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i think my au pair smacked my son

(57 Posts)
T0R1 Thu 30-Oct-14 23:37:57

Hi there, I'm having a bit of a rough time. My husband has had to go away with work for 6 months and now my situation is that I have college 2 and a half days a week, two dogs who need walking 3 times a day and our son, who is a super star and lots of fun to hang out with. Our au pair arrived before my husband suddenly had to go. He's been gone two weeks. I find our au pair demanding/bossy and has no patience with ds.

She probably does 20 - 25 hours a week at the most and practically clocks in and clocks out which is not my previous au pair experiences at all. I would take them out and pay for trips and coffees etc and not directly in exchange but if you know what I mean they would be flexible and watch ds other times (if I went for a run or popped out to the shop) without expecting anything more.

This au pair asked for more money when she had to watch ds when I was poorly the other week which really felt like a kick in the teeth to me. I said no. Anyway, I never say anything about the things I'm not happy with. At the end of the day I leave her alone with my son so I don't want to p*ss her off.

The other day I told her we couldn't afford to keep her anymore and that it was because I couldn't afford to put her on the car insurance which we needed for her to take ds to pre school from January. She talked me out of it but I can't tell if its' because life is easy for her here or if its' because she really likes us?!?!

Yesterday and today ds has pretended to smack himself whilst getting on the potty. I know she hates potty training as she's made it very clear to me. He is 3 in November and starts pre school in January. We're not rushing things, it's a fairly relaxed go at potty training. As I said, I'm fairly laid back about things. DS already poops in the toilet and she told him he wasn't to poop in the potty which I don't agree with and told her. Whatever helps to get him to wee into a potty/toilet instead of a nappy is progress. However, I think she has smacked him on the leg to make him stay on the potty.

I think i've really had enough. Even if she didn't. Thing is her flight is booked home on 28th February. I don't want to rock the boat, she is nice, I hate confrontation. I really don't know what to do. So sorry this is so so so long!!!!

(PS my husband has gone to Sierra Leone so I realise this is very much 1st world problems!!)

CurlyWurlyCake Thu 30-Oct-14 23:45:00

Oh dear. I would arrange to meet with her without DS present and tell her your concerns, keep it factual and listen to what she has to say.

Have you given her an official termination of contract, confused because her flights are booked for feb but you have told her you can't afford her due to insurance?

T0R1 Thu 30-Oct-14 23:51:33

Sorry, I didn't make it clear, she talked me out of letting her go. She's been here 2 months and has 4 to go and I didn't NEED her on the insurance until January when ds starts pre school. So she has convinced me that I can take him to pre school in my lunch break from college and she will go to. She will stay in the village where pre school is and apparently I can provide her with money to get a coffee!!! I digress. And then he finishes at 3.15 and I finish at 4 on two days of the week so I can pick them both up at 4. So I will be dropping and picking ds off every afternoon. Largely defeating the object of having anyone here at all!!! I'm doing so much at the moment I may as well be on my own.

Coconutty Thu 30-Oct-14 23:54:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

QuintsTombWithAWiew Thu 30-Oct-14 23:56:34

What a mare. You need to let her go so that you find somebody else by January.

You cant focus on your studies if you need to leave college to take your child to preschool. You are right it defeats the object of having her.

T0R1 Fri 31-Oct-14 00:03:39

@Coconutty - I tried to but although he's nearly 2 he's not saying full sentences. When we went on the dog walk when I got back from college today I asked him if he got smacked today and he said yes and I asked who smacked him and he said "***what he calls the au pair***" but he's little so I don't know that it's confirmation. The way he was doing it suggested to me that she had smacked him on the leg so he wouldn't get off the potty until he had wee'd - she has no patience at all.

@Quints…. Sometimes I do projects and other college stuff right through lunch and have even started eating Pot Noodles at lunch time as it's fast and easy!!! I'm 35!!!!! Ha ha! But seriously I'm thinking that as much as it will be nice to see ds at lunch time it's going to be a huge pain and also a waste of money

3luckystars Fri 31-Oct-14 00:09:07

Get rid of her tomorrow. Get someone decent for your son.

