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My relationship with my au pair is breaking down

(54 Posts)
mosaica Wed 26-Feb-14 23:42:42

My au pair is great - very experienced in child care, very loving towards my children and she's made our lives a lot easier since she arrived. Last month she told me that when her year with us was up, she'd like to move out bit still work for is as a nanny (she's qualified in her country to work as one). In the nicest possible way, I explained that for me it would mean a lot of money and I would not really gain anything from it. I acknowledged it was normal for her to want her own space, but we wouldn't want to go down that route.

Since then, I get the impression she has stopped to like us. She's still lovely with the kids, but she chats very little with us. She also posts Whatsapp statuses which hint at things bring rubbish at work and her needing a change. Today I saw one of her Fb posts and it was awful, basically saying we were being mean as we would only give her 8 days holiday for Easter, etc. She also said she loved our children and thats why it was difficult to take the decision to leave.

We pay her generously and always try and let her finish early, etc. I am not sure what to do : I know she is good with the kids, but knowing she thinks so little of us is difficult. I am not sure an open conversation will help as she it can only make things more awkward. Any advice?

LaurieFairyCake Wed 26-Feb-14 23:45:37

How long does she have left ?

If a short time I would point out that she needs a reference but you can see she's clearly moved on from au pairing to wanting a more senior role

So that you're letting her know that you know
and that's there's a reference involved but also you're giving her an 'out' to taking up better paid work as she's more experienced

mosaica Wed 26-Feb-14 23:57:57

I think the reference idea is good. I don't know, I just feel so deflated, because I like her and always say great things about her to anybody who will listen. To think that's she's talking about us in such bad terms, on a public forum like FB... I'm really upset. I just think she's going to leave soon - but I can't really start looking for an au pair until I know for sure.

mosaica Wed 26-Feb-14 23:58:30

She still has 7 months left, I doubt she'll stay that long.

oscarwilde Thu 27-Feb-14 11:37:51

Hi OP. That's totally out of order. I think you should sit her down and tell it to her straight. That she is being totally unprofessional slating her job/family on facebook and other public forums. It needs to stop or she will need to leave asap without a reference. End of. If she were anything other than an aupair you would have grounds to sack her for gross misconduct.
You hired as your au pair for a year (or whatever) in good faith. She has decided that she wants to work as a nanny which you have said is not affordable for you. That's her problem, not yours. She needs to get on with it or give you notice. If you've lost confidence in her, then give her notice yourself.
Alternatively, establish what you can afford to pay her as a nanny and the hours she can do. It's then down to her to find a second job, or a nannyshare or whatever within a timeframe.

I'm sure this sounds harsh but she's a grown woman not a teenager (if she is qualified and should start behaving like one if she wants to be treated seriously as a possible nanny.

mosaica Thu 27-Feb-14 22:12:16

Thank you, oscarwilde. I think if things deteriorate any more we'll just have to let her go. If I have that kind of conversation with her, she is likely to be resentful and then I'll just not want to leave my children in her care. I'm finding it difficult as it is.

oscarwilde Thu 27-Feb-14 23:11:48

Honestly. I think you can have this conversation without a show down.
'I can see you are unhappy... Etc etc' If you want to go, I'm happy to help, write a good reference , agree a leaving date etc but as a parent it is giving me huge concern that your heart isn't in it to the point where you would post this stuff. '

Halfawife Sat 01-Mar-14 13:00:38

It sounds as though she has checked out emotionally and I wouldn't be able to put up with 7 more months of that knowing how she really felt. Especially as she is living with you, it will make the environment in the house strained. I agree with other posters that you should have a frank conversation with her so she knows you know how she feels but out of embarrassment or resentment she may not be frank with you in her response. As difficult as it is to find new help, I would start looking.

MerryMarigold Sat 01-Mar-14 13:06:28

I think I would make time for a coffee alone and then say something along the lines of: "I saw the facebook post. Seems like you're unhappy. But I wouldn't advise you to post so publicly as it is not v professional. I'm happy to help you find another job so we can all feel secure and happy." You can be kind whilst letting her know it wasn't on. She will probably be defensive, but if you are nothing but kind (whilst letting her know this behaviour isn't acceptable), she has nothing to moan about.

whereohwhere Sat 01-Mar-14 14:11:48

I would absolutely find someone new.

No-one should ever post negatively about their employers online: it is very very unprofessional indeed. Forgive me if this sounds harsh but I'm not really sure that the OP needs to offer to help her find a new role or write her a good reference!

Most people would be sacked for gross misconduct for doing this type of thing. Just because she's a young aupair it shouldn't be more acceptable. If anything, it's almost worse as she's in your home and caring for your children rather than disgruntled employee some big corporate company, say.

