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1st time issues with an au pair

(18 Posts)
Mintie190 Fri 17-Jul-15 16:58:42

So, it's week 1 of having an au pair for the first time. DCs are 4, 2 and 6 weeks. I wanted an au pair to relieve some of the pressure on me in looking after a new born with 2 young DCs (DH isn't home between 7.20am - 7pm). The children used to have a nanny when I was working and have attended nursery too so I am used to having someone else provide child care. It's just that they weren't living in my house. The au pair is 24 years old but doensn't have much childcare experience and is not great with the kids so far - the 2 year old in particular has been acting up terribly which has been hard for her but also for me too as I have to deal with him more hours than she does. She has been eating huge amounts (which she's free to do) and sitting on the couch most days with her ipad when she isn't working. We've just had 4 months of building work so I haven't had the house to myself since I've been on maternity leave and now I feel I can't even sit on my own couch (since she is bang smack in the middle of it for 6 hours a day). I've been making nice meals all week and not once has she said thank you and abruptly stands up once she has done and leaves the table. I'm surviving on 3 hours sleep a day so my tolerance levels are low but I just don't feel that 30 hours childcare she provides outweighs having someone in the house all the time who isn't providing any service for the majority of that time. I feel like I have a guest that I have to look after instead of someone supporting me. I'd hate to tell her to leave but I'm dreading dinner time already and the fact that instead of having left overs and giving the kids an easy meal, I'm having to cook something from scratch again because I have to cater for her. So, I think an au pair isn't for me. Is it just teething problems, my low tolerance threshold at the moment with the lack of sleep or should I accept that having live in help isn't for me? I had a great relationship with DC's nanny who stayed for over a year but as I said, she was living out.

FlorenceMattell Fri 17-Jul-15 18:53:29

Lots to consider:
The au pair doesn't have much childcare experience - did you know that when you recruited her? Au pairs are not recommended for babies and toddlers. Better for older children.
The 2 year old is acting up - normal normal normal , you have just had a new baby, you are tired he/she picks up on that. Plus all nannies will tell you that toddlers and young children are very difficult to care for when mum is there. They tend to naturally want mums attention.
The au pair is on her IPad during her time off. To be fair this is her time to do as she pleases. Au pair are meant to be treated as part of the family, so sitting on the couch normal. Also as she has only been here a week she will not have had time to make friends yet. Could you make her room into bedroom /sitting room? Maybe swop rooms.
She works 30 hours a week? I thought was supposed to be 25 max.
Ok to be fair you don't seem suited to having an au pair. Might be better for you and her to part as fairly as possible.
Maybe you could engage a mothers help for couple of hours a day instead. Maybe for late afternoon , early evening to cook supper , help with after school stuff and bathing etc.
If you keep au pair how about she takes 2 year old and 4 year old out. Would give her time to bond with them without you around and give you some peace. Buy season tickets to local farms and Zoos.
Your probably lovely and just sleep deprived but you are coming across as a bit unfair to au pair.
The other option is to get a Night Nanny a couple of times a week so you get some proper sleep.
Hope it works out for you.

MarmiteAndButter Fri 17-Jul-15 18:59:59

I have massive sympathy for you but no pair should be working more than 25 hours a week, should never be expected to look after under 3s and it is supposed to be her home too...
Poor girl. Rotten position for her to be in. Did you go through an agency? Can you talk to them and arrange some sort of no prejudice move for her and then you employ a nanny which is probably more what you need?

Karoleann Fri 17-Jul-15 19:24:54

I wouldn't have fancied having an au pair in the house with a new baby either. Au pairs sitting around on their iPads, not having child care experience or not being great with 2 yr olds is fairly standard.

I don't think the 30hrs is a massive problem (I assume you aren't using much babysitting at the moment).

There are lots of jobs in London advertised on gumtree that she could apply for, but I think you need to tell her it's not working out, but that she is welcome to stay until she finds something else. I would just then get a mothers help for a few hours a week.

