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When to give up on AP(19 Posts)
My AP started at the end of August, we had a 1 week handover with the old AP who was fantastic. I am concerned about my new AP as she does not seem to be able to use her initiative and can only do tasks which are written down.
A few examples, she does the afternoon school pick up, yesterday it was after sports so DD came home in sports kit. School bag, and uniform including school shoes left in school because DC said it was not needed. DC is 7.
She prepares dinner after school normally easy meals, pasta or dishes you can cook in the oven. Yesterday it was chicken, she had plated up and I was helping dish it out and happened to see the chicken was still raw.
She is 23 and has a pleasant personality but has never lived on her own before.
At the moment DH is working from home so is home most evenings when she has sole charge but things will change next year and I am not sure I can leave her on her own with them. Which is about 2 hours from school pick up till I am home from work.
Is she scatty or actively reluctant to pull her finger out? DOes she take guidance well or is more sulky afterwards?
Does she really care about the children? Or is it some other aspect of her stay which is more of interest to her and the role with you is by the by?
These are the Q's I'm currently weighing up. Willingness, responsiveness to guidance, genuine regard for the children is the most imporant thing for me. W?O this it's hard to continue.
I think it will depend on how much you can adjust the role to fit around what she is good at.
I have discovered that mine really cannot cook at all, so so only makes tea once or twice a week, either popping a pizza in the oven or tonight she has the challenge of boil in the bag rice with some corned beef and carrot sticks on the side.
I have also taken to putting all the things that need to go to school in a pile by the door as I have collected him from after-school without a coat because she forgot that he needed one.
But she is happy to do the 6.30am starts that I need and is happy to cycle to school even when rainy so it more than outweighs it for me.
But if she is just average and you are having these problems, perhaps it might be time to look for someone with more independance or better cooking skills, whatever suits you best?
I think if you are frustrated now things will only get worse. Use this time when OH is at home to get a new one trained up!
Thanks for your replies. Nice but scatty is how I would describe her. She is fine when I have to correct her, but it is getting tedious.
I was really cross with her 2 weekends in a row. The house rule is if you are going to be home after 10pm send a text (that's when the trains stop). She got in at 11:30 saying she ran out of battery because she was listening to music. I believe this was true but I still think it's basic common sense to keep the last battery left to make you can call home. I feel as if I am training a teenager. I'm going to give it to the end of the month then make my decision.
Why does she need to text?
I am a live in and don't see it as any of my employers bussiness what time I will be home in the evening etc and can't believe she'd care. I might text to say I'm staying out all night.
Well, we ask our AP to do the same - not after ten though more like midnight esp if theya re taking the night bus from town out to the burbs.
Frankly these girls parents' would be onto the 'host families' like nobody's business if something went wrong. A lot of them also have langauge issues or are just a bit immature/not worldly wise the way a nanny would be.
I ask for a text just so I know she's safe. I don't mind when she comes back or if she decides to stay out all night. I just think it's good practice to let someone know. The train station is completely dead after 10. Maybe I'm being paranoid, but I feel responsible for her.
Well when DD2 was 18 and started going out a lot. We asked her to text us if she was going to be home after midnight or was going to sleep at a friends.
I am having a similar problem today with my current AP. She have a pleasent personality and is cheerful, but she is very scatty, lacks iniative, and constantly has to be told or reminded of things. I do empathise with your situation. However, whenever we do tell her things which need to be done, she also responds positively, and even seems a bit embarrassed about it.
I've just given her a very explicit and detailed checklist - including make sure children bring home the same things they took to school. She seemed delighted with the idea. I laminated it too so that she can actively tick off everything every day. Maybe a similar checklist could help yours?
I have noticed my AP is also nervous in taking the iniative, so I've also told her that I'd rather she tries and makes mistakes.
Re: the texting after 10pm. Does your AP understand that it is because you are concerned about her saftey? I found once I explained this, and that I had a duty to her parents, it helped.
This is such a common problem- nannies and au pairs have the very best intentions going into a job but they're often young, inexperienced in life in general and just don't recognise the importance of small things to a busy mum.
From my experience there are two 'types' of problem that parents regularly face with nannies- problems that can be fixed, and problems that can't. Problems that can be fixed are things like time-keeping, cooking skills, organisation. Problems that can't be fixed are usually around personality issues- differences in opinion on discipline, poor attitude etc.
The key decider here should be what is going to be the best outcome for the children. If the nanny is great with them and has a good attitude, and the problems you're facing fall into the 'fixable' category, then the tactic which would cause the least stress to the children would be to keep her on, and work through the issues.
Metrobaby- I like your thinking re the detailed checklists. Most other jobs provided extremely clear day to day instruction but nannies and au pairs often get very little structure and opportunity to report back, which means there's very little accountability.
We developed 'My Nanny Toolkit' for our parents which helps you outline your expectations and provides a number of templates and checklists your nanny/ au pair can use day to day to complete duties AND report back to you on progress. I'm not sure if I can link to it from here according to posting rules, but if you go to the KiwiOz Nannies website you'll find the link on our homepage.
The texting is a separate issue- I agree it's fair to ask for a text if they're going to be home late, it's just common courtesy really- but I don't think her lack of texting should have repercussions on her employment.
Thanks a lot for your suggestions. I think writing out a laminated list is a great idea, as well as explaining my reasons.
@KiwiOz I did make up lists for her with day to day tasks, house rules, and food suggestions but maybe I need to make them more detailed.
