The Ultimate List of Interview Questions Au Pairs Want to Ask Host Families (But Might Be Too Shy to Ask)

The Ultimate List of Interview Questions Au Pairs Want to Ask Host Families (But Might Be Too Shy to Ask)

Hi, Abbie and Maddie here. For aspiring au pairs, the first interview with a host family can be extraordinarily stressful. Au pairs are just as nervous about finding the right host family as host families are about finding the right au pair. What should au pairs ask host families to start the relationship off well?

There are so many things to think about. What will the children be like and the job entail? What will it be like living with this family and so far from home? What will my free time look like and will I be able to make friends? Then add in a potential language barrier, time zone differences, and technical difficulties.

We have some help for you! Here is our ultimate list interview questions that au pairs want to ask host families.

We designed this list of questions to be a conversation. As the discussion evolves, choose questions from the list to keep up the dialogue and get to know your host family better. We don’t recommend asking every question on the list. Start with the most important ones, then follow up afterwards with extra questions if needed.

For host families, this also serves as a list of questions you can ask yourself. Use these questions when you’re reading the ultimate list of interview questions host families ask au pairs to keep the conversation balanced and not too one-sided. Did you cover this information when talking with your potential au pair? It is often very difficult for au pairs to think of all the things they need to ask when they are first conversing in a new language and with a new family.

Ask Host Families About Au Pairing Basics

  1. How did you find out about the au pair program as a host family?
  2. Have you hosted an Au Pair before? How many and do you still talk to them? Would it be possible for me to speak with your current or former au pair?
  3. If you have hosted an au pair before, what are your favorite things about hosting au pairs? What are your least favorite things about hosting au pairs?
  4. How long are you planning to host au pairs? Would you consider extending with an au pair if it was a good match?
  5. Are you considering au pairs from lots of countries or just from my country?
  6. Which languages do you speak at home? Are you looking for an au pair who speaks a certain language? Would you like your au pair to help your children learn a second language? (A lot of au pairs are looking for an English immersion experience, and want to make sure they get lots of English practice.)
  7. What are you looking for in an au pair?
  8. Do you have any worries about hosting an au pair? What are they?
  9. Do you wish for your au pair to be fully integrated into your family’s life or do you prefer your au pair to be more independent in their off-time?

Ask Host Families About Their Children and Childcare Duties

  1. Tell me about your children. How old are they? What are their interests? What are their personalities like?
  2. Are there any activities your kids really enjoy? What activities have your kids enjoyed with previous caregivers?
  3. How do you deal with bad behavior? How do you reward your children? How do you discipline and train good habits into your children?
  4. What types of behaviors require punishment or reward?
  5. Have your previous caregivers had any trouble with your children? Are there any techniques you can recommend to help me work with your children?
  6. What will a typical day/week look like for your au pair?
  7. Do you provide a written schedule? Is there flexibility in the schedule or is it the same every week? How much notice will you give if  the schedule changes?
  8. Do you have activities planned for your children? Who arranges those plans?
  9. What duties do you expect your au pair to handle?
  10. Will I need to drive as part of my child care duties?
  11. Do you have your au pair help with light housework like kids laundry / cleaning up after kids meals/ picking up toys / etc.?
  12. Will I be helping the children with their homework/virtual school? What resources will be provided?
  13. Do your children have any special needs like allergies/medical needs/special needs/learning disabilities? Is there anything I will need to do to ensure that I provide the care that they need?
  14. How much screen time do you allow for your children?
  15. What do you think children need most from their au pair or care giver?
  16. Is there anything important I need to know about caring for your children?
  17. What is the best way to contact you if something happened? Do you provide an au pair phone?
  18. How do you pay your au pairs and how often? What is your weekly stipend/pocket money? Do you provide other perks to your au pairs?

Ask Host Families About Their Family Life

  1. What do you do for a living? What does your spouse do for a living?
  2. Do you or your spouse work at home? Do you work evenings or weekends? What is your typical work week schedule?
  3. What does your family like to do in their free-time? What are your interests and hobbies?
  4. Do you like to invite friends over? What activities do you enjoy with your friends?
  5. Do your kids like to invite friends over? What activities do your children enjoy with their friends?
  6. Do your au pairs invite friends over? Can they stay the night? What about friends of the opposite sex?
  7. Do you or your spouse smoke or vape? Do you drink alcohol? Socially or at home?
  8. Does your family like to travel? Do you have any trips planned? Does your au pair travel with you?
  9. Do you like being outdoors? What are your favorite outdoor activities?

Ask Host Families About Their Culture​

  1. What is your favorite holiday? Why?
  2. Tell me about a tradition in your family. How do you celebrate birthdays / births / weddings / new years?
  3. Do you have any favorite traditional foods?
  4. Are you religious? Do you actively practice your religion?
  5. Do you enjoy going to church / temple / synagogue / mosque? What’s your favorite part?
  6. When was the last time you went to church / temple / synagogue / mosque?
  7. Are there special things you do or don’t do in observance of your religion?

Ask Host Families About Their Location and Transportation

    1. What is it like to live in your city/town? What activities are close by?
    2. How is the weather in your city/town? Is it hot/cold/rainy/snowy?
    3. Do you have family or close friends who live close by? Do you see them often?
    4. Are there other au pairs who live close by?
    5. Is there a college or university close by so I can take classes? Do you know what types of classes they offer for au pairs?
    6. How do you handle the expenses for classes? What and how much do you cover?
    7. Is there public transportation available in your area? Are there any other transportation options?
    8. Do you have an au pair car? What kind of car is it? Is it a stick shift or automatic?
    9. Is the car shared? Can the car be used by your au pairs in their free time?
    10. What are your car rules? Do you have any restrictions?
    11. Who takes care of putting gas in the car? Who cleans the car?
    12. Who fixes the car when it is broken or needs maintenance?
    13. Will I need to get a local drivers license? Does that include taking a written and/or driving test?
    14. How do you handle the car/transportation expenses while on duty? How do you handle the car/transportation expenses while I am off duty?
    15. What happens if I damage the car? What happens if something happens to the car that is not my fault?

Ask Host Families About What It Will be Like to Live With Them

  1. Do you like to cook and/or eat as a family? What are your favorite meals to prepare?
  2. Who typically cooks the meals? Who cleans up afterwards? Does your au pair join you for meals?
  3. Do your au pairs prepare meals for your children? Would you want your au pair to take a turn cooking meals for the family?
  4. Is there anything your family doesn’t like to eat or can’t eat? Do you eat meat / pork / fish / shellfish / dairy / gluten / etc?
  5. Would you be ok with your au pair preparing foods for themselves that the family doesn’t eat? Who pays for your au pair’s special foods?
  6. Are there food items that you do not want the children to eat or see your au pair eating?
  7. Have you ever tried (fill in the blank favorite food)?
  8. Do you have other household help? Who cleans the bathrooms? Who cleans the kitchen and floors?
  9. What are your house rules? Do you have an au pair manual you can share with me?
  10. What is your usual bedtime? Are you a morning person or evening person?
  11. Do you have any pets? Who takes care of feeding and cleaning up after the pet? Do you ask your au pair to help with any pet duties?
  12. Is there anything important I need to know about living with your family? Do you have any pet peeves?
  13. Can I see the au pair bedroom and bathroom? Where is in relation to the other bedrooms?

Ask Host Families About COVID-19​

  1. What will happen if your au pair falls ill and cannot work?
  2. What are the COVID-19 laws in your area?
  3. How seriously is your family taking social distancing? What COVID-19 precautions are you following now? What safety precautions are you asking your au pair to follow?
  4. What precautions will I need to take before arriving in your home? Will I need to quarantine or have a covid test?
  5. Will I be able experience the area and culture once I arrive? Will I be able to travel during my vacation weeks?
  6. Will I be able to meet with friends or have friends over?

Our Experiences with Au Pair Interviews

AbbieAbbie says: I like to send my au pair candidates a list of questions ahead of time so they can prepare. They are working hard at English, so it helps if they have time to think about how they are going to answer in English. It’s okay with me if their English isn’t perfect. I’m going to try my best to make the relationship work, and I want to know they are going to try their best to make our match good, too.

Maddie AvitarMaddie says: I can usually tell in the first few minutes of an interview if an au pair will not be a good fit for my family. I don’t follow the scripted questions that the agencies provide. Instead I like to have a conversation. I ask questions like “what did you have for breakfast?” or “where was the last place you drove the car?” I need a au pair who can converse – answer my questions and follow up with questions of their own.  I don’t expect perfect grammar or for an au pair to know all the words in English. As long as they find a way to communicate.

Do you have favorite interview questions? Comment below, we would love to hear from you!

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The Ultimate List of Interview Questions Au Pairs Want to Ask Host Families

The Ultimate List of Interview Questions Au Pairs Want to Ask Host Families

The Ultimate List of Interview Questions Au Pairs Want to Ask Host Families
Ultimate List of Au Pair Interview Questions

Ultimate List of Au Pair Interview Questions

Hi, Abbie and Maddie here. Asking the right questions is crucial to making a great au pair match.

There is a fine balance to strike. On one hand you need to learn about what it will be like for this person to live with you and care for your children. You also want them to feel comfortable enough to answer your questions honestly and ask you questions back. On the other hand, you don’t want them to feel like they’re being interrogated.

Then add technical issues, time zone differences, and a potential language barrier to the mix. Interviewing is stressful!

