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My aupair is plain lazy.... help(173 Posts)
Hi! Am in need of advice from other mums with au pairs.
Our au pair joined us a month ago, and the first week with us I took a weeks holiday to help settle her in, show her the ropes and the local area, etc.
We live in a rural location so have provided her with a car for school runs and to be at her disposal for her weekends off. I have also provided her with a sat nav.
Now 4 weeks on, we have a major problem. Her car broke last weekend (fan belt) so we have spent all week trying to get it fixed. We have had to resume doing all the school runs and juggling the children as a result. Midweek she came down with a cold, as did I, and she has barely left her bed since. I had to take the whole day off today to do the school runs, washing, cleaning, cooking etc. I am self employed, so it cost me hard cash.
She spends all evening and most weekends in her bedroom, posting on Facebook how miserable she is and how much she misses her family and friends. I have tried to talking to her, inviting her to sit with us in the evenings, but she doesn't want to.
in the last couple of weeks I have asked her to cook meals, tidy the children's bedroom, Hoover in the hallway. She has not done any of these things. It transpires she does not know how to cook. Yesterday she was asked to cook pork chops, nd had to call her boyfriend at home to find out how. This was checked in the initial interviews, and is an integral part of her duties. I have shown her where the cook books are in case she needs inspitiration, but as yet she hasn't used them. I have cooked more meals in the last 4 weeks than she has. In fact I think I have only eaten 1 meal that she has cooked. I have suggested she cooks meals from home, that she is used to, we are happy to try new things, but she doesn't seem to know how to do anything.
in addition she has the use of a private bathroom. She has been using it for the last 3 weeks and hasn't cleaned it once. I only discovered that this evening.
I am beginning to think she thinks she is just on holiday, staying with us for free, and being paid too. Feel like I am being taken for a mug.
so do I sack her? Help!?
Op there seem to be several things going on here. Firstly the cooking. If it was specified at interview stage there would be cooking for family and now you find she can't cook then you have every right to feel duped but presumably in interview you asked her what sort of dishes she typically made so why not re visit that conversation and start with those, maybe she just needs to get confidence
If she is feeling ill, that can't be helped but if she is lonely have you tried to get her to log on eg aupair groups in Facebook to make new friends? most young people don't usually want to sit with host family in the evening. When you were a teenager would u want to spend every night chatting to your Mum? I find (circa 9 AP's on) the quicker they make new friends, the happier they are and happy AP's then tend to knuckle down and do the jobs needed.
Finally i think you need to be very directive with AP's . Mine have a daily schedule that lists jobs eg 7.15 empty dishwasher 7.30 am dress children 10.am Hoover hall and sitting room, 2.30- 3.30pm ironing etc etc. I also specify their free time so for instance mine are free from 9.00am to 2.30pm every day. They can sit and watch tv / go to class/ do coffee with friends guilt free knowing I am not expecting them on duty. The advantage of this is that then you do not have your bathroom problem as you will have scheduled her to clean it once/ twice a week and you can inspect it has been done.
Unless she is not a nice person. I would make her a more specific schedule and try her on cooking dishes she is familiar with. Give her verbal warning and say these measures are designed to help. If after two weeks there is no improvement then I would terminate her employment.
Jules - thanks. Sometimes it's hard to know if you're being reasonable or not.
I don't think I did ask about specific dishes she's cooked at interview stage, so can't go there. I have however drawn up a weekly schedule broken down by hourly tasks, and we plan to talk to her today. As there are 7 of us in the house, I have suggested we each choose a favourite meal, and then there will be an evening meal for every day of the week. I can then go through recipes with her and make sure she knows what she is doing, how long each dish takes, and that I have grocery shopped accordingly. And that way she will learn to cook our favourite dishes, and we can have her speciality or favourite dish once a week.
I know she can't help being ill, but I too have been ill and haven't taken to my bed for 2 days. I am aware that AP's are meant to live with you as part of your family, but I was hoping that at 22 she might have a bit more self discipline and get up and go. I have four children already, and another sulky moping lazy teenager type, who I am paying £80/week, and funding a car for (which incidentally hasn't met with approval, she keeps eying my Audi an making comments about how rubbish her car is) is tipping me over the edge.
I have nursed her through being ill, bought her a hottie bottle, and soothers, stepsils, olbas oil, balsam tissues etc. I gave her last Monday morning off bc she wanted to stay out overnight with her step family. I have supported her joining the local gym to make friends , and applying for bar jobs for the weekends. I have made endless suggestions about how to make friends, as she really does need her own social life, and we need space too. I have tried to be a good host mum, but my patience is wearing very very thin.
Def verbal warning today, with positive guidance on how she can improve and see how we get on from there. I am back on aupair world looking for anther in case it all goes wrong, jic.
Good luck sounds like you are doing all the right things. From experience I think early on you get a feeling if things are going to work out or not. I terminated an AP once after 6 hours. I was furious as it takes along time and a lot of effort to recruit. (basically despite me going through our schedule about 3 times in interview stage) she turned up and said she did not believe eating hot food after lunchtime was healthy and thus not only did she only want to eat sandwiches/ salad for dinner ( I have no issue with that each to their own) but she was not prepared to re heat food or cook for the DC when they came home from school!!
Aghhh DH and I long for the time when the children are in secondary school and we can live AP free
No hot food after lunchtime huh? Take it she came from a hot country and had not experienced a British winter then. Yep, I think you did the right thing.
I hope we can make this work, but she is very opinionated, keeps telling the children off in front of me for doing things i dont consider to be wrong, has made remarks about my youngest being "such a little darling" and not in a good way. So, the kids haven't really warmed to her either. dreading having to go through the recruitment process again, you're right, it takes a lot of time and effort.
Well, here goes nothing, going to have the talk shortly.
Unless things have changed in the last 10 years, I think that au pairs are not expected to cook as part of their duties. Just light cooking occasionally. And I think they are supposed to only do about 20 hours of child care a week, with a bit of light housework.
Did you find her through an agency? If so, it would be a good idea to discuss with them what you expect the AP to do, and see what they say. They will act as intermediary. There is probably a six week trial period on both sides, so act before this is up, and ask the agency to find you someone more suitable if needs be.
Do include her in family stuff though - she is supposed to be a "big sister" for your kids.
She's bound to be homesick until she's settled in. Have you helped her enrol in English lessons, where she could make some friends? Or the Agency could put her in touch with other APs.
The posting on FB about how miserable she is would bring things to a head for me.
I would be saying to her, we obviously don't want you so unhappy and (in a diplomatic way) it's worrying you are using FB as an outlet for this...but we need to be working together to find a solution urgently if this is going to continue. I feel like we've given xyz suggestions...it's also down to you to engage. What do you suggest would make things better for you? And give her a timeline by when you both need to agree it is or isn't working.
Actually I've just seen your last message...her attitude sounds like it needs a big adjustment....
For the future though...
Regarding the cooking, imo trying to get an AP to do the sort of cooking that calls for recipe books could end up being very frustrating for all concerned! I also wouldn't expect them to cook for the whole family either. Our APs cook very simple meals for the girls - grilling meat, making mash, boiling veg, pasta dishes. That sort of thing. I agree that if she can't do this much it's a non starter. But are you sure that you're not asking too much of her? Fine for her to help you prepare meals though and also with the clear up.
HOw did the chat go HorseyMum?
APs duties can be broken down into 3 main areas:-
2) Cleaning/Tidying Up
IME - it is impossible to find someone who excels in all 3 areas. I often I find I have to make concessions in at least one area. For me, however, the childcare is of paramount importance. My last AP was a useless cook but fantastic with the children. SHe had a lovely personality too. We got around the cooking issue by only expecting her to cook very very simple meals for the children - eg pasta + ready made sauce, ready made meals, frozen chicken nuggets/fish/chicken, jacket potatoes, rice, sausages etc.
However, it sounds as if your AP is not great in any of the 3 areas and is rude and miserable too. It sounds as if she is not very happy.
If you have already put your profile up on AuPairWorld there is a danger she may have seen this which will dent her confidence further
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Thank you all so much for your comments - it s helping to put things in perspective.
I appreciate that cooking isn't something that many au pairs do, but sitting down together as a family for an evening meal is a really important part of our day and I would really find it an enormous help for her to prepare an evening meal for us all. The other options are that the DC eat separately to us, which I hate the thought of, or that I rush home from work and start frantically throwing together a meal for 6 people, also not great. Thinking back to when I was 22 if someone had asked me to prepare an evening meal for 6 people it would have been terrifying (and the result probably inedible) so I am prepared to help her wth this. If she can walk away from this being able to cook, then she will have gained an important life skill, I think?
The housework element is the bit I am least fussed about. If she can run the Hoover round the communal/heavy traffic areas once a week, flick a duster about a bit and do a bit of washing up I'm happy. I'm not a clean freak. I too would rather she played with and engaged the DC, than worry about cleaning too much.
She is from south africa so English is her first language, therefore no language classes required. She has joined the gym and is working on relationships through that, I think she is going for a Chinese with a group tomorrow. I will suggest fb AP groups, have found one for our area so that may help. We took a trip out this afternoon, to the beach with the kids and the AP came, and had fish & chips and it was lovely, so she is included as a family member, very much so.
I have yet to have the talk, we have now decided to postpone until tomorrow. My DH was out most of the day today, and I needed to discuss it through with him, as he is the voice of calm and reason to my exuberance. I also want DH present at the talk to keep things calm, reasonable and positive. Didn't want to do it before beach trip and spoil it, and when we'd got home, got the kids to bed, and had a conversation about it with my DH it was too late, don't want to go to bed on an atmosphere, if that should happen.
I will update you all tomorrow. Thank you again
It did make me laugh...my ap's are yet to cook..
I make food in advance if I am on an evening, for the whole family and ap.. so learn to be inventive. I use a slow cooker to produce good food in advance.
