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"AuPairMom" - 5 new articles

  1. The Weirdest Stuff Can Work Sometimes with Au Pair Host Kids
  2. When What Host Parents Want Isn’t Quite What Host Parents Do
  3. What’s the Best Way to Instruct Your Au Pair?
  4. Does Every Au Pair-Host Parent Relationship Deflate Towards The End?
  5. We Discovered Our Au Pair Doesn’t Share Our Family Values
  6. More Recent Articles
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The Weirdest Stuff Can Work Sometimes with Au Pair Host Kids

House Elves
Encore Presentations
Arm Wrestling to decide who gets to decide.

Sometimes the sillier you make it, the easier it is for kids to just roll with the concept.

au pair, mischief, fairies

In our family, the House Elves are the ones who don’t actually clean up after everyone.

They are supposed to, but they don’t. The kids hear my disappointment…

“Those naughty House Elves left their sneakers on the kitchen table.”  Or, “Which House Elf was supposed to set the table?”

Yet they don’t take it personally. After all, it’s the Elves, not the girls themselves, who are in the wrong.

Then, the girls get to swoop in and save the day, because those “naughty house elves can’t be trusted to do the work of smart girls”.

(I’m not quite sure how things work in elf- and fairyland. I make it up and so far no one has challenged my narrative.)   

We also never, never, EVER have “leftovers”.

We have “Encore Presentations“, just like on HBO.

We make up silly labels, silly creatures, and silly behaviors, because these silly things help us slip past the awkwardness — or the hum drum routine — of household and child care work.

As WarmStateMomma explains:

As a last resort, we arm wrestle for it. My daughter knows she has to eat her veggies/meat/whatever to “grow big and strong.” Sometimes we will arm wrestle her to determine if she’s big and strong enough to be done with her dinner....

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When What Host Parents Want Isn’t Quite What Host Parents Do

Sometimes I look at my Au Pair handbook and roll my eyes.

It is more fantasy than reality. More aspirational than actual.

144335017_7c78b52a47_mI look at the way I’ve described our family life:

We’re a fun loving family who enjoys playing together“, and I think of all the times I’d have preferred to stay on the couch rather than go for a walk.

I know I *want* us to become an active family, and sometimes I’m just too lazy.

I look at my expectations about mealtimes:

We like to eat dinner as a family, with simple home cooked meals“, and I wonder if defrosted lasagna counts as “home cooked”.

I know I want to eat only healthy, whole foods, but yes there is a box of Cheez Its in my desk drawer.

I look at how I’ve asked my Au Pairs to treat the girls:

Never yell at the girls. Take a deep breath, and try telling them a second time what they need to do“, and I think about the number I’ve times I’ve been glad my neighbors weren’t home to hear me completely lose it.

 I want to be that cool, calm and cozy mom, not the monster who only complains.

That gap between what I want for our family and what I’m able to create, on any given day?

It’s, um, huge.

And the gap between where we are and where I want us to be?

On our very best days, we make it there. Other days, not so much.

  • So how can I even imagine asking an Au Pair to hold herself to standards that I can’t reliably meet?
  • ...

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What’s the Best Way to Instruct Your Au Pair?

“Blah blah blah blah blah.”

There must be hundreds of Au Pairs out there who can appreciate this FarSide cartoon by Gary Larsen.**

gary-larson-far-side-cartoon-what-we-say-to-dogs-blah-blah-gingerA Host Parent’s constant instruction can quickly become just background noise. Possibly interesting, possibly important, but rarely punctuated by anything that grabs your attention.

And we Host Parents have SO much to say, especially when an Au Pair is new to our family.

“To use the dishwasher, set it on regular unless the dishes are sticky, then use Heavy Duty but only if you take the wineglasses off the top shelf and make sure to put the bottle caps and covers in that little plastic compartment next to the knives, which should ALWAYS be put in ‘point down’. Right? Easy peasy.

When you have a lot to tell your Au Pair and even more to *teach* him or her, the best way is to limit the amount you talk.

Shocking, but true.

The less you say the better.

Use this simple process:

1.  Prioritize the one or two most important things about the situation you’re discussing  (e.g., the knives, which cycle).

2.  Say it once, with words that are two syllables or less.  

“Knife points down.” “Regular Cycle.”

3. Say it in one or two sentences. Sentences with no clauses.  

“Always point the knives down.  Use the regular cycle.”

4. Demonstrate the desired actions.  

Put a knife in the dishwasher, point down.  Close the door and put your index finger on the Regular...

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Does Every Au Pair-Host Parent Relationship Deflate Towards The End?

In a world where most AuPair-Host Parent relationships are just “fine”, are those of us who’ve had terrific Au Pairs simply lucky?

Or have we forgotten the hard parts –as we’ve forgotten the pain of childbirth, or the sleepless nights of new parenthood– and just held on tightly to the good?

8569015920_a9dffccf17_mTruth be told, I’ve erased lots of the petty annoyances from my memory.

I’ve forgotten my own short temper, my chronic disappointments, and my own awkwardnesses. I’ve forgotten the scratches on the car, the using of my favorite coffee mug, the clomping up the stairs to the third floor.

Or wait, maybe I haven’t forgotten them. Maybe I’ve pumped up the happy memories so that these have ultimately overshadowed the constant grind of Host Parenthood?

The disappointment in this Host Dad’s email, below, rang true to me.

How many times did I start off promising to be my ‘very best host mom’? To let the dumb things slide? To focus on the good?

To play the year like a DJ at a dance party, pumping up the beat till everyone in the room was having fun?

Is there any way to change the arc of the Au Pair year, so that there’s a better chance of a truly *happy* ending?

The HostDad writes:

It always seems to happen this way:

We start off great. But after about six months (and a few times even earlier), our relationship with our Au Pair seems to falter.  Towards the last month or two they grow distant. They start...

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We Discovered Our Au Pair Doesn’t Share Our Family Values

For Bothered Host Mom, things started out fine.
Then, oops, turns out her au pair wasn’t who she thought she’d be. Now what?

6316544589_1d64288ca4_m

Our Au Pair was great — in the beginning.

We treated her like a friend and family member, gave her lots of gifts, took her to Vegas for her birthday.

She does a great job with the kids. There’s nothing abut her care of the children that concerns me.

However, as I’ve gotten to know our Au Pair, the more I started seeing that her values are very different from our family’s values.

She was on tinder and got a boyfriend. That’s when everything went south.

She does her job but she goes out every night. She doesn’t always respect the curfew of being home by 11:30.

She is not allowed to use our car anymore because at one point she drove the car at 94mph.

I found out that she can’t be trusted, she has lied to us about reasons she needs to borrow the car.

Now the boyfriend comes and picks her up every might. We’ve refused to meet the boyfriend or to introduce him to the kids. He’s not the kind of guy we want around our house.

We had 2 conversations about the car, how we wanted her to respect the curfew, how we enjoyed when she was a part of our family.

We saw her going from being a responsible adult who had lots of flexibility,privileges and freedom to acting like a bratty teenager and doing stupid stuff after she met this guy.

I feel like she doesn’t...

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