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I HATE being an au pair.

(35 Posts)
ddwah2 Thu 05-Sep-13 16:40:45

Basically I have a fiancé back at home, the family are nice and all on that side is well. But I've been getting so depressed I've stopped eating, I don't sleep much anymore so I feel like a zombie, I just don't think it's benefiting any of us being here. How do I say "I call it quits" and do I give some notice. Bear in mind I'm only 3 weeks in, but like I said, I'm not eating, sleeping and I've been feeling more depressed.

Help fellow mothers?

SunnyIntervals Thu 05-Sep-13 16:42:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LePamplemousseMousse Thu 05-Sep-13 16:46:42

Erm, yes, if that's the case then quit. Thank the family for their kindness, and explain calmly that you are suffering through being away from home and fiance and need to go back. DO give decent notice though so the family are able to get the cover they need, as it's not professional (and not very fair) just to walk out, especially if they have treated you well.

I'm sure the parents and kids will have noticed if you are that unhappy, and to be honest it's not good for anyone for you to be there in that state.

Do it soon, go home and feel better. Good luck.

ddwah2 Thu 05-Sep-13 16:53:34

Would 3-4 weeks be decent notice? Thank you for your help.

ddwah2 Thu 05-Sep-13 16:56:26

Yes I am in the UK, I'm English so my home is 2 train rides away (5 hours long though) but even still I just hate being here, I have no friends, I miss my fiancé, it's just annoying as although I'm mature and older, my family still pushed me into this.

LePamplemousseMousse Thu 05-Sep-13 17:32:03

Yes, I think four weeks is reasonable notice (unless you have a contract that says something different). Until then can you arrange to go home for at least one day at the weekend? I would guess once you've handed in your notice and there's an end it sight you will start to feel a lot better.

ddwah2 Thu 05-Sep-13 17:33:10

I have no contract, but would they still pay for me to work?

Strix Thu 05-Sep-13 18:35:14

I would say 4 weeks. But I expect the family might be a bit annoyed with your inability to cope. You should have considered these things before you took the job. However as you are so miserable I agree the best thing is for you to end it sooner rather than later.

racingheart Thu 05-Sep-13 18:54:38

This one is really tough. Why did your family push you into it? Did they think you needed some distance from your fiancé? Did they worry you had no motivation in life?

If you are desperately unhappy (and it sounds as if you are) then call it quits. But it's very early days and quite normal to feel unsettled. Have you tried to make the best of it? Have you joined up to any social activities that might help you make friends? It's hard to know whether if you stay you'll be having the time of your life by Christmas, or whether your instinct is right.

What will you do if you leave? Do you have positive plans for the future?

ddwah2 Thu 05-Sep-13 19:12:57

Not one bit, my family love my fiancé, so that isn't the issue. It's just due to the fact my mother was never an au pair so she was living her dream through me I guess. Christmas is no option, if I could I would pack my bags and leave right now, but that's unfair on the family. I know what it is like to have no options after somebody quits suddenly. I've tried to enjoy it, but it's impossible, I feel like a walking zombie at the moment.

If I leave I'm going to a careers advisor to discuss working in administration, I also will have a job to go back to.

ddwah2 Thu 05-Sep-13 19:14:13

I don't want them to be disappointed in me, I hate it when people feel that way.

hettienne Thu 05-Sep-13 19:17:25

If you have no contract then you probably only have to give a week's notice - are you paid weekly? If you are worried about them not paying then I wouldn't risk giving lots of notice.

Bluebell99 Thu 05-Sep-13 19:22:45

Gosh I thought being an au pair was all about experiencing another country and improving another language in exchange for child care, but if I read your op right, you are English in England?! So are they just using you for cheap child care? What are you supposed to be getting out of the experience?!

ddwah2 Thu 05-Sep-13 19:34:32

No contract, however i don't want to give little notice as it's harsh on them trying to find alternative childcare options.

ddwah2 Thu 05-Sep-13 19:39:02

£100 a week, so I'm thinking the same. I chose England as it's close to home, although me and the whole family have fell out now so would be difficult to get home

NomDeClavier Fri 06-Sep-13 07:38:14

Well that's their own fault for not providing you with a contract when they're legally obliged to in one way but letting them down isn't a particularly nice thing to do.

The experience of being an au pair in your own country is never going to be the same as doing it abroad. You don't have the excitement of a new culture and language and lots of new things to see. You don't get the same camaraderie with other au pairs. You're not going out to language lessons to make friends. You don't need a surrogate family. You're basically providing cheap childcare.