All my ap's spend time in their own rooms. I don't have an ensuite for ap's but will have at some point maybe. I am more than aware that they will not clean it! Are you in the UK? I find my ap's quite often come to Aus (where we are ) and think we are all lazy bums who do nothing... they have a shock!
How did you get a visa for a SA AP? Or does she have dual nationality with an EU state? I'm assuming you have checked her right to work carefully but if you haven't that may be an 'easy' way to make the decision.
Re: cooking it isn't reasonable to expect her to do all the cooking all the time. Light cooking for the children (pasta and sauce as has been mentioned) and maybe one family meal a week would be about right.
As it is I have to say this AP sounds a non-starter and you're better of getting another.
The au pair has British dual nationality, so no visa problems there.
I recruited specifically for an ap+ to work 8 hours/day. I am a hard worker, and always strive to give extra, to give more than expected. It's the way I was raised, and I frequently work 12 hour days. I think maybe I do expect too much of her?. Many of you have posted that APs don't cook, are fairly untidy and don't do any cleaning
I have tried to not push her, and have only suggested she tidy the children's rooms, or Hoover the hallway, but it just hasn't happened. Now I am feeling frustrated and disappointed. I find it hard to believe that all everyone else's APs do is the school runs, an hour of laundry hanging and breakfast washing up in the morning, then spend the rest of the day skyping, reading, taking long showers, and lying in bed, only emerging to consume the food you have prepared, then disappearing again as soon as the table is cleared, while your own children wash up. That's what is happening in my house.
Horsey - having read subsequent posts I think u are wanting the AP to cook the family meal every night? I would echo other posters and say you are extremly unlikely to find an AP who can do that unless you select one whose hobby is cooking or given the current circumstances in Europe has a main career as a chef ( my friend has one:-)).
Most AP can only re heat via microwave, do basic put in the even ready modes plus chips, or make pasta. I had one who mistook chineese noodles for spaghetti and boiled 2 min noodles for 10 mins and mixed with Bol sauce.. Yuk.. Learning from that nowadays I even get the packets out for them!
My sister has used aupairworld twice. She's deliberately chosen au pairs with interests eg: horseriding and who show evidence of previous work with children. Both have been hard working and connected well with the children. I wouldn't rely on an agency. Is pick ny own au pair.
An au pair should be part of the family to help with a help with a bit of childcare. This will include feeding them easy food and cleaning up after themselves. It does not include a full day of cleaning and cooking for everyone. Around £90 a week average for 20-25 hrs max ( that includes babysitting, so if she works one eve it leaves you with 4hrs per day mon-fri)
And au pair plus can work max 35 hrs a week ( 7 hrs max a day, 6 prob if she babysits one eve) this is more like £120-150 a week.
I'm afraid if you want all your meals and cleaning done you need a housekeeper/ cook. This will be about £450-500 a week plus tax
I'm afraid you can't ask for everything, for paying peanuts. Make some sauces / bolgnaise etc and pop in freezer. She may then make some pasta and reheat what you have already prepared.
8hrs a day is really not on for an au pair and if you need his much childcare you need a nanny. An average au pair will take kids to school. Have 9-2.45 free, go to pick up from school and watch until 6pm ( so 4 hrs)
Jules - no, not every night, but on maybe 3-4 weekday nights. And meals required are typically chicken casserole from a packet mix, grilled pork chops, sausage&mash, fajitas (dinner kit), bolognese (have offered ragu type jars to simplify it but she has said no, she can cook from scratch). I am not xpecting her to rustle up a beef Wellington, nor decide a menu herself. At 22 I had lived away from home for 4 years, and could cook more than packets, tins, jars, ready meals and microwave. I wasnt cooking for a family of 6, the organisation wasnt there, but the skills were. I can organise it, she just needs to cook it.
I have friends who have or have had APs and theirs just seem to do more.
Maybe I should let things carry on as they are and say nothing?
Op - I font think you are asking too much. I just think this one is not right for you.
I'm a qualified nanny. I've never been an au pair but I've known quite a few and to me it's all in the job description. Au pairs take on jobs in the full knowledge of what is required of them and if she didn't want to cook she shouldn't have taken the job.
When I started out I was doing 10 hour days, cooking and cleaning up from all 3 meals. One child at nursery so doing the runs to and fro and other at home. Did ironing, online shopping, washing and light cleaning and hoovering whilst he slept in the pm. Always made sure I left the place tidy. I didn't work weekends though and they paid expenses on my car rather than giving me one. I was not live in either. I was paid £250 a week plus tax and NI. I was 21 so not far of her age and I lived alone and cooking etc was no problem. I spent evening at home planning stimulating activities and games and days out for the children and teaching them new things. Tbh I think my heart was in it but I'm not sure hers is.
I'm not sure if this helps at all. But I do know au pairs who do much much more than you are asking her for for similar money.
Forevergreek - you're rates are far more generous than any we researched when looking for an ap. I am quite shocked. And dismayed.
I am not, let's be clear, expecting her to do all the cleaning and cooking. Not even close. 3-4 evenings to prepare a family meal. Run the Hoover round, tidy children's toys away, wash up breakfast things, do some laundry.
Her proposed schedule is
8am -10am get kids ready for school, do school run, return home, hang out laundry, wash up breakfast things. We do kids breakfasts and make pack lunches. I have suggested this time to include thinking about the evening meal, ie prepping in her mind what she needs to, read the packet mix etc.
10am - 12noon own time/off duty
12noon - 2pm collect DS2 from nursery, sit with him while he eats lunch (that we have prepared for him in the morning), then engage him an activity ie painting, play dough, reading, den making, baking, go to the park etc.
2 - 3pm prepare dinner, from ingredients left out and according to instructions provided and discussed.
3 - 4pm collect DS1 from school, return home, prepare a snack for the DS's (ham/cheese/cucumber/breadsticks/grapes on a plate)
4 - 6pm do a little light housework (as necessary) ie run the Hoover round communal areas, or dusting or clean bathroom (different days, different tasks), finish dinner, play with the dc, on 2 evenings collect dd from dance class.
My DH is usually home sometime around 5pm although its not guaranteed, and the DS's usually want to go and do horses with him then.
Is this too much and how would you amend it?
so, she's really needed about 8 hours per day, which is much more than most aupair, if I am reading that properly. Right?
and then she supposed to do the cleaning while the children are already at home. Rigth?
Sorry, but I think you are expecting too much for your money. Heating up dinner for the children or boiling a bit of pasta would be fine, but preparing the family dinner, on the top of all the rest is far too much in my opinion.
I think forevergreek's terms sound unusually generous and have not personally come across them - maybe she is talking about remote rural places where recruitment is hard/top earning families?
Generally au pairs make £65-£75 a week pocket money for 25 hours work PLUS one babysit a week. Au pair plus is more like £90 for 35. And of course use of a car or a travelcard.
However, your schedule sounds quite intense - I think you are looking for either an experienced au pair or someone who was a nanny in their own country, or a newly-qualified/junior nanny.
If you were paying someone live-out to do that job you'd be paying at least £250-£280, so maybe think about whether what you are paying is fair?
Far too much. Occupying a nursery and school age child and two hours cleaning at same time isn't on. The time between 3-6 should be used to help with homework, read with children, puzzles/ arts crafts. Then reheating a meal.
Yes from the age of 18 I was living alone, feeding children etc. but different people do diff things. As a nanny myself I understand fully what childcare and everything alongside it involves ( personally work 12-16hr days, but I'm paid for that), I do child related things. No cleaning bathrooms and cooking family meals ( sure il make a large lasagne if making and there will be enough but I don't plan there meals to include parents every day)
So she only has max 2 hours free in daytime hours (10-12), an au pair if supposed to have time during the day to study ( usually English), but she could do something else. She takes to school ( so expect starts work around 8 and works until 5) so that's max £1 per hour if you aren't paying between 10-12 and even less as you live in country so 2 hrs honestly barely gives her time to go anywhere and get back in time
I would personally to resolve this
A) increase wage- you say she's an au pair plus ( which is basically the same as a full time new nanny), yet she is being paid bottom end of a basic aupair. I always thought au pairs in country def got higher wage as encouragement to start with a family as its remote from places/ people
B) get a cleaner also. They can do anytime between 9-12.
C) is she needed for school drop of every day? If not I would start her at 12. If so she needs to start last poss min ( 8.30/40), then not come home to do things but be completely free until nursery pick up. That's still min 6 hours a day.
Personally I would be doing all of above. Only child laundry, only child's bedrooms hoovered/ tidied. Only basic cooking/ reheating.
Also you say she should finish around 5 but sometimes your dh goes out to horses?? She that means she continues work? Would you agree with your employer to gt paid until 5, but poss everyday ( not knowing until 5), you might stay until I fancy. That's unexceptable frankly. What if she want to meet someone at 6, or start a class at 6? She can never plan as has no idea when she is free
Sorry to be blunt but you asked
Rubriso, sorry your figures are low. Someone living out found the same job would be asking £8-10 net ( so you need tax ontop- £11-13 gross) per hour. So 8-6, 10hrs x 5 days. Is not £240 a week
1) £80 a week in the UK comes with an expectation that AP will do 25 hours a week - maybe 30 hours in some parts of country. Sounds like she does 8 hours per day for 5 days per week? Totally unacceptable IMHO. Especially as those 8 hours cover a 10 hour period, so she is effectively tied to the house for 50 hours a week?
2) You say that your DH is out till 5 and that you run your own business too, so am I correct in reading that between 12 noon and 5pm she has sole care of at least 1 child at a time, and is expected to do housework, and make family meals at the same time? Totally unacceptable IMHO
APs can do whatever hours/care that you and they agree to do, though most people hesitate to give them sole care of under 2's. But you really do need to balance your needs with an APs expectations. My AP does housework and looks after kids but never at the same time. And I pay him £100 for what can be 35 hours a week but is in reality more like 28-30. I agree that if your needs exceed 35 hours a week then you need more than an AP. It's slightly different in the US but here in the UK it's never more than 35 hrs - not least because once you go over £100 you need to register them for tax and NI, which brings with it a whole headache of paperwork/insurance/costs.
