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My aupair is plain lazy.... help

(173 Posts)
Horseymumjo Sat 29-Sep-12 00:50:47

Hi! Am in need of advice from other mums with au pairs.

Our au pair joined us a month ago, and the first week with us I took a weeks holiday to help settle her in, show her the ropes and the local area, etc.

We live in a rural location so have provided her with a car for school runs and to be at her disposal for her weekends off. I have also provided her with a sat nav.

Now 4 weeks on, we have a major problem. Her car broke last weekend (fan belt) so we have spent all week trying to get it fixed. We have had to resume doing all the school runs and juggling the children as a result. Midweek she came down with a cold, as did I, and she has barely left her bed since. I had to take the whole day off today to do the school runs, washing, cleaning, cooking etc. I am self employed, so it cost me hard cash.

She spends all evening and most weekends in her bedroom, posting on Facebook how miserable she is and how much she misses her family and friends. I have tried to talking to her, inviting her to sit with us in the evenings, but she doesn't want to.

in the last couple of weeks I have asked her to cook meals, tidy the children's bedroom, Hoover in the hallway. She has not done any of these things. It transpires she does not know how to cook. Yesterday she was asked to cook pork chops, nd had to call her boyfriend at home to find out how. This was checked in the initial interviews, and is an integral part of her duties. I have shown her where the cook books are in case she needs inspitiration, but as yet she hasn't used them. I have cooked more meals in the last 4 weeks than she has. In fact I think I have only eaten 1 meal that she has cooked. I have suggested she cooks meals from home, that she is used to, we are happy to try new things, but she doesn't seem to know how to do anything.

in addition she has the use of a private bathroom. She has been using it for the last 3 weeks and hasn't cleaned it once. I only discovered that this evening.

I am beginning to think she thinks she is just on holiday, staying with us for free, and being paid too. Feel like I am being taken for a mug.

so do I sack her? Help!?

J x

BeattieBow Sun 30-Sep-12 12:53:27

i have had au pairs for the last 8 years. ime you are asking far too much of your au pair and to blame the work ethic is simply preposterous.

I always have a cleaner in addition to an ap. My ap doesn't have to clean, but is expected to do the same tidying as I do (e.g wiping sides after dinner, sweeping floor etc).

I have found very few that can cook. When I did have one who loved to cook it was fantastic, but sadly not the norm. My current one aged 19 cannot do a thing. It is bloody annoying that she can't even mash a potato tbh.

My aps duties are as follows:

1. get up at 8 come down help with breakfast possibly do a school run.
2. 9/.930 (depending on whether she has done a school run or not). finish.
3.Until 1pm free.
4. pick up ds2 from nursery.
5. 3.30 pick up girls from school
6. 3.30-6 varies, but can be either just go home and give tea/play/get ready for bath, or go to dance clubs. I can be at home some days and others she is on her own. 6.30-7 off duty.

I pay £100 a week for this. Plus travel card.

I have a cleaner too.

this is fairly standard I think.

Now ds2 is at school until 3.30pm and I have a 4month old baby I am re-thinking my childcare, and will probably have an ap for the older children and get a childminder for the baby, or alternatively hire an experienced nanny for the lot of them.

In my experience it will be rare that you get the whole package - an ap will be good with the children/organising/cooking, but not all 3. fwiw I have a completely lazy and/or dim ap at the moment (leaving at xmas thankfully), but she loves the children and is good with them, and I am home anyway on mat leave. I know how frustrating it is to ask the ap to do something several times and it still not be done. I know how frustrating it is to feel you have another child in the house and not an extra pair of hands - if you feel like that, you should probably ask her to leave, but at the same time you are asking way too much from your current au pair, both in terms of hours, and duties (how can someone be tidying while doing tea etc for 2 very young children?).

metrobaby Sun 30-Sep-12 12:54:01

Also, regarding your opinion on work ethic. Of course there is nothing wrong in expecting to someone to do their job to their best of their ability and put in extra effort and hours when they need to - however, please do remember for APs this is not their long term career plan so they probably don't have the same incentive as you and your career/business. APs who go the extra mile are actually quite hard to find!

SoldeInvierno Sun 30-Sep-12 13:11:42

Horsey, you'll be lucky to see this one off to the end of her contract. If she has 2 brain connected brain cells, she'll be out of your house the minute she finds somewhere else to go.

SoldeInvierno Sun 30-Sep-12 13:12:07

that's one "brain" too many :-)

whois Sun 30-Sep-12 13:23:12

Cut out the cleaning and hire a cleaner.