We have some help for you. Here is our ultimate list of Au Pair interview questions (and our accompanying list of Au Pair Host interview questions coming soon!). We designed this list of au pair interview questions to be a conversation. Most of the questions are open-ended, and any yes/no answers have easy follow-up

As the discussion evolves you can choose questions from the list to keep up the dialog and get to know your au pair candidate better. We don’t recommend asking every question on the list. Start with the most important ones, then follow up afterwards with extra questions if needed.

Most importantly, make sure to make it a conversation. Ask your au pair candidate if they have any questions for you! Even if they are too nervous to ask, they might if you’re sharing information back and forth.

Au Pair Basics

  1. How did you find out about the au pair program?
  2. Why would you like to become an Au Pair?
  3. Have you ever traveled outside of your home country? When? How long were you away from home? Who did you travel with?
  4. Have you ever flown on an airplane? Where did you visit?
  5. Have you ever been to (fill in the blank country)? Where did you go?
  6. Why do you want to come to (fill in the blank country)?
  7. What are the things you wish to do and see in our country?
  8. When you take your vacation holidays, where would you like to go and what would you like to do?
  9. If we traveled as a family, would you be interested in traveling with us?
  10. Are you considering au pairing in other countries as well? Which ones?
  11. What are you hoping to gain or learn from the au pair program?
  12. What are you looking for in a host family?
  13. How long are you planning to be an au pair? What you want to do after being an au pair?
  14. What are your expectations concerning your stay as an au pair?
  15. Do you have any worries about becoming an au pair? What are they?
  16. Does your family have any worries about you becoming an au pair? What are they?
  17. Are your family and friends supportive of you becoming an au pair? What about your boyfriend / girlfriend?
  18. Do you wish to be fully integrated in our family’s life or do you prefer to have more space and time for yourself?
  19. We love that you’ll hang out with our family, but it’s also really healthy that you have other friends to hang out with as well. What are your plans for making friends and combating homesickness after you arrive?
  20. Would you like your family/friends/partner to visit you while you are at our home? What would they like to see during their visit?

Background and Personality

  1. Tell me about your family. Do you live close to each other? How often do you see them? What do you like to do together?
  2. How would you describe yourself? What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  3. How would your friends describe you? How would your teachers describe you?
  4. Do you have any degrees or certificates? (CPR, etc.) Which ones?
  5. Have you thought about what kinds of classes you might want to take while you are an au pair?
  6. Are you working? What do you do? Do you like it?
  7. Are you going to school? What do you want to do with your degree once you graduate?
  8. What does a typical day look like for you?
  9. Do you like animals? What kind?
  10. Do you have a pet? Who took care of feeding and cleaning up after the pet?
  11. Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend? Have you talked about how you will deal with being apart from each other?
  12. What is your favorite color? Book? Type of music? Artist? Movie?
  13. Is there anything important we need to know about you?
  14. What is your usual bedtime? Are you a morning person or evening person?
  15. How well do you follow instructions? If I ask you to do something and you don’t understand why/how to do it, what will you do?
  16. What languages do you speak besides English? Would you be comfortable teaching new languages to my children?

Free Time

  1. What do you like to do when you are by yourself?
  2. What do you like to do with your friends?
  3. What are your interests and hobbies?
  4. Do you like to have friends over? What do you like to do together? Do they stay the night?
  5. When was the last time you were at a party with your friends? Was it a big or little party? Did you host the party or was it at a friend’s house?
  6. Have you ever hosted a party? Do you like to host parties?
  7. Do you smoke or vape? Have you smoked in the past? When was the last time you smoked?
  8. Do you drink alcohol? Socially or at home? When was the last time you drank? What was it (beer/wine/hard alcohol/mixed drink/etc.)?
  9. Do you like being outdoors? What are your favorite outdoor activities?

Childcare Experience

  1. Tell me about your childcare experience. How long have you been working with children?
  2. Have you worked as an au pair or live-in nanny before? How did you and the parents communicate and share responsibilities?
  3. How many kids have you watched at once? Were you by yourself? Were you comfortable with that many kids?
  4. Have you ever worked with (fill in the blank age) kids? What did you do with them?
  5. Have you ever been alone for 8 to 10 hours with (fill in the blank age) kids?
  6. How do you plan to keep the kids busy when the weather is bad?
  7. Have you ever soothed a crying baby/changed a diaper/made a bottle? When was the last time? What would you do if the baby won’t stop crying? Has a poop all over them? You run out of bottles?
  8. Have you ever potty-trained a toddler/introduced solid foods to an infant?
  9. What is your favorite thing about working with children?
  10. What do you find is the most challenging about working with kids?
  11. What is your least favorite thing about working with children?
  12. Is there anything you are excited to share with or teach children? 
  13. Can you help the children with their homework/virtual school? What would you do if the child is not paying attention or has a bad attitude about learning?
  14. How do you help a child who is angry? Sad? Having a tantrum?
  15. How were you punished as a child? Did it work? Do you use the same/different techniques on children you are caring for?
  16. Do you have experience with children who have allergies/medical needs/special needs/learning disabilities? What needs did they have? What did you have to do differently to make sure they received the care that they needed?
  17. How much screen time do you think is appropriate for children?
  18. What do you think children need most from their au pair or care giver?

Driving

  1. Do you have a driver’s license in your country? How long have you had it?
  2. Where was the last place you drove? Is that far away from your home?
  3. Do you own your own car or use your family’s car? What kind of car is it? Is it a stick shift (manual) or automatic?
  4. Have you ever driven a big car like a van / pickup truck / SUV?
  5. Who takes care of putting gas in the car?
  6. Who cleans the car?
  7. Who fixes the car when it is broken or needs maintenance?
  8. Have you ever been in an accident when you were driving? What happened? What did you do? What was the outcome?
  9. Have you ever been in an accident when you were not the driver? What happened? What did you do? What was the outcome?
  10. Have you ever gotten a ticket? What happened? What did you do? What was the outcome?
  11. Have you ever driven in a big city / highway / dirt road / other side of the road / long trip / snow and ice?
  12. Have you ever driven with kids in the car? Where did you take them?
  13. Have you ever buckled kids into a car seat? How old were the kids and what type of car seat (Infant bucket, forward/rear facing, 5 point harness, seat belt booster, etc.)?
  14. Have you ever installed or uninstalled a car seat before? When was the last time? Did you need help?
  15. Pretend there is a police car with lights on behind you. What do you do?
  16. Pretend you are parking the car on a busy street and accidentally damage another parked car. What do you do? What if no one saw you do it, then what would you do differently?
  17. Pretend you are in my car and you get into an accident. What would you do?

Roommate

  1. What did you have for breakfast this morning? Is that a normal breakfast for you?
  2. What did you have for dinner last night (tonight)?  Is that a normal dinner for you?
  3. When was the last time you prepared a meal for others? What did you prepare? Do you cook for others often?
  4. If you cook the meal who cleans up afterwards? Who cleans up when you are not the one who cooked?
  5. Do you like to cook? What is your favorite meal to prepare?
  6. Would you be willing to cook meals for the kids?
  7. Would you be willing to take a turn cooking meals for the family?
  8. Is there anything you don’t like to eat or can’t eat? (Funny story – one of my au pairs was terrified of mushrooms. I couldn’t even have them in the house or she wouldn’t open the fridge.)
  9. Do you eat meat / pork / fish / shellfish / dairy / gluten / etc?
  10. Are you willing to prepare types of food you don’t eat?  
  11. Have you ever tried (fill in the blank family favorite food)?
  12. Who do you live with now?
  13. Have you ever lived away from your family before? Did you live alone or with roommates?
  14. When you lived with ___ who did the cooking? Dishes? Shopping?
  15. Who takes out the trash? Cleans the bathrooms? Cleans the kitchen?
  16. How often do you do laundry? Do you take care of your own laundry? Or take care of laundry for others?
  17. Would you be willing to help us with light housework like kids laundry / cleaning up after kids meals/ picking up toys / etc?
  18. What are some challenges you’ve faced in past living situations? What did you do to resolve it?
  19. Is there anything that drives you crazy? What are your pet peeves?

Culture

  1. What is your favorite holiday? Why?
  2. Tell me about a tradition in your family. How do you celebrate birthdays / births / weddings / new years?
  3. Do you have any favorite traditional foods? Do you know how to make them?
  4. Are you religious? Do you actively practice your religion? What does that look like to you?
  5. Do you enjoy going to church / temple / synagogue / mosque? What’s your most favorite part?
  6. When was the last time you went to church / temple / synagogue / mosque? What was the occasion?
  7. Are there special things you do or don’t do in observance of your religion?

Problem Solving

  1. How would you help two young children who are angry and fighting over the same toy?
  2. What would you do if Wednesday afternoon swim practice is cancelled and you find yourself with a free afternoon with my 4 year old?
  3. What would you do if I was stuck in traffic and couldn’t be home at 5:00 as I originally anticipated?
  4. Imagine you are given two hours to play with the kids. How would you keep them occupied?
  5. What would you do if the children were disrespectful or disobeyed you?
  6. Tell me about a time you had a disagreement with someone. How did you work through the problem? What was the result?
  7. Tell me about a time you faced an emergency situation. What happened? What did you do? What was the result?
  8. What would you do if a child locks themselves in the bathroom? A car?
  9. What would you do if a child is choking on something?
  10. What would you do if my baby had a fever? What if the baby fell and became unconscious?
  11. Pretend that your host parent said something that you disagree with. What would you do?