The fact that you did X, Y and Z and had loads of responsibility as a 22 YO is irrelevant. You won't find APs like that. Or, if you do, you need to thank your stars and cherish them.
You need to rethink your options. I would suggest you look at an au-pair couple who could do this between them for £150 a week. Or see how you can scale the work back into a more manageable chunk (increase nursery hours/get a cleaner??). You will probably need to do this soon, though, because if she is personable she will find herself an easier job soon. As it stands there is nothing in it for her to make more effort, is there? If you work on lightening the expectations on your side then she will probably be willing to up the game on her side.
I think you are asking her to do way too much and it's a bit of a cheek to call her lazy in your post. What you need is what used to be called a 'mothers help' but you'd need to pay them the proper going rate . Also why has it taken a week to repair a fan belt !
Maybe it depends where you live forevergreek - but where I am an experienced live-out nanny is on £8-£10 gross, maybe £11 for very part time hours, a new nanny would be more like £7 gross. Au pairs would get £65-£75 for a standard 25 hours plus babysits. I have known unqualified live in nannies getting around £5 an hour as a first nanny job.
I think expecting her to do all that for a measly £80 a week, is preposterous!!
I would tell you to sling your hook!!!
I am gutted. Will see this ap through to end of her contract, then probably won't bother getting another. Will consider different child care options. My own kids work harder. I am dismayed that the general work ethic in this country is to do as little as possible, for as much money as possible. I don't mind paying more, but think that £80/ week plus a fully expensed car (no-one else uses this, it was purchased solely for the APs use), full board and lodging to run the kids back and forth to school and do a little housework and cook a couple of meals is pretty ok.
FYI, the horses are kept at home, so DH doesn't disappear, but takes the dc out to our own yard, effectively giving the ap less to do, not expecting her to work longer.
Thak you all for your responses. I am disappointed but must accept that my expectations are unreasonable.
But it's not a little housework, and it's not one or two meals! You are expecting a lot more than that!
I am dismayed that the general work ethic in this country is to do as little as possible, for as much money as possible
No - you are dismayed that you need to pay
a lot more for the service you want!
Wow, I am a childminder so no idea on what is/isn't acceptable but I always believed an au pair works before/after school with some other duties but aren't they often at college or something and therefore not working most of the day? IMO, if this person was doing all the list you've just given for £80 a week then you are getting an absolute bargain! I might be wrong as I said, just shocked at the list as it's more like what my nanny friends do and they're paid a hell of a lot more than that.
I'll be interested to see what other people who do know about au pairs say.
I wouldn't work 40 hours a week doing childcare and housekeeping for that money Horseymumjo, and there's nothing wrong with my work ethic. Usually the pay off for au pairs is that they have free time to learn a language/meet new people/explore a new country, and so that makes up for the lack of pay. You need to think about what's in it for your au pair, if she is working long days.
You sound quite dismissive that sole-charge childcare of preschoolers is actually quite hard work.
This is what my au pair does:
Shared care of toddler 2 mornings a week while I work from home
Helps prepare lunch on those days
Cleans up after evening meal every night
Gives DH lift to and from station for commute every day as we don't have a car
3 hours cleaning a week - a list of set jobs and then a different extra job per week eg
say dusting skirtings upstairs
Cooks family meal on the day I go into work
Helps out with cooking most other nights - we can cook nice meals from scratch with two of us for extra toddler entertaining power!
In total she cooks by herself maybe twice a week.
She gets 2 days with only duties clearing up after evening meals and the drop offs plus of course the weekend, 28 days hol a year, use of car, £70 per week and gym subscription
She is great but I have been very directive - eg I tell her what to cook and exactly how using which recipe book. I wouldn't be able to go to Austria and rustle up a wiener schnitzel and I don't expect her to be able to do any English dishes without guidance.
This week she made toad in hole and quiche - was very good!
I think its shocking that you expect so much for so little money and then call her and the rest of the country lazy when you don't get it.
You also complained that she only cleaned her own bathroom once in 3 weeks. So she plans on cleaning her own bathroom once every 10 days? And? There is nothing wrong with that! Personally mine needs doing every week but i don't see why its an issue. It makes you sound like a control freak!
Poor girl, she must feel like a slave! No wonder she saying she feels unhappy.
You talk about the car as though she should be really grateful, as though its a gift, but actually its essential for her to do her job so i would stop patting yourself on the back about that.
You might be better off with someone who comes into clean and prepares a meal e.g. gets the slow cooker on? It is such a big help to have the meal ready and I agree with you that meal times are very important especially for busy families like yours.
Unless your AP has a huge attitude change and can manage 2 decent meals a week, might not feel so overwhelmed by that as 5 nights, and it's still a help especially if she can do school run and other bits.
Horsey, my first instinct with your current aupair is get rid. She sounds like she is taking the piss. She is a non-starter. I don't know how much more you can be expected to direct her in her duties. I would start rigorously performance managing (first warning etc) her asap with a view to terminating.
Going forwards, I would agree with metrobaby about the 3 categories of tasks and how it is difficult to find an aupair to be good at all 3.
Cooking is one area that is the most difficult for young aupairs. It is more a housekeepers role. It is the one I have abandoned for my aupairs, but they do the simple cooking for the children that metro describes. I don't think it is unreasonable for you to expect an aupair to do the simple family meals you described but in increased quantities, but for some unfathomable reason, it is a very difficult thing to ask of a young person who has not had to look after a family of her own. She should not have taken the job.
I note in your schedule you ask the aupair to prepare meals between 2-3. But between 4-6, there are a lot of tasks set out for her which do not include cooking. When do you expect the aupair to actually be preparing dinner for the family? Does she cook in advance at 2-3pm and then leave plates of say pasta sitting around to be heated up by the family for dinner?
OP, we have AP (this is our second one). I think her duties are pretty standard for AP. This might assist you in seeing what AP (as opposed to nanny or housekeepr or mother's help) should do.
We have one child. Our AP works 7.30-9 am Mon-Fri, which involves supervising our DD getting dressed and driving her to school and then 3.-5.30 pm Mon-Fri which involves picking her up from school, playing with her and making her dinner (which is fairly basic pasta or rice dish or something we had prepared and frozen previously). On top of these 20 hours she does 3 hours ironining every week. So it works out to 23 hours per week plus one night babysitting (set night every week and not weekend night). Any extra babysitting is paid extra.
She gets £80 per week plus £10 per month on her phone and £20 on her oyster. She is free to use our car whenever she wants.
I think that is about right.
Some families get their APs to help with their evening meals which I think is acceptable but daily cleaning or cooking for a large family is not what an AP is supposed to do for basic AP pay.
You have to remember that these young people are here to experience a new country and make new friends and learn or improve their English. They are not here to work 50 odd hours per week and get paid peanuts.
I am sorry but what you expect for what you pay is borderline exploitation
(and frankly morally wrong).
You really should be employing a full time nanny/housekeeper and pay appropriate rates.
I think it is fine for your aupair to work 8 hours a day if you pay her accordingly. It is relatively long hours for an aupair but if you make it clear during recruitment, everyone is on the same page.
From your schedule, I would say it is quite a busy role especially since it has 4 school runs, 3 times a day with afterschool childcare for your ds2, afterschool activities for your dd. Any parent who does this knows how exhausting it is.
I think it is difficult to ask your aupair to do housework whilst your dcs are around e.g. between 4-6, unless you are around. Your aupair would be quite tired by then. I think it is better to fit the housework after your aupair has dropped the children off at school/nursery, so there is no one to get underfoot or asking for snacks etc.
If you wanted to make it an easier job that would suit more people, I would abandon the housework and pay a cleaner to do that to a professional standard.
The job would then be childcare/schoolrun heavy which would appeal to someone who likes to spend time with children.
You sound like a hardworking person and would probably do all you ask your aupairs to do and more . I guess reading the schedule, it sounded like you were expecting her to be a mother in terms of multi-tasking and just not ever sitting down when there is stuff to be done. I hope I am not being unfair, because the work is clearly do-able, just a tad more than I would be confident an aupair would be able to handle.
No wonder she's pissed off, you're expecting her to do far too much, for too little money.
Your expectation of an AP is ridiculous, you need a nanny and a housekeeper.
Andagain, I would not go so far as to say that OP is exploiting or suggest she is morally wrong. If she makes it clear in her job description, it is a job like any other. Things have moved on in re: what an aupair role entails.
Some aupairs, particularly those from Eastern Europe, may ask for longer hours anyway.
"I am dismayed that the general work ethic in this country is to do as little as possible, for as much money as possible"
Is that not basically your thinking too? You want this girl to do as much work as possible for you with no free time for herself while paying her as little as possible and expecting her to be grateful.
Not being from the UK, I understand what the OP means about the 'general work ethic' ... Let's just say that when in UK, we have to adapt to the cultural working norms ... but they don't necessarily make the UK competitive (but that is a discussion for another thread).
It cannot be exploitation if OP makes it clear in her job description what the role entails, the pay and the aupair is free to leave at any time. It is the aupair being a timewaster to accept a role she had clearly no will or skill to fulfill.
I am sorry blueshoes but I disagree. Yes, the role has moved on and yes au pairs can negotiate to do more hours and more duties but what op describes is a full time full on job which is a nanny/ housekeeper job.
Just because you fully describe the job and explain all the details, it does not make it right paying someone £80 for 50 hours pretty hard work, including juggling making a meal for 6 with looking after small child simultaneously! It is shocking to expect that much.
APs main reason for being in the UK is usually to improve English and see a new country, not to get a job with so many hours and so little pay that they cannot afford to do anything or go anywhere.
