3 Back to School Tips To Do With Your Au Pair

3 Back to School Tips To Do With Your Au Pair

Hi, Abbie and Maddie both here this post! In the greater Seattle area, school doesn’t start until after Labor Day. But in many cities across the US school starts in the next week or two. The start of school means changes no matter when it happens. We’ve teamed up to bring you 3 tips to ease the transition back to school for you and your au pair.  We wish you a successful start to the new school year!

Abbie: This year, our new au pair arrives August 30th, right before the long weekend and then school starts! We planned for a bit of an overlap with our current au pair, so there will be some continuity.

Maddie: Our au pair doesn’t leave until January, so she remembers the school schedule from last year.

1. Sit down with your au pair and go over the new schedule (in writing!)

Take a few moments to sit down and go over the new schedule with your au pair. Whether you write it out beforehand or draw it during the conversation, make sure you put it in writing. Having something in writing is not just a courtesy, it also helps with language translation.

Maddie’s Tip: We use a Google family calendar to share schedules with everyone who cares for our children. We can all see it online or on our phones. I keep it up-to-date, for the most part. But it allows us all to add one-off events which may cause a scheduling conflict for someone else.

Think of how you feel when your work schedule changes. How would you feel if your boss talked to you about major changes to your schedule but didn’t give you any material to reference? Or even worse, what if your boss didn’t give you any notice in advance of the changes?

Besides going over the new schedule, you should talk about the ripple effects. Having to wake up on a schedule again means going to bed early. This means having dinner at 6:30 pm followed by bath and pajamas.

Abbie’s Tip: Talk specifics: What time of day will she make the kids lunch and snack? At night or in the morning? Can the kids help? Can you provide a list of snacks for her to choose from? Check out our Pinterest boards for kids snacks and lunches if you are looking for ideas.

2. transitioning back to school is an opportunity to make adjustments

Lazy summers also mean the opportunity to slide into some bad habits. This is a great opportunity to talk to your au pair about needed adjustments. Pick three things you can compliment your au pair on and up to three things she can improve. Try not overwhelm her/him with a laundry list of things she can do better. Work with your spouse ahead of time to narrow down to your top three improvement areas. Then ask how you can do better.

First Day of SchoolWhen you pick three compliments, be genuine. Don’t pick something generic so you can get to the things you want to fix. Be specific, you can even pick a specific moment. I choose to highlight behaviors I want to encourage. “Yesterday it was so cute when you were playing with Aiden. You were down on his level and completely focused on him. I could see in his eyes how much he loved you back.” Or for an older kid, “I really appreciate you taking Sophia swimming this week. With both of us working, sometimes it’s hard to make things happen during the middle of the day. She sure had a lot of fun with you.”

When you pick behaviors to fix, be specific. Have suggestions for what your au pair should do instead, and let her/him give input.

Think about your end-of-year evaluations at work. It’s so frustrating to be told you need to improve leadership, or that you don’t run meetings effectively. It’s so much more useful to be told that your meetings are ineffective because people don’t understand action items. It is even better if your boss coaches you on how to make improvements and asks if you have any other ideas. A simple suggestion, like following up meetings with minutes, might be the edge you need to make the change.

Abbie’s Tip: Let’s say your au pair isn’t pulling her fair share of the housework lately. Instead of saying, “please pick up more,” give a specific example and what success should look like. “Please help me keep the house clean during the day. I’ll leave you a clean sink and playroom in the morning. I’d like you to have a clean sink and playroom when I get home from work. The kids can even help you put dirty dishes in the dishwasher if you help remind them. Or maybe when I get home and check in with the kids about their day, you can finish cleaning up from snack? And when I text that I’m on my way home, have the kids sing the pick-up song and straighten up for dinner. What do you think?”

Finally, we all can improve in some way. To avoid the feeling of criticism, you can ask your au pair how the new schedule will run. “Once school starts, what are some things I can do to help you be successful? Is there anything I’ve forgotten that you’ll need to make the new schedule work?”

