For many host families, the idea of re-matching with an au pair or going through a difficult transition can be a stressful thought. Which is understandable, of course—when you join the program to host an au pair, you’re hoping for a happy and successful year together.
But rematches do happen, so it’s important to consider why they occur and learn what to expect. So let’s break down what causes conflict, what happens in a rematch, and learn about the best ways to move forward when the situation with your au pair is simply not working out.
Common causes of conflict
The most common causes of host family and au pair conflict are communication issues and personality differences.
Good communication is critical for a healthy host family and au pair relationship. When regular communication isn’t happening and something goes wrong, it can lead to frustration and lack of trust. The upside is that communication issues can easily be resolved with a commitment to share more regularly and listen to each other’s point of view. We recommend scheduling a weekly in-person check-in to chat about what’s going well and how to improve things that aren’t.
Personality differences can also lead to conflict between host families and au pairs. Personality is hard-wired, so expecting one another to change in fundamental ways is unrealistic. But a relationship can improve dramatically with an effort to better understand each other.
When it’s not working out
If things with your au pair are not going well, it’s important to address issues right away. Find a time to calmly and clearly communicate your feelings and allow your au pair to speak honestly as well. If you’ve tried on your own to resolve the situation and it’s still not working, we have a set of guidelines in place to help you through the next steps.
First, it’s important to let your Local Childcare Consultant (LCC) know as soon as possible that you’re experiencing challenges. They will schedule a support meeting with everyone present and allow each person to share their perspective. They will suggest possible solutions and work with you to develop a plan to help things improve. Making an effort to salvage the relationship is important, and when host families and au pairs are able to overcome struggles, their bond often becomes stronger than ever .
If, however, the problems with your au pair continue despite your best efforts, then your LCC will conduct an exit interview.
Navigating the transition process
The exit interview is the first part of the transition process—at this meeting, your family and your au pair will come to an agreement about what the next two weeks will look like. You will determine your au pair’s schedule for the remaining two weeks—as well as their last day—and any modifications you want to make to house rules like curfew or car use. Most importantly, you will decide whether your au pair will remain on-duty or if they will be relieved of childcare duties during this time.
If you decide that your au pair will continue working, you’ll pay them their weekly stipend per usual. (If they do not provide childcare, then they are not entitled to their weekly stipend.)
Once the exit interview is complete, you must continue to provide room and board for your au pair for up to two weeks. Au pairs typically use these fourteen days to try to find a new host family with whom they can complete their program term. Although this time period may feel awkward or uncomfortable, it’s important you continue to treat your au pair with care and respect, as you would a daughter, son or extended family member.
Finding your next caregiver
After you decide on how to best navigate the transition, Cultural Care support staff will help you move forward with rematch. Hopefully you will decide to look for a new au pair that is a better fit for your family!
When it comes to finding your next au pair, we always encourage families in rematch to consider hosting “transition au pairs”—or “in-country au pairs”. These are au pairs who have also decided to part ways with their host families for any number of reasons.
In-country au pairs are great candidates for families who are looking to secure more immediate childcare because they are usually available to travel to your home and begin their term with you very soon—sometimes as early as within two weeks.
It’s still a good idea to investigate backup childcare options, because Cultural Care Au Pair cannot guarantee continuous childcare coverage during a rematch. You’ll want to ensure you have a caregiver lined up to help fill in any gaps that may occur as you look for your next au pair.
Once you find another au pair to welcome into your family, your Cultural Care support team will arrange for them to travel to your home on the agreed-upon start date.
Rematch is never fun—but the option is available to help host families and au pairs find the best fit while on the au pair program.