So in the case of the food, I will add cook for x mins and always taste before you serve.
Perhaps I am taking things for granted after having 2 AP's who just seemed to get it. They took my lists and amended them to suit their schedules and even added on a few things like making the children tidy up before going to bed (which I thought was great!) I will sit down with her this weekend with the new list and also ask if she thinks she needs any more support.
I guess new AP is just scared of getting things wrong. I have told her she is allowed to change things but maybe she is just not that way inclined.
I agree the not texting has no bearing on her employment; it was just an example of her being naive. As it was she told me later she was really worried as she had no phone and not enough money for a taxi.
mumsareglam sounds like you're doing all the right things- fingers crossed her confidence and initiative improve.
We refer our parents to the below if they're having similar problems and need to have 'a chat'- hope something in here can be useful for you!
Seven tips for the difficult performance discussion
1. Let her know the subject of the conversation ahead of time. If it is a performance issue, tell her you want to discuss her performance. Difficult discussions become even more difficult when your nanny is caught completely unaware.
2. Remain calm. If you have ever driven home from work saying, Now why did I say that? chances are you may have regretted giving feedback to someone when you were mad. If you are angry or emotional, postpone the discussion until you are feeling more in control. Remember, communication is permanent. Do not lose control of the discussion or say something that you'll regret.
3. Don't overload. Only deal with one or two issues at a time. If you do not have ongoing communication with your nanny, you may start to generate a laundry list of problems you want to discuss. The laundry list will have little impact and will likely get thrown out in the wash! A general rule of thumb is, If its more than two, they think its you! Meaning, if you do bring out your long list of problems, after about point five or six, the nanny begins to think, Why bother to even come to work? I must not be doing anything right. I never thought my boss liked me anyway. Shes always picking on me!
4. Describe not only the problem, but the impact of the problem as you see it. Be as specific as possible. If the issue is cooking, let her know that in order to be really happy with her, her cooking needs to improve. Tell her that you're worried the children won't be eating well enough and that could impact on their behaviour and health.
5. Check perceptions. Ask for her perception of the issue- do you agree/ how do you feel about that/ what do you think? Give her the opportunity to share her perception without comment on your part. Silence can feel uncomfortable but let her work through the problem and explain how she sees it.
6. Get her input. Ask your nanny- 'what do you think we can do differently to solve the problem.' Let her actively participate in the solution creation. If she doesn't have any input tell her to have a think about and you'll chat again on xx day.
7. Take action. At the end of the discussion make sure you both agree on what actions are next, what results are expected, what the follow-up will be and what the consequences are.
And finally Remain positive. Remember, the goal of this discussion is to make the nanny more successful. Only in rare instances is a nanny not willing to grow by fixing problems!
OP - I have a lot of sympathy. My AP is exactly the same. I have lost it a couple of times with her, and I think it has to be words of one syllabel...
The problem is that things I think are sooo basic, that I don't explain them (eg the fact that we boil cabbage for 4 or 5 mins), she gets wrong. Also she interprets things her own way. I put a casserole on the small ring and ask her to turn it on low (and actually show her on the cooker) at 5.30. I come home and find it on the big ring, boiling away. Why can't she follow simple instructions???
It is a struggle. Generally the boys like her, but there is an occasional outcry. I asked her to make hot chocolate the other night (I used the French word for "half", and said 2 spoons. She then brought a full mug (wee wees all night...) of weak hot chocolate - she had gone for half the choc powder and a full mug of milk. Bizarre. And I explained it in good French.
OP and Fedup
Has your current AP experience made you rethink the way you recruit? I mean, are you totally shocked about how your AP has turned out?
This time around I'm genuinely befuddled because we were expecting a different sort of person based on what she said at interview and her immediate follow up with us (until arrival of boyfriend announced.)
One thing I have learned from this time is that NEXT TIME I recruit I am going to ask a lot more questions about why the candidate wants to be an au pair and what they are hoping to get out of the year. What sort of things they want to achieve in the year. What they personally enjoy doing with children. What kinds of chores they are asked to help with at home.
LH: I am not shocked at what AP is like. It has however given me a better idea of things to look out for next time around. Things which may seem trivial but with hindsight are just as important as having a great personality.
How mature are they (not judged by age), are they capable of making decisions?
I.e Last 2 APs had lived away from home, one had grown up with a younger cousin a few years younger than my DCs. Both had also gone on holidays (without parents)
And also to follow my or DH's first insinct. DH had originally said not to interview as he felt her 'Dear family' letter was hesitant i.e there where things like I would like to do this "if you would let me" I said it may just be her way of writing!
All APs so far seem to have the same motives, wanting to explore the UK and improve their English Language. (Ironic that this AP has the best English)
Current AP is very keen to improve her English and the others not that much.
Well, I guess I'm going to look for a more convincing reason why they want to be an AU PAIR as opposed to working in Pret, if their main motivation is to improve their English. If you see what I mean.
I personally think recruiting au-pairs is very much of a lottery. Of course you can recruit to minimise risk, but it is still a gamble. Most au-pairs give the same standard stock answers to why they want to be an AP, what they are hoping to achieve etc. Some can be very good at interviews.
Harriet - what kind of answers would you find convincing??
metro - probably what activities they actually like doing with children. things most people probably ask more detailed questions about. how long they've looked after children in one go. maybe other people ask these questions anyway, not sure how consistent we've been with that.
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