Someone Stole My Au Pair: A secret rematch behind my back

by cv harquail on March 12, 2010

A Host Mom writes with a story that will irk us all.  The situation is ‘over’, but she still has to cope. And, we can all wonder– how could we prevent something like this from happening in our town?

Dear Au Pair Mom Readers-

Has anyone else had the experience of discovering that their au pair has gone behind their back to find another “better” job in the same city? You might call it “Somebody stole my au pair” except that our au pair had a hand in it.201003052143.jpg

To give you some background, we are a very warm family with two grade school children. Both parents work. Our au pair (our first), a Western European woman, never got truly used to being an au pair. Although she took wonderful care of our children and was keenly aware of their safety (and we realize that this is the most important thing), we found out recently (after 4 months on the job) that she resented having to wake up early on weekday mornings, being in charge of tidying the kids’ rooms (with the kids’ help), doing their laundry, and organizing the playroom. She also resented having to work 40 to 45 hours per week, since both of us work.

She had a beautiful room, use of the car (with some distance limitations), her own computer/skype, TV and DVD player, and we provided her with a cell phone.  For the most part, she was smiling, interacting and joking with all of us, having a fantastic and busy social life, and did her work.

We helped her a great deal with her transition to U.S. life, took her on vacation to the beach, provided her with many tips on where to shop and travel, welcomed her friends at our pool, and we were always open to her whenever she had concerns.

Thus, it came to us as a big shock when she announced that she wanted to “rematch”. We told her that it would not be easy to find a new family in our city, but she still quit. Just a couple of days later, we found out that she had been speaking to a new family in our city, had told them that she was going to quit, and asked them to apply to our au pair agency right after she quit (which the did and she became their au pair). Next thing I know, she is driving a brand new Mercedes and moving into a huge house…

I am curious if anyone has had a similar experience. How did you deal with it?

— TryingToGetOverIt


Should be working March 12, 2010 at 3:14 pm

I’m so sorry. She was good with kids, cheerful, fun and you felt like things were working, and then she was gone.

I guess with regard to getting over it, it is like being dumped by a boyfriend/husband and finding out that there was ‘another woman’ who is younger or whatever: some rage (not expressed to kids), resentment, asking ‘why?’

The good news is that it’s an easier fix than a boyfriend. You move on quickly, get another au pair, and if things go well, then that’s that and memories will fade quickly. I hope the kids are ok; I would say the most important thing is to deal with any feelings of abandonment or resentment they have.

Note to myself here: Does it make sense to try not to get too attached or be overly generous with perks until a full 6 months or so goes by? I’m surprised at how many posters here have things go very wrong relatively late, i.e. not in the first 3 months but after 5-10 months even.

Note to CV: great Pacific-timing again!

Taking a computer lunch March 12, 2010 at 11:15 pm

We don’t withhold “perks” or go out of our way “to give our AP everything,” we just treat them like family as much as possible from the day they arrive. Every AP is different, and while most understand that while they have other motivations for coming to the U.S., they are being paid to work. My advice is to be up front about the work situation. Unlike 9 years ago when we first matched, most APs now have email, so it is possible to communicate extensively before you match. (We find that our handicapped daughter weeds out the good-time gals from those who are serious about children.)

It sounds as though this AP was a little immature, but that doesn’t mean they all are. I remember all too well when I first landed my full-time job. I had been used to the ebb and flow of the academic calendar and suddenly I was locked into a daily routine without end (until I built up enough holiday time). It’s not easy. I find it is worthwhile to thank APs, especially when they first arrive, for the work they do. It is important to remind them that they are appreciated (wasn’t there an earlier post about how to improve communication in a minute a day)? Say, “I know how hard it is to get up early every morning, and I really appreciate the fact that I can count on you.”

All of my APs have risen to the occasion (we have them work from 6:00-8:30 and then from 3:00-4:00 or 5:30 most days (depending on their PM class schedules). It’s not easy, that I know because I’m on a bus at 5:30 in the morning.

We’ve never gone into rematch, but we have hosted over a dozen APs going into rematch (they come to us like glue, I swear). I must admit that I counsel them to find families that they really like than the family with the most perks, the biggest house, etc. (my APs also advise the opposite). Only a few have gone on to rematch, most end up going home (and quite frankly, if they had used me as a reference, I would have said, “She’s too immature for the program.”)

You landed an immature AP, and there’s nothing you can do about it, except to learn from the experience, and figure out what time of young woman is the best fit for your family. (Both our telephone questionnaire and our family handbook change with each AP experience.)

Calif Mom March 12, 2010 at 9:18 pm

Wow. I’m of course curious if she found the Trade Up Family on a nanny website, or at the park, or what. (Hmm, an argument in support of restricting web access? :-)

This boils down to basic morals and manners. Not only did she lack them (though at least she had the decency to do her job reliably) but so does the selfish/greedy family who poached her! I can’t imagine doing that. Some people’s mamas just didn’t raise them right.

Surely you do feel jilted. Apt analogy.

Your task now is to fuel your own resilience (after you get the childcare situation resolved, of course). How do you do that? YMMV. Expect to be PO’d at times. Know that you’ll get over it.

This certainly happens with “regular” nannies, too, so I don’t think you can blame the au pair system. You just got unlucky.

Our very first AP (yes, Pointy Boots!) had snowed all of us–including a very savvy LCC who had herself been an au pair. Within 3 days we figured out that her real plan all along was to get to the states any way she could, and then make her way to Chicago, where she had a boyfriend. (She didn’t like children, she asked me to drive her to buy a “phone card”–ie, cigarettes–and then insulted me, my kids and our lifestyle.)