Medical and COVID-19 

  1. Do you have allergies or medical conditions we need to know about?
  2. Have you been vaccinated (or had) Chicken Pox, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Whooping Cough, etc.? Would you be willing to receive vaccinations if you joined my family?
  3. What are the COVID-19 laws where you live now? 
  4. How seriously are you taking social distancing? Who did you see this week/month? Where do you go and what did you do? Did you were masks or social distance?
  5. What COVID-19 precautions are you following now? Would you be willing to (fill in the blank safety precaution) when you arrive?
  6. Would you be willing to quarantine/wear a mask/get tested before/during/after your arrival?

Our Experiences with Au Pair Interviews

AbbieAbbie says: I like to send my au pair candidates a list of questions ahead of time so they can prepare. They are working hard at English, so it helps if they have time to think about how they are going to answer in English. It’s okay with me if their English isn’t perfect. I’m going to try my best to make the relationship work, and I want to know they are going to try their best to make our match good, too.

Maddie AvitarMaddie says: I can usually tell in the first few minutes of an interview if an au pair will not be a good fit for my family. I don’t follow the scripted questions that the agencies provide. Instead I like to have a conversation. I ask questions like “what did you have for breakfast?” or “where was the last place you drove the car?” I need a au pair who can converse – answer my questions and follow up with questions of their own.  I don’t expect perfect grammar or for an au pair to know all the words in English. As long as they find a way to communicate.

Do you have favorite interview questions? Comment below or head over to the My Au Pair and Me Host Parent Community on Facebook. We would love to hear from you!

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Ultimate List of Au Pair Interview Questions

Ultimate List of Au Pair Interview Questions

Ultimate List of Au Pair Interview Questions

Host Parent Interview With Lisa Sanabria

Host Parent Interview With Lisa Sanabria

This blog post is part of the host parent interview series where we get to know other families who are hosting au pairs. Every family is different and we like to represent a variety of views.

We’d love it if you’d consider being a guest on our blog. Message us on Facebook or Instagram, or email us at [email protected] if you are interested.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your family.

Hi, my name is Lisa and I’m married to my amazing husband, Eric. We have 2 great kids, a boy and a girl, both elementary school age. We live in a northern suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.

So far we’ve only had one au pair from South Africa who joined us in August of 2019 and was due to leave this summer. We matched with our second au pair before things got crazy with COVID but now can’t get a visa. Luckily, our current au pair decided to extend 6 months, which takes us out to the end of January 2021. Our next au pair is thankful for our current au pair’s extension and is willing to wait.

Lisa Sanabria and familyI’ve had some unique experiences that have somewhat prepared me for my au pair. Since 2003 we’ve welcomed interns from a large company I used to work for. It’s hard to keep track, but at this point I’ve had more than 160+ college kids live with us. Most of our interns are from various parts of the US. We’ve also had quite a few international interns. They grew up in India, China, Portugal, Columbia, etc. and moved here for college or graduate degrees.

We are social people and have enjoyed the diversity in our life. Of course, there have also been some challenges (which make for some interesting stories over the years).

I also was a residence assistant (RA) in college and had over 500 girls per year on my floor to host, welcome, and oversee. It really feels like a lifelong passion to be a facilitator of young people.

Q: How did you find out about au pairs?

Before we had children, we would host lots of gatherings for the interns’ friends at our house.

I first learned about au pairs from some Swedish au pairs that worked for one of my colleagues. Years later, when we were pregnant with our first child, we remembered about the au pair program. We signed up with Cultural Care, based on that colleague’s recommendation.

We interviewed an amazing German au pair who helped her mom run a daycare from their home. Unfortunately, we learned that you could only schedule au pairs for 45 hours a week. With both of us working, we’d need more like 60 or 70 hours.

Then we learned that my husband’s employer, The Home Depot, was opening a brand new onsite daycare run by Bright Horizons. This solution was great while the kids were young.

When my son entered kindergarten we had to switch to a local after-school daycare. That’s when we started getting calls that he was getting in fights, etc. and we had to come get him. This was very unlike my child and it was also very disruptive for me at work.

We hobbled by until almost the end of his first grade year. At this point we’d been through at least 3+ after-school programs. None had the patience or oversight to watch and understand what was going on.

Then I remembered another colleague’s advice that getting an au pair became easier once both kids were in elementary school. With my daughter starting kindergarten and my son entering 2nd grade, I re-looked at the hours we would need. It was more like 30 hours. Much more doable, and we could add a few date nights or errands in.

We jumped right in and signed up with several agencies and began interviewing. The rest is history and we haven’t looked back.

Q: Which au pair agency (or agencies) have you used and why?

Since we were already signed up with Cultural Care, we reactivated the search there. We also signed up for another agency, GoAuPair, to see what the differences were and to broaden our search.

We also signed up for Au Pair in America but were rejected due to having college interns who only stay for 4 months at a time. They saw this as instability for our au pair and thought it would be difficult for her to bond and then say goodbye. (Personally I thought this was ridiculous. Isn’t this what we do with au pairs?)

We ended up getting our au pair from GoAuPair. Cultural Care had a bigger database and slightly better search function but our best match was with a South African young lady with GoAuPair.

Our current au pair was supposed to go home on August 1, 2020. We asked her to extend in March but her family experienced a lot of tragedy this year and she felt she had to go home and comfort them.

We were all sad but I jumped back into the agency searches. This time I went even broader. My best chance of finding the best match is to have the biggest pool to search from. I reactivated Cultural Care and GoAuPair, then added Au Pair Care and Au Pair International.

This time we matched with another South African from Au Pair International. I was pleasantly surprised when I compared all four agencies. Au Pair International was the cheapest by almost $2000 when compared to Cultural Care.

We were all set, and then COVID wreaked havoc. My second au pair’s visa appointment on June 23rd was canceled and moved to mid-September. Luckily, my current au pair decided to extend 2 months which put her out to October 1st. Safe again.

Then more havoc, with President Trump’s Executive Order banning overseas au pairs until at least 2021. Luckily, my current au pair decided to extend again, so we’re good until January 31, 2021. Now we’re crossing our fingers nothing else happens. What a wild ride!

On the bright side, both my current and future au pair have been very communicative and understanding of everything.

Q: What criteria did you use for finding your au pair?

As an engineer, I have a very analytical background. I did a ton of reading about au pairs and hosting. I read about not only regulations and life with au pairs, but how host families succeed and fail and all the learnings in-between.

A big help both times around was reading the blog aupairmom.com. I also joined several Facebook groups as this COVID mess blew up, to learn more, and get immediate feedback.

Armed with all this info, I printed out every list of suggested questions I could find and starred what I thought was most important.

Our first basic requirement was for an au pair with mastery of English, so we’d set the filter as mastery or just under. My oldest, who has ADHD, struggles to communicate well. We need someone who can jump right in and be the role model for communication.

We also wanted a strong swimmer since we have a lap pool in our backyard.

Beyond this, I read a lot of profiles. I sent our family’s profile to anyone who didn’t say something that sounded crazy and seemed to fit the basics, then let them decide if we should explore further.

Our profile is very detailed.

On the positive side, Atlanta is a big city with lots to do, but also close to mountains, waterfalls, and nature. Another big selling point is that we like to travel and will take our au pair with us.

On the other side, being an au pair for our family comes with some challenges. My son with ADHD needs a lot of patient repetition. Both my kids are close in age and have a love-hate relationship. My au pair needs to be a referee (unfortunately). I have the schedule detailed out so they can see that they need to work a few hours each weekend. Perhaps the biggest thing against us is that we don’t provide a car.

Armed with all this info we get a 60% acceptance rate.

One mom from aupairmom.com likes to call this method, “Dare to match with us.” A little extreme, but I like to weed out those who might be coming with rose-colored glasses and think their year is just going to be a party.

Once they get here, we shower them with love and make them family. But I need to get priorities and personality set up front.

Q: How did you decide which au pair to match with?

As described early we put a lot of detail into our family profile and handbook.

Our current au pair was the first one we interviewed, and we had a good feeling about her but didn’t want to rush into it. We interviewed three or four more but each one we kept comparing back to her.

This is when it really sunk in that she was for us. We interviewed her 3 times, and at the end of the third interview we offered her the position. We all cried happy tears.

Q: What are some cultural experiences you’ve had with your au pair?

We looked up all the South African restaurants in Atlanta. We had our au pair inspect the menus and pick what sounded best, then we went and enjoyed the cuisine. It was enjoyable. My son loved his spaghetti…little did he know he was eating ostrich. =)

Q: Have you had any trouble with your au pair? How did you resolve it?

I think we got really lucky the first time around, as our au pair has immediately clicked in the family and is really mature. Overall, she’s been great.

A little over four months in, my son’s IEP teacher called. He mentioned during class one day that he was afraid to tell the au pair when his sister was being mean to him.

Apparently, the au pair had been trying to encourage them to solve their own problems. She told them if they were fighting they needed to figure out how to resolve it on their own. Sometimes when they earned free time she would put her headphones on. He didn’t know how to deal with his sister trying to hit and scare him.

I was shocked, because my au pair is so loving and patient with them. On the other hand, we all know that too much time with little ones fighting all day can drive anyone crazy.

