Too Good to be True?

by cv harquail on October 7, 2011

A while ago I got a request for advice — a host mom was mystified that her desired au pair candidates seemed uninterested in the opportunity she had to offer.

After all, what au pair wouldn’t want a situation that required only 20 hours per week, paid vacations with the family, her own apartment underneath theirs, on Lake Shore Drive, with a Mercedes SUV for her own use? Oh yes, and tuition reimbursed at a major Chicago University?201110070947.jpg

Dear readers, I thought the email was a hoax. So I replied with an email of my own:

Are you fur reelz?

Indeed, she claimed. Very real.

After several rounds of emails, I concluded that her situation is pretty real.  And even if it’s exaggerated, the central question remains:

When we offer a great situation, why don’t we easily find great au pairs?

You all will have a lot to say.

Here’s her dilemma, put together with details from a few rounds of correspondence between us:

We are a first-time host family from Chicago, IL. We are a family of 5 (me, hub, 3 kids aged 6 – 15). We have been looking for our AP for almost one year, because we wanted “the perfect candidate” for us. We were not looking for someone PERFECT, but someone who was perfect for us.

We found an amazing girl on Site Y about 2 months ago. She was exactly from the country we wanted, from a country/2nd language we wanted, 21 years old, 13years education, proficiency English, wonderful human being. She provided us references, which we contacted, who wouldn’t stop saying how amazing and smart and skilled she is. Straight-As at school but also street smart, generous, fun, down to earth, very talented.

We talked a lot by email first, and then on skype more than once. She was already wonderful, even on skype. She was very honest and upfront about everything we talked about, even things that could have made her “lose points”, and so were we with her. We fell in love with this Au Pair and so did our kids.

We knew she was in contact with other families and that she was close to a match with more than one family and that she was close to a decision, but honestly, as arrogant as it might sound, we thought that no family could “beat us out”. (I know, I’m not supposed to say that but… that’s how we felt.)

She made a short video for me and my family in which she told us that she finally made a decision and she chose another family. It was a cold shower for us, even if during the matching process she kept telling us that she was hearing from other families and that she had to decide (we already asked her for a match and so did the other families I guess). I have to say it was very nice of her to make a video to tell us that, because an email would have been easier, required less “emotional energy” and so on. But still, she chose another family and I know we won’t find another AP like her :-( (we have been looking for months!!)

I know I can’t do anything to make her change her idea, even if I will – and yeah, I know I’m not supposed to do that – but I feel she is “the one”! But in all of this I really don’t understand how come she chose someone else!
This AP wanted to go to Chicago very badly … but then she took the advice to choose the family over the place…

Before she declined, we had already stated some nice benefits in the AP handbook we sent her. I don’t want to raise jealousy but like I said, we are very prosperous so we wanted this girl to have some nice perks. These included:

  • We offered her a 500$/week stipend, which means 2.000$/month
  • 20h/week schedule, and she could take classes every day 9.30 am – 4 pm
  • We told her we could pay for her tuition at X University where she had already been accepted. (She’d been issued a scholarship opportunity from X University last year, (she was in Chicago to study english and has an amazing talent for writing. Her teacher knew someone at University X so he had her go there and present an application and they offered her a scholarship to study there). The scholarship would cover about 8,000 $ and she would have to pay like 6,000 $ more (because she would be a sort of a part time student). She said she would cover the cost for her university but I know she doesn’t come from a wealthy family and those 6K would “cost” more for her than they would cost for us if that makes any sense.)
  • We were going to buy her a brand new Mércedes ML (Suv) to drive our kids and told her she would have unlimited car usage and that we would pay for gas for her personal use as well. (B/c it’s among those cars that have ONSTAR system. Safety is among our primary concerns so the aupair car MUST have that system on it. (It’s a General Motor service and not so many cars have it. If we were going to buy a Chevrolet Escalades (which has it) or something similar, the price would not be that different, so we had our 15 years old girl choosing the car that she liked because hopefully in about 2 years or so, she will drive and we won’t need an aupair or full time nanny anymore, and the AP car could be my daughter’s).
  • We have an almost new condo right under ours (but on one floor), that would have been her apartment
  • We go on vacation once or twice per months (depending on our children schedules), usually to very fancy (and expensive) places and told her she was welcome to come with us (we wanted her to!)
  • We live in the city she is in love with.. which I know was priceless for her.

To be clear, when we first contacted her, we didn’t offer all this information up front, and we did not post it on Site Y. I didn’t want an AP to choose us just because of our whealty lifestyle. I just wanted to make sure that an AP would choose us because of our family and not because of our money.

I can’t imagine that the other family could make as good of an offer, e.g., teenagers (who don’t require much work), brand new suv, high stipend, over-the-average perks, and a warming loving family who was looking forward to have her.

She never promised us “anything” but we were maybe too confident in hoping that she would be OUR ap? As a first time host mom, with this big disappointment, I’m wondering –

– where did I do wrong?

– what can we do to get the kind of au pair we want?

I don’t want to sound “stand-offish” with all I said. But yes, we can afford to give the AP some nice benefits and we would be happy to do that FOR THE RIGHT PERSON who deserves that. And the right person was this girl.

Please PLEASE please, let me know if you have any advice on how to convince her to say yes to us and tell us what did we do wrong.  She is so amazing I know we are not going to find another her.



Aussie Au Pair October 7, 2011 at 10:52 am

Wow, I don’t understand how anyone could turn down an offer as amazing as that, and not only because of the wealthy side of it, it just sounds like you have an amazing, loving family!
I am currently applying to be an AP myself in the states next year, and the only reason I could imagine she would have turned down you’re family would maybe be the age of your kids if she was after younger ones?
I would happily take this position!

Another Aussie October 8, 2011 at 4:06 am

Seriously, I will take the job!

You do sound like a great family..I wonder what she based her decision on.

OhPleaseNotCaliforniaOrFlorida October 15, 2011 at 1:13 am

What exactly makes this family sound amazing, loving and great? This message does not give any information about the kids or the parents.

azmom October 7, 2011 at 11:03 am

She may have found a family that was more like her own where she felt comfortable. You indicated her family wasn’t wealthy – she may feel she wouldn’t comfortable if something broke or she dinged the mercedes.

Hula Gal October 7, 2011 at 11:29 am

Sounds like you got your just desserts for being so obscenely focused on the material side of the deal. It may come as a surprise to some people, particularly those who have great amounts of wealth, that not all the girls may want that over other things such as a great and comfortable connection with a family. I’d suggest being more modest with your offers going forward. Frankly, you will end up with au pairs with the wrong focus for their au pair year if you are so forthcoming about your fortunate circumstances. My sister happens to be quite wealthy to the same degree as you. She decided to host an au pair with very similar amenities and extras to offer. But she was much more discreet about her situation until after they agreed to match. It has greatly paid off for her and she is very happy with the au pair they selected, which was the first girl they interviewed. More modesty might do you some good as well.

anon October 8, 2011 at 2:19 am

Yes, but this HM said she didn’t put ALL of her perks out there specifically to avoid getting a materialistic AP. I think she’s just laying it all out here to get feedback and vent.