Consider using a Start Stop Continue Retrospective

Another idea is to do a Start/Stop/Continue review . This exercise aims to retrospectively look at the work that just finished and find ways to improve.

Start by sitting down with you, your spouse, and your au pair to jot down ideas on sticky notes. It can be something general or it can be something for a specific person. Then post your sticky notes on the wall or whiteboard in one of the three categories:
1) Ideas to start to make things work better in the future
2) Things that didn’t work and need to stop
3) Great things that need to continue.

Unlike a direct conversation, the retrospective is a less confrontational way to give feedback. This is especially true if you balance the notes you write down about yourself with what you write about your spouse as well as your au pair.

Maddie’s Tip: Be careful not to turn your Start/Stop/Continue exercise into a case of 2 against 1. Encourage everyone to write posts for each person in the exercise, including themselves. We all have things we need to work on.

3. Include Your Au Pair in back to school activities

What can your au pair do to help get ready for school? Can she/he help take your child(ren) to the store to get school supplies? Or can you give her/him a budgeted amount to take the kids shopping for new clothes?

Abbie’s Tip: Maybe your au pair can make those cute Pinterest back to school boards that you never seem to have time to do?

This can also be a great opportunity for cultural exchange. What time of year does your au pair start school? What are some of her memories of starting school? What are some of your memories of starting school?

Maddie’s Tip: The more bonding you can do over little things, the tighter your connection becomes. This makes everything easier.

What else do you do to get ready for school?

Every family has their own rhythm, and we’d love to hear yours. What does your family do to get ready for back to school? Share your tips below in the comments.

Have a question? Join our group of host parents in the My Au Pair and Me Facebook Community. We would love to hear from you!

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What You Need to Know About the Au Pair Class Action Lawsuit

What You Need to Know About the Au Pair Class Action Lawsuit

Note: This blog post is about the class-action lawsuit brought by au pairs against the 15 agencies. If you’re looking at laws individual states and cities are passing regarding au pairs as domestic workers, please see our post about how you can take action regarding new au pair laws.

In 2014, the nonprofit group Towards Justice filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of au pairs against the 15 au pair agencies. Thursday July 18, 2019, a judge pronounced a final ruling on the settlement.

What’s the Lawsuit About?

It’s mostly about the stipend.

Have you ever wondered how the agencies come up with $195.75 as the minimum weekly stipend for au pairs? It’s because that’s 60% of the federal minimum wage for a 45-hour work week. The federal minimum wage was set at $7.25 per hour in 2009 and has not been updated since.

$195.75 / 45 hours = $4.35/hour

$4.35/hr = 0.60 x $7.25/hour (or 60% of $7.25/hr)

The argument is that au pairs are providing childcare, working at a salary of just over $4 per hour and comparing that wage to indentured servants, human trafficking, and other exploitive working conditions.

HOWEVER…That’s not their complete salary, only the taxable salary. Their complete salary is supposed to include room and board, which means the other 40% of their salary is supposed to be rent, food, utilities, and everything else. The stipend is meant to be more of an allowance and spending money, not the complete salary.

But what about states or cities with a higher minimum wage than the federal minimum wage? The agencies argue that the 40% of the au pair’s salary covered by room and board still meets the local minimum wage because the cost of living is higher in those areas. For example, Seattle has a $15 minimum wage but the cost of rent in Seattle (or San Francisco, New York, etc.) is much higher than, say, the cost of rent in Texas or Wyoming.

Also Muddying the Waters

Some host parents have abused the definition of room and board. They’ve made au pairs pay the car loan payment, the car insurance, utility bills like electricity and water, or restricted what the au pair was allowed to eat. Host parents also sometimes ask au pairs to work overtime (not allowed in the first place) without paying extra money, which isn’t cool. Or host parents ask the au pair to do tasks not associated with childcare (gardening, pet care, moving, etc.)

Yes, there are bad au pairs as well, but they are limited by age and by their visa. The maximum, consecutive amount of time they can spend in the United States is two years, tracked by the Department of State.

If a host family is so awful they get kicked out of an agency and not allowed to host an au pair again, there is no system in place to prevent that family from hosting through a different agency. Theoretically, a bad family could work their way through all 15 agencies until they don’t need childcare anymore.

