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Do I ecpect too much from my au pair/ mothers help

(8 Posts)
jerin Fri 22-Jul-11 22:44:49

I just need a bit of a rant really as not sure whether i expect too much......
OHs niece (20) lives with us in an au pair role/mothers help role. She has been with us 10 months now. We have three young children and we both work shifts. OHs shifts are a set pattern but mine are random although i only work part time.
She is a sensible girl, trustworthy. but she is almost impossible to have a conversation with. She spends most of the day on the internet chatting in chat rooms and the rest with an ear phone in. When she first came to live with us she sat with the children doing puzzles, playing and reading. That lasted about a week. Her family didnt want us to pay her but just to give her free board ( she looked after her aunts child in return for free lodgings for a year) but i wanted to give her some independence and didnt want her to feel that she had to ask us for things.
Our internet costs have rocketed. So much so, that we have had to ask her not to use it until after 7pm now. She still uses it but much less. She has to have at least two hot meals a day. If we cook for two nights, there is never enough when we go to get it ready as she'll have had it for lunch.
Her typical day goes like this...
12.30 come downstairs (lunch being made). OH always asks if she wants some and she always does. She will often then position on sofa, chatting online on her phone until about 2.30. Disappear upstairs and return in time to help seat kids at table, eat dinner and then back upstairs. She will usually wash up anything that is within reaching distance of the sink and sometmes dry up too. She does always help bath and put kids into pyjamas but then comes downstairs, tip- toeing over all the toy mess, to watch tv.
I know it sounds petty. It reads petty as i'm writing it. I just feel so stressed. I want her to be happy here but she'll only get out what she puts in. In 10 months she's taken the kids to the park twice. Today I've had them painting but because they started needing a bit of direction she packed it all away. I was watching from the kitchen and she barely looked up from 'chatting' whilst they were merrily painting my laundry basket, their faces each other......
We saw having her live with us as an opportunity to get on top of some of the jobs that need doing in the house but its just impossible. OH sees even less of her than me, when he is here alone.
As for cleaning or other household jobs, well, she will sometimes wipe the dinner table down. She is good at washing and drying up and once she hoovered downstairs for me. I always say thank you as im always so grateful with any help received.
What's the answer? I'm really struggling and its really impacting on mine and OH relationship. Am i expecting too much or is she just taking the piss?
At the moment there really is no other option for her as her aunt wont have her back (she was too lazy there thats why she wanted rid of her) and not sure she cold go back to her mums as that ended badly two years ago for the same reason.........wish there was another brother or sister to move her onto......

jerin Fri 22-Jul-11 22:47:19

When I say she'll sometimes wipe the table down, I mean if she has been here alone looking after them. If I am here it is, of course, my job!

thisisyesterday Fri 22-Jul-11 22:49:46

i think you need a talk with her.
are you paying her to be a mother's help/au pair? or are you just giving her spending money?

do it properly. give her proper pay (if you aren't already) but in return tell her that you expect her to do a proper job

that means listing everyhing you'd like her to do. otherwise she is just a family member who is staying with you andhappens to help out now and thn isn't she?

threefeethighandrising Fri 22-Jul-11 23:26:02

My sister lived with a friend where she swapped childcare for rent.

They worked out how much the room would cost, nominal pay and then she did that many hours childcare in lieu of rent IYSWIM. (I think is was 14 hours a week but it was a long time ago I'm not sure I remember properly!)

Do you think this kind of approach could work? You need to be clear with her about what you need her to do, she may have no idea what you expect really.

Treeesa Sat 23-Jul-11 01:27:50

This is one of those messages where it's hard to say who's taking advantage of who..

When you can get unlimited internet for £20 per month or so then this can't add up to all that much really. Unless you have a capped limit and are getting penalised - maybe time to move to an unlimited broadband plan - you can sign up for a month at a time contract... As for 2 hot meals a day - I'd say that's normal for many people and often comes with the territory of having someone live-in.. Young people in their teens & 20s can have huge appetites.

You've described a typical day - but what about when you are at work..? How many hours each week is she supposed to be on duty..?

Do you have anything written down at all - in terms of her knowing what is expected..?

It sounds as if with 10 months under the bridge - there needs to be a lot of talking going on and potentially a lot of changes..

So not sure if you are expecting too much or not.. It depends what you pay her - and how many hours she is actually doing (or expected/being paid to do)..

fraktious Sat 23-Jul-11 06:55:20

I'm with Treesa, especially on the Internet! We can't really say unless we know what she is expected to do, how many hours and what kind of pay.

If you don't have anything written it's not clear whether she's doing a job. If she's not doing a job then your expectations need to be different and you're looking more at a dynamic similar to parenting a wayward teen who won't pull their weight. At least with au pairs they've chosen to do it, there's a written agreement and you can rud. It sounds as though you're rather lumbered with the girl.

RitaMorgan Sat 23-Jul-11 14:44:55

What are her hours, and what are her duties?

In her own time does it matter if she is on the internet? Why don't you just get an unlimited package?

Does she have a timetable, and a list of jobs to do each day/week?

LynetteScavo Sat 23-Jul-11 14:52:48

I agree re internet. We used to pay £15 per month with AOL, but I think we pay less now we've changed providers.

Does she have sole charge of the DC? Is she ok with that?

What else does she do? Does she go to Uni, or college, or is her whole life just hanging around your house for the forseeable future? Could you send her abroad to work as an au-pair, or suggests she finds a better paying mothers help job now she has some experience? (Would get her out or your hair!)

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