Seventh Annual International Au Pair Appreciation Week: Open Thread

by cv harquail on May 17, 2015

Au Pair Appreciation Week is our chance as host moms and dads to celebrate what we enjoy the most about having au pairs in our family lives.

brisbane fallingAlthough moms and dads who ask for advice here on AuPairMom are occasionally accused of being grumpy, demanding, and/or hard to live with, we all know that we wouldn’t even BE host moms and dads if we didn’t believe that having an au pair could be a great experience. After talking with and hearing from so many host families, I firmly believe that behind every bad au pair story there are dozens of happy au pair stories just waiting to be told.

Au Pair Appreciation Week is your chance to share those stories– to tell your own and to hear those of other host families.   

3 Options for Sharing “Appreciations”

We have some great participants on this site who love to write, and from whom we can expect some lovely stories. But also, there are lots of host parents who might prefer a shorter, more concise mode of sharing. And, there are host parents probably prefer pictures to words. For APAW we’ll have three different options for sharing what you appreciate about your au pair.

1. Tell us a story about something that your au pair did for you, your kids, your family, or anyone else. Enjoy the opportunity to tell us as much as you want, however you want to, anywhere between 50 and 500 words.

2. Share just one characteristic, action or vignette, but this time in the short form. You can have more that the 140 characters of twitter, but you can make it as short as a paragraph.

3. Email a photo, with a brief caption, and I’ll put that up from ‘backstage’ on the blog. mom at aupairmom dot com

If you’d like to make your appreciation its own, entire post, email it to me and I’ll set it up as a separate post.

This tread will be open from May 17th to May 25th.


WarmStateMomma May 17, 2015 at 4:31 pm

All three of our au pairs have showered my kid/s with love and each of them has surprised me with the depth of her patience. Each has taken a personal interest in teaching my oldest new skills and is excited to share her progress.

Here’s one story I’d like to share:

I was pregnant, exhausted and throwing up one morning that our AP had off work. AP came downstairs and saw that I wasn’t getting ready to take my daughter to the library for story time and feeding the ducks. When I explained that we weren’t going because I was feeling too sick, our AP insisted on taking my daughter because it was so important to my daughter and so that I could get some rest in a quiet house.

That wasn’t the biggest thing she did for us but it’s just one of many examples of how thoughtful and compassionate she is. She finished her year in March and I still miss her a lot.

TexasHM May 17, 2015 at 5:46 pm

I could write an essay on each of our au pairs (and have – nominating two so far for AP of the Year) but here’s a quick shoutout:
AP1 and her AP friend shooed us out the door once when my husband needed stitches (they were both off work but at our house and immediately took our 3 kids and insisted we go to the ER and take as long as needed and not worry about them). AP1 also completely potty trained our younger two (I have no idea how we were making no progress) and broke our middle of the habit of sucking her two middle fingers (saving THOUSANDS in dental work). She blessed us by asking the kids to be in her wedding and asking my husband to walk her down the aisle when her parents couldn’t make the trip. Most recently she asked to take my youngest’s middle name for her baby’s name and asked if I would hold her hand in the delivery room and be there when her daughter enters the world this July!
AP2 held my world together when we had not one, but 3 family emergencies in one year! She never asked or complained, she just did what needed to be done (and then some) and gave of herself far beyond anything I would have ever expected. In her quick thinking she saved my kids witnessing a trauma and I can never repay her for that. I was humbled beyond words when she asked me to baptize her on her birthday during her year with us. In her time off she insisted on driving me to urgent care when I was sick and ended up getting the flu (from me)! She recently got her dream job as an international flight attendant and her first route request was for our airport (bypassing European cities and larger US cities) and she’s pushing to get her visa expedited so she can visit as early as late this year!
AP3 walked in during chaos (AP2 family emergency) and her presence calmed the entire household immediately (inc AP2!). The youngest AP we had ever had (turned 22 days earlier) she possesses a grace and maturity that escapes most triple her age. Our kids flourished and accomplished so much in only 10 months with her because she pushed them (lovingly) to try new things and push their limits (safely) and treated them like mini-adults. A gifted photographer, she took amazing photos of my kids and spend her last weeks creating a photo book for us of her year that is breathtaking and the kids still look at regularly (she left almost 6 mos ago). HD and I spent many a night laughing and chatting with her far later than we should have. She’s already made us promise to attend her wedding in her home country in a few years. :)
AP5 has only been here a shade over two weeks and already she has fully restored our faith in the AP program. She is a ball of energy, the kids were glued instantly and she mastered almost everything seemingly overnight. Exactly what we so desperately needed after a failed match. She’s humble, beautiful, smart, funny and we already feel very blessed to have her in our lives and can’t wait to see what adventures we will have over the next year.

