Welcoming Your New Au Pair While You Say Goodbye To Your Former Au Pair.

by cv harquail on October 24, 2015

How do you manage to welcome a new Au Pair and create room in your heart for the Au Pair in your home, while you’re still missing your former Au Pair, the one who’s gone home?


This question is not so much about “overlap”, when you have two au pairs in your home. It’s more about managing the emotional space.

Share your thoughts here.


AuPair Paris October 24, 2015 at 5:42 pm

Can’t speak for host parents but it seems like my eldest host kid is managing the anticipation by being really, really, really rude, and acting like she hates me and I’m stupid all the time. Just keep repeating “she’s just distancing herself, she’s just distancing herself”. Must be so hard for the kids! (But the behaviour’s not so easy for me either. Sigh.)

German Au-Pair October 29, 2015 at 5:04 pm

Is she old enough to have a talk about it? I see her problem and I feel for her but I also thinki kids should be made aware of how their behavior affects other people…I would actually try telling her that her behavior hurts your feelings and you would love to try to have fun with her as long as you can.

AuPair Paris October 31, 2015 at 5:54 am

She is, but is also oblivious about (what I think are) the reasons of her own behaviour. I’m trying to stay as consistent as possible with consequences, but also affection. If it gets worse we’ll have to have a talk though.

Taking a Computer Lunch October 31, 2015 at 10:47 pm

Look, it’s just easier to say goodbye to someone if you’re mad at them. Find a quiet moment to tell her how much you’ve enjoyed living with her this year. Talk about some of the benchmark moments you’ve shared. Tell her you’ll always keep her in your heart. If she already has a cell and you’re willing to exchange contact information, then do. I don’t know how much kids are into PenPals anymore, but I used to write to the kids with whom I lived when I rented a room from their parents while I did my dissertation research. There comes a point, especially for tweens and teens when it is important for them to have relationships with adults on their own terms – and they value the adults who respect and honor that need.

AuPair Paris November 1, 2015 at 4:14 am

Thanks TaCL. These are good ideas. We email already (they have a thing about emailing me from downstairs, when I’m upstairs…), and I’ve made them promise to email when I’m home. (Not in a needy way. In a jokey way, because I find it’s easier to reassure them that *I’ll* stay in touch, if I pretend to be worried that *they* won’t.)

I don’t know. The other two will talk about it. Like “I have too many books to read! By the time I’ve finished this one, you’ll be home, and I’ll have to email you what I think!” or “when you’re at home, maybe you can send me galaxy chocolate bars? They’re SO good!”… But the eldest is not talking about it. I think she’s more sensitive about the whole AP program and having had so many caregivers leave.

WarmStateMomma November 2, 2015 at 12:58 pm

Agreed with TaCL.

We took our exchange students on a special vacation just before they left at the end of their year with us. One of the boys became moody and withdrawn during the trip when I wanted us to be making more fun memories together. My mom wisely realized that he was just upset about the upcoming separation and ending the experience. He is planning his *third* visit back to our home for Christmas this year.

Your HK may need you to help her learn how to say goodbye.

Taking a Computer Lunch October 24, 2015 at 10:27 pm

I must say, it gets easier with time. As we (and AP #11) start the countdown within our last month together, we prepare for the arrival of AP #12. It’s so different than it was 13 1/2 years ago or 11 years ago, etc., etc.

Be the adult to your departing AP. She does not want to hear about the excitement of your match. For a year, your kids have been “hers.” Even though she’s done and wants to move on, it means someone else will be hugging and playing with her kids, sleeping in her bed, and living the life she’s leaving behind. Try to see the world from her point of view and be gentle. I always tell my APs the hardest day of their year is their first day after orientation, when they wake up alone in our house and face the prospect of the year ago. The second hardest day is the last day, when they have to say goodbye.

APs are not just saying goodbye to you, but to their friends and the life they created for themselves. The majority of my APs had never really lived away from home before – even the majority of my European APs had never flown on an airplane before (much less alone to a new country). Be gentle, it’s an emotionally strenuous time for everyone. If you’re a first time HM, the grief can be intense – and the negative emotional distancing comes off as anger. After my first experience, I learned to sit my APs down and give voice to some of the emotions they are feeling.

Unless you’re really angry and burned out from a non-performing mediocre AP (btdt), then remember your incoming AP is your current AP’s successor, and she’ll never fill her shoes (at least not until your current AP departs). We all get to the point when we can’t wait for the arrival of the successor – that is, until the light bulb goes off and we remember what a pain in the neck training a new AP is! When your new AP hangs around the house, you’ll recall fondly the days when the outgoing AP had a group of friends with whom she had made plans!

I’m in goodbye/hello mode myself (fortunately – it took me 12 weeks to match this time – a record for my family). Be generous to the outgoing AP. Do give her time off to go say goodbye to a friend at the airport, but state, “I’m willing to do this because you’ve been working so hard. I know you’ll appreciate this extra time off.” The best goodbye present you can give is the empty box that you’re going to airmail home while she’s in her travel month. (The better the AP the bigger the box.)

My best APs have taken time to say goodbye to child #2 (for whom they are not primarily in charge) individually. It means a lot to him. (And quite frankly, he always takes the AP’s side – even when she is wrong, so it means a lot to him to go out for a good-bye ice cream.)

As a HP, it’s easy to miss the outgoing AP. She knew the tasks that made up her job (even if she needed coaching on the finer points once in a while – or frequently), she knew the kids, and she had a life. It’s very exciting to welcome a new AP into your home, and then you recall all the things you hate about the rawness of the new – the homesickness, teaching the tasks that make up the job, being the entertainment until other APs reach out and she develops a life. New isn’t always better – sometimes it’s just new.