This was 4 years ago. It still makes me mad, makes me feel stupid, and hurts my feelings (gee, can you tell?) when I think about it too much. But we are still hosts, and love our au pair.

What’s that paper towel ad? Life’s messy. Clean it up. (and then move on.)

Sorry you got burned! maybe swish a little sage through the AP room?

PNW_HM March 13, 2010 at 1:02 am

Heh– I did sage smudge with our “pointy boots” AP!!!

My husband then came home from work about 4 hrs later (we were all in bed by then), and actually started searching through the house for an intruder due the smoky smell remainging :)

Calif Mom March 14, 2010 at 10:50 pm


Janet March 12, 2010 at 11:31 pm

Sounds horrible! If I was in this situation I’d obsess over it for quite awhile and hope her new match turned out bad along with a lot of other childish thoughts, but then realize I gotta move on. What does your LCC think? What did the AP say to the other family to con them? We had an AP here who did something similar only she was looking into a city about 2 hours away.

Hang in there!!

Pa mom of two au-pair March 13, 2010 at 1:02 am

I am speechless! to say the least, be thankful that she is gone!

Anonymous March 13, 2010 at 8:59 am

This is always sad when it happens – and it does happen with nannies and housekeepers as well as aupairs. I disagree that this aupair was immature ; she seems quite slick and saavy to me. She knew how to find a family and she knew how to convince your agency to let her rematch quickly and easily. Restricting internet access is useless. People find a way to get access and are very resentful of the trouble you cuased them in their opinion. I am guessing that the agencies are disinclined to turn down business but I fault the family who did this as the primary villians. They knew perfectly well that this young woman was with an agency, with a family in there town, and they actively sought her out and signed on with an agency instead of going off the books. In my view, that’s like a man who marries someone else’s wife rather than conducting an affair . He feels righteous about the situation because he made it legal. What I would very match like to know is how your agency justifies rematching this aupair. We all bemoan the fact that rematch is so difficult but this seems to have gone very smoothly. Did the agency ever ask for explanations ? I don’t know what agency you are with but is it possible for an aupair to simply say ” I want another family ” and it is a done deal ? Of course, once someone else starts
” seducing ” her , your relationship with her is pretty much doomed.
I think many of us have heard stories like this ; if it didn’t happen to us, it happened to a friend. I agree that there isn’t much you can do
except to be thankful that she has left. I think there must be some punishment or bad karma that deals with people who steal someone else’s babysitter. How terrible to do that to children.

AU PAIR March 13, 2010 at 9:27 am

what would you do if you(hostmom ou dad) find a better job??? Would you change?

Be an au pair is a job, if you find one that give you more privilegies . why not change …? Why we have always wait to you hostparents ask for rematch?

Noelle March 13, 2010 at 9:44 am

AP, this is not just a job. If that’s the attitude from the very beginning, APs who think that way shouldn’t be in this program.

As an AP, you become a child’s primary caregiver. The host family depends on you. The child/ren build relationships with you. To just quit because another family offers a more expensive car to drive is a complete slap to the parents, and particularly the children, who depend on you.

This is an issue of maturity. The AP had a chance to reject the match if the car wasn’t up to her standards. But she made the commitment and accepted the match and should have seen it through. And by the way, as a mature adult, I would not accept a job and then quit three months later. People at work depend on me to do my job, and i have responsibilities.

Anonymous March 13, 2010 at 10:06 pm

I cannot believe that an LCC has the ability to do this by herself.
She doesn’t get the lion’s share of the agency fee and she probably has limited liability. It is the corporate office that oversees all rematches – they are the ones who should have to explain themselves. If an LCC advocates a rematch , they should be questioning her as to why the rematch is warranted. Another point- I think the overseas offices tell the aupairs that if they aren’t happy they can just say they want a rematch and presto !
It seems to me, too, that the corporate office should be concerned about creating a disgruntled customer. Did they find you someone promptly ? Is this one of those agencies that allows you to look at their whole database ? Or do you get assigned an aupair ? How did they handle that ?

Lee March 13, 2010 at 10:54 pm

It’s a win-win for a corporate office in this case…they have the $$ from the original host family and then they have a new host family’s $$. The original host family may not be entitled to a refund or receive a fraction of it based on a slick formula that favors the agency. So the au pair moves on to the new host family and the original host family is left being hurt, disappointed, and angry :-( and there is no way they could have prevented it from happening unless the LC/LCC or agency had stopped it from happening.

Anonymous March 15, 2010 at 9:45 pm

I really think that if an LCC turns down a family, the agency
will pressure her to take that family. In my cluster, our LCC
delcined to work with a family and the agency just assigned that family to an LCC who lives an hour away. I cannot help wondering if the aupair ever attended meetings an hour away/
The family is still in the program but in a different cluster.
That cannot be in the interest of the aupair but that’s what happened.

au pair March 18, 2010 at 3:57 am

I really like this site but it´s funny how sometimes the au pair are part of the family and sometimes only a worker, depending on your convenience, in this same site I´ve read comments about how some families don´t take the au pair to their vacations or to certain places or something because it´s only for family, but when it come to something like this everybody blame the au pair because she feel not part of the family, I think you should be more fair, because as an aupair even we love the kids and like the family we have to think in our welfare because you as a host family won´t think twice to get a *better* aupair if you don´t like something of us.

AnnaAuPair March 13, 2010 at 1:22 pm

You’re right. It’s a job. But it’s also being a member of a family. That’s why this is NOT just a job like any Nanny-job.
And frankly: A job is not always about privileges. It’s also about how you get along with the people – as an AuPair even more than in a normal job.
Just choosing a job over privileges is a quiet material way of looking at things. And certsainly not one that an AuPair, who should choose her family for the family and the kids(!!!!!), should have!

