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A mum's advice for an au pair

(16 Posts)
Clewin2 Mon 06-Jul-15 18:28:17

I am an au pair (British) in Italy and I am having some trouble looking after the little girl. I wanted some advice but as I have only been here 2 weeks I as of yet don't have anyone in the same boat as me I can talk to. I didn't really want to entrust my job in the hands of Yahoo answers so I figured that I would try to get some parenting advice off of some real parents!

Basically, I have to look after the little girl 2 hours at a time. That is fine when her parents leave for work but when they work at home it becomes difficult. I can play with her for an hour before she starts crying for her mum. I can console her but since her mum is in the next room there is nothing stopping her from running in. That is not good as it means the mum can't work. The little girls is only two and is incredibly close with her mum. They have told me they don't want me to have to pick her up and take her back in with me as they believe she should be free to move around. Basically, I just wondered if anyone had any tactics on ways to keep her attention much longer or any advice you can share on play with two year olds. Sorry for the long one and thanks in advance ( I am only 18 so this is all new to me.)

Duckdeamon Mon 06-Jul-15 18:30:45

Sorry you're having a hard time. I think caring for children when a parent is in the house and the child knows this is very challenging.

Perhaps you could take the little one on an outing?

grabaspoon Mon 06-Jul-15 18:47:30

Didn't want to read and run.

I am a 30 year old proglfessional nanny to a 2 year old who I have had fulltime since she was 6 months. YET I still have the same problem when her parents are at home. So you're not alone/dealing with this because you're young or new to the job - this is just what they're like.

downgraded Mon 06-Jul-15 18:50:55

I agree, maybe play at home for 45 mins then before she starts fussing suggest going to a park or something else she'd find fun and is out of the house.

Or you could try an activity like baking - something absorbing with a payoff at the end.

Duckdeamon Mon 06-Jul-15 18:53:57


MrsFogi Mon 06-Jul-15 18:59:55

My dcs used to do this. You need the mum's help or the only way to avoid this will be to go out of the house with the child. Fwiw I am very clear with my children - when the au pari is in charge she is in charge (and they get short shrift if they try to come to me instead of her). If the mum doesn't support you on this she'd just going to have to put up with getting no work done. You need to talk to the mum and have a conversation about whether she wants option 1 (work with you so the child is clear when her mum is working you're in charge etc) or option 2 (carry on being interrupted). She really needs to work out what she wants as she can't have it both ways.

longestlurkerever Mon 06-Jul-15 19:19:07

I agree this is hard. this is why I don't work from home when my dd is at home with her dgm. If I have to I either hide out upstairs and hope she doesn't know I am in or her dgm takes her out. I hope your employers are understanding.

hibbledibble Mon 06-Jul-15 23:05:46

Agree with others that caring for a child with a parent present is very difficult.

I think the easiest solution is to take the child out: to the park/soft play/any other local family friendly place.

If this isn't possible, or the Mum isn't happy with you doing this, can you suggest she goes to a local cafe/library to work?

RattieofCatan Tue 07-Jul-15 08:15:08

Like a PP, I'm a nanny with the same issue. A lot of nannies won't work with families where the parents are at home because of this. My charge is at a stage where, if Mummy is home, only Mummy will do! As soon as Mummy walks out the door she's fine again hmm grin

Distraction is your best friend right now! What distractions do you have? Is there anything she really loves that you can keep away until the point you need to get it out? Can you get her out of the house? That's the easiest way to do it really!

longestlurkerever Tue 07-Jul-15 11:17:41

if you're not sure where to go, check out the local children's centres for stay and play sessions. church halls and libraries often have these too.

longestlurkerever Tue 07-Jul-15 11:19:05

sorry, just realised you're in Italy. that might be trickier, especially if it's really hot. Is there a shady Park or beach? does your host family have a garden?

Clewin2 Tue 07-Jul-15 12:10:19

Thanks for the responses. Yeah, there is a garden but it is through the kitchen where the mum works. The only thing is when I mentioned this to the host parents they said that it was just because I wasn't entertaining her enough and that I should be able to keep her attention. This is difficult as she is only two years old and she gets to the point no matter how much we are playing she just wants her mum. The only issue is that the mother works in the kitchen so whenever we got to get a drink or I get her a snack it becomes a whole new issue. I really dont know how to broach the subject without seeming rude.

oddfodd Tue 07-Jul-15 12:13:06

The mum needs to find another place to work! Of course her daughter is going to be going into her if she knows she's sitting in the kitchen where the drinks and snacks are and the route to the garden is. This isn't your fault at all.

Why can't the mum go to a cafe to work?

PerspicaciaTick Tue 07-Jul-15 12:24:12

It is almost impossible to sit in a room and entertain a child for 2 solid hours - their attention span just doesn't work like that.

Break the time down into short chunks, 20-30 mins tops. Have a set of planned activities you can refer to (there are lots of activity pages on Pinterest or start having a look at sites like Keep changing the activities day by day to keep both you and her interested. Try and get out for a play in the garden or a walk everyday. Or change rooms - so go and do some water play in the bathroom or read a book in the bedroom, just to stop boredom setting in.

Ideally the mum needs to work somewhere other than the kitchen. Otherwise, keep snack ingredients/drink somewhere outside the kitchen so you can access them easily. Turn snack time into a dolls tea party or a carpet picnic or something which is fun and a bit more time consuming. If the mum is in the kitchen and you want to go in the garden, could you arrange to text her so she can make herself scarce for the few moments while you walk through the kitchen?

RattieofCatan Tue 07-Jul-15 12:33:52

Nannies struggle with this. Your host Mum is delusional if she thinks that an au pair will be able to do it successfully! No offence is intended to you of course, it really is extremely difficult and virtually impossible to keep a toddlers attention for very long when they know that Mummy is in the house!

Will she entertain the idea of working elsewhere? Can you take toddler out? Is there a room in the house that isn't so central that she can work in if she absolutely has to stay at home?

car0line123 Tue 07-Jul-15 13:38:18

It's not your fault at all! I don't know what the mum does, but she should try working somewhere else, library or wherever is convenient for her. The only other option really is to take the child out.

Look, it's not just about au-pair. We run our own business, but neither my husband or myself can work from home without being disrupted by a toddler. It doesn't matter if said toddler is with mummy or daddy, he'll want the other one if he is in the other room. Saying a very firm "no" only brings a crying fit of a very upset little child. If we're not here, kid is fine. I wish you the best of luck, it is really difficult.

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