will not be tolerated, I had a formal discussion with her about it. Again, it seems she has understood as it’s been over a week now. But, my thoughts were this: if she didn’t get it, I was going to buy her a “uniform”, granted, it wouldn’t be a uniform, but it would be 5 shirts, pants, shorts for a week that were appropriate and she would be expected to wear them while working. The other thing my husband suggested is to get 20 pictures (10 pictures of unacceptable dress and 10 that were acceptable and have her pick which ones would be appropriate). I also enlisted an Au Pair she has become friends with us through us to talk to her about what is appropriate as well. I wanted to be sure it was well communicated and understood it wouldn’t be tolerated. After all, we’ve had a handful of girls go missing in our state as well as children. I MUST protect her and my child as much as I can. Good luck! As for the language, she has been with us a month and has dinner with us every night. From our conversations, her English has improved a LOT. We also used google translation in the beginning, but this frustrated her b/c she wanted to learn English, so we just speak slowly and repeat, repeat, repeat. There are days it is frustrating, but we are starting to see such an improvement after just 4 weeks!

Ann April 21, 2013 at 10:06 pm

BoysMama and Anonomamma–you’ve got it just right, that is EXACTLY what I’d like to achieve with my relationship with our AP. Next time (we did decide to go ahead and rematch due to the wild mismatch of personalities/experience/expectations occurring in this, our first time hosting) and I am going to work that distant aunt vibe next time! Love it! Thanks to all for the kind and sage advice about when to let go. Can’t wait to move on and find the cheery, energetic person we need.

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