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Can you share your Aupair experiences?

(45 Posts)
aquashiv Fri 20-Apr-12 13:49:05

We are about to look for an aupair for our three children mainly to help around school hours. Can anyone share their experiences good and bad and how long it took to hire an au pair. How did you feel about recruiting someone you didnt actually meet before they arrived?
Many thanks

Scarletlips Sat 16-Feb-13 09:20:24

Hi Newtothisstuff,
We've had 3 Spanish au pairs so thought I'd reply to your message. Two were great, one was awful. The 2 good ones were always at the playground, took the kids on outings, brought them swimming, cooked the dinner and generally helped tidy up after the kids. I found them great. They were very caring towards my kids. The au pair who was awful, didn't seem to like kids at all and just left my son watching TV all day. I think she thought she was coming here on holiday. She lasted a few weeks. I have had German au pairs also and the German girls are definitely much better at housework but then weren't as good at engaging the kids in activities. I felt the kids were a bit bored. I personally think Spanish au pairs are great for younger children but when the kids get older and have their own friends and afterschool activities I'll be going straight back to using German au pairs. Hope this helps

Newtothisstuff Fri 15-Feb-13 23:17:28

We are just about to terminate our Spanish aupair. She is absolutely bone idle ! I know Spain is having difficulties and we have had loads of applications from Spanish girls but she has put me off.. Has anyone had the same Spanish experience or is it just a one off ?

LadyHarrietdeSpook Fri 15-Feb-13 21:41:58

Bran let us know how it goes with the matchmaking. I love it!

I have suggested possible dates to au pairs who claimed to be 'looking for love' so to speak. Our au pairs have all been Germany but I have an absolutely lovely Austrian friend who I know from work, much younger. Gorgeous, rich, the works.

He was far too old, though, at 26!!!!

bran Fri 15-Feb-13 12:47:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bran Fri 15-Feb-13 12:42:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

middleeasternpromise Tue 12-Feb-13 18:48:32

My children have just about experienced every concievable form of child care, their final request was to be in their own home after school. Au pair was the only solution for me and despite the ups and downs it has broadly worked.

Oldest child is relatively self sufficient but not confident enough to be home alone. Youngest completely un trust worthy and needs supervision but can be alot of fun and is extremely loving to au pairs.

I spend alot of time working out with recruits what they want to get out of the deal and how motivated they are get it. I agree with others you do find a nationality that suits and often that is your standard recruit. (Mine has turned out to be French)

Theres nothing like getting home and finding everyone relaxing - fed watered and completing homework! I find the kids are far less tired and they really enjoy playing with all the au pairs we have had. Im really big on ensuring au pairs have free time (all weekends that is after all party time) and if they plan anything mid week I never ask them to cancel they are here to have fun!

I have a huge en suite room that wouldnt work for me or the kids but the aupairs love it as its at the top of the house. They can have friends to stay over and once up there I dont get bothered. School hols I make sure we do lots of touristy things so au pair gets that experience.

Most of my aupairs have been happy to do a general maintenace clean - ie stay on top of the communal areas. Current one loves ironing (and I love her) putting the hoover round every other day is fab and I do a massive scrub at the weekends. For me it really works and is worth the other downsides.

Flojobunny Mon 11-Feb-13 22:58:25

This thread has put me off having an AP!

Scarletlips Mon 11-Feb-13 22:33:54

Hi, I just wrote the longest message in reply to this thread and i appear to have lost it. sad I feel sorry for myself. Has this ever happened to anyone else? I'm going off to make myself a cup of tea!

Newtothisstuff Mon 11-Feb-13 21:20:37

I'm only on ap1 recruiting ap2 my current one who's been with us since November is an absolute nightmare... See my other posts. Soooo lazy. Can't even manage to clean up after herself never mind the kids, her personal hygiene is terrible, I had to wait until she had gone out for the weekend to take her bedding off to wash because the whole upstairs started to smell.
Definitely Skype, she said she was shy and didn't want to which was fine by me as we had been speaking for months and months via email. Only for her to admit 2 days before she arrived she had been copy and pasting into google translate, she lied about all sorts too.
I've just found her on aupair world looking for another job, was just curious to see if she was. It saves us sacking her anyway grinjust do your research and talk to them a lot, give them a written daily Plan no matter how silly you think it might be.
Show them EVERYTHING more than once !!
If they are expected to drive make sure they drive in their own country, ours assured us she could drive then admitted she passed her test 6 years ago and hasn't driven since, her driving is the most terrifying experience ive ever had hmm

NickNacks Mon 11-Feb-13 20:52:10

Please can you just post once (maybe on your own new thread) instead of bumping dozens of old ones. Thanks.