OP Started off reading with sympathy. Ended up feeling really sorry for your AP. What really annoys me about this country is people taking advantage of others by paying them peanuts and ignoring their obligations to reward fair work with fair pay.
I thought au pairs only helped for a few hours a day. Light housework care of children. Not cooking. Depends what the agreement was when she was employed. When I last looked it was three or four hours work a day and the rest of the time studying English or other subject. Sounds she is doing a lot of work. How much are you paying her if that's not too rude a question. I think that's problem the important thing in regards to your expectations. Eight till six is a very very long day. Even with two hours off. Bar jobs at weekends. As well as those long days. YABVVVVU.
Just seen £80 a week. Sorry that is simply exploitation and slave labour.
I also think pointing her at cook books is a waste of time. I don't think I've ever looked at a recipe and found that i have all the ingredients in for it. Unless you expect her to go and do the shopping in her spare time in the mornings?
Who does do the shopping anyway?
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
HorseyMum - I think for what you describe, and the hours you need, that a Nanny would be more suitable.
AP's usually are fairly young girls with fairly limited childcare and 'life' experience. Asking them to effectively look after a preschooler, your schoolage ds, your dd, cook and clean is quite a tall order! I believe most APs would want more than 2 hours off during the day too as many would want to study part time. Your hours are actually a very long day for an AP.
FWIW, my AP is contracted to work between 25-30 hours a week (7am-8/8.15), then 3/4pm-7pm. We have a cleaner once a week, and like Squiffy I would never expect my AP to do the household chores whilst they are looking after my children. In fact I expressly ask my APs NOT to do household chores when my children are at home. This is because I think it is important for them to focus their playing and interacting with the children so that they have the best possible chance on developing a good relationship with them. This is what personally works for me as I like an AP who is good with children, rather than an exceptional cleaner or cook. Some families are different.
From your schedule it sounds as if your AP is struggling to juggle everything in her working hours. Maybe it is a case of mismatched expectations for both yourself and your AP. Perhaps it is time to rethink your childcare options.
i have had au pairs for the last 8 years. ime you are asking far too much of your au pair and to blame the work ethic is simply preposterous.
I always have a cleaner in addition to an ap. My ap doesn't have to clean, but is expected to do the same tidying as I do (e.g wiping sides after dinner, sweeping floor etc).
I have found very few that can cook. When I did have one who loved to cook it was fantastic, but sadly not the norm. My current one aged 19 cannot do a thing. It is bloody annoying that she can't even mash a potato tbh.
My aps duties are as follows:
1. get up at 8 come down help with breakfast possibly do a school run.
2. 9/.930 (depending on whether she has done a school run or not). finish.
3.Until 1pm free.
4. pick up ds2 from nursery.
5. 3.30 pick up girls from school
6. 3.30-6 varies, but can be either just go home and give tea/play/get ready for bath, or go to dance clubs. I can be at home some days and others she is on her own. 6.30-7 off duty.
I pay £100 a week for this. Plus travel card.
I have a cleaner too.
this is fairly standard I think.
Now ds2 is at school until 3.30pm and I have a 4month old baby I am re-thinking my childcare, and will probably have an ap for the older children and get a childminder for the baby, or alternatively hire an experienced nanny for the lot of them.
In my experience it will be rare that you get the whole package - an ap will be good with the children/organising/cooking, but not all 3. fwiw I have a completely lazy and/or dim ap at the moment (leaving at xmas thankfully), but she loves the children and is good with them, and I am home anyway on mat leave. I know how frustrating it is to ask the ap to do something several times and it still not be done. I know how frustrating it is to feel you have another child in the house and not an extra pair of hands - if you feel like that, you should probably ask her to leave, but at the same time you are asking way too much from your current au pair, both in terms of hours, and duties (how can someone be tidying while doing tea etc for 2 very young children?).
Also, regarding your opinion on work ethic. Of course there is nothing wrong in expecting to someone to do their job to their best of their ability and put in extra effort and hours when they need to - however, please do remember for APs this is not their long term career plan so they probably don't have the same incentive as you and your career/business. APs who go the extra mile are actually quite hard to find!
Horsey, you'll be lucky to see this one off to the end of her contract. If she has 2 brain connected brain cells, she'll be out of your house the minute she finds somewhere else to go.
that's one "brain" too many :-)
Cut out the cleaning and hire a cleaner.
Change the cooking required - leave very clear step by step instructions and ingredients for slow cooker type food (curry, stew etc) I am sore she could manage to weigh or count ingredients, chop and dump them in a slow cooker 2 or 3 times a week. You could then easily cook past or rice to go with the meal when you get in. If food is the main thing you need help with, consider leaving very clear instructions one night a week for something like stir fry or fajitas for her to do the choping, and then you can do the actual cooking when you get in. One might har a take away. One might have left overs or something frozen from the weekend.
Isnt it illegal for AU pairs to be in sole charge of under 5s?
You are taking the piss.
You need an nanny, a cook and a housekeeper. think £500+ pwk not £80 + a broken car!
She is allowed to be ill FFS and the car being broken is YOUR fault not hers!
It isn't illegal for an AP to have sole charge of under 5's - the role is whatever is agreed.
re: work ethic. When I was at Uni I worked on the weekends from 6.am till noon in hotels making breakfast then cleaning rooms, then noon till 6pm working as a receptionist, then 6.30pm until 12 midnight selling cockles and washing up in a holiday club. Every saturday and sunday. Weeknights I had two other part time jobs. I did that gladly because I was getting paid the going rate for it. I earned enough to see me through college and get me a car and lessons on top. Work ethic is easy when you know you are valued and being treated fairly.
The problem here is that the pay works out at £2 per hour, and no-one will work these hours for that wage.
Not illegal for them to do under 5 sole charge, just not recommended.
I think you can find aps who go the extra mile - I have had 2 and both have been very good, but you need to recruit incredibly carefully. We had a trial weekend for ap 2, following advice on here, which was very helpful in recruiting her.
Still squiffy it is much more than £2 an hour because she is getting board and lodging as well.
I think your au pair needs a family with more realistic expectations.
I have cooked meals for the whole week, ready to freeze.
I have done all the ironing for the week including school uniforms.
I have washed everything, all laundry baskets emptied.
With the help of DH and dc we have dusted and hoovered the whole house and cleaned all the bathrooms.
I am now about to start doing all the computer work I didn't do on Friday because I was looking after the children.
So next week her schedule can look like this.
8am grab a coffee and some breakfast
8.15 am get the two DS's washed and dressed, herself at the same time.
8.40 drive DS's to school
9am -12noon own time.
12noon collect 4yo Ds1 from nursery. Sit on sofa reading her book and watching him play on his own until...
3.15 collect Ds2 from school
3.45 arrive home and sit on sofa reading her book watching ds1&2 play in front of the tv until 5pm when DH arrives home and assumes control of the dc's again.
6pm re-emerge from her room to eat dinner, prepared by me or DH.
What a lovely weekend.
Why don't you pay for some help?
It is far far more than £2/hr!!!! She has a car and full board and lodging, surely that counts for something, it's not free.
Sauvignonblanche - I thought I was.
You get what you pay for.
Her hours are a bit long for an au pair and she sounds miserable. Personally, having tolerated an annoying au pair for a year, I would say bin now.
Next time, adjust your expectations. Fewer hours but the housework tasks must be tackled.
They can rarely cook.
They are not paid a salary. All this hourly rate talk is wrong. They are given an allowance, meant to be part of your family and work alongside parents to run a home and take care of children.
OP, are probably going to have dificulties becuase you are in a rural location. And you are asking a bit too much.
OP, they don't work weekends usually.
Nkf, I have no expectations for her to work weekends, and never had. I would prefer it if she joined in family activities, we have invited her, but it's her time and she can fill it how she chooses. I would go quite mad sitting in my room all day, but each to their own.
I think here is a grey area on the living as part of a family though when it comes to weekends. My children are asked to wash up or help with this or that from time to time. The ap seems to think its ok to sit around and not lift a finger. I sort of expected she would wash up her own breakfast things for example, especially after I had just emptied the sink, I would in someone else's house. It's these little things that annoy. If I asked my dd to do a small task for me and she just ignored the request I would be ticked off. I would be doubly ticked off if I were paying her.
I am exhausted with all of this now. I accept that my expectations were too great and that the au pair system is heavily weighted in favour of the ap, not the hosts. I am not sure the benefits are greater than the costs, not just financial but having someone in your house creating more washing, cooking and cleaning and living like a princess. What is the point? We have asked our youngest today if she plays with him in the afternoons after nursery and he said she just sits in her room. He also asked if it would be ok to ask her to read him a story sometimes. I just feel sad. We tried so hard to find the right au pair, went through hundreds of profiles and it's just horrible.
Don't know where we go from here. Guess you live and learn.
So she is more or less a full time nanny being paid peanuts. Who also does cooking and cleaning. Not on really.
I didn't see your last post. Sorry. But I think you would be better with an employee who gets an hourly rate. Not an au pair. People with au pairs usually only expect three or four hours a day with only light duties and probably employ a cleaner and other help. Or work part time or even don't work at all outside the home.
Horsey - I haven't read everyone's posts, but I've read yours. I'm sure some of these have been brought up, but I wanted to add my 2c. (I have had nine au pairs stay with us over the past five years.)
- Yes, you have been expecting too much in terms of time and responsibilities. For example, my au pairs have done basic meals for the kids, and sometimes will offer to cook for both of us that night - although I don't expect it.
- They are not required to do any cleaning that isn't their room and bathroom. If any have done cleaning, I pay them a cleaner's rate, which only seems fair.