Soccer Mom March 13, 2010 at 8:30 pm

Au pairs go through an agency and make a year commitment. If I signed a contract with an agency (for any type of work) I wouldn’t find a way to break the contract, especially if it would be to the detriment of my client (the host family in this case). This would be especially true if, in doing my job, I really cared about the well-being of my client. I guess that is where the jilted feeling comes in. There are a lot of families out there who put their all into being good hosts and there are some (not all) au pairs who only care about getting more privileges and perks. AU PAIR from above, were you up front and honest about the importance of privileges in your interviews and pre-match contact with your host family? My family had a self-centered au pair bag on us after less than 4 months, and in her interview she talked about how much she loved children and wanted to be part of our family. I guess if you really care about your host family you will see that it hurts them to trade up and you won’t do it. If it is just a job and your hosts are just employers (in your eyes) you will go ahead and think only of yourself.

NjMom March 13, 2010 at 11:24 am

Obviously this girl is/was bad news and very self-centered. The most important thing you want to do going forward is to avoid another one of these people. It’s possible she wasn’t as great as she seemed and you won’t realize what was missing until you get a new, better one. I would look very carefully at your interview process and as one of the above posters said be very upfront when you’re interviewing about the hard work, the expected hours and tasks. Give them a sample schedule. I always give the AP candidates detailed information about the schedule and my family rules (limited car access on weekends for instance, no road trips with our car) as well as curfew. This has definitely helped me to screen out the girls who are looking for a cushy schedule and a “rich” family. Some girls only care about this but others are really looking for a connection with a nice family. You need to screen for this in advance. We have had three awesome au pairs, especially in terms of their wanting to bond with the children and enjoy American life, so don’t give up hope!

Dee March 13, 2010 at 6:11 pm

It turns out that there was a similar thing that happened with our au pair who suddenly stopped speaking to the host parents and then packed up and left with no notice.

Less than 12 hours later, she was in email contact with a family in our same town — a former host family that was considering coming back to the program — and ultimately rematched with this family and extended for 6 months with us.

This never could have happened without the LCC facilitating things. The LCC knew that our family was not going to extend with this au pair, and failed to mediate the “complaints” that the au pair developed after eleven months with us.

The LCC acquiesed in the au pair to leaving us, without explanation, in the middle of the night and in her subsequently staying with and babysitting for a (non-agency) family in a neighboring community (obviously, a violation of her visa), pending her long-planned vacation and placement with the new host family.

The “best” explanation I got as I pursued this up through the various management levels at the au pair agency was that the legal consequences to the family that illegally employed the au pair were greater than they would be for the au pair, and that the timing of matters as stated by the LCC should be construed as coincidental.

All I can see in this is the obvious financial interest the LCC had in keeping her cluster numbers (and income) up, without regard for the feelings of our family in this matter.

This actually may be a whole different topic for a thread at some point. (What do you do when the LCC demonstrates an obvious pattern of behavior designed to maintain her cluster size, be it encouraging “one more chance” for au pairs who are not performing up to standard, or encouraging rematch within your same community, to her obvious financial advantage and the host family’s ultimate disadvantage???)

The happy news? The grass actually wasn’t greener over with the new placement, and the au pair is headed back to her native country, after only a couple of weeks. Chalk one up to karma!!!

aupair March 13, 2010 at 7:47 pm

I don’t know if I should feel ashame of not, but I did something similar.
It was my first au pair experience, in an European Country. I was very enthusiastic and had big expectations. I thought I will be treated like a family member and all the things you say about the au pair job.
But when I arrived there it was awful! Their house was big and beautiful ( like being part from a designer magazine),with views to the sea and so on. My room was big, bright and I had an enormous bed and a lovely bathroom. Can you imagine that? I felt ashamed, thinking about my house from home, where I never even had my own room, and I had to share my bed with my sister and my grandma, and then, with my mother.
So, big house and lots of money is not really a thing your aps will be into. I am more into a warm family and well raised children.
My first days of working there were awful as well! I had to take care of 3 toddlers, and they were speaking dutch and me english. They didn’t know any word in english and their mother send methe next day after my arrival with them to the park. Can you belive how wrong is this? But with a mixture of a sign language, we mananged through the days.
Besides this, I had to wake up at 7.30- 8 every day and be in charge with all of the children until night time.It was very exhausting. And if this is not enough than you should hear the rest of the story :while me and the parents/ some of their friends had dinner, nobody bothered to speak in english for me, to understand. I was like their maid, sitting in a corner at a table, and eating with my head in the plate. THEY NEVER ONCE SAID THANK YOU for all my work.
I felt so ashame to ask for my free days…..they said in mails that I’ll have 2 days free on a week, and I barely had one.
Hm….what else was wrong there? Maybe the fact that besides breakfast and dinner it was no food in the fridge for me, nobody said that I could have fruits or something else from the house. And I was too polite to serve myself.They never washed a plate or a fork, because it was ‘my job’, the parents didn’t even make their own bed!! And they wanted the windows from all of the house ( with 3 levels) to be cleaned at every other week. And I was ment to iron everything, from my HD’s underwear to the children’s daily t-shirts.
I had no credit for my phone or other facilities…and so on.
BUT of course I took care of the children while I was there. Of course that I put a face smile on my face everytime they were around. What was I suppose to do, otherwise? Apparently, it was enough for their ignorance to believe that they treated me right and everything was ok. Maybe I should have yelled, or being grumpy with them. Acting normal and polite doesn’t work.
In the end, a friend of mine helped me to find another family, in the next city. What was my excuse to leave the first family? that it was an emergency at home and they need me back, but I thanked them for everything. Or should I have better said : hey, you treated me bad and with no respect? You don’t even have respect for your children, if you leave them for hours with a foreign person that doesn’t speak their language. And your children are very bad behaived : the 4year old one was trying to hit me when he was angry and he was spitting me. How embarrasing!
At home I was studying at a university and being respected and in that country where I decided to be au pair I was treated somehow like a slave. But you know, slave it;s not a good word, because slaves used to be paid in gold, and I didn’t even receive all the wedge they promissed to me.
And guess what? This family was very rich. They owned hotels and restaurant! they could afford everything, but why should they take a maid when they had me?
So if an au pair leave to another family, maybe it;s not because she’s into a big house and a big car.
And yes, the children cried a lot when they found out I have to leave them. But that’s the life. It wasn’t my fault for leaving them. It was their parent’s fault.

