When your Au Pair schedules her vacation…when you need her to be working

by cv harquail on July 14, 2012

The recommended approach to scheduling an au pair’s vacation time is rational and fair... at least in our eyes.

We choose one week that we need her/him to take vacation (usually when we are traveling with kids and don’t need her, or when Grandma is visiting) and the we have her pick a week that suits her (way in advance, so that we can plan for childcare). Often, our au pairs have saved a vacation week to take at the end of their year so that they have a stipend for at least one week of their travel. We’ve also had au pairs use up about half of their two weeks of vacation by taking a few days here or there.

Pile of suitcases from your au pairAlways, we need our au pair to make plans in advance so that we can cover our childcare needs another way.

Sure, I could occasionally plan to work at home or even take a day off myself, but that’s only when I’ve had the luxury of scheduling my own work time. (That’s somewhat easier for me as an academic and a consultant, than it would be for someone with a set work week routine.)

All the good au pairs understand that their vacation time needs to be coordinated with our families’ schedules. And, thoughtful host parents do their best to give their au pairs a combination of vacation days that we set and vacation days that they choose.

Problems occur when we host parents don’t know what we need in time to schedule vacation or close off vacation, when we host parents don’t address vacation planning proactivly and way in advance, and when au pairs buy non-refundable travel tickets or invite friends to visit and vacation with them without clearing it with their host family first.

Galavanter’s Host Mom wrote, below, with her situation… she’s got some practical problems about what to do now that the conflict has occured, and she has some hurt feelings and questions about whose needs should take priority. Read to give some advice?

Dear Au Pair Mom,

Our au pair, who has been with us for five months, scheduled a week-long vacation with her friends to Mexico without asking us first. That’s problem #1.

The other problem is that her vacation partially overlaps a two-legged vacation that my husband and I are planning. My husband has a four-day job interview trip, after which we have a week-long family reunion. We’ve been on the fence as to whether I would go on the interview trip, because my vacation days, as well as our cash, are running a bit short. This is the time during which my au pair is going to be away, meaning that I’m forced to either pay to go on the interview trip anyway, using up every last vacation day I have for the year, or stay home and either pay for expensive drop-in care or beg one of the grandparents to make a 10+ hour trip to watch their granddaughter for a few days.

If we had been given the chance to come up with a mutually-agreed upon vacation time, we would obviously have had our au pair take her vacation while we were at the reunion. As it is, she is going to be forced to take the remaining week of her vacation days while we are away.

Our LCC said that if push came to shove, the au pair should reschedule the vacation at her own expense. However, she is going with friends, and I don’t have the heart to punish her that way, nor inconvenience and penalize her two trip companions. I’m starting to feel that simply “losing” her last week of vacation to sitting around the house alone may be enough of a penalty. At least that’s one less week of back-up care to work out later in the year.

Still, my husband and I feel used and hurt. Interested in getting feedback/encouragement/advice, as well as hearing other similar stories.

Galavanter’s Host Mom


See also:
10 Days of Work that Might Surprise Your Au Pair
Poll: How long, exactly, is “two weeks vacation”?
It’s YOUR vacation, not hers. Okay?
Don’t take your Au Pair on vacation during her first 3 months!

Image : SuitcasesAttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by Fatty Tuna


Taking a Computer Lunch July 14, 2012 at 8:17 pm

My first LCC (I have been hosting for over 11 years) said “Think of this – one week of vacation is at your AP’s convenience, the other is at yours.”

However, what is done is done. You don’t want to punish your AP for booking first and asking later, and so you and your husband are going to make it work. Have you been explicit with her, “I really wish you had asked first, because now…” If you are, then you can be explicit that she is to ask first before making any plans, whether it is travel, attending a rock concert, or going away for a weekend with friends. (Since it sounds like she has some months left in her stay.)