- When I first started hosting au pairs, I had underestimated just how young they are. Generally, they are quite messy - although there are exceptions - and I'm happy with that if they keep their mess to their rooms. They really need friends in a way that we might not when we get older. My role has often been as a mentor as well as an employer, and that part has been so incredibly rewarding: seeing young women arrive unsure of themselves, and watching them grow and have new experiences. I have seen break-ups in relationships, alcoholism and violence in families, problems with their friendships, unexpected family crises. You will be playing the role of a parent sometimes. If that's not what you signed up for, then you would be better off with a nanny.
- Nearly all of our au pairs missed their homes very much. It can be hellish for them settling into an entirely unfamiliar place, away from everyone and everything they love. They need some nurturing and compassion alongside the training and instructing.
- As an English-speaking South African, she is very probably used to having someone to clean for her, even perhaps cook, and it can be a steep learning curve to do those things for herself.
Jo I do find your attitude quite comic. We've heard lots about your marvellous work ethic and how very hard you work in your job. Why not use some of the spoils of that hard work to divvy up your varied and many household tasks appropriately rather than taking advantage of some poor kid who's just landed in a foreign country? If you are so very exhausted after cooking and freezing some food, imagine how the au pair must be after dealing with your endless list? rather ill in fact, isn't she?
Hire a cleaner, get an ironing service to collect & Deliver the ironing (au pair can arrange collection and delivery & be at home for you to deal with that).
YOu want as much childcare as a full time nanny provides, as much cleaning & ironing as I have two ladies for 4x hrs a week to do for sweet FA and then you're indignant that she doesn't want to hang with you at the weekend (in case you need some more errands run?). Breathtaking.
I think the system can work out very well - provided everyone is reasonable. She does sound a bit princessy and you needed more hours than is reasonable for an au pair.
The au pair does need to be a quick learner and someone who is not afraid to muck in. I was an au pair many many years ago and it is an amazing experience. I'd recommend it over any back packing gap year adventure. You really do learn another language and you are part of a foreign culture in a way that travelling around never gives you.
Also, they really do need to understand that their new family is not their old family. My last one - like I said, I wish I'd binned her sooner - had never done her own laundry. And she could cooked less well than my 12 year old. To be honest, the kids thought she was a drip.
My advice is get an au pair who has siblings and who has a mother who works/ed.
Personally, pre-school, I'd go for a nanny.
curious to know what some of the au pair families here do during school holidays as it seems a lot of families use them as sole charge childcare to cover for two f/t working parents. Do they drop off at holiday clubs or entertain them all day?
Bobbi, my aupair becomes akin to a nanny during school hols. She has them the full day (or takes them to hol clubs, playdates etc) for extra top up in her pay. Often, dh and I will take days off to spend with the children whereupon she has almost no duties. But she still gets the usual pocket money. She also takes pre-arranged hols during that time, particularly during the family hols.
My dcs are 9 and 6. It works pretty well.
No I don't expect that much at all. Read the previous posts before commenting.
Conflugen, I have had 7 aupairs but don't really recognise the parental role you describe. Many of my aupairs (the good ones) were independent and had their own social life. I rarely needed to act the confidant or enquire into their social lives. They did not particularly volunteer the information either.
One had depression/homesickness and she left after a few months. I don't think I could have been there for her as I am hardly in the house as it is.
None of my aupairs were above 20 years of age, often on a gap year. Hats off to all of them (the good ones, that is)!
I do agree with conflugen , but then I used to be a Uni pastoral tutor so am quite used to listening to the trials/tribulations of that age group.
And I am a hard nosed City worker so not used to pastoral care at all! I guess we find the aupairs that suit us.
Good point blue shoes! I think we create the relationship we are happy with. I just can't stop myself taking on a quasi motherly role and giving advice.
Asmy, I agree: my role with some (not all) of the au pairs I've had might be because I am a counsellor.
Ah, x-post with you too, blue. Yes, I do think there's some connection there, and that we get the au pairs that suit us. Tbh, I think we pick them on some unconscious level as well as a conscious one. One or two of my au pairs have been some of my greatest teachers, and the lesson wasn't always a comfortable one for either of us.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
my best au pairs have been mid-20s or above, usually with a uni education. my worse one was a 20 year old english girl.
i don't want another daughter, so would rather not have an AP i need to mother.
fwiw OP, I wouldn't be happy if my AP didn't interact with the children, and also would say something (and indeed did with current ap) if the ap reverted to guest/child mode at weekends - mine too used to leave her crockery out for example. Given that i don't expect my children to do that, I did say something.
I haven't read all of this but we used to have au-pairs - we had about four, one disaster. In my experience the very best were Swedish in context of language and cooking (Sweden is about 25 years behind the UK in the context of ready meals, etc., where they are not as much a part of the culture as here).
Our last au-pair was in 2009/10. Ours had their own large room and bathroom and were paid £80.00pw, had use of the phone (we have a good deal in international calls), a house mobile, one paid term of language classes, statutory holiday and pay, one paid return flight home. We live in zone 2 London. For that we expected:
About one hour each day of laundry
Collect children from school each day and cook their tea, sort out clubs, etc. between 3.30 and 6.30. Tea would be things like: pasta, nuggets, sausages, spag bol, popping a prepared shepherd's pie in the oven and cooking some veg, etc. I would not under any circumstances have expected them to cook for the family on a daily basis.
One night of babysitting, sometimes two
Full-time cover during half the school holidays with extra pay
Keeping the children's rooms tidy
loading and unloading the dishwasher
Odd jobs, such as drycleaning and shoe mending, etc.
We had a cleaner as well who came for four hours a week.
Apart from one all of ours stayed more than a year, made friends, and seemed to have a lovely time. It was hard work at the beginning but I used to make it very very clear from the beginning (before they came) what the expectations were.
I think there are two issues here OP - firstly, that your expectations are too much, and you are expecting an awful lot from a young girl for not much money. Secondly, the au pair is lazy, or at least not used to cleaning up after herself - while it's understandable that she finds your wishes for cooking meals overwhelming, she should at least be washing up her own breakfast things.
I would chalk this up to experience, and give her notice. Advertise again for an au pair doing before and after school/nursery childcare, simple meals for the kids and a bit of daily tidying, and hire a cleaner for the rest.
From what you have said I feel you are expecting far too much.
You could ask her what she is expecting to do op
Good basis for a chat
Tbh your schedule sounds why I imagine a nanny would do. She may well be lazy and not up to the job but I think you are asking too much.
Horseymumjo - i have read the whole thread, and my comments are based on what you have said your require. It's a cleaner plus nanny housekeeper you're after but you're doing on a fraction of the cost therefore getting a fraction of the service
I think think you are expecting too much, and also it is likely she is princessy.
South Africans are spoilt! I dont mean that in a bad way, I mean in terms of the service they receive compared to here. It is normal for people to have maids, and my cousins my age in South Africa who are single and living with parents etc dont do their own cooking and cleaning, their maid does it.
In petrol stations you don't have to get out of the cr, as soon as you pull up someone comes and fills the car up for you, does the gas and air for you, cleans your windscreen etc.
It would be a big change. Even though it is an English speaking county, there are still cultural differences.
Your revised schedule sounds OK Horsey. However if you want your AP to focus on looking after your dc for 6 hours per day, it isn't unreasonable to expect her to enage with your children more. Would your preschooler honestly be happy with playing on his own or with his siblings or watching the TV for 5 straight hours, and be content to just leave your AP reading??
See how it goes this week on your new schedule - but if she still isn't getting on with your dc, that would be a dealbreaker for me.
A family/AP relationship isn't weighted in favour of an AP either. Given the right person/attitude/expectations etc it can actually be very rewarding for both parties.
I have had aupairs for the last few years and all have stayed for at least a year so I think that what we ask is reasonable. My current aupair works between 25-30 hours a week plus 2 nights babysitting one of which is often a saturday night and I pay her £90
She gets up every morning at 7.30 and does the children's breakfast, makes their beds and twice a week takes them to school and nursery. Twice a week she picks up from nursery at 12.30 and has sole charge until 5.30. During this time she gives lunch, just sandwiches, takes him to the park or to a playdate with another aupair and her charge, picks up the older one from school, prepares an easy dinner for them (not for us) ie pasta with cheese, jacket potato and beans, sausages & veg etc and she will usually give the little one a bath on her sole charge days.
In addition she does 2 cleans a week, I don't have a separate cleaner, she also does all the DC's washing during the week (puts a load in the machine, then into the drier and either her or I fold it) and does about an hour a week of ironing.
I always have Romanian girls over the age of 21. I find them very pleasant, extremely hard working and they are often planning to stay in the uk permanently and don't appear to suffer from homesickness. Without exception they have been clean and tidy and I have never had to get involved with them emotionally.
I would reiterate concerns over having a South African aupair. If she is from a comfortable family it is highly likely she is used to having a full time maid looking after her and this is probably a big shock to the system.
TBH OP I don't think you come across that well. Your revised schedule just takes the piss.
8am grab a coffee and some breakfast (sure)
8.15 am get the two DS's washed and dressed, herself at the same time. (I assume that your 4 year old needs help and she has to make sure that the other one is sorted and I assume that she needs to give them breakfast???)
8.40 drive DS's to school
9am -12noon own time.
12noon collect 4yo Ds1 from nursery. Sit on sofa reading her book and watching him play on his own until... (ridiculous, clearly she has no hope in hell to read a book whilst your ds will play on his own for three hours, you are just taking the piss)
3.15 collect Ds2 from school
3.45 arrive home and sit on sofa reading her book watching ds1&2 play in front of the tv until 5pm when DH arrives home and assumes control of the dc's again. (again very unreasonable how you put it, she has no hope in hell to read a book whilst your kids are running amok)
6pm re-emerge from her room to eat dinner, prepared by me or DH.
It is clear you do not like your au pair, you think she is lazy. Fine, get rid of her, best for you and for her. Next time pay for what you need: a cleaner and a nanny.
I think the main problem isn't the au pair or the work ethic of the country, but your attitide OP.
Having read your posts I'm not at all surprised that the au pair is homesick and unhappy.