Soccer Mom March 13, 2010 at 8:42 pm

I don’t think your story is at all similar. You were not trading up for more perks, you just wanted to be treated with respect and I think that is more than ok. I would not condone lying (saying you had an emergency) but if you were not working through an agency and you didn’t feel ok going to your HF alone with the truth I can not judge.

hostmomwiththestory March 14, 2010 at 4:36 am

I am the host mom who posted the original story. So here we are, after the AP’s departure. She did indeed go a much richer HF, where she is working an average of 25-30 hours per week and has free reign on car use, phone use, etc. Her main responsibility with her new family is to pick up the children from school and help them with their homework, since the kids go to a foreign language school (which is the AP’s native language). She did indeed end up in a situation that she likes much better, working fewer hours in a more beautiful and fancy house. This is what she was imagining her life would be like in the U.S. and this is what she got. We simply got used as a means to get to the U.S.

In response to some of the questions above, we really did create a warm environment for her, opened our home to her, and made a huge effort to make sure she was comfortable and felt like part of our family. Our situation was not at all like the one that “au pair” above describes. We never asked our AP to do any housework other than that related to the children. We always involved her in conversations and made sure she understood. We even gave a surprise birthday party for her and her friends, with cake and presents. The first few months, she repeatedly sent us e-mails thanking us for how nice we were to her, how comfortable she felt with us, and how happy and lucky she felt!

In response to some of the questions above, I have not yet figured out how much the LCC knew about her new family. Our AP never went through the rematch process. It turns out that our AP was best friends with an AP whose family introduced her to her new HF. Our AP befriended the family, told them she wanted to leave us, but asked them to wait until she gave us the two weeks notice. During the “exit interview”, she pretended that she knew the consequences of going into rematch, that she might not find another family, and that she might have to go back to her home country. Two days later, she was already rematched with a family in our own city who had specifically asked for her.

That was clearly not a coincidence; our LCC has stated that she knew nothing until the day of the rematch, although I have a hard time believing her. Of course, why would the LCC care? Not only does she have a new HF to draw income from, but we are stuck looking for a new AP and they will not refund our money! We have not found an AP that we like among the APs in transition, so we will have to go out of country again, pay the difference in the program fee; in the meantime, we have had to hire a nanny.

Anonymous March 14, 2010 at 12:30 pm

I think turnover among LCCs is pretty frequent ; but the agencies stay in business and I see new ones pop up all the time. I also have observed in my research that the administrators in many of
the agencies are very young and burn out or turn over quickly.
In this economy, I think it is a lost cause to exspect any service provider to turn down business. I know that it is unfair but it is just a practical observation. I think maybe I would write the aupair a letter and send it to her at her new family. I would simply state that we feel used and hurt that our kindness was abused.Maybe it won’t mean beans to her now but it might someday.

Anonymous March 14, 2010 at 5:14 pm

Have you tried using I have had some great success prematching at that site. God luck, I am sortry for your situation, as I know how frustrating it is. On the bright side, it will certainly make a difference in how you interview other possible AP’s. Remember to ask questions that will reveal what values she has, to me, that is a big indicator about the kind of person she is.

HRHM March 14, 2010 at 7:31 am

Wow, I would be livid about the other HF who helped your AP defect. While it’s a good possibility that she told the HF some horror story about being mistreated, you would think that another HF in your cluster would have the decency to vette the story and make sure that you weren’t being screwed over.

I’m also shocked by the naivete of the the new HF. I would never take an extension or transition AP without talking to the current HF, no matter the story. While they may be angry the AP is leaving, you need to hear both sides of the story and be able to jusdge for yourself what is real. Otherwise, someone else’s problems quickly become your own.

There really should be a rule that prevents APs from staying within the same cluster when rematching. It is a conflict of interest for the LCC, and uncomfortable for the HF at best.

Darthastewart March 14, 2010 at 9:01 am

Some agencies do not allow the au-pair to stay in the same STATE when rematching. I used to think that was a bit much, but after reading this story, I can see the wisdom of it.

aupair March 14, 2010 at 7:32 am

Yes, I’m sorry for you. You really seem to be a nice HM and your ap’s tasks were very resonable, indeed.
On the other side, if she was that kind of person, then consider yourself you lost nothing. :)

Mom23 March 14, 2010 at 11:30 am

When our last au pair left she left her blog open. It seems that she had a specific place in mind where she wanted to be and it wasn’t where we live. It was an awful feeling to realize that she had only used our family as as a stepping stone. My seven year old was really hurt, although my ten year old was very happy to see her go. Now, with several months perspective, it was so much better for our family that she left. We now have someone caring for the kids who is responsible and lovely to them and who seems to really appreciate our situation.

