"AuPairMom" - 5 new articles
There are many different types of equally good relationships that we host parents can have with our au pairs.
Good host parent- au pair relationships can vary by
— their level of intimacy (e.g., seriously close or pleasantly distant),
— the amount of time we spend together (e.g., every waking moment or “I’m off duty, see you tomorrow, love ya!”),
— the roles that we play in each other’s psyches (e.g., Boss lady/ great employee, Big Sister/Little Brother, and Mom’s Friend From Back in College/ “like a niece”),
We host parents get a sense of these different dimensions when we have our second au pair. The first au pair relationship always “is whatever it is”, but the second one is when you realize that– with each au pair — the form of your relationship will be different.
Also, we parents get to read on this blog about different forms of relationships, and generally have good sense of how very different au pair- host parent relationships can be and *still be good*.
For au pairs, though, I realized I have no sense of what they are expecting.
Curious Host Mom raises all these questions and more, in her email below.
I’d love to hear from Au Pairs, especially, about what you expect/hope to have...
Venturing into the grey areas of Au Pair regulations and scheduling, a First Time Host Mom asks– how many days might a brand new au pair work before she must be given a day off?
(I phrased it differently in the headline of this post, but essentially it’s the same question). She’s thinking about the first 8 days, total, of her Au Pair’s arrival.
Her details are below, and here’s my take:
I’m a big believer in following the rules to a T, especially at the start. A day off in this time period makes sense conceptually, but also it’s probably what the rules require. Remember that your Au Pair arrives at your house already having been “On duty” and working at her Agency’s training & orientation session… so what you might really be looking at is a 10.5-day stretch of being “On duty”.
When a new Au Pair arrives and is clearly not working out, sensible Host Parents start thinking about rematch. If the Au Pair does something unsafe, dishonest, or mean — ask for rematch right away.
With other situations, it makes more sense to give it a little time.
You might think your au pair is a terrible driver, but if you give him two weeks of concentrated effort and practice, his driving (and confidence) might improve. Or, if your Au Pair seems homesick, clueless, nervous, or awkward with English, you might give your Au Pair time to get his or her bearings before drawing conclusions about their suitability for your family.
Because many situations can work themselves out with a little energy, focus, experience, and time, Au Pair agencies are smart to require that families and Au Pairs work together for 6 weeks before considering rematch.
I know this from my own experience — I remember telling my DH the first night an Au Pair arrived that I thought I didn’t really like her, that her personality didn’t work for me. In fact, she was the first Au Pair I didn’t really take to right away. So of course, within a month she’d become one of my favorites.
The other reason (I think) that we’re expected to work on it for 6 weeks is that ALL relationships take some time.
If we were able to go into rematch the moment we had our first hesitation about an Au Pair, we’d all be in rematch. All the time. So whenever it’s a...
What do you do when you’ve organized yourself and been clear about your needs, but find yourself unable to influence the behavior of your Au Pair?
When communication or training differences pop up, we usually go back to the basics:
Most of the time, it’s one of these basic foundational elements that’s lacking…and “all” a host parent has to do is put this foundational element in place and (most times) the problem gets resolved.
Or, you might have these foundational elements, but just not followed up in practice. Then, “all” a host parent has to do is explain the “Why” behind the rule, or link the expectation to a larger sense of purpose and responsibility.
Alas, for HostMomLosingHerPatience, she’s done all of this. And more.
Her situation is not one of those “rematch, now” kinds of things. It’s a little late in the year for that, but even more importantly, this issue speaks of a deeper frustration and disappointment with the Au Pair -Host Family experience.
Awaiting your words of wisdom —
Dear Au Pair Mom, I have searched this website and many others* related to promoting a good relationship and communicating with my Au Pair. We have been a HF for 5 years, with a total of 7 Au Pairs. Some went into...
Everyone say it together:
New Host Mom, this au pair is putting you through the wringer over food issues.
You should try one more time to set some limits about what food you will and will not provide. You were clear when you were matching, and it’s your au pair who’s changed the terms of the social contract here. She needs to change her expectations, or prepare for rematch.
You should also consider having a conversation with your au pair about what her changing needs and expectations are really about — because I’ll bet they aren’t about food.
And, you and your partner should step back a bit too, and discuss how this situation slipped away from you. It’s the “boiled frog” problem, where each increment isn’t much change, bit over time the situation’s gotten intolerable.
Lots of us have been there, trying to fix this and be flexible with that, until the whole base of your au pair relationship is contorted and you aren’t getting the help you need.
Folks, chime in!
We are having a very difficult time with our au pair. She has a very specific diet, and the longer she’s here the more she has cut back on certain items. Before she arrived, we were told she had no allergies, no food restrictions. We had ourselves eliminated from consideration any au pairs with food allergies or restrictions because we didn’t want to deal with it.
She told us she liked to drink soy milk and only ate...
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