Nerb October 9, 2011 at 8:09 am

Right, she didn’t put them up front, claiming to want an au pair to choose her family over her money, yet she can’t understand why the girl chose another FAMILY when she had so much to offer in the way of material things. A little contradictory don’t you think?

I'm With Ya October 7, 2011 at 1:27 pm

…What Hula Gal said, +1

Anna October 7, 2011 at 1:37 pm

I think precisely the perks might have turned her off. Not everyone is after money and amenities, and she might not be comfortable with all of that.

Gretchen October 7, 2011 at 2:13 pm

I am an au pair mom, but was a live-in nanny after college and before grad school.

Your wealth may well have been the trigger for her not coming to live with you. When I was interviewing prospective families there were many that tried to tempt me with all those perks affluent families can offer. Frankly, it turned me off and made me uncomfortable. I said no to all of them and went to a middle-class family.

Why? Most importantly, I felt my personality meshed better with this other family, especially the mother. I still think personality matches are key and when we hired an au pair, my number one priority was the personality — can I live with this person?

But also because among the nannies and au pairs I personally knew, the ones that were the least happy were the ones who went with the wealthy families. Not in every case, but in many. They frequently felt they were treated like servants, especially by the children. Not that I am saying your family would have been like that, but how do you know before you get there which family would be like that and which wouldn’t? Perhaps she had similar conversations with others who have already been au pairs and felt the same?

Carol October 7, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Are you sure that there’s no another girl, in the intire world of au pairs who can also be a perfect fit to your family? I mean, looks like this girl is reallu great, but, let’s be honest, you only know her for internet and phone calls. Maybe you should give a chance to other girls, maybe from another country.. unfortunally, if you offer another thing that make this girl go to your house, instead her first choice, she’s may not be happy. We au pair, must feel.. “the feeling”. My tip (if you decide to go after another au pair): don’t say everything you offer, or a girl could magically torn on perfect.

AuPairinOz October 7, 2011 at 4:17 pm

I agree with the above comments. Wealth can sometimes be a huge turnoff. My first family was obscenely wealthy, and not in any way modest about it. I had a lot of perks working for them, but in the end I felt like a servant, and they made me feel uncomfortable on a daily basis (like making comments about my parents’ financial situation, saying that we were ‘poor’ because I come from an upper middle class family!) I ended up choosing to rematch, because of that and for a host of other reasons. My second family was wealthy, as well, though not as much, and they were much, much more modest about it. I adored them, and could relate to them more.
Perhaps tone down bragging of the perks up front, and you’ll probably find a better candidate.

kat October 7, 2011 at 5:18 pm

i agree with other people that money and material things are not that important to everyone. offering more than twice as much money seems a bit excessive to me. and also second the opinion that however good the match seems to be ‘on paper’, it doesnt have to click in real life (own experience).

Calif Mom October 7, 2011 at 8:36 pm

If I were her, I’d have the anxieties outlined above so well.

I would be wondering exactly what isn’t so perfect about your amazing and perfect family. I’d be wondering WHY are you paying more than the regular stipend when that is made very clear in the regulations from the agency. It’s a buyer’s market for host moms, with Europe tanking that will get even better, right? So why are you selling your family so hard? If you’re so obviously wealthy, you’re probably savvy enough to know all this. And frankly, IMHO, anyone who presents themselves as being SO VERY perfect is probably blinded to their own downsides. Which may be rather significant. Or maybe it’s just a plain chemistry-related issue. Sounds like you scared her. Maybe she thinks she’ll never measure up to your high standards.

Compost got us our Best. AuPair. Ever.

We “scored” the “perfect” rematch au pair in a 3-way competition with two other families much closer to the friends she had already made. Their homes were luxurious, cars new and offered easy access to Manhattan. What made our wonderful rematch au pair decide to come to our decidedly not-perfect home and family — warts and all– and never regret her decision, even when the kids are fighting tooth and nail and the car has a crack in the windshield?


What sealed the deal was that we recycle and compost as much of our waste as possible. The new generation of young folks from certain countries are very green, and, frankly, very judgmental about stereotypical American consumerism. She figured any working mom who cared enough about the environment to take those steps would treat her well, too.

No kidding.

And I tried to talk her out of matching with us. We’re not rich, we’re not perfect, but we give our au pair as good a quality of life as we can. We feed her high quality local organic food. We do our best to be fair. And I don’t make her empty the compost bin.

Mamajo October 8, 2011 at 1:53 pm

I am a host mom. We are middle class academics (small buy and both parents working) but live in a small house. We compost and recycle and garden and cook and we have no TV and no servants – we do it. We buy exclusively farmers market and bio coop food.
We had an awful first Au Pair who was ashamed of our small house and upset that we work a lot and have no time to go twice a month to the Caribbean. Our first, lazy, money-oriented, careless Au Pair (we also call her Pechmarie for those who know the fairytale “Frau Holle”) rematched to a wealthy Houston family and I hear she is in rematch again. She would have loved to go to Chicago and get all this extra money and drive a brand new car – how pretentious does this host family sound… Our new Au Pair (or Goldmarie) is the very best ever, loves our lifestyle “need not – want not.” I love her like a daughter or friend and we will actually renew with her.
I would be so appalled by the Chicago family and would have never joined such a household. I understand the Au Pair and congratulate her.

Calif Mom October 17, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Yes, it’s critical to present your family honestly. I use the “I Dare You To Match With Us” approach, in order to avoid princesses. Sorry you got so burned, been there, very glad you have found a good fit now. I’m so so sad our Compost AP :-) is not extending. She is ready to do big things. Like in the picture book Little Bear’s Little Boat, it’s time for her to build her own big boat now.

MommyMia October 7, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Ditto what they said. I get a general feeling of desperation, of trying too hard, which undoubtedly the au pair picked up on at some point. Her friends and family may have cautioned her that for you to offer SO much extra stipend, luxury vehicle, own apt.,etc. that there must be something really wrong with the kids (you all may be wonderful, warm people, but I’m just saying that there’s a certain “vibe” from your communication). It sounds to me like you can afford and might be more suited for a live-in nanny – there must be many students in Chicago who would jump at this chance! The only thing you’d possibly miss out on is the language factor, but surely there are even bilingual nannies or classes available! Wish you luck!

Dorsi October 7, 2011 at 8:59 pm

there are many forms of compensation that we give our Au Pairs — one of those is the sense that they are important and do a job that is valuable. This is separate from the issue of paying them — if you have ever been in a job where you get a good paycheck but feel you are not needed, useful, etc, you know that this is an independent factor.

Maybe she felt with your ability to wait a year for an AP, pay so much, expect so little, she would just be an accessory around the house, not doing “good work”

Taking a Computer Lunch October 7, 2011 at 10:09 pm

I can see why the OP thinks the AP candidates would be fighting to match with her – she offers “everything and more,” except, at the end of the day, a life with an American family. Having a separate condo is not really like living with a family at all. It’s living alone (which might appeal to many APs toward the end of their year when they have a coterie of friends or a boyfriend). The majority of APs with whom I have interviewed in the last 10 1/2 years have come from living with their families – parents or grandparents, siblings, or other relatives. Only one had been living in a dormitory for years (from middle school through college).