If I were you, I'd be showing her the door I'm afraid.

whereohwhere Sat 01-Mar-14 14:12:54

a disgruntled employee in some big corporate company!

mosaica Sat 01-Mar-14 22:43:54

A new development. My dh and I are spending the weekend away- our au pair is with the children. She will be paid for the weekend plus given time off on our return. Well, I got a text a couple of hours ago saying that she's been offered a job in her country. She'll turn it down if we agree to employ her as a nanny in September; if not, she'll leave on June.

What annoys me is that's she's dropping what she thinks is a bombshell during our much needed break. All this while she has my children and I'm a flight away from her. My in- laws live round the corner, but still.

She's booked a return flight to her country for Easter. When we tell her that we won't employ her as a nanny, I worry the situation will deteriorate and she might notcome back. Should I start looking for another au pair?

mosaica Sat 01-Mar-14 22:45:09

I mean, should I start now?

blueshoes Sat 01-Mar-14 23:07:40

She is starting to hold you to ransom - I would find it difficult to leave her alone with the children after this. It is creepy that she is making demands at a juncture when you need her the most, almost blackmail. She has checked out of the job. I would start looking now.

Let her leave on your terms, not hers.

BTW, I can normally find a new aupair to start within 1-2 weeks. I do live in London though. Make sure you have an aupair in the wings before you tell her you would prefer her to go. This one sounds like she would do a runner just to spite you.

blueshoes Sat 01-Mar-14 23:11:40

I had an aupair like yours. Very good with the children and with cleaning. But she took the job so she could get a better one once in the UK. She was very nice to the children but after 3 months she said she had a shop job that paid better and when we did not up her pay, she left. I suspected she did her best to get the children to like her so she could upgrade in her current job. But when she could not (why should we after she was only with us for 3 months), she was not going to stay anyway. Oh well. Next!

Paintyfingers Sun 02-Mar-14 00:52:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MrsBonkers Sun 02-Mar-14 01:01:22

I don't think I'd want her back after Easter. Start looking now.

MiscellaneousAssortment Sun 02-Mar-14 01:27:05

I would tell her that you are not going to think about it until you get back from holiday.

Then start recruitment ASAP.

When you talk to her explain that you emotes an au pair, and it's not an immediate gateway to nanny work, after only a few months, without even finishing her agreed length of time as an au pair. Then give her notice and use the offer of a good reference to get her to work it...

Good luck

whereohwhere Sun 02-Mar-14 06:52:25

I'm not meaning to worry you, OP, but I wouldn't want someone like this looking after my kids.

I'm a lawyer. If I posted about my employers negatively online, I'd be fired. If I phoned a partner on holiday to say 'employ me on these terms or I go to another firm', I'd also be laughed out the door.

Don't be held to ransom by your AP. She's good with the kids- but there are lots of good nannies and APa out there who don't behave like this.

Can you take some time off work? Personally I'd be asking her to leave when you got home from holiday and finding someone new. She sounds ridiculous!

mosaica Sun 02-Mar-14 07:51:02

Thank you all - some fantastic advice here. This gets worse, I'm afraid. After she texted me yesterday (7.30 pm UK time) she seems to have turned off her phone and I cannot contact her. I hope I'm just being paranoid, but I'm abroad and she has my beautiful children and I can't contact her. I'm asking my in-laws to pop in to check everything is ok.

I can't believe she's doing this on our first break on our own for nearly 7 years. And believe me, we have been very generous and accommodating with her since she arrived.

PortofinoRevisited Sun 02-Mar-14 07:57:06

Au pairs are not MEANT to have full care of the kids in this way. I am a bit shocked you left the country, especially when you weren't really happy with her.

PortofinoRevisited Sun 02-Mar-14 07:59:23

It sounds to me like you are expecting her to carry out nanny-like duties, but aren't happy to pay her at that level.

Rosa Sun 02-Mar-14 08:00:36

Very silly question but she is not answering the land line either???

mosaica Sun 02-Mar-14 08:03:49

Sorry, I was happy with her and realised most au pairs should not be left while the parents go abroad. But as I've said, she's a qualified nanny with lots of experience and I checked references before she moved in with us. She's also been paid very well for the weekend and will have time off when we return.

In any case, can we stick to the original topic and a not transform this thread into a debate about what an au pair can or cannot do? smile

Jinglebells99 Sun 02-Mar-14 08:07:18

Omg I would be worried too. Have your inlaws checked on your children? But as Portofinorevisited says, au pairs are not meant to be left in charge like that. They are more like a mothers help. Sounds like you are expecting too much from her, and therefore no wonder she is resentful and looking for a nanny position. Are you treating her as a nanny and paying her as an au pair?!

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