So after kid bedtime one night, we sat down together. We let her know ahead of time we wanted to talk about how our son was doing in school. The first half of the school year just ended and we had completed teacher conferences, so I don’t think she was expecting any more than that.

We told her some general things that he was supposed to work on. Then I said I thought she was doing great, but that there was one story that the teacher told that we needed to talk about.

I shared the story and my au pair started crying. I hugged her and told her that I understood. The fact she was crying only showed how much she loved the kids.

We talked about an improved way to respond. They should learn how to resolve their differences. If they needed help she could be there with suggestions on how to work through it WITH them.

The three of us then talked with the kids and let them know the changes.

Q: What are some things you wish you did differently (or you plan to do differently with your next au pair)?

Overall I’m pretty happy with how this first au pair experience has gone. I’ve occasionally asked how things have been going, and my current au pair is thrilled.

I continue to read suggestions on how to welcome new au pairs, so next time I’m going to print my new au pair’s pictures from her profile and put them in her room.

I’m also going to warn her to bring an empty suitcase and think ahead about how much she buys when she’s here, and how she will be able to get it home.

Beyond that, not much.

I will ask my au pair one last time about a month before she leaves what my husband and I can improve. Maybe she can write a welcome and advice letter to leave for the new au pair.

Q: What is advice you’d give to other host parents (or parents thinking of welcoming au pairs)?

Really figure out what’s most important to you about your au pair’s personality and skills. We all want the moon and stars for our children and family but no one’s perfect.

For instance, my au pair isn’t a slob but she isn’t much of a cleaner either. This is ok for me because she loves my children and actually enjoys playing with them, even when she’s not on duty. I can give up having a perfectly clean house for the extra play and joy my children get, and the extra few peaceful moments I get.

Also, realize finding someone just like you first of all is impossible and also might not be the best fit. I’ve read stories from people who are take-charge, detailed, in-control people and think an au pair like this might be good. But then they butt heads on who’s taking charge.

Think through some scenarios and how you want your au pair to fit in with your family. Write these skills and personality traits down and search for it.

Q: Do your au pairs talk with each other?​

Once we were down to our final two au pair candidates we asked our current au pair if she’d be willing to talk with them. We asked her to be a sounding board for whatever questions our new au pair might have about us.

Our current au pair didn’t have to tell us anything about the conversation unless there was something completely awful she felt we should know.

We requested they speak in Afrikans so they wouldn’t worry that we were listening in.

They talked for 15 to 20 min and my current au pair says she likes her. I know that we are all on social media together and they talk a little, but not a ton.

Q: Now that you have an au pair, how has it impacted your family, good, bad, or otherwise?

Our au pair has changed our life for the best, 100%.

One example: my son was at an end of Kindergarten level of reading when my au pair arrived in August 2019. Now, not quite a year later, he’s at a beginning 3rd grade level. He jumped two whole grade levels in one year! Amazing!

The few times we are not with our au pair, my kids say, “I wish she was here so I could show her this.”

My husband and I are also able to get a few more chores done, and a little more alone time together. Our stress level has definitely gone down. We are truly family, and will love her forever!

For all the reasons above, I started a new YouTube Channel, American Au Pair Host Mom. I share tips, tricks, advice, and the amazing opportunities families have with the au pair program. I’d love for the My Au Pair and Me family to check it out and share your feedback!

How has your au pair dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic?

Our au pair is an old soul, we are so lucky again in this area. She has au pair friends through social media that she chats with.

Even before COVID, she wasn’t too keen on a lot of outings. Now that it’s hit, she doesn’t go out except to take walks or bike rides.

She’s very concerned about not getting sick and not getting us sick either. So we watch a lot of movies together and sometimes go out on a nature hike to a waterfall.

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Host Parent Interview With Jenny Coleman

Host Parent Interview With Jenny Coleman

This blog is part of the host parent interview series where we get to know other families who are hosting au pairs. Every family is different and we like to represent the variety of views.

We’d love it if you’d consider being a guest on our blog. Message us on Facebook or Instagram, or email us at [email protected] if you are interested.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your family.

Au Pairs enjoying a sunny day by the waterHi there! So just to tell you a little bit about us. I am Jenny, I am 44 (nearly 45…but the last few months of being 44 are VERY important!) I am married to Julian (52) and we are coming up to our tenth wedding anniversary. Julian and I both work within the emergency services.

We have two children, Megan age 11 and Emily age 7. We also have two dogs, Rosie (a Welsh Springer) and Lacey (a working cocker.) To add to this family, we have 11 amazing au pairs who have been a HUGE part of our lives in the last ten years.

We live in Penarth in Wales – UK. Penarth is a very diverse and beautiful seaside town. It’s an affluent area, but full of middle aged professionals or retired people. It’s mainly a family based area with exceptional schools. We live slightly outside of our pay bracket, but to us a home for au pairs and children to grow up in, you cannot ask for a better set up.

Q: How did you find out about au pairs?

I was traveling the UK, lecturing on a specific topic related to work, and met an amazing woman from the World Health Organization. I stayed overnight with her around 13 years ago and I was introduced to her au pair. I didn’t really understand what an au pair was until this point. I had a nanny as a child, as my mother was single at the time and also worked within the Emergency Services.

My husband and I live over three hours away from my parents and siblings, and he has no family, so when I got pregnant I panicked a little. I was worrying about how we would cope with the demands of our jobs and a child. My position demanded 18+ hour days most of the time, so I knew that conventional nannies or nurseries were never going to work for us. I recalled the au pair I had met and started to do some research.

I learnt that an au pair was a person 18-30 looking for a cultural exchange, who in return lived in with you. One thing I noticed about the au pair I had originally met, was that she wasn’t really a part of the family. She went to her room as soon as her chores were complete. I definitely didn’t want this. I didn’t want a ‘live in’ maid or ‘servant’ – I wanted an extension on our family and a friend. My au pairs have all become so much more than ‘a friend’ – they have become surrogate daughters to both Julian and I.

Q: Why did you use an au pair (instead of daycare, nanny, etc.?)

We love our au pairMy hours of work can be in excess of 18+ a day. I never wanted either of my children to be bounced between friends or family. To be rushed to breakfast clubs or after school clubs. I also, (as much as I hate to admit it) am not the most maternal of people.

An au pair for me, offers stability, routine, friendship, a big sister, a confidant, love, fun and support for my girls. Personally, they have each made me grow as a person. They have been there through some of the worst times of my life, been a pillar of strength, a shoulder to cry on. They have told me off, made me see sense, laughed with me, cried with me, drank copious amounts of wine and danced around the house with me. They have only extended my family for the better.

If something serious happens at work, meaning I have to stay on (sometimes this has been for days – I literally have not seen my children for a week at a time, and this happened quite often before I changed departments)…I was always able to relax, knowing they were safe, in routine, homework done, a hot and healthy meal in their tummies and to bed on time. We ensured that the time and hours worked by the au pair was made up and paid back.

Thanks to the love and dedication of my au pairs, I have two happy, emotionally well balanced and bright young children.

Q: Which au pair agency (or agencies) have you used and why?

I have always used AuPairWorld. AuPairWorld was the first site I ever tried. It was easy, I liked the search criteria and ‘easy find’. I was able to easily contact and message potential au pairs through their messaging system, and the cost was relatively inexpensive. I also like the fact that the searching and the decision making was entirely left to me as the host. I much prefer this concept over an ‘agency’.

Q: What criteria did you use for finding your au pair?

Generally I wanted au pairs who had no previous experience of  ‘au pairing’. This was mainly because I wanted the experience to be one that we went through together, and there was no comparison to others. I wasn’t concerned about childcare qualifications. I looked for a warm face and personality. I generally skipped over any au pairs who had a pouting ‘kiss blowing’ photo, or half naked photo as their profile pic. I looked for someone who was family orientated and loved animals as well as children.​

Q: How did you decide which au pair to match with?

I would ‘like’ and message quite a few au pairs that matched my search criteria. I looked for those that replied, and engaged rather than just sending a notification. I always tried to make my profile letter funny and honest. Most au pairs said they loved this and it stood out from people that just listed chores and needs. For me an au pair is not about the chores it’s about the engagement. Of course, helping with general household jobs is part of the role. But they would never be asked to do anything that I wouldn’t do, or that I wouldn’t give my kids to do. Both of my children help the au pair with the hoovering and polishing when they can. I am a bit of an OCD freak, so I would always do this when I can or do with the au pair.

Anyway, back to the question…I would whittle down the search by responding to those that asked questions and genuinely seemed interested in the children, their likes and dislikes, hobbies, interests, schooling, music etc etc. Both of my girls play the piano, one to a high standard. For a brief period, I looked for au pairs with musical knowledge, but I found that this didn’t work and it limited my choice. All the au pairs I have had joined in with the children and started to learn music for themselves, I loved this. 

Once I had the au pair choice down to three or four, I would Skype with them. Speaking clear and fluent English was a criteria I did look for…so Skyping gave me a good sense of their language skills. It also demonstrated their real interest and desire. For me, au pairing is about experiencing a new culture through a family and being part of that family – this, in the main, was what I looked for.

After I had chosen my au pair and offered them a home to come to, I would then get them talking to my previous au pairs. Each au pair was told to be 100% open and honest with the new family member. This meant good and bad. Each family has good and bad points and there is absolutely no point in trying to hide anything. 100% transparency is definitely the key to a successful relationship.

