Single Host Mom with UnAppreciative Au Pair: Can This Relationship Be Saved?

by cv harquail on January 23, 2016

Dear Au Pair Mom Readers —

I don’t know why I thought I was ready for this!! Friends of my parents have had wonderful experiences with their au pairs and I thought hosting an au pair would allow for my daughter to be at home another year while I returned to school.

au pair problems, au pair depressedFirst, the positive: My daughter’s AP is affectionate, clean, in LOVE with my daughter, follows my schedule, and did I mention, is in LOVE with my daughter.

Some things I didn’t expect:

First, she said that she could drive, and then upon arrival declared that she could not. “Where is the bus stop to take the baby to music class?” We live in a state that has terrible public transportation, and I really didn’t expect to be putting my baby on the bus anyway. Needless to say, there have been no classes or outings for my daughter. [[ cv notes: This is a deal-breaker for many of us. If you need a driver and your au pair can’t drive (especially if she said she could) — rematch. ]]

The AP complains about having to take my daughter outside to play, so that I have had to REQUIRE a specific time limit on outside time. She has criticized my housekeeping, my cooking, and the fact that I don’t use the ‘cry it out’ sleep training method with my daughter.

The expense is greater than I imagined. It is hard enough to afford her stipend, food, education and shelter costs. At the end of it all, she complains that I don’t take her out to dinner or other ‘family’ type events more often (going to the zoo, going on vacations).

I work and study full time, I live far away from family, and I don’t have a partner to pitch in with the extra childcare/household responsibilities. She doesn’t say thank you when I make dinner, buy her favorite foods, keep the house running, even when I do splurge and take us all out to eat. No thanks.

It is not for lack of trying.

We have spent hours talking about her boyfriend, her family (her father passed away last year), her past, her future, her weight (she has gained almost 20 pounds since moving here), and all of the hard things in her life – and she weeps at my kitchen table often.

I try to help, but these talks only leave me feeling like I have a very hurt, very sad, very depressed young lady living in my home – and I don’t know what to do.

She says that she looks to my daughter for affection and comfort. I think that this puts too much pressure on a 18 month old.

I recently gave her a 4 week paid vacation to visit her family. I thought she would return happier and supported. Instead she cries every day and my daughter has become her little caretaker – giving her kisses, hugging her legs, screaming if she leaves the room, and displaying a much more serious demeanor.

I have spoken to our LCC many times, and she urges me to buy her little gifts, take her out to ice cream, do things to make her feel special. I feel like there may be some real depression here – and I don’t think that ice cream is going to solve it.

Can someone with more experience please help me to either shift my attitude or figure out a way to shift hers?


Image by Lulu Lovering on Flickr


Returning HM January 23, 2016 at 11:21 am

I was at REMATCH with “she said she could drive but now can’t.” But reading the rest of it, I am completely baffled why you have this young woman in your home. An AP is there to make YOUR life easier, but it sounds like all she is doing is making your life – and your daughter’s – harder. If your 18 month old is the kind of child who gives kisses and hugs to a person who needs them, then I am going to go out on a limb and say that most APs who truly enjoy children are going to love your daughter.

So, please, take this from a very experienced HM: Send the email you sent to CV to your LCC and ask her to schedule your rematch meeting today. Or tomorrow. And then get a new AP into your home immediately, but this time get some help from your LCC (or from one of us – there are lots of us happy to help!) in screening and selecting a good AP, and you will begin to see the great benefits of the AP program.

Good luck!

Single Host Mom January 23, 2016 at 12:01 pm

Thank you for your comment. I will be reaching out to the LCC, as I have already done three times with concerns about my AP.

Can anyone on here speak to how long a rematch usually takes?

KirkeboysMomma February 1, 2016 at 12:08 am

We started in rematch on January 16th(our au pair arrived from overseas, attended the school, came to our house on the 14th, her grandmother had a heart attack on the 15th and she told me she was leaving on the 18th) and had a new au pair here by January 21st, then she asked to leave on January 26th (she said our family wasn’t the experience she was expecting or would make her happy– after 5 days of being snowed in the house with 4 boys. . .and us)- and we just matched (and took more time this time) with someone tonight who will be here on Tuesday (2/2), so overall, it hasn’t been awful in rematch. So I wouldn’t be “scared” but you can EASILY troll/look on facebook pages- Au Pair Match, Rematch & Extension; there is one specific to APIA; and then I just got on Au Pair Matchmaker Café (where its host families and au pairs matching and rematching, with agency info)– we actually had to turn down 2 girls in our 1/21 match and will turn down 3 different ones in our match today.

So if she seems unhappy, just explain it might be the best for everyone– and check out what’s out there. No reason to have the additional stress in your house!

Good luck

Taking a Computer Lunch January 23, 2016 at 12:15 pm

This AP sounds manipulative. You have an extra child on your hands, not an extra adult. I don’t believe in just rematching, however. I do believe in having a “reset your attitude” conversation in which you utter the word rematch and give her benchmarks for improving her behavior. Don’t take her out to dinner, don’t pay for another vacation. This woman has stretched your budget to the limit. The next time she criticizes the way you do things, tell her, “I don’t appreciate the way you are talking to me. This is the way I do things.”

If you are unaccustomed to managing people then ask your LCC to come to the table and mediate the meeting with your AP.