Here’s my advice:

1) Be pro-active. If you know you have a family reunion, wedding, kids in sleep-away camp, or other event for which you will either not need your AP or will not be upset if she chooses to stay at home, put it into your handbook and be explicit when you have your first calendar communication (before she arrives, after she arrives, or when you need her to plan a vacation). For example, DH and I put our kids in sleep-away camp for the same week, and make it clear to our AP that that will be one vacation week in her year (it usually comes at the end of her year). Next year, we hope to travel to attend the wedding of AP #4, but cannot afford to take our AP – we’ll give her a bonus week off instead.

2) If you work outside the home and planning time off is difficult, then put it in your handbook – any time off must be agreed upon 5 weeks in advance. That gives you plenty of time to tell your boss(es), make alternative arrangements, and request back-up help. I write into my handbook that the other week over MUST be taken during the school year (I now have school-age children – I didn’t when I started hosting). It is easier for DH to take an hour of leave in the morning and for me to take an hour in the afternoon while the kids are in school, than to pay someone to care for the kids in the summer. I start reminding APs who haven’t used up that pre-summer week (or talked about it) by March, that they have 2 plans to plan a trip or have a staycation.

3) Communicate. This goes with being pro-active. Don’t wait for your AP to bring up the topic of vacation. She may feel shy or unsure of herself. If either your or your partner is planning work travel, tell your AP when the trip is booked. “X is going to Y in this week. I will need you to work to help me balance work and home.” Warn your AP that while businesses in their country might close down for Christmas week, yours doesn’t, and tell her explicitly if you need her to work so you may go to work.

4) Be prepared to bend. There are just times as a HP that you have to draw in your breath and accept that the vacation situation is not ideal. AP #2 agreed to extend only if she could return home and get a new visa (which meant her booking travel before the 8th month paperwork was due). I agreed and she booked her flight. Lo and behold, DH was assigned to a work trip for which he could not back out. I sucked in my breath, warned my boss I would be working short days that week, and accepted my lot in life. (Fortunately for me the Camel is medically fragile, so I am able to use either sick time or vacation time to care for her.)

5) Call in the troops – ask your sister, your mother, your sister-in-law, or hire a babysitter to help you make it through the week. Remember – you’ll owe them (unless it’s a babysitter – then you’ll remember why having an AP is great! and hug her when she returns!).

6) Be nice. Having to take time off on someone else’s schedule is never fun, and sometimes more than a little irritating. Let it go, don’t speak ill. If you love your AP, think of it as your reward for her hard work – buy her a map or a guide book for the place she is going to visit. If you’ve been there, tell her what you think is a must-see venue. Be positive, be clear that she’s earned her vacation, and be happy for her. (In other words – cast out that grudge!)

7) Take time out to be with your kids. Do something special, be silly, cook their favorite foods. Remember why you had them in the first place. One of my favorite memories was going to a museum with my son, lying on the floor and looking up at some mobiles casting shadows on the walls. We weren’t breaking rules, but he learned that his mom knew that it was okay to think about art outside the box. Have some time to connect with your kids – you won’t get this time back in the future.

8) Not happy with how the vacation situation turned out with this AP. Put it in the handbook for the next one!

au pair July 14, 2012 at 10:25 pm

taking a computer lunch: it doesn’t have anything to do with the topic, but i read a lot of your coments, and i just wanted to let you know, that i think you are an awesome hostmom! i hope your au pairs know that!

Cv July 14, 2012 at 10:49 pm

AuPair , you are a smart woman. Yes TACL pretty much rocks the host mom world. ;-)

Taking a Computer Lunch July 15, 2012 at 1:41 pm

Shucks, you’re giving me a swelled head.

Seriously, I have a do-under-others approach to being a HM. I do my best to think before I open my mouth, to treat my APs as the great human beings they are, and to follow the rules of the AP program. I also know that my APs work really hard (The Camel weeds out good-time party girls who cannot image caring for a teenager in diapers). I can’t reward them with material things, but I can do my best to be fair.

