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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

Rasher38 Thu 29-Nov-12 21:11:56

Wow I feel so lucky with my last two au pairs! - both French and both really fantastic. It did take about two months to get the recent one on board with what I needed doing but the arrangement is working very well now. I do find you have to invest alot the first 6-8 weeks in terms of both explaining what you want done, tweaking in respect of their particular skills etc and your expectations and giving them the help they need finding their feet. I always allow them to have some friends come to visit fairly early on as it means they feel you are supporting their experience (which is to come and see the host country) however I also expect them to manage the overall task and get used to doing things in their free time without me providing the lead.

I have also been lucky that there are a couple of other families in my area with aupairs who apparently expect far more from their au pairs than I do, are not as easy going when it comes to having a laugh etc, kids are not dealt with when they answer back/ignore the au pairs requests. So overall I try to keep my au pairs happy, treat them with respect but then lay down clear expectations on what I want and how I want it done but only expect whats fair. I always pay on time and I make time to find out how things are going with her life, her friends her family. I insist my children show the au pairs respect and also remind them that they are lucky to have good ones (we have had a very dodgy one before) they dont want to go to after school clubs etc so they do get that this is the best option all round for them. They also dont want to reduce our lifestyle by me working less so basically everyone has signed up with the plan. Current au pair has loads of friends, English has come on fantastically well (more than her friend who came at the same time but got a job in a shop) and I also think her indpendence skills have come on great. She did have a protective family but I do think this year will do her alot of good which is all the things she said she wanted when I asked her in interview what she wanted from the experience. It is so tricky getting it to work but I do now spend alot of time getting into the detail of what is a good match for our household. I also get my outgoing au pair to interview the incoming applicants which works really well as she can be dead honest about all my stuff good and bad. She also tells me who is a no no based on what they say to her and their type of reaction.

Sorry to hear about OPs experience but I guess it just goes to show how much work you have to put into making the selection but when you get it right it can really work very well and help a stressed working parent have a better quality of life.

StillSquiffy Thu 29-Nov-12 18:21:50

IME unless you are lucky, APs will only do what they are told. So I always have a schedule - eg Monday - swimming, Tuesday - park, wed - softplay. If you ever give lazy APs a choice, many of them will default to doing nothing.

These days I even have a food rota so that the AP has to do proper food and can't default to fish fingers three days a week.

Blondeshavemorefun Thu 29-Nov-12 04:41:14

And having his nappy changed grin

New ap doesn't sound much better then old one - they aren't here to be a skivvy but equally they are meant to be pulling their weight and if she doesn't help with cooking or cleaning at all - then what is te point of her working for you?

Bettyintheburbs Wed 28-Nov-12 23:01:04

grin he likes breakfast at midday too

fraktion Wed 28-Nov-12 22:08:17

bring my DH up

Wonderful typo grin

Bettyintheburbs Wed 28-Nov-12 22:02:25

By coincidence in a cafe I met a local nanny who has had her hours cut due to redundancy in one of the parents that she has worked for the last 12 years. She has been looking for local regular work for the other days but in the meantime is doing ad hoc childcare. I've got a cleaner, and am taking on a uni student to come and do the light household stuff the au pair used to do, for min wage plus some the au pair's perks and am paying £8/ hr to the nanny and her friends who are nannies without full time work due to the recession. All have had their days reduced. I am also using a trio of babysitters who are all local nursery nurses and I pay them £10/ hour for occasional evening babysitting. If DH is asleep, they do a boring but essential admin job for me, usually sticking labels on envelopes, which I make sure is part of the deal. I leave treats (and a glass of wine) in the fridge, feel that housework is being done by someone who wants to so doesn't find it demeaning and that childcare is being provided by people who are more experienced. I can also have breakfast in my PJs at midday on Saturdays without having a teenager looking at me sideways, bring my DH up the way I believe is right without having to defend it to a school leaver and am generally a happier mummy. It took a lot of organising but so does finding an au pair. Financially I am far better off.

mezza123 Tue 27-Nov-12 22:28:39

I have no idea about APs; we have a nanny and have done for the last 18 months or so. I am quite shocked at how rubbish they seem... my gut reaction is sack her and get a nanny! We pay £10/hr gross for our nanny in central London, and she is excellent, I can't fault her. I don't know where you are but maybe if you pay a bit more you could get someone who will feed the children, play with them and even cook once in a while for you?! (Ours cooks for our LO but not for us, although she has occassionally put something in the oven for us. She claims she can't cook but she can). She is 26 ish though.
It's been an eye-opener for me; I thought that in the future we might get an AP as they're cheaper but I think that the extra you spend with nanny is worth it considering the difference in care.

Horseymumjo Tue 27-Nov-12 22:26:45

I have had a gentle talk with her this evening when she returned from her language class , saying I was disappointed and lounging on the sofa while the DS's are glued to the tv isn't really acceptable or what I expected. She looked suitably embarrassed and apologetic, think she knew it was coming, and I don't honestly think she will do it again. On the whole she has been much better than the last one, and I will put today down to just her having a bad day, I guess we are all allowed those.