The OP did not reveal what was “perfect” for her in a candidate, other than she wasn’t looking for perfection in the person. Are her goals unrealistic? Is her agency too small to meet her needs? Or is the focus on one candidate indicative of how she forms relationships?

The OP failed to correctly interpret the candidate’s message that she had other irons in the fire. The fact that the candidate went out of her way to create a video shows that she had developed a relationship with the family and cared out them (but the OP does not reveal why the candidate ultimately chose another family).

There have been several times over the years I have participated on this list when an OP has bemoaned “I gave her everything…” If one is accustomed to controlling relationships through material goods, and the recipient does not seem appropriately appreciative, then it’s time to take stock and figure out if material goods are the end goal or just an unnecessary carrot. While my kids are spoiled enough (we’re middle class), they don’t get everything – not even close, but they do get our attention. (Once, when my son asked why we couldn’t live in a mansion, I told him, we could, but I wouldn’t spend much time with him because I’d be too busy working. He got it.)

Interviewing candidates as a first-time HM is tough. But if you don’t want to live with a material “girl,” then my recommendation would be – don’t throw all the material possessions you have to offer on the table when matching.

EmmieJane October 7, 2011 at 11:26 pm

I agree with what those above say about being less focused on the material things that you offer her.

However, I also want to encourage you that there are many good au pairs out there. We love our au pair; she is not perfect, but she loves our kids and is pleasant to share a home with. While some of her au pairs friends, make me raise my eyebrows and be thankful I didn’t match with them, many of the au pairs I have met and observed with children seem like wonderful people and good au pairs. Just reading this website, you do hear about a fair amount of really good au pairs, so be encouraged that you can find someone who will love your kids, be a nice addition to your family, and be reliable.

When we were interviewing for this au pair, we had our heart set on another candidate. She was perfect, great English, good driving, Spanish speaking, and clicked with us. However, she did not want to come when we needed her. We offered her a compromise date and still the answer was “no.” Eventually, we found our current au pair, and we couldn’t be happier. I do think there are many viable candidates, at least at Cultural Care, our agency.

If you really want an au pair, I think you can find a really good one-maybe not “perfect”, but really good. Take some of the advice here and revise your approach, and I think you can get someone that will be asset to your family.

EmmieJane October 7, 2011 at 11:42 pm

One additional comment; I think a luxury SUV is way too much pressure for an au pair. That person will be driving in a strange city, and I think it would be a lot of stress to know you were driving something that valuable around. I wouldn’t be suprised if for smarter au pairs, this is actually a negative.

Calif mom October 8, 2011 at 9:26 am

I agree. The big fancy clean new car thing is toooo stressful. Au pairs are not American teens/twenties who happen to speak a different language. Only 1 of our au pairs would have been confident AND skilled enough to handle a new, luxury suv. And that’s regardless of my personal comfort with it.

Really good observation above about loneliness factor, too. Our great au pair is an extravert and really needs to connect with me, the hosmt mom, each night before skype and bed for a few minutes. Having a separate suite/condo wouldnt be as attractive at first ad it would be gor a year 2 ap. In fact, OP might have much better luck finding a Year 2.

Yo au pair October 8, 2011 at 12:24 am

Why do u wanna pay way too much more than what it is suppossed to?? Do u want her to do extra cleaning or somethibg?? a mercedes sounds cool but it is not necesary, at the end it is just a car !! Dont focus on showing off your wealthy possition but focus in which features do you need her to have so your kids are loved, saved abd happy. Let me tell u that money is not the most imporatant thing in the world. Look, i am an au pair, i just started my second year with the same family. We live in a modest house in a little town in the west, i dont have a mercedes… I dont even have a car because they dont need me driving. But I always use their old bike for my errands and to go out to meet my friends ,…. And i am happy:) …. Just because even if i dont have the luxuries u offer, i am lucky to live with a loving and supportive host family

Mamajo October 8, 2011 at 2:01 pm

You sound like my current Au Pair. Awsome!

former ap October 8, 2011 at 2:42 am

In my country we say that if someone was born rich, he/she is probably used to that wealth and doesn’t really like or need to show it off. But the ones who were born in a not so wealthy situation and just get rich in the course of life tend to spread the word around and let everyone know how much money they’ve got.

This woman sounds like the second case. Her wealth and money and possessions are so important for her that she can’t comprehend how someone else wouldn’t enjoy it as well. Seriously.

It may be the fact that I was raised in a large middle class family, where having money meant paying for education, not for fancy stuff, but I could not ever picture myself living with such a family. I don’t get why she would pay twice the stipend determined by the rules, for half of the allowed working hours. I don’t get why she would trust someone she’s never seen in person driving her brand new mercedes. I don’t get why she thinks her life is so awesome.

By the way this story was told, it seems clear to me that this woman can’t deal with her own perfectionism and frustrations – not finding anyone as perfect as that girl in a year, like really? Who would like to work for someone having to fit such big shoes (that were never filled up anyway) and having to deal with such high expectations? Not me, lady.

I had a wonderful family in my au pair year. I didn’t have a car, I didn’t go to any fancy vacations, I received the regular salary and I worked 45h/week every single week. And I was loved as a member of the family, and I love those people as my own family.

Most GOOD au pairs come from all the sorts of backgrounds, but I doubt you’d think an au pair is a good fit if she came from a very wealthy background. You’ll most likely find a spoiled, bratty, boring, entitled little princess who will boss YOU around. And honestly, no PCs, that’s how I picture your daughter.

Good luck finding the perfect au pair for your perfect family. Meanwhile, watch and learn how the not-so-perfect people do it, this blog is full of them ;)

Former NOVA Mum October 8, 2011 at 3:57 am

Some great posts already and I have to agree with most of them.

I would find the emphasis on the material things off putting too and esp living separately from the family. Also why do you want to pay twice as much for the Au Pair as the required stipend?
I think a nanny may be better suited for your family, may be a live in from the US.
I also think that a Mercedes (however safe you feel it is) is a little over the top (and asking for an accident) as it will probably make her more scared to drive!
I hope you do not find these comments offensive and I sincerely find another Au Pair is that is what is right for your family. There are defintely some more great candidiates out there, just got to find them and see if you guys make a good match.