Personally, I would discourage saving vacation time for the travel month. Even though we Americans tend to hoard our vacation time, our APs have one year, two at most, to travel and explore the United States. Before my kids went to sleep-away camp for a week, my APs had difficulties using up their time. I paid nearly $500 in part-time babysitting one summer (if you think hosting an AP is expensive, try paying an hourly wage for a child with special needs! and for driving a typical child to and from day camp). That experience alone taught me to put this line in my handbook, “Vacation time is to be taken while the children are in school.” I start having a conversation in March if there is time to be used before June!

If I wanted to be a stickler about it, I could charge my APs holiday time for not joining us on family travel (you know, the long weekend to stay at a family members tiny house that really can’t accommodate a family, much less a family and an AP), but I don’t. If I’m taking time off from work, I don’t really NEED an AP to care for my kids. Thanks to tips here, I have asked for some thorough cleaning and organizing, but no so much that it equal child care time!

I also don’t limit time off to the two-week minimum. If I don’t need any help on a federal holiday, I grant that day off (my APs get a bonus next year – inauguration day). I haven’t charge time against APs who have asked for an evening off to go to a rock concert, either. I have found that by giving a little flexibility, I gain a lot back.

On the other hand, I’m not a pushover. The AP who didn’t make it back from a 200-mile road trip in time for her morning shift, found herself taking half a vacation day and listening to a lecture on the importance of being reliable. She also burned more than a little good will. (She wasn’t late again.)

The bottom line, hosting an AP requires a relationship, which always involves compromise. It works as long as one side doesn’t always feel like its on the giving end of the give-and-take.

Seattle Mom July 16, 2012 at 1:11 pm

It’s amazing how much I learn from reading this blog, and responses like these in particular. I was so unprepared for my first AP, who thankfully has turned out great. But now I’m ready for my second, and my handbook is going to be 4x as long!

Calif Mom July 15, 2012 at 9:32 am

Yep! She taught me everything I know about managing vacations. And it’s one of the areas we’ve never had a big problem with (at least, after our very first AP, which taught us the also-important “never vacation in the first 3 months rule”. Read that post, too!)

You absolutely have to talk about this pretty soon after arrival, to get expectations aligned and the issues understood. Even if it seems weird to talk about something so distant when she is still jet lagged. In the first two weeks minimum. Her friends are probably asking to come visit before she even goes thru customs!

How we handle vacations WITH us varies a bit, depending on family dynamics with a particular AP, and also the enormity of airfare, etc. But we always try to be fair and keep in mind their budget and that travel is a HUGE part of the agencies’ pitch to these adventurous young women.

Oranje_Mama July 15, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Sorry to comment by asking another question, but here goes:

What about travel over the Christmas holidays? Without having purposely set out to plan one week at her convenience, one week at ours, that’s pretty much what has happened. One week in the spring we were on a family trip & she preferred to take the week off and travel with her boyfriend. Then, over the summer, her boyfriend was not able to take off during our family summer trip, so instead we agreed that she could take off during the first week of school (which means we will cover the afterschool childcare ourselves that week).

Her year is up on Dec. 26th, and she’s not renewing. We are planning a family ski trip (expensive) and we’d like to leave on Dec. 22nd. When I told her that she would be free to leave early on the 21st, she told me that she had been planning to stay with us until the 30th when her boyfriend comes and asked if she could just stay by herself at our house.

I feel terrible about the idea of leaving her to spend Christmas alone & to have this be her final impression of our family. At the same time, it’s very difficult to schedule any other way. We’ll be stuck without an au pair for 2 weeks if we’re not back for the Dec. 30th arrival date. There isn’t really another convenient time for a ski trip that won’t mean either bringing the new au pair along (expensive) or leaving her alone when she’s only in her 1st or 2nd month.

Any advice?

Taking a Computer Lunch July 15, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Since communication is half the battle, it sounds like you’re on the right track – since you’re planning a winter vacation five months out and she already knows about it.