Anonymous March 14, 2010 at 12:18 pm

People who post on this blog are generally very kind and supportive of each other but it seems like there are many people in the outside world who are real vultures : I do not think that most people care one bit who gets hurt when they steal another person’s childcare.
When I was a young mother ( at home with my kids ) strangers approached me in the park and at pre-school dismissal and in the mall on occasion and asked me if I wanted to be their nanny. People also asked my aupairs if they knew anyone who just wanted to come to the US and work off the books. It is pretty terrible but that is just life.

franzi March 14, 2010 at 2:04 pm

initially, i thought that this could be about something that goes deeper than what HM1 observed (new car, big house) but from the explanations it seemed like the AP just wanted an easier life and used her chance to get it.

i found my own rematch family, and yes, when i announced my rematch i was hoping they would take me. but i did not talk to that particular family before i actually announced my rematch because for me it was about not working in my first family any longer. i wasn’t going for a wealthier family or more perks. i actually worked longer, had a smaller room, less amenities etc. in my new family.

like stated above, if you’re living in the right part of the country, it’s easy to get in touch with a family that has more glitz than what the AP might have now. unfortunately, shallow APs won’t realize that it’s not just about glitz when being an AP….

one advice to maybe prevent this in the future: put questions into your interview handbook regarding “gold diggers”. make it very clear that your kids come first and that, due to past experience, you do not want an AP that is only about amenities and goodies here and there.

Karin Six March 15, 2010 at 12:49 am

From an LCC’s prospective: The au pairs with entitlement issues seem to be the ones that will do something like this to their host families. (They look for the easiest jobs, lots of vacations, richest host parents, etc.) When I help families look for good au pairs, I scan the application for a sense of gratefulness. I also look for his/her career to be in childhood development, teaching or some other kind of giving career. Another clue: Is the letter to the host family about how much he/she loves to take care of children or how much he/she loves to travel and would like to see America? These are just some things to consider when reading an au pair’s application. In an interview, ask what the au pair’s expectations are and further look for clues of selfishness/entitlement. Ask if he/she really enjoys watching children for long hours? Look at the expression in the au pair’s face. Is it willing or hesitant? Is he/she just agreeing with you so he/she can go to America? Does the au pair start pleading with you to give him/her chance? Are the promises too vague and too good to be true? (Obviously, these are bad signs!) In the end, go with your gut feeling… (To the host family who wrote this: Remember what comes around goes around! Your former au pair will certainly learn this lesson at some point in her life.)

Au pair in NJ March 15, 2010 at 10:22 am

The fact that she drives a Mercedes does not mean she moved from your family because of that. Come on people this is a job after all. It’s not like we dreamed of becoming an au pair since we were 5. Its a normal job and I suppose everybody has the right to look for what is best for themselves without being immature. If She wants a family with no distance limitations or less work hours..more space..there is nothing wrong with that. Would you tell your boss: “hey, i am just letting you know that i have been looking for a better job..where i can get more money and more respect. see you'” ??
The only thing I am against is not leaving a good amount of time for the family to find a new au pair. Other than that…i’d do the same!

Karin Six March 15, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Is this really just a job to you? What about the children? Are you considering them in your decision making? You are supposed to be more like a family member when you come here. That is the spirit of the au pair program. We all know it is not your career but it is one year in your life and if you commit to something, you should stick to it. That shows character!! You are also responsible for asking important questions about the host family before coming here. (I was an au pair at one time but I never considered it to be just a job. I really loved the kids! I took the opportunity to get to know another culture via a typical family environment. They taught me so much! I could have left the family when the going was tough but was glad I stuck with them! I proved to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to! What I didn’t know is that I would become an LCC twenty years later… (One never knows what experiences in life shape us for the future until the future happens!)

Anna March 15, 2010 at 10:33 am

Au Pair in NJ, this is not really like a job. And for me, au pair is not really like a nanny (I’ve had both). I don’t know many jobs where you sign a contract to stay for one year. You live with your “employer”, you become a very important person for their children, and hopefully a very dear person to them.
With the attitude like yours, you are not the right person for the au pair program. Get a job in a daycare center in your home country and travel to USA for your vacation. Not good enough? Want to live here for a year and use all the advantages of living in a family home? Then suck up to the rules and have some heart and decency towards the people who welcome you into their home and family and heart.

Karin Six March 15, 2010 at 11:55 am

From an LCC perspective: First, I would not allow dishonesty in any way. LCC’s are supposed to be first and foremost there for their host families and au pairs. We are your coaches and I personally would never allow such a switch! In this case, one host family is feeling very bad about the situation and that is not acceptable! That is not something I would not allow at all in my group! We encourage bonding between the host family and au pairs so that everyone is satisfied with the arrangements. I know that most of my au pairs are hard working and wouldn’t dream of doing this to their host families. (Those that do this are capable of doing this to boyfriends, girlfriends and probably even their own parents! Thats because their world view is different then most people. It is called “Entitlement”) Thus, this is one of the things you need to screen for in the beginning! I have heard au pairs talk and compare host families but the really sweet ones say things like “I love my host family’s children. They make me smile all of the time.” I have one au pair who works really hard for her host family and she recently said to me, “But Karin, I work for _____ and they are the nicest host family so you know, my situation is different than the other girls.” (I had asked her opinion on something.) What I didn’t tell her was that it was HER good attitude that makes her feel the way she does. (The last au pair the host families had did not feel like this towards the host family.) Most host families are cozy and nice but it takes an au pair to get on board with the host family so to speak. Thus, what I am saying is that screening is the most important thing host families can do! Skype together as much as you can! Look for a cheerful attitude because you will have to live with that attitude. Look for her primary motivations in coming here. Is it about kids or about travel? Everyone needs to be really honest in the interview process including au pairs! If you need any help in screening an au pair, please let me know. I would be happy to help! I love this program and want happy host families and au pairs!

Deb Schwarz March 15, 2010 at 2:05 pm

I’m so sorry to hear about your experience. It’s not easy or fun, but the pain will lessen with time.

