We got this email, below, earlier this week, from a mom who’s been reading and participating on the blog for a while now. I’m sharing it with you because it’s a happy story, and because you all know that my main role here is to create a space for all of us to share ideas. It’s been a very long time since I felt like this blog was my lonely little soapbox….Instead it’s really become a resource for speaking out, sharing and listening — for all of us.
JJ’s note, below really proves the whole point of the Au Pair Mom community… For all of us who comment, who respond, who read, who share offline, and who put into practice the many wise bits of advice that you host parents (and au pairs) gather here– it really can make a difference! Working to be a good host parent, and to have a positive relationship with your au pair — along with all the rest that you do to be a good person and a good parent, really does make the world a little bit better. And it sure helps to remember that.
Enjoy this note from JJ–
I’ve been reading Au Pair Mom for about a year now. When I first started reading it, we had our first au pair and things weren’t going that well, as you can see by some of the comments I made back then. But from reading, I learned so much about how to select, train, and have a relationship with an au pair.
I wanted to write again and let you know that our second au pair is truly wonderful. She is the au pair that I always imagined. I think sometimes that you get a lot of complaints about au pairs, so I’m hoping you’ll consider publishing a happy story!
Our new au pair has been with our family for about a month now. She is full of energy and creative ideas for entertaining my kids. The first week she watched the kids, she made them playdough, with a recipe she brought with her! The kids love her, and vice versa. She kisses them goodnight when they go down for their naps, and cuddles them when they need it. She’s smart as a whip and caught on to the daily routine with only one day of training.
She takes initiative to find new activities to do with the kids so they all stay engaged and challenged. She fully understands the concept of how to cook a balanced meal, complete with a variety of fresh vegetables, and feeds my kids yummy things that I wouldn’t have even thought of. She communicates well with us so we know how the day went.
We have a great balance of family time vs. outside friend time. We eat dinner together most nights, except some nights when she’s out with friends, and some nights when my husband, or I, or both, are out with friends. She’s been here a month and has already made lots of friends in the au pair community and goes out often on weekends, which is great for us because we’re so busy on the weekends we don’t have a lot of time to hang out.
During the interview we asked her “What kind of relationship do you want with your host family? More like roommates, or more like close family?” She said roommates, which is what we were looking for too. I think this was a crucial question for us to ask and I’ll definitely ask it again in the future.
She’s lived on her own and fully appreciates what goes into maintaining a household, in terms of both effort and costs. We all take turns cooking dinner two nights a week. She cooks delicious food for us too! She pitches in with things like dishes without being asked. When my husband or I ends up short on time and orders takeout, she offers to pitch in on costs. Of course we’d never take her up on it, but it’s still so nice that she offers. She says “thank you” a lot.
And so do we! We tell her how much we appreciate her, that she’s doing a great job, and that it helps us so much to know our kids are in good hands.
In retrospect, our first au pair was a lot worse than I realized at the time. But I learned a lot from my time with her so in a way, it was kind of okay. Still, in the future, we’ll be a lot pickier about who we choose, and we’ll rematch sooner rather than making all of us miserable trying to make it work, now that we know how great it can be!
CV, I’ve learned so much from reading your blog. I have to attribute at least 75% of our current au pair happiness to you and to the fabulous readers of your site who have such great advice. Of course, at least 25% is luck, too, but it’s so nice to know that now I’m armed with information so I can tip the odds in my favor in the future. You all really did change the world for this host family, CV. Thank you!
New Forest Ponies by jystyn on Flickr
Horses in the Snow by Steffe on Flickr