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Au pair conundrum

(30 Posts)
Cat111 Sat 18-Oct-14 00:38:37

We are on our second au pair. We had a successful time with our first who was a lovely Spanish girl, but she had to go back to university as she was only in the UK over summer. Several weeks ago our second arrived and it is fair to say that the experience has not been particularly successful. She is 19 and has never been away from home or had a boyfriend and is very childish. She is also lazy and very demanding. I feel like I have another child in the house - and not a very charming one at that - which was not my previous experience of having an au pair.

Then last night she came to us and said that she was not happy and wanted to leave. I think she may have been expecting us to beg her to stay but we agreed that we are not the right family for her –but said there might be a better match out there and it was worth another try through her agency. She said that she wanted to make a decision on whether to try to find another family or whether to go back to Germany and asked for a few days to make this decision. We said that this was fine and said we would support her in whatever decision she made and that we should just carry on as usual with her 'working' and us paying her - which she said she would do by Monday. All good. However tonight she came to us and asked for a lift to see a friend in a week's time. We had hoped that she might have left by then but she informed us that she was going to stay for two weeks as this was part of her contract. We have two small boys and since she has made the decision to go I do not want to confuse them by having her hanging around –and don't really feel like feeding and watering her when she provides us with very little help.

She came through an agency but the owner is on holiday at the moment so I cannot ask her for her advice. Does anybody else have any experience of a scenario like this - or what do you think? If needs be we can sit it out for another few weeks but I don't feel like being a taxi service for her in the meantime and under the circumstances I am not sure that requests like this are reasonable.


LondonLocal Sat 18-Oct-14 07:58:12

Feel sorry for the poor girl. You decided to have an Au Pair, you deal with what comes with it, some people have good experiences, some bad! Especially if it's in her contract to stay for two weeks after notice, I think it's perfectly fair that's she's still there!

'Dont feel like feeding and watering her' To me that's just awful! How would you feel if one of your sons was staying with a host family and the parents 'couldn't be bothered feeding him or to drive him around'

BeattieBow Sat 18-Oct-14 08:04:39

I think you just need to suck up the 2 weeks tbh. But make it clear that it's 2 weeks and then you need her to be out as you need to sort out a replacement and you need certainty about the dates. I would say that you expect her to do her duties during those 2 weeks (unless you can do without her).

I don't think your 2 boys will be confused.

OutragedFromLeeds Sat 18-Oct-14 13:00:57

You can pay her the two weeks notice and have her out immediately or you can let her work the two weeks. That's why you have a contract with notice in it, so you each know where you are in this situation. She is being entirely reasonable in working her notice.

Jinxxx Sat 18-Oct-14 14:08:30

Surely you have to pay, feed and house her for her notice period, and treat her as usual in other respects. She has said that she is thinking of leaving but not yet given formal notice (unless you have omitted to mention that), but it sounds as if you have seized upon what she has said to try to get her to leave immediately. I think she is perfectly within her rights to expect you to continue as normal for the time being until she makes a definite decision. If you would have given her a lift, then I don't see how the circumstances alter anything.

Blondeshavemorefun Sat 18-Oct-14 19:11:00

As others have said she is leaving in 2 weeks as her notice /contract says

So yes you need to feed and pay her - or pay her off and give her 48hrs to find somewhere

fluffymouse Sat 18-Oct-14 19:50:49

As it clearly isn't working for you, the best solution would seem to pay her for her 2 weeks notice, and a flight home as you are clearly keen to move on.

OhReallyDear Sat 18-Oct-14 20:43:19

Why is it your problem that she never had a boyfriend? You sound awful and judgemental, good for her that she decided to go.

If you have a contract with 2 weeks notice, you have to pay her until the end of the notice.

Cat111 Sun 19-Oct-14 00:11:16

We're happy to pay her for the two weeks. I think paying for a flight could be the way forward too –apart from the fact that she is refusing to tell us whether she wants to try to find another family in the UK or to go home to Germany. We have said we will support her in whatever decision she makes and carry on as normal until then, but I feel that she is dragging it out. She told us she wanted to leave on Thursday but says she will not be giving us her decision on what she wants to do beyond this until next week.

I just don't really want her around the house for another two weeks as she has done nothing since she arrived a few weeks ago –apart from go on about how crap everything British is. When she arrived she had to ask how to use a tea bag; apparently German ones are better as they have tags on them. Scooping it out with a tea spoon was quite beyond her… Within a week of coming to stay with us she also demanded that her parents and brother come to stay at our house less than a month after she had joined us.

She is a very spoilt, self-indulgent girl whose mother has done everything for her. We employ a lot of students and teenagers and we have 14 year olds waitressing for us who show considerably more maturity than this girl. Call me judgemental if you like, but if my children went to somebody else's house and behaved as she has I would be ashamed!

My regular childminder - who has looked after our children several days a week for four years - thinks she is dreadful and says she doesn't think she is responsible enough to look after the children (and not with a view to getting more hours!). Thankfully my husband and I are self-employed and at the moment can arrange our lives in a way that covers the childcare gaps, with help from regular childminder and Granny.

Just sad to have an experience like this after our lovely Spanish girl, who we are still have regular contact with and who calls us her British family.

