Au Pair Madness

Yes, I am one of THOSE women. The one who drops the au pair off at the birthday party to watch the kids. I never used to be THAT woman, in the Chanel sunglasses and prada ballet flats. But, five years later, I have a successful business that demands my time and the solution – for me – to managing that business and providing for my family’s needs has been having an au pair.

Our year with our Russian au pair is coming to a close (way too quickly if you ask me) and I found (through our agency – Cultural Care) a lovely 24-year old Brazilian woman. I’ve spent weeks cultivating our host-mom/au pair relationships through e-mail and web chats and IM chats. Then, on Friday, she went for her visa interview and her visa application was – I didn’t even know this could happen – rejected.

It’s ironic, because my one concern about Luciana was that her English skills were lacking. Apparently the Consulate agreed. I am sure, in the end, this will be a good thing – I won’t have to struggle to communicate with someone who is adjusting to a new culture and language during her first ever visit away from home. However, now I have to start from scratch finding an au pair.

Before I even knew there was a problem, Cultural Care had a new au pair for my consideration. And she seems absolutely lovely from her application materials. Her English skills are advanced, she has worked with kids the same age as mine, and she’s a highly experienced driver. The problem is that she happens to be visiting her uncle (thank God her brother speaks English and was able to tell me this) and whatever phone number I was given in Berlin either isn’t working, or the recorded message is telling me I’m an idiot for trying the number a thousand times today. Thank God for Skype. Seriously. Otherwise I’d be spending a fortune trying to call Germany.

So I don’t know how to reach this girl. I even asked my friend who is living in Germany to help figure this out. I tried google-ing the phone number. I looked up instructions for how to dial. Something is not working and I am completely stressed out trying.

I hate being in flux. I like to know who the au pair is, that she would like us, that she is coming, and that it is settled. I’d just gotten my  4 yo accustomed to the idea that Aleksa is leaving (very sad!) and Luciana is coming (very happy – drawing pictures to send her for Christmas!) and now she is very confused (“What’s a visa?”).

If I had time for all of this drama, I wouldn’t need an au pair in the first place….


4 responses to “Au Pair Madness

  1. Can’t relate to the au pair issues, but trying to get a Visa to the US is a nightmarish and often corrupt process. We used to have young teens (from around the world) denied Visas to attend a leadership program at a prominent museum in Boston. And this after having to pay exorbitant fees just to get their interviews. Good luck finding just the right person for your family.

  2. Ann, I can so relate to the Au Pair madness– especially the “If I had time for this drama, I wouldn’t need an au pair in the first place!” Why is it that the relationships on which we depend so much to keep the whole working-mom thing going, are so hard to create and sustain?
    Over at, we’re sharing advice, ideas and stories– I’d love to excerpt this one if you’d permit… let me know, and come visit AuPairMom. Let’s hope the next AP loves your daughter as much as the first! CVH

  3. As a fellow hostmom, I feel for your situation. I am glad you liked your Russian au pair, was that your first? How much time do you have to match with somebody new so that you have no break in care?

    My agency has a different matching system, where they send you several applications at a time. You actually can apply to several agencies at once (many have sale periods where they wave an application fee, and many will do it for you if you are coming from another agency), and then you will have a larger pool of candidates to choose from. It sounds like time is of the essence for you now, so I thought I’d mention this option.

  4. So, anyone want to know how the story turned out?

    We matched with another au pair. Her visa interview is today. Please keep your fingers crossed for us…. I’ve tried so hard not to get the kids’ hopes up on this one….. my 4 yo is still asking why the first one couldn’t get a visa….

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