Your Au Pair’s Friends: Key to Her/His Happiness?

by cv harquail on August 6, 2010

It’s so important for your au pair to develop friendships here in the US. Your au pair needs friends to create a social life and to strike out beyond your home and family for some of her or his own adventures.  Once our au pairs have foud a friend or two (or three) they have all seemed to settle in for the year.

A good friend can have a terrific influence on an au pair — helping your au pair explore, being a companion, sharing culture, playing the wingman.  Every friend brings something different into your au pair’s life.

Your au pair’s friends can also be a mystery.  Your au pair might not introduce friends to you, or you might just see them dashing up and down the stairs and then out the door, leaving behold only wafts of intense perfume.

A host parent wrote, wondering how other families’ au pairs do with making friends. She asked:

  • Do your AP’s make friends with other AP’s or Americans?
  • If your AP has both American friends and AP friends, how much time does s/he spend with each group?
  • Have you met or spent time with their friends?
  • Do they get an American boyfriend here? If so, how long into their year??

We have never met ANY of the AP or American friends of either of our two au pairs.

201008051454.jpgOur first AP had 1 other AP friend. Got an American boyfriend in 1 month and fell in love. Our second AP knows some other AP’s but is not really friends with them. She spends minimal time with other AP’s. She got an American boyfriend in 1 month and spends most of her time with the Americans.

It seems as though as soon as the boyfriend/American friends come along things go downhill for our au pair-host parent relationship. I’m not sure if it’s just the timing in the year or if the Americans encourage the au pairs to push the rules. I’d love to hear about other host families’ experiences with au pair friends and what worked for them.

Parents, any great stories about au pairs and friends? Let’s hear!


BLJ Host Mom August 6, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Our first AP had almost only AP friends, most from her home country. They did nearly everything together. The only bad thing about that is we felt bad when they were all trying to schedule. No one has their own house or their own car and everyone seems to find out the day before if they can have a weekend off. For that reason, I hope our next AP does find some American friends and take some of the burden off of me to find and show all of the local activities. Not that I mind giving tips, but around Halloween and NYE, finding fun things for under 21 in our city on those two holidays wasn’t easy. What did I do during those years? Fake ID or house party. Since I didn’t want to encourage the first, and a house party requires knowing people with a house! :) They were tired of hanging out at coffee shops and each others houses, just their group. A few American friends of SOMEONE in the group would have been really nice.

With that said, these friendships were really PRICELESS for giving them a good year, and they get to see each other some day if they want in their own home country.

I encourage this by sending them their cluster list for emailing early, and getting in touch with other host moms in our area to share future AP info. This year, I’m also throwing a good bye party/welcome party for my current and new AP. Inviting all the girls from the new cluster, plus my current APs friends, and a few younger American girls for everyone to mingle and hopefully friendships will start early. I was friendly with most of her AP friends who would come to the house and often offered to help out with things or advice.

Our AP never got a boyfriend, though she would have wanted one. I don’t think she even knew where to start looking. :) Fine by me!

Hoping my BFF doesn't read this August 6, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Our AP made great friends with my best friend’s kids’ nanny. They had a lot in common. But for me, the funniest thing was how AP & Nanny seemed like BFF and me at the same age. For example, when we were 20, my BFF would *always* drop me if something with a guy came up. Nanny did the same thing to AP a few times, and I was there to be a sympathetic ear to AP.

Gianna August 6, 2010 at 3:57 pm

At one time, I thought the idea of American friends was an ultimate goal of these programs and I went to great lengths to promote the idea. I thought school was going to be a great venue . What I did learn , through sorry experiences, is that young Americans and their parents sometimes had a very poor view of aupair programs and
were quick to stir up malcontent by suggesting that aupairs were underpaid and taken advantage of in a general way. I often felt on the defensive and judged by people who did not know me. So now, what happens , happens. I do see aupairs make some very strong friendships with other aupairs and I think that is just fine. Everybody has the same rules ( although enforcement seems to vary alot among LCCs and agencies ).
At one time, I encouraged friendships with aupairs from different countries – now I am more detached about that, too.

anonymous August 6, 2010 at 5:06 pm

I initially thought that meeting American friends would be great for au pairs, but we have had the same experience. There seems to be a relatively undesirable element of society that seeks out our au pairs- including an unemployed divorced dad in our city who actually seeks out our au pairs on the school playground to invite them to his “parties”. Suddenly the relationship changes, we become the “bad guys” for having rules and limits on car use (no, it is not for driving around American college students who don’t have cars) and for having the au pair work. I get the feeling that hanging out with American friends is more important than being an au pair. We have had to send two au pairs out of our home because of decreased work quality, lying, and general attitude issues that arose after the American friends arrived. Our successful matches are with au pairs who befriend other international au pairs/students. I thought that was coincidence, but after reading these posts, I wonder…

Jennifer August 6, 2010 at 6:24 pm

That is exactly our experience! A 19-25 yr old American does not understand the rules are different for au pairs. And no offense to anyone, but these “not so smart” boys who see the international au pair come over don’t have a lot of sense either!!