Once the new au pair had a few weeks engaging with the current and old au pairs, I would then start about four weeks of Skyping with the children. They would slowly build up a rapport with both girls and the current au pair. The girls would play games with them online, and generally build up a rapport. I always found this eased the transition for everyone. 

Photobooth costumes with host family and au pairsQ: What is something funny your au pair did that you didn’t expect?

Oh where do I start? We have sooooo many funny stories from each and every au pair. From first time drunken nights out, to wearing goggles whilst cleaning the shower. Spraying nappy poo’s when Megan was a baby, to dancing around the kitchen. I have endless videos of the girls and au pairs singing to songs, dancing, playing, camping, surfing, dog walking. You name it – we have done it. These memories are treasured. I have belly laughed with each of them… sometimes so hard that a little bit of pee (apologies for the graphic description) may come out. Honestly, the fun we have had is irreplaceable.

Q: What are some cultural experiences you’ve had with your au pair?

Vacation with past au pairsWe have had au pairs from Australia, Austria, Holland, and Sweden. The majority of our au pairs are Swedish, and our new au pair due to start after lock down is also Swedish.

Last May we traveled to Sweden and as one big group (au pairs and the Coleman-Humphreys family) we hired a big Airbnb in Gothenburg, right on a lake. We had a long weekend together and the Swedes showed us around. We ate Swedish food, visited national parks, and had a stunning and valuable few days away.

Here at home, we try to cook national foods. Most of my au pairs love to bake and cook. I’ve woken to the fresh smell of cinnamon buns, and eaten lovingly prepared dishes from their home country. The girls are introduced to games from each country, and we have had each set of au pairs parents and siblings also over to stay. Some au pairs have had their boyfriends to live with us for a few weeks. They have engaged with the kids just as much as the au pairs have – and my girls have grown really close to them also. We try to learn cultural traditions and celebrate their own national holidays.

I have always told my children that they are the luckiest children in the world – they can literally travel the world and have a second home to go to in each of the countries. I know that they are always welcome and will remain part of each au pairs family, forever.

Q: Have you had any trouble with your au pair? How did you resolve it?

Life is not a bed of roses. An au pair is a person who you watch and help grow, emotionally and mentally. They are away from everything they know and love, and whilst this is an exciting time for them, they can get home sick and feel sad. I have had au pairs feeling very low and down at times. It’s a really hard job at times. Overnight they are becoming a parents, friend, big sister, and more. It’s a lot of pressure for them and that has to be remembered. I loved Japan when I was younger, and I always tell my au pairs that it took me three months to stop feeling homesick. This is very normal. I find it takes time and patience for everyone to adapt. 

We have a complete open and honesty policy in our house. If there is something they don’t like, or worried about, they are allowed to say it. They won’t be judged, and vice versa… we will adapt and change accordingly. It took me a while to learn how to adapt, and there are mistakes I made with some of my first au pairs that I don’t make now. I guess as a person and family we have grown also.

I have had a couple of au pairs who have started and we have had to return home. We have had to find a new aupair very quickly and that’s made the transition harder. I say harder, because we have 3-4 weeks where the old au pair helps transition the new aupair. When one has been replaced because its not ‘worked out’ its been difficult to transition so seamlessly.

One example of such, was when I was pregnant with Emily. Sofie looked after Megan who was 4, me who had hyperemesis gravidarum and was very very ill, and also a poorly puppy (Rosie had IMPA). I would just like to add at this point, that the love and care Sofie gave us, made us not only very close, but exceptionally grateful. I love her like a child of my own, and she literally saved my life.

Hanna started with us when Sofie was due to leave. As the weeks went on, I started to get concerned about Hanna. She wasn’t engaging with Megan at all. When Sofie left – all communication stopped… and we agreed to part ways. I think it must have been very difficult for Hanna, seeing how close Sofie and I were, but also with me being very poorly and constantly in and out of hospital.

Q: What are some things you wish you did differently (or you plan to do differently with your next au pair)?

Our next au pair, Thea, starts with us in June and our current au pair, Mary, leaves us mid May. Unfortunately this is because of the restrictions of the lock down. It means that Thea will miss out on building a relationship with Mary, whilst gently being transitioned into the role. If the girls are home still and being home-schooled, it’s even more pressure on her. This is going to be a first for us, and we will just take each day as it comes.

As I have had more and more au pairs, I have learnt to park my OCD, and accept that the house doesn’t need to be spotlessly clean and tidy, timetables have a habit of going out of the window, and there are bad days as well as good days.

To start with – I think I expected too much. But with the help of my au pairs I have grown as a person and seen myself develop and  become more accepting. We have rows like any parent and teenage daughter would – but we have the respect and closeness to talk and park it. Learn from it and adapt.

I would urge any one having an au pair to just be ‘human’ and treat them as you would want someone to treat your son or daughter. Never forget that they are someone else’s son or daughter. They deserve to be treated with love, kindness, and fairness. They are not a housemaid or servant, they are part of your family. 

Q: What is advice you’d give to other host parents (or parents thinking of welcoming au pairs)?

Be accepting, open, and committed. Make the au pair part of you and your children’s lives. Embrace the experience. Become friends. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind, but do it diplomatically. Take them with you on holiday and out for walks, bike rides, swims, meals etc. This is a relationship for life. They are here to learn and grow with you. Remember that they are new to this, and still young. Treat them as you would want someone to treat your own child. Enjoy the experience. My life is enriched because of my au pairs, and I owe them the world.

Q: Have you had a gap or overlap when transitioning between au pairs?

Yes – we have four weeks of having two. The first week, I let them sleep and find their feet. They join in when they want…and generally get a feel for the house.

The second week I like to see them engaging more with the kids and just having fun. The current au pair takes them on dog walks and shows them the town. They go to after school clubs with the kids so they know where to go and get to meet any teachers etc.Looking up at kids and au pairs

The third week they muck in with the housework and kids, meal prep etc…pretty much helping out the current au pair with everything. We will have family nights, go to the cinema, or out for a drink/meal etc.

The final week they totally take over. The current au pair has the week to pack, say goodbye to her friends, do a bit with the children and just get used to the idea of leaving. When they do leave it’s always emotional for everyone.

By the fourth week – I find the new au pair is very ready for the old one to go, and for them to put their own stamp in things. But in this time, the new and old au pair have made a new friendship and become part of the bigger group.  This method has worked AMAZINGLY for us. I am not looking forward to not having this option on this transition, but we will go with it and do the best we can.

Q: Do your au pairs talk with each other?​

Oh yes – we have one big family group. As a group we talk every day. We share problems, or funny stories, recipes and cooking tips. We play online games… together we try to meet up as much as we can. I am so happy that we all get along and that each of them have found new friendships through us.

Q: Now that you have an au pair, how has it impacted your family, good, bad, or otherwise?

This has only been a positive experience for us. I cannot imagine my life without them. I have alluded to how much I love each one. I love them all for their own personalities, and what they bring to our relationship. As a group I love how we all gell and come together for Megan and Emily.  I love the au pair community, but it’s not all a bed of roses. It’s hard at times, but I wouldn’t change a thing. Having an au pair is a game changer in terms of family life, it gives you back quality time as a family…just never forget that they are part of that family.

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Host Parent Interview with the Jones Family

Host Parent Interview with the Jones Family

This blog is part of the host parent interview series where we get to know other families who are hosting au pairs. Every family is different and we like to represent the variety of views.

We’d love it if you’d consider being a guest on our blog. Message us on Facebook or Instagram, or email us at [email protected] if you are interested.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your family.

Jones FamilyHello, we are the Jones family! We have two children, our girl is a toddler and our boy is a pre-schooler, two dogs, and our au pair from France. This is our 3rd au pair and they have all been from France (and yes the kids are learning French, but no my husband and I don’t know French!)

Our household is very busy with the many activities that we like to do to enjoy life in Denver, Colorado. We live within walking distance to downtown Denver. Both my husband and I work in technology and mainly work from home, however, we have outside hobbies as well.  We partly own a restaurant/gas station and several homes in downtown Denver that we rent. We love enjoying life and being active.

Q: How did you find out about au pairs?

We found out about the au pair program from a family member who had many au pairs and raved about the program.

Q: Why did you use an au pair (instead of daycare, nanny, etc.?)

We chose to use an au pair for several reasons. We loved the idea of being exposed to a new culture and language for our children and ourselves. We like having a busy and full house.

Additionally, we wanted flexibility in childcare hours as we enjoy various activities while we’re not working. This flexibility affords us date nights or to play a sport on the weekend. Our lives are full and we get to all enjoy different activities because we have this flexible coverage.

Q: Which au pair agency (or agencies) have you used and why?

Our first au pair agency was Au Pair Care. I chose them because they had a wide selection of French au pairs.

We then switched to Cultural Care for the last two because they ended up having a wider selection of French au pairs. We stuck with French au pairs because initially we heard great things. After our first was such a success and the children were learning French we decided to commit to French au pairs (but who knows, we may switch at some point.

Q: What criteria did you use for finding your au pair?

When finding an au pair, I had an initial screening before interviewing; pictures with children, good driver, no smoking/drugs, no boyfriend, knows how to cook

Secondly, during the interview, I try to find out how kind and loving they are with children. I ask about their childcare experience, their discipline techniques, and activities they would do with the children.