Have another conversation and let her know that you feel guilty for leaving her alone on Christmas (and which agency let’s their APs arrive on Dec 26?!!! – that means she was flying to the US on Christmas Day in the first place!!!). Have you the means to compromise? 1/2 the flight, 1/2 the hotel room (until Dec. 26), and one ski lesson or one-day lift pass? Or, perhaps she would prefer to spend Christmas with her boyfriend, watch your house, and clean out her room for the next au pair? If you both would prefer the latter, then perhaps a gift certificate for a nice restaurant for the young couple to have Christmas dinner as a present.

My advice – don’t bring an AP in right before Christmas – it’s a very hard time to be away from family. And really, your agency lets an AP start on Dec. 30? My agency doesn’t have any arrivals near the holidays (mainly because they couldn’t staff an orientation during Christmas week). Or are you in Europe and have more control on arrival dates.

Seattle Mom July 16, 2012 at 1:22 pm

We have a similar timing issue, though no travel plans this year. I could see how this will become an issue in the future.

Our au pair arrived on Dec 5th, the second-to-last arrival group of the year (we’re with cultural care). There was no way around it for us- I had a job that started immediately and no good interim care. My younger daughter had serious separation anxiety (was 9 months at the time) and I knew I needed to get someone consistent in her life immediately. She cried all day with the few in-between babysitters we used (even though her older sister knew & loved them), it was so tough on everyone.

But I agree with you, if at all possible the holidays are a terrible time for an AP to start. It’s still awkward and you bring them along to all kinds of parties and events and they don’t really seem happy or comfortable and you just feel terrible for them.. doesn’t help that we don’t celebrate Christmas hard core (I’m Jewish, husband is marginally Catholic) and we get European APs (our first is french- Christmas is very important to her).

The problem is the next start date after the holidays is something like Jan 11th, and that is just way too much time- unless we can use a day care for a whole month around the holidays. I just hate that idea. I guess we could suck it up and pay for a nanny for that time, but in Seattle nannies are very expensive for 2 kids!

Niksmtn July 15, 2012 at 9:15 pm

I agree above ” sometimes you just have to suck it up” for the really good au pairs. We had a new au pair who was a rematch. But she rocked! My son loved her, we love her, our dogs love her, our horses love her and our cat loves her! She agreed to extend a year with us. However, she had already been is th US 9 months with two other families. She had never took a vacation day. She thought she accumulated them and had been saving them to go home and see her family in France. However, she wanted to use all 10 days one month after she arrived with us! As we all know that’s not how it works. She really only had 3 vacation days when she rematched to us. She was confused and devastated. I felt bad for her and we let her go for 9 days to see her family. We knew once she extended she would not be able to,leave the country. I was miffed, bummed, pissed because not only was our old babysitter out of town, but inhad to take time off work. But, I sucked it up and kept it to myself, because she is so kind and a great au pair. That goes a long way!! We had a BAD experience with a prior au pair that was with us less than a month. I would have never ever bent the rules for her. But she was selfish, immature and lied. I felt ok with letting this new wonderful girl go home because I knew it would make her happy and a happy au pair is a good aupair! She has been back months now and is better than ever! I know she is thankful for that trip because she tells me a lot!

kat July 21, 2012 at 4:16 am

did her previous family not paid her holiday days off when she left them?? trying to think why she thought she can transfer holidays from one family to another?

Penn AP Mom July 21, 2012 at 12:37 pm

For AP’s with CCAP their unused vacation days follow them. When we were in transition, our outgoing AP had not taken any of her vacation days (she’d been here 4 months) and her new AP family was responsible for paying her/releasing her for the 10 days. Our new AP had already used 3 vacation days when she came to us, and we were only responsible for the other 7 – although told her to take all 10.
In addition, when you go into transition you are responsible for any part of the $500 educational stipend that the AP you end up with had not already used. For us, that meant the outgoing AP had already used/spent $400 of the stipend; but we were still responsible for the total $500 for new AP who had not yet begun any classes.
I’m pretty sure this is in our information from the State Dept. and thought it was standard throughout the agencies.

