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To want my (fantastic) au pair to occasionally not be there!!!

(21 Posts)
CoffeeAndCarrotCake Sun 26-Oct-08 19:35:17

Ok, our au pair is absolutely fantastic in pretty much every way. DD adores her, I think she is lovely and really easy to get on with, and generally she fits into our lives easily and we all get along very well (here comes the but...)

For the first time this weekend she really got on my nerves; usually, whenever I am with her I make sure to speak extra clearly so she can follow everything; when we watch TV together I keep stopping it to explain what's going on (which drives my DH MAD but she appreciates it!) and I regularly help her with her English grammar etc. This weekend, I had a load of really old friends over who I hadn't seen for ages. They arrived for dinner on Saturday and stayed all weekend and have only just left. Our au pair stayed with us the WHOLE TIME!! Now i'd expect her to want to have dinner with us, but even my DH gave us a bit of space now and then over the weekend to have some proper catching up time, but she never left the room. My friends kept trying to make sure they spoke slowly and clearly and explained everything, but when you're trying to explain jokes from 15 years ago, it all gets a bit tiring. She stayed up till 2am with us looking really sullen when we didn't stop to explain everything.

By the end of the week, I really just want time with my DD and DH and quality time with friends as and when they visit, so is it really to much to think that she might occasionally go out, or go to her room, or go anywhere we're not? As I said, she's brilliant, but she NEVER leaves us alone!!! How do you ask someone to give you some space without upsetting them?

<hides behind sofa and waits a battering...>

goldilocksandmylittlebear Sun 26-Oct-08 19:46:09

Come out from behind the sofa!! YNBU.

At the end of the day, your paying for a service not a friend. She should have been with your daughter anyway shouldn't she? Perhaps next time give her the weekend off?? smile

mabanana Sun 26-Oct-08 19:51:01

It sounds awful. I'd stop pandering to her quite so much. Are you really stopping the telly and talking over all the programmes while you are watching with your dh? that would drive mine DEMENTED.
Has she got broadband & a telly in her bedroom? Maybe get her a thingy where you can film yourself so she can email home for hours. Or talk to perverts on dating sites...whatever gets her out of your hair! Does she do local English classes? If not, sign her up so she can meet some friends, who hopefully will take up her Saturday nights.

Cupofteaplease Sun 26-Oct-08 20:00:56

Has she been with you long? Our AP was like this for the first few weeks- now we hardly see her! She seems to spend all of her time in her room on the internet.

I work every week night in my room, so it doesn't matter during the week, but on a Fri or Sat night when we're downstairs with a bottle of wine and a film, I feel guilty that she's on her own.

I've started sending dh upstairs to invite her down, but she says she's fine. She pops down once or twice to go outside for a cigarette, then heads straight back up to her room!

Having read your OP, maybe I should count myself lucky!

CoffeeAndCarrotCake Sun 26-Oct-08 20:04:22

Ha ha - love the idea of encouraging her to talk to perverts online! Goldilocks - she has every weekend off. She only helps with DD 4 days a week, and she does have friends and English lessons etc. I think the problem is that when she doesn't have anything on, she assumes she is invited to do anything at all that we do. When DH and I have been out to restaurants (with DD), the au pair has come too because we didn't have the heart to say "Oh sorry - take your coat off, you're not actually invited!"

She doesn't have a TV in her room, but as we have 2 downstairs rooms with TVs in, we figured she'd be able to use the other one whenever she wanted space / to watch something different to us. Never happened so far. angry

Millarkie Sun 26-Oct-08 20:09:44

How long has she been with you? Our au pair goes out with friends every weekend since her second weekend here! And I don't explain the tv programmes to her - she prefers to watch tv/surf internet in her room anyway..and she like to watch dvd's up there (I think she can choose to have them play in German which I guess is more relaxing for her).
Hopefully your ap is new and will make more friends and get out more! If she's been with you a while though you might be stuck with her expectations of constant company.

Cupofteaplease Sun 26-Oct-08 20:11:11

We always take AP to restaurants with us too- except this last Friday. We were going to meet some friends and I asked dh if AP was almost ready and he told me she wasn't coming.

In the car on the way he confessed that he hadn't actually asked. He said she hadn't done something (after repeatedly being reminded otherwise) and he'd had enough of her behaviour after a bad day at work.

Heartless man! I felt awful for leaving her out of our plans!

Millarkie Sun 26-Oct-08 20:11:18

Just read your last post - put a tv and computer if you can, in her room...honestly...you need your space!

CarGirl Sun 26-Oct-08 20:14:05

Have you got a TV in your bedroom? I'd go upstairs with DH some evenings and watch TV in bed together, or just get very cosy together on the sofa so she perhaps gets the hint?

CoffeeAndCarrotCake Sun 26-Oct-08 20:21:16

Thanks for ideas - I think my plan of action is (1) to get her a TV (she's got internat access but always uses my laptop as she doesn't have one. Can't really afford to get her a TV at the moment, so I'm certainly not treating her to a PC!); and (2) take my kit off and pounce on DH on the sofa. Should cheer him up and guarantee poor scared au pair never again ventures out from her room.

grin

[seductively removes top with DD's dinner lightly spattered around the sleeve and a perfect size 4 welly print on the side]

Flum Sun 26-Oct-08 20:25:45

Yeah blimey get her a telly £50 and a cheap pooter £150 and jobs a good en.