AlwaysHopeful HM October 25, 2015 at 4:02 pm

Oh, this is SO hard! We talk here quite often about the adjustment the children need to make when a new au pair arrives, but I find it to be crazy hard myself as a hostmom. Maybe even more so, because I have the responsibility of making sure everyone is okay– that the new au pair feels welcomed, that my son is okay, that the previous au pair doesn’t feel slighted… all the time trying to manage my own sadness that we may possibly have seen this friend for the last time. Not necessarily, of course, but you know, life gets in the way.

We take a “part of the family” approach to our au pairs, so we’ve had a year of hugs and smiles and disagreements and tears and inside jokes and just everyday togetherness. So, when this person leaves, there is a huge hole there. It’s normal, and expected, and it gets better of course, but it’s really difficult in the beginning, and especially difficult to put on a best face for the poor new au pair who we REALLY WANT to be there, but who by no fault of his or her own is showing up right when we are at the bottom of our emotional energy cycle.

I can’t really offer good advice on this one, although I have found that having a little break of a couple of weeks in between au pairs helps take the edge off a bit. If nothing else, it reminds me that emotions be dammned! I need a new au pair to start pronto!!

Mimi October 29, 2015 at 6:09 pm

We usually have small breaks in between ours, too. It helps and that’s when we start ramping up excitement for a new family member to join us.

We otherwise stay in touch until they are home and then go to birthday/Christmas cards/gifts, periodic Skyping, and emails or FB posts when something has reminded them of us or vice versa. When we skype, we include our new AP (who usually is FB friends with all previous APs anyway and have likely met all of them at some point since 2 live nearby and the others often visit during the year). Like WestMom says, it’s being part of a legacy and not about competition.

It will be interesting to see how time goes on for the APs that went into rematch with us. We don’t initiate contact with them but they have stayed in touch through FB or email, but not the same way our other APs have and definitely not as frequently. I’m sure they will eventually fade away entirely.

meanwhile in canada October 25, 2015 at 8:05 pm

I am now almost exactly 2 months into my second year as a host mum. The distancing phase we experienced with our first AP was heartbreaking for me, as she really became such an integral part of our family. I knew it was coming & it was still hard. Awful really. As a good bye gift, we got her a box of little things that represented each of us & experiences or inside jokes she’d shared (book she read a million times with the baby, small package of our favourite tea, etc)
I’m hyper aware of our current APs feelings when I talk about AP1 (so I really don’t do it very much & am conscious of HOW I’m doing it), but I don’t want to NOT talk about her because she is a part of our family & it would be really weird, because we’re pretty tradition oriented & for example carving pumpkins this year reminds us of doing it last year with AP1. I guess it’s a process :) I’m in touch with AP1 at least once per week on Whatsapp to let her know what’s going on with us & we’re putting together her Christmas package already. But I sometimes find it challenging to balance really being present with AP2 (who is AMAZING with the children & whom we’re working at getting to know) with missing AP1.

WestMom October 26, 2015 at 12:32 pm

While saying goodbye remains hard each year, it does get easier with the years. I remember how hard it was to let AP1 go, and we remained in touch regularly. I tried hard to avoid comparisons, or talk about AP1 too often. But it’s different now… After 7APs, when I talk about carving pumpkins, or other special moments, I have many anecdotes to share about all our past APs. One day I might mention a funny story with AP1, but then I might mention AP4 or other. And I think this feels different for the new AP: It’s not so much about comparison, but about being part of a legacy.

meanwhile in canada October 26, 2015 at 7:47 pm

Thanks WestMom :) I don’t think we’ll get to that kind of a legacy (we’ll probably not continue once my youngest is in school full time) but I like that idea. I also see it as part & parcel of “part of the family”.

WestMom October 27, 2015 at 8:50 am

You never know MIC… Many say they will discontinue with the program once the kids are in school… But once you drink the kool-aid, it’s hard to give it up!… Unless you actually are in Canada and can take advantage of the great before and after school programs we don’t have here in the US :(

TexasHM October 27, 2015 at 2:54 pm

100% agreed WestMom! We were one of those families that said we would host until they were all school aged and well…this is when having an AP rocks!!! Funny timing on this post because I have days where I don’t know how much longer I can host and it’s largely tied to the emotional investment we make in these awesome ladies and how much it kills me each time to start over (both the letting them go and the pain of training anew so its doubly painful).

meanwhile in canada October 27, 2015 at 10:14 pm

Ha WestMom :)
I really am in Canada, so before/after care is a feasible option for us once everyone is at school full time. ;)

WarmStateMomma October 26, 2015 at 12:53 pm

This is so hard! AP#2 has this amazing personality and was such a big part of our family. She went through our highest highs and lowest lows with us during her year. The “light touch” contacts have generally worked best for us.

AP#2 knew my girls better than anyone else but me and she’s the one I’d message about when one of them did something new, funny or brilliant. My husband rolls his eyes when I brag about our girls, but the APs are just as ridiculously proud of them as I am so we are a receptive audience for each other when one of us “needs” to gush over the latest proof of my daughter’s genius.

Our current AP has befriended her successor and arranges Facetime chats for her with the kids. We mailed AP#2 a package of my toddler’s art projects for no special reason and she was thrilled to open it after a tough week at work.

WarmStateMomma October 31, 2015 at 11:19 am

Light touch idea – share Halloween photos. Our last AP just texted me hers and I know she will be happy to see ones of the kids.

Taking a Computer Lunch October 31, 2015 at 10:42 pm

We make sure we take a family photo with our outgoing AP – we usually remember just before she starts her travel month, but the photos are ready and waiting for her when she returns from her U.S. travels and prepares to head home. We also do one photo with just the kids.

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