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At what point do you recognise its not a great match (AP)?

(12 Posts)

To be honest Julia, I found it difficult. I don't like confrontation.

With the one who fired us, I had had several talks about how she needed to improve in a couple of areas....and am ashamed to say that I lost my temper totally with her on 2 occasions. Once she had let the children scoot home (well over a mile) after swimming when it was minus 3 degrees with no gloves. Aged just 7 and 5. Another time when less cold she had ignored my instructions re scooting home (getting them to walk was a nightmare) because I had told her off after she had left expensive scooters outside the pool with no lock (the pool is v happy to have scooters inside, but she told me they weren't....) Another time she told me the boys hadn't eaten their veg which is unusual. After telling them off, it emerged that the cabbage was raw. I said that I'd have a problem with raw cabbage, mashed spud and fish fingers. Instead of saying, ok I'll do that next time, she launched into a load of self justification about how the French eat raw cabbage. Once when I had a bad day with my boss, she told me that I needed to tell him he had behaved unacceptably....yeah great in theory. It was never going to work with her - she had an answer for everything.

With the overweight one, I did have to sit her down and explain that I didn't expect her to eat 2 full meals everyday (my 12 salmon steaks were gone when I needed them....), and that I wanted her to walk (about a mile) to school once a day to pick up DS...I ended up paying for Weightwatchers. She was about 16 stone at the age of 22. To be fair to her, she was quite sweet and willing to try.

The one before last was a bit dippy but again, very keen to fit in. Talking to her did have a positive effect.

I think some you gel with and others don't....so approaching some will work well, and others will be a waste of time. The trick is to identify which sort you have so that you (i) fix it quickly or (ii) cut your losses early!

Good luck!

Julia1973 Wed 23-Jan-13 00:14:46

Thanks for all the responses

Had to lol @mimshi smile Ours does 20 hrs a week tops, never does any babystitting and we're such horrendous host parents that our last one stayed for 2 and half years.

It really isn't a matter of her being unhappy but more that her personality is putting a strain on the family.

Fedup it sounds like you were on the verge of firing someone over personality issues- how did you plan to break it to them- because e How do you sit down and talk to someone about not having manners/people skills/communication skills?

BoffinMum Tue 22-Jan-13 19:54:40

Frankly I think the problem is that some would struggle keeping any job at all, not the terms and conditions they are employed on. Where it has gone wrong for us it's because they are actually a bit lazy or have unrealistic ideas about the world or work, for example sitting in their rooms surfing the internet instead of keeping an eye on the kids while I cook or whatever, or sitting at the breakfast table in their PJs having a leisurely breakfast on their own instead of helping the kids get off to school as they are paid to do.

When it goes well, the APs have had experience of paid work before and are used to turning up day after day and just getting on with it like grown ups. My best APs were very good at this and went on to have successful careers in other fields, because they had an excellent work ethic (usually inherited from their parents).

Many of us use reputable agencies with partner agencies in the home country, and the deal is the same here as it is in Germany or France or whatever, expect APs earn a bit more over here as the cost of living is higher.

fraktion Tue 22-Jan-13 18:53:29

I don't know anyone in the UK who habitually abuses their au pair. I know plenty in France who are expected to go way above and beyond the very tightly defined duties laid out by the Govt in the au pair contract. Bad apples are found in every barrel.

If it's not working out after 3 months, and it's not small stuff you can live with like she just never remembers to wipe the cooker down, then I'd say let it go. Yes, re-recruiting is a pain and it's all a bit of upheaval but sometimes you just don't match each other and it's no-one's fault, but it could potentially ruin things for both of you.

It sounds like the problem is a personality one rather than a managing performance issue.

@Mimishimi - I don't know anyone who treats their AP as you suggest (other than the people for whom I worked 25 years ago).

We have had 8 or 9 APs, some of whom have been fab, others less so....we have got on well with all but the one mentioned above and the first one. We also had one who was hugely overweight and we asked her to go aftert the agreed 6 months - she wanted to stay - because she simply didn't have the energy to cope with by DSs.

If I was you OP I would decide whether a serious chat would work - if so, give it a go, and set a deadline...we'll review in a couple of weeks, and if not working, best we part company.

Our AP this time last year drove me insane. She was supremely arrogant and always right (especially when she wasn't!!) I was on the point of firing her, when she fired us. I was so relieved. Wish I had done it months earlier, ie fired her (we had her for 5 months). We got another girl for the remainder of the academic year, and she was ok, and now we have a boy, and he is great.

