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I'm an AP and I am wondering whether any of this is normal(long)

(182 Posts)
QueenieRae Mon 27-Jan-14 19:19:16

Hi all, would welcome some advice from people with experience of an AP. To set the scene, I'm an English AP in Western Europe and have been for two months now. There are three kids, 5, 10 and 13. After checking the guidelines for my host country online I am wondering whether I need to leave ASAP or if I'm just being a bit precious.

The good:
The youngest kid is lovely.
The mother is a SAHM.
I am allowed to attend a language course once a week.
I have a lovely large room with a balcony and shared use of the kids' bathroom.
I think my language skills are improving.

The slightly iffy:
I am paid 150 Euros a month. The internet seems to suggest I should be on at least 50Euro a week.
I have to pay for all my transport and language course.
I am expected to clean the house fully 4 times a week. This includes hoovering, polishing, cleaning the bathrooms, cleaning the kitchen floor, hob and oven, and dusting.
I do a lot of cooking, unless the family go out for dinner.
I babysit most evenings.

The uncomfortable:
I am not allowed to eat with the family, but eat whatever the kids leave from the meal. I'm also not allowed to help myself to anything.
The middle child is almost 9 stone(!). There don't tend to be leftovers.
I haven't actually had a paid day off yet. That said, the host family count my morning language course as time off.
I am not allowed to shut my bedroom door, ever. I change in the bathroom.
The older children are possibly psychopathic. Due to an 'accident' where one jumped on me while the other tripped me I now have a broken wrist. I was taken to hospital yesterday and now the parents have gone away for the week leaving me in charge of the kids.

I have little way of knowing whether I'm a good AP or not. Maybe I'm just crap or everything has been unlucky. That said, I have a broken wrist and I've lost almost a stone and a half.

To be honest, I'll probably leave before I was supposed to, but rational talking would be welcome.

SuburbanSpaceperson Mon 27-Jan-14 19:42:22

No, none of that is normal. shock You should treated as a member of the family for mealtimes, and you should be able to have privacy in your room (that's really weird about not shutting the door). As an aside, I know it's probably heightened emotion talking, but you can't call children psychopathic, you're not a psychiatrist and they haven't been assessed and diagnosed. Throwing around medical terms without understanding what the mean is pointless and annoying for those who have experience of the conditions. The older children are clearly difficult though, and you are being expected to take on more responsibility than a qualified nanny would accept.

Did the parents leave after you had broken your wrist? Did they leave emergency contact details? I would contact them and tell them that you can't manage the household with a broken wrist and for the safety and wellbeing of the children they need to come back or arrange for someone to take over their care. Once that happens, leave. Say it's for the good of the children as you won't be able to care for them or the house until your wrist has healed.

nannynick Mon 27-Jan-14 19:45:14

eat whatever the kids leave from the meal - that does not sound good. Are you not able to cook yourself your own portion?

Never closing bedroom door - not great, you need somewhere private to sleep, not be in fear of someone coming in to your room. However that may be a British attitude, does all the family sleep with doors open?

AGoodPirate Mon 27-Jan-14 19:48:40

Er, is this a joke? Not feeding you other than scraps isn't normal at all!

scratchandsniff Mon 27-Jan-14 19:49:19

I'd be packing my bags if I was you. You have to feel safe and comfortable. You're their underpaid skivvy. Why the hell would you not let an AP shut the door?! Odd.

QueenieRae Mon 27-Jan-14 19:54:07

Yeah you're right about the psychopath comment, Suburban, I apologise. That said, last week I discovered them pinning the cat down on the table so that the older child could force chilli powder into its mouth.

The parents left last night a few hours after we came back from the hospital. I have their mobile numbers but they are turned off. Actually part of me is grateful they aren't here as I get to eat a bit better. The kids have told on me if I cook my own food when babysitting.

The parents and the oldest child shut their doors and I am not allowed into the parents' room unless I am cleaning.

Lamu Mon 27-Jan-14 19:56:30

I'd be planning to leave asap, on the basis that you're not being treated as part of the family. The way you're being treated is completely unacceptable bordering on illegal. How can they not allow you food?!

SolomanDaisy Mon 27-Jan-14 19:56:32

That sounds shit and you should definitely leave. I live abroad, also in western Europe, and there were lots of au pairs on my language course. They all complained about the tiny amounts of food, portion sizes tend to be tiny here.

QueenieRae Mon 27-Jan-14 19:57:02

I do get the impression I need to give my notice fairly soon.

StrawberryMojito Mon 27-Jan-14 19:57:55

Surely you don't need Internet strangers to tell you that you should be allowed to eat normal size meals and shut your bedroom door?!