Change the cooking required - leave very clear step by step instructions and ingredients for slow cooker type food (curry, stew etc) I am sore she could manage to weigh or count ingredients, chop and dump them in a slow cooker 2 or 3 times a week. You could then easily cook past or rice to go with the meal when you get in. If food is the main thing you need help with, consider leaving very clear instructions one night a week for something like stir fry or fajitas for her to do the choping, and then you can do the actual cooking when you get in. One might har a take away. One might have left overs or something frozen from the weekend.

margerykemp Sun 30-Sep-12 13:24:16

Isnt it illegal for AU pairs to be in sole charge of under 5s?

You are taking the piss.

You need an nanny, a cook and a housekeeper. think £500+ pwk not £80 + a broken car!

She is allowed to be ill FFS and the car being broken is YOUR fault not hers!

StillSquiffy Sun 30-Sep-12 13:58:16

It isn't illegal for an AP to have sole charge of under 5's - the role is whatever is agreed.

re: work ethic. When I was at Uni I worked on the weekends from till noon in hotels making breakfast then cleaning rooms, then noon till 6pm working as a receptionist, then 6.30pm until 12 midnight selling cockles and washing up in a holiday club. Every saturday and sunday. Weeknights I had two other part time jobs. I did that gladly because I was getting paid the going rate for it. I earned enough to see me through college and get me a car and lessons on top. Work ethic is easy when you know you are valued and being treated fairly.

The problem here is that the pay works out at £2 per hour, and no-one will work these hours for that wage.

Asmywhimsytakesme Sun 30-Sep-12 14:04:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Asmywhimsytakesme Sun 30-Sep-12 14:05:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Mintyy Sun 30-Sep-12 14:14:12

I think your au pair needs a family with more realistic expectations.

Horseymumjo Sun 30-Sep-12 15:06:17


I have cooked meals for the whole week, ready to freeze.
I have done all the ironing for the week including school uniforms.
I have washed everything, all laundry baskets emptied.
With the help of DH and dc we have dusted and hoovered the whole house and cleaned all the bathrooms.
I am now about to start doing all the computer work I didn't do on Friday because I was looking after the children.

So next week her schedule can look like this.

8am grab a coffee and some breakfast
8.15 am get the two DS's washed and dressed, herself at the same time.
8.40 drive DS's to school
9am -12noon own time.
12noon collect 4yo Ds1 from nursery. Sit on sofa reading her book and watching him play on his own until...
3.15 collect Ds2 from school
3.45 arrive home and sit on sofa reading her book watching ds1&2 play in front of the tv until 5pm when DH arrives home and assumes control of the dc's again.
6pm re-emerge from her room to eat dinner, prepared by me or DH.

What a lovely weekend.

SauvignonBlanche Sun 30-Sep-12 15:07:23

Why don't you pay for some help?

Horseymumjo Sun 30-Sep-12 15:08:26

It is far far more than £2/hr!!!! She has a car and full board and lodging, surely that counts for something, it's not free.

Horseymumjo Sun 30-Sep-12 15:09:07

Sauvignonblanche - I thought I was.

SauvignonBlanche Sun 30-Sep-12 15:10:44

You get what you pay for.

nkf Sun 30-Sep-12 15:13:37

Her hours are a bit long for an au pair and she sounds miserable. Personally, having tolerated an annoying au pair for a year, I would say bin now.

Next time, adjust your expectations. Fewer hours but the housework tasks must be tackled.

They can rarely cook.

nkf Sun 30-Sep-12 15:18:26

They are not paid a salary. All this hourly rate talk is wrong. They are given an allowance, meant to be part of your family and work alongside parents to run a home and take care of children.

OP, are probably going to have dificulties becuase you are in a rural location. And you are asking a bit too much.

nkf Sun 30-Sep-12 15:20:42

OP, they don't work weekends usually.

Horseymumjo Sun 30-Sep-12 15:49:53

Nkf, I have no expectations for her to work weekends, and never had. I would prefer it if she joined in family activities, we have invited her, but it's her time and she can fill it how she chooses. I would go quite mad sitting in my room all day, but each to their own.

I think here is a grey area on the living as part of a family though when it comes to weekends. My children are asked to wash up or help with this or that from time to time. The ap seems to think its ok to sit around and not lift a finger. I sort of expected she would wash up her own breakfast things for example, especially after I had just emptied the sink, I would in someone else's house. It's these little things that annoy. If I asked my dd to do a small task for me and she just ignored the request I would be ticked off. I would be doubly ticked off if I were paying her.