UnwittingAccomplice Fri 31-Oct-14 00:14:14

So if you think about what's best for your DS, what would that be?

Then you need to find the strength to make that happen. Regardless of what your au pair wants.

I would personally be following my instincts, it doesn't sound like she's the right person for your family.

T0R1 Fri 31-Oct-14 00:15:29

@3luckystars But what do I say this time though.

No matter what she might have done, and I really don't know and I'm making huge assumptions, I don't want to be mean. I've got no hard facts and part of me thinks, and this is terrible, maybe i'm hoping she did smack him to give myself and excuse to get rid of her. My emotions are all over the place at the moment with my husband being away and I'm trying to keep myself in check!! I think she needs to go but how can I do it?!?!

UnwittingAccomplice Fri 31-Oct-14 00:18:23

You tell her it's not working out. You tell her that you don't feel comfortable with her way of dealing with your son. You don't get into a debate about evidence. You don't negotiate with her (you have a toddler, you know that negotiation is a Bad Idea).

That's how you do it.

T0R1 Fri 31-Oct-14 00:18:43

@Unwitting….. I love it when someone can put something so concisely and especially the 'finding the strength' bit. That is exactly how I feel. I need to do this. I've got another 24 weeks until husband is home. Things are hard enough.

T0R1 Fri 31-Oct-14 00:21:21

@Unwitting... exactly that, you are so so right. Thanks

Do I offer to pay to change her flights or pay her off a few weeks. I spoke to a friend the other night and we came up with 2 weeks pay and she could stop immediately.

UnwittingAccomplice Fri 31-Oct-14 00:27:13

I think you can focus the conversation on what she would need in order to get home - I'd let her lead the discussion. I don't know what obligations you have towards her, but you could offer to book a flight home for her (so you can arrange a sensibly priced one) instead of a release payment. She might need somewhere to stay between now and the flight, so you could also offer to help arrange that and pay for that instead of her wages?

43percentburnt Fri 31-Oct-14 00:32:14

What does it say in the contract? How much notice do you have to give? Get your friend to be with you when you give notice, arrange alternative childcare straight away.

Karoleann Fri 31-Oct-14 00:38:41

If she's going to stay you need to tell her (not ask) about smacking but the main issue is Au pairs do not do potty training.
I'm sorry you're having a rough time, but they are not nannies and really shouldn't be having sole care of little ones - you'd be better with a nanny for 2.5 days.

T0R1 Fri 31-Oct-14 00:41:55

We don't have a contract, i've always used au pair world and never used or needed a contract before.

She already has her flights book (she's from the States) but it's 3 flights which would cost to change. I'm not sure how much. I thought as she had 4 months left she could look for another family. I had expected her to be like part of the family but I think some Hosts would like her to clock in and out!! I'd be happy for her to stay but I wouldn't want her to do any more childcare.

T0R1 Fri 31-Oct-14 00:53:32

@Karoleann I'm a bit confused - what is an au pair supposed to do then? I don't need someone to hold my hand whilst I'm looking after my child. Who would pay someone and have them live with you and then not go out?!

cheesecakemom Fri 31-Oct-14 02:19:31

Au pairs don't do potty training? Then how do they look after your child if they are at a stage where they need potty training? Do people just make up these rules as they go along?

OP it sounds to me as though you already made your mind up. It doesn't seem you trust her anymore or feel comfortable leaving your Son with her. If she won't do childcare for the rest of the four months then what will she do since you said you seem to be doing quite a lot?

I would suggest letting her go. Have a word and tell her you don't feel confident and would like to look for another au pair to start in Jan / Dec. that gives her time to look for another family too. Good Luck

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 31-Oct-14 07:40:47

Can I clarify your sons age as in 1 post you say he is nearly 3 and in another nearly 2?
I think the query about whether an au pair is appropriate choice is that they are often not recommended to care for children under 3.
Going forward I think like others you need to tell her to go. Follow up the meeting with notice in writing stating that either you pay or her flights to be rearranged or she needs to be out of the house in X days. I am guessing you are maybe an army wife so maybe our family liaison officer might be able to give you one support in this.
In future have a contract it makes the employer/employee role much better defined and you have a notice period laid out. And also smacking could be defined as gross misconduct and would enable instant dismissal.
American au pairs are one I steer clear of as I am uncertain what they gain though coming to the UK, no cultural or language benefits. No withstanding all the visa issues with them.