Bettyintheburbs - sounds like your first ap was fab, and your second just like my first!

It has been very eye opening as to just how young and incapable they are at 20-something. For example, current ap loves jumping in puddles, which my teenage girls have long since grown out of. They are very unworldly and I had originally underestimated this, expecting them to be much more capable. I had also underestimated how many life skills I have acquired through the 20years of life I have had more than them. I think we will find a happy medium, but it's a fine line to tread and it isn't easy!!

Thank you all for your comments x

PurpleHeadedMountain Tue 27-Nov-12 22:10:47

The new one sounds as though she needs a really firm talking to and then a warning. Might get her to buck up a bit.

mercibucket Tue 27-Nov-12 21:50:47

This is an epic tale
Op, I'm so pleased you've changed your conditions, but maybe now you have to get a bit firmer. New one sounds lazy

SoldeInvierno Tue 27-Nov-12 21:20:10

It sounds like you've gone from expecting a bit too much, to expecting far too little. Plus she's lazy, obviously.

MNP Tue 27-Nov-12 20:34:24

Can you set up a timetable of activities and see if that motivates her, also your DS might be fefusing her many suggestions and she doesn't want to upset him.

Bettyintheburbs Tue 27-Nov-12 20:22:37

I've had two au pairs and am a single mum to an 18 month DD, I work mostly from home and a day a week out of home when my DM looks after DD. At the weekends I usually see my DP who helps with cooking and will take DD for a walk to the park so I can work.

The first au pair came for 6 months and then left to go to university after 7 months. We extended by a month by mutual agreement and stayed in touch. She did 25 hours per week of duties listed below, childcare consisted of taking the (then) baby to massage once a week and monthly swimming sessions or playing with her while I worked, and then helped with meal preparation (initially chopping, in her last months could prepare simple meals from scratch) while I bathed DD and did evening routine baby stuff. In the evenings she babysat two evenings per week (I was home, lots of my work is on Skype, but it meant someone was in while I was speaking to clients in case the baby woke up. She only woke once in six months on a work evening, but it was peace of mind).

The regular duties were:

Three mornings per week, getting DH's nappy changed, help with getting her dressed, assist with giving her breakfast and getting milk prepared
Load and unload dishwasher
Sweeping the kitchen and hallway floors at the end of each day
Clearing the kitchen after meals.
Cleaning the baths, basins and shower in her own and DD's bathrooms.
Keeping DD's highchair clean and disinfected
DD's laundry and ironing
Putting away DD's clothing in cupboards
Tidying the nursery
Light shopping eg buying milk or bread on rare occasions (not weekly shopping)
Help in preparing family meals as explained above

She came on family outings with DP if she wanted to, and on holiday with us for ten days, which we all enjoyed. We made sure she had the same amount of free time on holiday to do fun things and gave her lifts to the pub, music gigs etc. If she worked more than her hours (again rare), I paid her at standard babysitting rates, not minimum wage. For 12 hours a week she went to language school, made friends, had an active social life and babysat for some other families on her five evenings off. She never worked weekends.

The second au pair lasted six weeks. She declined to do most of the above, sulking, refusing and crying, complained it was 'demeaning' and it was like having another child to look after. All she was prepared to do was play with DD while I did everything else. She ate massive amounts of food, often four large meals a day plus endless snacks, trebled the weekly shopping bill, criticised me for not having potty trained a 14 month old baby and said it was demeaning to ask her to change nappies, was rude and obnoxious and left me feeling exploited. She had her parents on Skype constantly and it felt as if we were on Big Brother with them watching DD and me in the kitchen, which I objected to. In the end, after a lot of trying to settle her in, show her the country, take her on outings, too many tears (hers daily, and eventually mine), I asked her to leave. She was abusive to me and I'm sorry to say, that experience put me off.

I paid both of them £75 per week, plus meals, money for take away once a week, £50 on pre paid supermarket card for treats, local bus season ticket and for any social things they did with us.

fraktion Tue 27-Nov-12 19:54:29

That one is lazy.

I think the only indicator is prior experience and references but then you need to remember that they are not trained childcarers, they need handholding (both of which you've put measures in place for as much as you can) and they sometimes just can't be arsed.

Nonnus Tue 27-Nov-12 19:54:10

Oh Horseymunjo it sounds as though you have had really bad luck. I've never had an AP myself but will need one next year so this thread fills me with foreboding.

No idea what to suggest, other than perhaps you have just struck v v unlucky? Is your AP lonely? Has she made any other AP friends?

OutragedFromLeeds Tue 27-Nov-12 19:53:31

You should probably start a new thread for this.

She sounds awful. Give her a warning and start looking for someone else.

