We’re moving, and must rematch. How soon do we tell our au pair?

by cv harquail on September 23, 2010

We have a wonderful au pair who has been living with us for 2 months. Unfortunately, due to a family medical emergency, we need to relocate to the other coast within the next 6 weeks. We will not be able to take our au pair with us so she will need to rematch.201009231929.jpg

We want to give our au pair as much time as possible to find a new family, but we also need childcare for the next 6 weeks. When should we tell her?

I want her to have time to search for a new family, but I don’t want her leaving us before we move. Our contract implies au pair’s have about 2 weeks to rematch so do we give her 2 weeks? Can we tell her sooner but let her know that she won’t be available to move until x date (closer to when we relocate)?

We’re trying to create a smooth transition that works for everyone in this very stressful time, and so we’d love some advice. — RBD


Taking a Computer Lunch September 23, 2010 at 8:29 pm

If your AP has “perfect” skills – meaning she has a US driver’s license and your approval of her driving skills, speaks English well, and has been a great AP with you – chances are she’ll be snatched up by another family quickly. If her driving isn’t up to snuff, her receptive English is week, or you’d only give her a so-so evaluation, then it might very well take her 6 weeks to rematch (I know of this – last year’s AP interviewed with families from for three months before she found a beyond-the-last-minute family who would take her for her extension year).

First, call your LCC and explain the situation. If she’s been doing her job well, she should be able to give you good advice. Meanwhile, if your AP is sensitive and intelligent she’s going to figure out something’s up, so better to be out with it now, be clear that you wish she could come along, and tell her you’ll be happy to give her good recommendations to give her the best shot at rematching. And then, look her in the eye, and say that you understand she has to look out for herself, but that it would be much easier for you if she could stay until you move.

Cleo September 23, 2010 at 8:43 pm

Since she lives in your house, she’s bound to found out sooner or later…
She might resent you for not telling her so you could have continuous childcare until the end.
But what about her?

Europhile September 23, 2010 at 9:46 pm

I agree with both previous posters. When an AP wanted to leave us because of homesickness, I asked her to give us four weeks (which she did — she found it easier to cope once she had an end date in sight). This gave us enough time to conduct a proper search for a new AP. Two weeks are very tight, even if you have good credentials, because you want to shop around a little bit. That is true for both sides — APs and HPs. Don’t give her the bare minimum, she’ll resent it (and you) for it).

JBLV September 24, 2010 at 2:26 am

We were in a somewhat similar situation, though in our case we wanted to rematch because of a bad fit. Our au pair had a few months left on her contract with us after our contract with the agency ended. We used the end of the agency contract to rematch, and then we moved to a new agency. Though we knew a few months in advance that we wanted to move agencies, we decided not to tell the AP that she would need to rematch until about a month before our contract ended. A month was enough time for her to find a family she liked, and for us not to worry about lack of child care. It also gave her time to organize a going away party, and for us to do a few special things to say “good-bye.” (This AP was good with our son – though not as good as our current AP – but my husband and I did not get along with her very well. In the course of that 8-month match, we realized that our family and lifestyle clash horribly with princesses.)

We ruminated over when we should tell her about the rematch because we were worried she would get “short-timers syndrome,” find a family too quickly, etc. So, we also had a back-up childcare plan just in case she tanked on us. But we didn’t really need it. Things ended well. Our only regret was not rematching earlier because I think both the ex-AP and my husband and I are much happier now.

When you do tell your AP, I recommend writing a very positive letter of recommendation, and offering to help her find a new host family. She may feel insecure about her ability to find a family, and therefore panic and take a quick offer. We advised our AP to talk to several families before settling on one.

calif mom September 24, 2010 at 9:26 am

So sorry to hear of this turmoil in your family.

It’s going to be hard, but talking with her about it now really is the right thing–and the easier thing, in the long run, even though it may seem like it will just make the misery last longer.

It’s not only more respectful to tell her now, but that respect you send out into the world, so to speak, will come back to you in unforeseen ways. She will appreciate having more time to find a family, and you will feel less anxious about keeping this big ugly secret from her.

