Maryland resident Aimee Meier is mom to five girls and has hosted two au pairs to help with her busy household. She’s a big fan of the au pair program but acknowledges there is a bit of a learning curve as a host family. Here she shares some valuable takeaways from her time as a host mom.
When we first considered becoming a host family, there were a few things that made me wonder if this was going to be the right fit for our family. Now, in our second year of hosting au pairs, I can say the au pair program works really well for us. If I could go back and tell myself three things about hosting, I think I would have been less worried and more prepared. Here are three things I wish I had known before becoming a host mom.
1. We will always have enough privacy and time to recharge
Hi, I’m Aimee and I’m an introvert. This was my number one hesitation about hosting au pairs. I was concerned I might not have privacy or time to recharge. I was worried that even after the kids went to bed or on the weekends, our au pair would want to hang out with us. In my introvert head, I envisioned having a guest who we cared for deeply, but who would always remain a guest—leaving me in a permanent role as hostess.
Y’all, I was so wrong. What I found is that we all need to recharge, including our au pair. She wants to go chat with her family, watch Netflix with friends, go explore our city, and so much more. Our au pair already spends so much time with our family while she’s on duty with the kids, so it is totally natural that she wants her own alone time too! Plus, au pairs only feel like guests for a little while. Within a week or two, it feels normal for them to be there and the pressure to please or entertain them all the time goes away.
2. Crucial conversations are unavoidable
Over the course of the year there will be hard conversations. This seems so obvious saying it out loud; but it never really crossed my mind until we started hosting. A few things helped us with those crucial conversations. From the beginning, we focused on building communication and trust so when these conversations happen (and they will), we both wanted each other to be happy with the solution. Also, leaning on our Local Childcare Consultant (LCC) during those times helped too. She was able to share ideas and language to help me approach sensitive topics and respond well to my au pair’s point of view.
3. Au pairs are under our roof for a year but in our hearts forever
Becoming “part of the family” is often what host families and au pairs talk about during interviews. Until you experience it, you don’t realize that an au pair doesn’t just become part of the family—but truly a family member. It’s a really beautiful relationship that unfolds. It’s like having a little sister or niece combined with the best parts of a considerate housemate and a responsible childcare provider all in one. And for our children, our au pairs have been role models. It’s a bond that lasts so much beyond the year the au pair spends with us. We’ve started to say “under a roof for a year and in our hearts forever” because the relationships have grown into life-long family bonds.