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My aupair is plain lazy.... help

(173 Posts)
Horseymumjo Sat 29-Sep-12 00:50:47

Hi! Am in need of advice from other mums with au pairs.

Our au pair joined us a month ago, and the first week with us I took a weeks holiday to help settle her in, show her the ropes and the local area, etc.

We live in a rural location so have provided her with a car for school runs and to be at her disposal for her weekends off. I have also provided her with a sat nav.

Now 4 weeks on, we have a major problem. Her car broke last weekend (fan belt) so we have spent all week trying to get it fixed. We have had to resume doing all the school runs and juggling the children as a result. Midweek she came down with a cold, as did I, and she has barely left her bed since. I had to take the whole day off today to do the school runs, washing, cleaning, cooking etc. I am self employed, so it cost me hard cash.

She spends all evening and most weekends in her bedroom, posting on Facebook how miserable she is and how much she misses her family and friends. I have tried to talking to her, inviting her to sit with us in the evenings, but she doesn't want to.

in the last couple of weeks I have asked her to cook meals, tidy the children's bedroom, Hoover in the hallway. She has not done any of these things. It transpires she does not know how to cook. Yesterday she was asked to cook pork chops, nd had to call her boyfriend at home to find out how. This was checked in the initial interviews, and is an integral part of her duties. I have shown her where the cook books are in case she needs inspitiration, but as yet she hasn't used them. I have cooked more meals in the last 4 weeks than she has. In fact I think I have only eaten 1 meal that she has cooked. I have suggested she cooks meals from home, that she is used to, we are happy to try new things, but she doesn't seem to know how to do anything.

in addition she has the use of a private bathroom. She has been using it for the last 3 weeks and hasn't cleaned it once. I only discovered that this evening.

I am beginning to think she thinks she is just on holiday, staying with us for free, and being paid too. Feel like I am being taken for a mug.

so do I sack her? Help!?

J x

Floralnomad Sun 30-Sep-12 10:57:00

I think you are asking her to do way too much and it's a bit of a cheek to call her lazy in your post. What you need is what used to be called a 'mothers help' but you'd need to pay them the proper going rate . Also why has it taken a week to repair a fan belt !

Rubirosa Sun 30-Sep-12 11:05:09

Maybe it depends where you live forevergreek - but where I am an experienced live-out nanny is on £8-£10 gross, maybe £11 for very part time hours, a new nanny would be more like £7 gross. Au pairs would get £65-£75 for a standard 25 hours plus babysits. I have known unqualified live in nannies getting around £5 an hour as a first nanny job.

pictish Sun 30-Sep-12 11:07:19

I think expecting her to do all that for a measly £80 a week, is preposterous!!

I would tell you to sling your hook!!!

Horseymumjo Sun 30-Sep-12 11:10:21

I am gutted. Will see this ap through to end of her contract, then probably won't bother getting another. Will consider different child care options. My own kids work harder. I am dismayed that the general work ethic in this country is to do as little as possible, for as much money as possible. I don't mind paying more, but think that £80/ week plus a fully expensed car (no-one else uses this, it was purchased solely for the APs use), full board and lodging to run the kids back and forth to school and do a little housework and cook a couple of meals is pretty ok.

FYI, the horses are kept at home, so DH doesn't disappear, but takes the dc out to our own yard, effectively giving the ap less to do, not expecting her to work longer.

Thak you all for your responses. I am disappointed but must accept that my expectations are unreasonable.

pictish Sun 30-Sep-12 11:11:30

But it's not a little housework, and it's not one or two meals! You are expecting a lot more than that!

pictish Sun 30-Sep-12 11:13:18

I am dismayed that the general work ethic in this country is to do as little as possible, for as much money as possible

No - you are dismayed that you need to pay a lot more for the service you want!

looneytune Sun 30-Sep-12 11:14:31

Wow, I am a childminder so no idea on what is/isn't acceptable but I always believed an au pair works before/after school with some other duties but aren't they often at college or something and therefore not working most of the day? IMO, if this person was doing all the list you've just given for £80 a week then you are getting an absolute bargain! I might be wrong as I said, just shocked at the list as it's more like what my nanny friends do and they're paid a hell of a lot more than that.

I'll be interested to see what other people who do know about au pairs say.

Rubirosa Sun 30-Sep-12 11:16:26

I wouldn't work 40 hours a week doing childcare and housekeeping for that money Horseymumjo, and there's nothing wrong with my work ethic. Usually the pay off for au pairs is that they have free time to learn a language/meet new people/explore a new country, and so that makes up for the lack of pay. You need to think about what's in it for your au pair, if she is working long days.

You sound quite dismissive that sole-charge childcare of preschoolers is actually quite hard work.

