"AuPairMom" - 5 new articles
Frances Scher here again…
I’ve been brainstorming this idea lately, and want to get some feedback.
When we first started out hosting au pairs, my husband and I expected to meet a lot of other host families. Then we would know someone who had been down this road before and would be able to give firsthand experience how this form of child care really worked.
Being a host mom (and I am sure also…a host dad) is unique in many ways. You pay your au pair, but they are still part of the family…they take care of your children, but most also are growing from children to adults themselves at the same time…they come from another country and know many things, but still need help navigating this new place….etc. Also, I thought it would be great to make friends within this new to us AP community.
We showed up to our first agency host family event…and we were the only ones there. Several months later, we went to the next one, which combined several other clusters in our large metropolitan area. There were about 8 families there, but everyone was so busy helping their kids with the activities at this place, that I barely was able to even introduce myself to anyone, let alone have a “so how is it going for you as a host mom” conversation.
Now, after several more years of hosting, this pattern still seems to continue.
We recently moved to a new town, and I have finally gotten to know another host mom since our APs are best friends. When we run into each other out in the...
(Reposting from its previous place in another thread:)
Writes Host Mom X,
I need some urgent advice on an uncomfortable situation, with a new au pair and her Host Dad:
One of our au pair’s besties recently ended her year, and our au pair has taken that host family’s new au pair under her wing. We had heard some interesting stories about this family from our au pair and her bestie, including some instances of rule-breaking (e.g. having the au pair do overnights while the parents traveled). We knew the situation wasn’t always ideal for a few other reasons – but the bestie au pair stuck out the year.
The new au pair (I’ll call her M) came to us tonight with a serious problem: her host dad touched her inappropriately (apparently this is the second time this has happened) – sounds like leg and behind touching. She she of course is in a bit of a tailspin, feels very uncomfortable going back to the house AND the host mom will be traveling out of town tomorrow, leaving her alone in the house with the host dad for a couple of days.
Our au pair asked us to speak with New Au Pair M too, because she was very worried and wanted to bring in another perspective. (Apparently bestie au pair says this never happened to her. New Au Pair M is the family’s second au pair, and they apparently went through many babysitters/nannies before entering the au pair program.)
I’m hoping for help with:
(1) gut check on what New Au Pair M should do:
A new host mom sent a long email about several challenges she’s experiencing with her Au Pair (and we’ll get to them in the next week or two).
Her concern about her new Au Pair’s swimming skills stood out to me, maybe because my neighbors down the street — with a new au pair– have just opened their backyard swimming pool. Walking by their house with my dog, I could hear all kinds of shrieking as the three boys splashed about, and I wondered how their Au Pair was holding up.
My own family spends a lot of time in the water– in granny’s pool, splashing with the dog in the river, out on my sister’s boat (sometimes jumping into the river from the boat), and boogie boarding on the ocean waves.
Every single one of our au pairs was a capable swimmer. This was something we insisted on.
NOT because I thought an Au Pair could ever stand in for a life guard, at the beach, the town pool, or in the river.
We insisted on a Au Pair who could swim because we wanted someone who was comfortable in the water– who could be safe *herself*.
We wanted someone who’d happily wade into the water with the kids to play. We wanted someone who wouldn’t be scared to come out with us on the boat or on a jet ski. We wanted someone who’d see Granny’s pool as a treat...
Hi! I am Frances Scher, and I am taking a turn at the APMom mailbox.
First up is a letter from a new host mom.
Her previous expectations of the au pair program don’t seem to be lining up with the current reality.
The au pair is not doing her job and following the guidelines like it was thought she would. This host mom also expected more support from her agency. She does seem to be getting a little bit, but in the end it doesn’t seem to be enough.
I think I need help/advice?
I am brand new to the host parent thing. I would say for the most part after reading your blog we have done everything wrong. I really expected that she would “own” the au pair role. What that meant for me was, she would understand what was laid out in the contract as far as her role and would do it to the best of her capabilities and of course ask questions when she didn’t understand something. Of course, I walked her through her tasks and showed her how to do each thing but where I failed was if it didn’t get done, I didn’t follow up on it. For example, one of her tasks is to do the children’s laundry. If it wasn’t done, I would do it on the weekend #HPFail, or if I got home and their toys were all over the living room, I wouldn’t say anything (though I’ll admit on the weekends we don’t pick up their toys either).
Where I would have wanted help from the agency was around school schedules. How it was explained to me was AP would attend the required education courses on...
I know, it’s taking me for. eh. ver. to make any moves with the administration and management of AuPairMom. No ads yet, can’t get organized for sponsored posts, upgrading tasks postponed not just till a rainy day but waiting for a monsoon, and so on. Meanwhile, I’m 56,000 words into what Annie Lamott calls the “S&*^y First Draft” of my book about Generosity as a Business Strategy. So there’s that.
We got 8 great volunteers in response to my call for contributors a few months ago. These women have been holding steady (and nudging me occaisionally) while I worked out a few kinks, and now I’m happy to introduce to you our first “Contributing Editor”.
But before I do — I want to send some hugs and gratitude to the many host moms who — without formal titles or access to the inner workings of the blog’s mechanics — have been nurturing and nourishing this community with their wisdom. New Host Moms and Experienced Ones, prospective au pairs, bright eyed au pairs, world traveller au pairs, the occasional host dad, all of you. Many many thanks.
Frances Scher is our first Contributing Editor! She’ll be taking emails to the blog, plus her own ideas, to offer up topics she thinks you’ll enjoy. She’ll post whenever she feels inspired and able to (ahem, the normal mode over here). She’ll also keep an eye on comments for the posts she’s served up.
Frances is sworn to...
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