We’ve had 15 au pairs, and one au pair did a similiar “bait and switch thing” (after her year contract with us, we bought her a round trip ticket home to visit her family and within two weeks of coming back, she left in the middle of the night with a note saying that she would pay for the ticket – which, of course, she never did). It happens. At first I was in shock, and then I came to the realization that many 20 some year olds are self-absorbed. They don’t think about the kids as much as what is right for them. I’ve come across some au pairs that aren’t this way (thank goodness), but sadly, the many are. There is not much we can do about this except hope and pray that the next generation is different (I heard that they are more outwardly focused, and less self-absorbed) and teach our children to be more considerate. I’m an LCC so this perspective does help me understand what happens and counsel host families. I think that for the most part agencies are committed to not allowing au pairs to go into transition without a very good reason. I have told au pairs if it comes up that getting a better car, hours, or cellphone doesn’t qualify them for a rematch. I think that with this type of self-absorption, rules that limit the effect on the host family (e.g. no rematch without good cause, and not in the same town), do help.

Au pair in NJ March 15, 2010 at 11:50 pm

That is so beautiful to read…so hard to live. The same happened to me. Myhost mom told me she would give us a second change while really she was trying to match with a girl on Most of the families sign up for the program because its cheaper and convenient! Who likes a stranger at home driving your car? It’s very hard to see reality. Of course I care about my kids…but I do care about me first! And if I am not happy..i can’t really do a good job. Who in heaven would not like to get the same amount of money working less hours to enjoy life? It’s veeery easy to throw rocks at people…easier said than done!

Karin Six March 16, 2010 at 12:11 pm

APinNJ – I am not trying to throw rocks at you. I just want you to realize that ‘trading up’ is not an option in this program. (It is more the exception than the rule.) When you accept to become an au pair, you are accepting to become an au pair for that particular family. It is always a bigger risk for the au pair when there is a transition as the au pair could also be sent home due to a bad reference from a host family. (Is it understandable that it is very hard to place an au pair with a bad reference?) The host family has the ‘home court’ advantage so to speak… The au pair is the visitor (and guest) here. The same would happen in your country.

My 2 cents March 16, 2010 at 12:56 pm

What happened to you and how it made you feel proves what Karin Six is trying to say. The au pair job is not the equivalent of the usual job where people come and go based on strictly objective factors like pay and hours. It’s an emotional investment involving not only adults but children. Just like you felt betrayed by your host mom when she gave you lip service about her intentions to try to work through your issues, this host mom feels — justifiably– betrayed by her au pair and a host family that appears to have arranged with knowledge the whole trade.

Of course every au pair wants better pay and less hours. Of course every host family wants more for less. But you cheapen yourself when you leave the family that has hosted you and whose kids have viewed you as a big sister, all so you can make some more money for whatever months are left on your contract. The same goes for your host mom who essentially fired you and shook up her household dynamic all in the name of saving some bucks. It speaks to a person’s integrity and general sense or rightness in my book.

PA au pair mom March 16, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Like usual, I agree with the comments by Two Cents. It is not in good faith for either the host family or the au pair to act in this way. If one side wants a rematch, for whatever the reason, they should follow the proper channels and be honest about it. By being deceitful, it elevates the risk that someone will end up getting their feelings hurt and being upset.

Au pair in NJ March 16, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Many au pairs look for new families before getting into rematch because many times they go home for no reason. I have seen that so many times..and many times the au pair was right but had to leave after paying the whole program and making plans for a year (or 2?)

I did not say it was right what the au pair nor my host mom did but I do think thats life and that we’ve got the right to decide what is best for us. Children know i will leave in one year…anyway.
I think i have the best family i could ever get since they know why i am here, its not that i dont like the kids…i do. but its not like i would choose coming here as an au pair if i could choose coming in another way. They respect me and I respect them but there is no family bla bla bla. The family talk only works to the family.
I might be selfish – and i am okay with that – but when i think of this program i think of me first because after 2 years i know i am only welcome while everything goes well..and if something bad happens..they will rematch. Why wouldnt I?
I am sorry to bring up reality. As an au pair i do know hundreds au pair and au pairs know au pairs better!

p-s all i wanted to say is that NOT NECESSARILY she moved away for a Mercedes that is not even hers..come on! haha

Karin Six March 17, 2010 at 3:09 pm

LCC Perspective: If I saw any of what your just posted on your application, I would instantly rule you out as an au pair. (There are just too many really unselfish au pairs out there. Au pairs who look for a fair deal not the very best deal out there in host families.) It is not ‘just life” as many au pairs do not have that kind of world view. You have a basic right to happiness but never a right to be deceitful. I do not want to offend you but just let you know that you seem to be a taker not a giver. I commend you on your honesty and bravery to post but I do not believe that you are just right for the au pair program. It takes a lot of giving! I am sure you have other fine qualities though.

