Some issues are just too awkward to talk about.
But we have to talk about them anyway, because these are the very issues that keep host parents and au pairs from really connecting.
We’ve hit some of these issues already– contraceptives, personal safety, swimming when she has her period (I told you they were awkward!), crazy elements in an au pair’s social life, when the host parents are thinking of divorce, and more.
Now we get to talk about another one:
What to do when your au pair doesn’t bathe, doesn’t shower, doesn’t wash her hair, and as a result, kinda smells.
Dear Au Pair Mom-
We love our au pair. She’s wonderful with our girls, kind, loving and fun to be with. We like her as a person, and we feel very blessed to have her with our family.
Except for one thing: Her personal hygene habits leave a lot to be desired.
This weekend, she is away with friends, and I have opened all the windows in her bedroom to air it out. Our cleaning lady has taken it upon herself to clean our au pair’s room, because even our cleaning lady can’t bear the body odor smell that wafts out the doorway.
The house and home things we can deal with. We can ask her to wash her sheets, our cleaning lady can vacuum and wash towels, but obviously we can’t treat her like one of our toddlers and just pop her into the bathtub when she gets smelly.
What can we do? How do we talk with her about this? HMw/SensitiveNose
This IS an awkward one. I’m sure that AuPairMom readers will have some ideas for you. Here are mine, just to get us started.
- Describe the problem as a cultural difference.
Tell her that in your country (not the USA, by the way), people pay atttention to the cleanlieness of others. Tell her that in general, people in your country shower/bathe 3x a week, and wash their hair 2x a week. Tell her that people in your country wear deodorant.
- Gently note to her that her own bathing schedule does not fit that cultural expectation. Suggest that, as a result, other people might be evaluating her negatively or even avoiding her.
- Ask her if there is anything that keeps her from bathing more often.
Does she worry that there isn’t enough hot water? Does she need a hairdryer?
- Tell her that you know that hygiene is a difficult thing to talk about because it is so personal.
- Tell her that the only reason you’re even bringing it up is because you like her so, so much.
You want her to fit in easily with all the people she’ll meet. And, you want her to be happy.
Readers, what else could HMwSensitiveNose do, to get her au pair to bathe more often?
How can we make it easier to talk with each other about these difficult topics?
[ note: it’s summer in the host mom’s country, and the au pair is from North America.]