NewAPMama August 6, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Our AP has made American friends through church, and hangs out with them more than her AP friends. However, nothing has really changed regarding our relationship. Her English is great now though!

MommyMia August 6, 2010 at 9:21 pm

LOL, cv, about the wafts of intense perfume as they dash out the door – happens all the time, but I usually don’t even get a glimpse as they flee the house!
Our better APs (out of the four so far) introduce us to their friends, who are mainly other APs and mainly from other agencies, as our cluster is very small and for some reason, very few of them ever end up “meshing,” or invite them over for dinner or a movie night at our urging. They have had a few American acquaintences from their classes, but don’t seem to really do things with the other students, probably because they don’t have much in common other than the course they’re enrolled in. I can only think of one who befriended an American, and that was someone she met at a mall, who invited her to attend her church, so that was great! Another church-going AP didn’t participate in any of the available youth groups there, but did hang out with other APs and thier friends. The worst was the one who drove far, far away almost every weekend (often lying about where the car would be) to party with other APs and a rather unsavory group of drunken males, who IMHO didn’t have steady relationships with American girls for obvious reasons! She went into rematch for this and other reasons, and has continued the same in her new locations (she’s now on her 4th family–and I WAS candid with the new first new HM, but she still took her!) although now she seems to have upgraded to drunken Ivy-League college guys, from her social networking postings (I’ll admit, I still find myself checking from time to time to see if she’s still around!)

honeywhite August 6, 2010 at 9:29 pm

We have had au pairs for over six years. All of our au pairs in the past have proactively sought out and made friends, both other au pairs from various countries as well as American friends. Over the years, we met most of their close friends, though the few who found local boyfriends did not bring them around (we wouldn’t have minded meeting them, but we didn’t press the issue). Neither American friends nor boyfriends have caused any issues for us in the past.

Our newest au pair, however, here two weeks, has not done anything to reach out or start building a social life. Her English skills are very weak, and there is no one from her country in the area. Although my husband and I, and the AD, have encouraged her daily to email/call other au pairs, particularly other new au pairs like her, she won’t do it–we get various responses as to why not, from “it’s stupid” to a scrunched-up nose and head shake to a blank look because she doesn’t understand what we are asking her. We’re getting worried, because she needs to get out of the house and start meeting people to start building her foundation here–which in turn will help her learn how to get around town and start improving her English. If she doesn’t, we fear that she will become extremely homesick for her boyfriend back home (which was a big surprise to us when she arrived–had we known there was a serious boyfriend back home, as well as had we truly known how poor her English was, we wouldn’t have matched with her) and therefore become a flight risk!

2boys2girls August 6, 2010 at 10:08 pm

The “it’s stupid” response to your suggestions would cause major alarm bells for me…

honeywhite August 6, 2010 at 10:58 pm

Big time. Having been through through the initial adjustment period so many times, my husband and I have developed a pretty good sense about whether a new au pair is going to work out or not, pretty quickly–and to date, we’ve only had one real re-match (which is why we are particularly baffled by our oversight on some really basic screening mechanisms this time around–how did we manage to miss the boyfriend and the English skills!?). I just feel in my gut this one is not going to work out, even though she hasn’t done anything truly wrong at this point, and our daughter seems to like her.

2boys2girls August 6, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Our first AP was a model for how to make friends. She had one very close AP friend who she could talk German with, confide in when she was feeling overwhelmed, share AP info and complaints with etc. The rest of her friends she made through her classes and primarily through clubs at the local college (film club, volley ball, cooking club etc.)These were a mix of American and international students. She always had lots of invitations to go places and had over 50 people at her good bye party. As you can imagine she had a great year!
AP #2 only had AP friends from her home country, only spoke their language when together, hung out at restaurants that served the cuisine from that country… She was very satisfied with these friends and did not seem to feel she was missing anything. We did experience, as other posters have mentioned, conflicts over scheduling. She had every weekend off but her two close friends worked many weekends and had a day off in the week so she often felt like she was missing something or hanging around waiting for them to be free.
AP #3 made zero friends but had a boyfriend within two months. Boyfriend was 12 years older than her, was arrested TWICE during the year, and appeared to have a significant drinking problem. Despite this she was a great AP, her boyfriend was rarely near our house or kids (her choice not our mandate), and in fact her boyfriend clearly encouraged her not to “mess up” her AP year because it would jeopardize their relationship. She is now pregnant with his child and living in our community.
AP #4 had a large group of mostly male American friends that seemed to pick au pairs exclusively to hang out/sleep with. This group also led her to believe that being an au pair was an “abusive” relationship and that she was being taken advantage of (for example they convinced her that we needed to pay her overtime for any hours over eight hours in a work day). She spent all of her free time in their apartments and in bars. Enough said…
AP#5 has a small group of AP friends from mostly her home country that she enjoys spending time with but most of them are leaving in a few weeks while she is extending. I think she is feeling anxious about making friends for her extension year…

