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"AuPairMom" - 5 new articles

  1. 3 Features of Au Pairing: Which One Challenges You?
  2. Open Thread: Labor Day Weekend 2014
  3. Labor Day: An American Celebration of Workers
  4. How to Decline an Au Pair Match — Politely
  5. Flirting Au Pair Makes Life Awkward: Did we handle this well?
  6. More Recent Articles
  7. Search AuPairMom
  8. Prior Mailing Archive

3 Features of Au Pairing: Which One Challenges You?

What are the real, important differences between Au Pairs and other kinds of childcare providers, like nannies, babysitters, or childcare centers?

What really influences the challenges that host parents and au pairs face when it comes to making this ‘the best year ever’?

2176773871_97a17213ea_zIt used to be that when people asked me how having an au pair was different from using other strategies for childcare, I would focus on the concept of flexibility.

For me, as an academic with non-standard work hours (sometimes during the day, sometimes at night, sometimes at home, changing every semester) the flexibility element was critical.  For our family, flexibility was the primary reason for having an au pair, and the other features of au pairing came along for the ride.

But after 11 au pairs as well as 7+ years with the Au Pair mom community, I’d explain it differently.

Now, when people as me what makes having an au pair different from another kind of childcare, I’d  say it’s:

1. Au Pairs occupy a unique place in your family’s world.

 Au Pairs are both ‘employees’ and ‘part of the family’.

2. Au Pairs are from cultures other than your own.

Even if an Au Pair shares your family’s cultural or language heritage, they come from such a different cultural place that it’s hard to avoid experiencing these differences and learning from them.

3. Au Pairs are not professional childcare providers.

...

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Open Thread: Labor Day Weekend 2014

beach chairsHappy Labor Day weekend–

and for those of us whose kids (finally) go back to school this coming week, happy last day of summer vacation.

Enjoy this open thread, to converse about anything your heart desires (as long as it fits within our Comments policy). Also, if there are things you want us to discuss on the blog this Sept., let me know!

The thread will be open until Monday evening, or until I empty the cooler, whichever comes first.  ~ cvh

 Photo by Rosa Say, on Flickr

     

Labor Day: An American Celebration of Workers

American Culture is on my mind today.  

Of the three big distinctions between Au Pair childcare and other childcare, the idea of cultural exchange often takes a back seat.  One reason for ‘culture’ receding in to the background is that we regularly experience cultural differences and cultural exchange at the interpersonal level.

Cultural exchange feels like something that happens between us and our au pairs.

labor dayAnother reason is that — especially these last few years– American Culture seems more divided. It’s less a unified thing than a bunch of competing sets of values and perspectives. Whether it’s red vs. blue, north vs. south, city vs. suburbs, or 1%ers vs everyone else, …

It feels hard to point to something and say “Yes, *that’s* American Culture.”

Just think about this weekend’s Labor Day. All too often it ends up being treated as just a long weekend because culturally we find it hard to agree what we’re actually celebrating.

We tend to overlook the fact that Labor Day is a holiday invented by the Labor Movement.  Like the 40-hour workday and the weekend, we’ve got Labor Day because hourly workers banded together and fought for it.

Call me a socialist, but I’d like for more of us to talk about Labor Day as a holiday that honors solidarity among workers and reminds us that fair pay, decent hours, and safe working conditions are rights that workers not only deserve, but also that...

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How to Decline an Au Pair Match — Politely

No one wants to be rejected — not au pairs and not host parents.   But reject each other we must, since we know that even a perfectly lovely candidate (in this case, either a host parent or a potential au pair) may just not feel like the right fit.

But how can we let the candidate know that we don’t feel a match, without hurting their feelings?

7982702742_b57e8ae424It’s easiest to explain that you’re declining by pointing to a concrete, unchangeable feature of the mismatch — e.g., “I’d prefer older children”, or “I don’t think I’d be comfortable in a situation where I’ll need to drive often on the highway” or “Our family likes to eat meat so we think a vegetarian might be difficult to accommodate in our tiny kitchen.”

Honor your intuition

If you don’t have a concrete explanation and it’s more about a gut feel, you should honor your intuition.  Folks have often said on this blog that they didn’t feel comfortable with a match but pushed on because they were in a hurry or they didn’t have a concrete reason to decline the match.  Don’t do this.

It’s perfectly okay to say “it doesn’t feel like a match to us”.

If it doesn’t feel like a match to you, and you’re sure you’re not being too picky, say so and move on.

Be prompt with your response. It doesn’t make it any easier to wait to share the mis-match news. Don’t...

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Flirting Au Pair Makes Life Awkward: Did we handle this well?

Long-time AuPairMom readers know that we rarely discuss bad behavior between au pairs and male host parents, for two reasons:

antiflirt club

  1.  There actually isn’t that much (especially compared to other kinds of problems), and
  2. Posts with certain words draw really creepy spammers that I hate to have to deal with.

That said, there might be situations where there’s no foul play, but just lots of awkward behavior by the au pair.

What’s an effective way to respond when an au pair’s behavior is simply too flirtatious? 

Here’s the story: 

Has anybody dealt with au pairs being wildly flirty?

We recently went into rematch with our third au pair.

Soon after arriving from Europe, this au pair began pawing at my husband, cat calling out the window to him and sending him cutesy private texts.  She also seemed rather competitive with me (not ever paying compliments, never laughing at my jokes, etc.), and I couldn’t figure out if this flirtatious behavior was part of a competitive thing with the other grown female in the house (me), or if she was truly trying to land my man.

Wee sat her down and asked her to please stop this behavior. She became very upset and said she had no idea what we were taking about, then she left the room crying.

Needless to say, this was weird for all of us, but she was extremely good with the kids, so we wanted things to work out.

Time went by and I thought we all had recovered fairly well from...

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