We have been overwhelmingly blessed by the AP program (excluding the 3 week disaster rematch AP). :) These young women have forever changed our lives and will forever be our family. They never missed a dance recital, a school musical or graduation (without being scheduled or prodded even). They kissed countless booboos, endured who knows how many tantrums, runny noses and Tball games and did it with a smile day after day. They put our kids first and broadened their (and our) horizons and we will forever be grateful!

Julie May 18, 2015 at 1:05 pm

TexasHM, I am so happy to hear your most recent addition is a great one–I hope your support has been just as great! I’m here if you need me!

TexasHM May 18, 2015 at 11:50 pm

Julie CCAP and our LCC have been FANTASTIC! Thank you so much for your help! We are looking forward to a great year (or more). :). Wish I’d gone with CCAP in the first place but it is what it is at this point! Having the big cluster and all the proper expectation setting and training has been a huge benefit to us and our AP already and what we really needed. I am amazed how differently the agencies operate, when I was a first time HM I figured they were all the same and now that we’ve tried three it’s really amazing how different they really are!

Taking a Computer Lunch May 18, 2015 at 7:19 am

I’m currently hosting my 11th AP in 15 years. AP #3 just posted pictures from her year with us on FB, which reminds me of how little my teenagers once were.

AP #1 had been a PICU nurse in her native country and I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect AP – The Camel had intense special needs and child #2 had had bacterial meningitis as a newborn and was developmentally delayed for the first 15 months of his life, requiring in-home therapy and daily exercises. She handled the 4 pm “witching hour” much better than I. When the Camel had her first real medical crises, it only took one look from her to know we were going to the ER. We tried to sponsor her as an employer, and while we waited for the Dept. of Labor to review her application so it could go forward to Homeland Security, we discovered that she wasn’t so great with preschoolers and went our separate ways.

AP #2 had trained as a teacher for special needs kids, and she was fantastic at getting child #2 to do everything AP #1 had done for him because it was quicker and easier. She loved Disney movies and begged us to let her take child #2 to the movies so she would have an excuse to go. She knew exactly how to handle each one of the Camel’s crises. We’re still friends, and she’s returned to visit 3 times. She won AP of the Year in our Cluster.

AP #3 was gentle and loving, but also knew exactly what she wanted. She had a great 15 months with us – her extension half-year was cut short by a family emergency. It was she who pointed out something wrong with the Camel’s neck. A screw had come loose (yup, it really happens!) and was working it’s way out of the back of the Camel’s neck. Even though she had already worked 9.5 hours, I begged her to stay until child #2 fell asleep (we had a relative visiting, but she wasn’t dealing well with her own child). The Camel had emergency surgery the next day. Her attentiveness prevented a major infection.

AP #4 was lively and energetic. She asked to come along to soccer games and willingly attended all the endless school events. She was a true family member. We were thrilled when she came to visit with her fiance and look forward to the arrival of her baby.

AP #5 was from China, and while she remained distant toward us, the HP, for her entire year, and didn’t really seem to enjoy child #2’s company, she really, really, really loved the Camel. We still cook some of the recipes she found to feed her. Because of her, we no longer feed the Camel overly-salted processed foods, but make her meals from scratch and freeze them in individual portions. Alas, she retreated into her culture, never learned to drive well – and refused to drive in the snow. We didn’t have the energy to extend with her, as much as she wanted it.

AP #6 came with a rigid sense of how things should be done, and left in love with American flexibility. She dealt graciously with two family emergencies, the death of DH’s father within six weeks of her arrival and a major hospitalization of the Camel six months later. She willingly joined our family’s crazy hospital dinners (we try to eat together as much as possible when the Camel is in the hospital for a month). She learned all the therapies to help the Camel. We were sad when she didn’t win AP of the Year, because we thought she had gone above and beyond what anyone should be expected to do! Child #2 joined me at the airport to say goodbye, he thrived on her rules.

AP #7 was a true family member – when we went to my grandmother’s 90th birthday party, she held the Camel on her lap, knowing that my grandma wasn’t strong enough to do it. She lovely cared for the Camel, but also put up with child #2’s stick fighting. Child #2 adored her. She as also very attentive. One day, a couple of weeks before the end of her year, when she heard a noise, she looked out and realized no one else was home, so she went upstairs to check on it – she saw a hand reach through a broken kitchen window to unlock a door and screamed. She prevented theft. Not one of our other APs would have done that. Her reward? A big gift certificate to her favorite restaurant – so she could take her friends out.

