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Au pair problem - help!

(26 Posts)
Lulworthblue Fri 30-Sep-11 00:47:35

my ap has been with us for a few weeks. She is very nice but increasingly seems scatty to the point where it's dangerous and i am not sure we can trust her with the care of our son and house.

Today she left her keys in the front door when she came back from the supermarket. The door was pulled to as well but not shut. Anyone could literally have wandered in. It was like this for seven hours, until dh came home after midnight from a work night out and found the keys in the door etc.

Yesterday she left the back door unlocked for several hours, went out but didn't tell me and I only checked it by chance.

I made it very clear security is crucial for us in her welcome pack, in writing, and her English is perfect so she hasn't misunderstood.

She is very nice and good in some ways apart from this but not by any means perfect as she has also taken on too much studying too compared to what we discussed at interview.

Do we give a final warning or just ask her to go, with notice?

JustAnother Fri 30-Sep-11 06:36:15

Have you had another chat about this with her? I think that whichever aupair you find, you are always going to find some faults. They are young adults, living in your house, so you are always going to have to compromise. If you really need an aupair, and this one is good in other ways, I would try and speak to her again before taking the radical decision of firing her. Otherwise you'll end up trying to find a new one who might not be perfect either.

Lulworthblue Fri 30-Sep-11 07:47:42

I can manage without one tbh. So that's not an issue. I do want to treat her properly though.
I also made it clear this mustn't happen again after the first incident yet it did the next day, and worse as it was the front door at night. We live in a city so not safe.

SootySweepandSue Fri 30-Sep-11 07:54:30

Have you never left keys in the door? My DH has done this several times. She is just not used to being security conscious. It takes a while to change that sort of behaviour. I always leave our back door unlocked if i am around or nipping out for 5 mins but I'm an easy going type of person. It could be a personality clash.

Lulworthblue Fri 30-Sep-11 08:31:02

Sorry but two days running when I'd very clearly and nicely asked her to be careful? We don't live in the kind of area where you can leave doors unlocked.
Maybe you live in a non urban area?

It's not a personality clash at all as we get on very well.

I did make it very, very clear in the welcome pack and verbally that security.

There were some other scatty things this week too but less serious ones. If she had done the keys thing once and it was isolated, of course i wouldn't see it as that big a deal and would just mention being more careful ( which I did after the first time).

fraktious Fri 30-Sep-11 09:55:16

I would warn and say it's her last chance. Tbh I'd expect her to be very careful and security conscious from the off given that it's a new area and she's responsible for your home and child at least part of the time but you've already reminded her and the fact she still isn't is concerning.

What does your contract say about notice/discipline?

You can legally just give her notice though. The length will depend what your contract says but minimum a week either worked or paid in lieu.

harrietthespook Fri 30-Sep-11 10:40:23

Our AP is a bit like this and I've been wondering what to do. It's funny about the keys thing - the first day I was with her, when I was going off to work, she left the house with no keys, no phone...hadn't been locking the front door either (I was away when she was with DH for a bit.) Don't know what made me ask.

Tues I came home to a very full bath that hadn't been drained after use - the idea it might be dangerous for our youngest was new to her. This was all in our handbook too...she is supervised TBH and I was extra pissed b/c of that...but that's another story. We went through the 'safety guidelins' and she had a copy to read...

To me, this stuff seems like common sense, locking doors/draining baths...but it varies how much you need to spell things out for APs.

I've now had the guidelines translated into her language...but I'm wondering if it's going to be heavy handed.

Good luck with yours. I wish I had more to suggest, we are in the same boat.

Lulworthblue Fri 30-Sep-11 10:42:55

Thanks Fraktious - from the first few replies I felt I was being over-zealous. I really don't think I am.

Her contract says a week's notice apart from in the case of a serious breach in which case it would be immediate dismissal.
But she is a nice person and I wouldn't just ask her to leave straight away over this. There are other issues too, e.g. when she took the 'job' she said that she would be going to college one full day and two mornings (leaving two full days clear and meaning if needed she can pick ds up from school any of four days), but now she is going one full day and four half days and could only pick him up on one day a week. The picking up isn't essential to the job but it was a consideration.

She has ended up with far too much studying to do to actually fit in her hours for us imho and that is why she is making mistakes and not concentrating.

kelly2000 Fri 30-Sep-11 10:53:14

I would have a word with her, again and tell her that you really have to be able to trust her with the children. Also does she have set hours with you, as i often think that is better as it lets everyone know where they are and stops one side taking the piss.
To be honest you really need to nip this in the bud if it is a continual thing, and if you feel she is not doing her job, as it sounds like because she is nice you could let yourself be a bit of a pushover through guilt. She may be a nice person, but this is safety we are talking about.

I had a habit of leaving the keys in front door, and door ajar - was cured when DH came home to find door swinging open, he was really angry as he thought someone had broken in and was worried about me.

fraktious Fri 30-Sep-11 11:07:22

She may not have control of her college schedule - what's she studying?