Pip1979 Mon 11-Feb-13 20:50:03

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Tue 08-May-12 12:39:42

jules I have had no trouble recruiting excellent English speakers who want to stay a year though. This is something we also insist on...whatever works though.

PollyParanoia Tue 08-May-12 12:19:14

Ooo Maples you're so right. Which ties in with another disadvantage that I found, the idea that we might be being judged and that we had someone else in the house who we had to present ourselves in front of (going back to Jules' naked argument point).
What Jules says makes sense. You have to do a cost-benefit analysis (and by cost, I'm including the emotional compromises as well as the financial cost). For Jules, there is no alternative because of her and dh's hours so it means you can put up with quite a lot. For us, there are alternatives and I don't think we were fully 'exploiting' (wrong word) the benefits which made me more resentful of the disadvantages.
Anyway, will give myself a few months using live out childcare and see how it goes.

maples Sat 05-May-12 14:10:03

Somewhere on an au pair forum there is a thread something like this:

Ap A - My family is quite good but their food is horrible and the dad is really grumpy. Wish I'd gone to the States as they told me they live near London. They don't!

Ap B - mine are lovely though quite disorganised and I never knew what was happening from one day to the next. However the mum cooked amazing meals and the kids were really good fun.

Ap C - the children are really mean in my family. They won't do what I say and have big fights when I'm babysitting. The mum and dad argue a fair bit but it's great living in central London...

Etc etc

DH and I were just laughing thinking about what ap's probably say about all of us! grin

Julesnobrain Sat 05-May-12 07:17:42

Harriet. Agreed its a hard slog to change every 6 months but because we want near fluent English and are in London we get lots of grads on a gap year / break who are happy to do 6 months of London living but after that start to get bored/ restless. If they are childcare career orientated then we have provided a soft landing into London and experience after which they can apply for nanny/ nursery positions for more money or If grad of other discipline then they have had a nice adventure, topped up their English and then are ready to go back to college. I think as DC get older ( youngest is only 6 at mo) we may revert back to worse English when then they want to stay for a year.

Polly we looked into the after school idea live out but it did network for us. Dh often works abroad at short notice so leaves all childcare to me. I often work from home buteo have to also get to other locations and sometimes have to either work early ie leave house at 5 or 6 am and sometimes have to work late 10 -11. Pm. Live in was our only viable cost effective option.

PollyParanoia Fri 04-May-12 14:22:18

Jules presumably you've done the maths and it's much more economic for you since you need 35 hours (which would be v pricey if paying per hour). Because I'm freelance and want to be with the children half the time after school I need less hours and so wonder if I could convert the cost of the au pair into hours (probably could buy me 10-15 hours and then I'd just get a local girl to do babysitting) in order to do my naked strolling, cuddling and fighting (not all naked, though there's the option).
Hmmmm. Am thinking of putting two ads on gumtree, one live-in, one live-out and taking the best person. I gather that the more specific you (and even demanding) on Gumtree the better.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Fri 04-May-12 14:21:43

Jules
How do you possibly cope with a six mo churn? All the recruiting, settling in, getting to know you periods, ahhhh!

That would finish me off.

Julesnobrain Fri 04-May-12 13:39:22

Hi I have used au pair world and gumtree for our au pairs. Had a mixed experience and learnt hard lessons along the way. I agree with other posters A) be clear about your role and what it is - I send a detailed schedule before they accept the role. B) try to understand what they are getting from it. If I can't see how it benefits them then I move onto a different candidate.

AP1 via ap world. Polish. V nice stayed 8 months. Came from v poor, rural family so needed alot of TLC to get used to London.

AP2 Czech. Via gumtree and interview. Über efficient but ate us out of house and home. It became a problem which I posted on. Stayed 5 months we are still in touch

AP3 Greek ap. fantastic, still in touch. Stayed 4 months Children loved her, I loved her, DH loved her but she had bad ashma and ended up in hospital and they advised her to move back to sunnier climates

AP4 Mexican via gumtree and interview. Older 27 rubbish English. Nice girl but taught us we prefer younger AP's ( under 25) and they must have good to intermediate English for the DC's to build up a relationship quickly.

AP5 south african via AP world. Horrific. stroppy, lazy, racist (she was not a white SA either!). We struggled for 4 months and then she started to try to flirt with DH and wear skimpy underwear in the house which was unfortunate as she was a rather larger lady. As am I but I would not dream of showing off my wobbly bits ! It came to a head when a neighbours husband who was friends with us asked if he could not come round until she was gone as she had tried to grab him in the loo and he was a bit scared:-) ahhhh. We sacked her and put her on a plane home at our expense. Lesson learnt only employ AP's from EU countries which are cheap to fly too

AP 6 English, AP 7 scottish , AP 8 Swedish all stayed 6 months as we now only write 6 month contracts and they must have near fluent English all great girls who we have stayed in contact with and restored my faith in AP's. AP 9 Italian stayed 9 months as it suited us both, kids loved her, she is coming back for a visit next weekend bit scatty, room was filthy when she left but we liked the Italian warmth .AP 10 Hungarian. Only been here 4 weeks. Seems lovely. Calmer than Italian and the kids seem better with that. Again recruited via AP world.

