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AIBU to not want to wash the au pair's dishes?!

(73 Posts)
WhatIsSleep123 Mon 18-Mar-19 20:32:36

We just got an au pair for the first time and I'm not sure what to expect so would love some help please. I'm particularly interested if you have had au pairs before.
The au pair arrived last week to allow for one week of settling in, getting to know the area, etc.
Today was her first day and I am not very impressed. She just put her things in the sink and go to sit down on the sofa on her phone. Is it normal?
Does it mean that know I will have even more housework than before?
AIBU to not want to wash her dishes?

Smoggle Mon 18-Mar-19 20:35:42

You need to tell her what you want her to do.
Don't expect her to guess/know.
Don't assume her family and upbringing are exactly like yours.

Eg "after breakfast please put your plates in the dishwasher"
"I will cook dinner every evening, then you and the children can clear the table"

honeylulu Mon 18-Mar-19 20:38:59

Arghh! Our nanny does this! Maddening to cone home from work to a pile of spaghetti coated bowls dumped in the sink with a token bit of cold water and having to tackle them before I can cook. Yuk!
We've got a dishwasher and I often remind her the stuff can go straight in but she "forgets" apparently.

However she's worked for us for 14 years and is a godsend in lots of ways so I'm picking my battles.

I would be much firmer with an au pair. They are supposed to be treated like a family member. My teen would not dare do that!

WhatIsSleep123 Mon 18-Mar-19 20:40:09

@Smoggle this is exactly what my mum said. I don't have a dishwasher, so should I expect her to wash her own things? Or should I wash them together with everything else?
When I was younger, I wanted to be an au pair and know for sure I would be offering to help if I saw the hosts busy in the kitchen.
Maybe I should look into au pair's responsibilities and give her something with what we expect of her, etc.

HennyPennyHorror Mon 18-Mar-19 20:42:05

You should expect her to wash them. If you had a teenaged dd who did this, you'd soon stop her.

Just say "Please don't leave dirty dishes in the sink...wash them when you're finished"

WhatIsSleep123 Mon 18-Mar-19 20:44:56

@honeylulu I'm sorry to hear you have to go through something similar. As she's been with you for so long, it seems that it is working.
Exactly, they are meant to be treated like family. I was telling my DC to do the recycling, help with the dustpan and brush, etc, hoping that she would offer to help too, but nothing, didn't take her eyes from her phone. My mum said that maybe I should also ask her to help the same way that I ask my own DC.

Smoggle Mon 18-Mar-19 20:45:44

Yes, you need to be crystal clear with her about what you expect. Write it all down.

I'd expect her to wash her own breakfast and lunch things.
Dinner - in my house the person who cooks doesn't clear up.

WhatIsSleep123 Mon 18-Mar-19 20:46:13

@HennyPennyHorror how about after family meals when there are other plates, cups, cutlery, etc in the sink? Should I also ask her to wash hers as she's not offering to help?

WhatIsSleep123 Mon 18-Mar-19 20:49:12

@Smoggle that's how it has always been here too. If you cook, you can rest when someone else is washing up. Hubby usually cooks as he's home from work earlier, I usually do the washing up, but he was then drying everything. It didn't seem fair on him. I told him I could dry after, but we were running out of space in the drying rack.

thedisorganisedmum Mon 18-Mar-19 20:49:23

Often you do need to treat your au-pair like a teenager!

Have very clear rules
Give very precise and very detailed instructions

Of course it's not unreasonable at all to expect her to clean her own dishes. She should also clean the kids dishes when she is babysitting them. Much less reasonable to expect her to clean yours, an au-pair is not a cleaner.

The very least she needs to do is clean after herself! Her dishes, change her own bedsheets, do her own laundry etc.

Scarydinosaurs Mon 18-Mar-19 20:51:31

If you haven’t told her, how can she know what to do?

Has she got a clear list of her duties? What are the terms of your arrangement?

thedisorganisedmum Mon 18-Mar-19 20:51:41

how about after family meals when there are other plates, cups, cutlery, etc in the sink?

Maybe do a roster, so once a week it's her turn to clean the dishes for example, so she is helping, rather than giving her all the chores.

WhatIsSleep123 Mon 18-Mar-19 20:51:45

@thedisorganisedmum It's only been a week, but I think I started doing too much for her. Asking if she wanted tea when I was making my own tea, washing her clothes with our clothes, washing her dishes in the sink, etc. I don't expect her to wash my dishes, not at all, but I don't want to wash hers either.

