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Au Pair problems. WWYD

(35 Posts)
springlenner Thu 16-May-13 22:56:24

Our current AP has been with us 3 months and most of the time she is good ... Except when it comes to school pick drop offs and babysitting.

Basically, she loves to clean - I had specified some cleaning from the outset but stressed this was not her primary role. She does all of our washing, ironing, empties the dishwasher, cleans floors, bathrooms etc. I have to stress SHE wants to do this. I often tell her she's doing too much but she really likes to do it. I pay her extra for this £180 per week as the house is so clean there's no need to get a cleaner.

We both work full time. DH leaves the house at 7, I am supposed to be at work at 8.30. DS1 is in school from 8.40-3.20 and DS2 in nursery from 9 -12 five days a week.

However, here's the problem. I dont think she likes childcare!! Firstly, she doesn't want to bring the kids to school, its a five minute cycle / ten minute walk. She refused to do it a few weeks ago and since I've been quiet at work I've brought them but she had to take them this morning as I needed to turn up on time! I try to get home by 5 - usually earlier. Today i was back at 4. This evening we had been invited over for a cup of tea to an elderly neighbours house at 8pm. She has had one weeks notice that we would be out for an hour.The kids were in bed but not asleep. As I was leaving at 8.10 she announced I needed to be back by 9 as she needed "some free time and some peace and quiet"
I know she is working up to refuse to babysit tomorrow night. My brother is here just for one night from abroad, and I gave her more than 6 weeks notice that we'd be out tomorrow night. She already asked on Monday what time I was going out and told me I needed to be back by 10pm.
She is always grumpy like this about babysitting and I'm not sure how to approach this.

She's not a cleaner, she's an au pair, she's paid well and I think I treat her well. But the whole point of having an AP live in our home is so we can have some help when we need it i.e. school drop offs and occasional babysitting.

I am absolutely useless at confronting people and she's very direct in her manner - I know I need to sit her down and talk to her but I don't have the skills. Please put words in my mouth.

My DH was going to talk to her in the morning but she's just texted ( from upstairs ) to say she's too tired to get up and would I mind taking them to school !!

Help please! Sorry, that was long after all!

Cloverer Thu 16-May-13 23:17:30

I wouldn't bother talking to her.

She doesn't want to be an au pair. Give her notice and find someone else.

springlenner Thu 16-May-13 23:32:37

Really? Sounds a bit harsh? I know I'm making excuses but doesn't she deserve a chance?

PhyllisDoris Thu 16-May-13 23:41:11

You do need to talk to her. You need to explain that her primary role is childcare. That you really appreciate the cleaning, but that if she's tired, then she must do less cleaning not less child care. Give her a month and tell her that she needs to collect /take kids every day. Tell her that if things haven't changed after a month you will have to ask her to leave.
Not easy, but you are the boss.

Btw, au pairs salaries seem to have gone up a bit since we last had one about 6/7 years ago. We used to pay £55 per week.

Cloverer Thu 16-May-13 23:43:20

Do you have a job?

If, in the first 3 months of your job, you refused to do things, text your boss to say you'd be late to work because you are having a lie-in, just not doing the major part of your job - would you expect to keep your job? I don't think I'd have even got to 3 months.

Obviously it's up to you how you handle it, but after 3 months of just doing whatever she wants I can't really see her attitude changing.

This whole situation seems a bit bizarre to me - presumably you are employing her properly, deducting tax etc. And yet she just tells you no and you accept it?

neolara Thu 16-May-13 23:50:22

Blimey. She sounds crap. I've never had an au pair so don't know the ins and outs of it all, but could you address it in the following way.

Tell her in advance you want to have a discussion about something. Don't grab her in the middle of doing something else. She needs to be giving you full attention. When you talk to her you have to be completely emotionally neutral. If you show anger then she will almost certainly respond aggressively back. If you are completely matter of fact and acknowledge the difficulties of having the discussion, it will be fine.