newhm August 6, 2010 at 10:56 pm

This is our first AP and we are learning as we go along. I believe my ap’s key to happiness here is having friends. She is extremely homesick. I went from being angry with her behavior to now feeling bad for her. AP’s really need to get out, socialize with peers their own age and have fun! But while good friends can have a terrific impact on an AP, a not so good friend can be a horrible influence on an AP. Our AP had plans with this one AP from her country before she even landed on the tarmac in the United States. Then our AP went out every single night for eight weeks straight. She didn’t even stay home first weekend to get to know the children. Her new friend convinced her it was better not to have any relationship with our family. She steered her wrong. Her friend was only looking out for herself; only interested in her own social life since she didn’t have one and was already rematched with 2nd family. (In fact, my AP is practically her only friend here, so they call and text eachother constantly.) My AP has said that this friend isn’t even her type but doesn’t want to be alone. And if the other AP was really a “good” friend, she would have guided our AP by saying to stay in first weekend to settle in. Instead – took her out on 1st night! Things are finally turning around. We are doing our best to help our AP. Now we are in month three and I have contacted other AP Agencies to get info on other cluster’s. All the LCC’s are so nice. They have welcomed my AP to join their meetings. Our AP is finally starting to network and trying to make some friends. And definitely seems happier. Kids are getting attached to her and the situation is looking better for all of us. So yes – friends are definitely the key to aupair’s happiness :)

Aupair Mama August 7, 2010 at 8:33 am

All 3 aupairs have started like this: spent lots of time with host family. 3 mo later- made new friends, mostly non aupair. spent less time with host family. by 6mo or so , got boy friend … less time. by end of year, pretty much a place to put things and have a job at. I am happy that they say hi and bye before they leave. If someone comes to the door its polite to introduce us. All my aupairs have found what I would consider healthy friendships and being 21 (ish) I understand hanging out with kids and ‘old’ people on your free time is not something they’d choose if they had something ‘more fun’ to do.

oh and YES — all 3 said -I am quiet girl and not a party girl, sometime I like to stay home and READ and spend some time alone. I do think after 6 mo when I see them go out EVERY night and every hour of the weekend that it seems that maybe they were just giving me a line. Especially when I get home at 5:05 and they are ready to leave in 1 min…

Au Pair in CO August 7, 2010 at 1:46 pm

When I lived alone in my own apartment in my home country, I was one of those “spend my nights home reading”-girls. It is so relaxing being alone in your own home. Staying home all night in my host parents’ house is something completely different. First of all, my bedroom is directly under the kids’ bedroom and the laundry room, so I never have a quiet moment down there. (As soon as the kids are sleeping, my host mom starts doing laundry, which causes the lights in my room to flicker and all over just makes a lot of noise.)

It is also expected that if I stay at home all night, I have dinner with the family, help clean up after dinner etc. When I lived alone, I would often skip dinner or just make myself a sandwich, yet now dinner becomes this 2 hour long family deal. After being with the kids for 10 hours a day, I don’t wanna spend another 2 hours with them for dinner.

So yes, I “escape” the house as soon as I get off work every day, as that’s the only way for me to get some undisturbed ME-time. I don’t go out to party, most of the time I just relax with a movie with some friends or my boyfriend, or even go to a café alone to read, but it is essential for me to get out of the house after work.

I’m not saying it’s the same way for your au pairs, but you should consider that when they said they were quiet girls who liked to stay home, it might have been perfectly true at the time they said it.

momto2 August 7, 2010 at 4:41 pm

You seem like a very mature young lady, with a good head on her shoulders. Reading your post puts things in perspective, at least for me, as a host mom. We’ve been a little taken aback that our current AP (who is our 3rd overall, but the only European so far) will run out the door as soon as we come home to go hang out with friends or just by herself. We do not ask her to cook or clean dishes, but I can see that she may feel like she needs to contribute if she joins us, and now after reading your post–I can see this would make for a very long day on one’s feet. Thank you for your honest perspective!

ex au pair now nanny August 7, 2010 at 6:51 pm

I agree exactly. I am 19 and work and study, so am pretty busy and at least half of my weekends are spent at home. But being at home is only really nice if you can relax, watch TV, maybe do a face mask, wash your hair, read a book etc. If it is busy at home, and you don’t really like the environment, it is easier to just go out.
Maybe au pairs need a certain amount of space to themselves on nights they do decide to stay home, and can organise their own dinner- just theirs and so on..