When we were in rematch and looking for a great candidate, we would have found a way to wait a couple weeks for a terrific local candidate in order to support a family facing this kind of situation. People are understanding.

(Except for princesses–they can’t put aside their ego-centrism, and only understand their own put-upon view of the world.)

Best wishes to you, your kids, your AP, and your whole family!

NoVA Host Mom September 24, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Honestly, I think it is only fair to give her full notice of the changes. It is a matter not only of respect, but also a matter of the difference for her to stay in the program or not. If she is not given time to find another family, and is unable to do so in a 2 week period, she will need to go home. That will deprive her of the opportunity she was looking for when she signed up. In addition, it’s not like she is locked in the basement (I hope ;) ) when she is not working. She is unlikely to not notice something is up (I can’t move in a short turn-around without chaos and mayhem), and better to be up front with her that she is not to be joining you. Be honest as to why. Nothing is gained by keeping secrets like this.

Is it possible she will be picked up quickly by another family? Of course, and I am sure part of you wants her to find a good and happy match easily. While it would benefit you best in the short term for her to not find someone quickly, it could harm her in the long run. Talk to your LCC, and get your Plan B, Plan C, etc., ready to go just in case. I think sometimes there are short-timers who are between matches (new match set up, but not ready) who might be able to come in and help out for 3 to 4 weeks or something. Maybe the LCC can help you with this. Otherwise, this is why we have other plans (even if we don’t like them very much).

Melissa September 24, 2010 at 4:00 pm

I agree with NoVAHostMom. I think you should tell her as soon as possible, out of respect and consideration for her. Particularly because it is a situation that is through no fault of her own and is based solely on the host family needs – emergencies happen, of course, but I think you should try to be as helpful as you can since this unexpectedly and significantly changes her AP year. As others have suggested, maybe you can share your concerns about timing with her and tell her that you’d like for her to stay with you as long as possible before you move. And maybe your LCC can help in that regard as well, to help try to find her a family that may not have an immediate need.

mike September 25, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Of course you should tell her. You would be very selfish not too. Sure, you need help, but you could get along without her in the next 6 weeks! It is her year abroad, why would you want her to bear the brunt of your family’s misfortune? Think about it – if this was your daugther and her year abroad, what would you want to happen? Once you put your SELF in her shoes, you know what you should do. Well, actually, you did know what the right thing to do was before you sent in this comment, you just wanted to have us, or someone from this blog, tell you otherwise, so you wouldn’t feel guilty.

Well, start feeling guitly and do the right thing! We all have to start treating our au pairs like they are real individuals with feelings and purpose and not just the “hired help.”

Host Mommy Dearest September 25, 2010 at 9:01 pm

The poster didn’t say they were planning to wait until 2 weeks until the move, it just mentions what is in the contract, explains their situation with a family member’s medical emergency, then asks for advice about the best time to tell the AP. I agree she needs to give the AP more than 2 weeks, but I don’t think she needs to feel guilty for asking for advice about the best timing. I think it is reasonable for the poster to use 1.5-2 weeks of the 6 weeks to get business in order, find out what other short-term childcare options might exist for them (Craigslist? Sittercity? other?) and then approach the AP with all the details of the change, perhaps with a written letter of recommendation in hand, and make sure the AP has at least a month to search for a new family. Training someone new for a short period of time is really stressful, so if it is at all possible to let your AP know that you are going to need extra help leading up to the move so you will be hiring someone to take some of the load off of her during that time, you can have a more gradual transition to the new temporary nanny should your AP find a new family before the 6 weeks is up.

DCgal September 27, 2010 at 12:59 am

I think you should tell her asap…like other people said before, it’s her year abroad. She’s only been here for 2 months and if she can’t find a new family she’s going home after not even half the time just because you didn’t tell her early enough…seems kinda selfish of you.
Tell her now and I’m sure there will be a way to work it out with you, her and new family.

Should be working January 20, 2012 at 8:09 pm

Returning to this thread, because the tag word is the closest to our topic although the situation is very different.

