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Had enough of au-pairs

(51 Posts)
verap Wed 31-Jul-13 13:22:03

I have just found out that my au-pair is actively looking for a new family.

Think I had enough of au-pair after previous bad experiences.

Where shall I start looking for a childminder in my area?

Any advice would be appreciated.

ProudNeathGirl Wed 31-Jul-13 13:27:13

We had about 7 or 8 au pairs over about a 8/9 year period, and never had a duff one - all lovely girls who quickly became part of our family, and we are still in touch with many of them several years later. Have visited a couple in Czech/France, and some come to stay with us often now DDs are older.

What bad experiences have you had? Have you sat down with any aps to ask them why they are leaving? Has there been anything you could address?

Not meaning to imply that it's something you are doing wrong, but it always upsets me when people have bad experiences with aps, because I know how well the system can work, for the family and for the girl.

I was an ap myself years ago, and had an absolute ball the whole time - great, loving family, with fantastic kids, who included me in everything they did. I used them as a role model for our own approach to ap'ing.

newbiefrugalgal Wed 31-Jul-13 13:27:34

Local council have lists

nannynick Wed 31-Jul-13 13:39:08

Council Family Information Service (FIS) for a list of registered childminders.

Childcare.co.uk for a live-out nanny if that is an option.

verap Wed 31-Jul-13 13:50:33

I was an au-pair before so I dont think I treat them badly.

I just feel they want lot and offer back minimum.

At the moment my au-pair is great with my daughter and apart from that I only give her washing up to do but sometimes not even that is done. I am Czech and I have Czech au-pairs, perhaps the familiarity is not good as they think they dont have to work as hard as they would if they had family of another nationality.

ProudNeathGirl Wed 31-Jul-13 15:31:24

Its a shame, particularly as you'll find childminders a lot less flexibile, and more expensive than aps. But I can understand if you've had enough.
Might be worth requesting someone who isn't Czech next time, if you fancy giving it another go - you never know, you might be right about familiarity.

Has she told you why she's looking for another family?

verap Wed 31-Jul-13 21:38:14

I asked her directly tonight, saying her profile on aupair world is active and she logs in oftern, she says she only checks messages she receives but not aware she is still "looking".

Not sure I believe this... she informed me today that she has an interview tomorrow for evening babysitting in Fulham - we live 2 hours away by tube and she finishes working for me at 6pm.

Does it sound right?

newbiefrugalgal Wed 31-Jul-13 22:59:53

Definite job interview.
2 hours away-joke! No family would want a sitter to travel so far so late at night

ProudNeathGirl Thu 01-Aug-13 11:51:28

Does she realise how far away Fulham is? If yes, then does sound like an interview. The cost of getting to Fulham if two hours away would eat up most of the babysitting income, surely.

My guess is that she might not be actively "looking", but wants to remain open to better offers.

verap Thu 01-Aug-13 12:55:30

She knows how far Fulham is.

I provide my travelcard for evening/weekends so travel woudnt cost her anything.

I still have my doubts though...

Do I keep her and hope that she's not actively looking or do I start looking for someone new?

verap Thu 01-Aug-13 12:56:09

Thanks for all your replies :-)

Strix Thu 01-Aug-13 14:39:29

What is her notice period? Do you pay her in arears? (this would tend to motivate someone to stick around and work their notice so they will get their pay)

I think you have to keep her and accept she may choose to leave, just as any employee can. Just be aware of this situation, and keep an eye on the market yourself so you are prepared when and if she does resign.

ProudNeathGirl Thu 01-Aug-13 15:19:00

If she's a good au pair, and you get on with her otherwise, then I'd keep her. Always better the devil you know...

verap Thu 01-Aug-13 15:34:33

I pay her at the end of each week.

I just dont like that feeling that someone who works for you is looking for something else, especially as we agreed she would stay for a year as I dont want to change au-pairs too often.

Strix Thu 01-Aug-13 20:58:19

I think that any employee -- in or out of a domestic situation -- has a right to look around and resign if he/she so chooses. If this is a big problem for you you may wish to consider what you might offer to improve employee retention... Bonus? On the job perks? Etc. for example I find our gym membership is the envy of all the other au pairs. Oh, and Galaxy 3 contract phone helps too. Okay, it's not a Galaxy 4, but it's really not bad.

MGMidget Thu 01-Aug-13 22:06:38

Do you speak English at home? I noticed you said you are Czech and the au pair is Czech so wondered if you've recruited her to speak Czech to your DD. When I am recruiting an au pair I sometimes get applicants who are unhappy in the current UK family because they are non native English and are not speaking English at home. If this is the case in your home it could be a factor if the au pair doesn't get the chance to practice her English much when working for you. That may not be something that gym membership or a mobile phone contract is going to overcome. You could try having an informal meeting with her to ask her what aspects of the job she likes and what aspects she would change if she could - to try and tease out of her what may be wrong.

