Your Advice Wanted: Should you have your new Au Pair overlap with your old Au Pair?

by cv harquail on July 7, 2008

Calling All Host Moms-

We want your opinions!

** Should a Host mom have her incoming Au Pair overlap with her outgoing Au Pair? **


A reader recently posed this question in the comments section of the post on Orienting Your New Au Pair. Rather than responding unilaterally with my $.02, I’d like to get your opinions, advice and concerns about this tactic, and put them together in a post that covers the question from a variety of directions.

Would you tell us:

  • Have you ever had your incoming and outgoing Au Pairs overlap?
  • What were you hoping that this tactic would do for your incoming Au Pair? Your outgoing Au Pair? You? Your children?
  • Any stories about great experiences with overlapping? How about not so great experiences?
  • On balance, when (if ever) would you recommend this tactic?

You can zip me an email at, or you can put your thoughts in the comments section below. In a week (around July 15) I’ll post a compilation of our advice on overlapping.

Thanks in advance for sharing your experience!


Aupairgal March 23, 2010 at 5:58 pm

While that doesn’t seem like a bad idea, do not have your old aupair train your new aupair. That is your job.

Taking a computer lunch March 23, 2010 at 10:26 pm

While I like to think that the incoming AP would get the benefit of the outgoing AP’s experience, in the end I think every AP has to do it “her way” (and I really mean that – if she’s not harming the kids, it’s perfectly fine for her to treat them differently than HD and I). Most of my outgiong APs have been jealous of incoming APs, even if they were the ones who decided to go. A couple have overlapped in the extension month. In the end, I’d rather the incoming AP be able to put her stamp on the relationship without having to deal with our grief over saying goodbye to the outgoing AP.

I will say this, that the best buffer my incoming APs have had, is when the friends of the outgoing AP include her in their activities and befriend her. That type of continuity has worked extremely well for the incoming AP. Our LCC has a “buddy” system where an AP that has been here for longer is supposed to guide an incoming AP, but in my experience that hasn’t always worked well (not all of the young women are mature enough to handle the responsibility). Two of my APs became brilliant buddies as the result of their own bad buddy experiences when they first arrived.

HRHM March 24, 2010 at 9:04 am

I didn’t for multiple reasons – AP2 was definitely jealous of AP3 (even though it was her decision to leave). Also, I really didn’t want her to pass her bad habits to AP3. She did leave her friends (2 other local APs) numbers on her cell for AP3, but they are pretty much party girls and AP3 is looking for older more mature friends.
I think it’s important to give each new AP a chance to be unique and the overlap may limit this.

StephinBoston March 24, 2010 at 10:28 am

I don’t overlap either, I think it’s good for the new au pair to start with a clean slate and helps the kids transition, there is no jealousy or bad habits. I work from home so I can help the first week and it works out fine.

Darthastewart March 24, 2010 at 2:59 pm

We’ve had a TON of au-pairs. It ALWAYS works out best when there is NO overlap.

Anna March 24, 2010 at 3:42 pm

We’ve overlapped once. It didn’t result in much benefit IMHO. Since then we had no overlap, and I like it better. It gives me time to regroup, prepare, and tell the new au pair everything myself!

PA au pair mom March 24, 2010 at 3:46 pm

We have only had 2 au pairs so far and we didn’t have them overlap. We wanted our new AP to have a fresh start. It worked out really well for us. I think we will try to avoid relapse again this time as well.

Jane March 25, 2010 at 9:04 am

I have always had overlap with no serious problems, but I can see how no overlap would be better. However, not sure how I could avoid overlap without taking too much vacation myself.

For those of you with no overlap, what did you do if the new au pair wished to contact the current/former au pair? That communication could prevent you from having a fresh start too, but at the same time, I’ve never wanted to act like our family had something to hide so I always shared everyone’s contact information with the au pairs we interviewed and selected. In some ways it’s great–the new au pair gets an honest assessment from the person currebtly doing her job. In other ways, it really detracts because your new au pair can learn bad habits or expects things to happen a certain way which you intend to change for a fresh start. How do you handle that?

