Here’s a tough situation that could use your advice! This host parent is facing what feels like a win/lose situation in a conflict between what the family wants and what the au pair wants.
Check out the details, weigh in at the poll, and then offer some advice!
Dear AuPairMom Readers– I was so glad to find this blog and LOVE the info and advice it provides to host families. I know the topic of vacations has been discussed in the past, I have a more particular have a situation that I would love to get input on, specifically related to whether we can/should ‘require’ our AP to come on vacation with us:
We are planning to take a week long vacation for a family wedding on the east coast in a few months. Our entire family lives there, so we generally travel there once a year.
We have taken our APs in the past and it has worked out really well all around. We have a two and six year old, so the benefit of an extra adult on the long plane ride is super helpful and having a sitter for a few nights and for family events is great.
We also make sure our AP has a reasonable amount of free time to explore the area, visit NYC, etc. We stay with our in-laws, but she has her own room and we do our best to help make her comfortable and assist her with sightseeing plans.
Here’s our current issue:
My brother’s wedding is the EXACT SAME NIGHT as our au pair’s 21st birthday.
Our Au Pair has politely told me that she would greatly prefer to spend her 21st celebrating with her friends in Vegas (which she has already visited twice).
She has been with us for six months and is wonderful with the children, although we’ve had some issues with being part of the family, car usage — just overall personal maturity stuff.
I certainly don’t want to ‘force’ her to go and worry whether she’s miserable during her trip with us. But, at the same time it would be very helpful for us to have her there.
Also, I feel frustrated that she is being shortsighted by not seeing this as a great opportunity for her to experience other parts of the country that otherwise might be too expensive for her to travel to on her own.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Just a quick poll for your immediate reaction (you can choose more than one answer):
READERS: (Sunday am) The Original Poster (OP), Melissa, has offered some additional information about the situation to address some of the assumptions and questions raised in the (already) 50+ comments. I’m putting this info right here in the original post, so that you don’t have to scan the whole comment thread to consider her information before sharing your advice. Also, the bolding and underlining are from me, to help you find the various elements. Here it is:
I’m the OP and thought it might be helpful to provide some additional details to our situation. First, thanks so much to everyone who took the time to respond – I really appreciate your input and suggestions and have some really good points to consider!
Regarding whether we ‘need’ our AP on the trip – this has been a tough one for me to determine because the only time I feel like I absolutely ‘need’ my AP is when I am working and I need someone to watch my kids in my absence. So, based on that, no, I don’t absolutely NEED her to be there. However, I work PT from home, so in addition to needing her while I’m working (which is about 25 hrs/week), a signficant part of our family’s purpose for having an AP is to be there during other times (help with homework while I’m making dinner, stay with my napping 2 yr old while I’m out with my other daughter, travel with us, etc), which we make very clear during the application process. We don’t have any family around, so this is a HUGE help for us and the reason that we choose an AP, and that ‘helping’ piece is a significant part of her job for us.
Finding another babysitter is an idea we have considered, and may wind up doing. However, our entire family will be at the wedding, so we would have to find someone other than a relative or family friend. Our 75 yr old parents would have no idea who to recommend for a local babysitter, so we would probably have to resort to care.com or something similar, which I’m not real thrilled with doing. Instead I would probably just bring the kids to the wedding and have my husband run around after them most of the evening (I’m in the wedding party) and leave early, if we need to.
I should have been more clear in my OP, that if we did bring our AP with us, it would be a working week for her and definitely not have her use any of her vacation time. And we’d make sure she has ample time to sightsee and relax (and give her some extra spending cash or pay for her sightseeing, which we’ve done in past trips with prior APs).
I do realize the importance of her 21st birthday, and was considering some of the things that others suggested, such as contributing toward a ticket for bringing a friend (a friend who will be on school break during that time, not an AP so no need to use up vacation time), or possibly even paying for her stay in Vegas the following weekend. And I don’t have any opinion about where she wants to go for her birthday (I personally love Las Vegas and see the appeal for her).
However, we have been very generous with her (in my opinion) – we provide her with her own car, cell phone and laptop, and we’ve tried to be pretty accommodating to her social schedule (she is our first AP who is quite a ‘partyier’ and that’s been an adjustment for us) by giving her off on New Years Eve, letting a friend from home stay with us for two weeks, giving her off most weekend nights, posting her schedule well in advance, etc. She is very nice and polite around us and never really complains or sulks or displays any immature emotional behavior.
The issues that we’ve encounted so far have all been regarding her free time. She is gone virtually all the time, which limits her ability to be part of our family (she’s probably had dinner with us less than 15 times over 6 months) and she has ‘pushed the limit’ with a lot of things, like always asking for exceptions to our worknight curfew, having male friends over later than we said she could, constantly keeping the car out overnight, etc. So we’ve had to have some talks about those things and set some additional rules. If we did require her to go on the trip with us, I don’t think she would be sulky or difficult, but b/c her social life and partying is so important to her, I know that while she wouldn’t be miserable, she probably wouldn’t be thrilled to be there.
Anyway, sorry for the looong post! Hope that additional information gives a bit more insight into my question. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!!!
Wedding – Flower Girl from bitchplz on Flickr