I don't think you're being over-zealous at all. It quite simply doesn't speak well of her to be do careless. Habits are hard to break but presumably she's adapted to other parts of living with you?

Lulworthblue Fri 30-Sep-11 11:15:06

She didn't have control over some of the changes to her main schedule so that wasn't her fault but then she added in an extra course which she is doing by choice on her only full day off the main course! She knew that was her main day to do household stuff for us.
She told me at interview and in writing that she was doing this main course and now also added in two or three A levels too. That is why I think she is pushing it, has over-stretched herself and now is making mistakes.

fraktious Fri 30-Sep-11 11:38:15

3 Alevels is virtually FT study anyway. Obviously you can't control what she does but you do need to make it clear she needs to fulfil her obligations to you as well and you employed her on the basis that she could.

But whether she's scatty or overworked is her problem. Yours is that she's not up to scratch.

Lulworthblue Fri 30-Sep-11 11:47:07

I agree - it's not my business what she does in her spare time but she also has taken on a role which was quite clearly a set number of hours a week (albeit with some flexibility on when some of the work is done).
But it's not my problem if she is over-worked and has taken on too much. I simply want someone I can trust to lock the house up properly and take care of ds when she babysits without, I don't know, leaving the door open or the hob on or whatever it will be next.

In the last three days, as well as the two doors open/ unlocked incidents, she also accidentally turned the hot water off, left something of ours behind somewhere and locked herself out (seems to have a problem with doors!) hmm

JustAnother Fri 30-Sep-11 19:28:39

How old is she? has she ever lived alone before? it sounds like she's the wrong AP for you, not mature enough.

Lulworthblue Fri 30-Sep-11 19:46:24

She is 20 and has au paired once before.
I think I will give her one last chance as she is making a big effort to improve generally. Fingers crossed.

sunnydelight Sat 01-Oct-11 07:05:09

It sounds like study is her main priority. What will happen when exam time comes and she has to put extra hours in ? If she is already unavailable some of the times she was supposed to be it is unlikely to get any better. Would you have taken on a full time student as an AP? If not probably best for both of you to make other arrangements now.

snailoon Sat 01-Oct-11 07:17:18

Why don't you make several large signs (or maybe it's better if she makes them) saying: CHECK DOORS ARE LOCKED? Put the signs in strategic places. Ask her what else would help her remember.

Julesnobrain Sat 01-Oct-11 08:04:12

Agree with sunny, you are not her main priority study is. On that basis I would explain to her that your priority is her job. If she can!t fit it in then she has to a) cut back on college B) leave

Lulworthblue Sat 01-Oct-11 11:14:14

That is a very, very good point about the exams.

Agree, we are not her main priority as even though initially the change in hours at her main college wasn't her fault, to then add another A'level course for the only midweek day she had off was done purposefully.

Our job is a little different to some AP ones in that we were more interested in weekend and evening babysitting than most BUT we did state very, very clearly in the ad and subsequent emails and her handbook that some hours and flexibility to pick dc up after school occasionally during midweek daytime was important too.

You're spot on, we wouldn't have hired a FT student and that's what we've ended up with.

Lulworthblue Sat 01-Oct-11 14:47:38

Ugh now she's gone out and left a window open in her room, and I only noticed by chance as i was in the back garden because it is on the top floor so otherwise wouldn't have seen it before going out myself.

Migsy1 Sun 02-Oct-11 15:04:34

Your AP is not doing what she was employed to do and she is making the same serious mistakes after being warned. I'd give her a week to pull her socks up and if she is still not behaving as you expect I'd ask her to go. An AP is supposed to help you and not give you more problems.

My AP is working her 2 weeks notice at the moment. She is shockingly useless / dangerous and my only regret is that I did not ask her to leave earlier.

N20mother Sun 02-Oct-11 20:04:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Lulworthblue Tue 04-Oct-11 13:37:13

Had a serious chat at the weekend and she took it very maturely and seriously. So far so good. I think she deserved a second chance.

She has cut her college hours a bit and we will have to just keep an eye on it when exam time comes - that's a long way off for now.
How is it going Migsy?

Migsy1 Wed 05-Oct-11 09:33:07

Lulworthblue It sounds promising for you. Just keep on top of her if she seems to be slacking. I find it really difficult to constantly supervise/instruct and perhaps that is one reason why the au pair situation did not work for me. My AP is going on Sunday and I cannot wait. I just want my house and privacy back. There were stacks of reasons why I had to ask her to leave which I posted on another thread and it ended up being a complete nightmare. I've heard of lots of people who have had good experiences of au pairs though. I hope this works out for you.

Lulworthblue Wed 05-Oct-11 23:17:59

My others were fine. Well one was a bit of a pain but the other was perfect.
This one really has improved this week - I'm so pleased we gave her another chance.
What will you do now? It must be so awkward when it goes wrong having to live with someone in that situation in your house! Having nearly ended up like that I would find it difficult. Will you get another?

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