Well done by the way for cleaning your own house and doing your own laundry and cooking your own food this weekend.
Agree with others, you don't come across as very caring. Have you checked the contract? Does it say au pair or nanny, cleaner, cook and general slave?
Agree with everyone - you're expecting too much of the AP. You really need a nanny and a housekeeper, which would cost a lot more.
I know she replied to your ad, but really - it's too much for someone who has never run a house before, or looked after a family.
I do think it unfair to say the AP scheme is weighted in favour of the AP. From the stories i hear from our Ap's friend's it seems quite the opposite!
The bottom line is an AP is supposed to work 25 hours a week approx- in theory so they can do a language course. Even revised your hours are much more than that. I don't personally think that any of the jobs you have mentioned are that taxing of an AP- but there are too many of them all at once.
I know we are very lucky, but so far ( she has been here a month) our AP seems to be pretty good at all three areas- maybe cleaning being her weakest. (She has got the hang of it now, but the first time I asked her to hoover downstairs it took her 2.5 hours!!! It should take 20min max. It now takes her 25min.)
We pay at the lower end of the MN range at £65 pw, although locally we pay bang in the middle- her friends get paid £55-75pw. But she says her role is a lot easier than others where families seem to think their APs are house elves!
Our AP always has mornings free. She goes to college twice a week. Two days per week she takes DS2 for me for an hour or so during the early afternoon, to the park etc whilst I work from home. Aside from that she helps with after school routine with both DSs- homework, dinner bath and bed. Two days per week she has DS2 alone from 330pm til bedtime whilst DS1 is at after school activities. During the daytime during the week she hoovers upstairs, downstairs, changes boys bedding and does the odd bit of tidying/dusting. She does one of those jobs per day. That is all the stuff I ask of her during work hours.
Outside of work hours she is always v helpful, in terms of mucking in with washing up, loading dishwasher etc, help making dinner. I do appreciate that if she wasn't it would annoy me! But equally we treat her as an adult in the household, so most nights she watches tv with us, if we open a glass of wine we will ask her to join us, if we get a take away we will get her one too. I think it works both ways. I know that when we have had a crisis she goes above and beyond what she is supposed to do to help out. Eg when our dog was sadly put to sleep I was a total wreck, she took DS2 all day, she fed him, played with him, took him out, bathed and bedded him and I didn't need to worry about him.
Some of her friends are expected to work 7-8 hours per day. They are left extensive lists of housework jobs- things more suited to a cleaner. They are told to make their meals seperately and stay in their rooms in the evening. Several have had problems with the children not being accepting/downright rude and the parents don't support the AP. I think that is awful. The parents stand by and let the children be rude and don't tell them off etc. It must be awful as a young person in a strange country to be treated that way.
From your original description, what you want isn't an au pair, it's a FT nanny and a PT cleaner. A live-in nanny would also need lodging and use of a car, by the way, and would cost you a lot more than £80.
She also sounds as though she's not likely to be the world's greatest au pair either, that's true. But it's a secondary issue.
Wow! Threads like this really bring out the bring on the revolution elements of mn.
I would look into other options. My au pair was paid £100pw plus board and lodging, for less hours than yours. But still, it is like getting another grown up child.
But he is leaving us at the end of the week and I shall not be replacing him as my housekeeper is going to do extra hours and pick up from school on my office days. Even though she is going to be paid a lot more in terms of hourly rate I expect to be better off as I wont be running an extra car and feeding another mouth. And I would rather pay more to a responsible adult than have a sucession of othe peoples grown up children living with us
first i thought your ap was taking the piss from the title but after reading the posts, she isnt,you are op
you want and need a childcare from lunchtime to 5/6pm - as well as cleaning and cooking - this is not an ap role, you need a nanny/hk or nanny and cleaner and this will cost you more like £80 a day gross rather then £80 a week
regardless of hours/wages etc a 22yr should be able to cook basic stuff as casseroles/fish pie/lasagne etc
You would be amazed how many young people cant. I have only ever had one au pair who could cook - she was really good, but her mother was an awesome cook also.
Interestingly, my current au pair says ours is the only family he has ever been with where the children routinely help out in the kitchen, and have chores of their own to do. In every other household the children sat around and where waited on. IMO if we dont teach our own children to do houswork, why should we be surprised to meet a sucession of clueless young adults
out of my 3 APs, only one could cook. She was 19. The others were 20 and 25 and couldn't boil and egg between the both of them.
when i was 19 i could cook you curry but if you wanted anything else it might be an issue.
Gosh just read this thread and feel so sad for this au pair.
I used to be an au pair and worked 5 hours a day helping around the house and looking after the children. I was desperately homesick at first and pretty useless at everything but they treated me like a member of their family and taught me lots of new skills and I was then able to carry out any expected tasks. I ended up staying for a year and still keep in touch 16 years later! I now have children of my own and if anyone expected this of my daughter for £80 a week I would be horrified!
The revised list was a joke, obviously but more realistic than the first one.
Threads like this make me despair of MN, truly
You were paying her £1.60 an hour. Your revised schedule suggests paying her a princely £2.30 an hour. No wonder she's unhappy.
Why don't you just lock her in the basement and have done with it?
As for the 'gosh, I'm not surprised you have problems with a young woman from a fairly wealthy background, I employ Romanians for absolutely fuck all but they work really hard and they're dead grateful' post, you should be very ashamed of yourself.
The attitude to au pairs on this board quite often appals me. It's shameful
They are not paid by the hour. They are given pocket money. They are not be compared to a salaried employee. If you use an agency, it is made 100% clear that they are not employees.
They are given pocket money because it's not a proper job though, it's "helping out" while living with a family and learning English/experiencing a new culture. 40 hours a week of childcare/cleaning/cooking isn't helping out, it's a proper job.
Exactly. And here we have a situation where the host expects a job to be done and the au pair doesn't expect to help out.
nkf - if you're expecting a young woman to work 50 hours a week (as the OP was, she's now revised the hours down to around 35), and you're going to pay her 'pocket money', you're exploiting her.
And you should also be ashamed for thinking that's acceptable.
I think people are being a little harsh with laying into the OP here, can we not keep some boundaries? Would you speak to a person like this to their face?
Whilst I agree, in principal, that the expected work-load of the AP is high this doesn't excuse her attitude and, as someone has pointed out, she was informed of the job role and accepted it.
I think that it is reasonable to ask for the AP to cook for the children - maybe not EVERY day though - but is asking a lot to cook for the family.
I think that general, light housekeeping is again fair but it not if it gets in the way of looking after the children.
I think some people have fairly summarised APs roles well:
* do the school run
* cook some basic meals
* entertain the children (but not all day)
* do some light housekeeping
And I've only just turned 21 and am more than capable of cooking a full roast dinner for 8+ people and am astonished that people in their early twenties can't even cook pasta! Wha?!
I've said all along that I think the OP is expecting too much. I don't know what I'm supposed to be ashamed of.
'And I've only just turned 21 and am more than capable of cooking a full roast dinner for 8+ people and am astonished that people in their early twenties can't even cook pasta! Wha?! '
Everyone's different NotA, they come from different backgrounds, have had different experiences and opportunities. You should be so shocked to discover this.
Yes I would NotaChocolateRaisin.
I actually think, after years of reading AP threads on MN, that it should be made illegal or at least much more highly regulated. There's far too much potential for exploitation and while the majority of families are very nice to their APs and they become like elder sisters to their children, there are clearly a lot of people who use them as as a cheap source of labour.
And that's not acceptable.
There's no such thing as an au pair plus. That's just a nanny on the cheap. And nobody would give this girl a nanny's salary because she can't cook and spends time in her room rather than with the children. It's a total mismatch of skills, needs and expectations. That's all. It doesn't have to be some sort of class war number.
You implied that working a 40 hour week for 'pocket money' was acceptable nkf.
I'm in a funny situation here as I'm a Nanny so basically get a large(ish) salary to do what the OP is asking of her au pair (though with more work and hours etc) so I'm torn between respected the OP for being honest and asking AIBU but also cringing at the idea of getting a fifth of my weekly pay...
I've lived on my own with out parental support for almost 6 years which is my excuse for the cooking but I still can't believe that an adult can't cook an egg?!
Sorry nfk - I must have misunderstood. Chocraisin - you might be able to cook but as others have said, in S Africa, servants are very common so cleaning and cooking are not expected
Used to work in SA so understand that.
I'm commenting not on this AP but of the other 20 somethings mentioned, many of whom I imagine are British.
I don't think you can do an hourly rate unless you are including as part of the salary the value of board and lodging. Generally in London this is thought to be the equivalent of £100-150 per week.
For instance, I have a 23 year old experienced nanny living in and doing 15 hours and one babysit a week for which I am paying her £90. On top of that I pay for her mobile, all her food, bills and she has a room and bathroom in central London. This would be costing her around £150 so you could say I'm paying her the equivalent of £240 which works out as a great hourly rate. Or if you don't include the benefits of board and lodging, you could say I'm paying her £6 an hour plus the babysit which isn't very good.
That said, the cleaning she does is entirely separate hours to the childcare and I would never expect them to be done at the same time. And I'm paying £90 for 15 hours and live in prime central London so there are a lot of people who'd be interested in doing it. And I absolutely would never expect her to cook for anyone but the children, unless she makes a big batch of soup and offers it to me.
Oh dear, poor Jo! I do feel sorry for her with some of these rather nasty comments!
I don't think we need to be horrid, just weigh in with calm thoughts. The au pair issue changes from family to family - and if you agree something before they start, then fair enough. So, our au pair (we live in London) does 25 hours per week, 2 evenings babysitting for £100pw. The 25 hours includes 7 hours cleaning on Tuesdays, getting the children up at 7am on Saturday and hanging out with them till 10am so we can lie in, about 3 hours laundry, and the rest of the time she plays with children (2.5 years and 7 months) / takes them out and so on. She doesn't work after 10 on Saturday, or sunday or Monday. Rest of time she works 6-7 hours per day. She has sole charge a LOT of the time.
