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"AuPairMom" - 5 new articles

  1. One Slight After Another: Can this au pair relationship be saved?
  2. Au Pairs Should Use Language that Host Kids Can Understand
  3. It’s the Parents’ Job to Teach Children Kind Behavior
  4. If an AuPair is being exploited, is it okay for her to disappear?
  5. How to Get Your Au Pair Ready To Cook
  6. More Recent Articles
  7. Search AuPairMom
  8. Prior Mailing Archive

One Slight After Another: Can this au pair relationship be saved?

It’s interesting to get emails from host parents — and au pairs– where it seems that the very act of writing to us is helping them gain some clarity about how untenable their situation actually is.

il_570xN.609913982_ihwvThis seems especially true when there isn’t one prominent issue but instead several smaller ones that, when all pulled together, seems to demonstrate that this relationship cannot be saved.

As I read through this host mom’s email, below, it became easier and easier to imagine recommending that she move to rematch. After all, this host mom had a good experience with their former au pair and knows what kinds of challenges are reasonable.

And then there was one statement in her email that stopped me cold. (I put it in bold for you.)

Apart from all the other concerns this single statement said to me:

Not an au pair you want in your life.

What do you think?

What should this host mom do next?  

Dear AuPairMom–

Our first AuPair was great, not perfect, but we had a wonderful loving relationship with her and became very close.She was also an integral part of interviewing for our next AuPair.

We Should Be Grateful?**
We matched with our 2nd AuPair several months before she came. She made it quite clear to us that she had many other offers but she was “picking” us, as in, we should be so grateful. We thought it was a little strange how she emphasized it so many times but let it go.

“Snotty” and Dissatisfied...

Read the whole entry »


Au Pairs Should Use Language that Host Kids Can Understand

Many families look for au pairs who can help their children learn a language other than English.

The idea is that the au pair can speak to the child in the au pair’s first language, and teach the child the second language through everyday interactions.

2189089518_f1a797b9db_zConceptually, this makes sense. We do, after all, learn our original languages by being immersed in contexts where a certain language is being spoken. Since au pairs spend many hours a week interacting directly with host children, au pairs can create this language context around the child. This strategy works especially well when the child/ren are just learning to communicate with words, and when the host parents or other adults can also speak to the child in the non-English language.

I understand the desire of parents who want their au pairs to be responsible for teaching a language to a child– but it’s also important to prioritize the relationship between the child and the au pair.

When either the child or the au pair speaks in a language the other doesn’t understand, there’s an automatic block between the sounds that are spoken and the meaning that’s received. This means that their ability to create a quick, trusting relationship is impaired.

Sure, some people can adapt more quickly that others to being immersed in a language they don’t speak. They figure it out with pantomime, context clues, dictionaries, daily language lessons, apps, and google translate.

And, some people can...

Read the whole entry »


It’s the Parents’ Job to Teach Children Kind Behavior

Au Pairs can reinforce discipline and expectations, but it’s Parents who remain responsible.

Many parents who are either new to parenting at all or new to host parenting specifically struggle with this issue.

14070424932_3cb77dbb4a_zWe all want our children to be kind. Full stop. (I’m assuming this is true. It’s true, right? We want our kids to be kind.)

We also want our children to treat others with respect as well as with kindness. So a child who hits, punches, gets aggressive, and is generally mean is a kid whose behavior we want to change.

We can ask our au pairs to help our children change their behavior, but we parents have to take responsibility for taking the lead in this.

Host Parents Are Responsible for Addressing Children’s Misbehavior

That means that the host parent has to decide on the strategy  for discipline, reinforcement, punishment when necessary, and rewards when appropriate (time outs? corner time? Candy rewards? 1-2-3-Magic?).

The host parent also has to decide on the standards of behavior, standards that fit the expectations of the family, the child’s developmental age and ability, the situations the child will be in, and the other children, adults, and creatures who will be interacting with the child.

(I’m adding creatures because I think that it’s important to teach children to be kind to animals. Sometimes I’ve seen parents teaching children to be kind to an animal as a way to teach them to be kind to any living...

Read the whole entry »


If an AuPair is being exploited, is it okay for her to disappear?

We’ve heard the horror stories of au pairs disappearing while the host family is at church, or in the middle of the night without warning. Although this is often selfish behavior by an au pair and intended as a slap in the face to the host parents, there are actually a few situations where I might recommend that an au pair disappear.

girl with suitcase1Obviously if an au pair is threatened with physical or emotional abuse, he or she should leave the host family house immediately. No question about that.

But if it’s a situation where the au pair is being taken advantage of and where s/he’s either pursued some appropriate path for negotiating a change or getting a rematch, we step into a gray area.

What would it take for us Host Parents and Au Pairs to say “Yes, this is a time when the Au Pair should just pack up and leave”?

What would an Au Pair need to do — before disappearing — t0 feel like s/he acted respectfully (given the circumstances) and in a manner s/he can feel proud of?

Read through this email from au Pair, and let’s talk about what she should do.  Then, we’ll vote.

I‘ve been an au pair in (a northern European country) for a little over 2 months now. At first it is always hard getting to know the family and the routine and all these things so I just thought that the host-mother is just not that patient. But now it is starting to get out of hand.  

My schedule looks like this from monday to friday:


Read the whole entry »


How to Get Your Au Pair Ready To Cook

Once your host kids get past the ‘oatmeal and smashed peas’ phase, it’s time for an Au Pair to do some real cooking.

bagelEven au pairs who’ve cooked in their home countries find cooking in America to be a bit challenging.

Au Pairs need to figure out:

    • How our appliances work
    • What each of the foods is named
    • How American weights and measures compare to metric ones
    • What temperature in Fahrenheit is “hot”
    • Where all the stuff is in your kitchen
    • How to cook and mind the kids at the same time

And that’s even before you get to what your dear kids will actually eat!

To help our au pairs get started, the  smartest things I did were to:

  1. Buy a set of Metric measuring cups and spoons
  2. Type up a list of temperatures that foods should reach in order to be ‘cooked’, in both Fahrenheit and Celsius
  3. Make a set of menus for three lunches and three dinners, and
  4. Create some full meal recipes, where I wrote down what to do, for how long, in the right order, so that our au pair could start at 5 and have supper on the table by 5:30.*

Peachtree Mom offered a new suggestion:

Before our next Au Pair arrives, I’m thinking of sending her a link to  Although it is low on the priority list, we do ask our au pair to make dinner 1 to 2 times per week.

3 out of 3 au pairs stated they could cook. Each recited several dishes when we asked about it during Skype — but not...

Read the whole entry »


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