Returning HM January 23, 2016 at 12:59 pm

I would agree with you if not for the driving issue. OP needs a driver, and AP can’t drive even though she lied and said she could. This AP does not deserve the time and effort it would take from OP to go through a mediation process. OP needs to rematch right away and learn how beneficial the AP program can be — to host families and not just to APs!

exaupair January 24, 2016 at 2:47 pm

Completely agree with Returning HM, she needs a driver full stop. The AP not only can’t drive, but she lied about it to get a match. I say it is a “rematch ASAP” situation!

momo4 January 23, 2016 at 12:32 pm

Rematch. Period. It doesn’t have to be like this, and it shouldn’t.

18 mo olds are easy to love, you will have no trouble finding a replacement who will love your daughter just as much without making your life miserable. Also, your daughter is not there to provide your AP with the love she isn’t getting elsewhere.

Your situation is what it is, and if she isn’t happy with it then she should either go home or go to another family. You should not have to change your lifestyle to suit her dream of what being an AP will be like. Also, she should not be criticizing your parenting choices, housekeeping, etc.

It is not your job to have to listen to her go on and on about her misery. You did not hire an AP because you were bored and lonely and looking for a mopey BFF. You need someone who can be pleasant and helpful. An AP is a huge investment for many HP both emotionally and financially, and when you have a good AP it really is worth it. Your AP is clearly not at a place in her life where she should be an AP, she just isn’t up to it.

Your LCC does not sound like she really understands the situation. No amount of little gifts and extras are going to make this girl happy, and frankly, you shouldn’t have to try this hard. I think you need to be more blunt in your conversations with the LCC, this AP is not a good fit for you.

There are plenty of lovely candidates out there who will be happy just to have the opportunity to be an AP, live with a nice, considerate HM (you really have gone way above and beyond in trying to make her happy) and who will make your life easier. In my experience (9 APs so far, 1 rematch) an unhappy AP makes the whole house unhappy, and nothing you do is going to change that. If the experience is not what she expected it is not your job to try to change your own life around to make it more like what she thinks she wants.

Do yourself a favor and rematch ASAP.

AuPair Paris January 23, 2016 at 1:05 pm

This isn’t “normal” AP behaviour. Like, homesickness is normal, and my goodness, I can understand why this poor girl is grieving – I feel horrible for her and I’m sure you do too. But I think it would honestly be a kindness to send her home right now. The program is obviously not right for her and even though kindness is to be expected from an HF, you can’t fix her problems or make her less unhappy. The lying about the driving is a huge deal, and a reason on its own to rematch, but is separate from the AP’s unhappiness. Being unhappy doesn’t make her a bad person, and doesn’t have anything to do with the tendency to lie (!), but if she’s making your life harder, she isn’t doing her job.

Also – it’s scary that she’s already putting your poor little girl in a position to take care of her. It’s sweet that your baby cares about her, but my goodness, that’s not healthy for a tiny child. You need to rematch (but poss recommend sending home? Can you do that?) ASAP.

I’m sorry that this process has been so difficult. Great APs are out there, I promise!

Frankfurt AP Boy January 23, 2016 at 1:40 pm

You will notice in other posts that the au pairs are generally on the side of the au pair in these types of posts. We want to see them in a positive light. However in this case I too don’t understand why she is still in the house. Getting the job by lying about being able to drive is a big thing for me but perhaps more serious, although less her fault, is the emotional dependency she has on your daughter due to her depression. When I first started reading your post I assumed that your daughter was older and maybe it wouldn’t impact her development so severely but I really think there is a real risk on a 18 month old on being cared for someone who is depressed. Sometimes it can’t be help of course – in the case that the person is the parent – but in this case it can be avoided by getting another au pair.

SingleMomHM January 23, 2016 at 2:33 pm

Thank you all so much for your thoughts and sage advice. I will be scheduling a rematch meeting right away. It is such a relief to have my gut reaction supported in this way!!

I have spoken with others who have shared my concern, but I have been the only person to witness the behavior. Around her AP friends and LCC she is happy and silly. Because of this ‘happy face’ she puts on, the LCC didn’t think that my concerns about her depression were true. I will be speaking much more directly to our LCC.

I really do appreciate the time you have taken to advise me.

Md host mom of twins January 23, 2016 at 3:35 pm

I too an most concerned about the developmental impact on your daughter. While the lack of driving skills (and lying about it) is problematic I wouldn’t necessarily rematch over it. However, if your already seeing a personality change in your 18 month old daughter, that is truly frightening. I wouldn’t be willing to take the time for a reset conversation here as every day your daughter is with her could be having negative consequences.

HopefulHM January 23, 2016 at 4:01 pm

We have hosted 7 au pairs and over the years we have learned that there are some traits that cannot be taught or improved with a reset conversation. Being an au pair is emotionally demanding- one has to leave their home, their language, all friends and family and come to a brand new place where routines are quite different and where much is expected from them in terms of work. I have very high regard for these young people and honestly I am not sure I could’ve done it myself at this age.

That being said, if the AP doesn’t fit the job description due to immaturity and emotional instability, we will rematch quickly. We had one AP who lasted only a week with us because she was in tears constantly and making lots of demands — we realized that this is not an individual who can handle the stress of being away from home, adjusting to a new environment and working under an employer’s set of rules.