Acknowledge feelings / awkwardness of the situation - Au pair, I feel worried about bringing this up, but there is something we need to discuss.
Explain the problem - Rrecently you have seemed reluctant to take the children to school and to babysit.
Say how this makes you feel (nothing wrong this. Don't underplay your emotions. If you're really pissed off, say so) - I'm confused by this and to be honest, I'm also feeling quite cross, because you're an au pair and the reason we employed you was to help look after the children.
Take responsibility for your role in the problem - I can see how I might have given you mixed messages before because I took the kids to school after you said you didn't want to do it. I'm sorry for that". OR "Maybe I haven't been clear in the past about what I expected you to do. If so, I'm sorry.
Tell her what you want to change. Be specific - However, in the future, you need to take the kids to school every day / pick them up and you also need to babysit one evening a week as we agreed in the interview."
Then quickly close the conversation and move on to something else e.g. discussion of latest TV programme.

NatashaBee Thu 16-May-13 23:50:59

Does she have a job specification/ contract with all her tasks really clearly laid out?

BriansBrain Thu 16-May-13 23:56:21

You Realy need to speak to her about the expectated basics of her role.

springlenner Fri 17-May-13 00:10:02

PhyllisDoris, thanks, she is a good kid and I think she wants to do a good job but I do not have the vocab to deal with essentially a teenage sulk. I just can't understand her reluctance so can't even think where to start the conversation. So that helps, thanks.

Cloverer, I guess I'm just a nice person who likes my kids and doesnt want them crossing busy roads with someone whod rather be cleaning, and yes, I have a very good job. I am the chief earner in the family. Luckily for me my skills are hard to come by so I could get away with it, after all I have been late to work most days for weeks.
I don't see how the situation is bizarre, she lives in as our au pair gets paid well - I consider £90 per week is taking the piss in this day and age to be honest - and has all if not more of the usual au pair perks. Yes, it's all above board and we pay NI and tax for her. This is not her first au pair job but she is young (20) so I do go out of my way to support her and make sure she doesn't have prolonged spells of sole childcare.

She was great at first but one of the problems that has arisen is that she met our former au pairs friend in town recently, who old her that we paid the last au pair £300/wk---- not true! She got the same but was obviously prone to exaggeration. So this one thinks she's undervalued and wants more money too!!

Did I mention I think she has OCD? All the cleaning is wierd.

springlenner Fri 17-May-13 00:12:36

Sorry, missed those posts, thanks all. Yes, she's our second au pair so all of her duties written down, documented and agreed on.
Neolara - thank you! Will talk to her tomorrow.

OutragedFromLeeds Fri 17-May-13 00:16:19

Good post neo.

I also find the setup a bit odd. You seem to be trying really hard to be accommodating to an au pair who a) doesn't do her job and, even worse, b) doesn't want to be with your children.

I'm not sure that 'having a word' will work, because at best she will force herself to do what you ask and be with the children, but do you want that? I don't want someone looking after my children who clearly doesn't like them!

springlenner Fri 17-May-13 00:50:56

Outraged, she likes the kids but you're right. I'm a sap.
I think she sees herself as a housekeeper not an au pair. ( I may have mentioned she takes great pride in housework). I am embarrassed to even mention the other things I've done for her to make her happy.
Now that I've written it all down it is obviously an untenable situation. I've got to set her straight.
Thanks MN - seeing the wood for the trees now. I think.

Isatdownandwept Fri 17-May-13 04:41:12

You need to find a replacement before the school holidays. End of.

Kids at home and an OCD cleaner who dislikes childcare is a recipe for disaster. You will both end up in meltdown.

Get rid...she works for YOU not the other way around...it's her Job to take them to school not ask if you'll do it...I'm a nanny and if I had the audacity to text my boss that I was to tired to take the kids to school and she'll have to do it, like a bloody princess, she'd (quite rightly)laugh in my face and tell me to get on with my job or go!

You're letting her take the piss...stop it or its really not

You're letting her take the piss...stop it or its really not going to end well

grabaspoon Fri 17-May-13 09:07:24

I am a live in nanny. i start work at 715 this morning I didn't feel like getting up BUT I wouldn't dare test my boss to say I was too tired and could she do my job! The response back would have probably involved resignation, p45, disciplinary action! Re babysitting occasionally I babysit but would not specify an end time mainly because once dc is in bed I can go to bed. I might mention I have other plans and try to work around them if there wasba clash but primarily my boss respects me and I respect my boss. Sounds like your aupair doesn't. If this was a workplace what would you do? Because to us it is!

Cloverer Fri 17-May-13 09:48:11

She could get a much better paid live-in housekeeper job somewhere and do no childcare - she'd be better off being a live-in housekeeper/companion for an elderly lady or something.

But yes, the current situation is bizarre. Your paying her a lot of money for her to tell you what she is going to do!