Yerazig Sat 18-Jul-15 07:17:48

Yes she is an older au pair but your probably expecting to much if she hasn't had much childcare experience. And the fact your around no offence is probably making the situation harder with the kids playing up. It's clear its your not suited to having someone living in your house. They are suppose to be part of the family and feel comfortable. As someone above suggested. If you can't afford or don't need a nanny. The next best thing would be a live out mothers help. So someone who's maybe done a few years nursery work or had a few au pair jobs and wants to move on in childcare. They could come for a few hours a day take one of the children out to a group park help prepare lunch etc

T0R1 Sat 18-Jul-15 10:35:09

30 hours is not a problem. The guidelines are no more than 30 hours so don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

I feel very sorry for you. My last au pair was very flexible and so helpful. I'm a student so some weeks she would do hardly any hours but in return on exam weeks she was practically spoon feeding me!!

However, the au pair before was awful and was our first awful au pair. Selfish, lazy, rude, self-centred and generally a pain to have around. I eventually asked her to leave and it was a huge relief when I dropped her off at the airport, I actually cheered.

I, like you, felt like I was looking after another person most of the time. This is not how it should feel or how it has felt with ANY of my other au pairs. Normally they are like little sisters, we can share jokes and go out for dinner as a family and do stuff. I'm still in contact with all of them. Except the pain.

They are there to be part of the family but they are paid so they are there to make your life easier.

I suggest you get rid of this one, find another one, if that one doesn't work get rid of that one and never get an au pair again because it's not for you.

Melissande Mon 20-Jul-15 10:54:01

The main problem seems to be a clear job description here. Has your au pair got a clear list of her duties during the day? She is not your child.
Its hard to change but you need to think of what she can do to help you. Write a clear list. Sit down with au pair and talkthrough it.
This is what mine does.
7 up (me and kids)
7.15 Ap comes down and dresses kids so I can get dressed.
7.30 all breakfast together.
8.00 ap and I do 20 mins homework with 1 child each.
8.30 brush teeth shoes on
8.40 ap takes kids on School run.
After school run she sometimes does of playgroup/activity/walk/playdate with little one. She plans this herself most of the time. Sometimes I take the little one and she goes to the gym but them My AP is very proactive so in the beginning do a rigid schedule and then the AP can take over the reigns more ince she is experienced. She has time off but prefers to hang out with us which is fine.
11.45 prep lunch
12.00 lunch.
12.-15 free time
15.15 school run
16.00 activities and home
17.00 we all eat dinner
18.00 1 parent /Ap bath time 1parent /Ap tidy up 1 parent/Ap wash up. Everything done by 6.30
19.00 lights off Ap off duty.
This is done very fluidly in our house after a few weeks. Put in schedule what suits you and what makes your life easier. Ie allocate one meal to AP to prep and cook, allocate laundry choores etc. You set the schedule. I always recommend to choise an aupair with younger siblings preferably the oldest in a sibling group as these ap 's know what they are doing and have invaliable built in skills.

LittleGwyneth Fri 24-Jul-15 19:01:04

Melissande So she works 7.15 - 12.15 and then 3.15- 7?

That's nearly nine hours a day? Which is 45 hours a week - almost twice what an au pair should be doing?

lovelynannytobe Fri 24-Jul-15 19:39:34

Melissande I hope she's on live in nanny wages not pocket money. This is not an ap position.

Melissande Sat 25-Jul-15 17:53:36

No She is an aupair and her workload is that of an au pair. One parent is home all the time and the AP has free time from 9-3 every day but chooses to spend the time with us most of the time which is fine as we all enjoy the company. She also likes bringing the little one on playdates and groups with other au pairs and she often asks if she can do this. We are a family and she is part of it. This is the deal and she gets ample extra time off. The schedule is what happends in our family every day and the parts where the AP helps. She does not work 9 hrs a day. Read the post properly before judging.

Karoleann Sat 25-Jul-15 23:18:45

messlinde - your post does not seem to suggest that your au pair has 9-3 off every day, your timetable certainly doesn't. I think you need to re-read your own post as its way too much for a standard au pair, even if she doesn't mind.

Melissande Sun 26-Jul-15 09:10:41

I am trying to help the OP by sharing what I ask of my AP. I dont want to tell the world in detail what I do for a living but neither Me or OH work more than max 3 days per week. The rest of the time we are home and the AP only works the days we are working. She has anple time off. Am I unreasonable for asking AP to help prep her lunch if she chooses to lunch with us? Should I say no if AP asks to take LO on a playdate so she can see her friends? I am fully aware of what an ap should and shouldnt do and ours work less than all her other ap friends. We have had many years of AP's and all have stayed a full year and loved it here.