I have also learned to lend a listening ear to my au pairs–but not too often and not in the way that I listen to my girlfriends. I prefer that they lean on local friends and their friends/family back home for significant emotional support. I think they always know they can talk to me about serious problems, but they usually refrain from telling me the little things that I honestly do not need to hear.

I used to be more like the OP and stay for long periods and listen to APs, and I have learned to back off. It takes “two to tango” and it is important to additionally analyze the HP part in feeding into a dysfunctional relationship. There are some techniques that one can use to make sure one doesn’t spend as much emotionally-draining time with a needy/immature AP.

For example, one can take turns cleaning up after dinner (AP does certain days of the week, HM does other days) and this way you don’t have to clean the kitchen together, which may be a time when emotional unloading occurs.

On the days that I clean on my own, I sometimes wear large headphones and listen to music in order to enjoy this private time but also to announce in a subtle way that I am currently in my own space. I also tend to send the AP away when I am cooking and say that I’d like all children, AP and husbands:) out of the kitchen! that I need to focus now on what I am doing. It is really ok to ask for privacy when we need it:)

Every home is different and your needs may be different from ours (we have school age children) but I also try to make sure that from the minute dinner is over until I go to bed I have some one-on-one time with the children (sans au pair) , some time for myself and some one-on-one time with my husband. If you focus on carving out time for yourself in the evenings and make yourself less emotionally available to the AP, the rest will fall into place.

As far as this AP is concerned, I would’ve rematched a long time ago. The driving alone would have led to rematch.

Also, I try to avoid thinking about how to make a miserable AP happy. Often it isn’t you and there isn’t a lot you can do. Extra money or special foods are not the answer. There is probably an awesome AP waiting out there to match with your family and she is going to be very happy without you needing to adjust anything in your household.

2 kids and a cat January 23, 2016 at 4:56 pm

Oh my – we just had a mediation (broke our ONLY house rule then lied about it) where our LCC told me to hire a babysitter and take the AP out to lunch and do more fun things. I was like, well, maybe when she regains my trust and acts like the adult she wants to be treated as I’ll think about working that into my schedule. So this morning, a week later, AP of course asks when our lunch date is…
My extended response was that we invite AP on all family activities – which are whatever they are. That’s what family is. If AP wants to do other activities she can pony up on her own time or look for another family- it sounds insensitive, but people get APs because they’re busy. I’ve adapted to host families in several other countries nd expect my AP to do the same.
The AP is here first and foremost to work or you. There are lots of APs who would be a great fit and less demanding.

DCBurbTwinMomma January 24, 2016 at 4:51 am

You have good advice here already–rematch. However, to be blunt, she is running this household and is not mentally healthy for a toddler. You are her employer, not her mother or life coach. Put your toddler first. Second, your LCC kinda sucks and you’re being passive. You are the mom and the au pair is not working to make life easier. Send an e-mail to your LCC NOW and follow up with a phone call that you want a rematch immediately. Don’t interview for a friend, interview for a driver who can describe what type of outdoor activities and play dates she would like. Explain you are a single mom who needs an independent au pair. I describe my home in neutral, not flattering ways. They expect to work and be on their own. They are surprised to find out how often we pitch in and how they don’t actually work the full time and all the paid vacations. Those are hidden perks. I’m not begging an au pair to take my money–there is always (!) someone else for the job. I’ve been extremely happy with all my choices and will pick my 4th sometimes in the next two months. It can work and lead to lifelong happy family-like bonds. You have a dud.

AlwaysHopeful HM January 24, 2016 at 8:34 am

I agree with everything DCBurb said except “don’t hire for a friend, hire for a driver…” Depending on what you want from the au pair situation, ignoring the friendship part during interviewing could lead to unhappiness.

Like the OP, I am also a single mom to one child, and for me, having an au pair in the house significantly affects our family balance. I absolutely interview to figure out whether i am going to enjoy having this person in the house from a personality and interests standpoint, off-duty and on. This young person is not going to be my BFF, but having one-third of the household be a mere employee would drive me crazy. YMMV.

OP should absolutely rematch. This AP is creating visible emotional damage to your toddler, can’t meet the essential requirements of the job (driving, taking the child outside), and is generally just a pill. I would say rematch after just number 1, full stop. Or number 2. But especially in a small household, I want to point out that 3 is incredibly important, too.

Mimi January 24, 2016 at 10:24 pm

This is a great point. Many of us from a 2 HP household can tag out if an AP is having an off day or if there is a situation that we want to make someone else deal with. If you are a strong manager-type than I suspect an employee relationship would work very well, but I like a team approach and find that this type of relationship doesn’t work for me and our HH.

Eastcoastmom January 24, 2016 at 7:31 am

I agree you should rematch for all the reasons already listed. And I agree your LCC is bad. I had a bad one when I first joined the program and now have a great one. I feel badly that you it sounds don’t have much of an advocate in your LCC because it sounds like you really need one. You’re going to have to be blunt with your LCC and say you want to rematch. And the driving issue is the perfect reason if you don’t want to feel like you’re “being mean” to someone who is depressed. Not driving after saying she could is a black and white issue and one any agency should support as a reason for rematch. This girl is really going to mess with your daughter’s head. You’ll look back and be so glad you rematched after you get a wonderful new AP in your life. Also I’m not a single mom but my husband travels for weeks at a time and when we rematched (for the same exact reason – lying about driving) I got hired a former AP as a babysitter from that website You can do this even if there are no good rematch APs out there and you need to go out of country again.

singlemomtoo January 24, 2016 at 8:21 am

I am single mom as well. Rematch. No question.
Driving, as has been said, immediate deal killer. Not just playdates, outings, but emergencies too.