What Does This Mean Going Forward?

From the brief filed July 18, 2019:

Within thirty (30) days after the Effective Date, and going forward, Defendants (and their agents, where applicable) will provide a statement to host families and au pairs to the effect that the weekly au pair stipend is a minimum payment requirement and host families and au pairs are free to agree to compensation higher than the legally applicable minimum.

Both you and your au pair should receive mail and/or email from your agency that you and your au pair can negotiate a higher stipend.

You might point out all of the “extras” that au pairs might not realize go into their room and board (like car payments, insurance, phone bill, etc. Check out our blog post How much does an au pair cost? for our breakdown of au pair costs.) Au pairs might argue for more money if they have actual teaching experience, or based on number or age of kids in the family, for example.

Also from the brief:

Effective upon the Effective Date, [host families] shall be released and forever discharged by all Settlement Class Members (the “Releasing Parties”) from any and all causes of action, judgments, liens, indebtedness, costs, damages, penalties, expenses, obligations, attorneys’ fees, losses, claims, liabilities and demands of whatever kind…

It’s good news that the terms of the release of liability that the au pairs (a.k.a. Settlement Class Members) agreed to includes host families in addition to sponsor agencies. So, host families should not need to worry about future legal action from the au pairs covered in this settlement unless there are other, unrelated claims.

It looks as if no new claims are being accepted (http://www.aupairclassaction.com/claim). If you hosted au pairs from 2009 to late 2018 and they didn’t register before the May 2019 deadline, it’s probably too late.

Personally, we hope there will be some sort of system, or at least a watch list, set up between agencies to track the bad host families that give the rest of us a bad name.

Where Can I Find Out More?

If you do a Google search for “au pair lawsuit” you’ll see lots of stories from lots of places. Sometimes, though, it’s nice to go straight to the source and read it for yourself.

Source Websites

Towards Justice is the non-profit legal agency bringing the suit on behalf of the au pairs. Their webpage, Fighting Wage Suppression for Childcare Workers on Au Pair Visas: Beltran, et al v. Interexchange, Inc., et al, includes case documents and a list of press releases through January 2019.

AuPairClassAction.com is the website set up to help au pairs and host families make claims on the class action suit. This website also includes links to the source court documents.

You can also read an email sent to Abbie by Cultural Care.

July 2019 Stories

We’ll keep this list updated as much as possible. If you want to add to the list, please email [email protected] or host families can join our My Au Pair and Me Facebook Community.

January 2019 Stories

What Makes a Great Au Pair Host Family?

What Makes a Great Au Pair Host Family?

Hi, Maddie here! My au pair recently came home from a friend’s house, gave me a huge hug, and said “thank you for being a good family!” I have heard the term “good family” from au pairs in the past. So, I started probing her about her day. It turns out that one of her friends was having issues with her host family about the use of the car in her off hours. My au pair had spent the afternoon trying to coach her friend through her difficulty.

I often ask myself “what makes a great au pair host family? What would I want from a host family if the roles were reversed?” We also see this question pop up in au pair Facebook groups, so we know other host parents are interested, too.

*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.

General Advice and Themes

Besides our own opinions, we asked our current and former au pairs for their opinions on what makes a good host family. We have also included opinions from more than 300 Facebook comments.

Mostly the au pairs want to feel like part of the family. Four major themes emerged from our research:

  1. Inclusion
  2. Clearly set expectations
  3. Sharing food
  4. Trust

1 Great Au Pair Host Families Include Their Au Pair

“I left my family to come to your family. I really appreciate having you as my host family because you make me feel like one of you and included.”

-Au Pair I.

Au pairs want to feel like they belong and will be loved even after they leave. When families don’t invite the au pair to family events, start tracking miles on the car, or fretting about every dollar and penny spent, the au pair feels like an outsider. Of course, it’s always good to keep an eye on things just in case the au pair really does have a misconception about what’s acceptable. But, in general, consider what a few extra dollars is worth in the larger scheme of things.

