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Have you ever hired an Au Pair / Nanny who reference was not very good?

(45 Posts)
Strix Fri 10-Aug-12 10:20:35

What happened?

You guess what has happened. Met her. Really lined her. Thumbs up from both kids. Contract agreed. Checked reference... And it's all in question now.

Not very tidy (cleans up but lacks attention to detail)
Not very proactive
"can't cook" (but willing to learn)

Bugger! The job is something between an au pair and nanny, involves care of toddler on one full day each week. Otherwise, before and after school hours.. She does need to cook for children. I am FUSSY about nutrition. I have very untidy au pair now and cannot cope with another.

Anyway i am aware that sometimes parents expect too much... Undecided as to whether au pair is substandard or parent hired an au pair expecting too much.


clinkingIceCubes Fri 10-Aug-12 10:36:17

How about you chat through those concerns with her? How old is she? Grown up enough to recognise she is being given a great opportunity that is worth working hard to prove sshe can meet? Trial period will show in practice what she can do also.

I recall your name from various other threads over the past 2-3 years, think you have lots of experience with child carers in the home - what does your instinct tell you about her based on that experience?

clinkingIceCubes Fri 10-Aug-12 10:41:51

sorry if that sounds like I am teaching you to suck eggs

Strix Fri 10-Aug-12 10:45:03

Gut feel is that I like her. She is lovely. But that is so different from what her reference said.

MaryHansack Fri 10-Aug-12 10:48:05

well did they say anything positive?
how long was she with the other family?
are they being spiteful?

MaryHansack Fri 10-Aug-12 10:50:21

also as you are fussy about nutrition, then there won't be any junk food there anyway?
I am sure you can train her to make a salad.
how about a trial period of a month?

Strix Fri 10-Aug-12 10:52:37

Yes, other things were positive. Nice girl, early bird, eager to help, just doesn't work out on her own what needs to be done. For example would stand in middle of untidy room asking what needs to be done.

I am realising I probably should have changed my name for this but too late now... Oops.

Strix Fri 10-Aug-12 10:55:23

I am fussy about nutrition. My husband is not. So she will have to stop kids from having crap he brings into the house.

I can make her lots of written instruction on what they can eat, how to make it, etc. my concern is probably more that I won't be there to show her what tidy means.

maples Fri 10-Aug-12 10:55:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Strix Fri 10-Aug-12 11:13:39

Well, I think the whole point of a reference is that I am getting someone else's opinion of her. I have already asked her all I asked the reference, and more. I'm already happy with her answer.

I do think that sometimes "can't cook" could potentially mean "doesn't cook the typically English food my children prefer to eat". I don't know which it is.

I am leaning towards hiring this girl anyway, to be honest. But if anyone out there thinks I'm a fool if I do this, by all means set me straight before I regret my choice.

maples Fri 10-Aug-12 11:33:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Strix Fri 10-Aug-12 13:25:30

I see what you are saying. But I think the reference was given in confidence so I don't want to betray that trust.

MsLydia Fri 10-Aug-12 15:24:26

I would go with your gut feeling. She may not have been a perfect fit for her last family but maybe she is just right for you.

Musomathsci Fri 10-Aug-12 15:27:31

You could always ring the referees and ask for clarification. I've had quite a few people ring me to check references even when I've given written ones. A brief word with someone 'in person' can be very informative.
If you like the girl, that probably outweighs a few minor deficiencies - no-one's perfect, after all, but if the untidiness/lack of cooking is a deal-breaker for you, then you have been warned.

MaryHansack Fri 10-Aug-12 15:32:20

if the kids really do like her, go with that, they can tell.

jendifa Fri 10-Aug-12 16:16:31

It's quite likely that my first boss would say that I wasn't very tidy either. This doesn't mean that I would be a bad nanny, just that tidying isn't something I do naturally.

She may be aware that she needs to cook or tidy better, so maybe start with a trial period and leave instructions, see what you think.

TBH, the proactive bit would bother me more.

Karoleann Fri 10-Aug-12 21:40:36

What did they say when you asked if they'd emply her again?
Those wouldn't be complete no's for me.
I've been really happy with all of my nannies, but wouldn't say that any of them wer particularly proactive. They would all do jobs that I'd asked them to, but wouldn't necessarily think to do them unless asked.....but I also found that when I was managing staff in my previous job too.
I'd give her a trial

LadyHarrietdeSpook Fri 10-Aug-12 22:38:08

When you say fussy about nutrition is grilled chicken two veg and mash okay? Or are you looking for something more elaborate. Cause I bet she could learn to do that.