Should be working July 21, 2012 at 10:44 pm

Yep, I’ve gotten hit in rematch with an incoming rematched AP who still had her whole year’s vacation AND her tuition stipend coming to her. We had to suck it up for both.

Anna July 22, 2012 at 12:48 am

no, it is not standard through the agencies; some agencies pro-rate vacation and educational expense due to the au pair upon rematch, and make both parties pay what they owe. The new family only owes vacation and educational expense prorated by the time remaining. I like this system

kat July 22, 2012 at 6:36 am

makes much more sense, doesnt it. cant believe that with some agencies the new family , the one taking on an in-country aupair, has to take up all the cost of holidays and education.

Penn AP Mom July 22, 2012 at 11:26 am

For future reference, which agencies pro-rate?

Should be working July 22, 2012 at 2:03 pm

I was also CCAP, which did NOT pro-rate.

NoVA Twin Mom July 22, 2012 at 5:15 pm

APIA prorates

AFHostMom July 15, 2012 at 9:37 pm

I have a vacation question too….we haven’t dictated to APs when they have to take any vacation (a week, less, more, whatever) in the past. Should we be? Both times, we’ve told them the full 2 weeks is theirs to plan–IF they give us proper notice. Is this too accommodating?

NoVA Twin Mom July 15, 2012 at 10:50 pm

If it’s too accommodating, we are too. The difference may be that *with the right notice*, we can almost always pull a set of grandparents in for a week – they’re all retired and all live about 12 hours away. So they’re close enough to drive in, but far enough away that a WHOLE week with our kids is considered a treat. They’ll be over the moon in a few years when that week can be at their place instead of ours…

So I think the level of “permissiveness” depends on how flexible your backup childcare is.

AFHostMom July 16, 2012 at 1:22 am

OK, I was having a “are we screwing up the system?” moment (like CV has discussed in the past, re using weekend hours if available, and possible, even when you don’t *need* them). We have fairly liberal leave policies at work, both working for the feds, and grandparents like you describe. But having said that, we’ve been lucky enough to have had great APs who’ve actually coordinated with us–and been flexible themselves.

Taking a Computer Lunch July 16, 2012 at 7:12 am

I don’t think so, as long as it works for your family. My kids go to sleep-away camp for a one week now (different camps, but the same week), so that’s a natural break for our AP. It happens to be toward the end of their year. Not all have gone somewhere during that week, which is fine by me. If you have a flexible schedule and easy access to child care assistance, that’s fantastic.

The important thing is to remember to communicate to your AP what works best for your family. I personally am “twinned” with a colleague at work – I can’t take time off if she is – so I need to juggle my APs desire for a vacation with my ability to take time off (even if it’s just in the afternoons).

I wouldn’t call your policy permissive, just very flexible!!

hOstCDmom July 16, 2012 at 8:19 am

I think the HF policy can be whatever they want it to be—subject to the State Dept. and Agency rules — so if the HF says vacation has to be taken weeks X and Y during the year, or you must take vacation during weeks A and B, or you can’t take 2 weeks back to back, or you can’t take vacation during the summer, or you can take vacation whenever you want if you give us 6 weeks notice (or you have to work 3 weekends out of 4) etc.

**BUT** the HF is obligated to communicate IN ADVANCE (i.e. at the time of matching) any vacation policy more restrictive than “we need notice”. One of the great perqs of the AP program is that these details are for the most part not dictated by an outside power, and HFs can craft a handbook or set of parameters that work for *their family*. But full disclosure is in order; it is incumbent upon the HF to clearly communicate their rules, requirements and parameters to the AP at the time of matching. Then everyone knows what the rules of the game are and the AP can freely make a fully informed decision to accept (or not) the rules.

