“If you are brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello”
Not every match is immediately a successful match. Caring for your host kids almost full-time, AND living with your host family at the same time is a lot different from a casual babysitting job a few hours per week. It is a lot of responsibility, the kids will test your limits and some personalities are bound to clash.
IT’S HARD TO FIND THE ‘PERFECT’ FAMILY
When you try to find the perfect family for the first time, it can be very overwhelming. You have a lot of families that are interested in you, and who want to match with you. You might have to juggle lots of different interviews, which can result in a rushed decision. When you are interviewing families or when families are interviewing you, you probably Skype or call them. You almost never meet them in person, it’s all online. Which makes it even harder to figure out if it’s they’re the right family for you.
Besides, families will tell you what they want to tell you. Even if they’re trying to stay as transparent as possible, they could potentially, not even on purpose, withhold information. Same thing with us au pairs: Most of us will probably tell the host families only what we want them to know, and maybe leave some things other things out. This is of course all part of the matching phase: Both you and the host family never know for sure what you’re getting. Nevertheless, a lot of times these are the things that you’ll figure out once you’ve been with the host family for a while. It’s all part of being an au pair, and part of your adventure too…
A LITTLE DISTRACTED BY ALL THE GOOD THINGS
I stayed with my host family in Dallas for four months. My host family consisted of my host parents and their two girls, who are nine and eleven. When I was interviewing families, I was actually looking for younger kids. But when we talked, I thought they were really nice and that we had a great connection. When I look back on it now, I may have gotten a little distracted by all the good things. Instead of inquiring further about the more important stuff about the kids that I really wanted to know, and I may rushed my decision.
AT LEAST WE TRIED
Nevertheless, we gave it a good shot. Four months is a long time. But I was not happy. It was one of the hardest things to do; I did not want to hurt the family or anyone else, but I also knew that I should remove myself from a situation I wasn’t happy in. On the one hand, I had to look after myself. On the other hand, it would have also been unfair on my host family to stay even though I didn’t really want to be there.
After less than two months, my host mom came to me and asked me why I seemed to be more distant lately. So we talked about all the things I was not happy about. My main concern was that I missed being a ‘real’ babysitter, but there were also some smaller issues with the schedule. Both my host girls had quite a lot of homework and after-school-activities. And when they happened to have some free time on their hands, they were not really in the mood to do fun things. Which I understood, but it did not make it easier for me. I missed playing and thinking of fun stuff to do with the kids. Instead, I was mainly driving them around and cleaning up after them. Don’t get me wrong, there are au pairs who think that this is the dream: You don’t really have to worry about the kids, you can do your own thing, you have lots of free time… But for me, it just was not what I was looking for. I missed having a real connection with the kids I was looking after.
IT’S VERY IMPORTANT TO BE HONEST
The talk I had with my host mom was really hard for me. Like I said before, I did not want to hurt her feelings. However, it is very important to be open and honest in those kinds of situations. Try to say what’s on your mind, and explain how you are feeling. I have always struggled when it comes to opening up about my feelings, which did not make this any easier. She asked me if I was thinking about rematch. This came as a surprise to me, as I, in fact, hadn’t thought about it. I told her I did not just want give up, so we decided that we were going to give it another try – at least until my dad was going to come visit me (you can read more on our trip in my last blog), which wasn’t for another month.
But sadly, it did not work out. In my opinion, not a lot changed during that month. When I look back on that day, I think that I (and my host mom) kind of already knew that I was not going to stay for the rest of the year. Maybe I just did not really want to accept it, or say it out loud at the time. So, after a few more conversations with her, my friends and also my LCC (local community counselor), I finally had the courage to tell her that I was going into rematch.
