Saying Goodbye to an Au Pair you Parents really love

by cv harquail on July 8, 2009

Last year I wrote a post about “Her Next Adventure”: Telling your kids that your Au Pair is leaving which elicited a lot of good advice for helping the children say goodbye to their au pair.

We just got a request from a mom with a different version of the problem– a version which, if we’ve been really lucky with any of our au pairs, we can empathize with.

200907071258.jpg From SD:

I need advice for ME. I’m not sure how I am going to handle our au pair leaving. She has been with us for two years and was our first. She is smart, funny, hard working, everything amazing everyone wants. I am going to miss her as much, if not more than the children.

Also my expectations for the next one are very, very high and that’s not fair either.

What can SD do to address her feelings of loss as her terrific au pair leaves?

What can SD do to address her high expectations for her next au pair, and re-calibrate accordingly?

.say goodbye. by i heart him (Edward, I think she means) on Flickr

{ 7 comments }

The Other Martha July 9, 2009 at 9:23 am

I am saying goodbye this week to a beloved au pair we have had for close to 2 years. I have already had a party for her that included her friends, extended family and family friends who’ve gotten attached to her. I am completing a scrap book for her with both photos and my recipes she loves.
As for the next au pair, all I can tell you is to think back when she first arrived and needed to be told and/or shown how to do everything. Think of the patience that required. Think of the things you did to set your current au pair up for success. Was it including her in everything for the first couple of months until she made friends? Was it weekly sit downs to talk about what was going well and not so well? Was it a discussion with the children asking them to have patience with her English? All of the above? It sounds like you already know that the next au pair has huge shoes to fill. Have patience and help her become a star in her own right.

CV July 9, 2009 at 9:34 am

TOM, what a nice set of suggestions. Like a hug-shoutout. :-)

Anne July 9, 2009 at 2:41 pm

I had similar feelings just before my first au pair was about to leave. Lena (our first German au pair) was fantastic and my daughter loved her. And Lena and I were like sister. She was the extra set of dependable hands I desperately needed for my family. But then came Luise (our second German au pair) and she was fantastic! Luise and Lena were very different, but they were both great au pairs. We used Cultural Care Au Pair and I think Cultural Care did an excellent job matching our family with au pairs that fit my family’s needs.

Jeana July 9, 2009 at 4:17 pm

It is so hard to see our wonderful aupairs leave! Each time, we have really grieved their departure. Johanna was our first aupair angel, and family and friends told me for months it would be tough for any aupair to come into our home, as her place could not be filled. I was very conscious, thinking about that, reminding myself that we would not have another Johanna, but we could have a good experience with a different aupair. I knew that my daughter would have a very difficult time with Ms. Johanna leaving, as she’d been with our family for three years, by the time she left the country. (The first year she was our aupair, she returned to her home country, and then returned to the US to study for two years, and lived with us.) Thankfully, Johanna traveled between Germany and the US numerous times during her 2nd and 3rd year with our family. During this time, my daughter learned that we could call, e-mail, and make cards for Ms. Johanna. We all had tears our last few months together, knowing that soon Johanna would return to Germany. It hurts when part of the family moves away.

When Ms. Dikun left, we continued our contact with her, as we had with Johana. We e-mail and talk on the phone. She’ll be returning to our area while on vacation this summer, so we’re looking forward to seeing her again soon. We cried before Ms. Dikun left, cried at the airport, and cried more, on the way home. When we got home from the airport, my older daughter said, “It just isn’t the same here, without Ms. Dikun.” Absolutely true, and I still miss our interesting talks.

I’ve talked to my girls about the importance of our aupairs returning to their families, because their families have missed them. We truly talk about Ms. Johanna and Ms. Dikun daily. They are part of our family, and they just live in a different place now. Ultimately, we embrace our aupairs as part of our family, and want them to continue to be part of our lives after they leave. So, when they leave, it hurts, because we really care about them, and miss them. I think we’ve really been blessed by Ms. Johanna, Ms. Dikun, and Ms. April.

Ann from NE July 9, 2009 at 9:17 pm

Our first AP (a part of our family for 2 years) left almost 10 months ago and I’m still getting used to her absence. We had grown especially close because I have only one child, we speak the same language, and she had helped raise my daughter from babyhood to preschooler, a precious time. I feel like she was lucky to have a lot of mothering moments with my daughter that I missed out on.
Three things that we have done that have helped the transition:
(1) I overlapped her departure with the arrival of the new AP by a week so she could pass on her experience and be put in a position of authority;
(2) AP #2 periodically emails letters to AP #1 that are dictated by my daughter saying how much she misses AP #1
(3) We try to call and email just as with any good friend. When I email, I try to give her updates on how my daughter has grown, I write down interesting things my daughter has said lately, so AP #1 still feels connected to my daughter.

I presume we will visit her at some point and she is always welcome to come and stay with us. We will always view her as a relative and hope to share in turning points in her life.

HM in WI July 10, 2009 at 10:37 pm

I think the high expectations for the next au pair are probably the hardest thing to move past. We loved our first au pair…she was sister, daughter, friend, and mother all rolled into one. We knew our second au pair was going to have big shoes to fill. For me, the hardest part was resetting the clock back to the beginning and remembering that our first au pair didn’t know everything when she first arrived. Also, I think it’s important to remember that each AP is going to have different things to add to the family. Our second AP was not such a great match for my husband and me, but when I look back, I think she was the best caregiver my children have had. So, even in the hard times, it’s important to remember the reason you have an AP….it’s the kids that are the most important. If they are well cared for, and the AP loves them and they her, then it’s all worth it!

tracy cota July 14, 2009 at 7:25 am

Our first au pair, Cecilia, was very hard to say goodbye to. We handled our goodbye to her and our welcome to the new au pair by overlapping them. They were both with Cultural Care. We had a going away party/welcome party. This really made both women feel like part of the family. With the kids, we told them that Cecilia would always remain a part of our life, and we would keep in contact with her a lot to minimize the amount of missing her. We did web chats, and talked to her on the phone a few times a week, for just five minutes, to show the kids that she could still be a part of our life even if she wasn’t here. I think that helped tremendously. We still communicate weekly, and she has been gone a year now.

I am Local Childcare Coordinator with Cultural Care Au Pair and tell all the host families I work with that setting the appropriate expectations will help them set the stage with the new au pair. Update your host family handbook and go over it with your new au pair. And if you overlap the au pairs, make sure you let the former au pair know the most important things in her routine that need to be shown to the next au pair so that she is aware of them. If you yourself are doing the training, make sure you make a list of the daily routine, go through it with your au pair and keep it handy for her to refer to. Remember, your former au pair needed time to get acclimated to your family, and your new au pair will need that time as well.

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