Abbie and Maddie here. We’ve both had multiple au pairs transition out of our lives and on to greater things. No matter how old your children are, caregiver transitions can be difficult. Au Pair transitions are emotional and stressful. Not only are you loosing your support system, you are also loosing a member of the family. Children in daycare can also experience caregiver turnover, but it’s more ad hoc. At least with au pairs, it’s a planned (if inevitable) change.
Here are our tips and tricks for helping kids (and you) transition between caregivers.
General tips to help your kids transition between au pairs
- Talk with your children. Acknowledge it’s sad to say goodbye, but exciting to say hello.
- Help them name their feelings.
- Keep in touch with your old au pair (if you want) using social media and video calls.
- Ask the outgoing au pair to make keepsake for your children. Consider a photo book or a Build-a-Bear that can be personalize with her voice saying a phrase.
- Involve older kids with picking the new au pair.
- During the transition, try to keep other changes to a minimum.
- Reassure them and love them.
- Take care of yourself. This is a big change for you, too (happy or sad).
Hi, Abbie here. A few months ago, I read this Daily Mail article about a woman’s feelings when her au pairs left her when she was a child. After reading this article, I felt so sad. Her feelings of loss and insecurity could have easily been avoided. I can also tell she blames her mother for a lot.
So at dinner one night before we started looking for our second au pair, I asked the boys, “Who do I love the most?”
They were surprised because I take great pains to let them know I love them all equally for their individuality. Was this a trick question? Did I really have a favorite child?
Then I explained that our first au pair was coming up on the end of her second year and her visa was going to expire. We needed to choose a new au pair.
But just as I love each of my children, we can also love each of our au pairs. We don’t have to love just one au pair at a time. We also don’t have to love one au pair more or less than another. We can love both of them equally for who they are.
It was nice that our au pair was also at the family dinner table, and got to hear the affirmation that she was loved.
After that, it was much easier to talk about our au pair interviews. Our current au pair was curious how we looked at profiles and made decisions who to contact. The boys also enjoyed sitting down and looking at profiles, reading about all the people who could possibly join our family in the coming year.
We also would include the boys in Skype interviews, after we had vetted our initial list into the top choice through email.
I had also asked our au pair if she would be willing to talk with the new au pair, and all of them have been willing to talk with each other.
Even now, our third au pair will help the children draw pictures for and write letters to our first and second au pairs.
Hi, Maddie here! We have had au pairs since my daughter was 4 months old so my kids are used to transitions. My 6 year old daughter has welcomed 6 au pairs to our family. My 2 year old son has welcomed 3 au pairs.
We talk about the process openly as a family as we go through it. My kids like to watch the au pair videos with me. My daughter loves all the au pairs and tells me why each one would be great for her. My 2 year old son is curious but would rather play with trucks.
I usually interview the au pairs first and then bring the kids in to say hi if I like them. When we make a match my kids get to know the new au pair a little before she arrives. When my au pairs are preparing to depart my kids like to help them pack, although they are not actually very helpful.
Every transition for us has been a little different. Our first au pair, M, loved to play the piano. After our first au pair left, my daughter would get really excited when she heard someone playing the piano. She was heartbroken to see that it was not au pair M.
When our second au pair left my daughter was almost 3 years old. Au pair D was dating a bro pair at the time and for months my daughter would ask “Where is bro pair T?” Even after au pair D and bro pair T broke up, my daughter would ask au pair D about bro pair T. Awkward…but au pair D took it in stride.
When our 3rd au pair, R, arrived, my daughter refused to call au pair R by her name. When we asked her the name of the new au pair she said “You’re my D.” (The name of the second au pair.) It’s as if D’s name was now the label for all au pairs.
Now that my daughter is older she wanted to make our new au pair a sign for the airport. She was also really excited to “teach her to take care of the kids” and “help her know the rules.”
- I Miss You (and that’s okay): Toddlers and Separation by Janet Lansbury (one of Abbie’s favorite parenting advice people ever!!!)
- Helping Children Cope When a Teacher Leaves by Bright Horizons
- Host toddlers by AuPairMom.com The toddler kids are so sad! They tell their au pair, “We love you more than your real family.” The comments show lots of different ways au pairs and host parents have dealt with transitions.
How do you help your kids transition caregivers?
How about you? How have you prepared for changes between nannies, daycare providers, or au pairs? Have any tips or tricks to share? Then comment below.
Or if you’re a host family, pop on over to our 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!