Years ago we were hosting a transition au pair (friend of our au pair) and I got a phone call from a prospective transition host mom. I was a little surprised because I was not actually the host mom of this AP so my number was not even on her profile so I quickly made that clear to “Sue” and she said “Oh I know (AP) told me! If it’s ok I would just love to ask you a couple quick questions about what housing (AP) is like.”
We proceeded to chat for over an hour and what this host mom told me changed everything about what I thought about transition APs and I hope this post can do the same for some of you!
Sue explained that she lived in an affluent part of NY and that she had hosted 3 overseas APs that had all ended in transition and she felt like they had chosen her family for the perks/location she could not hide on her profile (location, AP lives in guest home right behind main house, live in housekeeper etc) and had unrealistic expectations of the job. In all three cases she ended up in transition but was able to get a transition au pair already in country, talk to people that had actually met the AP and could tell her what it was like hosting or housing them and in many cases, rescue them from a less than ideal situation.
At this point we were on our very first AP and had just extended. The first year was very difficult for us and we had thought about transition several times (LCC was begging us!) but I just didn’t have the heart to do it and I thought (wrongly) like many new families do that transition APs must be undesirable in some way because I assumed (wrongly) that all host families treat their APs like family and with respect, follow all the rules and act in the spirit of the program.
After the third round of getting an overseas AP that ended in transition (0/3) and then getting a rockstar transition that extended with them (3/3 and all extended a full second year) Sue decided going forward that she would only host transition APs and not even look overseas anymore – a concept that blew my mind and made my inner planner/control freak tense with anxiety.
I had so many questions! What happens if you don’t find someone in time? (She’s never had that problem and had been doing it for years.) How long do you wait to start looking? (For her situation it was best to look about 2-3 weeks out because she could easily house two APs if she needed to do so and she wasn’t worried about overlap because her departing APs were awesome and would help train the new AP.) How long does it normally take her to find someone? (On average 5 days.) What does she look for? (Someone empathetic that is a respectful roommate that can drive and handles the stress of transition with grace and a positive attitude.)
She ended up matching with that AP that we were housing, that AP LOVED them and extended for a full second year like the others before her. I was blessed with an expanded perspective and since then we ourselves have hosted 3 transition APs and all 3 were rockstars and blessed our family more than I can put into words. I got to go into the transition pool educated and excited to find someone great and coincidentally all 3 of our transition APs had been removed from homes so we were able to help them complete their terms successfully and they became family just like the rest, even the amazing German AP we only had for two months!
As an LCC I have matched several of the new host families in my group with transition APs to start (its nice because then one party already knows the rules/drill and can help the other with the learning curve plus they can get someone right away) and it has gone very well.
I find myself this week pondering if I shouldn’t follow in Sue’s footsteps now that my kids are older and the job is “easier” and since we have had similar success with the transition pool. Yes there is a chance they might be shorter term but there’s also a very good chance they can already drive, have stronger English, truly know what this program is like day in/out (realistic expectations) or get sent home because there isn’t a family out there available to host them.
What do you think? Are we crazy or is it time to end the experiment and go all in on transition APs for the rest of our time hosting? Should more host families or new host families consider this strategy? What could the downsides be? Upsides?
PS – Now that I am back in the saddle 😉 I have about a half dozen posts lined up so if you have ideas for topics or want advice and don’t mind me posting please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post in the comments below!
Source: Visit AuPairMom.com