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AIBU Au Pair

(22 Posts)
Childcarewoes Mon 03-Oct-11 23:54:55

Unsure whether I'm being unreasonable or whether our au pair is treating us like a hotel. He is very happy to play with DS but doesn't even bother to ask about his day, what he had for lunch etc. This is the one thing that we have made explicit that he should do everyday without fail. I found out today that DS didn't even eat his lunch but the au pair didn't know anything about it as he hadn't bothered to ask - that means DS went 8 hours without food to be given half a chocolate spread sandwich for snack after school. sad Just received a text to say that he's sleeping at a friend's tonight but will be back in the morning. Is that acceptable? Normal behaviour of an au pair? Or am I being taken for a ride?

worraliberty Mon 03-Oct-11 23:58:14

Why didn't your child eat his lunch?

Surely if he was hungry he would have told the Au Pair?

How old is your DS?

LaurieFairyCake Mon 03-Oct-11 23:58:53

Eh? Is he supposed to have fed him lunch???

Not a problem him staying elsewhere unless he's working.

Childcarewoes Tue 04-Oct-11 00:01:26

He didn't like the sandwich he selected for his school dinner. He's 4 yrs old and just started reception so a lot of change. DS doesn't always say when he is hungry as he sees eating as a chore and time that could be spent playing.

Childcarewoes Tue 04-Oct-11 00:02:59

LFC, no not fed him but asked what he had and how much so that if he didn't eat enough more food would be offered when he got home.

worraliberty Tue 04-Oct-11 00:03:27

Ahh but I guarantee you if he was really hungry the Au Pair would know about it wink

I don't know what to say. I suppose you pay his wages so he should reasonably do what you ask.

You'll have to take it up with him again.

Childcarewoes Tue 04-Oct-11 00:05:28

Worra, I guess I'm worried that if au pair can't remember to do v simple thing like that after 2 weeks of being with us that it's downhill from here.

slavetofilofax Tue 04-Oct-11 00:05:33

Your ds will have been offered fruit at some point in the day, so it's unlikely that he went for that long without eating.

I don't see the problem with him staying out.

While he should check that your ds isn't hungry, I don't think an au pair should be required to ask about the details of your ds's day. Your ds will offer the information if he wants to, but it's your job to chat to him about the school day.

notjustme Tue 04-Oct-11 00:06:02

If your DS is at school then I am sure he is also capable of telling someone he is hungry. I'm not sure whether or not you are BU or NBU - he is an au pair, that doesn't inherently mean he has to be completely tuned in to your DS's every need if your DS is old enough to tell him that he is hungry, but equally, if you've specifically put it in his list of 'jobs' that he's to ask, then he's not doing them.

It's hard to get a firm grasp on this as there must have been an exchange between au pair and your DS after school - it's possible your DS told him he didn't want more than a small snack.

I don't think you can dictate whether he stays at a friends or not if it is not during working hours - providing he is back and fit for work at the time he is meant to, then he has to be allowed to have a life.

worraliberty Tue 04-Oct-11 00:09:59

Yes, re the staying at a friend's house

He's allowed a life outside of work surely?

Childcarewoes Tue 04-Oct-11 00:11:49

Thank you for putting it in perspective! I feel a bit better. Thank you.

notjustme Tue 04-Oct-11 00:12:27

Tbh if someone instructed me that I ought to care about how someone's day went when I had only known them for two weeks I would probably not do it either - it's not necessary for his health or safety, you have to let their relationship build naturally rather than force the issue, the au pair is not there to be your replacement, he is there to keep him safe and supervised until you are there to take over and tidy the house a bit.

WilsonFrickett Tue 04-Oct-11 00:14:35

Emmm... I'm a SAHM. when my DS started school and I asked him how it went, he said 'fine'. When I asked what he ate he said 'everything'. THEY DON'T TALK ABOUT SCHOOL. So your au pair is just doing what you would be ding , honest.

lesley33 Tue 04-Oct-11 00:19:06

I don't see any problem with an au pair staying out - the au pair is an adult. As an adult you wouldn't have been happy if your boss had been unhappy about you being away from your house overnight.