Taking a computer lunch March 25, 2010 at 10:58 am

We always encourage all APs with whom we interview (usually 3-5 candidates that we actually telephone) to telephone or email our current and past APs. I’ve had 4 absolutely fantastic APs, 3 of which we’ve had extension months or years. My current AP is very good at some things, but not at others and we will not be offering an extension year to her. Do I really fear what she might say to a potential candidate? A little. But to me, preventing a potential AP from communicating with the current AP should be a red flag to the potential AP.

It’s not easy being our AP because of the camel (that sweet spitting daughter) and her special needs. I want potential APs to be aware of the situation, and if that means exposing my warts, so be it.

I’m knocking on wood, I’ve not gone into rematch yet in 9 years, although I’ve been sorely tempted this year (probably because I’m used to excellent and not just very good/good).

Anna March 25, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Other than au pairs we ended up rematching with, I always offer the prospective au pair to speak to our current au pair.
This is different than overlap.

Overlap was awkward for everybody; we don’t have extra room, so they have to either share a small au pair room, or the outgoing au pair has to see the new one move into “her” room and sleep on the couch… Also kids got confused when we had our only overlap, my son who was just under two at the time, started distancing himself from the old beloved au pair, pushing her away and expressing bad feelings towards her.

Jane March 25, 2010 at 9:18 am

By the way, due to the overlap, all of our au apairs have formed very lasting friendships with each other, so that’s a definite perk. They often come together to visit us. They really bond over having been members of our family. So, that’s a plus.

I think they each have still defined their own care giving style despite being together a few days with the kids. I do all the training myself but it is hard to get the current au pair to step back a bit for me to do that. I’m keenly aware that the newcomer is often listening more to the current au pair than me–that can be frustrating. I limit the overlap as much as possible, but given the outgoing au pairs have varying departure dates for their travel months, it’s not like I would/could make sure they were gone by a certain date so I could have the new au pair to myself for training. The overlap does help socially for the newcomer–the outgoing au pair always takes the newcomer out and she meets friends right away that will still be here for awhile. I encourage the outgoing au pair to go about her own stuff during the day while I’m training the new au pair, but that doesn’t always work depending on the au pair and her possessiveness of the kids. There has been some jealousy. My current au pair was actually a little afraid of the old au apir after they spent a day alone together with the kids, because the outgoing au pair kept correcting her over very minor things that do not matter at all. When the old au apair was gone, the new au pair asked me all these really weird questions–she thought I had some crazy rules that were actually the outgoing au pair’s preferences/ pet peeves and had nothing to do with my house rules–which are pretty much safety first period. For example–she told the new au pair that she must limit the kids to one banana per day.

Darthastewart March 25, 2010 at 3:28 pm

We certainly have new prospective au-pairs talk to the existing au-pair, or in cases when we are breaking the match, they can talk to previous ones. We have tons of au-pairs come back for visits. Generally, we try to avoid that in the first couple of months, so that the new au-pair can establish her own identity in the family.
Otherwise, we’ve got the au-pair who is leaving, and is totally focused on going home, and only half training the new one. So much stuff seems to slip through the cracks- hey they learn where the mall is, but have NO clue where the grocery store is, or doctor, or post office, or library are. Also, when we have them on the way out, we’re kindof in that “lame duck” Host Family situation. So, the new au-pair sees the Lame duck thing, and starts that way from the start… Not a great start IMO.

Calif Mom March 25, 2010 at 8:53 pm

I agree. We’ve done the overlap thing, and even though I don’t have a ton of paid leave (because of career change), it’s worth spending leave to do the training myself. Au pairs at the end of their tenure are going through a very tumultuous time (and host moms, and the kids, too!) so the best transitions we’ve had have actually had a little break of a couple days in the middle. Too much weirdness and unpredictability to do the overlap. Too much awkwardness and anxiety. We won’t do it next time.

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