I don't do trial weekends, our life is too hectic to be disciplined enough to organise that. I do have a list of must haves and nice too haves. We have a 35 hour role most of which is Childcare, taking and collecting from school, so cleaning skills are irrelevant for us. Relating to children is our no 1 priority, we also avoid non eu and certain eu countries.

And yes I long for the day DC's are in senior school and we have no AP. I shall celebrate by walking around the house naked, give dh a nice cuddle in the sitting room without expecting someone to barge in and have a family argument at full screaming pitch rather than loud whispers!!!

elastamum Fri 04-May-12 13:21:29

AP1 Lovely but lazy. Spent the whole time here on FB, and couldnt cook.

AP2, left this morning after 3 years!!! Will really miss her. The DC who are both teens were realyl sad to se her go.

AP3. A chap, arrived last week. Seems really nice and has been an au apir twice before so knows the ropes. Am hoping he works out

PollyParanoia Fri 04-May-12 13:19:46

Thanks LadyH and Fedup, you're absolutely right that one can't generalise about aps any more than nannies or any other individuals, so I shouldn't assume that this one experience is typical. And it's not that it was disastrous, it's just that she was literally so green that she couldn't turn the kettle on even when I showed her how. I didn't interview her beforehand because she was through a connection and with hindsight I would never have employed her had I met her because her English was so poor and she was extremely overweight (that sounds awful but it did affect her attitude and I worried about the messages it was giving my daughters. I'd feel the same about an underweight person).

After 8 APs, some excellent, and a couple rubbish, my major piece of advice is go with your gut feeling. And if you make a bad choice, cut losses early - if the first couple of weeks are dire, it is not likely to improve!

We always had long conversations (usually the girls have been French, and I can speak French if their language isn't great), but skype is better. One of the APs was massive, and simply didn't have the energy to run around after 2 small boys. She also ate shed loads of food, and I lost it with her after I found she'd eaten all 12 salmon steaks in the freezer.

Dss are currently 5 and 7, and I think we'll be having APs for a few years to come, although I take the points above about families getting a bit jaded.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Fri 04-May-12 12:39:14

Well, I have to say I've had my fair share of issues with individuals who were supposedly professional nannies as well...our current one is excellent, most professional of the lot. THe others had strengths and weaknesses, much like the APs we've had. There are no gaurantees either way.

The trouble I would see with a student potentially is that I don't know if their commitment would be much higher than an AP - you'd have to 'suck it and see' so to speak. Could you offer flexibility when they had loads of exams coming up?

PollyParanoia Fri 04-May-12 12:13:24

PS very in awe of those who don't mind parenting extra person. My reserves of patience and tolerance seem pretty used up by my own children!

PollyParanoia Fri 04-May-12 12:12:31

Oh my god the idea of having 10 au pairs fill my heart with dread! I live in central London, near a lot of universities, and I do wonder whether there isn't a whole wealth of potential people who'd like to do the work and who I wouldn't have to mother. Without sounding like a total cow, I find this whole cultural exchange/family member thing really off-putting. I think in days of yore having someone from a different culture would have been really valuable for children, but there's are 50 languages spoken in my kids' school so I'm not sure how much more exposure they really need. I did like the smattering of Spanish they picked up, but it wasn't much more than they could learn in school.
Hmmm really have to think about it. I'm also surrounded by school girls eager to babysit so that's not such an AP benefit either.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Fri 04-May-12 12:04:24

We're giving it another year. After that I may go down the route of trying to recruit another after school only nanny just for ourselves.

I don't think I have the energy to commit to the arrangement straight through to the early part of secondary school...and I'm not even sure that the it's fair on the APs to do this. How enthusiastic can you really be about the 'cultural exchange' part after like ten APs? It's hard not to see how the family might get a bit jaded whereas for the AP it's their big gap year and something they've been looking forward to for a while (living with a family, having the 'cultural exchange.') I think it's fairest to keep doing having APs only has long as you continue to have some enthusiasm for that part of the deal.

I would be curious to hear from other eople on this though - ones who hav had them for years.

In my limited experience, the APs who were the least happy with their families/ most lonely were in families that were on their 10+ AP. But it may be a total coincidence.

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