She and I are very matey - glass of wine in evening, buy her takeaway every sunday, discuss films, sometimes family outings. She certainly doesn't feel exploited because I made it clear from the beginning - so that's fine. There is no one way of doing it with an au pair, and I think some of you should cut Jo some slack. We are not in school!
I think board and lodging in London could be more than £150/week. My lodger used to pay £650 per month plus bills.
Board and lodging is only half relevant. Central London a full time live in nanny is looking at £400 ish a week and a live out nanny £500-550. So yes there is a difference but a live in nanny recieves food/ lodging/ car use etc the same as an aupair but for 4/5 times the salary.
But a nanny is not usually 18, with no childcare experience, can't cook and only speaks reasonable English.
I agree aps are often not well treated btw - I am shocked by some of the stories our ap tells me.
Bottom line is, op expected her au pair to cook a family meal for six people every night on top of all her other duties ... and that is just unrealistic. Could she have done it?
Wow, OP you expect a lot for very little money.
To give you some context, I pay a CM to look after DS (3.75) for 2.5 days a week (23 hours childcare, of which he is at nursery approx 8 hours) I provide his food, drop him off & pick him up. For this I pay £125 per week.
I am horrified how little au pair's are paid
A nanny can def be 18. Maybe not top end of the scale but still. I have known many 18 year olds, full one nanny, on average nanny pay scale, live in, cook for children, none scrub the house!
Actually I have been the 18 year old full time nanny. 3 month old twins, a 2 year old and 3 year old. Baked bread and cooked from scratch every day, stayed 6 years so can't have been too bad.
alice298- thought of namechanging to slavedriver?
alice - you really need to work on your maths skills. 6 hours Tues-Fri = 24 (6x4=24). Add 3 hours on a Saturday am and a couple of evenings babysitting and you're way over 25 hours and another person exploiting young women.
I don't feel sorry for you or Jo. I do feel sorry for your APs. The way you talk about them is scarily like people used to talk about their servants, treating them as if they should be grateful to live in a nice house with your lovely family. Yuck
Except that these 'servants' (I am just quoting you Dowager, because aupairs are not servants at all) can leave at any time without any notice whatsoever.
So whatever alice is doing to these women, it must somehow suit them, funny that.
Yup tues to fri =24 hours
Sat= 3 hours
Babysitting x2= prob 4 hours each night min 3 (6-8)
Total = between 33-35 hours
Not sure what this fixation with hours is about. I pay my aupair to work 35 hours a week. She is still here after more than a year. This was made abundantly clear in the hiring process and she accepted.
She does not want to attend English lessons (her English is good). She prefers to go clubbing and shopping with her friends. If she wanted to leave tonight, I could not stop her. But I am totally grateful to her for each day she stays because she allows me to go to work ft every day.
blueshoes - I would feel horribly exploitative paying someone far less than minimum wage to look after my kids who are the most precious thing in the world to me.
That's why I don't have an AP. I pay someone a reasonable living wage so that I can work FT.
Dowager, I never put you down as someone who ever had an aupair.
Once children are of a certain age, a nanny is not necessarily a suitable form of childcare. Aupairs fill the gap and it can work very well for both parties.
Dowager, as for less than minimum wage, you must have missed the posts who described the cost of food and lodging.
The job that most directly competes with aupairing is bar work. Those jobs are not live in and they pay a minimum wage with tips. But you still get women preferring to aupair for pocket money and food, a nice room within a domestic set up, rather than a bedsit or flatshare.
Horses for courses. It is not exploitative. My aupair can leave to become a waitress any day, but she does not.
The day I find a nanny who enjoys playing football for 3 hours at a time with my son and has no problem with ironing my husband's shirts, and who cheerfully babysits on a Saturday night (so long as there is a fine pizza in the offing) then I'll probably switch to that nanny.
In the meantime I will continue to treat AP as a very valued assistant in the family.
Dowager, "blueshoes - I would feel horribly exploitative paying someone far less than minimum wage to look after my kids who are the most precious thing in the world to me."
Well, my children are precious to me too. If you saw the rapport between my children and the aupairs, you would not ever make such a sly dig at another ft working parent. That is an insult to the lovely relationships between these young women and my dcs, whom we welcome into our family.
The reason a nanny won't iron your husbands shirts is because a nanny is a childcare professional. Unless your husband is under around 12 I wouldn't say he is included. Send then to an ironing service or iron yourselves.
As a nanny. This year alone I have spent almost £4000 on qualifications. I do not do this to iron shirts.
I also don't work sat eves on a regular basis as I also have a family and a life so adding another day and hours to my already (60-70hr weeks) is not a perk at all to me.
Au pairs work very well for the work they were original used for ( afternoon care ( 3-6) and an eve babysitting in exhange for pocket money and an introduction to language and culture. Most other options I'm afraid don't work.
Squiffy/blueshoes - I think you're probably lovely AP employers. I've read a lot of your posts before Squiffy on the subject and you're clearly hugely experienced and very kind and welcoming to your APs and make them feel part of the family.
No, I've never employed an AP but I do read threads like this and despair. Plain lazy for struggling to cook for a family of 6? I'm sure neither of you would ever expect that.
I don't have an issue with the idea of APs per se (whatever my posts on this thread might imply!) but I think it needs an acceptance from the family that they are integrating another person into their lives/households who has different tastes/needs and they should be acknowledged. And asking them to do tons of cleaning or work very, very long hours and then complain when they don't do stuff properly is a bit silly and/or exploitative.
If the AP is being properly made part of the family, if the family have paid for language lessons, if the AP have enough time to make friends and have a truly enriching experience, then I think it's brilliant for everyone. But there are loads of threads on here where someone is expecting far too much for far too little. Cheap labour leaves a nasty taste in my mouth, even if the AP is happy to do it. Employing someone from a country where the national wage is very low and paying them a wage that is considered reasonable in that country while expecting them to work very long hours/do jobs that normally command much higher income is still exploitation, however much they don't complain.
ps Squiffy - While I get what you mean about proper nannies, my 'nanny' plays football in the park with DS (nearly 6). She will stand for a very long time in the pouring rain watching him play on his trampoline and will play wii and car games with him for hours. She's absolutely ace, he loves her and so do I.
And I agree, I have spent every day this week out in the park with a ball, digging for worms in the woods and going on ' bear hunts' in the rain 90% of the time. Most nannies I know have done the same
As I understand it, au pairs are traditionally are expected to work about half normal working hours (say 20 pw) so that they can study the language, either in the morning or afternoon. For this they get board, lodging and pocket money. If your au pair is doing 35 hours or more per week for you then they are some other kind of domestic servant.
So Dowager, shall I give my aupair her marching orders then because it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Perhaps you can explain that to her.
Not all aupairs are here to learn English. In fact, most of my aupairs already came to me with reasonably good English (it is one of my criteria because I am not in the house a lot and need to give instructions over the phone). Only 2 out of the 7 aupairs I have had wanted to attend English lessons.
There is no classical notion of an aupair that we need to adhere to. Just persons with different reasons for wanting to aupair and for which aupairing suits them at this point in their lives.
What does your current au pair want out of coming here blueshoes?
No idea, blueshoes. No idea on what basis you employ your AP
Mintyy, when we interviewed her, she said she wanted to do a childcare course. I have sent her the information but she has not really taken steps in that direction. I reckon she is hoping to meet the love of her life at some point but it is not for me to speculate. She is certainly very attractive.
I have just copied and pasted this from the first website that came up when I googled au pair
"Au Pair (25-30 hours per week including babysitting)
On duty approx. 5 hours per day, 5 days per week
Babysitting can be 2 evenings per week
Free time minimum 2 full days and 3 evenings
Recommended minimum pocket money from 260 per month in Europe to $180 per week in Australia.
Limited light housework
No sole care for children under 2
Extra hours for au pairs in Australia are paid at a minimum of $7 per hour.
Note to all au pairs - During summer holidays you may be asked to do extra hours.Holiday pocket money should reflect the extra hours."
Does this reflect what op and other au pair users on this thread are offering?
Ooo...I wish i could spend my days outside with a football (rain or no rain)
I have spent all week this week spending my 12-13 hour days wiping away snot, cleaning up unspeakable messes, giving cuddles, providing drinks and making very VERY laborous meals that don't get eaten and watching many, many, many episodes of Post Man Pat with cuddles on the sofa.
The joys of looking after a sick child... I need to get out of the house!!
It doesn't reflect what the OP wanted, no, mintyy.
50 hours a week of sole charge for four children including cleaning, ironing and cooking for the whole family for £80.
not sure if anyone will see this. I have a new ap now as the last one decided to go home (unsurprisingly really).
I have changed my expectations and have only asked this new ap to look after the two younger children from 8am getting ready for school and the school run. When she gets home at 9am she washes up the breakfast things, and hangs out a basket of laundry, then she is free from about 9.30 until 12 when she collects ds2 (who is 4). at 3.30 she collects ds1 (who is 5) from school. My 2 older daughters are 13 and 14 and the ap is not responsible for them at all, they look after themselves and they help her with the two boys.
She does not hoover, dust, clean or cook at all. I cook all the dinners every evening or prepare meals in advance and reheat, or my husband cooks when I am away on business or will be home late. All the children have packed lunches (even the one who comes home for lunch so the ap doesnt have to do it) and we prepare their breakfasts. I have also paid for her to attend language classes twice a week (one evening, one morning, and so she is excused from her morning duties that day). She also has the sole use of a car, fully expensed including fuel, plus a mobile phone and a sat nav. She receives £80/wk pocket money. When I have calculated out the value of the package (car, board/lodging, language classes and pocket money) it is in excess of £15k/pa, or an hourly rate of £7.70, well in excess of the national minimum wage, and very respectable for someone with no qualifications, and only a rough grasp on the local language.