DearGirl Fri 31-Oct-14 07:53:43

What Karolanne is saying is that aupairs a should not have sole charge of children under 3 in a situation like this. They are not professionals they are meant to be more a mothers help / babysitter

T0R1 Fri 31-Oct-14 07:55:43

You are right. Typo. He is 3 next month. I've never read anywhere that it's not advices for under three. In fact I was so bothered by the 'shouldn't be left alone post/no potty training) that I looked it up.
I'm an RM wife so it's Navy but I don't want to get husbands work involved this time. But thanks for the suggestion. I never think of those kind of things.
I understand what your saying about us au pair but it is a very different culture and has been for a previous Canadian au pair too.
I can't prove gross misconduct based on guessing and asking a 2 year old and I'd feel weird about a nanny cam.
The long and short is that she needs to go. I know you are all right it's just manning up and actually doing it! She's a person with feelings and I don't want to give her a bad experience.

T0R1 Fri 31-Oct-14 08:19:29

They aren't a mothers help/babysitter a mothers help is a mother help, a babysitter is a babysitter and an au pair is an au pair. Looking after a 2 year old is fine. Potty training is fine. I knew this already but I double checked last night. She lives here, I pay her and she has duties that I have set out following guidelines. Potty training is not difficult. She doesn't have to handle the poop if it is in the potty. Just tip it into the toilet and give the potty a quick clean?! No worse than cleaning an actual toilet.

Pastperfect Fri 31-Oct-14 08:34:12

Potty training and sole care of an under three is absolutely NOT appropriate.

As a PP said what is best for your son? An inexperienced unqualified woman who possibly smacks him can't possibly be it confused

Headofthehousehold Fri 31-Oct-14 08:34:39

She sounds rubbish but that could be because she is overwhelmed. AP is not a trained nanny they are young girls, asking them to potty train a toddler is absolutely mad. Get a nanny. This is not a cultural thing this is you asking an untrained girl to do a trained job because you can't afford the proper help and then complaining about it.

Also did you tell her she would have use of a car which you have now retracted because the insurance costs too much?

However - She clearly is not right for you. I think 2 weeks notice with a contribution to her flight eg 50% if she does not get another job within those 2 weeks is not unreasonable. You need to ensure she can stay in your home for those 2 week or if you want rid quickly you need to pay her flights.

You should have a contract however you do not get acquired rights for 2 years so you do not have to 'prove' gross misconduct' therefore if you hate confrontation I would not bring it up the smacking

I would say. Sorry I have done some finances I can't afford you I am giving you 2 weeks notice of which your options are a)leave tomorrow and take the money, b)stay here, work as normal and find a family or c)stay here work as normal but book flights and I will pay 50%. If she tries to talk you out of it then say firmly after 2 weeks you can't afford to pay her.

lovelynannytobe Fri 31-Oct-14 08:46:26

Just give her notice (whatever you've agreed before you hired her) so pay for 2 weeks (if that's what you've discussed) and she can go immediately if she wants to and I would offer to pay to change the flights if she wants to go back home.
I think in future it would be a good idea to have a proper contract where everything is specified so there is no surprises either side ... so things like babysitting, extra working hours (like when you were ill) I think you absolutely should have paid something ... I wouldn't see this as kick in the teeth ... she did work she should be rewarded in monetary value.
Some things you haven't thought of like the insurance and the pre-school ... it is always going to be expensive to have a young foreigner driving your car. I think this seems to be the main thing for you when you realised there's no point in having her.
The smacking thing I wouldn't do anything about unless you're absolutely sure it's happened. If there's no marks and the child is not scared of her it could be just in your head. One boy I used to look after apparently had a pet eagle in the garage and his dad liked to poop in the fridge. Your LO could have seen the 'smacking' on tv or at a playground and may have been trying how it feels or even did it accidentally to himself first time and then repeated it again. Children do experiment with their bodies.

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