Melissa March 17, 2010 at 3:51 pm

I think your point about thinking of yourself first is true — each side naturally thinks about and makes decisions based on their own needs and interests. HOWEVER, you need to balance your needs with those of others and most importantly, try your best to avoid situations where putting your needs first would have a negative impact on someone else, particularly in this role where you are dealing with children. Maturity and consideration of others are HUGE factors for me when looking for an au pair, and you need those qualities in order to strike that balance (meeting your own needs without hurting others).
Regarding your comment that “Family talk only works to the family” – I completely disagree. We’ve had both – au pairs who want to be part of the family & those who don’t. We make it clear that we’d love for our AP to be part of our family, partly because it benefits us, but also we just like that type of relationship. However, our AP who truly participated in our house as a family member definitely benefitted too. We had the opportunity to really get to know her well & she earned our trust, respect and love. We would have bent over backwards for her and have offered her many benefits that we typically wouldn’t, like paying for a lot of her activities when travelling, getting her surprise gifts, virtually unlimited use of our car (which we knew she had the maturity to never abuse). We still keep in touch with her & she and her family (she’s married now) are welcome in our home at any time & we would still bend over backwards to make sure they had a great time.
I really believe that the better your attitude and the more you give, the more you get. The au pair program is not for everyone and it sounds like it may not be best suited to meet your own personal needs.

au pair March 19, 2010 at 5:01 pm

i totally agree with u au pair in nj

Anonymous March 16, 2010 at 5:06 pm

I agree with the aupair above. I makes families feel better about themselves to say she just wanted a richer family but most aupairs just want a nice , kind family who follows the rules. Some families are looking the whole time on greataupair for somebody better.
Let’s be fair

hostmomwiththestory March 17, 2010 at 12:51 am

To “Anonymous” and “Au Pair in NJ”: Precisely! Our family followed the rules and we were very kind and welcoming to our au pair. The problem is that our au pair knew coming to the country that she would have to work 40 to 45 hours per week, but she used us to come here, then she looked for a job with less hours. I don’t find that ethical or considerate, especially since we ended up being in rematch through no fault of our own…

We are ready to move on and will always look for a more mature au pair with a better work ethic and one who is coming here primarily with a desire to be with children. In other words, we will be much pickier going forward.

angie March 17, 2010 at 3:56 am

On the employee/family argument – I think it depends on both sides of each match. Our au pairs have been both, in varying degrees, but I’ve tried to make sure they are happy when with us, and understand that this is a job for them as well as a cultural exchange.

Employees and family both can and do disappoint you terribly and let you down sometimes. You learn who you can trust and try to be trustworthy back. Be glad you didn’t invest more in an au pair who wasn’t committed to you, and move on.

aria March 17, 2010 at 4:01 pm

I think Au Pair in NJ has a really good point. When I was thinking about switching families, I felt this enormous guilt, because I knew I would be leaving them with no childcare for as long as it would take them to find a new au pair, but when I spoke to a friend, he put it this way: “If they had a problem with you that they didn’t think was fixable, they would fire you in a heartbeat. They are not your friends, they are not your family. They are your employers, and even though you made an obligation to them, your first obligation is always to yourself.”

franzi March 17, 2010 at 5:51 pm

in an ideal world, even if a rematch would become necessary, both sides would stick to the program rules of rematch meaning the AP would stay for an agency defined time to assist the host family while they look for new child care just as the AP will not be kicked out onto the street in the middle of the night by the host family.

i think we all know that there are cases where this does not happen – APs are kicked out (and in some cases w/o the support of the lcc to host them for a while), host families are betrayed and left without childcare.

however, if there is no immediate reason for rematch (such as abuse or endangerment) both sides should show the maturity of adults and go into a rematch fairly.

Taking a computer lunch March 17, 2010 at 9:35 pm

Aria, your friend’s attitude toward work, which seems to have made an impression on you, makes me feel sad. I must admit, I don’t feel that way about my own work, and I certainly don’t feel that way about my APs. As a host family that has never gone into rematch and has extended several times (we’ve had 5 APs in 9 years), I think of the AP/HF relationship more akin to a marriage than a true employer/employee relationship.

Why? Because we live together, and in those situations, compromise is necessary — on both sides. It takes effort and good communication on both sides to make the relationship work. If you are angry or disappointed in your HF, then communicate it to them. They cannot begin to change if you harbor resentment.

My favorite APs have been those who have chosen to be part of the family, to participate in family activities when they didn’t “have” to, that stayed and chatted with us when they arrived home after the kids were in bed, that shared their interests with us. And while we’re not a wealthy family, our rewards come in the way of the purchase of favorite foods (today I found vegan dark chocolate for my newly vegan AP who had given up chocolate – just because I knew she would like it), an item of clothing in a favorite color, an extra day off, a surprise dinner out, or paying fees for a special au pair event. But we cannot know what would please our APs if we didn’t get to know them.

Perhaps this AP experience is your first work experience. It can be an enormous transition from the child who was the focus of your parents’ attention to independent adult. The host family’s obligation to you is not to be your parent, that is true, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t feel somewhat responsible for your well-beng and happiness (unless they’re utterly selfish). You have a mutual obligation to each other. And you both have an obligation for the well-being of the children.

The AP experience will be but a year or two in your life, but it will shape who you are as an adult. And if you live your year well, the rewards will be endless – not just with the HF, but with fellow APs and other people you meet.

Karin Six March 17, 2010 at 5:57 pm

LCC Perspective: I’ve seen host families and au pairs who have been deceived by someone from the other party. When those host families and au pairs find each other (people who they can really rely on and trust), magic happens! Lifelong friendships are formed! Perhaps we all find our level in life this way… Screen for your own level of comfort.

Pearl March 23, 2010 at 4:46 pm

I had this happen to me with one au pair. She started networking with local au pairs from her country before she even got here via a facebook group, informed me that she wanted to rematch in the evening of her second day of work and almost got the host parents of one of her new “friends” to ditch their set prospective au pair match to take her. When that didn’t work out for her, she rematched with the only family who’d take her in a town about an hour away (closest she could get), then asked for rematch after being there for about a week. Within a month and a half of her arrival date in the U.S., she had “rematched” twice, maneuvering herself back into our local au pair group in the home of friend’s of the host family of one of her friends in our au pair group who may have masterminded the whole thing just for the fun of it. I found out later that our LCC helped her all the way through this devious process.

