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Au pairs, eating out and take aways

(53 Posts)
Artijoke Wed 11-Sep-13 14:10:18

We have our first au pair starting soon. Obviously I want to be welcoming and I understand au pairs eat with the family but I'm unclear on two things.

First, we often get takeaway once a week. Fairly pricey local restaurant which delivers. What do people do about their au pair's food when they get takeaway?

Second, we usually take the kids out to lunch at the weekend. On the au pairs first day we will be going out to lunch and inviting her and paying for her but subsequently I don't expect to pay for her accompanying us if she chooses to do so (she would not be required to come, just invited if she is bored). How do I handle this?

tywysogesgymraeg Wed 11-Sep-13 14:11:44

She's part of the family - of course you should include her, and pay for her!!!

Artijoke Wed 11-Sep-13 14:14:00

Really? Every time we eat out? Is that what people actually DO rather than MN etiquette not reflected in RL?

Thurlow Wed 11-Sep-13 14:15:03

If you're getting takeaway to eat as a family, and your au pair always eats with you as a family, it strikes me that it would be very rude not to include her. If you excluded her from that meal simply because it's pricier than the usual meal, that's not very fair.

For the lunch, I would just say that you are going out to lunch and she's more than welcome to join you if she wants to, or not if she has other plans. Say it nicely and make sure she understands that either choice is perfectly acceptable.

TakingTheStairs Wed 11-Sep-13 14:18:54

But if she chooses to come with you, you pay for her!!!
Au Pair's are meant to be treated as a part of the family.

Artijoke Wed 11-Sep-13 14:19:01

Kids don't have takeaway. I cook for them earlier and have takeaway after they are in bed.

GingerBeerAndTinnedPeaches Wed 11-Sep-13 14:19:07

No it is not MN etiquette it is, or should be, real life. You'll probably find that she'll want her weekends to herself, especially if they are her days off.

I don't have an au pair but spent a year as an au pair in France. After a week or so settling in I made friends and spent most evenings after dinner and all weekends with them.

tywysogesgymraeg Wed 11-Sep-13 14:22:09

We included our au pair in everything we did as a family - if she wanted to be included. I really don't think it's acceptable to invite her out for a meal and then not pay for her. Nor to order a take away and not include her - or provide a different, cheaper meal.

The idea with an AP is that they become like a kind of big sister to your DCs, and you will find that the relationship works best if you do your best to treat her as part of the family, whilst respecting the fact that she will develop her own social life after a while (just as a grown up DC would).

It's not her fault if you decide to buy a takeaway rather than cook a meal/go out to a restaurant. But if she declines either offer, you should be sure to provide a meal of decent quality instead.

If she opts of her own accord to eat elsewhere (ie with friends), then you are not obliged to pay for that (again, same as you would treat a grown up DC).

tywysogesgymraeg Wed 11-Sep-13 14:23:09

You could ask her whether she would prefer to eat with DCs, or share your takeaway after the DCs are in bed.

GingerBeerAndTinnedPeaches Wed 11-Sep-13 14:23:37

Ah, in that case on takeaway days she would normally eat with the children, but it would be nice to give her the choice.

Thurlow Wed 11-Sep-13 14:24:35

If you're not getting takeway for the children as well, I think the only way you could get away with it would be to explain that the night you get this takeaway is a sort of 'date night' for you and your husband and so make it clear that it's a way you spend time together alone. Then it might not seem so strange to have the au pair eating dinner with the children. But if I were you I would explain it, as otherwise it just smacks of "this is nice, expensive food and you're not worth it".

mrswishywashy Wed 11-Sep-13 16:18:14

Think how you would will feel in 18 years time and your children are taking a gap year as an au pair. Will you be happy that the family they are staying with exclude them from take outs and lunches out? What about when your children get to their teens, will they be excluded from take outs too? I'd give her a choice eat with the children or more than welcome to share take out with us. But make sure she does feel welcome or you will end up with an unhappy "au pair" who doesn't want to stay.

And I wish that it was made illegal to use the "au pair" definition unless of the description by immigration. Too many people are using "au pairs" for what really is a full responsibility, low pay nanny position. If you employ someone cheaply to live in your home and do housekeeping/look after your children then the least you can do is treat them with respect.

Sorry, but I think you sound incredibly mean and petty about this. Au pairs are meant to be part of the family. If you have take away of course you should order for her too and pay for her. Or if she doesn't fancy it you should provide alternative food for her to prepare for herself.

As regards the lunch, she may want to enjoy her free time in any case. But the right thing to do would be to say she is welcome to come if she wants to, but make it clear she doesn't have to. If she comes, of course you pay for her meal.