Artandco Sun 26-Jul-15 09:21:24

Melissa - that def isn't an au pair position. An au pair should be able to go and see her friends even at a group without toddler if she isn't working. And wouldn't prepare lunch for everyone as would eat whenever she likes. 7-7pm is a long time as early start and late finish, with basically 3 hrs max fully free. A nanny even with parents at home full time and helping full time would be earning a full time wage. 7.15 am working when your in house seems unreasonable, can't they help with homework in the afternoon/ evening instead? Then just start 8.30am for school run

Melissande Sun 26-Jul-15 23:17:31

Oh dear, the AUpair Police are out in full force on this thread! Sorry OP.
Is it really unreasonable to ask a grown up girl to help prep her lunch? Lay the table? We are a family, we all help.
And is it really that difficult to grasp that an au pair might actually enjoy the company of her hostfamily and want to spend time with us? I do not make her take the little one out. She actually likes taking her out to places with her friends, and she likes spending time with her. Tomorrow she has asked to take the LO shopping in the morning so they can hang out. Should I tell her No, thats not allowed if you are an au pair? Because Mumsnet said so.? You must spend your free time alone away from your host family!?
Sorry again OP, i hope your aupair is as lovely as mine and good luck with everything! Mx

HuckleberryMishMash Sun 26-Jul-15 23:23:53

As an ex-au pair, I don't agree with previous posters that you are asking to much of your au pair OP.

I got the impression from the OP that the au pair is not left alone with the three young children, so I can't see the problem with the ages.

You should be able to expect your au pair to engage with the job and have some basic manners (such as thanking you for meals). She should be able to set a good example and be a good role model for the children.

I wouldn't cook an evening meal especially for her OP. Most au pairs would expect to eat with the children.

Never does an au pair thread survive without the Mumsnet au pair police jumping on any little detail that doesn't quite conform with the perfect au pair arrangement.

LittleGwyneth Mon 27-Jul-15 10:14:49

I don't think anyone is being unreasonable in defending au pairs - as someone who was one, to a family who took the piss, it's really hard when you're a teenager a long way from home to stand up for yourself.

In my experience, an AP is supposed to do about 20-25 hours a week. Your AP Melissande is doing almost twice that. If she is going an extra fifteen hours a week because she loves the family then you've hit a gold mine. But you should also be mindful that she might feel obliged to do these things, and maybe try to make sure that she feels she doesn't have to? You say she has 9-3 off but it really doesn't seem that way from your time table. She could see her friends without taking your child with her.

Also, you say that you're trying to help the OP by providing an outline of what an AP does, that that's not a realistic representation. I've been an au pair, I've got friends who were au pairs and I had au pairs all the way through my childhood. Whether yours are extra diligent, or whether they feel pressured into doing that work, either way: it's not a normal expectation for an AP, especially one who is going to language classes.

Melissande Mon 27-Jul-15 12:39:26

Op Im terribly sorry that the AUpair Police have once again hijacked your thread.

Mintie (op) the only advice I can give is dont choose an aupair with no childcare experience. Again choise an older sibling ideally an oldest sibling with several younger siblings as these girls have good build in skills. Alternativly choose girls with experience and or childcare education. There are loads to choose from on aupairworld which is why I dont use agencies.
With your current au pair think of what the AP can do to help you make your day easier. Write down a daily schedule of what you need her help with so she knows what is expected. If she isnt very proactive then it needs to be detailed so she knows exactly what to do. Little things like tsking the baby for a walk in the pram or taking the kids out in the garden for 20 mins or just hanging the laundry or laying the table. Have a meeting say every sunday night and outline the schedule for the week, who does what and where everyone needs to be. Also have a good family calendar which includes the ap so you can all see where you are and whats happening.
Its not easy to take charge but once everyone is in a routine all the pressure is not on you to make sure everything runs smoothly which is where a good aupair can be an amazing godsend.
I spent two years as an au pair in my youth and had an amazing time learning amazing life skills.

Melissande Mon 27-Jul-15 12:43:12

And Little gwyneth I am not going to comment further but if you read up stream you will see that neither me or My OH work full weeks mon-fri and my aupair did 2 days work last week and will do 1 next week. She travels alot and does nor want or need language classes.

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