If you ask Tim Gunn for advice about breaking the rules, he’ll tell you two things:
1. Make it work, and
2. Use the Bluefly accessories wall thoughtfully.
Both pieces of Tim Gunn’s advice to fashionistas apply to au pairs & host families.
In general, I am black handbag = black shoes kind of person. But there are times when you can carry a navy handbag while wearing black shoes, if you don’t have navy shoes. Or a black handbag. You just have to (1) make it work, and (2) do it thoughtfully.
Here is how Tim Gunn’s Advice applies to us, in a roundabout way.
The au pair – host family situation is regulated by law.
Good host families and good au pairs enter the program with the intent of following these rules.
Indeed, both sides work hard to respect these rules.
Then, as they say, stuff happens.
Making it work
Everybody has a job when it comes to making the au pair- host family relationship work. The job of the Agency is to apply and administer the rules. The job of the LCC is to ensure that these rules are followed ‘in the field’. And, the job of AuPairMom, as I see it, is to help all of us follow the principles behind these rules in the most caring and thoughtful ways possible.
Host parents and au pairs can contact their Agencies and their LCCs when they have questions about what the rules are and how these rules are to be interpreted. Host parents and au pairs contact AuPairMom — you, me, the other readers and commenters on this blog — when they have questions about the best way to respond to tough situations. And we all give them our best answers.
The job of AuPairMom
When we have conversations on this blog about rules and breaking the rules, it’s not because anyone (least of all me) advocates breaking the rules. I do, however, advocate having honest conversations about the perils and consequences of breaking the rules. Without a place to have these conversations, we leave au pairs and host parents in the dark, unable to benefit from anyone’s ‘been there, done that’ advice.
Case in point-– that first post about scheduling your au pair for overtime triggered 8 emails to me, some from au pairs and some from host parents, who have seen too many au pairs get taken advantage of and too many host families get burned by people who have broken the 45 hour limit rule thoughtlessly. All of them were glad that the conversation was happening on the blog, so that everyone could be more thoughtful if the rules around them were ever bent or broken.
I am a law abiding kind of gal. I do not wear white shoes before Memorial Day. Although I no longer think that wearing Spanx is cheating, I do think that wearing Spanx plus control top hose is really taking advantage of the concept of Lycra, and does no one any good.
With regard to breaking rules, I’m not so much worried about getting caught as I am about upholding the principles behind the rules.
Our challenge here on this blog is to find a way to apply all of the ‘rules’ we know, in a way that reflects the honest, inspiring, growth-oriented principles behind them, so that our ensembles work. We are fitting together the demands and needs of host parent jobs, host child care, and au pair life adventures, guided by principles or fairness, caring, generosity, learning, and respect. When we follow the principles behind the rules, breaking the rules causes much less harm and can even help you create something that fits everyone’s needs just right.
It’s like what Tim Gunn says about the Bluefly accessories wall: The wrong choices can ruin the ensemble, but the right choices will really make it work.