Seattle Mom July 16, 2012 at 1:30 pm

So true! This is a great reminder to those of us currently matching. I’m looking for AP#2 now, and for the first time I have a few months and a little more knowledge about how it all works.

We told our first AP that we needed her vacation weeks to correspond to my husband’s vacation from teaching. He still has work to do so we still need back-up care, though not as much as otherwise and it’s less hectic. It worked out so that AP had the choice of 2 weeks in June and the whole month of September, which was fine with her. We told her upon arrival (we wouldn’t have thought of it, but the LCC prompted it at the orientation), and she planned pretty quickly.

We told her that if there was something she really wanted to do that had to be done at a different time of year we would try to accommodate, but she had to give us lots of notice. That way if she had friends planning a trip and they couldn’t go during our preferred time she could still consider it.

Busy Mom July 17, 2012 at 10:26 pm

We are on the inflexible end of the spectrum. With our APs (and the nannies we had before thme), this is clearly stipulated in the handbook. We reiterate via email and verbally on Skype before we make a match offer. Because all our kids are in school and because vacations are typically around holidays, we know the schedule well in advance so our APs have lots of time to plan. We also take a lot of vacations & long weekends (my husband gets 5 weeks/yr and I am self-employed), so our APs who want to travel make out quite well in this exchange. Also, because our school-year vacation dates correspond to school holidays (long MLK weekend, President’s Day weekend, spring break), our APs are able to find travel companions.

HRHM July 20, 2012 at 4:05 am

We are solidly inflexible. In interviews, host family application and in the HHB, we clearly state that we take our family vacations X and Y weeks every year and that the AP will need to take her vacations on those weeks. Any AP who doesn’t want those restrictions is free to decline to interview or match. But, once she has agreed, there is no arguing about it later. I don’t mean to be a b*&^% but I get limited time off and we don’t live near family, so I’m not taking extra time off so my AP can travel at HER convenience. The good news is, they know before they ever leave home which two weeks it is and they are almost exactly 6 months apart.

Taking a Computer Lunch July 20, 2012 at 12:13 pm

I don’t think you need to apologize for being locked in on your vacation time. It sounds like you communicate vacation dates with your APs in plenty of time for them to make plans and so there are no surprises.

About half of my APs used their vacation time well before the end of their year (or communicated their intention to do so), the other half have had to be cajoled. I threatened to schedule a vacation week for one AP who did nothing until we were about 7 weeks out to the end of the school year. (She was the AP who had to be told what to do every step of the way, and the only one we did not ask to extend with us.)

DCMomof3 July 23, 2012 at 4:10 pm

I have a vacation issue that I am having a hard time getting over. Each summer, I take my AP and kids for a week to the mountains. This does correspond with a work trip for me, but its always lots of fun for the AP and kids – lakes, zip lines, old fashioned trains, cute little towns to explore, etc. Its about an 8 hour drive from our house so I like to leave the weekend before so I have a few days to have fun with the kids before I have to start work each day and leave them on their own with the AP. My AP has known about this trip for months and told me that she was really excited about it. She has a new BF who is in the military. She found out in June that he was going to be home on leave the same weekend that we were scheduled to go on the trip. She started asking me if we could change the dates, if we could leave on Sunday instead of Friday, if she could fly up and meet me, etc. all so she could spend the weekend with the BF. I ended up canceling the trip because I did not want to deal with a sulking, crabby AP, nor did I want to drive 8 hours by myself with the kids. My husband and I did sit her down and explain to her that while we cannot force her to come with us on trips, that in the spirit of the program we expect her to do this especially when the trip is for my work and she has months of advance notice. We told her that we cannot plan our life around her boyfriend’s leave. We had just done all of our extension paperwork before this happened and now I am feeling like it may have been a bad move for me. Am I over-reacting? I am sure that the LCC and all the au pairs are saying that we are terrible for trying to keep her from seeing her boyfriend.

hOstCDmom July 23, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Actually, you can “make” her go on vacations with you, if she is on duty. That is one benefit of the AP program is that the duties of an AP can involve traveling with the HF and being on duty while traveling/on vacation (the family’s vacation, not hers). Many families choose the AP program for just that reason.