Asmywhimsytakesme Sun 30-Sep-12 11:27:36

This is what my au pair does:

Shared care of toddler 2 mornings a week while I work from home
Helps prepare lunch on those days
Cleans up after evening meal every night
Gives DH lift to and from station for commute every day as we don't have a car
3 hours cleaning a week - a list of set jobs and then a different extra job per week eg
say dusting skirtings upstairs
Cooks family meal on the day I go into work
Helps out with cooking most other nights - we can cook nice meals from scratch with two of us for extra toddler entertaining power!
In total she cooks by herself maybe twice a week.
She gets 2 days with only duties clearing up after evening meals and the drop offs plus of course the weekend, 28 days hol a year, use of car, £70 per week and gym subscription

She is great but I have been very directive - eg I tell her what to cook and exactly how using which recipe book. I wouldn't be able to go to Austria and rustle up a wiener schnitzel and I don't expect her to be able to do any English dishes without guidance.

This week she made toad in hole and quiche - was very good!

fuckadoodlepoopoo Sun 30-Sep-12 11:30:54

I think its shocking that you expect so much for so little money and then call her and the rest of the country lazy when you don't get it. confused

You also complained that she only cleaned her own bathroom once in 3 weeks. So she plans on cleaning her own bathroom once every 10 days? And? There is nothing wrong with that! Personally mine needs doing every week but i don't see why its an issue. It makes you sound like a control freak!

Poor girl, she must feel like a slave! No wonder she saying she feels unhappy.

You talk about the car as though she should be really grateful, as though its a gift, but actually its essential for her to do her job so i would stop patting yourself on the back about that.

dysfunctionalme Sun 30-Sep-12 11:31:42

You might be better off with someone who comes into clean and prepares a meal e.g. gets the slow cooker on? It is such a big help to have the meal ready and I agree with you that meal times are very important especially for busy families like yours.

Unless your AP has a huge attitude change and can manage 2 decent meals a week, might not feel so overwhelmed by that as 5 nights, and it's still a help especially if she can do school run and other bits.

blueshoes Sun 30-Sep-12 11:49:51

Horsey, my first instinct with your current aupair is get rid. She sounds like she is taking the piss. She is a non-starter. I don't know how much more you can be expected to direct her in her duties. I would start rigorously performance managing (first warning etc) her asap with a view to terminating.

Going forwards, I would agree with metrobaby about the 3 categories of tasks and how it is difficult to find an aupair to be good at all 3.

Cooking is one area that is the most difficult for young aupairs. It is more a housekeepers role. It is the one I have abandoned for my aupairs, but they do the simple cooking for the children that metro describes. I don't think it is unreasonable for you to expect an aupair to do the simple family meals you described but in increased quantities, but for some unfathomable reason, it is a very difficult thing to ask of a young person who has not had to look after a family of her own. She should not have taken the job.

I note in your schedule you ask the aupair to prepare meals between 2-3. But between 4-6, there are a lot of tasks set out for her which do not include cooking. When do you expect the aupair to actually be preparing dinner for the family? Does she cook in advance at 2-3pm and then leave plates of say pasta sitting around to be heated up by the family for dinner?

andagain Sun 30-Sep-12 11:52:38

OP, we have AP (this is our second one). I think her duties are pretty standard for AP. This might assist you in seeing what AP (as opposed to nanny or housekeepr or mother's help) should do.

We have one child. Our AP works 7.30-9 am Mon-Fri, which involves supervising our DD getting dressed and driving her to school and then 3.-5.30 pm Mon-Fri which involves picking her up from school, playing with her and making her dinner (which is fairly basic pasta or rice dish or something we had prepared and frozen previously). On top of these 20 hours she does 3 hours ironining every week. So it works out to 23 hours per week plus one night babysitting (set night every week and not weekend night). Any extra babysitting is paid extra.

She gets £80 per week plus £10 per month on her phone and £20 on her oyster. She is free to use our car whenever she wants.

I think that is about right.

Some families get their APs to help with their evening meals which I think is acceptable but daily cleaning or cooking for a large family is not what an AP is supposed to do for basic AP pay.

You have to remember that these young people are here to experience a new country and make new friends and learn or improve their English. They are not here to work 50 odd hours per week and get paid peanuts.

I am sorry but what you expect for what you pay is borderline exploitation
(and frankly morally wrong).

You really should be employing a full time nanny/housekeeper and pay appropriate rates.

blueshoes Sun 30-Sep-12 11:56:24

I think it is fine for your aupair to work 8 hours a day if you pay her accordingly. It is relatively long hours for an aupair but if you make it clear during recruitment, everyone is on the same page.

From your schedule, I would say it is quite a busy role especially since it has 4 school runs, 3 times a day with afterschool childcare for your ds2, afterschool activities for your dd. Any parent who does this knows how exhausting it is.