Levantine Mon 27-Jan-14 19:58:49

I would leave. Not normal and not acceptable. Leave in whatever way you think is responsible

Lamu Mon 27-Jan-14 19:59:25

I'd be out if there in a flash. There's not much to consider IMO. Did you get the job via an agency?

RuinedAndNotorious Mon 27-Jan-14 20:00:14

Although I have never been or had an au pair, that sounds horrendous and not at all normal. Please leave as soon as you can. Do the children have any other relatives who could look after them until the parents come back? Obviously you can't abandon them but you shouldn't have to look after three kids for a week with a broken wrist either.

clam Mon 27-Jan-14 20:03:26

How old are you? I'm just thinking that if you were my daughter, I'd be flying out to pick you up right now.
This is NOT acceptable. Get out as soon as you can. Please.

QueenieRae Mon 27-Jan-14 20:04:04

I was wondering more whether as I was living in somebody else's house, whether it was acceptable for them to impose the bedroom door thing.

The job was via the internet, not agency per se, more like an au pair 'dating' site.

I think if it wasn't for the little one I would already have gone but now I think the broken wrist is the final straw. I need to get my months pay and then I can fly home.

Moreisnnogedag Mon 27-Jan-14 20:04:24

Leave and leave now. Notice? Meh. As soon as they arrive back I'd be out like a shot.

Out of interest, how old are you and where are you? Not meant in a bad way, but you sound really unsure that this is a bad set up and it blatantly is.

MillyONaire Mon 27-Jan-14 20:04:52

I was an au pair back in the early 90's. I had a wonderful experience with a fantastic family and am still in touch with all of them - I didn't realise how lucky I was; Three of my friends went to France at the same time as au pairs and all three had rotten stories of various degrees of horror. Now we are all horrified that they stayed their full term; You should be packing your bags and planning your exit (would it be possible to find another job in the same area this week???) for the second those parents walk in on Friday or Saturday!

QueenieRae Mon 27-Jan-14 20:07:05

I'm in my early 20s but sadly lacking in family members. I wanted to come to this country and brush up on the language while still earning a bit with the aim of perhaps moving out here sometime soon.

NannyLouise29 Mon 27-Jan-14 20:08:05

Be prepared for the backlash when you hand in your notice. I was an au pair in Switzerland to a nutty family who treated me terribly. I was very nice, and handed in my notice telling them I'd stay until they found someone else - I was evicted the next day. No flight, no money, and nowhere to stay.

Have a Plan B arranged in case they don't take your notice very well. They seem the type to think they have treated you wonderfully and can't quite believe your "attitude" after "everything they've done for you" - such a common sentiment amongst these types of slave drivers.

They are treating you appallingly, and the fact that you have just got on with it is evidence of your good character. Don't worry about leaving them in the lurch if they change completely when you tell them you want to leave.

SolomanDaisy Mon 27-Jan-14 20:08:29

Just leave now. For 150 euros it isn't worth waiting for the pay. You might be able to find another placement in the same place quickly if you're in a major city.

anothernumberone Mon 27-Jan-14 20:09:30

surburban how did you pick up on the psychopathic comment in the context of this post. OP that is wrong, wrong, wrong call your parents get a flight and get out if there as soon as you can. That is slave labour not ap. alternatively get onto an ap website and find another family locally. I imagine it does not need to be said but don't leave the kids alone.

QueenieRae Mon 27-Jan-14 20:09:53

I'm kind of in the middle of nowhere right now; a small village but not much else. I've been browsing au pair sites over the last couple of days but the one family I contacted said they would prefer to wait until I was better as they have two boisterous young boys.

LUKYMUM Mon 27-Jan-14 20:09:54

I'm so sorry you're going through this. Just like everyone else said. You need to go.

SolomanDaisy Mon 27-Jan-14 20:09:56

I quit an appalling au pair job when I was 21 btw, it's not easy to quit and travel back alone at that age. Which country are you in?

LtGreggs Mon 27-Jan-14 20:13:42

The lack of food, lack of privacy and sole charge of three children for several days with a broken wrist and no parents answering phone are all end-it-now concerns. I'd make ready to leave and go as soon as there's someone else to take over with the children.

Do you have contact details for local family - grandparents or similar? If you are not comfortable leaving kids with them, you could as them for help and to contact parents.

Are you placed through an agency? If so, I'd get in touch with them tonight or tomorrow and get them to help you leave.

Have you got enough cash to leave? If not, can you call your parents for help?

If you are worried about getting upset or panicky, try thinking through a backup plan just in case. Is there a youth hostel in town or a friendly face or teacher at language school for advice? Would you be wanting to get straight back to UK, or find temp place to stay for a while why you try to find new AP role?

(We are a UK family with a W European AP)

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