But au pairs are not supposed to be experienced child carers. If you want high quality childcare I think you need to pay for it. Au pairs are supposed to help with child care, but do not need any experience or training.

TBH I get annoyed at people expecting an au pair to behave like an experienced and qualified childcarer, but only willing to pay au pair wages. imo you need to be realistic in your expectations.

But I don't think there is an issue in a DC not eating lunch or even dinner as well for a day. I think it is good if DC only eat when they are hungry rather than like many people (including me) over eating and getting fat.

sunnydelight Tue 04-Oct-11 02:27:58

I think expecting an AP to do the whole "how was your day, did you eat your lunch" thing is a bit unrealistic (rather than unreasonable) tbh. APs rarely actually WANT to look after kids, it's just something they have to do in order to spend time in the UK. He's probably thinking "if the kid is hungry, he'll tell me". Why not make it idiot proof - tell the AP to give your son a snack (and specify EXACTLY what, e.g. piece of fruit, ham sandwich and a glass of milk) when he comes out of school. If your son doesn't want it he can say so.

If you want your child to be taken care of by a qualified childcare worker with the higher standards that will come with that they you need a nanny or a CM or send him to an after school club.

Bubbaluv Tue 04-Oct-11 02:39:30

I sometimes forget to check what DS had for lunch, and I've been doing it for years! Wth our AuPair I found a white-board with a schedule and list of required jobs was really helpful. Maybe have a tick boc that the AuPair ticks when he has made sure your DS has had enough to eat.

SaffronCake Tue 04-Oct-11 02:49:02

First au pair? You sound like you're generally just worrying to be honest. No one loves your kids like you do, so no one's ever going to come up to your standards. At what level are someone else's standards good enough? Do you need to be thinking childminder or nanny instead of au pair to get the standards you want? He seems quite normal for a young person left in charge of kids, not uncaring, just not as switched on as Mummy or a professional. That he wants to spend his time off socialising is only natural, that's what I spend my time off doing, don't you?

justadreamaway Tue 04-Oct-11 07:32:37

Maybe have a tick box that the au pair ticks when he has made sure your DS has had enough to eat.

You should definitely do this, in my experience young adults respond really well to being patronized by their employers.

jendifa Tue 04-Oct-11 07:38:47

DO you want the au pair asking DS how his day went, or asking his teachers?

MilkNoSugarPlease Tue 04-Oct-11 08:40:01

I have 4 charges, 3 of which are at school....whether its the one in reception, yr 5 or yr 7 the conversations are identical

"How was school?!"


"What did you do?"

"Nothing (I sometimes get "school stuff" as a variation!)"

"What did you have for lunch?"

"Ummmmmmmmmmmm can't remember"

Kids just don't generally talk about the boring stuff from school!
I don't always ask anymore because frankly o get much more detailed answers when we talk about a paving stone!

The fact that your au pair didn't ask is probably because there were far better things to talk about! Believe me, you'd give up asking every single day after a month!

If your DS was hungry then your Au pair would know about it!!

YoFluffy Tue 04-Oct-11 08:46:25

Is your child happy with the Au Pair? Is he safe?

An Au Pair is a cheap childcare option and can work well (I've had 3, 1 who I wish I could have cloned, 2 were useless). An Au Pair won't always be a surrogate mum, they're often just kids themselves and they certainly don't get the wage of a qualified nanny.

As others have pointed out, the Au Pair is also an adult and not tied to your house, he's allowed friends, a social life as long as he's there within the hours agreed.

Don't expect perfection, if you can get 60% then I'd say you've done well.

Bubbaluv Tue 04-Oct-11 08:48:47

young adults respond really well to being patronized by their employers.

In my expereience most teenagers want to do the right thing, but they are only expereienced in looking after themselves. Their needs being v different to a small child's I find they get some reasurance in having a To Do List to refer to so that they don't inadvertantly miss doing a job which seems minor or irrelevant to them, only to discover it is V important to thier employer.
In ANY new job for any new employee a clear list of tasks and some guidance can be really useful.

I've had TO DO Lists provided when I started new jobs and they are bloody useful so you can tick off your required tasks and be sure you are meeting the basic expectations. I never felt patronised becuase they were presented as an aid for my benefit not as an assumption of my stupidity.

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