Reciprocation is key. When you go above and beyond, so will your au pair. This doesn’t have to big or expensive, just thoughtful. You can serve her favorite vegetable with dinner. When she has a particularly long day, pitch in to help her finish her duties. If you get home a little early, you can let your au pair get off early. Most importantly, say “thank you”. Consider workplaces that have thank you cards or instant recognition awards of $5 or so. Those companies know that even a small unexpected reward builds loyalty and goodwill.

Abbie finds something every day to say “Thank you” for. Even if it’s just for something small and expected. “Thank you for picking the kids up from school.” “Thanks for making my work life possible.” “Thank you for doing all the dishes today.” Also, when you’re not happy your au pair, saying “thank you” provides a good buffer for cooling down. (Because sometimes moms are just hangry and need to table things until they have a chance to be a human again.)

Au pair A gave a great example of feeling included in a Facebook post. “I as an au pair did appreciate a thank you from time to time. It made me go the extra mile because I got appreciated. For me, a great host family is including the au pair to activities, dinner, maybe vacations and treats her as a member of the family and treats her as a grown up. On the other hand if an au pair wants to be treated as a member of the family it should be normal for her to help around the house without getting asked. (Helping with dishes by a family dinner, bring the trash out, etc.)”

2 Great Au Pair Host Families Set Clear Expectations

“It’s important to be aware of expectations on both sides! Sometimes both host families and [au pairs] are great but they don’t match expectations. Just be honest and straightforward about the rules in your house and things you expect.”

– Au Pair AJ on Facebook

The trickiest part about having an au pair is that they are both family and an employee. Being too lenient will backfire as much as being too strict. It’s important to find that right balance. And like each child has a different personality, that right balance will be different for each au pair you welcome into your home.

One au pair on Facebook asked for advice because she felt nothing she did was right. If she dressed the toddler in jeans, the mother would replace them with sweats. If the au pair dressed the toddler in sweats, the mother would replace them with jeans. As a host parent, either choose your battles or promptly explain what you want and why it needs to be that way.

Abbie finds similarities in correcting misconceptions with parenting and how she’d like to be treated. No one likes to be told they suck, which puts the person more on the defensive and less focused on learning and solving the problem. By repeating what to do and why, it is a positive way to reinforce what should happen and focus on the solution rather than the problem. For example, “Hey, I’d like to show you again how to clean the lint from the dryer. It’s really important because it could catch fire like what happened to our friend’s house.” or even “I noticed the dryer lint isn’t getting emptied when the kids clothes go through the wash. Can you help me think of a solution that would help?”

CL, a 7 time host parent, discussed her expectations in a Facebook thread. “We have high expectations, but we try to communicate those well, and we try to treat our au pairs as well as we can. Understanding where the line is when it comes to an au pair’s responsibilities is important, but an au pair needs to understand her responsibilities as a roommate as well. If a mess was made during my au pair’s off time (a sink full of dishes from cooking a big meal, for example) it is reasonable for me to expect the mess to be cleaned up by my au pair, and on her off hours.”

When giving instructions or directions, remember there’s also some things that might get lost in translation, especially in the beginning. Sometimes writing a follow-up text can help because then there’s something in writing the au pair can refer to. Another good suggestion is to have the au pair repeat the instructions back to you.

Also, keep in mind that au pair agencies have already set some basic expectations for the host family and the au pair. If the balance has swayed too far in one direction, the local councillor may get involved. Good families are “responsible for all the rules. Don’t take advantage, pay their [au pair’s] salary.” – Au pair B

3 Great Au Pair Host Families Share Through Food

It’s supposed to be an exchange. Families and au pair should share and communicate a lot

-Au Pair D.

Have you ever heard the phrase “sharing is caring”? Sharing, especially food, shows your au pair that you care about them as a member of the family.

Most au pairs really appreciate when host parents try to make their au pair’s home comfort food, even if they get it wrong. Sometimes the host families benefit because the au pair ends up making his or her comfort food for everyone!

