Kids and parents want different things. Kids want to stay up, parents want to go to sleep. Kids want to make a mess, parents want that mess cleaned up (eventually). Kids get engaged in fun and learning, while parents must take care of safety, nutrition, and other not-quite-as-fun stuff. We have different sets of priorities.
Kids and parents want different things in an Au Pair.
When we parents choose an au pair, we’re usually looking for an au pair whose talents, skills, and interests will work with our kids’ needs. We also look for an au pair whose personal style will fit with our adult preferences.
Although the au pair is “for” the kids, most of the difficulty in an au pair-host parent relationship comes from host parent-au pair misfit. So it makes sense that we parents would use our own criteria when we look for au pairs, and when we work to shape the au pair’s interactions with us and our kids.
As one host mom writes,
I’m feeling some tension between what my kids want in an au pair, and what I want in an au pair.
Our new AP has a lively, fun, and positive personality. My kids really seem to like her.
While, I’m glad that my kids are happy with her, I’m beginning to feel a struggle. Compared to our previous au pair, this au pair seems like she’ll need more ‘managing’. She’s not getting the basic life-care things done.
For example, when I get home from work the house that needs straightening, the kids aren’t properly dressed and fed (ie., teeth brushed, healthy snacks), etc. That said, the kids are safe and are having a great time with each other. It may be that our au pair is too much fun and not enough keeping things straight.
And, I am starting to resent it when I find myself playing the ‘not fun’ one– directing the kids what to do, picking up after everyone, and feeling grumpy about how things are going.
How can I balance that I need something more in an au pair with the fact that she’s clearly giving the kids all the fun and (basic) care that they want?