CrazyLady August 8, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Our last au pair didn’t often eat dinner with us (which was a change for me- she was our 4th), but she would hang out long enough for me to make dinner a lot of times, so that I could get it done without the kids all over me. She did usually leave when we sat down to eat, but it was usually to go to the gym (I wish I was as disciplined as she is). She usually ate after she got home, but would sit and watch tv with me while she ate (kids were already in bed).

Au Pair in CO August 7, 2010 at 1:53 pm

I have mostly American friends. I am the only European au pair in my cluster, and even if the South American girls are all very nice, I have practically nothing in common with them. As soon as they get together they switch to their own language, forgetting that I don’t understand a word they’re saying, and they don’t even seem to care. I hang out with them for play dates with the kids, but rarely on my own time.

I have so much more in common with my American friends. I also have an American boyfriend, who I met three months into my au pair year. Many of his friends are now my close friends too, but I also have many friends that I’ve made without his help.

It would have been nice to have some close friends among the other au pairs too, as it’s often hard to explain au pair related problems and frustrations to my American friends. I also think part of what creates such strong friendships between au pairs is that you’re all new in the country, and explore everything together. Even if I’m missing out on that part, I feel like I’m getting way more out of my au pair year this way, as I’m truly experiencing the American culture instead of just hanging out with girls from my own home country.

Taking a Computer Lunch August 7, 2010 at 11:23 pm

I agree that friends are essential, and most of my APs were very dynamic when it came to seeking friends. Our cluster has a buddy system — APs who have been in the US for 6 or more months are matched with an incoming AP. When AP #4’s buddy fell down on the job, I printed out the spread sheet of all the APs who lived a bus ride away, and within two days she was inviting them over for snacks and a movie. When it became her turn to be a buddy, she couldn’t have been better. My first 4 APs had a significant relationship with one other person, sometimes American, but not always male. We always invited that person to dine with us, and I must say, only AP #1 and AP #4 ever felt comfortable enough to extend the invitation (or to have it accepted). Most of my APs passed along friends, who immediately embraced my new AP and made her feel welcome.

A good friend of AP #4 befriended AP #5, which was the key to her initial success in the US. However, AP #5 seemed to cut people off all the time (she cut off the buddy to which she was assigned by saying people from her country didn’t meet friends much). She never seemed unhappy to shut herself away in her room for hours at a time, but to me, it seemed pointless to have come half a world away if that’s all she was going to do in her free time. She did do some personal growth, exploring Buddhism and seeking a temple that spoke her language. For the last 8 months of her stay with us, we never once met a friend, even if they stayed the night (which seemed a little rude to me). She is extremely quiet and private, and I think her personality, her language issues, and her culture shock made it easier for her to isolate herself in our home. Her lack of need to connect with us, the HP, and our older son, made it easy for us to say goodbye. In fact today my son joined me in taking her to the train station so she may join her extension year HF, and as we drove away he said, “I know I’m supposed to be sad she’s going, but I’m not.”

I’m looking forward to AP #6, who has already made connections.

My advice, casually encourage invite friends to join your table. We often host several families in our neighborhood for dinner, and we invite our APs and tell them how many friends they may include. We feed the kids first and send them away (telling them that they’ll get to stay up later if they don’t get into our faces), and the APs eat with the adults. The conversation is always a mix of asking questions of them and conversation to which they may listen. Some have liked it more than others. In addition, we encourage them to invite abandoned friends to the table for Thanksgiving and now have a tradition of having them make one dish from their country to share.

Deb Schwarz August 8, 2010 at 1:08 am

TCL – what a great idea! I’m going to do that next time – never dawned on me to ask our au pair’s friends to dinner, except the “orphans” Thanksgiving dinner that I always have for au pairs who have host families that don’t include them (very sad).

Re: friends, I’ve learned over the years that this is probably *the* most important thing behind finding the right au pair, to ensure a great year. I go out of my way to make sure that au pairs in my group have big buddies and make friends (without being too much of a mother hen). I always say, “a happy au pair is a good au pair.” Having lived overseas as an ex-pat, I remember those times when I was alone in a country and didn’t know anyone – not fun (unless you are a hermit).

Our 16 au pairs have invariably met friends – au pairs and Americans. I think probably the ones that reached out to Americans probably had a more fulfilling year. The problem I’ve seen with having only au pair friends, is that there tends to be a lot of complaining about their host families over coffee which can create negative energy throughout the year. I’ve had au pairs that avoid that for that very reason.

BTW – to my Au Pair Mom friends – we finally made a decision and just finaled with our first Manny! Speaking of friends, the only thing I’m a bit concerned about is au pair #17 is that he has an American girlfriend who will be moving to our area to look for a job. In my experience, that can either be a good or bad thing: good because it can be a stabilizing factor (no hanging out in bars looking for Mr/s. Goodbar), but on the bad side, the au pair job/family might become secondary. Only time will tell. His girlfriend will actually be pinchhitting for him until he can arrive – could be interesting! I’ll keep you posted.