I am exhausted with all of this now. I accept that my expectations were too great and that the au pair system is heavily weighted in favour of the ap, not the hosts. I am not sure the benefits are greater than the costs, not just financial but having someone in your house creating more washing, cooking and cleaning and living like a princess. What is the point? We have asked our youngest today if she plays with him in the afternoons after nursery and he said she just sits in her room. He also asked if it would be ok to ask her to read him a story sometimes. I just feel sad. We tried so hard to find the right au pair, went through hundreds of profiles and it's just horrible.

Don't know where we go from here. Guess you live and learn.

Viviennemary Sun 30-Sep-12 15:52:09

So she is more or less a full time nanny being paid peanuts. Who also does cooking and cleaning. Not on really.

Viviennemary Sun 30-Sep-12 15:54:46

I didn't see your last post. Sorry. But I think you would be better with an employee who gets an hourly rate. Not an au pair. People with au pairs usually only expect three or four hours a day with only light duties and probably employ a cleaner and other help. Or work part time or even don't work at all outside the home.

Conflugenglugen Sun 30-Sep-12 15:57:51

Horsey - I haven't read everyone's posts, but I've read yours. I'm sure some of these have been brought up, but I wanted to add my 2c. (I have had nine au pairs stay with us over the past five years.)

- Yes, you have been expecting too much in terms of time and responsibilities. For example, my au pairs have done basic meals for the kids, and sometimes will offer to cook for both of us that night - although I don't expect it.

- They are not required to do any cleaning that isn't their room and bathroom. If any have done cleaning, I pay them a cleaner's rate, which only seems fair.

- When I first started hosting au pairs, I had underestimated just how young they are. Generally, they are quite messy - although there are exceptions - and I'm happy with that if they keep their mess to their rooms. They really need friends in a way that we might not when we get older. My role has often been as a mentor as well as an employer, and that part has been so incredibly rewarding: seeing young women arrive unsure of themselves, and watching them grow and have new experiences. I have seen break-ups in relationships, alcoholism and violence in families, problems with their friendships, unexpected family crises. You will be playing the role of a parent sometimes. If that's not what you signed up for, then you would be better off with a nanny.

- Nearly all of our au pairs missed their homes very much. It can be hellish for them settling into an entirely unfamiliar place, away from everyone and everything they love. They need some nurturing and compassion alongside the training and instructing.

- As an English-speaking South African, she is very probably used to having someone to clean for her, even perhaps cook, and it can be a steep learning curve to do those things for herself.


BobbiFleckman Sun 30-Sep-12 16:17:49

Jo I do find your attitude quite comic. We've heard lots about your marvellous work ethic and how very hard you work in your job. Why not use some of the spoils of that hard work to divvy up your varied and many household tasks appropriately rather than taking advantage of some poor kid who's just landed in a foreign country? If you are so very exhausted after cooking and freezing some food, imagine how the au pair must be after dealing with your endless list? rather ill in fact, isn't she?
Hire a cleaner, get an ironing service to collect & Deliver the ironing (au pair can arrange collection and delivery & be at home for you to deal with that).
YOu want as much childcare as a full time nanny provides, as much cleaning & ironing as I have two ladies for 4x hrs a week to do for sweet FA and then you're indignant that she doesn't want to hang with you at the weekend (in case you need some more errands run?). Breathtaking.

nkf Sun 30-Sep-12 16:25:25

I think the system can work out very well - provided everyone is reasonable. She does sound a bit princessy and you needed more hours than is reasonable for an au pair.

The au pair does need to be a quick learner and someone who is not afraid to muck in. I was an au pair many many years ago and it is an amazing experience. I'd recommend it over any back packing gap year adventure. You really do learn another language and you are part of a foreign culture in a way that travelling around never gives you.

Also, they really do need to understand that their new family is not their old family. My last one - like I said, I wish I'd binned her sooner - had never done her own laundry. And she could cooked less well than my 12 year old. To be honest, the kids thought she was a drip.

My advice is get an au pair who has siblings and who has a mother who works/ed.

Personally, pre-school, I'd go for a nanny.

BobbiFleckman Sun 30-Sep-12 16:38:33

curious to know what some of the au pair families here do during school holidays as it seems a lot of families use them as sole charge childcare to cover for two f/t working parents. Do they drop off at holiday clubs or entertain them all day?

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