Criticizing parenting in a non constructive way….strike 2. Whining/crying as if you were there to be her therapist. ..strike 3.

I am supportive, helpful, etc to our APs. She has a phone, car, own bathroom. Realize to many those are just the basics, but it’s not bad (i think). but I do make it clear I am a single mom and both money and time are at a premium. Even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t have the energy to do what you are doing, much less suffer the ingratitude.

Last, will agree, at 18mo you will find many to love, nurture your daughter in a way that makes things comfortable and easier for you. Best of luck

Anna January 24, 2016 at 9:37 am

Rematch ASAP. Other issies notwithstanding, what she is doing to your child emotionally may cause unpredictable damage to her down the road. Separate this womanfrom your child as soon as you can.

When i was a new host mom i had an abnormally cod au pair watcing my similarly aged affectionate toddler. I kept her much longer than i should have – 8 months. Now my son is 9 and has ADD and issues controlling his emotions. I will never know if the au pair at that critival developmental age contributed to it, but i will always feel guilty fof not removing her sooner from my home.

charlotte January 24, 2016 at 5:07 pm

Rematch ASAP!

Kim Fedele January 24, 2016 at 5:29 pm

Of course rematch. You listed many reasons. One of the reasons we have an au pair is so that our daughter can participate in the extra activities after school…otherwise an afterschool babysitter would do the trick. An 18 month old is not capable of giving an adult emotional support….no child can do that or be expected to do that. With this being your first au pair, you have no idea what you are missing with the assistance and support a capable au pair can give. When that right one comes in who can drive, cook, take your child outside, be another adult in the house etc… is the best thing ever.

Multitasking Host Mom January 24, 2016 at 8:22 pm

OP, you have already been given good advice. But I just want to make a few points.

The first line really stuck out to me. “I don’t know why I thought I was ready for this!!” I too was once a first time host mom who was overwhelmed by how much work it took to get my first au pair up to the skill level she needed to be to take care of my kids. I really do blame this on myself because I just picked the first au pair who seemed nice and had babysitting experience (mostly taking care of her younger brother). This was the criteria I had used for the college age babysitters, we had in the past, to supplement the child care hours beyond the kid’s preschool (about 3 hours a day), so I thought it was good enough when picking an au pair. This first au pair really taught me what I needed to look for when picking the right au pair for our family. Now among other things that I look for in au pairs is work experience at some sort of job where they have to show up and be responsible for a full working day. Also, they need to have child care experience other than their siblings (in other words, someone who doesn’t have too has trusted them with their kids.) My point is that just because this au pair is not a good fit for you and your family, this au pair is in some way giving you the opportunity to really focus on the skills that you need in your next au pair. Trust me there are fabulous au pairs out their who will really take excellent care of your child, in the way you want/need them too, and make your life easier.

Second issue is the emotional drain this au pair is causing you, OP. We had an au pair that was very similar to this. She cried over everything…not only when she was sad, but also when she was just feeling an emotion, or happy, or really any reason. This really threw me for a loop, since I never knew exactly what the tears meant and how I should respond. She then got in the bad habit of complaining about the little minor annoyances of her job. Now remember as her host mom/employer I essentially created her job…so she was complaining to me about me…and never noticed the irony in this. The last straw was when she went on and on for a week about how great the au pair suite was in her friend’s host families’ newly renovated house. This really bothered me because I felt that she was criticizing us and our home. I finally kind of snapped and called her on it, and she looked at me like I had three heads. Apparently, she just thought she was talking while I was reading way too much into it. In the end, it was good that we had the conversation. But I did realize that I needed to distance myself from this au pair and avoid falling into her constant drama. It wasn’t an ideal situation in my case (I like having a friendly relationship with my au pairs), but since she was worth keeping as an au pair (she was excellent with my kids) for our continued relationship to survive, I needed to put up a wall. If the OP, wants to continue with her au pair, I would really recommend taking a more hands off approach with the au pair’s personal life. And for the OP’s next au pair, when matching really pay attention to the personality tests (if available). Look for someone who is lower on dominance, but has other traits that would better fit with your families personality.

Can this relationship be saved? I don’t know. But I bet this experience has really prepared the OP to look for a better match with their next au pair.

Mimi January 24, 2016 at 10:19 pm

It’s not enough that she loves your child; children are often easy to love. The change in your daughter’s demeanor is what is the most troubling to me. You’re AP is likely depressed and still grieving and you owe yourself and your daughter a break from this drama and stress. I’m normally a give-it-another-chance-before-rematch HM, but there are too many things going on here for you to be able to effectively deal with given your circumstances as a single HM with a small child because you’re right in realizing that ice cream isn’t going to solve this.

If you decide to stick it out, TACL makes a good point about having your LCC help mediate if you’re not comfortable or accustomed to managing people. Having a neutral party facilitate a discussion usually helps. Decide what the major points are that you are concerned about and outline the impact that they are having on you and your daughter because what might be obvious to you is probably not obvious to an AP struggling as you’ve described, with our without a cultural barrier thrown in.