Our reactions were to match with a girl from a very different nationality for the next year and demand to switch groups (possible in our area) so that we would not have the same LCC/group (we considered switching companies). We pretty much made it known to our LCC’s boss that they’d lose us as a host family if we got the feeling that the company was condoning this sort of thing. Our new au pair and our new LCC are both so terrific that it’s really helped me move on. I must say that I had a bit of a hard time letting it go, but am very sure that we’re better off without someone like that girl living with us and being responsible for and influencing our children.

I don’t know whether there’s a way to stop this from happening to us/you again, except that you might try to find out whether there is any group of au pairs/nannies of a specific nationality that might be getting into this sort of “rematch networking” in your area. A nationality-centered au pair network in our area was the source of the problem in my case and in the case of friends of mine who suffered the same type of “trade-up” abandonment we did (although in their area, the network was of a different nationality).

PA au pair mom March 23, 2010 at 4:53 pm

That is absolutely HORRIBLE!! The way she bounced around between families with the help of the LCC would have infuriated me.

hostmomwiththestory March 24, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Iwas fascinated by your story because I think the language group was also the source of the problem in our case. Our au pair (a French speaker) hung out with French au pairs and those au pairs helped her make the connection to the new family. I am also convinced that our LCC made the transition easier, despite it being bending the rules.

Our new au pair is arriving at the end of April. When our old au pair lied and left us, our LCC promised us that she would move our old au pair to a different “cluster” group with a different LCC when our new au pair arrived, so that there is no possibility of contact between the two. However, this has not happened. When I approached our LCC a few days ago, she stated that despite what she told us, she cannot move the old au pair to a new LCC when our new au pair arrives. She told me that she would keep the two au pairs separate, but I don’t trust her. I am now talking to other folks at our agency to force them to do this, but I am getting a lot of resistance.

PA au pair mom March 24, 2010 at 5:22 pm

How will she keep them apart if they are going to be in the same cluster? that means they will have to see each other at monthly meetings.

I think it should definitely be a rule that rematches occur outside of the cluster.

Anonymous March 25, 2010 at 8:43 am

I think this idea of moving an aupair out of the cluster and to a
new LCC is very appealing but it gives a false illusion of emotional safety. The world is smaller now due to Facebook and host families are at a distinct disadvantage. The agencies are all, naturally enough, trying to expand their customer base and we all refer friends and acquaintances outside our immediate negihborhoods. Aupairs find each other on facebook from halfway aroung the world. What I see as the real problem is foolish people who rematch without seeking references and immoral people who ” steal ‘ someone else’s aupair. I work with someone who walked into the kitchen at a dinner party and tried to hire her neighbor’s nanny. I think this is an unfortunate fact of life that we all have to live with.
What I think we can and should do is figure out how to weed out the girls who are likely to participate in this kind of thing.
I do not know exactly how to do it but we can minimize the chance of it happening with that right information going in.
There is also t he problem of people who go off the books.
This happens just as frequently, I think. That is when someone just drops out and gets a job, illegally. It seems politically incorrect but I wonder if this is a character issue or if economic conditions and social mores in certain countries
predispose one to this sort of thing.

Taking a computer lunch March 24, 2010 at 8:17 pm

My first AP stayed in the US attending college full-time and working as a nanny. Our relationship collapsed as I was preparing for the arrival of our 2nd AP (she had been with us for 3 1/2 years when she left, so she was basically on nanny status with us, too). Our 2nd AP was not from her country, and so we had little contact with her. Our 3rd AP, however, was. When she brought my son to a market for food from her country, the owner recognized him and contacted our first AP and told her to get in touch with our 3rd AP. I tried to remain as neutral as I could, saying, “X and I ended on bad terms, but you are your own person. I prefer that she not come to the house, but feel free to do stuff with her.” My 3rd AP, over time, formed an opinion that matched mine.

My advice, be polite, don’t say anything nasty, but make it clear that you are not happy with the former AP’s departure. She’ll form her own opinion, and if the former AP is that shallow, chances are that she’ll cotton on pretty quickly.

Mom23 March 25, 2010 at 10:16 am

Hostmomwiththestory: Could you go to a new cluster? If you do not feel comfortable with your local coordinator, maybe there is one who you would feel better with whom you would feel better working.

Anonymous March 23, 2010 at 4:59 pm

I am very disillusioned to hear this sort of thing and I think it happens largely because of Facebook and other networking tools.
I don’t know anything about that nationally sponsored group but I have heard that in some towns aupairs have their own meetings without LCCs and advise each other how to get around the rules , trade up, etc. This is in addition to the regular agency meetings. Does anyone know anything about this ? Is anyone aware of this type of meeting in their various towns?

Should be working March 23, 2010 at 5:03 pm

In my interviewing of many transition au pairs, someone gave me the good advice to consider only transition au pairs who are in their first rematch, i.e. never consider an au pair who has already rematched once.

It is certainly possible that an au pair could have bad luck twice, or not fit well with two different families for reasons that would not apply to our family, but in terms of saving time in the transition process, this made sense to me as a guideline.

On the other hand, it doesn’t prevent me from being the one who gets jerked around by a strategic AP who is scheming to trade up before even arriving.

HMinPNW March 25, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Check the source of rematch though :)

Our current AP is in the middle of her second rematch. She came to us during her first rematch/transition; now we’re transitioning because my husband lost his job and has been out of work for 4 months… that shouldn’t penalize her ;)

Anonymous March 28, 2010 at 9:11 pm

I think that this is a good reason for a rematch and I would be reassured if someone told me she was in rematch because her host parent had lost a job or been laid off. I heard , though, that this is known to be a plausible reason for a rematch. An aupair told me this but then, I heard through the grapevine that her host family really wasn’t happy with her and told her that they thought one host parent might be out of work soon. So be careful

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