Jeana October 8, 2011 at 5:08 am

I was overwhelmed by the list of material benefits. It appeared that it was a benefit package for a potential employee instead of an aupair, who is intended to be part of your family. The aupairs we’ve had good matches with had family lives that meshed well, with ours. The relationships they had with their parents, siblings, and friends helped me believe that we could live together, successfully. If they have relationships with their family and seem to value the input of their parents, they will hopefully value my input, too, during their year. Our aupairs wanted to be part of our family. They were seeking relationships. For most of our aupairs, leaving home to be with our family was their first experience of living independently. There were many similarities our families shared. Our aupairs have experienced family tragedies while they’ve been with us. One aupair experienced the very sudden and unexpected death of a loved one. When China had the huge earthquake a few years ago, it was very close to where our aupair lived. Being apart from her family and friends during this time was very difficult and we tried to give her a lot of TLC. Each of our aupairs has needed a “mom” at times during their year with us. Most aupairs are young, and while they want to spread their wings, part of them wants to know they are coming to their American family, not employer. I’m sure there were days when our aupairs may have enjoyed leaving us to go to their own apartment, for the most part, they wanted to be part of our family. When they weren’t working was when we could just spend time together, cook together, eat meals together, and have some incredible conversations about their homeland, and the US.

Our situation is probably a total opposite of yours, in the sense of what can be offered, materially. I pointed that out to each aupair prior to matching. Most families in our cluster are much more comfortable, financially, than our family. I wanted our aupairs to know that most girls in their cluster will have a car, and we couldn’t offer that. Many of the aupairs would have the opportunity to travel, and ours would too, but to visit friends and family, not warm, sandy beaches. Our family couldn’t offer the material benefits, but our aupairs knew they were welcome, embraced, and loved. They knew I had their back, and would act like a mom, regarding safety issues. (Lots of talks about holding on to a beverage when they’re out and about, and information about areas that might not be as safe as they’re thinking, etc.)

As you continue to search for the aupair that will match with your family, you might want to include information about how you will include your aupair in your family life. Is she invited to attend holiday functions? Is she invited to attend birthday parties? Would you welcome her parents for a visit? Do you intend to keep in contact when her year has been completed? Are you happy to help her with her studies? Are the other aupairs from your cluster welcome to visit? Are you happy to include them with holiday celebrations, also? Are you happy to take the time to help your aupair get settled initially, by applying for social security card, state ID, drivers license, bank account, and library card? Do you have plans to helping your aupair find her way around the city? Will you go with your aupair to the doctor, if needed?

I would encourage you to consider whether an aupair is the best childcare plan for your family. If you believe it is, perhaps focusing on your the relationships you hope to build would attract the right aupair for your family. Just as you’re being passed by, I wonder if you are passing by a young woman that could be a lovely aupair. You might need to adjust your expectations in some area. For example, one of our aupairs clearly had less English language than previous aupairs. I still matched with her, because of the connection I felt during the time we were corresponding, and using Skype. So, I prepared for her arrival, knowing I’d have to work harder due to the language issue. I created a morning, afternoon, and evening schedule, using graphics and written narrative. Thank God I did, because I got sick as we were driving home from the airport after she arrived. I spent the next two days in my room, with the flu. Our sweet angel took those schedules and took care of my daughters while I hid out, trying not to infect anyone else. We had many laughs about how that was such a rough way for her to start, but I knew I had a winner for an aupair.

Fernando Perleto November 8, 2011 at 3:30 pm

I am male au pair from Cultural Care and I agree with you Ms. Jeana!
Financial wealth is not what most matters most.
I can say as a brazilian aupair that what most matters is to feel that we are going to a family that treats us as part of the family too.
Be present in the main events of a family and feel part of it is the best thing in the world.
I would never choose a family for money and if any aupair does that is because he/she doesn’t really love the family he/she chose.

Newhostmom October 8, 2011 at 6:44 am

To be perfectly honest, OP, your post really turned me off of your family. It may just be the way you write and you might be lovely, but of course potential APs are going to be selecting you based on your emails and Skype communications. Besides the general tone, here’s what I think I’d be thinking if I were being courted by you:

1. What is wrong with your situation that causes you to feel that you have to offer twice the stipend for half the hours?

2. What are you going to eventually want me to do to make up for the fact that your are way overpaying me?

3. Why are you so picky that it took you a year to find a single AP that fit your standards? What’s going to happen when you find out I’m not perfect – I’m human.

4. How on earth am I going to drive a giant American expensive car through a city I don’t know?

5. How am I going to have an American family experience if I’m not living with the family? That having my own apartment thing sounds great for after I’m done APing, but I’m being an AP to get a real American experience, not to live alone in a condo. Sounds lonely!

Etc etc. Your “deal” sounds very very suspicious and not at all what most APs are really looking for. I’m glad to hear that you’re waiting to offer this – you would most definitely be getting the wrong type if you were offering this up front.

I’m sorry OP – I just really dont get why your going so obscenely overboard. In the large cities I know of, you might be spending $20 an hour for an excellent nanny. So after the agency fees, food for the AP, trips for the AP, etc, you’ve got to be paying twice as much for an au pair for those 20 hours. I would be very very suspicious of why you need to overcompensate this much.

WestMom October 8, 2011 at 7:41 am

I would feel the same way from the APs perspective. Maybe add to that:
– How am I going to have a social life if I have to follow you on vacation twice per month?

We have had 3 lovely au pairs, one of which picked us out of many offers from wealthier families. In the end, I think she picked us because we clicked, and she felt we were closest in values and wealth to her own family. I remember saying, ‘I am sorry we can’t compete with your other offers: we are not rich, we have a small house, we don’t drive fancy cars (actually we have only one), we don’t go on expensive vacations. But we are loving and fun, and you will be included in everything we do this year, and be a part of our family.’ in the end, I think that sealed the deal.

mouse October 8, 2011 at 10:54 am

Aupair-to-be : I totally agree on everything!
I wouldn’t have to consider for a second. It would be a no-go for me personally. It’s to good to be true.
Personally for me I would need to live WITH the family. I wouldn’t feel “home” in your apartment.
I say no to those familes who offer more money than the stipend set by the goverment. au pairs are not leaving there families behind to make money. but to go on a safe adventure. I rather get tickets to a show instead of money. Good experienses and adventure before ALL materiel stuff.

Courtj October 8, 2011 at 7:41 am

So many have said it above. I live in a pretty affluent area and there are situations the OP decries above. Many of the AP in this situations are unhappy for one simple reason, they are choosing to be an au pair because they want to experience American family life. Our current au pair was in a family where he lived by himself, but wasn’t allowed to eat dinner with the family or participate in the kid’s lives as anything more than the help.

If the OP is looking for someone to just take care of the kids versus welcoming a person into the family, then I would recommend a nanny instead.

anna October 8, 2011 at 7:44 am

Why don’t you just ask her why she turned you down? Ask her to give you some honest feedback so you don’t have to speculate?

FormerAuPairIreland October 8, 2011 at 9:21 am

As said before, I doubt I would match with your family.

At first thought all this sounds more than perfect, BUT while all that you offer sounds great at first, I would not trust your offer to be true. There are endless lists of families who do offer the same, but most of them aren`t real. (Most European Au-Pairs would be warned about any offer like yours). (just google scam + Au-Pair and you`ll find lots of offers like yours, only that none of those are true)

IF I considered your position I would – like Dorsi said – wonder if I was really needed. As much as it sounds nice to have an Au-Pair, I sometimes wonder what the intentions of some families are to have one. If I had the choice between your family and a family who would not pay as much, not offer me a car (as most people said: Why would I want to drive a car like that? Knowing myself I would end up not driving at all ;) ), not pay college for me (I would feel extremely! awkward if someone paid 6k! for me – That is a lot of money and I would always feel oblidged to stay with the family even if I ended up not enjoying it, just because they paid all this money for me (I would not think it worth it to be “bought” into staying), I would always go for the other family if they made me feel welcome and needed.