CrazyLady August 8, 2010 at 3:56 pm

I just wanted to say that I feel the same way about Thanksgiving (and even Easter). We always tell our au pairs to invite over anyone they’d like, especially if they hear about someone who will be home alone. I can’t understand families that don’t include their au pairs on these holidays. I’m not even talking about ones who offer but the au pair declines- totally different. But we have encountered many whose families just either don’t think to include them or do think about it and don’t want to/ feel the need to.

Taking a Computer Lunch August 8, 2010 at 10:19 pm

There have been extensive discussions here on whether or not to invite APs, and I too, feel that the AP should be invited to join in family holidays and celebrations, even if that means spending a few extra dollars getting her there.

Because we celebrate Thanksgiving at home, it’s quite easy to fill our home and all of our APs have looked forward to celebrating the famous American holiday. When we travel at Christmas to family in Nevada, we always tell APs to invite a friend (the friend pays her own way, but is usually included in any family outings as if she were another family member) – mainly because we don’t want our AP heading into Las Vegas alone. Most APs have not joined us for Passover – usually because the trip interferes with their university courses. Until my Grandmother passed away, every AP made the trek to see her – because it came with a free side-trip to Niagara Falls. (And DH and I always got one night out in our favorite restaurant :-) ).

maleaupairmommy August 8, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Congrats on your first manny where is he from? Wish you well in it all. I have been lucky no serious girlfriends or if they did they lived in another state. I will be honest I’m glad because the one I had who had a girlfriend he was so distracted during her numerous visits and so not into us if it was a close every day here relationship I think I would have ended up in transition as we would have both been unhappy. Luckily he and all the other mannys have made great choices and have been super responsibile and respectable.

Deb Schwarz August 9, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Hi MaleAuPairMommy,

Our soon to be au pair is from South Africa (hopefully he gets his visa – he overstayed a camp counselor visa so we are crossing our fingers). Our kids are at the “mouthy” stage and they like to fight, so we are hoping that a male/authoritarion vibe might work better. We have 3 girls and 1 boy (well, actually one of girls might as well be a boy – extreme tomboy), so given the mix some folks thinks that it’s strange to have a male au pair, so I’ll keep you posted! It took me several years to convince my husband about this so I hope it works out.

Regarding the “friend” topic – I forgot to mention in my earlier post, it warms my heart when I see all the wonderful friendships that have developed over the years between our au pairs. Since we had two at a time until the triplets went to school and traveled a lot with them – our au pairs developed bonds that are deep and have grown over time. Many of them visit each other around the world – and it’s truly heartwarming for me to see their Facebook posts to each other. It makes me feel like I a proud mom to many…….now, if only our bio kids would get along this well! (hopefully someday…..sigh).

AuPairInHolland April 7, 2011 at 4:27 pm

I’ve been in the Netherlands as an AP for 3 months now, and I tend to avoid other au pairs for that reason: the conversation always comes down to complaining about the host family or the au pair routine.

I wanted to live abroad and being an AP was the way I could afford it. On an ideal world I wouldn’t be taking care of other people’s children in order to be in another country. But this is what I chose for me, and I knew it wouldn’t always be like vacationing and I keep that in mind.

After making new friends, who are either Dutch or from other places in Europe, or other expats who are here on different purposes, I’ve learned to enjoy my time in the Netherlands, and I no longer spend my weekends listing all the little things my kids do that piss me off, and learned how to relax, and enjoy and love the country I’m now in.

AuPairInHolland April 7, 2011 at 4:36 pm

PS: Having that said, I adore my host family and the kids I take care of. I enjoy spending time with them during the weekdays, talk about trivialities, share funny things their kids have been doing… But I can’t be an au pair 24/7! I need to be a normal 21 year old girl too, sometimes!

Jeana August 8, 2010 at 12:05 am

Our aupairs have found good friends, and I’ve invited them to spend time in our home, and join us for fun weekend events. Inviting the friends to spend time with our family helped me know who our aupairs are spending time with, and gave me a sense for whether or not I needed to be concerned. Our aupairs have had really good judgement in choosing friends, finding like-minded friends, with similar values and goals for the future.

Friends were an issue with two aupairs that we had that were removed from the program. One aupair arrived on Thursday evening, and left the first weekend she was with our family, to spend time with friends from her home country. Unfortunately, while I thought it was a bit odd, I wasn’t experienced enough to know this was a big, unfortunate red flag. Another aupair that was with us briefly, had a social life that was unbelievable! Our phone never stopped ringing, and the cell I provided was constantly beeping with text messages. Long story, and I learned a lot through that experience. In this situation, I needed to give very concrete directions regarding friends in our home, especially male friends.