I think it is difficult to ask your aupair to do housework whilst your dcs are around e.g. between 4-6, unless you are around. Your aupair would be quite tired by then. I think it is better to fit the housework after your aupair has dropped the children off at school/nursery, so there is no one to get underfoot or asking for snacks etc.

If you wanted to make it an easier job that would suit more people, I would abandon the housework and pay a cleaner to do that to a professional standard.

The job would then be childcare/schoolrun heavy which would appeal to someone who likes to spend time with children.

You sound like a hardworking person and would probably do all you ask your aupairs to do and more smile. I guess reading the schedule, it sounded like you were expecting her to be a mother in terms of multi-tasking and just not ever sitting down when there is stuff to be done. I hope I am not being unfair, because the work is clearly do-able, just a tad more than I would be confident an aupair would be able to handle.

No wonder she's pissed off, you're expecting her to do far too much, for too little money.
Your expectation of an AP is ridiculous, you need a nanny and a housekeeper.

blueshoes Sun 30-Sep-12 12:10:08

Andagain, I would not go so far as to say that OP is exploiting or suggest she is morally wrong. If she makes it clear in her job description, it is a job like any other. Things have moved on in re: what an aupair role entails.

Some aupairs, particularly those from Eastern Europe, may ask for longer hours anyway.

"I am dismayed that the general work ethic in this country is to do as little as possible, for as much money as possible"

Is that not basically your thinking too? You want this girl to do as much work as possible for you with no free time for herself while paying her as little as possible and expecting her to be grateful. hmm

blueshoes Sun 30-Sep-12 12:24:52

Not being from the UK, I understand what the OP means about the 'general work ethic' ... Let's just say that when in UK, we have to adapt to the cultural working norms ... but they don't necessarily make the UK competitive (but that is a discussion for another thread).

It cannot be exploitation if OP makes it clear in her job description what the role entails, the pay and the aupair is free to leave at any time. It is the aupair being a timewaster to accept a role she had clearly no will or skill to fulfill.

andagain Sun 30-Sep-12 12:25:07

I am sorry blueshoes but I disagree. Yes, the role has moved on and yes au pairs can negotiate to do more hours and more duties but what op describes is a full time full on job which is a nanny/ housekeeper job.

Just because you fully describe the job and explain all the details, it does not make it right paying someone £80 for 50 hours pretty hard work, including juggling making a meal for 6 with looking after small child simultaneously! It is shocking to expect that much.

APs main reason for being in the UK is usually to improve English and see a new country, not to get a job with so many hours and so little pay that they cannot afford to do anything or go anywhere.

narmada Sun 30-Sep-12 12:28:00

OP Started off reading with sympathy. Ended up feeling really sorry for your AP. What really annoys me about this country is people taking advantage of others by paying them peanuts and ignoring their obligations to reward fair work with fair pay.

Viviennemary Sun 30-Sep-12 12:33:10

I thought au pairs only helped for a few hours a day. Light housework care of children. Not cooking. Depends what the agreement was when she was employed. When I last looked it was three or four hours work a day and the rest of the time studying English or other subject. Sounds she is doing a lot of work. How much are you paying her if that's not too rude a question. I think that's problem the important thing in regards to your expectations. Eight till six is a very very long day. Even with two hours off. Bar jobs at weekends. As well as those long days. YABVVVVU.

Viviennemary Sun 30-Sep-12 12:34:32

Just seen £80 a week. Sorry that is simply exploitation and slave labour.

fuckadoodlepoopoo Sun 30-Sep-12 12:36:52

I also think pointing her at cook books is a waste of time. I don't think I've ever looked at a recipe and found that i have all the ingredients in for it. Unless you expect her to go and do the shopping in her spare time in the mornings?

Who does do the shopping anyway?

bran Sun 30-Sep-12 12:41:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

metrobaby Sun 30-Sep-12 12:46:03

HorseyMum - I think for what you describe, and the hours you need, that a Nanny would be more suitable.

AP's usually are fairly young girls with fairly limited childcare and 'life' experience. Asking them to effectively look after a preschooler, your schoolage ds, your dd, cook and clean is quite a tall order! I believe most APs would want more than 2 hours off during the day too as many would want to study part time. Your hours are actually a very long day for an AP.

FWIW, my AP is contracted to work between 25-30 hours a week (7am-8/8.15), then 3/4pm-7pm. We have a cleaner once a week, and like Squiffy I would never expect my AP to do the household chores whilst they are looking after my children. In fact I expressly ask my APs NOT to do household chores when my children are at home. This is because I think it is important for them to focus their playing and interacting with the children so that they have the best possible chance on developing a good relationship with them. This is what personally works for me as I like an AP who is good with children, rather than an exceptional cleaner or cook. Some families are different.

From your schedule it sounds as if your AP is struggling to juggle everything in her working hours. Maybe it is a case of mismatched expectations for both yourself and your AP. Perhaps it is time to rethink your childcare options.

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