StephinBoston October 8, 2011 at 11:10 am

One thing that may have worried her is that, after one year living the grand life, how could she go back to her own life? It’s already very hard to go back home after a normal au pair year, what about one in luxury she will never experience again in her life?

Gianna October 8, 2011 at 12:31 pm

I think that this last response is a great insight. Odd as it sounds, I had a classmate who turned down a scholarship to an Ivy League college and went to the state university ( also on scholarship ) because he wanted to make life long friends and not spend four years in a world he would never fully participate in after college.
He was bombared with materialistic offers to accept a football scholarship but his father advised him not to play sports at all but pursue an academic program and live a normal life. It is hard enough for aupairs to go home at the end of the year without the extra burden of such a huge discrepency in lifestyle. Maybe this young woman’s parents advised her to decline. I wouldn’t suggest asking her outright , though, why she declined. It is unlikely that she will be want to hurt your feelings. Let’s not romanticize the middle class at the expense of the wealthy, though. There are plenty of aupairs working too many hours so that their host parents can perservere in the middle class.

CaliHostmom October 8, 2011 at 1:09 pm

1) There are other great au pairs out there. I’ve lost out to other families before and it hurts. It’s hard not to take personally. But buck up and move on. After losing out, I’ve found that the next AP we talked to turned out awesome and then I was GLAD to have been turned down by the first candidate.
2) The OP seems to be arguing a case in front of a jury with proof of how perfect her family and offer were. To convince whom? Herself? Is it really just about asking what she did wrong? Or is it because she needs other people to say “oh my God, yes, you are perfect, how on Earth could the candidate have turned you down?” Does she need an ego boost to get over the rejection?
3) I have WON out against families offering a double stipend before. I was pretty shocked at that, but the AP told me that she said my family felt honest and ‘normal’ whereas the other family’s stipend offer made her a) feel like she was being bribed or ‘bought’ and b) made her worry that the was something they were hiding (troubled kids? Alcoholic dad, who knows?). So she picked us.
4) It will be hard to get sympathy from this forum when you are basically saying to the rest of us: I’m so much richer and can so outbid the rest of you losers who can only afford the program’s standard pay package, how could an AP turn us down?
5) Are you nuts to give an AP a new Mercedes? Talk about a rookie mistake. Au pairs crash cars. It’s a cost of the program. Oh wait, I forgot, you can totally afford the cost of repairs and that’s way less of a concern than how your kids look when they get dropped off at school. A 1997 Honda would be a humiliation.

German Au-Pair October 8, 2011 at 2:32 pm

I didn’t get to read all the comments yet but I picked up some “no everyone is after material benefits” and yes that’s true, but what I REALLY think is the problem, is simply that she didn’t believe you.
If a soon-to-be au pair tells friends, family and other (future) au pairs about that offer, they ALL will tell her, that’s fake.
Everywhere on the internet au pairs are warned not to fall for offers like that. Everyone tells you that you can identify a fake family by living in a big, desireable city, offer more stipend than the State requires them to, offer fancy cars and phones, big places to live, lots of traveling. Basically you hit EVERY single point that yell “fake”!
So my advice: register with an agency (maybe even two, apparently you cann afford this) and find a girl THERE. As long as you search on sites like greataupair, no one will take your offers for real because in the end every smart future au pair would be too afraid that everything is fake.
Getting her back…I don’t know if you should or can, but the only thing again, that I could advise is to ask her if it would change anything if you registered with the agency she’s with so she can see that those things are true.

Amelie ex-aupair October 8, 2011 at 3:45 pm

I wouldn’t feel confortable living in such a luxury house. Although I’m educated, have travelled a lot and have a good job, I’m a simple person, I come from a middle class family. I would probably feel I don’t belong in such an enviroment. I prefer a more laid back family, where people don’t care if things break because they were bought at target anyway, or where we can eat whatever is in the fridge, because it came in a huge, inexpensive box from Costco… (I don’t drive, but if I did, I definitely wouldn’t feel confortable driving a brand new, luxury SUV…no way!)

German Au-Pair October 9, 2011 at 1:02 am

I’m just saying…the “you cannot be for real” aspect might be a factor.
And the other stuff…I totally think it depends on the family and that we cannot judge how warm and nice this HM has been in the mails or can be in real life. Just because you have a load of money doesn’t mean you aren’t a nice person to be around.
My family has more money than avarage and certainly more money than my family at home and I have materialistic advantages that others don’t have and our house is simply huge. But that doesn’t mean I feel uncomfortable. I can eat everything out of the fridge because STILL they buy things in normal food stores (I don’t really think you only buy expensive, special food just because you COULD) and they are very laid back and nice and warm and everything is great. I wouldn’t want to drive a brand new car either because I would be afraid to scratch it and I wouldn’t want to drive a SUV in general because I’d be afraid to park it but still I don’t see how that’s something bad about this family.
It appears to me that many people judge this hostmum simply based on the fact that the has so much money she felt like she had to load her au pair with it.

Amelie ex-aupair October 9, 2011 at 6:24 am

Again, German Au-Pair… I’m just trying to add a different perspective… Yes, some girls might not believe a family who has so much to offer is for real…

But the others, like me, could feel a little bit intimidated by so much money and luxury. Of course, after a few e-mails, telephone and Skype conversations, a candidate could have a better idea of what this family has to offer besides the amenities, but, considering just what I read here, I’m saying that, as a HF, they wouldn’t be my type (of course they can be laid back and everything, but that’s not what I feel reading her e-mail).

Again, they can totally be nice, warm people, but for me, it wouldn’t be a good match FOR ME. I like it simple. And maybe, that’s why her perfect au pair decided to go to another HF. Maybe she was looking for a different lifestyle. Which doesn’t mean this family is not good (they must be, the girl even went to all the trouble to make a video declining them but thanking them for the opportunity).

So, that’s all.

German Au-Pair October 9, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Okay, I can agree with you on that one. What would have turned me off would be the own apartment. My family could have offered me an own apartment, too because they just happen to have one in the house but hen friends visited and asked why I’m not living downstairs my HM replied that that would be very lonely and they want me to be part of the family.

I just wanted to note that your post seemed to say money = not nice but now that you clarified it, I agree!

used to be an AP October 8, 2011 at 3:19 pm

I think “agency” is one of the key words. From what I gather, the OP hadn’t been registered with an agency when she talked to the prospective AP. To me it sounds a little as if the OP wanted to get an AP without an agency. Maybe the AP was afraid of that.
But even if the OP wanted to register with an agency, the fact that the AP would probably feel indebted to the family because of all the perks remains. If someone is paying 500 $ for 20 hours of work, plus a new Mercedes, plus 6k of tuition, there is no way that the AP would not feel guilty. So she was probably afraid of not being able to say “no” to anything. Even if you would never ask her to do that, she was still probably afraid of you asking her to do things she doesn’t want to do and would actually not be supposed to do (e.g. clean the complete house once a week).