Be very clear what are acceptable and unacceptable behaviors and specific with a timeline of expected improvement. Set boundaries and stick to them. If it doesn’t work out, sometimes it really is for the best. Some APs do best with specific environments and realizing that you don’t have a good fit isn’t anything to knock yourself over. You’ve been very generous with additional vacation time, your time, and your patience. Very few people find the perfect AP the first time out and often refine their interview process over time and through trial and error.

If you do decide to rematch, I would suggest looking for an AP from a single parent household or working class family. IMO, they will be more likely to understand the dynamics of your home situation and less likely to have unrealistic expectations of what spending a year with you will be like. There are a lot of screening tools here and folks able to help you find someone who will be a better fit for your family and demonstrate how great the AP program is when it works.

HRHM January 25, 2016 at 10:34 am

I won’t parrot all the excellent advice you’ve been given, but did want to address one line in your original letter that gave me pause.

“At the end of it all, she complains that I don’t take her out to dinner or other ‘family’ type events more often (going to the zoo, going on vacations). ”

This makes it unclear as to whether you just don’t do these types of things very often (totally reasonable and not uncommon, especially if you are trying to stay in a budget) or if you and DD do them but don’t invite her along. If it’s the second, I urge you to reconsider and/or make this a prominent part of your interviewing for your next AP. That whole “part of the family” business means that if you and DD are going to the zoo or a play or dinner, you really should be inviting her to go along and footing the bill. If you can’t afford it, then you need to be clear about this prior to matching so that the expectation is set before she accepts the match. I know I would be pretty disappointed if I took a job and then found out on arrival that one of the main perks I’d been anticipating was revoked. APs’ stipend isn’t enough to allow them to try out all the food and social venues in our awesome country and taking them along when we go is part of the quid pro quo.

DCBurbTwinMomma January 25, 2016 at 10:57 am

I offer the counterpoint and think the frequency of off-time invitations to the AP to join outings is perhaps 5:1 in my house. I view solo time with my unit as precious bonding that I don’t always get when the AP is present. However, I never advertise for an AP saying that we will be going to local events together but that there are local events and tourist sites for her to explore. I take all new APs on a tour of the National Mall, White House and Mt. Vernon. That’s about the only guarantee and that is just a fun intro. I recognize I foster a more work like environment than some here yet seem to have made deep bonds with my APs. My family attends hands on art events, hikes, kayaking, zoo visits, museum tours, aquarium visits, concerts etc and the AP is mostly not invited unless these occur during work hours. We encourage her to do these things during work hours with other APs (and foot the bill) but again, it is rare that we have a family plan and include her during her non working time. Coincidently, the APs we’ve had have been hard to find during their free time even if I wanted to invite them away. They have taken dance, pottery, and jewelry making classes on top of their schooling. They have strong friend groups which which to do fun age appropriate things and really want a break from working. We do eat together most nights–maybe that’s enough.

I recognize that a single-parent home runs differently and that we take a few months of vacation time yearly so the AP is de facto with us a lot at certain times where she is part of the unit from lack of other options. I respect my situation is unique but to say that off time invites to do things is the norm just doesn’t ring true to me. Are others HPs inviting the AP to all/most off hour family events as the norm?

Mimi January 25, 2016 at 11:51 am

It is for us. The AP is included in all events we do and some are planned just for her, with the added bonus that it’s fun and educational for my kids, too. I suspect we might not get out as much as a family to museums and the like if we didn’t make a conscious effort to do things with her in mind. If we lived in an area like yours where there is a lot of things to do and lots of other APs, it might be different, but there isn’t a lot to do on your own here in rural NE and we have a small cluster that is very spread out (nearest AP is 10 min away and some are 40).

HRHM January 25, 2016 at 12:25 pm

Also, my point wasn’t that she had to invite but rather that if her plan was to protect her off time with her DD one on one, that she should make this clear up front in interviewing so that any AP who wants to hang with them in her free time will self-select out of the pool. The advertising by the agency is very emphatic that APs will be going to events and dining and likely vacationing/traveling with the HF on their dime. So if that’s not the case, you just need to let her know that in advance.

We never use the 45 hours, so when our kids were little, we took AP along as an extra set of hands. Now, we take her along (this one in particular) because 1) I know she’ll enjoy the stuff we do AND (more importantly) 2) I/we really enjoy her company and our activities are ENHANCED by having her along.

Once DH is back in the HH, I don’t know that I will be as close to future APs. Having it be just me and the AP, we are pretty close (not always the case, but certainly with this one) I can easily see doing stuff that is “family only” in the future. And will advert the job as such.

WarmStateMomma January 25, 2016 at 12:58 pm

“Now, we take her along (this one in particular) because 1) I know she’ll enjoy the stuff we do AND (more importantly) 2) I/we really enjoy her company and our activities are ENHANCED by having her along.”

This. Our first AP was not invited on a ski trip because she bailed on our Christmas trip to Florida at the last minute (in favor of staying home alone). Our second AP was invited to Hawaii even though it was costly for us to bring her. She made the trip even more fun for us with all of her enthusiasm and we made a lot of happy memories together. The APs who enhance the family’s enjoyment of the activity are invited more often to join the family.