We are in matching, for summer arrival. I like early matching a lot, gets me the organized early birds who have thought ahead and aren’t just using the au pair year as a fall-back plan (or so I like to believe). We have a candidate I think is fabulous, except there is a boyfriend at home (see my other post on the old BBH thread). We haven’t matched officially yet.

I have now found out that it is probable that my husband and I are going to receive job offers in a near, but not immediate, future that would involve us moving across the country. We don’t know when the offers would be made and owing to negotiations they would not take their final shape for awhile after the initial offer.

It is very IMprobable that we will accept the jobs. I guess I’d estimate the likelihood at 3%.

We currently live in a place that au pairs find extremely desirable, and the new place would be ok, but not as desirable.

So I am wondering if this means that this great candidate, or any candidate, should be told that in 3-6 months we might, but probably won’t, decide to move–but in any case it would be before she even arrives. I can imagine this will be off-putting to au pair candidates, because location is important and especially our current location is very popular. Or do we match, and then if we decide to move we tell the AP and she has 3 months to find another family (and we have time to find another AP)?

I know that one way to look at this is that the AP should choose the family, not the place. But honestly she doesn’t even KNOW us yet, and really a lot of the match might in her mind be based on her ‘imagined life’ with us, and it might be hard to match when the ‘imagined life’ has a big question mark in front of it.

Any suggestions?

AFHostMom January 20, 2012 at 8:16 pm

SBW, I think telling someone about a 3% chance of moving is beyond the “good faith” requirement to fully disclose, and would only muddy the waters. I would have no qualms about not telling a candidate that. We moved within the last year (just across town, but moved nonetheless), and our new home had definite minuses for the ap–no parks within walking distance, farther to the train, a more remote area, but it also had pluses–a big back yard instead of a crowded townhouse, a better room for her, etc, so we considered it a wash. Maybe I have a skewed perspective because we’ve moved one time for every year we’ve been married (and had far more intl moves than cross town ones), but I think it would just unnecessarily create a potential issue.

cv harquail January 21, 2012 at 9:40 pm

I agree- I wouldn’t worry about it either. The odds are just as high that lots of other things “could” happen (good, bad, neutral) that would change your family’ situation, and it’s not like you’d suggest any of these to a potential au pair. Besides, your au pair is going to choose you based on the people you are, and the values you have, not where you live. ;-)

Melissa January 21, 2012 at 9:42 am

A 3% chance is next to nothing, so I wouldn’t even worry about mentioning it to her. It would likely just confuse the situation for no reason.

NHM January 21, 2012 at 3:19 pm

A move across country may be something exciting for the AuPair. Like this she would get to know 2 parts of the US rather than just one. Might be an upside?

cv harquail January 21, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Although, come to think of it, if potential au pairs find out just who “Should Be Working” actually is, all bets are off. (another wink)

Returning HM January 21, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Now, of course, we’re all dying to know who SBW is. Any chance your possible job is a political one??? If so, please know that DC is a GREAT place for APs… :-)

German Au-Pair January 21, 2012 at 10:55 pm

Yeah, that was mean, now everyone wants to know :D

Should be working January 22, 2012 at 11:36 am

Aw, CV, you promised me and Brad that you would never tell that I am on your blog! Now just wait for the paparazzi to scour this blog trying to get the skinny on all of ‘Brangelina’s’ au pair drama! ;)

Actually, the only reason I’m anonymous on here is to keep my APs from running into me telling our stories, isn’t that true for all of us?? Definitely not in politics, not in celebrity world, never been in a newspaper or magazine (although once my husband was quoted for an obscure NYT article in the Living section), and the move would be from a popular metro area to a small rural town. We’re nobody, I promise. CV–you have a mean wit!!

NoVA Host Mom January 22, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Hahahahahahaha! I knew it! We get free tix to the premieres, right? ;)

German Au-Pair January 23, 2012 at 9:44 am

If you were Angie your name would be “HowToHandleMy65Nannies” :D

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