So if you were actually interested in au pairing or working with children I'd tell you to go abroad or stick it out so you can get a nanny job in the future, but it seems that neither of those things floats your boat so just sit down with the family, say you're unhappy but will stay until they find someone else as long as they pay you and then go back home.

Strix Fri 06-Sep-13 12:53:15

I'm not sure £100 a week plus room and board necessarily constitutes cheap childcare. Depends how many hours are in there.

This family has put a lot of time, money, and personal investment into hiring you, and now you are leaving on short notice. I see this as you letting them down,mostly.

If you were my au pair, and you walked before I had a reasonable amount of time to replace you (about a month), I would be very annoyed indeed.

I always provide a contract, but I'm not sure it islegally required with au pairs. It is debatable whether they are employees or not. I prefer to treat them as scuh (and expect them to behave as such). But, not sure we can say this family has broken the law by not doing so. And in fact, I thought the law for an employment contract wa one month after start of job. I may be out of date on this though so feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

Nannyme1 Fri 06-Sep-13 15:48:29

Personally I think you are jumping the gun a bit! You are home sick we all get home sick! 3 weeks isn't really giving it much of a go!

NomDeClavier Fri 06-Sep-13 19:17:18

Well the high court and the ECJ ruled that they were, so if it came to a court case precedent is firmly with the au pair. Plus the 'au pairs aren't employees' references people coming from another country for the cultural/language benefit (despite - in the absence of an official scheme - that going directly against the principle of free movement of labour and equality for EU citizens). So if you take that out there's no way you can really argue that a British person in Britain isn't an employee.

You do have 2 months to provide a written statement but until there is a written statement the statutory minimum notice applies.

£100 + room + board is probably cheaper than paying a childminder or other form of childcare, so while it's still a substantial amount the intangible benefit that 'tops up' to make it worth it for an au pair just isn't there. The scheme's just not designed for people to do in their own country - it's a live in nanny on a 25(?) hour contract but being paid less than the going rate.

anewyear Fri 06-Sep-13 19:38:33

I have a rough idea how you feel Op.

I worked as a Live In, Temporary assistant to Matron for a Term in a boys Prep (boarding) school when I was in my late Teens, 25+ yrs ago,
Had never lived away from home before
I worked long hours for very little pay, a lot less than your weekly pay.
It was only 7 miles from my parents Home, I didnt drive, and I hated it.
I was very shy, Found it hard to talk to people/make friends,
I dont think Ive ever felt so low or so unhappy.
I was so glad when the job finished.

Prehaps a 'Live in' job is not for you.
I agree with Nom, if a job in Childcare is what you want, prehaps stick it out for a little longer? Difficult when you feel low I Know, but it is experiance in the long run.

rm00054 Fri 06-Sep-13 20:19:40

If it affecting your health then sometimes you do have to put yourself first. If you can stand it for another month then give a months notice. If you're on the verge of a breakdown then give a week. Tbh, you're not gonna be giving a decent standard of care when you feel like a zombie so it might be best to leave sooner rather than later.

I worked in a similar job to what yours sounds like when I first started working as a nanny. No contract, paid £150 a week (cash in hand, no tax paid etc), called an 'au pair' but am English and was working in England, worked 60 hours a week - and sometimes more when the parents didn't bother coming home for 36hours at a time. They did this without letting me know, they just left me with the kids with no explanation, it caused me so much stress that in the end I constantly felt sick and wasn't eating or sleeping properly.
I didn't have a contract so knew I legally only had to give 1 week notice, but I gave 2. The dad physically threatened me and said I needed to give 4. I stood up for myself (for once) and got the hell out of there after the 2 weeks.

Some parents do just want cheap childcare and really don't care about taking advantage of people.

Op, are you paid cash in hand? Are the parents set up as employers? (even though you are paid below the tax threshold I think they should still be paying your NI contributions). If you're not having things done legally then the parents don't sound like great people anyway so I wouldn't be bothered about giving them too much notice.

Really hope your situation gets better for you.

jnl0612 Fri 06-Sep-13 20:25:10

They probably arnt stupid and know your unhappy, just explain, apologise, don't be shocked if they get hacked off and give notice.. Don't give 20 minutes notice like my last one and then get shocked when I'm angry !!

breatheslowly Fri 06-Sep-13 20:34:32

What hours are you working? I'm not convinced that you are legally an "au pair" and it seems to me that if you aren't an au pair you might be entitled to the minimum wage. That suggests that you are being taken for a ride by the family.

hettienne Fri 06-Sep-13 20:37:31

I don't think there necessarily is a legal definition of an au pair, and workers living in the family home/as part of the family don't qualify for minimum wage.

breatheslowly Fri 06-Sep-13 21:06:29

I was looking at this.

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