2 kids and a cat January 25, 2016 at 1:04 pm

We invite her to what we can, but I admit that I sometimes plan something special that conveniently conflicts with the monthly au pair meeting. (Ours was within a hair of rematch, so I imagine for someone else I might not do this).
There are so many relationships to balance – me and DH, me and the kids individually, us as a family, and then the Au pair needs. Ours is totally fair weather with us – she’ll bail on plans the minute a friend calls with a better plan, so she’s getting the same level of investment from me right now.

Mimi January 25, 2016 at 2:01 pm

I’ve scheduled family time when I know our AP is busy with friends so that we can have some ‘us’ time and I’ve scheduled fun things when our dud AP wasn’t around so she wouldn’t spoil it. I’ve also rescheduled some thing around a fun AP who had other plans that I didn’t want to interrupt when we had the flexibility. It really is a give and take.

Meg January 26, 2016 at 4:40 pm

Yikes! I didn’t know that the agencies advertise that way on the AP side. IMO in a way it is asking for trouble to have the primary selling point to families being “cheaper than daycare!” and a primary selling point to APs being “the host family will spend a ton of money on perks for you!” I think a lot of HF try to be generous but fancy eating out and fancy vacations are not in the cards for a lot of families with little kids. Oh, and BTW, the US offers workers some of the least paid time off in the world….

Taking a Computer Lunch January 25, 2016 at 7:30 pm

We rarely do family events anymore. Now that child #2 is a high school student, his interests differ so much from The Camel, who has an IQ of about 55 and functions like an older infant/young toddler. I’ll admit, there are plenty of times that our AP gets stuck at home while we take him off to have dinner and see a play, or do some other special activity with him that he will enjoy and his older sibling will not.

The family activities to which the AP always gets invited are family game night or family movie night (the elder sibling falls asleep very early). We encourage our APs to eat dinner with us. Quite frankly, they head out so frequently during our dinner time to attend class, to exercise, or connect with friends that we often get a family dinner anyway.

If we invite an AP to travel with us, then we do not count it against her vacation time – even if we grant her an extra day off – because caring for The Camel on vacation is so much harder than at home. We also pay for the AP to have a private room, as much as we would love to shove The Camel in the room with her.

Been trapped in a house with all my family, plus an extra AP struggling to find a rematch family, during Snowzilla. I must admit that I find pleasure in shoveling snow – because while it’s not private time – I am out in the wide open and don’t feel cabin fever!

Frankfurt AP Boy January 26, 2016 at 6:43 pm

I am just about to start with my 4th family as a au pair / nanny (and have experience of 3 more than I did trials periods with) and have always been invited to every family event that involved the kids. I wouldn’t judge your approach as wrong though. Some families are more formal towards their au pairs than others. It does seem to be the norm though that the au pairs are invited the family things so I would hope that you prewarn a prospective au pair that the role is like that. There is a risk of them being offended – especially if you are employing particularly young au pairs that may be particularly enamored with the “older sibling” image.

WarmStateMomma January 25, 2016 at 12:45 pm

The AP and the LCC are both duds. Time to rematch. The AP had a 4-week vacation; if she’s still not functional, I can’t imagine anything will improve with ice cream and little gifts. Losing a parent is obviously devastating and she may need to return home to give herself time to heal (and potentially seek professional care).

If you’re in a city with lots of LCCs from your agency, it may be worth switching LCCs as well. CCAP assigned us 4 different LCCs in less than a year, so I can’t imagine they’d complain if a HF asked for a different LCC.

Every family has its own rhythm and you learn a lot about yours when you host the first AP. Now you have a better idea of what you want, what you need and what kind of lifestyle you offer. You can look for your next AP with a much clearer idea of what kind of match will work for your family and the AP.

Our first AP was not a great match for us and I found this site looking for solutions/advice. Two years later, we’ve hosted 2 wonderful APs. There was probably some luck involved, but we also are much, much more knowledgeable about what we want in a match now. Others here will probably say the same.

You can do this and it’s really worth it when you have the right AP for your family.

Quirky January 25, 2016 at 5:52 pm

You’ve already gotten lots of great advice and it sounds like you are already on the rematch ball. I do want to chime in to emphasize as others have done that you will have no problem finding your daughter a new and amazing AP who will love her *and provide the great care you need to be a good mom during work hours and off hours.* And your daughter at this age will likely have little issue bonding with a new AP.

Our first AP was a dud. I didn’t doubt that she loved my kids (well, two out of three of them, which was one of the reasons she was a dud). We made the decision to extend in spite of her flaws, in large part because two kids loved her so much, but then she jumped ship. In hindsight it made us realize that love between the AP and the kids is not enough if there are critical ways in which she was not doing her job. Our other three APs have loved our kids *and* gotten their jobs done without major drama and dysfunction.

It was such a relief when our first AP left — like that old yarn about the frog being in the pot of boiling water and not jumping out, we didn’t realize we had been living the crazy until it was over. I bet you will feel like you’ve lost 50 pounds of psychic deadweight when you get this AP out of your life.

