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?
Takeaway - you cook for her with the children. Then ask her to babysit - and go out with your husband to eat your nice meal!
Lunch out - either tell her it's her day off & e.g. offer to drop her off somewhere - or take her & pay. Remember - she'll be eating with your squawking kids - it's really not a 'meal out' how a normal person would choose to eat if they paid for it!
We almost always include our au pair in take aways - the children eat separately. It's expensive, but it keeps us on the straight and narrow as we are less inclined to eat take aways than pre au pair! We sometimes but not always invite her out to Saturday lunch (pizza express) but generally she doesn't have any interest. Equally if we are having friends over for a meal she is sometimes included and sometimes told it is a dinner party and to help herself from the freezer (I keep a supply of homemade ready to reheat meals on ice in the freezer). I think you have to find your own balance in the relationship...some au pairs want to be more independent - one even ended up giving me a grocery list and doing her own cooking - and some want to be treated like an older child. At the end of the day you want a happy au pair looking after your children.
Artijoke, you have to be thick-skinned to be on an aupair thread - I mean that kindly. These aupair threads bring out a certain 'purist' strand which does not really exist any more with the advent of EU aupairs.
Like Strix, I treat the aupair as an employer-employee relationship with pastoral care thrown in simply because I have a young lady working in my home away from her own family. I am an experienced aupair employer by necessity, not choice, and pretty much seen it all. I cope by being very clear at the interview and at the outset what my expectations are.
I think it is more confusing for an aupair and the employer to fudge the aupair-big-sister-member of the family relationship. After the first week or two, I have never had an aupair want to spend time with the family. They invariably prefer the company of their friends. As the host family, do I feel snubbed? Hell No! It is what the aupairs want to do - this is their version of cultural exchange. So feel free to set your own rules as a family, with fairness in mind, but not necessarily 'member of the family'.