When Abbie stops by the local Asian market, she picks up a bottle or two of Oi Ocha, their Japanese au pair’s favorite tea. It was only a few dollars and really made her feel cared for. For their French au pair, the brie at Costco was only $5 for a large wheel that was $10 or $15 at the regular supermarket. Since Costco only allows two members, they always got some when they were out.

Granted, some food from overseas is really expensive or difficult to obtain. But the effort of even looking up a recipe is a gesture of goodwill that really goes a long way.

Au pair LC also spoke of this on Facebook. “I really appreciate when my host go grocery shopping and they bring me things that I only eat without asking (they’re Chinese so we don’t share the same culture and I eat a lot of things they don’t), also whenever I cook something and they give it a try it’s really nice. They’re just little things that make a difference.”

4 Great Au Pair Host Families Build Trust

“Remember the AuPair is an adult and you’re trusting your kids to her during work time. So don’t treat her as a child/teenager in her time off.”

-Au pair SF on Facebook

Trust is huge for both host parents and au pairs. Au pairs want to be trusted and good host families work at building trust relationships with their au pairs.

The biggest complaints we hear from au pairs are curfews, unnecessary restrictions which make their lives difficult, and a lack of respect for their private space and time. All of these issues center around the trust relationship between the au pair and the host family.

Think about the message you send your au pair by giving them a curfew or unnecessary restrictions. You trust your au pair with the care and well being of your most precious asset, your children. Can you really not trust them to manage their personal time and still be ready to work when scheduled? Why can’t you trust them with the car in the evening when they drive your kids around all afternoon?

Personally, I am far more concerned about my children being well cared for than I am about anything else. Concerns for my children put the other concerns in perspective for me. I am open about this with my au pairs, as well. I only have two rules in my home: 1) You are an adult, I trust you to act like an adult. This includes being respectful of people and property, cleaning up after yourself, taking your job seriously, and doing your best. 2) I want to meet your friends before they meet my children. This is clearly for safety concerns, and especially true if their friends are not au pairs.

“Maddie told me once ‘I trust you for my kid so I trust you for everything of course’ which is exactly the way it should work.” – Au pair D

If you are struggling with trust I would recommend that you start small and expand overtime. For example, if your au pair proves that they can drive safely in your neighborhood, then expand the radius to your town, then the next town over. Once you are confident that your au pair can safely be home by 10:00 pm and be ready for work then next morning, then extend to midnight, then remove their curfew entirely.

Trust takes time and energy to build, but in the end it will more than make up for your efforts. Both you and your au pair will be happier and healthier for it.

Further Reading

Struggling with trust? I highly recommend The Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything by Stephen M.R. Covey.

Want to hear it from the source? Here are the links to the original Facebook conversations:

What do you think? What have you done to help build a good relationship with your au pair? We would love to hear your opinions about what makes a great host family in our My Au Pair and Me Community on Facebook or in the comments below.

Two Fun Language Games for Kids

Two Fun Language Games for Kids

Hi, Abbie here. One of the reasons I am excited about having an au pair, besides the savings and the extra help around the house, is the chance for my kids to be exposed to another language. Yeah, they enjoy Duolingo, and I have bi-lingual books for them to look at, but studies show that having a person to interact with makes a difference.

The last thing my super-active boys need is to sit and learn after a full day of school and occasional homework. I also hated to ask my au pair to try and make my kids sit at a table in the evening or during her off-duty days on the weekend. We had to get creative.

*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.

Find the Word

This is something my au pair came up with. She cut out a few letters from a magazine and taped them in the journals. The boys then had to look for the words in French, and then translate them into English. (The third journal isn’t filled out yet because one boy wasn’t home at the time…)

Three bi-lingual books to choose from, and the journals prepared for word-finding.

Le Petit Prince and one boy’s journal

One boy chose Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince), and found the words in his journal. This particular book is French only, but I found one in both French and English on Amazon. The only suggestion I might make in the future is to have him write the English translation as well but it’s not bad for first grade.