WestCoastHM January 26, 2016 at 1:36 am

The only thing I would add to the great comments here is hopefully a word of support. An Au Pair has to work for both your child and you and it seems like you have gone to great lengths to try to make this work out. I know many single moms for whom an au pair has been an excellent choice, au pairs who are very appreiciative of what their families do for them no matter how limited (4 weeks of vacation, that is very generous!!) and love toddlers. I’ve been raising two baby/toddlers with au pairs and never once heard anything about our lack of staying power on cry it out, cooking (mine have also gained weight, the joke is the water in America has calories), quesitonalble housekeeping skills or relatively infrequent outings (does she not have other au pair friends? Ours hardly ever take us up on family outing offers anyways – perhaps points to other social problems she may be having?). Basically take heart, you should be able to find a good one out there. Both of mine showed a lot of excitement about babies/toddlers and I could sense during the matching process that they looked at being an au pair as a great opportunity for them, I hope you can quickly find one like that and get yourself back on track!

NBHostMom January 26, 2016 at 12:32 pm

I don’t think I need to echo everything said here…. You’ve been given great advice, it’s time to rematch.

When initiating the rematch with the agency, I recommend focusing on the driving issue as your deal breaker as the agency won’t be able to “mediate” that if it’s a fact that she cannot drive. The not going outside & regular breakdowns & drama are also deal breakers in my book, but tend to get the mediation route first with the agency, in my experience.

You and your daughter deserve a great au pair, this one isn’t it :)

NJ Mom January 27, 2016 at 11:56 am

From the sounds of it, the AP sounds like she may not be equipped to deal with the AP lifestyle. I wouldn’t be surprised if the many of the AP’s problems and complaints are a result of her inability to drive. If the AP has mobility, I imagine she would be spending enough time with friends who can give her emotional support and to not rely solely on the baby!. Also, the mobility can give her more opportunities to experience the surrounding areas instead of complaining about the HF not going to restaurants or outings.

I would go with re-match – citing the lying about driving causing a host of issues. There are plenty of candidates out there who won’t lie about her abilities and then make your life all about her “needs”.

With the LCC being so unhelpful, I would escalate this to your area coordinator to get the re-match going right away.

TexasHM January 27, 2016 at 11:45 pm

Can I just say let’s be careful on the lying accusation about driving because all au pairs tend to say they are great drivers and even the ones that aren’t often still believe they are so lying is a strong assumption that probably doesn’t apply.

APs have no perspective in interviewing. They have no idea what it’s like to drive in the US and often only know what it’s like where they live. I had a Brazilian learn to drive here and now won’t drive at home in Brazil because it’s too dangerous for her! She is used to following driving rules and organized traffic and Brazil is all about free for all and if you stop at a stop sign you’d likely get rear ended so it’s actually safer to coast through them!

As hard as it is, it’s up to us as HPs to interview for driving match and judge ability on arrival. I have to ask how many lanes they have on highways, if they have turn lanes, if they can go right on red, if they have flashing yellow arrows, etc to get an idea how much I’m going to have to teach and then have them do an online video driving course before arrival. At the end of the day – if you need a driver, you need a driver and the rest is noise (but also dealbreakers as you’ve heard if you need more).

Taking a Computer Lunch January 28, 2016 at 7:52 am

I agree to a point, and I will say that our first au pair (Brazilian) replied to our question, “Do you know how to drive?” with “I’ve owned a car for two years.” The latter statement was true, we were just not discerning enough to understand that meant, “I won’t have a clue how to obey traffic laws in the United States.” However, she was a confident person, and quickly learned how to drive (she also learned how to shovel a car out of two feet of snow and drive in slippery weather). We also hosted a Chinese AP who never became more than a beginning driver. I think her personality played a large role in her inability to gain confidence. We suspended her driving privileges completely when it snowed and her skills quickly deteriorated.

However, for most European APs, if they possess a valid driver’s license, then we expect that they are able to drive at more than a basic level (it doesn’t prevent them from being distracted drivers and they might not have a lot of city/highway experience) because the process of obtaining a license in most countries is expensive and onerous.

If an AP misrepresented her driving skills, then it is grounds for rematch. With her other personality issues, my guess is that she’ll end up going home. Few HFs will want a non-driving drama queen.

OP – we want updates on your decisions! (Oh, and your daughter is very young, she will forget this AP in a matter of weeks, especially if you rematch with a dynamic AP who is ready to take her out on walks, drive her to story time at the library, etc.)

WarmStateMomma January 28, 2016 at 5:43 pm

Something I’ve learned is that lying on a resume or in a job interview is considered standard practice in some cultures. APs from such a culture are surprised that we naive Americans don’t expect that and that we would just trust people to be honest.

My first AP claimed to have extensive experience driving on highways and all over a major city. The truth was that she couldn’t park a car in an empty parking lot. This wasn’t a “US driving is different” issue – she simply couldn’t drive. Yet she was super hurt when I called her out on the lie because she “only said that to get the job.”

My second AP admitted that the day care center photos are staged (and experience is fabricated) and that the agencies she met with have arrangements to send candidates in to get photos with particular day care centers. She shrugged it off as nothing and seemed surprised that Americans wouldn’t expect it all to be staged.

Neither one saw the difference between lying to get a job and “white lies.” Lying is a cultural issue and my guess is that it correlates to a culture’s ranking on those corruption indices.