Rematch can take a toll on a host family as well as an au pair. Once it is initiated, it cannot be undone. That was something that scared me a lot. I was having so much fun traveling and with my friends, that I for sure did not want to go home. I was scared that, maybe, there would be no other families out there. That’s probably one of the reasons why it took me so long to go into rematch. It turned out to be quite the opposite though: I got an email saying I was back online, and that other host families could now find me again. At the time I was reading that email, two families had contacted me already, to see if I was available to talk. I spoke to lots of different families that were also in rematch, which made me feel a little bit more at ease.
I DID NOT WANT TO RUSH IT
After some interviews, I started to get the hang of it again. Knowing what I wanted to ask, and paid attention to how they responded to the questions, and so on. I had made a list of what I was looking for in a family, so I could easily tick the appropriate boxes during the interview, and ask some follow-up questions. I had a couple families who immediately wanted to match. But since I did not want to make the same mistake again, I told them that I did not want to rush anything, and that I would like to sleep on it for a couple of nights. And so I did. I also spoke to a few more families, making sure I was not missing out on any family suggestions. But you know what: At the end of the day, you never really know what the family is like until you actually get to spend some time with them.
I decided to match with a family in Baltimore, with two kids who had just turned 5 and 7. This was on a Saturday, not even a week into my rematch phase. Two out of my three ‘favorite families’ had matched with other au pairs, and since I did not want to loose out on that other family, I decided to match with them. They were really excited to match with me, which made me really excited, too. I was really excited to finally be out of rematch, which had been such a stressful time. You only have two weeks to find a new family – and yes, there are enough families in rematch, but you never know if one of them is going to be a good fit for you.
TRY NOT TO STRESS TOO MUCH ABOUT REMATCH
So, let me give you some tips about rematch.
- First of all, give it a good shot. Be 101% sure that you want to go into rematch. You should spend at least 6 weeks with your family, to be able to get used to the family, and vice versa. Just make sure you give it time, and don’t rush things. Because once you’re in rematch, there’s no going back. Make sure that you have a valid reasons for going into rematch. Don’t forget that every family will have a ‘downside’. Some might be a worse for you than others, but no family is perfect.
- Be open to anything. I never expected to get a 9 and 11 year old, but I did it because I thought I had a great bond with the family. You can of course have your preferences, but you should stay open for everything.
- Write down what you did not like about the former host family, write down what you liked.
- Try not to stress about not getting rematched. I know this is a lot to ask, because I myself was very stressed. The thing is though, it will only make things worse, and make interviews go worse than how you’d like it to go.
- My last tip is that you should make sure to talk about it with someone. This could be one of your friends, your LCC, your parents… Don’t keep it all to yourself, because I know it’s hard. Feel free to reach out to me if you ever have any questions about going into rematch, not being happy or whatsoever!Facebook and Instagram: @kajadekoff
MY LIFE NOW
One month, that’s how long I have been with my new family. I am really enjoying it. The kids are very active, and seem to really like me. I really like my new host parents, too. We do fun stuff together. The other week, for example, we went all the way to Virginia to celebrate a Dutch holiday (the Dutch Santa Claus), which was really fun! I know we’re still in our first few weeks as a brand-new patchwork family, but so far I am pretty happy with my decision.
It has been a big decision for me to go from Dallas to Baltimore. A very cold one, too. Fun fact: I did not bring a winter jacket to the US, because I was going to Texas, and there was no need for one there. But moving to the East Coast made me purchase one immediately. It’s a lot colder here, and even though I have not seen any snow yet, it has been freezing.
Nevertheless, I am very excited to be an East Coast gal now. Since I used to travel a lot back in Dallas, I’ve seen all the big cities in Texas, but also some around Texas. I am really excited to travel here, too: Washington D.C., New York, Philadelphia, and so on. I am going to go and see all the Christmas lights in New York, which I am really excited for. As you can tell, I am really happy with my rematch. There are always things you are not going to like, but that’s life.
NEXT UP: MORE FUN!
I found it very important to write a blog about rematch, to really emphasize what it is, what’s happening, and so on. I promise, next month is going to be a lot more fun. Then I will tell you all about a lot of American holidays, such as Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. See you then!