How long was she with the other family? Why is she leaving them? am on phone but I would call back and ask things like this:

Did the lack of proactivity stray into areas that could be considered a lack of judgement around safety issues?

Will she make your life harder by not doing loads of basic things u will then need to do?

Did she get cross when reminded to do things she forgot? Or was she ok about it?

Try to get as many examples as poss. They may be a bit weird/have too high expect of an ap or just have different priorities to you. It's defficult to tell in my opinion until u get more detailed feedback.

Strix Sat 11-Aug-12 14:28:44

Okay, I have decided to go with my gut and hire her. I have thought a lot about the reference (which was a one hour phone conversation!). And quite a lot of it could be interpreted as au pair not performing but could equally have been parents expecting too much.

I am not too worried about the proactive because our schedule is very full and there is not really much down time for her to fill herself. And I am full of very clear instructions.

My nutritional fuss is about nutrition not fancy food. So, I'm quite happy with a ham sandwich, but will frown if it is made with white bread or - perish the thought - Tesco Value "ham". Nutrasweet is the devil. Whole meal pasta preferred, same goes for brown rice. Sugary cereals are not an acceptable start to the day. Every day should include at least one fresh fruit and one veg.

I once had a nanny serve nutella on white bread to my toddler and I almost had a heart attack.

I don't mind showing her how to cook so long as she is willing to learn.

I am going into this with the idea that I need to put A LOT of effort into on the job training when she arrives. Extensive schedules, contacts, menus, info on the area, road safety, and so on. I would normally do this anyway, but will do it in more detail this time. I will then have weekly reviews. I will just have to make sure instructions and expectations are very clearly communicated.

Oh, I hope I have made the right decision. Fingers crossed..........

callaird Sat 11-Aug-12 21:24:32

Hello Strix,

I would say go with gut instinct, as others have said some employers expect higher standards in some things than others and visa versa.

I think that I am an excellent a very good nanny, I am pro-active, self starter, great with children of most ages but my memory sucks! This week, I forgot granny was coming, had to come home early, thankfully builders could let her in, forgot to buy milk even though that was the only thing I actually went to the supermarket for (and I managed to spend £35!) and forgot to do the ironing (the sun was shining so I we played outside. And I only worked three days this week. I have also on occasion, forgotten to put petrol in the car but that only happened once and the fuel gauge didn't work properly!!

I have, however, never forgotten anything important, like the children, although I have a rather amusing sorry of forgetting the I hadn't forgotten the children! And I do have a very comprehensive diary, a work diary and home and work calanders.

Good luck. I hope it works out ok. I was in your neck of the woods on Wednesday afternoon and thought of you as I drove past the spot on the M3 where the car ran out of vapours!

Strix Sat 11-Aug-12 22:36:28

Waves to Callaird. How the heck are you?

callaird Sun 12-Aug-12 20:03:52

Waves right back!

I'm good thanks. I'm looking after a 15 month old near Maidstone. Lovely job, loooong hours though! But generally happy with my lot. How are you all? How old is bub now?

Hope the new au pair works well.

Blondeshavemorefun Sun 12-Aug-12 21:04:58

hi strix - long time no see smile

i rem the nutella/white bread incident shock

i was going to say trust your instinct and see you are

was going to suggest she gives you a days planner of activities and say a weekly menu for the first few weeks - thus you also know what food to order (see below)

an hours phone call getting a ref??? seems long

i know food is a huge concern to you, but tbh if you either buy it or have it on on line order then she cant go too wrong, as eating the food you buy iyswim

calliard is even nearer me now smile

Strix Mon 13-Aug-12 18:22:29

Oh, I feel a Kent meet up coming on... Might need to round up Page62 and Squiffy. (and anyone else who fancies a tipple and a natter)

How are you, Blondes?

Blondeshavemorefun Mon 13-Aug-12 18:30:50

i like the sound of a kent meet grin have just paid my deposit for the london sept xmas one - hope im better behaved then last year lol

im doing ok strix smile few up and down moments but generally good - havnt seen page62 for ages - last time baby was tiny and must be toddler now

hows your toddler? x

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