HRHM January 28, 2016 at 9:36 pm

In addition, in many countries, this attitude comes through as the ability to “buy” a driver license. My second AP came from an EU nation where a white envelope got you a DL no matter how bad your test was. It only became common knowledge when she didn’t know the brake from the gas! :O

NJ Mom February 1, 2016 at 10:30 am

There may be different “degrees” of lying. It sounded like the AP said she can drive – she cannot drive, never had any intention of driving, and is not interested in learning to drive. It wasn’t a little fib or stretching the truth – it was a flat out lie. That – I would say is grounds for re-match. She said it purely to get the job, however it is required for her job and achieving a lifestyle where she is not a burden to her HF.

Peachtree Mom January 27, 2016 at 12:05 pm

That is an interesting comment/question regarding taking your au pair on vacation. We invite our au pair to all family events: concerts, ballets, dinners, festivals, etc. During matching, we talk about our aupair being independent, making friends, taking one week of her vacation when we take a weeks of ours and the second week being her choice of time. When it comes to our family vacation, I want some down time and time for me to relax. With our au pair with us, that is one more person I have to worry about entertaining or if he/she is having fun or what if it rains etc. We are planning a trip to Disney and I just want to relax, not be on a timetable and only worry about our child having fun. Does this sound terrible?

WarmStateMomma January 27, 2016 at 12:37 pm

It doesn’t sound terrible at all. Remind her that it’s a family trip and she will have her own vacation another time, to manage expectations.

Then I’d try to figure out if there are windows in your trip where the AP can do what she wants on her own. Maybe arrange for you guys to split up for part of the day and meet up later if she wants to try the scary rides at the parks. Maybe she takes a vacation day or has a day off to go do whatever she wants (at her expense). Ask if there’s anything she’d be disappointed to miss, then see if she needs help planning that for her time off.

massmom January 27, 2016 at 1:33 pm

I think Peachtree Mom was asking if it’s terrible to not invite your au pair on certain family trips. Clearly this is a hot topic, maybe CV will cover in a separate post!

I personally think it’s perfectly fine to not invite your au pair on vacation…as long as you communicate clearly and often. I found out our first au pair was upset when we didn’t invite her on an impromptu trip to a lesser West Coast theme park. It honestly didn’t occur to me to do so. We booked the airfare on points and were able to coordinate with my husband’s business trip, so we didn’t have to pay for lodging. We planned it very last minute, and it didn’t even dawn on me that she would want to go, or might be willing to pay for a ticket or hotel room in order to do so.

We also value our family time, and don’t need an au pair to work while on vacation, so I now make that fact clear upfront. We’ll communicate when it might make sense for her to join us, and she can decide if she would like to incur some of the costs in order to do so.

We really try hard to give our au pairs some unique experiences, like joining us for weekend hikes, ski trips, camping or music festivals. But I think you also have to carve out some time for your nuclear family. Disney is expensive, and something our family will probably only do once. I wouldn’t shell out for extra airfare, hotel room, park tickets and meals unless I really needed my au pair to work. We are very generous with vacation time, so if Disney is something an au pair really wanted to do, she can go with her friends or visiting family.

2 kids and a cat January 27, 2016 at 3:15 pm

We recently offered our au pair to tag along for free to a prime city destination but completely do her own thing since we had an extended family function, or to have a few extra days off. She choose the time off, then realized how pricey it was to take herself somewhere.

massmom January 27, 2016 at 3:29 pm

We always try to help our au pairs plan reasonably priced trips, and if we have close friends that can put them up or show them around in cities they want to visit, we make those connections. Most of our au pairs have also had a lot of their family and friends visit, which we always host in our home and try to entertain graciously (in addition to a lot of our own family visiting from overseas). I really need 1-2 weeks a year with just my husband and kids to recharge the batteries…hopefully my au pairs understand that and are able to look at the total package even if that means they might miss out on one trip a year!

HRHM January 27, 2016 at 2:19 pm

I think it’s all in the presentation. We tell our APs during matching that we take two full week vacations every year and that they will have to take their own vacations while we are gone. That then leaves us the option to invite her along or not (still as her vacation, since we don’t need her working) depending on how the HF/AP relationship evolves. All but one of our APs has been invited to go on at least one of our trips and all have accepted when invited even though it was their vacation week.

There is nothing wrong with you wanting family time for your vacation, just make it clear from the get-go.

NYhostmom February 1, 2016 at 2:03 pm

The most concerning thing to me is that this AP is putting your daughter in a care taker role. That is dangerous! It is not your daughter’s responsibility to care for the adults in her life, but it seems that is what’s happening. For that, and all the other reasons, get rid of this AP, ASAP!

momma Gadget February 1, 2016 at 7:01 pm

Aside from the fact that she lied about a critical job requirement, loosing a parent is an incredible emotional loss even when you are older in a familiar environment. I can’t imagine trying to heal from such a loss so soon after, and in a completely different culture…. and let’s face it – taking care of children, no matter how angelic, is handwork & stressful.

The first rematch is the hardest. We want to be sympathetic. We don’t want to be the “bad guy”. But you have a responsibility to keep your child safe and happy first and foremost. Not only is having an au pair that is depressed a hazard to your child, it is not helping the au pair get the help/counseling it sounds like she needs either..

Tell your coordinator that you have tried, but it is time for rematch. You and your child deserve a great au pair who is helpful, who can appreciate and enjoy all the experiences that aupairing in a new culture offers.

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