AP #8 was a good-time party girl. While she rose to the challenge of caring for The Camel, she never had the common sense necessary to do the job well. She drove headfirst into a Hummer on her 19th birthday. She fell in love with a homeless busker. She drove both DH and I nuts all year, because she needed constant job coaching. After it was over, DH said, “As much as I hate the idea of rematch, if we ever go through this again, we’re rematching.”

AP #9 restored the balance in our lives. She worked hard, was fantastic with the Camel, and appropriately stern with child #2. Her English wasn’t great at first, but by the end of her year she got child #2’s jokes. She was a real family member. A non-drinker, she grew bored of AP parties in which she was the only sober person, so by the end of her year, we played a lot of board games with her. She won AP of the year for our cluster.

AP #10 was good on paper, but had a sneer on her face from the moment she arrived. We had a major family event shortly after she arrived, and she made it clear that when she was done working, she was out of there. We had one disastrous weekend when DH the flu, I was attending religious services, and she was in charge of the kids. She was so awful that DH had to get up to see what was happening. We were in rematch within the week.

AP #11 was a great antidote. She has flitted in and out of being a family member – she has some very strong friendships. She is fantastic with the Camel, and always hugs her on her days off. She is not responsible for child #2, except to drive his school carpool for a couple of shifts a week. They don’t have a very strong relationship, and that’s okay.

I could never have held down the job I love if it weren’t for the excellent APs who care for The Camel. The year we had nursing (because we gutted our house to make it handicapped-accessible), we went through 25 nurses, including 5 who failed to show up for shift without calling first (that meant the bus driver had to knock on neighbor’s doors to get someone to take her). Only 4 were ever attentive enough to equal any AP (even the worst) in care. I’m going to miss the flexibility when the Camel ages out of the program. While hosting APs has meant a huge financial sacrifice (after all, we’ve paid out almost $100,000 in AP fees alone – not to mention stipends) and giving up on some great vacations, it has been worth every minute to know DH and I can go to work and The Camel will be safe with someone who loves her.

NJmama May 22, 2015 at 5:23 pm

That was beautiful

American Host Mom in Europe May 18, 2015 at 8:20 am

Wow, I feel like my stories can’t even match some of those shared by TACL or the other posters. But I’ve had some pretty great au pairs as well — we’ve had 12 in 6 years (some were short term, and two at a time for two years).

Some things that come to mind that I’m especially grateful for: AP #11 created a video of my kids saying what they loved about me as a Mother’s Day present, which I still love to watch all the time. AP #6 had the kids do foot prints and decorate them, and she wrote the lyrics of “I’ll love you forever” around the perimeter as a Father’s Day present, and we framed them and hung them in the playroom. AP#4 still comes to visit whenever she’s in Europe, and sometimes makes trips from the US just to visit us, and sends gifts for birthdays — I love her special, ongoing relationship with my children. Several of my au pairs have planned picnics in the garden with my kids for snack time, always loved by the kids. And many of my early au pairs happily learned about babywearing and wore my kids regularly in carriers, which was great for everyone!

Returning HM May 18, 2015 at 10:14 am

We have been extremely lucky with most of our APs. I wrote about three of them last year, during AP appreciation week, so this year I want to focus on just our current one:

Our AP goes out of his way to do an excellent job all the time. Whether it’s something simple like doing homework with our son or making dinner or jumping on the trampoline or planning an outing on the subway to the beach, this AP goes above and beyond. He is smart, proactive, thoughtful, and fun, and he is someone who makes the most of all experiences, so he brings joy and excitement to our household as well. He takes feedback beautifully, which has meant that there have been no issues that have built up at all; the second I have had a concern, I have been able to voice it, he has heard it, and he has accepted and worked with my feedback. This trait, along with his real zest for life, is what has made him fit into our household so well and so smoothly.

Last week, after our beloved 14 year old golden retriever got sick late Tuesday night, AP drove him (and my 10 year old – already in his pajamas) to the late-night vet, while my husband rushed to meet them from a business dinner and I was stuck in a city four hours away for work. The next day, AP stayed home all day to be with our dog and keep an eye on him, even though he was supposed to be off all day. It’s that kind of extending of himself that makes him so valuable to our household. As I told him in a text in the wake of that, I simply could not do my job without him:

“Thank you so much for all you’re doing. I cannot say how much I appreciate it. I am hating myself for working [so far away], but it makes it easier knowing you are there and how much you love [our dog]. Thank you, thank you.”

