Given all the work that we put into matching our family situation with just the right au pair, it can feel pretty painful when– all of a sudden– your family situation changes. Adopting a baby, getting a divorce, moving across the country, moving to a new house starting home renovations, getting a dog, … you get the picture.
Stuff happens, life happens, and we need to adjust.
The challenge is that each of our au pairs has come on board with a set of expectations painted for them by our conversations as we’ve matched. We’ve told them what to expect, so when unexpected things happen in can be a shock to our au pair too.
A neighbor of mine writes with a common situation for parents who are self-employed or part of the freelance economy. Her work status has changed abruptly, albeit temporarily, and now she finds herself being an au pair’s potential nightmare– a work at home mom.
You know, the kind of host mom who is just an office door away, can hear EVERYTHING, and who all the kids know is really right there, if they only scream loudly enough.
Dear Au Pair Mom– I’m sooooo sorry it’s taken me this long to find your blog. I’ve been desperate for this type of online community for the past 4 yrs and am so relieved to find and learn from you and your contributors.
I have a great au pair and a challenging new situation — We are currently matched with our 5th au pair. We have a 4yo daughter and 20mos old son.
Our current au pair arrived in late January from Colombia. She is 25 with *exceptional* English and a college and post-grad degree. She comes from (what I gather) is an affluent family but she is incredibly driven and responsible. She’s been our best yet – which says a lot because we have deep and lasting relationships with almost all our prior au pairs. We knew within the first month that we’d want to extend with her. Our kids adore her, and she adores them. She embodies the philosophy that “you get what you give” … she’s given us 110% and it’s come back to her 10-fold.
The problem is not our au pair…it’s me.
I am a self-employed marketing consultant and I work on long(ish) term assignments, usually at the client site 3-4 days a week with occasional work from home on smaller projects the other 2 days. My most recent assignment has been going on for 15 mos and was scheduled to last until early August. I found out this week that the budget has been cut – and so has my position. I was given 2 weeks’ notice.
Because this wasn’t anticipated, I don’t have an immediate next assignment lined up (but am actively looking).
I want to be respectful of my au pair and not “crowd” her since I expect I’ll be home a lot. Because I have younger kids, when Mommy is home, then tend to flock to me and it’s harder for her to keep them on task. I don’t want to overrule her or make her feel like I’m micromanaging. But I also want to use her so I can get some time for myself to get other things done both in and out of the house – and I don’t want to feel guilty about that.
She knew coming into the match that I work from home occasionally but she didn’t sign on to work with a full-time SAHM. I don’t want to sour what’s been a very promising and successful relationship so far. Any advice from HPs who’ve experienced a similar situation would be much appreciated – along with any best practices or things to watch out for.
I truly value this Au Pair Mom community and look forward to your thoughts.
Thanks! ~ FreelanceJerseyHostMom
see also: Tip for the Work-At-Home Parent with an Au Pair: Have Rules for Interruption
When you are available and your Au Pair is ‘on duty’ — how to manage?