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Au Pair just announced she's leaving early

(32 Posts)
BerkshireMum Sat 22-Jun-13 21:50:56

Our Spanish au pair started in mid-April and promised to stay until at least the end of September and probably until Christmas. She announced on Thursday evening that she's decide to stay in Spain when she goes for a planned visit in August.

Really angry about it - as I work in London full time but we live in a village an hour outside London so I really need someone on the ground who knows where the key places are and can drive the children where they need to be. We'll now get back from a two week holiday on a Friday when we both have to be back at work on the Monday and there'll be no au pair. Can't get a new one and then abandon her for two weeks straight away and neither of us have enough leave to take an extra week.

Do you think I should try and get a replacement ASAP and then send the current girl home?

MissStrawberry Sat 22-Jun-13 21:54:23

Start looking now, get rid of flaky girl as soon as possible.

I used to be an au pair and agreed to stay a year. Towards the end they wanted me to stay another , I said no and went home on the first of the two Saturdays they gave me. I actually wanted to go home a lot earlier but I had agreed to a year and that is what I did.

LondonBus Sat 22-Jun-13 21:55:04

Firstly ask yourself why this girl doesn't want to return after her planned break.

LondonBus Sat 22-Jun-13 21:58:01

Oh, and I'm presuming the planned break is during your holiday.

In August.

I'm not surprised she's not coming back.

You would be doing her a favor by finding someone else and not demanding she stays longer, with you being really angry.

BerkshireMum Sat 22-Jun-13 22:04:27

LondonBus I do know why - and sort of understand - but it's of her own making and she won't be helped. Basically, she never registered at college, made friends with a couple of other Spanish girls (one of whom has just gone home) and spends all her time not working with them or in her room. Doesn't eat family meals with us and today is the first time she's been out with us as a family, despite regular, genuine invitations and attempts to persuade her. She's our 7th au pair and the first who's been like this - have had one other who was lazy - so I don't think it's primarily down to us.

BerkshireMum Sat 22-Jun-13 22:07:03

She knew our holiday dates before she came, and remember we expected her to be here April to December, so a trip home in August was reasonable on both sides. We went away for a week a month after she arrived and we paid her.

MissStrawberry Sat 22-Jun-13 22:07:26

I don't understand the point you are trying to make about the au pair going home while the OP is on her own holiday.

LondonBus Sat 22-Jun-13 22:08:37

In that case, you need to start looking now.

But calm down with the "really angry" stuff. grin

LondonBus Sat 22-Jun-13 22:09:35

My point about the holiday would have been that the OP was going off on a nice, holiday, and not taken the au-pair....but it sounds like this au-pair wouldn't have cared anyway.

BerkshireMum Sat 22-Jun-13 22:11:04

Thanks MissStrawberry. I'm on the hunt. I still feel a bit bad knowing I may send her home early but can't say anything until I know I case she walks out. I do try really hard to be fair to our au pairs. They do have to work hard, but i am clear from the outset and I also make a real effort to make sure they have a good experience. Most of our former au pairs are still in touch and several have been back for visits.

Current situation is unsatisfactory all round really.

RikeBider Sat 22-Jun-13 22:12:08

People are allowed to resign you know!

Yes, it would be ideal if she'd stayed til December, but I guess she has given you loads more notice than is in her contract?

Viviennemary Sat 22-Jun-13 22:15:17

I can see why you are annoyed that she isn't staying till at least the end of September as she promised. But on the other hand she has given you quite a bit of notice. Over a month. It is a difficult situation but I don't think it would be quite fair to send the present girl home early.

But on the other hand you need the new person to start before you go on holiday. It sounds as if she is quite lonely and unhappy and of course that isn't your fault in any way when you have tried to include her. Maybe you can sort something out that would suit you both if you sat her down and discussed things. But I expect you already have.

ChippingInWiredOnCoffee Sat 22-Jun-13 22:24:15

I don't really understand why you are angry - a little bit annoyed I understand, but angry?

She's young, she's homesick/bored/loney/whatever. She has given you loads of notice. All you need to do is look for your next Au Pair, which you would have had to have done anyway.

She has given you a lot of notice - it would be pretty crap of you to shaft her by making her go early, unless she would prefer to.

Fairenuff Sat 22-Jun-13 22:27:54

How much notice did you agree to give on either side to terminate the employment contract? It would seem that she has given you a months notice which is fairly standard.

BerkshireMum Sun 23-Jun-13 00:17:29

It was fixed term to late September (we didn't define late September but I'd be fine with anything from Friday 13th so I didn't see that as an issue) then one month notice on either side thereafter.

Maybe really angry is an over statement - and I've still been very nice to her today - she's been on a day out with us (her first) at our expense (which I don't begrudge) - it's just that I've been so, so clear from right before she joined about the importance of covering that period because it's a tricky time to get a replacement. She's always known that and even last week she said something unprompted that demonstrated again that she had the same understanding as me.

Also, and not sure how relevant this is, but she isn't really young. She's 23 and has lived away from home before.

Anyway, I have to have cover from two days after we get back from holiday and there's no way a new au pair can arrive, learn to drive and generally get up to speed in that time. I don't have space to have two au pairs for two weeks before we go away (otherwise I would!) to make handover easy so I don't see an option other than settling in a new girl before we go.

Thanks for the comments - they do help me keep perspective!

ReetPetit Sun 23-Jun-13 07:56:47

Why don't you just stop employing young, foreign girls who are obviously not wanting to stay long and are unreliable. 7 is a ridiculous number - seems very unfair on your kids!!

Have now idea how old your kids are but surely reliability and consistincy are key - especially as it appears you are both working - expecting au pair to have sole charge and drive kids around..