On a side note, La Petit Souris Qui a Perdu une Dent is translated as “The little mouse who lost a tooth.” Our au pair was really excited to bring this book with her from France. It’s only in French, so she reads it to them and explains what it means. It’s their version of the Tooth Fairy. When a child loses a tooth, they place it under their pillow and a little mouse comes in the night and takes it and leaves a coin in its place.

The Cat in the Hat in English and French is a recent find from a bookstore I visited while on a business trip. (Really, what trip isn’t complete without a visit to a bookstore?) Anyway, I really like it because they have both sets of words on the page. They’re not next to each other, as the different grammar makes word-for-word translation weird to read, but it is helpful when kids are just starting out.

Childhood Nursery Songs

Nursery rhymes and kids songs are universal, and aren’t just for kids. Ever get songs from Thomas or Octonauts or Dora stuck in your head? Yeah, me too. At least if I get a song stuck in my head, it can be in a different language so I can use it as an opportunity to learn.

For Christmas last year, my parents got the boys this book, Comptines a chanter (or Songs for singing), for Christmas. It didn’t come with the CD, but I found all the songs on Spotify and made a French Childrens’ Songs playlist (also embedded at the end of this post). You can also find the songs on YouTube, if you want video, but I haven’t had the time to make a playlist yet.

Comptines a Chanter by Milan, a collection of French children’s songs

The hardest part is that my au pair opens the book, and wants to sing ALL the songs because she’s so excited and happy. My boys got a little overwhelmed. So, we narrowed it down to her favorite three and then the boys chose one to start with.

We chose Au Feu Le Pompiers, which is basically about calling for firefighters for a house burning down. The woman cook blames it on the man cook, and he blames her. It’s kind-of silly, but now we have some vocabulary (fire, firefighter, burning/burned, house, cook) and a good intro for discussing feminine and masculine nouns.

Learning another language and early childhood education are both really fun things for me to share with the boys and our au pair.

Your Turn!

How about you? Have you or your au pair done any foreign language activities with your kid(s)?

What language? What activity did you do? How did it go? We’d love to hear either in the comments below or over on our My Au Pair and Me Community on Facebook.

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Easter, Passover, and Spring Roundup

Easter, Passover, and Spring Roundup

We can’t believe it’s almost Easter already! This spring is just flying by. In case you’re just as distracted as we are, here are some links and ways to share Easter or Passover or whatever spring celebration you have with your au pair.

Fun ideas:

What Abbie’s Family is Doing for Easter…

This year we’re keeping it simple and just doing Easter at my parent’s house, about an hour away. I have two sisters, and since it’s hard to coordinate Thanksgiving and Christmas between all our various in-laws, Easter is the holiday that my mom claims as just for our family, no one scattering or sharing the day with in-laws.

Saturday we might go spend the night but probably not as we’re still remodeling our bathroom. Sunday we all sleep in and the Easter Bunny comes and leaves his baskets for the boys during the night. Since we have a bunch of varying tastes in my family, we’re going to just do hamburgers (I know, very American) but it gives my dad a chance to grill with his son-in-laws while the boys get to dye eggs with their aunties, our au pair, and me.

Our current au pair is French, and grew up doing egg hunts. She also introduced us to oreillettes, or little ears, (similar to beignets). They’re usually served during Mardi Gras, but her mom did them for Easter. In France, the Easter Bell (les cloches de Pâques) takes the place of our Easter Bunny. The bells leave go silent on Thursday night and fly to Rome on Good Friday, then return again to ring Easter morning. They both hide eggs and, most importantly, leave chocolate!

Our previous au pair was Japanese. The didn’t really celebrate Easter, although the commercialism of the Easter Bunny (and chocolate!) does show up in stores.

What Maddie’s Family is Doing for passover and easter…

We celebrate with a mish-mash of Passover and Easter. My husband grew up in a Jewish household and I grew up in a Christian household, so the Passover Bunny visits our children.

Girl Eating Parsley on PassoverLast week my mother-in-law invited all the grandchildren over to dye eggs and bake challah. Also, our au pair (who grew up in a Muslim household) attempted to dye eggs with my kids. Fun tip: If your au pair has never dyed eggs before don’t buy the complicated “tie dye” egg kit. They had a great time but ended up tie dying their hands more than the eggs.