FivesAndNorks Tue 27-Nov-12 19:51:30

That does sound a bit Crap, not talking from personal experience tho

Horseymumjo Tue 27-Nov-12 19:49:35

Dear all,

not sure if anyone will see this. I have a new ap now as the last one decided to go home (unsurprisingly really).

I have changed my expectations and have only asked this new ap to look after the two younger children from 8am getting ready for school and the school run. When she gets home at 9am she washes up the breakfast things, and hangs out a basket of laundry, then she is free from about 9.30 until 12 when she collects ds2 (who is 4). at 3.30 she collects ds1 (who is 5) from school. My 2 older daughters are 13 and 14 and the ap is not responsible for them at all, they look after themselves and they help her with the two boys.

She does not hoover, dust, clean or cook at all. I cook all the dinners every evening or prepare meals in advance and reheat, or my husband cooks when I am away on business or will be home late. All the children have packed lunches (even the one who comes home for lunch so the ap doesnt have to do it) and we prepare their breakfasts. I have also paid for her to attend language classes twice a week (one evening, one morning, and so she is excused from her morning duties that day). She also has the sole use of a car, fully expensed including fuel, plus a mobile phone and a sat nav. She receives £80/wk pocket money. When I have calculated out the value of the package (car, board/lodging, language classes and pocket money) it is in excess of £15k/pa, or an hourly rate of £7.70, well in excess of the national minimum wage, and very respectable for someone with no qualifications, and only a rough grasp on the local language.

I am not a demon, and I am trying very hard to not ask her to do too much. This afternoon I cam home from work unexpectedly early to find her lying on the sofa (facing away from the ds's who were two inches from the telly) under two blankets. The sofa cushions were on the floor, there were toys all over the floor, juice cups tipped up and leaking juice on the floor and one of the table lamps was broken. I bit my tongue, and began preparing supper when she got up, told me she was bored with watching the Polar Express with ds2 in the afternoons on Sky+ and that she was going to her language class and then left, leaving me to clean up the mess. When she first arrived (3 weeks ago) I gave her a long list of possible activities she could do with him, from swimming at the local pool (she attends aquafit here in her time off so it is very accessible), baking cakes, playdough, football, painting, reading, colouring so feel she could perhaps suggest to the 4yo that there were other more fun things that they could do. She has said she is bored a few times, and we have tried suggesting things she could do, but other than taking time off work to tour guide her about there is not alot more i can do. At the interview stage she said she loved to get out and about and be very active, which was what we wanted, but am not seeing much evidence of this yet.

Is this really what other people's ap's do? I really dont want another barrage of comments that I am an unreasonable slave driving witch, but constructive comments would be helpful.

Thanks x

DowagersHump Tue 02-Oct-12 20:55:56

It doesn't reflect what the OP wanted, no, mintyy.

50 hours a week of sole charge for four children including cleaning, ironing and cooking for the whole family for £80.

NotAChocolateRaisin Tue 02-Oct-12 20:52:33

Ooo...I wish i could spend my days outside with a football (rain or no rain)

I have spent all week this week spending my 12-13 hour days wiping away snot, cleaning up unspeakable messes, giving cuddles, providing drinks and making very VERY laborous meals that don't get eaten and watching many, many, many episodes of Post Man Pat with cuddles on the sofa.
The joys of looking after a sick child... I need to get out of the house!!

Mintyy Tue 02-Oct-12 20:38:38

I have just copied and pasted this from the first website that came up when I googled au pair

"Au Pair (25-30 hours per week including babysitting)
On duty approx. 5 hours per day, 5 days per week
Babysitting can be 2 evenings per week
Free time minimum 2 full days and 3 evenings
Recommended minimum pocket money from €260 per month in Europe to $180 per week in Australia.
Limited light housework
No sole care for children under 2
Extra hours for au pairs in Australia are paid at a minimum of $7 per hour.

Note to all au pairs - During summer holidays you may be asked to do extra hours.Holiday pocket money should reflect the extra hours."

Does this reflect what op and other au pair users on this thread are offering?

blueshoes Tue 02-Oct-12 20:30:50

Mintyy, when we interviewed her, she said she wanted to do a childcare course. I have sent her the information but she has not really taken steps in that direction. I reckon she is hoping to meet the love of her life at some point grin but it is not for me to speculate. She is certainly very attractive.

DowagersHump Tue 02-Oct-12 20:25:29

No idea, blueshoes. No idea on what basis you employ your AP

Mintyy Tue 02-Oct-12 20:21:21

What does your current au pair want out of coming here blueshoes?

blueshoes Tue 02-Oct-12 20:17:47

Not all aupairs are here to learn English. In fact, most of my aupairs already came to me with reasonably good English (it is one of my criteria because I am not in the house a lot and need to give instructions over the phone). Only 2 out of the 7 aupairs I have had wanted to attend English lessons.

There is no classical notion of an aupair that we need to adhere to. Just persons with different reasons for wanting to aupair and for which aupairing suits them at this point in their lives.

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