Can't you employ a nanny? Use a childminder? Before/after school and holiday clubs?

You can't be that desperate to save money that youd put yourself and kids through this regularly surely...

andagain Sun 23-Jun-13 10:10:22

OP, do you think there is any chance in persuading your current au pair in staying until your originally agreed date? Perhaps have another chat and explain how tricky it will be for you to find someone to replace her in such a short time and given that you will be away for two weeks in the middle of it.

If not, then really your only option is to start looking for someone as soon as possible and get them to start couple of weeks before you leave on your holiday so you can show them the ropes.

ReetPeetit, you really need to try and reign in the judgmental attitude you have towards parents who use childcare, particularly as I think you are a childminder yourself. You have done it in so many posts. The OP came in here asking for suggestions to get her out of the tricky situation she is in, not asking for people to judge her about her chosen childcare arrangements. Unsurprising she chooses to use "young foreign girls" as you put it, if the alternative is judgmental local childminders who judge you every step of the way even though they earn their living from you.

ReetPetit Sun 23-Jun-13 10:16:36

There are other options andagain - it doesnt have to be 'judgemental.local childminder' as you put it... How about just local childminder? Or as i suggested, nanny/before/after school care.

I have no issue with parents using childcare andagain - have done it myself and will be doing so again - what i object to is people having unrealistic expectations of childcare providers, expecting duties above and beyond what is usual for that particular role, paying peanuts for it and then moaning when it all goes tits up hmm

BerkshireMum Sun 23-Jun-13 10:17:41

ReetPetit That's rather judgemental and short sighted. It's not a money thing either - and we pay above the recommended rate. Seven au pairs over nearly 5 years isn't excessive. My children love it. Unlike their friends who are at after school and holiday clubs, mine are still able to do a full range of activities, clubs and classes and have friends home for tea etc.

My children are now in years 5 and 7. I am home in time to collect from activities - football training, guides, cubs etc. The reason for having au pairs was to allow consistency and for them to carry on with all this. They have breakfast at home, walk to school with their friends, play in the park after school, invite friends home for tea on a whim, do homework in their own home and are able to chill in their own space. Our au pair is also able to relax at home, as I would, when she is with them once they've had tea etc. I'm not fined if my train is delayed 10 minutes and most of the time everyone is happy.

I did employ a nanny when they were younger but it's just not an attractive nanny job anymore.

HoneyandRum Sun 23-Jun-13 10:40:22

ReetPetit you did jump in to criticize with very little information regarding working hours for the Au Pair. It doesn't sound like any kind of case of exploitation. I think the OP is frustrated and ranting a bit to blow off the exasperation of knowing that as a working mum she suddenly has a new project in her in-box "find new Au-pair sooner than expected". OP hopefully you will move on after letting off steam here and realise she is NBU. Did you use an agency? Ask for some profiles of other Au-pairs and begin the process.

Tanith Sun 23-Jun-13 13:45:46

I think we could have done without the equally judgemental statement about "local childminders" from Andagain, too hmm

WouldBeHarrietVane Sun 23-Jun-13 14:48:42

Sounds to me like you are a good ap employer, op, or the previous 6 wouldn't have stayed. We have ap 3 about to start and one of the agencies I spoke to told me that families who try to overwork aps generally get their come uppance now as aps either go home or just go on the Internet and apply for another job - quite right too! The agency told me they get lots of aps applying to switch after a few months and some of our aps' friends said this too.

We are about to have ap 3 starting and DS is 2. We tried very hard to get a local nanny but no one wanted to work our very pt hours and childminders I liked didn't have vacancies. Nurseries wanted to charge 3 full sessions minimum. With an ap DS gets family member type care in his home and our previous two aps have become family friends - one is coming to stay in the summer. Both teachers in their home eu country and both mid 20s when they came. Ap scheme has worked brilliantly for us.

About your dilemma, I wouldn't send her home early as Aug is a really good time to recruit - you will be able to find someone easily. I would try to encourage her to enjoy her last few weeks.

Nannyowl Sun 23-Jun-13 15:37:44

Berkshire mum could you get someone to cover the couple of weeks when you come back from holiday. Relative come and stay or advertise for a student, universities go back a little later than beginning of September.
Agree with other posters Reet was rude. au pairs tend to stay for a year at most so seven is normal for five years. And children are attached primarily to their parents so can cope with change of au pair well. They gain in my opinion by getting to know other cultures and learn something new from each one.

ZZZenagain Sun 23-Jun-13 15:45:04

It sounds to me as if the girl is homesick. She obviously hasn't settled so probably best for her and you if she goes home early. Start looking for a replacement and when you have someone, you can discuss with the current OP when she'll leave. As you have said her friend has gone back to Spain, she is not enrolled at college and spends little time with your family, preferring to eat alone etc. I think it wasn't the right job for her and she'll probably be ok to leave earlier if you find someone to start before you go away on holiday.

You could tell her that you will have to look for a replacement now and that the new au pair will need to start before August but if you think that will lead to her leaving right now, I suppose it isn't a possibility. Does she have a flight booked for August?

EvaM Sun 23-Jun-13 21:47:39

Really feel for you BerkshireMum,

maybe this will make you feel better: in one of my previous ap roles, the neighbour's ap arranged a secret get away and text her mb that she was on her way home 2 hours before lo had to be picked up from nursery.

You've had over a month notice and there is always a way. Maybe you could ask another ap (with permission from their family), if they will have your kids beforeyou've found a replacement. They'll be grateful for the extra money (I know I was grin ). Or grandparents? friends?

Hope all works out (it will)

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