This coming Friday we will head over to my in-laws house for an extremely abbreviated “kids” seder. I’m sure we will be enjoying my mother-in-laws amazing leg of lamb, matzah ball soup, latkes, and horoset. The kids favorite part is searching for their color coded plastic eggs filled with specialized prizes and searching for the afikomen. The prize for finding the afikomen is always chocolate bunnies.

On Sunday the Easter Bunny will bring baskets full of treats, toys, and books. This is typically a lazy morning for us. We spend time reading Easter and Passover books to the kids after a breakfast of rainbow hard boiled eggs, matza, and horoset. In the afternoon we will join the neighbors in the annual egg hunt. To top off the weekend, we will have traditional Easter ham, cheesy potato casserole, and finish off the last of the matzah ball soup.

How do you celebrate the season?  Join the My Au Pair and Me Facebook group and share your traditions with other host families. We would love to hear from you.

Let’s Talk About Rematch

Let’s Talk About Rematch

Hi! Maddie here. Recently I had to rematch, which means that we cancelled our au pair’s contract before her year was up. Even though our au pair was a nice person and wonderful with the children (especially with the baby), she couldn’t be on time to save her life. Even after months of working with her, she continued to struggle with time management. We had to make a choice…to stay with her until the end of her 12 months, or to rematch.

This is a hard topic the write about, but I hope that my experience will be helpful for other au pair host families when faced with this difficult decision.

In comparison to other rematches, my experience was rather mild. My au pair had been with us for 8 months already. She fit in really well with my family and my kids loved her. Unfortunately, she just could not manage her time.

Even in my friendly rematch, we experienced a lot of strong feelings. On one hand, things were not going well and I needed resolution. On the other hand, I depended on my au pair. The possibility of losing that support, for even a short period of time, was daunting.

What is Rematch?

When issues arise between the host family and an au pair that can not be resolved through mediation with the local community counselor, then the family and the au pair will go into rematch.

Remember, rematch isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It does not mean that you are bad host parents or bad people. It is simply an end to a contract that didn’t work out for whatever reason.

In rematch the host family will be free to select a different au pair and the au pair will be free to match with a new family provided that the sponsor agency agrees.

Be warned, Au pair sponsor agencies can bar host families from selecting another au pair.  This is especially true if the host family violated U.S. government regulations, federal, state or local laws or their obligations under the au pair program contract.

What is Friendly Rematch?

In a friendly rematch the au pair and the host family are still on good terms. In my case, I still cared deeply for my au pair. I also had to acknowledge that it was not working well. I was willing to give her a good, but honest, reference for her next host family. She continued to try her best while she was still with us. 

Why would a host family consider a rematch?

Why a host family would consider a rematch is complicated and varied.

The cases on the far end of the spectrum are easy to identify. As an example, something terrible may have happened requiring immediate action. I would consider situations where an au pair intentionally put a child at risk or broke a major law to be in this category. As would sexual advances between an au pair and a host parent. I have also heard of cases where an au pair is placed into rematch because a host parent lost a job or a host family was displaced by a natural disaster. However, most situations are not this clear cut.

In some cases, the desire to rematch is mutual. For whatever reason, the au pair and the host family are not getting along and not able to come to a resolution. Communication issues can also be a reason to rematch. If the au pair and the host family cannot figure out how to communicate with each other, then it is not a good match.

In other cases, the rematch may be one-sided. Typically in this situation the au pair did not fulfill some aspects of the host families expectations. I have heard of rematches because of an au pair not passing the drivers test or having a series of car accidents. Other families have gone into rematch because their au pairs repeatedly failed to be on time or complete their duties.

One-sided rematches can also be initiated by an au pair. All of these situations I have heard of involved the host family repeatedly violating the program rules.

Should I Rematch?

Knowing when it was time for a rematch was the hardest part of the process for me. I was an experienced host mom by this point. I had been through any number of issues with my previous au pairs and I had never needed to help of the community counselor to work anything out. But this time I just could not bring the problems to resolution without help.