I also ask if they like to be active, how well they drive, what their relationship is like with their parents, and what they like to cook.

From all of these questions I can also get a sense of their personality. I prefer, loving, responsible, energetic, and positive people.

Q: How did you decide which au pair to match with?

It’s always a tough decision for me and it always ends up with two great candidates. I write all the pros and cons of both and then I ask several questions.

First, will they take care of my children very well (safety, love, care)?

Second, how compatible are they with our family as a whole?

Then, I follow my gut and which person feels lighter. My husband always leaves the final decision to me because I am the one interacting with the au pair the most, but this is a lot of pressure. The decision has never been easy. Thankfully, because I already had two great candidates that I have always ended up with great au pairs. I couldn’t go wrong either way.

For my current au pair, I also had two great candidates. However, I didn’t like some of the pictures that I saw on one of the au pair’s social media accounts. To be frank, the pictures were very provocative and excessive, not the same person that I interviewed with several times. I did approach her about it and let her know that I didn’t feel comfortable with those pictures. It was a tough conversation. I didn’t end up choosing her. I wasn’t sure which persona I could trust as her social media was vastly different.

Q: How has your au pair dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic?

I cannot rave enough how grateful we are to have our current au pair during this difficult time.

We’ve had our ups and downs over the last several weeks of self-quarantine. She has made the best of the situation. The children do several activities during the day and are getting some nice outdoor time in the backyard. Seeing her smiling face and positive attitude is tremendous. We know we are lucky!

Most of our schedule is the same in that my two children are not in school yet. However, our au pair was taking them on an outing once per day (ie. zoo, karate, gymnastics, children’s museum, swim class).

We’ve talked about the situation almost daily, discussing our concerns, fears, and future plans. She knows au pairs that have gone home. She wants to stay for at least 2 more months and if the quarantine remains then go home. She is looking at the positive in that she can focus on learning English and shopping online. However, her main attraction is traveling the US.

We understand where she is coming from and support her in whichever direction she chooses as this unfolds.

Q: What is something funny your au pair did that you didn’t expect?

My au pair made porcupine shaped cupcakes with chocolate chips as the quills. She said it is our family of quarantined porcupines.  It was a nice pick-me up with all of the current news of covid-19.

Q: What are some cultural experiences you’ve had with your au pair?

We always take our au pairs to the yearly western stock show. The western way of life is a large part of Colorado history. 

During the fall we visit a pumpkin patch and run the corn maze. None of the French au pairs have experienced anything like this before and they think it’s pretty cool. 

Last Christmas our au pair and her au pair friends made an authentic French Christmas dinner.  It was amazing!

Q: What are some things you wish you did differently (or you plan to do differently with your next au pair)?

I’ve learned that reviewing the house manual every week for the first month is very important, then every few months after that. There is a lot of information to remember and reviewing the manual reinstates what it takes to have a successful year with your family.

One reason is because the au pairs English improves over time and they understand more as time goes on.

Secondly, it avoids any conflict as it has been written down and agreed upon from the beginning.

For example, we have several child-related chores every week; diaper bag emptied on Tuesday, laundry on Monday and Thursday, new sheets on the beds every Monday. If any of these chores slip then it can be easily reiterated during that weekly review.

Q: What is advice you’d give to other host parents (or parents thinking of becoming au pairs)?

I let other host parents know what a great program it is! There are so many advantages from cultural sharing to someone helping with household, child-related chores.

I also recommend using the program to its fullest. The agencies I have used talk about au pairs helping out with cooking a few meals a week, some grocery shopping, and some light household cleaning that relates to them being part of the family. This extra help is tremendous with our busy household and we appreciate it.

We also stick with the rules: <45 hours per week, <10 hours per day. I’ve heard from other host parents and au pairs that some don’t utilize the cooking or others do 45+ hours. We respect the rules and our au pairs.

We make sure to make them feel part of the family and recommend including your au pair when doing various family activities. At the end of the program you will have another family member!

Q: Have you had a gap or overlap when transitioning between au pairs? 

With our second au pair we overlapped. It was nice to have the first au pair explain things in French when her English was in the beginning stages. Plus, it made her feel comfortable being in a new country. 

The third au pair did not have any overlap. The nice part was that everything was fresh and a new beginning. However, I noticed having overlap was more helpful than not due to language barriers and comfortability.

Q: Have you had an au pair take a travel month? How did that go?

Yes! Our au pair took a travel month and really enjoyed it. She was able to explore and come back and see us one more time before she left. It was very special for her to explore and be free from all obligations yet feel like she had a family in the US she could rely on during her travel month.

Q: Do your au pairs talk with each other?​

Yes, yes, yes…weekly our second au pair would call our first.  Now, our third au pair calls the other two. It’s amazing and they get to talk in French about their experience (hopefully all good). This last week during our toddler’s birthday the first two au pairs were on Zoom while we sang happy birthday. It was very special. We plan to do a small tour of France and visit all of our au pairs in a few years.  We are truly grateful!

Q: Now that you have an au pair, how has it impacted your family, good, bad, or otherwise?

Our family has been positively impacted by hosting au pairs. My children are exposed to another culture and language. My husband and I enjoy getting to know our au pairs and having a young adult in the house with fun energy.

Additionally, we have flexibility with our child care. My husband and I are able to schedule date nights.

Lastly, we end up becoming a family.

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Interview with host parent Carrie

Interview with host parent Carrie

Interview with host parent Carrie

We’re starting a new series where we occasionally interview other host parents. Every family is different, and we like to represent a variety of views.

We’d love it if you’d consider being a guest on our blog. Message us on Facebook or Instagram, or email us at [email protected]

Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your family.

Au Pair Host Mom Carrie with her kidsHello! My name is Carrie, and my husband Tony and I got our first au pair in 2014. Our daughter was a toddler and we had infant twin boys when she arrived.

We’ve had 5 au pairs altogether. I am still in contact with three of our pairs and really do think of them like daughters (or step daughters).

I was older when I had my kids (42 when the boys were born) and we lived in Bothell, WA when we had our au pairs. I worked full time in Seattle before I had my twins. I was expecting to go back full time, because we had opened up a gym that was still in start-up mode. Unfortunately, I was laid off 2 months after our au pair arrived! Rather than go back to work, I decided to start consulting instead. I don’t know how I would have survived that time without our au pair!

Q: How did you find out about au pairs?

I learned about them from a mom at the park, and once I found out about the twins, it seemed like a viable option for us.

Q: Why did you use an au pair (instead of daycare, nanny, etc.?)

We chose the au pair route for two main reasons.

First, I liked the idea of my kids getting to stay in their home environment. With the gym and later my consulting, our hours were unpredictable, so having someone live with us was a great option.

Second, the au pair program was also more affordable than other options.

Q: Which au pair agency (or agencies) have you used and why?

I’ve used Cultural Care and Au Pair Care.

We had a bit of a falling out with Cultural Care after our 2nd and 3rd au pair experiences and took a break from the program for almost two years.

Then when we decided to try again, we made a fresh start. I had been really impressed with the Area Director at APC, so decided to give them a try.

Q: What criteria did you use for finding your au pair?

We learned this as we went!! It was definitely trial and error, so I learned as much from our mistakes.

Au Pair Host Mom Carrie's TwinsOur first au pair was our unicorn! She was 18, from Brazil and spoke nearly perfect English. She had the same sense of humor as we do, was very calm under pressure, and very independent. She made friends and figured things out on her own. I didn’t realize how rare that was!

I have found that the more honest we are in the matching process the better.

Living in Bothell was a bit of a downer, because there wasn’t easy access to public transit. Two of our au pairs had accidents in our cars and two were from South Africa and never felt comfortable driving. Transportation was always an issue.

We had limited means, and with the start-ups we don’t travel. Add to that I work from home, which many au pairs don’t like. Add to that three little kids at home full time and we were probably not a first choice for a lot of au pairs!

We were a better fit for girls who wanted the family environment, were used to babies and noise and chaos, and didn’t want or expect a lot of luxuries.

Q: How did you decide which au pair to match with?

My process was to have an initial email exchange, then a Skype with me and them, and then one with the kids to see how they did. Then I’d email them our family handbook and ask them to look through it. I asked them to reply to see if it sounded like a good match, and if they were rules they could live with.

All that being said, in my experience, I’ve ‘just known’ the great matches and had to work to convince myself on the ones that weren’t so great. So much of it comes down to how well the mom and the AP get along. Especially when mom works from home!

Q: What is something funny your au pair did that you didn’t expect?

I was not expecting the differences in using the toilet/toilet paper!! That has been almost universally something we’ve had to explain 🙂

Q: What are some cultural experiences you’ve had with your au pair?

I’m Canadian, so we always included our Au Pairs in Canadian and American Thanksgivings. We would take everyone to Snoqualmie Falls.

One Au Pair came with us to Canada for Christmas with my family.

Q: Have you had any trouble with your au pair? How did you resolve it?

Out of five au pairs, we had two au pairs that ended very badly.

Our first (unicorn) au pair had planned to extend for a year and then left abruptly when she found out her grandma in Brazil was dying. I was in a panic! There was an au pair in rematch in Chicago who would have to go home to South Africa if she didn’t match in one more day. In her profile it said she was dealing with three toddlers and 2 newborn twins and was overwhelmed and needed a family with less kids. I had a feeling it was a bad idea to make a hasty decision. There were additional warning signs…never being able to get hold of her, drama around technical difficulties. I convinced myself it would be okay.