Long Island Host Mom August 8, 2010 at 2:52 am

Our Au Pair made lots of new friends…All AP’s and mostly Germans like her. This was key for her to have a great year – They did everything together and there was always someone available. I did have to put my foot down about sleeping out every weekend after awhile. She had her room in our finished basement and when here I made sure my daughter knew that she wasnt working and not to bother her downstairs that she needed “ME” time – My daughter is now old enough to understand that if not like it being an only child saw our au pair almost like a big sister. When we explained she missed seeing her on weekends and not to work – but we felt like she was running from us more than running to her friends…she got it and started sleeping here more even iif she was out all day night after hours with her friends. We knew most of them by names and at leat 1/2 of them by face -one in particular even friended my daughter and the 3 of them did stuff together and she had dinner here and also au pairs could also come by an hang out in our basement and watch movies orjust get together for coffee. It worked out and she leaves next week. We have a couple of overlap days and making a BBQ for the new au pair as a welcome and the old au pair as a good bye. we invited a new au pair (possible friend potential per my current au pair) and one of my old au pairs friends, This way they can all talk about where they shopped and what they did for their year…Friends are important and should be encouraged…

Olga August 8, 2010 at 6:11 am

My au pair is trying make some friends. Where on LI are you? We are in MP. Is there any way we can introduce them?

MTR August 8, 2010 at 11:27 am

Hi Olga,

I am also in Long Island. Where is or what is MP? I am not far from the intersection of Southern State and Wantagh Parkway.

Olga August 9, 2010 at 5:30 pm

#554-4433. You know the area code LOL. We live close to you. Would love to talk. Pls call so we can set something up.

Olga August 9, 2010 at 10:55 pm

mp are the initials of the town

LI Au Pair August 20, 2010 at 1:04 am

I know the name of the town!! Hehe, I ll be glad to show her around. Feel free to email me :)

AnnaAuPair August 8, 2010 at 6:31 am

I don’t know how anyone would do without friends during the year. I have to say, I didn’t really have BFFs during my year, but I had a few friends I regularly hang our with. All of them were AuPairs.
I tried to make friends through classes, but the thing is: IF you work 8 to 5 every day, the only chance to take classes is in the evening. At that time, you either have people > 30 or other AuPairs in your classes. That makes making American friends pretty hard.
I found some friends at church, but they were already a “group”, so I had fun with them at church night outs, but I never met one of them outside of that.

As I didn’t have a car, it was good to have two friends with cars, so we could drive out of the city.
My friends came from countries all over the world. I have to say that the girls from my home country were just not my kinds of people (lots of parties and complaining all the time), so I hung out with the girls from other countries :D

Taking a Computer Lunch August 8, 2010 at 10:00 pm

I would like to add that I think friendship is also important to English language acquisition. Even my Brazilian APs, who had tons of Portuguese-speaking friends, learned more English – they were more likely to try to puzzle-out American song lyrics as a group, and more likely to make forays into situations where English was the dominant language if they were in a group.

My European APs made close friendships with other Europeans who did not speak their language and sometimes Asian APs as well. Because English was the common language among them their use of the language improved, even if they weren’t meeting Americans.

When our APs were working 45-hour weeks, we weren’t worried if they took a powder as soon as we got home – we understood completely (after all, work can be respite). We didn’t expect to see them on the weekend, but we did expect them to communicate with us – “I’ll see you Sunday night,” “I’m not coming home for dinner tonight,” or “Is it okay if some friends sleep in the playroom tonight.” The only AP to whom we ever issued a car curfew was the one who had barely driven around her own city before coming to the US, and we didn’t want her taking the car on 3-hour treks (the way other APs with greater experience had). Because we don’t have a curfew, I must say, several APs with curfews have spent the weekend at our house.

We usually invite APs to join us in family activities at the weekend, if they are around, but we’re not put out if they have plans. In the past we’ve often invited them to bring a friend along to a special event, but now that my son is older, it is he who will be invited to bring a friend.

Finally, putting everyone’s activities on the calendar, helps the AP to see what the family is doing. Make it clear to her that she is invited to attend events or activities when she is not working, but she is not required to do so. Sometimes, I think, Americans think they are being inclusive, when an AP would like an explicit invitation. Don’t wait for her to say, “Gee, could I come and see X’s soccer game?” Say, “X would love to have you cheer him on, but if you’re tired or have plans, he’ll understand.”

StephinBoston August 9, 2010 at 8:53 am

I agree with everyone, Happy AP comes from having friends, doesn’t have to be a ton of them but enough so that they have someone to do things with (outside of the host family). Ap#1 was older and Brazilian, which was PERFECT since we have a lot of Brazilians in our community, she made a million friends but spend a great deal of time with us too, eating dinner and sometimes on weekends too. AP#2 quickly found a lot of other German APs to hang out with, she too had a good balance of friend time and family time. AP#3 has not spent much time with us, it’s been hard on me, I find that I really enjoy having them hang out with us, getting to know them so I am hoping AP#4 spends more time with us, she speaks English fluently so I’m expecting her to make American friends more than APs since she will be the only one from her country around here. It will be interesting!

