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“There’s a lid for every pot.”
This wisdom was offered by HRHM four years ago, and it’s stuck with me. I love it because it’s just so TRUE when it comes to au pairs and host families.
No matter how weird unique your family is or how weird distinctive an au pair candidate is, if you meet the basic criteria of being kind, caring and qualified, you’ll eventually find your match.
Despite knowing that who we really are is probably just right for someone, we still traffic in fictions.
Many of us– especially our first few times through the selection process — go out of our way to present our families and our home situations in the best possible light. Like the people who take photos of apartment interiors for the New York Times real estate section, we are tempted to use a special lens when we show off our families, a lens that makes everything look prettier, tidier, and more tempting.
Describing only your family’s very best features can create expectations that you can’t live up to.
You set the bar too high, and it doesn’t help. You disappoint not only your au pair, but yourself.
No family can live at their absolute sweetest, easiest and best. Especially if they have kids. Human kids.
The Flip Side
Going too far in the other direction can backfire too.
(There is a good argument for taking it all the way to the other extreme. CalifMom describes this as the “I Dare You To Match With Us”...
Welcome to our Weekend Open Thread!
Open threads are for comments on any subject at all, including past posts, things we haven’t posted on, what you’ve been thinking or doing, etc. You can even let me know if there’s a topic you think I should queue up for the coming week.
This thread will be open for a full weekend, from today until the evening of Monday, April 21st, or when we hit 100 comments, or when I get organized because– hey, it’s spring break and I may be busy eating Easter candy.
We’ll open up a new thread on Saturday, April 26th.
Be sure to follow our basic comments policy.
Also, tell me in the comments– is this open thread thing working for you?
Threads, Gareth Morgan https://www.flickr.com/photos/19025199@N00/8425203345
Can you remember back to the first time you ever heard about the Au Pair program?
I can’t remember how I first heard about it (and I think I assumed I knew what an au pair was). But I *do* remember trying to explain the whole concept to my dad. And then to my coworkers, my next-door neighbors, my mother-in-law, and the receptionist at our pediatrician’s office.
Because the term itself is French, people jump to two conclusions:
First, they assume that an au pair is something only snobbish people do, because who else tosses in a french term when an English one will do?
Second, they assume that simply translating the term into English explains the whole thing.
The title comes from the French term au pair, meaning “at par” or “equal to”, indicating that the relationship is intended to be one of equals: the au pair is intended to become a member of the family, albeit a temporary one, rather than a traditional domestic worker.
Both of these conclusions are wrong, wrong, wrong.
The Simple, Easy Explanation
Explaining what an au pair is to other people is actually the easy part: ”An au pair is a young adult who comes to the USA for a year or so on a student visa, to live with you, provide childcare, learn English, and explore another culture.”
What Some People Really Want to Know
And the hard part...
There are some ‘random, crazy and true’ au pair stories that seem like urban myths …
… The Fox in the Henhouse, the au pair who disappears two days after she arrives, and of course, the au pair who gets a second paid gig in the ‘tourism industry’.
When I first heard stories about au pairs who were using their time in the USA to explore the “Pretty Woman” version of the American dream, I was sure that these stories were simply tall tales, fictions designed to titillate. What young woman in her right mind would come to the US as a paid, live-with-a-family caregiver, and then choose to hustle for extra cash and ‘adventure’?
And then I became friends with a mom in my own town who had this happen with her au pair.
Why all the new clothes? Why was her au pair disappearing all weekend? Where was all this extra shopping power coming from? After a few Friday evenings of her au pair being whisked into NYC by a Town Car, the host mom figured it out. Her au pair had signed up as an ‘escort’. When the mom confronted the Au Pair, the Au Pair displayed some alarming naiveté– she was just a paid ‘date’, the men expected nothing more. She was sure of it.
My friend was lucky: Her au pair had only a few weeks left before the end of her year, so the problem literally ‘went away’.
The host mom who emailed last night? She could really use our advice.
Before we even get into it,...
Dear Au Pair Moms,
In two weeks, as part of my senior (undergraduate) research project, I need to present an analysis of the needs of AuPairMom readers. I’m very excited about what I’ve learned so far about the AuPairMom community, but I have a big problem: I don’t have enough data.
Fewer that 100 readers have participated in our survey— even though nearly 7,000 readers have come to the site in the 11 days since we put up the request for study participants.
That means that less than 1.2% of readers have participated. Even if we include the readers who shared ad hoc comments from the post about the survey, it’s still less than 2% of readers. I need more people to respond to the survey questions. Ideally, I’d like to have 300 regular readers respond to the survey. (That would be 2% of the 15,000+ unique people who visit each month.)
Think about the number of times you’ve come to the site to vent, to laugh, to get a reality check, or just to escape annoying high school friends and their cats on Facebook. The average person spends 4.8 minutes on the site each time she visits. Isn’t it worth about 5 minutes of your time to ‘pay it forward’ and tell us what you’d like to see on the blog?
I thought so. You can Click Here to Take The Survey!
Thanks – Shawn