Clearly, communication and flexibility are key for the best relationship, but you should not feel that you can’t require her to travel with you when you need her on duty, nor should you have to cancel her plans just because her desired plans changed last minute.

hOstCDmom July 23, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Whoops, should have read that you should not have to cancel YOUR plans just because HER desired plans changed last minute.

au pair July 23, 2012 at 9:10 pm

i am an au pair, and i do not think at all that you are mean or not nice. i would have felt awful if my hm would have cancelled the trip. its a work week, so she has to come. you could have maybe asked her to fligh in on sunday night, but she has to pay herflight. buti understand your point about driving…its hard…i am sorry you had to cancell the trip… i always feel when my hf takes me on vacation, i become more and more a part of their family. i always thank them for taking me. i think your au pair was not thinking very far…i still hope is going to work out in your second year..good luck.

Taking a Computer Lunch July 23, 2012 at 10:33 pm

You’ve just extended with her, so you can expect more of the same in year II – wanting every weekend off when her boyfriend suddenly has leave, and using her vacation time to see him.

Let your emotions simmer down, and when you and DH are ready to have a conversation, bring her to the table when the kids are in bed. Let her talk first. Really listen – don’t interrupt. See if she feels contrite or sorry that she caused you to cancel your plans.

Think about her relationship with the boyfriend. Is it all about him? Does he always expect her to drop everything and head in his direction? Does he bring anything to the table? Because if he’s a take-all kind of guy, then you can expect more of the same in the next year.

Negotiate. Could you have left on Sunday? I realize that her asking at the last minute rattled your cage. Could you have invited him to come along? It’s not always easy to think outside the box, especially at the last minute.

And finally didn’t we have this conversation elsewhere? It’s your vacation (or the kids’ vacation), not hers. If you are bringing her along to care for the kids so you can work, it’s not here vacation. From the beginning, talk to her about it that way. “You’ll be joining us on a trip, to care for the kids while I work. I hope the trip will be fun for you, too. There are zip lines and lakes for swimming. I will need your help for X hours per day.” The minute you code it as not-her-vacation but perhaps-fun-anyway, then she will see it as “I have to work” which is what it is.

Remember, it’s a trip if you take the kids, a vacation if you don’t.

DCMomof3 July 24, 2012 at 10:27 pm

Yes, we’ve had this conversation before! All of your points are good and valid ones. I think that this situation was particularly tricky because the AP work hours would have been M-F from about 8 am to 5 pm while I was at the office. The travel time would have been over the weekend and in my mind anyway, was part of the family trip. Also part of the family trip are evenings on the mountain coaster, canoeing on the lake, etc. Like I said, I’ve done this trip in the past with other au pairs and its always gone great and nobody has said anything about the entire trip also consuming weekends, evenings, etc because they liked getting to see a new place and getting to do lots of exciting outdoor adventures with the family (on my dime). The request not to travel on the weekend presented a dilemma for me because the weekend was not her work time. So, I did not feel like I could push back and say that she had to travel over the weekend (even though we had planned this for months in advance). This is one where the family member line and the employee line were kind of blurred. My husband did make this point when we had our conversation with her, although I am not sure that she felt the same way. To be honest, I am scared that next year all of her nights and weekends will be booked by this guy and that she will push back again on travel. I feel like I have to tread more lightly now and this is not really where I want to be. On the other hand, we’ve been in the program for 6 years now and I do feel like its good for my kids to have the continuity of a second-year au pair. And, overall she is good at her job. So, maybe I just need to think of the second year as just that – a job for her and not a family experience.

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