HRHM August 9, 2010 at 11:16 am

AP1 had one local friend, but mainly traveled whenever possible to see her cousins who were APs 3 hours away. AP2 had one friend local and traveled whenever possible to see another AP from her country who lived 3 hours away. AP3 has one local friend and frequently travels to visit a friend who is an AP from her country who loves 3 hours away (anyone seeing a pattern here?) All three were more interested in spending time with girls from their own country than other local APs and their language skills definitely suffered for it. They all seemed to think that the APs from other countries has something wrong with them, “too immature, all they do is party”, “too much like old ladies, they never want to go to clubs”, “all their friends speak their language in front of me”

Taking a Computer Lunch August 9, 2010 at 11:27 am

If your AP’s feel too isolated from the others they have met in your cluster, then I would suggest contacting your LCC and asking to help intercede. If she’s good at her job, then she could easily match your AP’s desire to go clubbing with an AP who has been here longer. If your agency is small, and there aren’t a lot of APs in your cluster nearby, then she should be able to reach out to other LCCs to find someone. The idea is to get your new arrival with one other person, rather than a group, because in a group you can’t form bonds, and it can be very hard to be the new person. We’ve pushed our LCC in the past, when we’ve had APs find it hard to make friends.

JBLV August 9, 2010 at 11:52 am

I studied German in college, and my language partner was an Austian au pair. We remain in touch on Facebook to this day. (over 10 years later. eek. feeling old.)

SotaGal August 9, 2010 at 11:11 pm

Seems like each of our AP’s have forged friendships that suit their personalities. One had just a few close friends, two of which were out of state so they talked a lot on skype, vacationed together, and took turns visiting one another on the weekends. Another only seemed to have other au pairs as friends and she was very happy and really enjoyed her time here and another had lots of friends – both au pairs and americans that she met in our community.

Thankfully we have a fairly large cluster (nearly 20, used to be nearly 30), plus clusters from other agencies so there is a big AP community here. Our AD does a good job of putting incoming AP’s in contact with those already here. While those initial relationships may not turn out to be the greatest of friendships it seems to be a good starting point and helps new au pairs get out pretty quickly upon arriving. We have only had one AP whose “friends” we didn’t care for…she was friends with several AP’s from her home country and LOTS of american boys.

anon August 9, 2010 at 11:59 pm

how did you handle the AP whose friends you didn’t like?

Taking a Computer Lunch August 10, 2010 at 7:08 am

We have found, in the course of 9 years of hosting, that APs are not your children and getting in the way of friendship or commenting negatively about their friends almost always has a negative impact on our relationship with the AP. Just about every AP has had friends we didn’t like, whom we felt were taking advantage of them, or we thought were actually dangerous.

We have altered our rules in reaction to some of those relationships. One smarmy friend, who was in the house alone while my AP and my kids drove another friend and her hostkids home, slammed a door in my face when I went to see what the noise was. Now we say, absolutely no friends in the house when the AP is not home – unless she is able to call us and make contact prior. I want no more surprises!

Sometimes we have done our best to gently warn APs that following a negative behavior may have a dangerous impact. One friend liked to go home with men she met in clubs and dragged our AP along. HD and I took a deep breath, cleansed our minds, and said as neutrally as we could – “Some men are not nice. Our city is not like your small city. It’s hard to be too careful with strangers. If you are ever in a position when you feel your life is in danger, call us and we’ll come pick you up – please.” And we said no more. When a friend stole from our AP (her new digital camera and some money), I told her the story of when a trusted housemate stole many of our belongings and fled for another state. I didn’t tell her that I didn’t like the friend, just that we all have lessons to learn in life about people and that some of them s–k! (Remember my metaphor for the AP year being like the freshman year in college, and then think back to all the things that went wrong for you that year. And then remind yourself how much you were happy that your parents didn’t know but how much also, you wish you could have their advice without the reprimand.)

Should be working August 10, 2010 at 8:40 am

Thanks for the ‘freshman year in college’ metaphor, TACL, it is useful in many respects. The problem is that I (or HPs in general) are much more intimately connected to the AP in her ‘freshman year’ than either parents of a freshman, or residence-hall advisers. Maybe if our AP quarters were more removed from our personal space it would a truer freshman-like quality

Actually I think the issue for us at the moment is that we have a rather adolescent AP—lots of eye-rolling, sarcastic talk, and teenager behavior. I wish there were a question in the interview to determine whether an AP is going to ‘rise to the occasion’ and mature a lot during their year, or instead be a teenager in my house.

