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New Au Pair

(4 Posts)
GettingThereSlowly01 Thu 06-Oct-16 10:29:18

I could do with a bit of reassurance/advice.

We've had our first au pair arrive at the weekend. She's 18 and from Germany and speaks excellent English. She has experience with sports coaching and has been on English exchanges before. Our children are 4 and 5 and both at school.

I've taken some time off work to help her settle in and for the last three days I've done everything with her; getting the children up, school runs, cooking, taking her on the local buses, to the bank to open an account etc. She's clearly pretty shell shocked and I want to look after her! But frankly I am knackered.

She did her first morning with the children this morning (with me around in case of problems) and has left their breakfast things out and their beds unmade... I'm sure this is just teething issues but she also looks quite unhappy.

She isn't really doing anything for herself- she doesn't go out and explore in the day, there is an au pair around the corner and I've suggested they have coffee but she hasn't really done much about it. They've met each other on the school run so the other au pair isn't a complete stranger.

She spoke to her parents last night and they want her to do a language course that is at least 10 sessions per week so that they don't loose their German family allowance. Before she came we were pretty clear that we needed school drop off and pick ups four days per week plus some weekend babysitting, giving her one weekday and 1-2 weekend days off. I can't see how she's going to fit 10 language lessons in with this and I'm quite worried about her feeling trapped between us and her parents in a foreign country on her own.

How can I help her settle in and am I expecting too much? I'm aware she's very young in the scheme of things and I do want her to be happy here.

Karoleann Thu 06-Oct-16 11:12:20

I suggest that you do a really detailed daily schedule listing EVERYTHING you want doing. Assume no previous knowledge!
eg:
7.30am: Wake children up, get dressed, get them to brush their teeth and go to toilet. Make children's beds, bring any cups downstairs, put books back in their shelves (if she doesn't have time to do this in the morning, put it for her to do when she comes back).
8am: Breakfast (remind her what they like to eat), put dishes in dishwasher, put cereal back in the cupboard, tidy up and wipe table.
8.30am: Take children to school, remind her which bags they need to take, when you come back do any jobs that you didn't have time for in the morning.
Etc.....it'll be time consuming initially, but she'll get the hang of it eventually.

The first few weeks are difficult and you've said yourself that she's young.
I would actually arrange a coffee date with the other au pair round the corner with the other host mum.
She'll make friends too when she starts her language course.

Regarding the amount of sessions - 10 is way too many, I agree she'll never manage to fit those in. My au pairs have usually only done 2 sessions a week and that is plenty. Her family are just going to have to not claim family allowance!
I would help her to find a suitable language course and then maybe email the parents yourself explaining the situation.

Hope it goes well.

GettingThereSlowly01 Thu 06-Oct-16 14:31:30

Thank you, brilliant ideas there. I've already written her a tips list with most of the information in it but I'll try writing it out more explicitly.

It's good to know other au pairs aren't doing 10 sessions per week!

MabelAllan Sun 16-Oct-16 12:34:48

Yes, our au pair wanted to do 10 language sessions a week, too, in order to keep the family allowance. But I think the allowance is something like £80 a month; and I researched courses that offered intensive language classes, and they cost around £200-£300 a WEEK. So it wasn't cost effective for her at all. Once she realised that (where we live, at least) there's no such thing as a free 10-hour-per-week language course, she was fine with losing the family allowance.

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