… when, exactly?
Is there really a “best time of year” for selecting an au pair, or is it just the “best time for you and your family”?
We seem to want to believe that there is a best time. By ‘best’, we mean (I htink) when there are the most au pairs to choose from. Somehow we believe that sheer volume of applicants means we’re more likely to find just the right fit.
When More Au Pairs Tend To Be Available
We know that au pairs tend to cluster around certain preferred arrival windows. Like American college students, au pairs often are ready to start their au pair adventure either right when school ends, or after they’ve had a summer vacation.
Usually, there’s a larger pool of au pairs available at the start of summer or at the end of summer (i.e., just before school starts). There tend to be fewer au pairs who prefer to arrive in the US winter time (and often these au pairs are from the southern hemisphere, so their ‘summer break’ coincides with winter).
And the smallest pool of applicants wants to arrive just before Christmas/ New Years. There’s too much excitement at home and too high a chance of homesickness over the holiday to want to arrive in December.
When Host Families Tend to Have Time to Orient a New Au Pair
For some of us, the ‘best’ time depends on our family ryhthms. Personally, I’ve preferred to have our new au pair arrive in early fall– late enough that shcool has begun, but soon enough that she has plenty of time to make friends before winter sets in. The alternative preferred time for us has been about 6 weeks before the end of school. That way, an au pair has a glimpse of the ‘regular’ work week before shifting into a more varied summer routine.
Other times, we think about when we can handle orienting someone new, and — truthfully — when we’ll have the flexibility and back up to deal with it if the new au pair flames out. Host parents have told us here that they’ve waited until after tax season, waited until just before a long vacation, or timed an au pair to arrive 6 weeks after a new baby.
I do wonder how much of a difference it makes to try to hit ‘peak availability’. Instead, I’ve tried to give myself enough lead time so that if we haven’t found a match in the first three weeks of looking, we’re not panicing. How about You?
Parents, how has time of year mattered to your au pair selection process?
Image: 21013 Corgi Calendar Print, by AfricanGrey. Available for purchase on Etsy. And probably available next year too. Adorbs!