AFTER we matched I searched her social media profiles and realized she had a very different persona and social life than was a fit for us. The agency brushed off my concerns. As it turned out, her profile was wrong…she was only watching 3 kids and was overwhelmed. She had clearly misrepresented her experience with children under 2. I ended up making signs all over the house to remind her to fasten high chair straps, close baby gates, etc. Then she started sharing a lot of personal drama…enough that I was getting concerned. The agency finally did a psych eval on her and sent her home.

The match after her was also bad. She was from Mexico and after she arrived we realized she didn’t really speak any English. During the Skype calls she had her sister there and blamed the communication on bad reception. I think someone else did her written communication for her! She shared that she didn’t want to be an au pair. She wanted to study ballet in Russia, but her parents wanted her to go to the US first. She was very uncomfortable with me being in the house, and she wouldn’t talk to me when I was in the room. I asked her how we could fix things, and she said the only thing she wanted was for me to stay away from the kids when she was working. It was just awkward and uncomfortable.

When I asked the agency for help, they said considering this was my second rematch, maybe our family wasn’t a good fit for the program, and that au pairs should not be considered child care. Consider them more like exchange students who do a little bit of child care. She (the director) wouldn’t rematch our au pair unless we had a masters in adolescent psychology. So that’s why I stopped using that agency, and stepped out of the program for a year and a half.

Q: What are some things you wish you did differently (or you plan to do differently with your next au pair)?

Go with my gut! Lurk on ALL their social media accounts and pay attention to red flags and inconsistencies.

Just like hiring an employee…any drama prior to the offer is a huge red flag.

Beware of people who are too concerned about what’s in it for them.

Beware of people who say they want to be an au pair because they just love children because children do nothing but bring love and joy (because they obviously haven’t spent a lot of time with real children hahaha).

The better they can speak English and communicate, the easier it will be.

Q: What is advice you’d give to other host parents (or parents thinking of becoming au pairs)?

I’d say if you’re worried about someone living in your house, don’t be. The right match living with you is such a lift, you won’t even mind it. Most of the au pairs really want to experience American life and they won’t be home much on their off time.

At the same time, don’t treat it like you’re getting cheap live in child care. That’s not what’s being communicated to the girls. From what they’ve told me, the recruiters overseas are selling a year of vacation and study with a bit of childcare. If you have a lot of need for childcare, make sure au pairs understand that.

Be patient, and if you aren’t in an emotional or practical space to patiently welcome someone who will have needs and need time and help, hold off. They really rely on their host families to help them, especially at first, and sometimes they’re too scared to ask for what they need. It’s a tough spot to live with your new employer and feel like you have to be perfect.

I’ve learned to be patient and lower my expectations and it goes better.

Q: Now that you have an au pair, how has it impacted your family, good, bad, or otherwise?

I will say that I was worried about the emotional impact of having someone live with us for a year, or more and then leave. I thought the children would get too attached and then bereft when she left.

Turned out they were fine, but I was certainly bereft when a couple left!

The great au pairs and I are still friends and I really love them.

I am really glad we had (and are still having) the experience.

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Tips For Scheduling Across Time Zones

Tips For Scheduling Across Time Zones

Hi Abby here! Scheduling meetings in different time zones is important when you are setting up interviews with potential au pairs. In my daily work, I schedule meetings with customers and co-workers all over the world. And even though I do this often, it still takes practice to schedule across time zones. These are the tips, tricks, and tools I use to make world scheduling easier.

Minimize confusion when you set up the meeting

The best way I’ve found to reduce scheduling confusion is to use the other person’s time zone and state the time zone. I then add my time and time zone in parentheses so they can see the time difference.

For example, “Do you have time to Skype at 4:00 pm Paris time?” or “Let’s meet at 5:00 p.m. your time in Berlin (8:00 a.m. my time in Seattle).” Most countries use the 24-hour clock so you might even write, “Can we chat at 1100 Tokyo time (2100 Atlanta time)?

FREE TOOLS THAT CAN HELP with SCHEDULing ACROSS TIME ZONES

There are numerous other apps and most smartphones have the ability to show clocks in multiple time zones at once.

My personal favorite is World Time Buddy because it shows me the whole day at once. This saves me from having to mentally calculate the time differences if the meeting time changes. I will also go over Time and Date Meeting Planner, Google Calendar, and Calendly as alternatives to World Time Buddy.

World Time Buddy and World Clock Meeting Planner

World Time Buddy and World Clock Meeting Planner help visualize the time differences between your location and two other locations at the same time. With a free account World Time Buddy will even remember your time zones so you don’t have to enter them every time.

Screen Shot of World Time Buddy showing timelines from three international cities

World Time Buddy

 

Screen shot from World Clock Meeting Planner showing times in two international cities

World Clock Meeting Planner

Google Calendar

Most calendars have the ability to show different time zones. In Google Calendar, go to the settings gear in the upper right corner. Then scroll down until you see “Time Zone”.

Screen shot of Google Calander settings for Time Zones and World Clock

It will only show two time zones along the left side of the daily calendar. However, you can add multiple time zones in the World Time Zone clock module below the monthly calendar.

Screen Shot of Google Calander With Time Zones and Word Clock Enabled

Calendly

Another tool that may help you schedule across time zones is Calendly. What I like about Calendly, besides being free, is that you can set the times you’re available. Then, time zones are handled automatically.

To use Calendly you set up your availability, then you send out a link. This gives people the ability to sign up for the times that are convenient for them. There’s no email back and forth required.

Going to a web site and signing up for a time slot may feel a little impersonal. But the convenience can make up for it.

Screen shot of calendly showing what the user sees when they click on your link to schedule a meeting

DO YOU Have Tips for Scheduling ACROSS TIME ZONES?

Do you have any tips or tricks for setting up meetings across time zones? What are your favorite apps and tools? We would love to hear from you in the comments below. If you are an au pair host mom or dad join us in our Facebook group My Au Pair and Me Host Family Community. It’s nice to talk to other host families and know you’re not alone!

Abbie

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Tips For Scheduling Across Time Zones Pinterest Pin
Tips For Scheduling Across Time Zones Pinterest Pin

Tips For Scheduling Across Time Zones Pinterest Pin

How to search for the perfect au pair

How to search for the perfect au pair

Maddie AvitarHi Maddie here! This month has been bittersweet for me. I have started the search for au pair number six. I find it difficult to start this step in the au pair process. It is not because it is particularly complex process (all I had to do was fill out a form online to begin searching). I find it difficult because this is the beginning of the end with my current au pair. It is also exciting to think about welcoming a new au pair into our family.

I know a lot of families struggle with the process of selecting au pairs to interview. I try to keep it as simple as possible to save myself time and effort. After writing down my au pair selection criteria, I browse through candidates. I then filter and narrow down to a few candidates for interviews.

Abbie AvitarHi, this is Abbie. We recently went through our matching. Sometimes finding an au pair feels a little like being on a dating website. But it’s really important to find the right fit for you. The au pair that’s right for Maggie isn’t necessarily the au pair that’s right for me, and vice versa.

Decide on your au pair candidate criteria

Start the process of searching for au pairs by deciding on your criteria. This au pair selection criteria is specific to your family based on your wants and needs. You will want to look for au pairs who will be comfortable living with your family and be a good fit for your children.

  • Are you religious? Will the au pair of a different religion or no religion be comfortable in your home?
  • Do you have pets? Will the au pair be comfortable with you big dog or overly friendly cat?
  • Do you need daily driving? Will the au pair with little to no driving experience be comfortable driving your kids all over town?
  • Do you or the au pair have dietary restrictions? Will the au pair be comfortable with the way you cook?
  • Do your kids require special care? Will the au pair with experience with one child at a time be able to handle your four children?
  • Do you expect your au pair to step in and run the show or take on a sidekick role?
  • Do you have a certain country you want your au pair to be from? Either for language reasons or cultural reasons.
  • Is age (under/over 21) important? Some host parents like under 21 because then they don’t have to worry about drinking. Some famlies perfer older, more mature au pairs.

No matter what your criteria, write it down. This allows you to think about it and discuss it with your partner. Decide which criteria are absolutely required and which criteria are a preference. Giving up required criteria to make a quick match is a recipe for rematch.

Search for au pair candidates to interview

How to Pick an Au Pair AgencyOnce you have selected your au pair agency (or agencies) and submitted your application, you will be able to review candidates online. With your au pair selection criteria in hand you can start reviewing candidates.

Maddie AvitarMaddie: I always start slow. I filter, watch a few videos. Filter again, watch a few more. This allows me to get a feel for the current candidates and the matching system. How do the filters work? Where are the majority of the candidates from? Is there a large pool of older or younger au pairs? What happens if I push this button? What is in this pulldown menu?

Eventually, I start the selection process by narrowly filtering the candidate pool. This allows me to start with the most likely candidates first. I watch their videos, read their letters, and look at their pictures. If they obviously don’t meet one of my required criteria, I move on. Once I have narrowed down to a smaller pool of potential au pairs, I start taking notes.

When I get down to a list of five or ten candidates who I like and meet all the required criteria I bring in my husband. We watch the videos again together, take more notes, and decide who to interview.