Smoggle Mon 18-Mar-19 20:52:16

At the end of the meal just say "thanks for a lovely meal Dave, kids can clear the table, I'll wash up and Anna you can dry the dishes and put them away".

WhatIsSleep123 Mon 18-Mar-19 20:54:05

@Scarydinosaurs you are right. I haven't told her, just expected her to use her own initiative. Our agreement is very vague, childcare (school runs, etc) and light housework based on what it says on the gov uk website

WhatIsSleep123 Mon 18-Mar-19 20:55:37

@thedisorganisedmum love your once a week idea, thank you. I think I will also look into a proper schedule, so it's more clear what I expect her to do.

thedisorganisedmum Mon 18-Mar-19 20:56:29

it's only a week, it's fine to be nice to help her settle.

Write clear instructions and ask her to do her own laundry (or to do hers with the kids laundry, it depends how economical you want the house to run. Some people don't want a full load for a couple of tshirts and a pair of trousers for example).

Asking if she wanted tea when I was making my own tea
that's just normal!

But by all means, write she cleans her own dishes when she doesn't eat with you!

I don't know how old she is, but they are often young, not used to different houses and lifestyles, don't speak the language that well.
A clear and very precise written list is the easiest way to tell them

sometimes you do need to write: give breakfast to kids (x,yz food), then clean all dishes, wipe table, clean underneath table, clean surfaces, rinse and dry sponge!

Smoggle Mon 18-Mar-19 20:56:42

You need to be completely clear.
Schedule of her exact working hours and free time
List of tasks to complete
House rules

It's really unfair to leave her unsure of the expectations

WhatIsSleep123 Mon 18-Mar-19 20:57:18

@Smoggle fantastic idea, thank you! Just checking if you think it's fine to do it after every family meal? I would expect "a teenage daughter" to help, the same way that I expect my own DC to do small, age-appropriate tasks around the house.

SJane48S Mon 18-Mar-19 20:58:11

I had a number of au pairs with my eldest DD (some good, some not!). To be fair, mine were very early twenties & with really limited experience, not nannies who know the score. As PP's have said, you have to set out immediately what you'd like them to do & what they don't need to do so there's no hidden resentment either side. Having someone in your house who is secretly peeing you off is really annoying so upfront quickly is best! I always found it a bit of a weird relationship but at least one of them became like family (in a weird annoying younger sister who pinches all the hot water & eats the yoghurt you were planning to eat kind of way!)

thedisorganisedmum Mon 18-Mar-19 20:59:10

just expected her to use her own initiative
rookie mistake grin

Some au-pair will be amazing, I had one who was the eldest of a family of 5, she knew what to do to help.
Others can be lovely but completely clueless, never touched an iron in their life, don't know how to boil an egg, haven't got the first clue what to feed themselves, let alone a child.
Others are just unsuitable, lazy and taking liberties and giving you work instead of helping out.

WhatIsSleep123 Mon 18-Mar-19 21:00:42

This thread has been very helpful, thank you. I need to sit down with DH and go through what we expect from her, then give her a list of a detailed account of the day, tasks, etc.

thedisorganisedmum Mon 18-Mar-19 21:03:33

that kind of things, but MORE detailed and with clear hours.

You know how many hours she is expected to work, so you work a daily schedule that helps you - taking into account what you do need, and where you are flexible and she could do her studies.

Giving her 1 hour off mid-morning is likely to be of no help at all for example: she won't be able to do anything.

WhatIsSleep123 Mon 18-Mar-19 21:04:21

After a quick google search, I found this website, perhaps I could use it as the basis for our timetable/ list of tasks:

Below is a list of the main duties an Au Pair can perform while living with the Host Family.
•Playing with the children
•Driving and picking up the kids from school and other activities
•Cooking easy recipes 
•Keeping the children's rooms tidy and clean
•Ironing the children's clothes and do their laundry
•Helping the children with their homework
•Putting the kids to sleep
•Light shopping
•Loading and unloading the dishwasher

JaneTheVirgin Mon 18-Mar-19 21:04:35

If it's a family meal and yet shes the only one you'd expect to wash their own dishes I think that's a little rude. Surely you all take in turns to wash everyone's dishes? Though really an extra place setting is really not adding much housework if someone is already doing dishes.

If she's made herself a meal she should of course wash up after.

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