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AP driving me nuts!(28 Posts)
I don't know if this is best here or in AIBU, but I just can't seem to gel with new(ish, since mid-August) au pair. When DS and DD were little we had a nanny, but now they're in school we've been going with au pairs (I work FT), and apart from the first one who left homesick after 6 weeks, we've all gotten on well and I've been happy with the arrangement (though with the constant turnover I'm sick of the disruption). We have a flat above the garage where the au pair lives, with her own bathroom, mini-kitchen and fridge, TV, use of a bike and car, etc. This AP is in mid-20s, has lived away from home, is responsible, firm and active with DS and DD (though not terribly affectionate), does the housework and shopping, all that good stuff. I know I shouldn't complain, BUT...
I know that an au pair is meant to "become part of the family", but does that mean they have to do EVERYTHING with you? Have EVERY meal in the house? Watch EVERY TV programme you do? She doesn't have much of a life on weekends - we've tried to hook her up with other APs in the area and she's made a little effort, but more often than not when I've asked her if she's going anywhere she just smiles and says "no, I'm going to stay here..." At which point I want to shoot myself! She is, frankly, a very boring person (at least to me) who makes very little effort at conversation and says "hmm...?" instead of "yes". Drives me bonkers.
I need some down time with my family where I don't have to worry about being in my pyjamas, or screaming at my kids (or DH!), or whether I have made enough food for her to have some (she has a healthy appetite!). When I start making meals on weekends I don't seek her out to see if she intends to eat with us because I don't (and I'm so ashamed to say this) WANT her to feel invited. And she never gets the message. So I sit and stew about it, and rage at DH, who rages back because there's nothing he can (or will) do about it and he's tired of hearing me moan.
Last night was the last straw - DH and I were really looking forward to watching Downton Abbey and relaxing. Of course she wanted to watch it too and why watch it on a little screen in your flat when there's a 52 in screen in the TV room? So what if your host family are squashed on a 2-seater sofa when you've nabbed the 3-seater while they were putting the kids to bed? So what if they want to cuddle - completely oblivious.
What do I have to do to get my TV room back to myself on Sundays short of (a) lying to her that we're going to watch another programme on Sundays at 9 (and then watching DA) or (b) shagging on the sofa next time? DH did half-jokingly suggest putting a better TV in the flat, but I don't think that's a viable plan (c). She'd still want to sit in the TV room with us.
I know I must sound really psycho, and I don't intend to be. I wish I could warm to her and not mind having her around. I've built this grievance up in my head for the past month and I know I'm at least half the problem but I'm stuck in this rut and can't get past it. Any advice appreciated.
Can you "treat" her to a flight home for Christmas? Would that be an option? (Or Eurostar - is she Dutch? - re your point about the bluntness.)
I think you need ground rules set in place - "on x night and x night, we would like to have some time to ourselves, so perhaps these could be your nights for going out/you could eat with the children/watch TV in your room with a friend."
Our last au pair was absolutely brilliant - we luffed her so much that we paid for her to go and visit her sister in Vancouver for four weeks. We were slightly nervous that she might not come back, but she did, thankfully. But we also had the "completely oblivious of personal space au pair" and the "space cadet au pair" as well.
I haven't read the whole thread, but she comes across as a bit lonely.
I would encourage her to invite some friends to come over on Sunday afternoon and evening, maybe as a special incentive you could offer to get some pizzas for all.
If that doesn't work, I would have a chat with her and explain that it is really important that she starts socialising a bit more. Find out what her interests are and see if there are any clubs she can join (it might not be on Sunday, but she will make friends and hopefully go and visit them, invite them over to her flat).
Our au pairs are always keen to have friends/sisters/boyfriend coming over during the weekend. Most of the weekend they are either out (if weather is nice) or in her room and we supply generous amounts of snacks/hot food/soft drinks and now and then as a treat give her a few cinema tickets or contribute towards theatre tickets. We also pay for their skype accounts. Making sure that her room is really nice also helps I think.
I think au pairs expect to eat together with the family, whereas nannies might just eat with (and cook for) the kids.
If you find it annoying that she eats with the family then I think that you have a bigger problem.
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