Taking a Computer Lunch August 10, 2010 at 11:51 am

My handbook makes it clear that the AP is the 3rd adult in the house and has equal responsibility for the hard task of “raising the kids to be people we actually want to spend time with.” When I first sit down to discuss the handbook with the AP, we have a chat about “You are an adult in this house. I don’t hire children to look after my kids.” In the first instance of the AP giving in to my son (The Camel doesn’t talk back and her reactions are infantile for a reason), not enforcing rules, etc., we have a chat about being an adult in the house. I must say, almost all rise to the occasion. When I catch eye-rolling, I call them out on it, not meaning, but with something like, “I see you don’t agree with me. Why don’t we discuss it after the kids are in bed.” I haven’t gotten a lot of teenage behavior – even from the teenagers I’ve had. The worst time I had was with the AP we tried to sponsor, when the relationship deteriorated just before she left after 3 1/2 years with us (she was moving on anyway, she just made it easier to say goodbye by being nasty – and being my first AP, I couldn’t say, “I see what you’re going through and I need you to work until your time ends.”

Should be working August 10, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Great script: “I see you don’t agree with me . . . “. I will use that. I find that *I* tend to get sarcastic and childish in response to APs sarcasm, not good!

Same with the AP being the third adult. When I tell my AP things like that, she does seem to appreciate it and improve. For awhile.

Jennifer August 10, 2010 at 12:32 pm

I understand the immaturity in alot of these girls. But I struggle when they ar e 22+. At that age I was married, owned my own home and was having kids. Yes, I was young but the “freshman” excuse only lasts for so long…

Taking a Computer Lunch August 10, 2010 at 1:02 pm

In my experience some of the “immaturity” in older au pairs is also liberating freedom. My first AP was 23 when she arrived. She had been working two jobs and going to school part-time since she had finished high school. When she arrived in our home, suddenly she was no longer paying for an apartment, for food, and her education was partially subsidized (she took more classes than the then-generous $500 allotment covered). She was “only” working 45 hours per work and she was giddy with the freedom. We made it clear that even though she was living with our family she was an adult and responsible for her actions. She settled down after a few months and was perfectly fine.

We don’t have a curfew and all of our APs have gone through a “giddy” period, but all have done exactly what we’ve asked of them on the job. I think it will it get more difficult now that my son is older and thinks that the AP is only for The Camel, who will always need constant supervision.

cv harquail August 10, 2010 at 1:37 pm

TACL, that’s a really interesting alternative interpretation … food for thought. cv

Opinion of an Au Pair January 12, 2011 at 11:32 am

Wow, I read a lot about the issue “Au Pairs and their friends” and I must say that I can absolutely understand why Au Pairs want to spend as much time as possible outside and not at “home”.

1. We are at “home” ALL DAY- that means: there is no-one else our age around. We were used to see our peer group EVERY DAY at school or college or wherever and our “work” was to study and automatically to hang out with our friends. All of a sudden we can’t do that anymore PLUS we have to care for 1, 2, 3 or more children which is exhausting (yes, sometimes it is destructive).

2. After we spent the whole day cleaning, filling cups, changing diapers, explaining the rules of sharing, cleaned noses, wiped bottoms, drove the kids around, you come come. Awesome! That means time for ourselves: Write mails, check our facebook and meet people who can wipe their butts by themselves! Wooo-hoo!
We would stay at “home”, yes we would. But it is not our home. It is our workplace. And would you like to stay at your workplace and still hear the engines or patients or whatever scream and beep? We want to go and have the feeling of getting away from our workplace. Just like you. And you come HOME and just fall into the soft pillows on your couch. We can’t do that. We need an alternative “home”. So we find that in .. something else. Hopefully. I mean, even if we stay in our room, we will still be confronted with kid’s issues and that can make our heads explode.

I know that it sounds like being an au pair is terrible. It’s not. It is nice. As long as you have time for yourself too. I love my kids and my host family is great, they are very caring and support me where they can. Still, Staying in my room after work, makes me crazy. It feels like sitting in a cage.

And if you want to spend more time with your au pair, then find one day every week and find something nice to do when the kids are in bed. It can be at home. But don’t force us to stay there and sit with you at the table feeling like a zoo animal.

It is hard to be away from your family and having friends here is the only way to cope with that situation.

Well.. I think that’s all I want to say for now.

I know that my comment was pretty negative. Nevertheless I like my job and I’m glad I’m in the US.


aupairtobe May 19, 2011 at 8:44 am

I am currently in the form filling process to become an au pair. I am from England and the one thing that worries me slightly is from comments I get the feeling thre aren’t many English Au pairs in America. I dont mind about not partying (I have been 18 for a year and only gone out once and did not like it) however I do like going to the cinema or for meals with friends and I just wondered if there weren’t as many English au pairs are other European countrys?

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