My advice for struggling host families is to think it through carefully, talk it out with your au pair, and move quickly to find resolution.

Think it Through

It is natural to run into adjustment issues or cultural differences with your au pair at some point during the program year. But how can you tell cultural differences apart from real problems?

Safety is the number one concern. Are you worried about the safety of your children when they are in the care of your au pair? Did your au pair get caught breaking the law?

Take some time to consider how much your issues really bother you. Have you talked to your au pair about it? If not, is it really a concern for rematch if you haven’t even bothered to bring it up? Is it such a difficult topic that you can’t even have the conversation with her?

What does your spouse think? Do you have any other close friends or family who might be able to help you think it through? Maybe your community counselor can give you some advice? You can even reach out to other host parents on our My Au Pair and Me Facebook group.

Talk it Out

After giving the situation a good long thought, try resolving the concerns by talking to your au pair. Be honest! Calmly and slowly let her know how you feel and why you feel that way. Then STOP and listen to her side of the story. What happened from her point of view? How does she feel? Why does she feel that way?

Try to seek a mutual agreement to resolve the issue. Does she have any ideas of how to resolve the issues? Once you determine the go forward plan together, you need to clearly tell her your next steps if the plan isn’t followed. This is especially true if you are considering rematch.

Move Quickly

If the concern persists after talking with your au pair, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local community counselor for support, advice, or to start the rematch process. Don’t wait, the longer you wait the worse the situation will get.

How does the rematch process work?

After you reach out to your community counselor and request a rematch, they will likely schedule a mediation between you and your au pair. You will both be asked to talk about your top concerns and why you feel they are so important. Next, you will develop a plan to resolve the issues. If a plan cannot be determined or the plan is broken, your local community counselor can officially file the rematch process.

Once my decision to rematch was official, things started moving really quickly! Within 24 hours my local and regional counselors called offering help in finding a new au pair. They opened up my access to search for a new au pair and sent me extra information on the in-country au pairs. Within 72 hours I had interviewed the in-country au pairs I thought might be a good fit and luckily found one I really liked. It then took a few days to finalize the match and book a plane ticket. Our new au pair arrived 10 days after officially declaring the rematch.

Do host families have to continue hosting the au pair after rematch?

In most cases, host families are required by contract to continue hosting the exiting au pair. In my case, the agency required me to host my exiting au pair until she departed for her new host family or for home. She continued to live with us for 2 weeks.

Check the contract with your au pair sponsor agency for the details of this obligation. You should reach out to them directly if you have any concerns about continuing to host your au pair.

Do au pair sponsor agencies guarantee continuous childcare coverage if something happens to my au pair?

No, au pair sponsor agencies do not guarantee continuous childcare coverage if something happens to your au pair. However, most agencies will do what they can to help you select a new au pair quickly and minimize the impact to the host family.

Will I get a refund if I rematch?

Every au pair sponsor agency has different contractual terms about refunds and credits. You should check the fine print of your contract. Most agencies offer credits towards your next au pair or partial refunds if it is within the first 3 months of the contract.

In my case, I was matching with a new au pair from the same agency so they applied a credit for the remaining months on my contract towards the program fees of my next au pair.

Was rematching worth the trouble?

I get asked this question all the time. For me the answer is a resounding “YES”, rematch was worth it. My only regret is letting things go for as long as I did in the hopes that it would get better.

In retrospect, I’m not sure why it was such a hard decision for me. Those who were close to me had been urging me initiate the process with the au pair agency for quite a while before I actually did.

I was worried about a gap in child care coverage (I didn’t have a gap). The financial burden of starting a new au pair contract was also a concern (my refund covered the difference). Most importantly, I was worried about the impact on my kids (they loved my new au pair and easily transitioned). On the other hand, not every rematch goes as smoothly as mine did.

Every situation is different, you will need to make the decision that is right for your family. If you are struggling, I suggest that you think it through carefully, talk it out with your au pair, and move quickly to find resolution.

If you have questions or need a second opinion don’t be shy. Reach out to other host parents on our My Au Pair and Me Facebook group.


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