HoikyPoiky Thu 01-Aug-13 22:32:23

It may be purely cash related. You can't expect someone to commit for a year really. I don't know if you are paying a wage or 'pocket money' but if its pocket money it wouldbe very understandable if she was still looking elsewhere.

blueshoes Thu 01-Aug-13 23:30:09

You can look for a cm now and ask her to leave with notice once you have found one.

The thing about aupairs is that it is hit and miss. I have refined my art such that I can now find a new aupair within 2 weeks so I avoid being held to ransom. It is very easy for me to find aupairs because I am in London.

Strix Fri 02-Aug-13 08:07:23

I think a one year commitment is pretty standard. If they only stay for six months you are forever in the hiring/training process.

Red2003 Fri 02-Aug-13 08:51:31

We're on our 9th au pair over 7 years and overall it works really well - but my new one who started three weeks ago told me two weeks ago she is going back home as too homesick - not sure this is the whole story as I think she was planning on staying 6 months after agreeing a year with me and I suggested that if she wasn't keen on a year it was best she left now as ideally I prefer them to start over summer and stay for the whole school year. I've managed to get a replacement through the agency who is arriving next week. My au pair this time last year arrived saying she had a boyfriend and then kept making excuses to go back to Germany every 6 weeks for a week at a time so had to ask her to leave after 6 months - and yes I feel like they are a pain after having trouble with the current one but then have to remind myself of how well it works the majority of the time. We're still in touch with our old au pairs and a few have been to visit us.
It's cheaper having an au pair than childminder and then you've got to drop off your children or pick up whereas with an au pair at least the children are home plus the babysitting which I find really useful.
So don't get put off by a few difficult ones.

verap Fri 02-Aug-13 09:06:21

Strix - our au-pair is not exactly slim so I think that the gym membership would sound like me saying to her that she needs to lose weight :-)

As for contract phone, she can always run off with it... lol.

Blueshoes - I would love to know how to find someone within two weeks :-) I live in Essex but still on Central Line....

I am as honest as I can be and whenever I look for someone, I tell her that if she is not happy about something to let us know and we can work things out. So to find out she is looking for something new/better behind my back is a slap in the face. I know she has the right to do so but if you promise to commit for a year then why would you.

Red2003 - my daughter starts Reception from the end of September so I only need someone for 1.5 hour in the morning and 3 hours in the afernoon so a childminder may cost almost the same as au-pair.

Strix Fri 02-Aug-13 16:11:53

Mind if I ask what notice period is in your contract?

I think it isperfectly reasonable for you to expect her to honor agreements made during the hiring process.

I didn't mean go buy her a gym membership and phone. I just meant offer them something that makes the job more attractive.

I actually use the gym membership to attract people who are interested in a healthy lifestyle, and might therefore lead by example for my children.

I do understand that it's difficult when you find out they are looking to leave. I just think that is something yu sign up to and have to accept is par for the course when you have an au pair. I think Childminders have similar problems. We have an au pair and a childminder. Our lives were pretty much turned upside down last year when OFSTED came meddling and shut her down for... actually... they have still not explained why they shut her down. Sadly Ofsted was far more interested in justifying their own poor judgement than they were in the welfare of the children.

So all forms of childcare can fall apart at the drop of a hat.

verap Sat 03-Aug-13 19:34:13

Hi Strix,

We agreed (verbally) on one month notice.

I am looking around for a childminder but there are no many who do pick up/drop off at my daughter's school.

The one that replied wants £6.50 per hour, 52 week contract, is that normal/usual process?

middleeasternpromise Mon 05-Aug-13 13:28:36

Im in a similar area to you - its a shame the schools are on holidays as usually they can tell you which child minders do the before and after school business. (theres usually always a few). I personally dont find au pairs are cheaper than other child care options not when you factor in all the other costs on top of the allowance. I also think the market has changed and a lot of young people do expect a lot more out of the experience particularly financially, they dont always seem to realise the package is worth more than the cash in hand. I think you might be better off with a different nationality though as the whole scheme is about having a cultural exchange as well as the opportunity to gain English language skills. Im about to say good bye to my last au pair, overall its worked really well for me but kids are getting older and I do feel I would like the house to myself for a while. We have kept good relations with all but one so overal I do give the arrangement a big thumbs up!

Mimishimi Thu 08-Aug-13 06:00:10

She probably wants to learn/improve English and finds it difficult to do that working for a Czech family. There isn't as much a financial incentive for an au pair as that of experiencing another culture/ learning a new language. Have you asked her why she's looking? Have you never looked at other jobs when you were in one?

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