Am a bit shock at your attitude tbh.

Artijoke Wed 11-Sep-13 16:31:26

I don't think you can judge my attitude so harshly from my two posts. I asked a question, was surprised by the answer but I am listening. I intend to welcome our au pair warmly, I've redecorated a room for her, bought her a new tv, a laptop, emailed her to ask what specific foods she likes and consequently ordered her favourite cereal and snacks in our delivery. She will have a good year I think.

NomDeClavier Wed 11-Sep-13 16:33:07

If you're paying au pair rates you have to treat them as a member of the family. The takeaway, if it's like date night, you can offer her the choice of eating with the DC or getting her something for her to cook for herself just like a babysit except you're not going out. Pretty much as you would with one of your own, grown-up DC. Or a niece or nephew staying etc.

As for going out for lunch at the weekend if you invite her, which as part of the family you should, then you pay for her. You can set the expectation from the off that she'll have her own social life at the weekends or lie in til 3 but really part of the deal of having an au pair is they get included in practically everything. It's part of the compensation for only getting £70odd a week - you get to live with the family, experiencing their leisure activities as well as looking after the kids.

Strix Wed 11-Sep-13 16:34:33

Our Au Pair does not normally eat with us. When we get a takeaway, she's not included. If we go out for lunch with the kids we don't invite her.... but she probably wouldn't want to come anyway.

I disagree that the ua pair is a member of the family. I guess you can establish the relationahip that way if you want to. But,I regard mine as an employee and I treat her as such.

However, if she normally ate with us as a family, then I would include her in the takeaway.

It is perfectly normal to expect the aupair to prepare the dinner for the children and eat with them. But, it would probably not be very nice for you to eat with the children and not invite the au pair to join.

When we ordered take away there's always been loads, too much for two. Surely there's enough for one more without "paying" any extra,

andagain Wed 11-Sep-13 16:42:38

OP, we have an au pair and we always include her in any takeways we have. To be honest it never occured to me not to nor to ask her to eat early with our daughter. She always eats dinner with us (if she is in) and that is the time when we can sit and chat and nobody is rushing to school, work etc
Weekendwise you will probably find she will be out with her mates having fun but you should offer to take her with you.

dufflefluffle Wed 11-Sep-13 16:43:30

I was an au pair, the family always paid for me and very much made me feel part of the family. When their eldest came years later to mind my children I did my best to be just as generous.

GingerBeerAndTinnedPeaches Wed 11-Sep-13 17:03:23

Strix the very definition of 'au pair' comes from the French meaning on equal terms, ie part of the family. Read the wiki history and concept sections. If you don't believe that they are supposed to be treated as part of the family what exactly do you think they are?

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Au_pair#Concept_and_conditions

idiuntno57 Wed 11-Sep-13 17:16:41

an au pair should be treated as a member of the family not an employee.

We sometimes have a takeaway and if that is our evening meal, the AP shares it with us. He eats with us, not the children in the evening.

Our last AP ate out with us on a few occasions - curry house, pizza, nice local restaurant (twice I think) - and we always paid. These were mainly things like DS's birthday meal, or a treat for the children for doing well at school, and he was included. If we go into London at weekends, the AP is generally doing his own thing, perhaps other than the very first visit, and so it would be unusual to expect her to accompany you for those events.

It sounds as though you are doing a lot to welcome the AP. I am surprised at the lap top and TV - all our APs have brought their own lap top, so that is perhaps an unnecessary expense. However, it will be the day to day existence that makes or breaks the relationship.

NomDeClavier Wed 11-Sep-13 19:13:22

Treating then as a member of the family doesn't prevent you from having an employment relationship at all. The law is one thing (and is pretty clear) but it simply gives them rights and protection. Being treated as part of the family is what makes the au pair experience into an au pair experience rather than spending a year as a badly paid live in nanny. People who aren't prepared to offer the whole family package tend to pay a bit more.

In fact the pastoral burden is significantly greater than the legal one IMO.

grabaspoon Wed 11-Sep-13 19:13:46

I am a live in nanny - sometimes my boss offers to treat us to a takeaway - Chinese, Indian or Dominoes and sometimes my boss orders one just for the family and I have a rummage in the fridge for something later.

Metrobaby Wed 11-Sep-13 19:59:34

If you include your AP in a takeaway it will make her feel welcome. If you don't, she will feel left out. However if you don't feel you want her to join in your takeaway, I think it is only courteous to tell her in advance that you intend the takeaway as a date night - as NomDeClavier suggests.

You'll probably find that your AP will be out during the weekends anyway. However if you do invite her to join your family for a restaurant meal, family activity day etc, you should definitely pay for her as you would your own children.

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