This is an AP who constantly strives to do his best and exceed expectations, and as a result, he provides not only loving and responsible care to my children, but he also takes care of our animals as though they were his own.

AP posted yesterday on FB that he has 100 days left and included a picture of him with my son and the tag #friendsforlife below it, but my correction this is that it’s not just #friendsforlife but #familymembersforlife as well. He truly has been a wonderful AP, we appreciate him enormously, and he will always have a place in our household anytime he wants to come stay!

AlwaysHopeful HM May 18, 2015 at 6:40 pm

So, we are finishing the first week with our rematch au pair, and I feel like I’m exhaling for the first time in as long as I can remember! Not to mention getting to work on time, instead of constantly hanging back to double check what our recent au pair was(n’t) doing.

With our previous au pairs, as much as I appreciated them (other than recent, disaster au pair), that appreciation was borne of a series of compromises. I never imagined we would find an au pair who is mature and energetic and smart and warm and dedicated and organized and family oriemted and sporty and so, so eager to please! Our new au pair is these things and more. He is a pleasant conversationalist, always on time or early, extends himself graciously to all of us, including grandparents and friends, insists on helping clean up after dinner, and somehow is able to gently guide my son back from the edge when it’s clear he (son) is about to lose his temper. Yes, it’s only been a week, but what a great week it has been! I don’t want to jinx it, but I want to put on record just how fantastic I think this au pair is (and I told him so as well).

Returning HM May 18, 2015 at 7:57 pm

Oh, AlwaysHopefulHM, I am SOOO happy to hear this and so relieved for you!! Is he from rematch himself or out of country? Congrats on finding someone good!!

AlwaysHopeful HM May 18, 2015 at 11:32 pm

Thank you, Returning HM! I’m really hoping this good start continues, and i can have the kind of awesome year it sounds like you’ve had! ???? We found him in rematch, just as I was ready to throw in the towel for the summer (actually found him 2 days after posting a ad). So glad I gave it one last look.

cv harquail May 20, 2015 at 10:57 am

Woohoo! What a great way to start off an AP relationship — knowing that your AP ‘gets’ how your child works.

Multitasking Host Mom May 18, 2015 at 9:39 pm

I have appreciated so much the fact that we have hosted these wonderful APs who agreed to live for a year with our busy, challenging, loving and somewhat crazy family.

Because of our APs…..
I am able to leave for work at my hospital at a time that my kids are still asleep, and I know they will be sent off to school a few hours later after a good breakfast, with a well packed lunch, and all that they need to have a good day…and the APs are there when the kids arrive back home, ready with a snack and help with homework, until my husband or I get home from work.
I do not have to scramble for child care when there is a random teacher in-service day, an unexpected delay to the start of the school due to snow, or a week long holiday.
My kids always have a fun filled summer where they go on many adventures and can experience different things.

We were lucky with the last two APs we matched with, who were just awesome! They really rose to the challenge of managing my child with special needs, and I know for a fact that he is doing so much better now because he was under their care. These AP’s truly became a member of our family, and we are glad they came into our lives.

Hosting APs meets our child care needs and simply makes my life work, and I will always be grateful to them.

Thankful HM May 19, 2015 at 9:14 pm

We nominated our current au pair -Josefine- for au pair of the year and were thrilled when she won ( agency APIA). You can read her amazing story here:
We are beyond proud – if host parents have a right to be proud that is…. It is this type of experience that keeps us in the program:)

New and Excited HM May 21, 2015 at 10:51 am

My first AP arrives in late July and I’m already thankful for her every day. We matched in early April and speak via text or Skype every single day. She sends video lessons to my children and we have both “met” (via Skype) each other’s family members. She remembered our wedding anniversary recently and sent a homemade picture, and she has made learning items for the kids to bring with her. I just can’t say enough good things about her and am so excited for her to come to her US home and meet her “family.” xoxo

WarmStateMomma May 29, 2015 at 10:53 am

I’ve already posted here, but our wonderful AP just gave me another reason to post.

She told me last night that our oldest daughter made a lot of progress with her Chinese this week and she wanted to spend extra time one-on-one with her to keep the momentum going. The two of them spent an hour playing in Chinese while HD and I made dinner. Today (her day off), she left to take my daughter to her favorite place in the world (the children’s museum) for more one-on-one play in Chinese. Bonus: I get one-on-one time with the baby while they are out.

All the time spent looking for the right AP, waiting at the SSA office, training her, etc., is so worth it for days like this. I wish you could see the smile on my daughter’s face this morning when she skipped out the door. :)

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