I think if you're not getting on after 3 months, you're unlikely to get things back on track.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Tue 22-Jan-13 17:43:27

agree - lots of assumptions there. Our au pair is actually paid minimum wage for her age at this point, not including any other benefits. Not everyone is out there to take the mick.

Out of the au pair network that I now know after four years of having them, I haven't known an au pair to leave because her family was being abusive with too much work relative to pay. I am not saying it doesn't happy but the au pairs who have been unhappy in my experience were the ones where the family wasn't interested in them as a person, had had so many au pairs they were pretty jaded, and the au pair felt like just the next girl through the door. That sort of thing. I knew one girl who was getting paid £120, plus had her own car with petrol allowance, and only did the school pick up for a teenager who actually left the post and others paid less than our au pair working many more hours who formed a great relationship with the family and had a great experience, still in touch with the family etc.

So it really depends. The au pair role is so ill defined at times it makes it ahrd to generalise.

And the comment they could 'just get a very basic job and move in with friends in a flat' doesn't apply so easily in London. Maybe other European cities but not here.

MGMidget Tue 22-Jan-13 10:02:16

Mimishimi, you are making a lot of assumptions. Plenty of people stick to the au pair work guidelines and try to treat their au pair well but it doesn't mean the au pair and family will get on well together.

It sounds like there may be lots of niggles in this au pair/family relationship. Too many to keep discussing and trying to put right perhaps? In which case you are probably better off trying to end things as nicely a possible now with a notice period so both parties can sort themselves out. If it ends badly you are likely to be left scrambling for childcare when the au pair leaves you without working her notice period. Be prepared anyway for that to happen if you decide to give notice but hopefully a nice conversation can end things amicably.

Probably better to do that than have your DH get so fed up over the next six months that he doesn't want another au pair in the house again!

Mimishimi Tue 22-Jan-13 06:57:15

Pretty much at the point at which they realize they are expected to do almost a full time job (supposedly 30 hours but often more when the 'occasional night out' once or twice a week is taken into account) for much less than the minimum wage. Even room and board doesn't make it attractive for them once they realize that if they got together with some of their newly formed friends to rent a place, and took on even the most basic job for the same sort of hours, they'd be much better off and could spend their evenings, or day if they get a night job, as they wish.

Au pairs seem to work out best when they really are treated as a parent's helper rather than as a full time nanny. This is how they are treated in Europe and it's a bit of a shock to many of them how much childcare/housework they are expected to do for so little when they go to The UK/U.S.

middleeasternpromise Tue 22-Jan-13 00:56:07

To make the decision to end you need to focus on what it is thats not working. Sometimes people over egg this and get into tasks etc what is it that doesnt work for you and hubby? It may be just a wrong fit and that alone will make hell for all of you. It has to feel comfortable after a couple of months where both sides have accepted a compromise. Sounds like you are still doing the new arrangement dance - that means you cant reach a common ground. It wont last on that basis and you will end up falling out over something silly rather than both being honest and finding a grown up way out. Horrible when it happens but it doesnt have to be a fault on either side just a non match really. Help them and you move on my talking about it and agreeing a way forward (prob separately but you never know the convo might help you reach a new understanding)

Metrobaby Mon 21-Jan-13 13:35:02

I was in your position last September and I do sympathise. I had a chat with my AP and I don't think they were enjoying themselves in our house either. In the end our AP decided to leave and go back to Uni as he accepted that an AP was not what he expected it to be. We left on very good terms with each other. I was lucky to find another AP within 2 weeks, and she is wonderful, and still with us!. Things worked out very well in the end. From experience, I tend to know if a good AP will fit in within a week.

As your AP has been employed for a few months, you don't need a valid reason as such. You can simply say you feel it is not working out and that they are not a good fit for your family. You will need to give them notice and pay during that period.

Julia1973 Sun 20-Jan-13 15:24:44

Hi

We've had our fourth ap for 3 months now (3 weeks holiday inbetween though) and although every aupair has been tough going at times....this one is really taking it out of me.
Nothing ever major, but just a build up of little annoyances that is making things uncomfortable. If it were something major I could justify saying go..but as it is....
But the thought of another 6 months of this is driving my husband in particular insane.
So...have you ever asked one to leave and on what grounds?

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