OutragedFromLeeds Sun 19-Oct-14 03:06:41

Firstly, an au pair can't demand anything. They can ask, but the balance of power doesn't really enable them to 'demand' things. If you don't want to have her family to stay then say no. It's really not difficult.

If you want her out pay the 2 weeks and a flight. That's all you need to do. You can't complain about a contract that you gave her though. You wanted two weeks notice (I assume that's why it's in the contract?), you've got two weeks notice.

SavoyCabbage Sun 19-Oct-14 06:24:06

She probably doesn't know what she wants to do next, rather than she's refusing to tell you.

I would sit her down and say "I think you should have a fresh start with a new family and if you still decide being an au pair wnt for you, then you can go home". She needs advice as she's in a new situation and she's immature. It's a hard decision to make and she is probably looking for some guidance.

Then you can speak to the agency and they can help her with what is expected in her new role.

LIZS Sun 19-Oct-14 06:36:00

If it is 2 weeks' notice then you have to be prepared to provide accommodation as well as pay for that period since that is part of the package or compensate her. You don't have to give her lifts , find her a link to the relevant transport agency or B and B for her family. I don't think her requests are unreasonable, you don't have to comply, but had it been your previous AP would you perhaps have been more accommodating ?

Cat111 Sun 19-Oct-14 17:35:30

We didn't set the contract - apparently this is something she signed with her German agency. We haven't signed anything like this with our agency. I guess I need to wait to see what she would like to do and wait for our agency lady to come back from holiday and hopefully it will all be resolved soon.

smashboxmashbox Sun 19-Oct-14 18:01:05

Why does it matter that she hasn't had a boyfriend?

And as for not feeding and watering her - well, words fail me.

Cat111 Sun 19-Oct-14 18:46:17

My point is that she is not very worldly - which is why we are being very patient with her. This may be why I sound grumpy online.

I'm not sure that any of the people who have been slating me would relish having a demanding, critical, lazy spoilt person who they pay in their house... especially when they are supposed to be being helpful in return for board, food and pay. But maybe you're just nicer people than me!

smashboxmashbox Sun 19-Oct-14 18:46:56

She's barely out of her childhood and she's in a strange country with a language barrier - not all kids mature at the same rate - just you wait til your child is that age!

Cat111 Sun 19-Oct-14 19:41:52

Point taken. But I work with lots of teenagers from the age of 14 up and she is way behind even the youngest in terms of her attitude to life. I guess they don't have a language barrier to contend with though, or living with a foreign family.

OutragedFromLeeds Sun 19-Oct-14 19:54:35

...or being homesick or having to live with and rely on someone who really doesn't like her.

I understand she's not very good and it's a pain, but the balance of power is so heavily tilted in your direction, you have to try and find it in yourself to be kind to her for the next two weeks (or pay her off). Two weeks isn't that long in the grand scheme of things.

Cat111 Sun 19-Oct-14 20:27:42

We really are trying to be kind. Tonight I made her a separate meal as she didn't like the meal we were having as a family, or the other meal I had prepared for tomorrow which I offered her. She doesn't like green salad and didn't want eggs so I put together some goat cheese and tomato pasta which she had said she would eat. Sigh...

Cat111 Mon 20-Oct-14 14:28:39

Our au pair agency says the two week thing is nonsense. The lady who runs it is going to accommodate ap, get to know her and see if she can rehome her but she says that based on the correspondence she has received from the ap it will be difficult as she seems so demanding about what she wants. Sad that it hasn't worked out this time but glad the whole thing will soon be over.

Blondeshavemorefun Mon 20-Oct-14 14:44:00

How very nice of the agency lady

Never known that to happen. Ap to stay with them. Wonder if does for all aps that don't work out could need a huge house wink

Glad she will be out of your hair smile

OhReallyDear Mon 20-Oct-14 15:08:06

It's not so much the fact that you complain but the things you complain about. If you had said

- She isn't cleaning after herself

- She is not playing with the children

It would be fair enough. But

- She never had a boyfriend

- She is less mature than some 14 years old I know

- She had to ask how to do tea...


Cat111 Mon 20-Oct-14 15:54:18

No, she didn't clean after herself, or the children. On one of the early on days when I thought she might be willing to do some childcare - and had scheduled this with her - she announced that she had a cold so would not be able to look after the children all day. Thankfully a relative stepped in as I had a meeting that could not be avoided and my husband then took over. I'm going to let the agency lady make up her own mind though and hopefully she will find a suitable family for ap.

SuperFlyHigh Wed 22-Oct-14 13:37:16

To be perfectly honest it sounds like a breakdown in communication.

I don't think have told her that she should clean after herself or the children. Do you have a cleaner too?

Hang on a sec thought she might be willing to do some childcare did you ask her or did you just set this on her? Would you want your DC to get the cold she had?

And there's nothing wrong with her other ways eg not being mature enough etc - and the food - words fail me - so she doesn't like what you're having FGS can you not ask her and plan round that?

You don't sound great as an employer unless you have an au pair who panders to your every need like the first one.

SuperFlyHigh Wed 22-Oct-14 13:38:13

All you do re the tea bags is buy some extra ones with tags on - surely that won't break the bank?!

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