I am not a demon, and I am trying very hard to not ask her to do too much. This afternoon I cam home from work unexpectedly early to find her lying on the sofa (facing away from the ds's who were two inches from the telly) under two blankets. The sofa cushions were on the floor, there were toys all over the floor, juice cups tipped up and leaking juice on the floor and one of the table lamps was broken. I bit my tongue, and began preparing supper when she got up, told me she was bored with watching the Polar Express with ds2 in the afternoons on Sky+ and that she was going to her language class and then left, leaving me to clean up the mess. When she first arrived (3 weeks ago) I gave her a long list of possible activities she could do with him, from swimming at the local pool (she attends aquafit here in her time off so it is very accessible), baking cakes, playdough, football, painting, reading, colouring so feel she could perhaps suggest to the 4yo that there were other more fun things that they could do. She has said she is bored a few times, and we have tried suggesting things she could do, but other than taking time off work to tour guide her about there is not alot more i can do. At the interview stage she said she loved to get out and about and be very active, which was what we wanted, but am not seeing much evidence of this yet.
Is this really what other people's ap's do? I really dont want another barrage of comments that I am an unreasonable slave driving witch, but constructive comments would be helpful.
That does sound a bit Crap, not talking from personal experience tho
You should probably start a new thread for this.
She sounds awful. Give her a warning and start looking for someone else.
Oh Horseymunjo it sounds as though you have had really bad luck. I've never had an AP myself but will need one next year so this thread fills me with foreboding.
No idea what to suggest, other than perhaps you have just struck v v unlucky? Is your AP lonely? Has she made any other AP friends?
That one is lazy.
I think the only indicator is prior experience and references but then you need to remember that they are not trained childcarers, they need handholding (both of which you've put measures in place for as much as you can) and they sometimes just can't be arsed.
I've had two au pairs and am a single mum to an 18 month DD, I work mostly from home and a day a week out of home when my DM looks after DD. At the weekends I usually see my DP who helps with cooking and will take DD for a walk to the park so I can work.
The first au pair came for 6 months and then left to go to university after 7 months. We extended by a month by mutual agreement and stayed in touch. She did 25 hours per week of duties listed below, childcare consisted of taking the (then) baby to massage once a week and monthly swimming sessions or playing with her while I worked, and then helped with meal preparation (initially chopping, in her last months could prepare simple meals from scratch) while I bathed DD and did evening routine baby stuff. In the evenings she babysat two evenings per week (I was home, lots of my work is on Skype, but it meant someone was in while I was speaking to clients in case the baby woke up. She only woke once in six months on a work evening, but it was peace of mind).
The regular duties were:
Three mornings per week, getting DH's nappy changed, help with getting her dressed, assist with giving her breakfast and getting milk prepared
Load and unload dishwasher
Sweeping the kitchen and hallway floors at the end of each day
Clearing the kitchen after meals.
Cleaning the baths, basins and shower in her own and DD's bathrooms.
Keeping DD's highchair clean and disinfected
DD's laundry and ironing
Putting away DD's clothing in cupboards
Tidying the nursery
Light shopping eg buying milk or bread on rare occasions (not weekly shopping)
Help in preparing family meals as explained above
She came on family outings with DP if she wanted to, and on holiday with us for ten days, which we all enjoyed. We made sure she had the same amount of free time on holiday to do fun things and gave her lifts to the pub, music gigs etc. If she worked more than her hours (again rare), I paid her at standard babysitting rates, not minimum wage. For 12 hours a week she went to language school, made friends, had an active social life and babysat for some other families on her five evenings off. She never worked weekends.
The second au pair lasted six weeks. She declined to do most of the above, sulking, refusing and crying, complained it was 'demeaning' and it was like having another child to look after. All she was prepared to do was play with DD while I did everything else. She ate massive amounts of food, often four large meals a day plus endless snacks, trebled the weekly shopping bill, criticised me for not having potty trained a 14 month old baby and said it was demeaning to ask her to change nappies, was rude and obnoxious and left me feeling exploited. She had her parents on Skype constantly and it felt as if we were on Big Brother with them watching DD and me in the kitchen, which I objected to. In the end, after a lot of trying to settle her in, show her the country, take her on outings, too many tears (hers daily, and eventually mine), I asked her to leave. She was abusive to me and I'm sorry to say, that experience put me off.
I paid both of them £75 per week, plus meals, money for take away once a week, £50 on pre paid supermarket card for treats, local bus season ticket and for any social things they did with us.
Can you set up a timetable of activities and see if that motivates her, also your DS might be fefusing her many suggestions and she doesn't want to upset him.
It sounds like you've gone from expecting a bit too much, to expecting far too little. Plus she's lazy, obviously.
This is an epic tale
Op, I'm so pleased you've changed your conditions, but maybe now you have to get a bit firmer. New one sounds lazy
The new one sounds as though she needs a really firm talking to and then a warning. Might get her to buck up a bit.
I have had a gentle talk with her this evening when she returned from her language class , saying I was disappointed and lounging on the sofa while the DS's are glued to the tv isn't really acceptable or what I expected. She looked suitably embarrassed and apologetic, think she knew it was coming, and I don't honestly think she will do it again. On the whole she has been much better than the last one, and I will put today down to just her having a bad day, I guess we are all allowed those.
Bettyintheburbs - sounds like your first ap was fab, and your second just like my first!
It has been very eye opening as to just how young and incapable they are at 20-something. For example, current ap loves jumping in puddles, which my teenage girls have long since grown out of. They are very unworldly and I had originally underestimated this, expecting them to be much more capable. I had also underestimated how many life skills I have acquired through the 20years of life I have had more than them. I think we will find a happy medium, but it's a fine line to tread and it isn't easy!!
Thank you all for your comments x
I have no idea about APs; we have a nanny and have done for the last 18 months or so. I am quite shocked at how rubbish they seem... my gut reaction is sack her and get a nanny! We pay £10/hr gross for our nanny in central London, and she is excellent, I can't fault her. I don't know where you are but maybe if you pay a bit more you could get someone who will feed the children, play with them and even cook once in a while for you?! (Ours cooks for our LO but not for us, although she has occassionally put something in the oven for us. She claims she can't cook but she can). She is 26 ish though.
It's been an eye-opener for me; I thought that in the future we might get an AP as they're cheaper but I think that the extra you spend with nanny is worth it considering the difference in care.
By coincidence in a cafe I met a local nanny who has had her hours cut due to redundancy in one of the parents that she has worked for the last 12 years. She has been looking for local regular work for the other days but in the meantime is doing ad hoc childcare. I've got a cleaner, and am taking on a uni student to come and do the light household stuff the au pair used to do, for min wage plus some the au pair's perks and am paying £8/ hr to the nanny and her friends who are nannies without full time work due to the recession. All have had their days reduced. I am also using a trio of babysitters who are all local nursery nurses and I pay them £10/ hour for occasional evening babysitting. If DH is asleep, they do a boring but essential admin job for me, usually sticking labels on envelopes, which I make sure is part of the deal. I leave treats (and a glass of wine) in the fridge, feel that housework is being done by someone who wants to so doesn't find it demeaning and that childcare is being provided by people who are more experienced. I can also have breakfast in my PJs at midday on Saturdays without having a teenager looking at me sideways, bring my DH up the way I believe is right without having to defend it to a school leaver and am generally a happier mummy. It took a lot of organising but so does finding an au pair. Financially I am far better off.
he likes breakfast at midday too
And having his nappy changed
New ap doesn't sound much better then old one - they aren't here to be a skivvy but equally they are meant to be pulling their weight and if she doesn't help with cooking or cleaning at all - then what is te point of her working for you?
IME unless you are lucky, APs will only do what they are told. So I always have a schedule - eg Monday - swimming, Tuesday - park, wed - softplay. If you ever give lazy APs a choice, many of them will default to doing nothing.
These days I even have a food rota so that the AP has to do proper food and can't default to fish fingers three days a week.
Wow I feel so lucky with my last two au pairs! - both French and both really fantastic. It did take about two months to get the recent one on board with what I needed doing but the arrangement is working very well now. I do find you have to invest alot the first 6-8 weeks in terms of both explaining what you want done, tweaking in respect of their particular skills etc and your expectations and giving them the help they need finding their feet. I always allow them to have some friends come to visit fairly early on as it means they feel you are supporting their experience (which is to come and see the host country) however I also expect them to manage the overall task and get used to doing things in their free time without me providing the lead.
I have also been lucky that there are a couple of other families in my area with aupairs who apparently expect far more from their au pairs than I do, are not as easy going when it comes to having a laugh etc, kids are not dealt with when they answer back/ignore the au pairs requests. So overall I try to keep my au pairs happy, treat them with respect but then lay down clear expectations on what I want and how I want it done but only expect whats fair. I always pay on time and I make time to find out how things are going with her life, her friends her family. I insist my children show the au pairs respect and also remind them that they are lucky to have good ones (we have had a very dodgy one before) they dont want to go to after school clubs etc so they do get that this is the best option all round for them. They also dont want to reduce our lifestyle by me working less so basically everyone has signed up with the plan. Current au pair has loads of friends, English has come on fantastically well (more than her friend who came at the same time but got a job in a shop) and I also think her indpendence skills have come on great. She did have a protective family but I do think this year will do her alot of good which is all the things she said she wanted when I asked her in interview what she wanted from the experience. It is so tricky getting it to work but I do now spend alot of time getting into the detail of what is a good match for our household. I also get my outgoing au pair to interview the incoming applicants which works really well as she can be dead honest about all my stuff good and bad. She also tells me who is a no no based on what they say to her and their type of reaction.
Sorry to hear about OPs experience but I guess it just goes to show how much work you have to put into making the selection but when you get it right it can really work very well and help a stressed working parent have a better quality of life.
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