Love these threads as I really want an Au Pair as I love the idea of being able to go out without booking a babysitter etc. But I hate the idea of someone living in our house and having to be polite and on parade all the time.

Flum Sun 26-Oct-08 20:25:47

Yeah blimey get her a telly £50 and a cheap pooter £150 and jobs a good en.

Love these threads as I really want an Au Pair as I love the idea of being able to go out without booking a babysitter etc. But I hate the idea of someone living in our house and having to be polite and on parade all the time.

NannyNanny Sun 26-Oct-08 20:33:15

This seems to be a recurring problem with au-pairs (See the childminder etc section - There are some hilarious stories there). One of the main problems is different expectations. When you advertised for an au-pair did you state that you wanted someone who will be 'part of the family'. I've seen many adverts like this and this can lead to confusion. I've also seen other adverts that say 'needs to look after self, after work hours etc, we don't want to hang around with you. grin.

She needs to find some friends. Is she allowed friends over? Can she drive/have use of the car? If not, are there regular bus routes for her to go to and get back from somewhere interesting. Are there things in your area to do in the evenings?

Weegle Sun 26-Oct-08 20:33:50

It's hard isn't it? Ours has been much better since making friends at college. She has internet access & skype in her room, and a TV/DVD up there but if she is home she spends the entire evening with us. It's actually nice to go to friends houses where she's not invited. If I have friends over here she hangs around the whole time and so the conversation is obviously sometimes inhibited - we aren't going to talk about extremely personal things in front of her. But I work round it by going out with DH, going to our room early, making plans which don't include her - not in a nasty way - we also do an awful lot that does include her too. But the best thing is doing everything possible to support their social life.

googgly Sun 26-Oct-08 20:39:56

You are being way too friendly!! We used to have aps, and they were explicitly told that they weren't having dinner with me and dh, nor spending the evening with us. Except when on holiday.

Cupofteaplease Sun 26-Oct-08 20:46:23

Really googly? Didn't they feel homesick if they were only included in meals etc when on holiday? Not judging, genuinely interested as I thought APs were supposed to be 'part of the family' as it were?

CoffeeAndCarrotCake Sun 26-Oct-08 20:52:36

Crikey - I can't imagine telling her not to eat with us! I'm not even doing too well asking her to get out of my chair (I have a bad back so DH got me a special extra comfy chair, and she ALWAYS sits in it!!!). Think I need to toughen up a bit. It's hard though, as I have read some really hideous au par stories on here, and I figured that we've got it pretty good, and having a sullen continental shadow when friends visit could be a lot worse.

Oh, one other thing, as soon as I get home I just want quality time with DD (DH is downstairs working from home), including bath time when I'm home early enough. Au pair insists on staying around, and bathing DD with me and helping put her to bed. The other day, DD fell over and reached for au pair. I was absolutely gutted, and really think that having quality time whenever possible is necessary to ensure DD remembers that I'M her mummy!!! Feeling a little bolder, I don't think it's unreasonable to ask au pair to leave me with DD. Is it?!

googgly Sun 26-Oct-08 21:13:08

I think if we were in a situation where the whole family sat down to dinner together then it would be fine for ap to join in. But since dh gets home very late and we don't have that much time together, there was never any way we were going to let some teenager in on that, so I always specified this in the job advert, and that they could eat with the kids or do their own thing. But I've never worried too much about the whole "part of the family thing". I've always specified in microscopic detail exactly what I expect them to be doing and what's allowed and not allowed etc.

Don't worry about dd forgetting who's mum, btw! It's great that she reached for ap - means that ap is being nice to her.

I wouldn't have any problem telling ap that when you get home, her last task is to tidy up all the toys (or clean kitchen or whatever else would be helpful) and that after that she's not on duty, and that you specifically want to have private time with your daughter (it's best to be really direct to make sure that the message has hit target, ime). At weekends, tell her in the morning what you're doing, and which part of it she is invited to participate in, if any, or tell her a few days in advance.

I admit that it has only occurred to me to involve ap in weekends and holidays if I specifically wanted babysitting assistance, so I always put the request in in advance to make sure they're available. But then I also find it completely amazing that anyone would go to a restaurant with their dh and the au pair, as a threesome.

For us the whole ap thing has worked with very extrovert types with their own very busy social lives who weren't planning to hang around at home anyway, but who were fun to have around when they were there. Last one was a sullen continental shadow (when she arrived - nothing to do with me grin) and the experience was so vile that she may have been the last.

NannyNanny Sun 26-Oct-08 21:14:59

I would be so happy if my bosses let me have a wee bit of time off if they were back home early. I generally won't leave if it is 'working hours' as I feel like I'm skiving (sp?) You could say to her, 'Don't worry, I'm home now, I'll bath DD, why don't you go and relax, have a snack, get comfy in my chair grin. Or if you want her to still be working you could say ' Whilst I'm giving DD a bath could you tidy the kitchen etc'

CatMandu Sun 26-Oct-08 21:19:59

Could you perhaps suggest a half way house, ie. nights on your own with dh a couple of times a week? When I had AP's I used to bath the dc's and she would tidy up the toys etc and restore the kitchen to normality. It worked well, when I came downstairs from reading bedtime stories the house was all clean and done.

You could dress it all up in a review.

googgly Sun 26-Oct-08 21:31:01

A review is a good idea. Ask her to sit down with you and dh to go over how things are going and to raise any concerns. This also means of course that you can raise your concerns. Don't feel bad about this - she's bound to enjoy hearing that you are basically really pleased with her.

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