Amelie ex-aupair October 8, 2011 at 3:36 pm

I think I wouldn’t feel confortable going to a family like yours.

When I was an au pair, I didn’t travel anywhere fancy with my host family, I didn’t have a car (and I didn’t need one, since I lived in a big city) and, although my room was very confortable and I had a very nice bathroom all to myself, there was a lot of noise in the morning, because it was right next to the kids room. Besides a pratically unlimited cell phone, I didn’t have any extra perks. I worked 45 hours EVERY week, taking care of three small kids, and most of the weeks I even worked extra hours for some money. I lived in a very wealthy and trendy neighboorhood, in a very confortable house, but not fancy at all.

And choosing them as my HF was one of the best decisions of my life. From they one, they made sure I knew I was loved, that I was part of their family and that they really appreciated my work. I took care of the most lovely children I ever met (my own family included) and we still keep in touch after 2 years. A few months ago, I went to visit, and I felt like I was visiting my own family.

I did a lot of travelling, bought a lot of things, took very good courses and met loads of interesting people during my year as an au pair. But, no doubt, having lived with such great people, and having had the chance to take care of such amazing kids, is the part I remember and cherish the most.

So, of course, there might be girls out there looking for expensive cars, their own apartment and a lot of money for a few hours of work. But that’s what most au pairs are looking for.

At least not the good ones.

German Au-Pair October 9, 2011 at 1:07 am

In addition to what I responded above I feel like I need to add that this post actually does sound like the children couldn’t possibly nice and the family couldn’t possibly make her feel loved and appreciate her work.
She said she told her about the whole money-thing later on in their mail contact so I don’t think she’s like “Hey, I have money, come live with me” which would attract the wrong crowd.
But why on earth would you turn down a family that you actually liked once you get to know “wow, they’re rich!”?
I just don’t get it…many many comments here make having money sound like a terrible thing they couldn’t possibly live with.

Amelie ex-aupair October 9, 2011 at 6:16 am

Not at all German Au-Pair.

They’re probably nice people, caring, loving and whatever… but that’s the whole point…. from what what she wrote… we don’t know! That’s not what they’re trying to sell as a HF…

I’m trying to show a different perspective… that maybe, being rich or not is just a detail, and that, as an former au pair, I know most girls are not looking for luxury (having an separate apartment or a big stipend won’t hurt most girls, but that’s not the first thing most have in mind when deciding on a HF).

That’s all I’m trying to say… that, maybe, after almost a year of unsuccessful search. she could change her approach… and foccusing on other aspects of their family that might be as appealling as the money they have.

Melissa October 8, 2011 at 3:59 pm

I’m curious as to why you were planning to pay $500/week? It is because you want her to have responsibilities that are not typical or allowed, such as cleaning the house? Or in exchange for some flexibility or extra tolerance on her part (your difficult mother-in-law lives with you, you need her for overnight hours)? I could understand wanting to pay a little more if you are looking for someone with very unique skills, such as an advanced degree in physical therapy because you have a child who has needs in that area, for example, but otherwise it will likely come across as suspicious to AP applicants and seems just plain odd to the rest of us. That’s like saying the typical salary for an entry-level engineer is $50,000, but a company chooses to pay him $100,000. Just doesn’t make sense.
If it’s because you feel that the $200 AP stipend is too low, or just simply that you can afford a lot more so why not, then maybe a live-in nanny is a better fit for your situation. You could likely obtain someone with much more experience or specific skills than an AP candidate, which would then justify the salary.
Also, your AP will interact with other APs and host families and while you certainly aren’t obligated to worry about what other host families think of you, please keep in mind that having a situation that is soooo different from other host families and the spirit of the AP program, can have a negative impact on the other host families in your area.

Taking a Computer Lunch October 8, 2011 at 4:48 pm

While I think many of the comments about wealth were a tad snarky (I know I’ve made a choice about how to spend my income on my children and one that many of my colleagues and friends can’t afford to make), I think many of the comments were spot on – money can’t buy everything. I don’t think I’ve been given enough information to guide the OP on how to make the match she wants, except to say, reflect on the information you received in your rejection and see if you can take away enough to make a good match with another AP.

Julie October 8, 2011 at 6:13 pm

I think this was sent as a joke–is there a “troll” on aupairmom? (Yes, I know you checked…) It’s absurd that any family would throw money at someone with obvious expectations that go above and beyond. I have some very wealthy families in my group–ones with au pairs that have use of luxury vehicles (but they don’t “buy” their au pairs cars), ones that will give a bit more than the $200 and take the au pair to exotic locations (but $500 makes me feel this family is asking for more than what au pairs are permitted to do under state department regulations and I would warn an au pair to think carefully before accepting it.) Our 2nd au pair lived with an extremely wealthy family in Chicago (11,000 sq ft home) before asking to transition because of the reasons many listed previously–she wanted to be part of a family.

Good luck finding a “perfect” au pair, but I would suggest they look for someone that could be a good fit, pay them what they are supposed to with some gifts and benefits here and there and make them part of the family. Otherwise, the au pair program is probably not the best choice for this family.

Host Mommy Dearest October 8, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Wealth does not make you bad – I do think many of the comments contained some conclusions about you that may be far from the truth. The comments did contain some very good points to consider about how wealth might be perceived by an AP candidate. Besides what other host families think, it might also be that she is worried about fitting in with other APs if she is driving a Benz, taking luxury vacations, and earning twice as much money for half their hours. Friends are really important to APs, and it might be challenging to make some with all that.

Long Island Host Mom October 8, 2011 at 9:43 pm

OK. This post really does sound fake. Why do you need an au pair ? Why would you pay that much and provide so many additional “benefits” that are not required in this program ?? Many au pairs come here to live like most Americans…And you are trying to attract a GOLD DIGGER. A normal Au Pair with the right intentions – wouldnt pick your family – cause that au pair wants to come and be a part of a family…not an addition. Lots of $, fancy cars, expensive vacations, your own apartment ??? All you are gonna do is end up with someone that could care less about your family and your kids and doing a good job…all they want is your $$$. So lets be realistic here. All your wealth and what you are offering isnt what the program is about. Today we just picked up our new AP – this is our 3rd in so many months – BUT I think this one is gonna be a keeper. She was in rematch and left a wealthy family – with pool, big house, nice cars etc etc…and she could care less. She asked for the rematch…She just didnt feel like part of the family and the HM was less than nice to her and wondered why she was willing to give this all up. I told her we dont have all of this and no car for her use…and her response was She didnt care – she just wanted to be with a loving family who would treat her as part of the family ! So really – depends on what you are each looking for and obviously – this AP was looking for something that she didnt think you could offer = just because you offered her too much and all she probably wanted was sincerety and feel like she can live with you family and feel like she was a part of that family…CONGRATS to her for making the right choice and not grabbing for the brass ring !!