Allie AvitarAbbie: I’m a super indecisive person, so I filter down as tight as possible (age, country) and slowly expand. I only look at candidates that have videos. I scan for things that meet my criteria (driving, cooking, could handle 3 energetic boys, likes cats) and her personality. Would she be happy living in the country, is she outdoorsy, does she like music, etc.

My husband has opinions and is a big picture guy. (I love details, he doesn’t). He’s also a high school band director and use to dealing with a teenage/young adult crowd.

Once I have the initial list saved out, then we sit down together on the couch to go through them together. From there, we decide on our top picks.

Contact the au pair candidates

Next, send an email to the au pairs who make the cut. We send a little intro about who we are and the benefits we offer (Car! No curfew!). We let them know a little about the family, where we live, and why they might be a good match. The email concludes with a request to schedule a time to meet over video call. It is helpful to offer a range of times (converted to their time zone) to reduce the effort of finding a good time to talk.

If they don’t respond in a few days, move on.

Interview the au pairs

We are both strict about interview etiquette. The au pair needs to be on time and ready to talk at the agreed upon time. How will they be ready for work on time if they can’t do the same in an interview?

I usually give them five minutes to log on. Then I contact them by email to see if they are having technical difficulties. The internet is not always as reliable as I would like. If they don’t make contact, move on. Both of us have a policy of rescheduling a missed only if they have a technical issue or emergency. We will also only reschedule once.

What to look for in an interview

There are many schools of thought on what to look for in an ideal candidate. When interviewing au pairs look to confirm the answers to you criteria. Also gauge their ability to

  • Be punctual
  • Problem solve through technical difficulties and communicate if they are having an issue
  • Answer questions
  • Take initiative
  • Be comfortable asking questions
  • Connect on a personal level

When you find a candidate who you think will be great for your family, follow up quickly. Ask more questions, offer to answer more of their questions, and propose some times to meet the rest of my family.

Don’t stop interviewing other au pairs when you find one to move to the next step. Most years my family will follow up with two or three au pairs before we make an offer to match. Instead, repeat process. Adjust your filters and review more candidates. Interview au pairs until you find the right one.

Hone your au pair search skills

Has the search for an au pair been difficult for you? Do you have some tried and true tricks for making the search for au pairs painless? Let us know in the comments below or reach out to My Au Pair and Me Host Family Community on Facebook. It’s nice to talk to other host families and know you’re not alone!

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How to Pick an Au Pair Agency

How to Pick an Au Pair Agency

Hi Abbie and Maddie here. What matters most when you pick an au pair agency? Cost? Au pair availability? Quality of service? Who you know? Bottom line: the criteria you use to select an au pair agency is personal. You will need to decide what is most important to you and which au pair agency will be best suited for your family.

Here are our au pair agency recommendations, how we chose our agencies, and if we’d stay or if we’d leave.

A quick note about au pair agency referrals

Most au pair agencies offer bonuses to host families who refer a new host family. It’s the same cost for the new host family whether they use the referral code or not. And it could actually save the new host family a registration fee.

This is a great way to make another momma’s day by gifting her a hefty discount for the next time she matches. These discounts can ranging from $250 to $1000 depending on the agency!

You will need to complete the referral before you reach out to the agencies on your own. Some are links, some are a name you fill in on the application form.

The best way to find an au pair referral code or au pair affiliate link is to ask your friends. You can also post the question in the My Au Pair and Me Host Parent Community on Facebook.

Maddie is happy to answer questions about EurAuPair. You can find her on Facebook Messenger or email her at [email protected] If you apply to EurAuPair, you can enter “Maddie Clark” in the referral box.

Abbie is happy to answer questions about Au Pair Care and Cultural Care. You can find her on Facebook Messenger or email [email protected] If you apply to Cultural Care, you can use Abbie’s referral link.

*This post contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, we may earn a small commission if you purchase through these links. For full details, see our Disclaimer Page.

Q |

How did you choose an au Pair agency?

Maddie AvitarMaddie: My mother-in-law first introduced me to the idea of hosting an au pair. She suggested that I call her friend’s daughter-in-law who worked at EurAuPair. So, instead of doing the logical thing and calling an expert, I turned to Google.

Typing “au pair” into the search engine bombarded me with ads from the huge au pair agencies. It was very obvious that these agencies spent a lot of money to bring in web traffic to their fancy websites. After spending hours digging around the big agency sites I was able to pull together a list of fees. Every page I opened seemed to add more costs. The intentional separation of the fees across the various pages felt dishonest.

Next, I Googled “Eu Au Pair”. EuAuPair’s website felt totally different to me. It was simple, organized, and presented all the fees on one page! Their straightforward approach made me feel like they cared about more than money. I was also impressed that EuAuPair made contributions to Ronald McDonald House Charities.

I finally decided to call my mother-in-laws friend’s daughter-in-law at EurAuPair. This was a great decision! As it turned out she was a regional director and a former au pair. She talked me through the program and answered all my questions. Then she introduced me to my local community counselor (LCC). The LCC for my area was also patient, down to earth, and great to work with.

Abbie AvitarAbbie: For our first au pair, we knew we wanted an au pair from Japan because we want to visit Japan someday. My husband always had Japanese exchange students as roommates in college, who constantly ask when we plan to visit. We were hoping our au pair could help teach us (and the boys) a bit of the language. (And she did!)

Looking around, the only agency that had a selection of Japanese au pairs at the time was Au Pair Care. So the choice of agency was pretty easy.

After renewing with our first au pair for a second year, it was time for au pair #2. We went with Au Pair Care again because it was convenient and we liked our local area coordinator. We weren’t able to find a Japanese au pair that would fit with our family. This time we went with a French au pair who loved hiking and the outdoors. (We live in Seattle, not a hotbed of fashion or shopping like L.A. or N.Y.…)

For our 3rd (and current) au pair, we looked at Japanese au pairs at Au Pair Care again, but there weren’t many options. So, we expanded our search to Cultural Care and Au Pair in America. This is when we realized that the discount for switching is pretty much the same as the discount for being a repeat family.

We matched with a great au pair from Italy through Cultural Care.

I know Cultural Care has a bit of a bad rap. For a while they allowed au pairs to be in negotiations with as many as six families at once! It’s so stressful to think you’ve found an au pair and reach out, only to be turned down. It’s like you have to reach out to an au pair on the first day she posts. Aaagh! Thankfully, they’ve narrowed it down now to I think two at a time.

Both of our local counselors through Au Pair Care and Cultural Care have been helpful. Our Au Pair Care counselor helped us when our Japanese au pair needed to suddenly return home. Her family needed her support through her father’s hospitalization. And our current Cultural Care counselor is a former au pair herself, so she really knows the ropes.

Q |

Would you stay with your au pair agency?

Maddie AvitarMaddie: I choose to stay with EurAuPair because they are easy to work with and responsive. I like that they treat the host families and au pairs like they care about them, not about the money.

When things went south with my 4th au pair, they supported us in mediation discussions. Then, once we decided to rematch they helped me to find candidates to interview. They prorated the program fees I had left on my contract and applied all of it to my incoming au pair. (There are agencies who only credit a portion of the program fees if you rematch!)

I also like the au pair matching process at EurAuPair. The entire pool of candidates is available to view with easy to use filters. You can add your favorites to a list so you can find them. Once you interview an au pair you can put them on a temporary hold (24 hours) to remove them from the search pool. You can only place one au pair on hold at a time. I always ask the au pairs if they are talking to other families. Most admit to talking to one family other than my own. Only once have I had an offer turned down and it was because she was uncomfortable with my big dogs.

The other reason I stay with EurAuPair is because of the way they handle fees paid by the au pairs. My current au pair paid the equivalent of $950 USD to match with a family from EurAuPair.

I have seen au pair fees at other agencies at $1800 or more plus the cost of their health and travel insurance. (All au pairs who match with a family in the USA also have to pay $200 to obtain their visa, regardless of their agency.)

EurAuPair offers host parents reduced program fees for second year au pairs. They also charge the au pairs nothing if they choose to extend. Some agencies charge the au pairs a program fee (and insurance costs) if they want to extend. They include an option for the host family to pay the au pairs portion when they pay their own program fees. This makes the host families feel obligated to pay for these extra fees.

Abbie AvitarAbbie: Short answer: not necessarily.

The most important thing to me is that I find an au pair that’s a good fit for my family. This is a person I’m going to live with for the next year or two and I will be trusting to watch my children. I want to find the right person as much as possible. I don’t care which agency it’s through.

Staying with the same agency has some advantages. This is true especially if you have a great relationship with your local area counselor. It’s important to have a good relationship with your local coordinator. She is the one who will help you out if things go wrong. If you need to rematch, she’s the one you need on your side. If your au pair has an emergency (or her family has an emergency and she needs to go home), your coordinator can be a big help.

The agencies all have to follow the federal au pair program requirements. This includes monthly check-ins, au pair cluster meetings, educational credits, work hours, etc.

I would recommend that you consider searching multiple agencies at the same time. It can be a pain to write-up your family schedule and introductions that many times. But, if you start from a word document then it’s pretty easy to copy and paste. Though many agencies have a registration fee, most of them also have a way to wave it.

What about you?

What agency do you use? Have you switched agencies? Have a question or story you’d like to share?

If you’re a host parent or thinking of hosting an au pair, come on over to the My Au Pair and Me Host Parent Community on Facebook. It’s nice to talk to other host families and know you’re not alone!

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