Cathyrina Fri 17-May-13 10:16:45

I was an Au-Pair myself not too long ago and what this girl is doing is just not right at all. I'm sure you have spoken about what her tasks will be before you employed her and it's her job to do whatever is in her contract! Of course she can ask for little things to be changed if she really can't handle it but this has to be reasonable and she can't just refuse the morning run! When I was an Au-Pair I did a lot of cleaning too, which I was never asked for to do, but I just knew when mum and dad came home from work they would appreciate it so much because they could spend the time with their LO instead of cleaning the house. Also, I had the time to do it as I was home all day and it didn't affect childcare at all, in fact I used it to teach LO help me clean and she loved it and now always wants to help and cleans her toys etc.

I would do what was said above - sit down with her, be honest and go over her contract again (or set one up if you don't have one yet!) and let her know that she is not doing the job the way you need the job to be done. Set a period of time to give her a chance to change things, if she doesn't then give notice and replace her. The children are the most important part in this and an Au-Pair is there to help you out and look after them, not to refuse to do things and change the job into something she prefers to do what is totally different compared to the originals set up. She either wants to be an Au-Pair and has to do the job properly, or she doesn't and in that case this is not the right job for her.

Maybe if you like her you could offer her a cleaning role instead and employ a new Au-Pair to look after the kids?

Wow. She is extremely well paid as a cleaner - board and lodging plus £180??? pw. And doesn't seem to do any AP duties?

We have a happy AP on half that money who does a fantastic job as an AP (not great at the cleaning, but that's why we have a cleaner).

You could do a lot better OP. Lots of good advice above. And I would lay down the law about the babysitting tomorrow night.

springlenner Fri 17-May-13 14:58:14

Thanks all. I knew MN would come to my rescue and let me see this for what it is...
neolara I've just sat down with her for 45 minutes ( planned) just as you said and went through in detail, with lists and a printout of the "job description", emails I sent her explaining her job before she arrived and a list of what she's doing well and not. What I need her to do and what I don't need her to do etc. Explained in detail that I am the one who puts the roof over all our heads, my car, my kids.( God, if you knew the high powered job I have you would all piss yourselves that I am such a walkover at home!) Realistically she's here to help me and not DH so didn't bring him into it.
Attempted to be completely dispassionate about it.
It seems to have gone well. I laid out a plan for 1 week in fine detail. A month is too long and she is going home for the weekend next weekend anyhow so if she wants to go, then she can leave next week.
And she's babysitting tonight. I'm going out at 6.30 and told her I didn't know when I'd be back..... ( but being a lightweight will probably be tucked up at 11.30 anyhow.... but I can dream)
Fingers crossed she'll realize what a good thing she has going here and tow the line. But thanks to you all again. I'm going to have a "meeting" with her again in a week and if I'm not happy she's out.
Am I allowed drive her to the airport???

LittleFeileFooFoo Fri 17-May-13 15:06:25

OP you sound like me! I also have a "big gun" job, but I'm a totally softie at home! Why is that?

Anyway, bravo for having the talk, and I think you should spring for a taxi to take her to the airport, as I can't possibly imagine the cringworthyness of driving someone I'd just fired!

Good luck, and I hope it all works out for the best!

Bakingnovice Fri 17-May-13 15:07:50

I think you've been very generous to her. It is her job ffs.

Btw really curious about what job you do now!

BreatheandFlyAway Fri 17-May-13 15:11:07

Spring I now am extremely curious about your job wink

I agree with poster who pointed out that if she doesn't want to spend time with kids, then she's not the right au pair for them, however sweet etc she may be - also the fact that you mention teenage sulks from her - in my view she's an adult in charge of kids and there's no room for teenage anything. I'm not gutsy myself but from afar I am grin

Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Fri 17-May-13 15:12:47

Sounds like it went well. Hopefully she will take on board what you say. As a parent of generally lovely, hardworking DC's it is amazing how silly they can be at times.

...and, yeah, I would probably give her a lift as long as it wasn't too much of a problem for me. smile

springlenner Fri 17-May-13 16:59:15

He he... I'm not the Chancellor of the Exchequer or anything!... but I'm equivalent to Exec Director at work. As I said, my job is unique so any specifics might out me.
My overcompensating at home... guilt I guess confused, mind you, my parents were/are the same..
Need to keep the hard line. Thanks again.

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