DarthaStewart October 8, 2011 at 11:11 pm

Maybe you should offer less? Seriously. Don’t go hog wild on the stipend and other benefits. And please don’t mention the model of car.

We found better luck with finding au-pairs and not telling them about many of the perks we offer (vacations, car, etc)

NorCalMom October 9, 2011 at 12:01 am

I would suggest aiming for older au pairs, ages 25-26, who may be used to living on their own and therefore may welcome the idea of a separate apartment.

If you are aiming for 21 year olds, I think the thought of living alone, away from the family, seems less of a family & cultural exchange and more of an employee relationship. Early twenties is still a pretty young woman, and moving to a new country can be scary.

I definitely would not mention how new & expensive the car is – that is a lot of pressure!

Good luck – I am sure you can find the right fit – but I do encourage you to focus your discussions with potential au pairs on those aspects of the experience that most closely align to your values and goals for the experience, so that you can all determine if your goals align with each other.

a October 9, 2011 at 6:24 am

Most of these comments have good points (though I agree with TACL when she says that some are also very snarky), but I also think that we can’t assume all au pairs would have the same reaction.

For example, not every au pair wants to be a part of the family, and if they don’t, that’s ok too. And for this type of au pair, a separate condo would be great. And for some au pairs… double stipend might be a huge incentive. And that doesn’t necessarily make them gold diggers. Some au pairs want to have more of an employee/er relationship instead of a familial one, and that’s ok.

I’m just trying to play a little bit of the devil’s advocate. I worked for one family that was very into the ‘part of the family’ aspect of the program, but I was miserable. I found them too prying, and too into my business for my comfort level, but I know that they had had successful matches with girls who obviously weren’t bothered.

Then I switched to another family in a big city, where I had my own apartment, had my own room on vacations, and had double the stipend. I can’t lie and say those perks didn’t play a part in my decision- they played a huge part in my choice! But I was happy, and I loved the kids, and I’ll never regret switching families.

So… I think this HM’s biggest downfall was taking a year to match and putting all of her eggs in one basket. Spending so much time and then being disappoint has to be devastating. I would always keep a few on the line, just in case it falls through again like this.

I don’t necessarily think there’s anything wrong with the perks she is offering- is she can afford it and is happy to give them, why not? And the au pair they eventually match with won’t necessarily be a gold digger- she might be a fine au pair who honestly appreciates having double salary- who wouldn’t like that! :)

AFHostMom October 9, 2011 at 10:30 am

I read most of the comments but I didn’t see this mentioned; it sounds from your emails like you are not a native English speaker, and perhaps the AP wanted the “true American experience” and considered that important. I may be wrong of course about your background but your emails don’t read like English is your first language.

Reb October 9, 2011 at 1:23 pm

I would like to think finding a host family/au pair is similar to finding a partner (not on all levels, but the basics).
It does not matter how wealthy a person is or how eager a person is, it is about feeling comfortable with that person and I suppose connecting with each other. Most people would not choose their partner based on money and I very much doubt many au pairs choose their host family based on money.
Money does not make you happy (it may make things easier, but it does not make you happy).

Maybe it was nothing you did/said, maybe she just felt the other family was the right one for her! I would not dwell on an au pair declining your offer, just keep looking and I am sure you will find a perfect au pair for YOU.
(Surely she was not the perfect au pair for you since she said no..)

Good luck

anonmom October 9, 2011 at 10:02 pm

wow, there are a lot of insightful comments here in response, both from au pairs and families. The fist thing I though of by this, was ‘what is the host mom trying to hide” by offering all the bonuses. I won’t repeat all that was said here, but I do have a comment regarding the family issue.

One of our first au pairs was incredible- on paper and in photos. This was pre-skype! She had no less than 21 different host families call her (and of course email). I remember praying she would pick our family, because I had a gut feeling that she was the right fit for us, but I did not press her for an answer. A short time after her arrival, when we were speaking about her choice for our family, I asked her, “Why?” did she choose us over some of the other families with similar offers like OP. She even showed me some of the emails from them- and what some families ‘promised’ her. Our family is far from wealthy, and the house is lacking many things- including being tidy. Her reply was that I was the only person who laughed with her on the phone, and that she felt like it would be more like living with a family when she was here. It was important to her to BE part of a family. She was offered a separate apartment by one family, a chance to meet the US president with another, and the list continued. I just promised her that it would be one chaotic year with a crazy American family. Perhaps if the original poster thinks back to how she approached speaking with this au pair, and why on earth it took a year, then maybe the au pair is not what she needs. It appears she is looking for someone else to keep her company with the kids, after all, if she has that amount of money, then why does she even need an au pair?

AuPairToBe October 10, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Really nice text. It’s exactly what I think about families that is showing too much off.
I would like a family that gives me an particular car, days off and less work. But actually I am not leaving my country to be a posh, I am leaving to work in something that I love and experiencing, what I think will be the greatest years of my life. And for many Au Pairs that are going without an agency it’s even worst. That’s lots of scammers trying to book with and au pair and the last think that the girl will see it’s some felon that it’s trying to make her sex for money, or sell her organs, come on everything is possible.
And I really thing that the matching process must be for a simple question of respect, the au pair has to love kids, and work with them. If you promise her the world she won’t match you because of that, but because of your money.

I'm the AUPAIR this post is about. October 10, 2011 at 5:47 pm

As the title says, I am the prospective au pair this post is about.
In my opinion, someone was a little too harsh on the host mom, on the other side, some of you did raise very good points. I would like to clarify some points before the “how on earth could I turn down such a great offer” part.
So, first of all I am sure the offer was real. This family is with an agency, so their identity is checked and so is their offer, even if the agency disagreed on this last one. I guess they were just looking for more options on pre-match websites; anyways, I know why they were looking for an AuPair and not for a nanny but I’m not going into details about the family, the host mom will surely explain herself and say everything she needs to say on her defense when she comments here.
There is one more thing I’d like to say though, to those who stated that with an offer like that, the host mom could only get gold diggers… maybe you didn’t pay attention to the post, but she did NOT make this offer while introducing her family, she pretended they were a middle class family until she was sure I wasn’t considering her family only because of the benefits. (to the person who pointed out that her reaction after I turned them down was contradictory, couldn’t agree more).

Now, as the host mom already wrote, I explained why I was not choosing her family (oh, well I thought I did) in the video and honestly I am sorry that me turning the offer down called the HM into question in this way, I really didn’t want her to think that I didn’t chose her family because of something they did wrong. For conversation’s sake I’m going to call the host mom “L”.
L, your offer was actually pretty amazing, and yes, the city you’re living in was priceless for me (*for everyonelse* I lived there before) and you know how much I clicked with the kids on skype.
If this makes any sense, I feel like I PICKED THE OTHER FAMILY instead of “not picking you”. Maybe it’s easier if I put it this way: if this other family wasn’t among the ones who contacted me, I would have probably chosen you over all the others, and nope, not because of the benefits, even if you know how appreciated each and every one was, but because I actually liked you and thought we could be a good match.
But the truth is, I had my heart set on another family, and as bad as a part of me was pushing for Chicago, there is not much you can do when someone FEELS RIGHT. I’m 21, yes, but I’ve learned that when something feels right, your emotional guidance system lets you know. Feelings are like the GPS system of our life, and at some point you need to trust your gut. And these people I ended up choosing – and who chose me – they just felt so right I couldn’t help but say yes. *For the record, everything that happened after we matched was a confirm that there was no better host family -FOR ME- I could have chosen.
And this is not something you could have done anything about, and it’s not going to change depending on how many more perks you add to the “offer”. Speaking of which, since the aim of your post was to ask for advice on “what you did wrong”, being honest there is one thing I can say here. If the kind of AP you are looking for is someone close to my personality, you are not going to get what you want by offering more $ or benefits. I was flattered by “how bad you wanted me”, but I like to believe that I’m not for sale, and maybe, if you believed I was, then I’m not the kind of person you though I was and you’re looking for.
I have found out that your daughter was really sad that I wasn’t coming, so I would suggest next time you are trying to make someone like me change his mind, maybe you should just pick up the phone and go: “hey, are you sure your answer is final? X an Y are heartbroken, they really wanted YOU”. Now I’m not saying that would have changed my mind immediately, but I am positive it would have given me a very hard time making a decision – and it surely would have worked out better than increasing the offer until I said yes… This is the only “spot” I can point out. All of this being said, please don’t give up on the program just because of me, I am sure there are wonderful au pairs out there that would be a great match for you. And if I can add a little suggestion here, don’t expect anyone to be perfect; besides from bringing a lot of pressure on the person, you will probably end up disappointed.. as amazing as the AP you’ll find will be, she’s still going to be human, and everything that comes with it, included not being perfect… Good luck with the new search ;)

Should be working October 11, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Interesting to hear this perspective, and good to consider that adding perks is not really the way to land your preferred AP candidate. The suggestion to mention the kids’ sadness, however, seems to me manipulative. In fact it raises for me the question of how appropriate it is to let the kids be part of the decision at all. I know lots of families do let kids skype and talk with the au pair, but I feel like that is toying with my kids’ feelings and it is not fair to anyone. My girl could get all excited about an au pair interviewee because of her beautiful HAIR, for instance, and might give the cold shoulder to the one we eventually pick based on that. Not fair to anyone.

I'm the AUPAIR this post is about. October 12, 2011 at 2:19 pm

@should be working I understand what you mean by that, even if I admit I’ve never seen it this way, or maybe I didn’t even explain myself very well. What I meant is that provided my personality, knowing something like the fact that the kids I clicked with were upset because of my decision would have worked better than adding benefits to the offer (in other words, she should have pushed on the emotion sphere instead of the material one). That said, I don’t know how popular is to involve the kids in the matching process, or how fair it is, but I can say I skyped with several host families and every and each one I spoke with, (made exception for the ones with babies obviously unable to skype) had their kids part of the process. I don’t know how much did their opinion count but I know for sure that they were somehow involved in the process

MommyMia October 13, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Good for you, “I’m the AP…”. You sound like a wonderful person with great values, you communicate very well, and I’m sure with your attitude and outlook, you’re going to have a fabulous year with the family that your heart told you was the right one!

Tara October 11, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Bleh. I thought there was a mysterious reason for having not picked the family.

E2 October 12, 2011 at 2:00 am

Very weird choice for a post, CV. I don’t think most of us readers could compare ourselves to this family (I also read it as a joke).

cv harquail October 12, 2011 at 8:19 am

Hi E2-

Yes, it is a weird post/issue….I was not actually going to post it — I sat on it for over two months– b/c I thought the whole thing was both weird and largely irrelevant to the blog’s main participants/readership. But, this host mom emailed me several (and I mean several) times, begging that her issue get some air time and advice, so here it is.

Just FYI, there is often interesting backstory connected with these issues/emails… and it turns out that this issue kicked up some useful conversations off-line. So it was helpful for a few host families and au pairs, even if off target for most.

That said, the bigger issue here is about trying to ‘buy’ loyalty, enthusiasm, etc. by providing an au pair with more than what’s expected. The Amenities Arms Race
is bad for everyone.


Tristatemom October 12, 2011 at 10:04 am

Wow, she badgered you several times to publish this? And she never took the time to answer some of the follow-up questions that were posed here?

Combine that with the response of “the au pair this post was about,” I think we have all been had.

Penn AP Mom October 12, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Thanks for remembering the “amenities arms race”. I’ve always hated the idea of “buying” an au pair, especially as the program is advertised as being part of a family!
When I read this post, what bothered me the most was the fact that LakeShoreMom seemed to want us to tell her how to change the au pairs mind. Again, this goes against the spirit of the program – would you try to steal someone else’s family member? And why would other host families condone that sort of behavior?
I really found this whole post bewildering and think that Au Pair who this is about is well out of that family.

Candidate Au Pair October 14, 2011 at 10:50 am

I understand you, but I am a Au Pair, and I am very sad, because happend the almost same with me. I talked with a family this week and I really liked them. The host mother seemed be a great person. I Felt a good energy with them, but They going out the my profile and I send her an e-mail e don´t received a answer… I don´t know why. They aren´t rich or have many things, but They have a beautiful family, and I would do a match with them. I hope that it be a mistake the site. But I am very sad. I know how it feels to be rejected.

NorCaMom October 14, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Hi, @Candidate – with our agency, we only get to “keep” you in our profile for a few days, then you are “released” back out so that other families may also view your profile. It might be as simple as that, combined with travel that has put your prospective HF out of touch for a bit.

On the other hand – if proactive communication is important to you and you are not receiving a timely reply – well, consider that for yourself as well! You want to ensure you are with a family who you feel respects you.

Good luck!

Taking a Computer Lunch October 16, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Different agencies have different rules about how long one may keep an AP application in one’s folder. In my agency, we have 7 days to consider an AP, and another 7 after we’ve indicated that we’re interested in interviewing an AP to keep their application in our folder. We do have the option of retrieving a candidate’s profile and putting in back into our folder — until the candidate matches.

As a HM, I find acceptable for candidates to express sadness or concern when their profile slips out of my folder – sometimes it happens without my noticing (because we have a special needs child, DH and I can take over a month to match). When a candidate contacts me, it signals to me interest in the match.

When I do match, I notify all the candidates who remained in my folder that I have made a decision so they know where they stand.

Heloisa November 7, 2011 at 4:53 pm


I am a future Au Pair, and by chance got into this blog, when I finished reading what you wrote, I confess that I cried.

Any girl would be honored to have you as family.
The money is often important, but I think what’s more important what you can offer Au Pair. Being part of a new family is perfect, learn from you is all you want.

I’m sure you will find a perfect Au Pair, she will surely love being with you and the opportunities you are giving.
I hope to find a family like yours. would be very good for my life

I do not have a blog, but I have facebook and e-Mail, if you’d like to say something.
I’m sorry you missed a word, or something. As I am Brazilian and even a little mistake in English

Good luck!

Comments on this entry are closed.