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Au pair with stroppy attitude - anyone with this issue?

(14 Posts)
Lemocla Wed 16-Sep-15 22:00:43

We are new to the au pair world (and mumsnet post) and this is our first au pair (probably the last). She is 18 so still a teenager in many ways & has now started 3 weeks ago, however her mindset and attitude is affecting us...

- Germany is a perfect country where children are well-behaved & parents know how to handle their children - so we assume that she doesn't approve the way we raise our children ... We did mention in our family description that we were a relaxed family
- Does not like our cooking (each their taste I suppose) but we also made a point that we eat as a family with our children - so cooking tends to be basic and more children focused
- She can be very abrupt with our 5 year old daughter - which sets her crying. I have asked our AP to be more gentle with her, but then she gets stroppy ... (With the comments - you don't know how your daughter is...)
- resulting in skiving some of her duties.
- Seems to have some issues with respecting her timetable & related duties (again pretty cool timetable no laundering, no ironing just hoovering once a week, dinner twice a week ...)
- Any comments from us on any of the above will make her stroppy which make our house a very nice place to live ...
- and more...

We had a really big chat on these issues a week after she started, spend about 30 min on the phone to the agency - it went better the following week but 3rd week in, all the issues & stropiness are coming back...

I think we will have to give her notice as this isn't working out, I feel stressed & uncomfortable when she is around & I can't imagine her attitude will improve

Any similar experience and how did you deal with it? If you terminated the AP placement, how did you do it?

wotoodoo Wed 16-Sep-15 23:07:16

What are her hours? How much does she get paid? Does she have to make dinner for all of you? Is she allowed to choose the menu? How many dc? Where do you live?

There are so many variables. But you need a happy au pair for you to be happy!

We had many au pairs over the years, ususally one recommended the next, so word of mouth and we are still in touch with some years later.

I would try to work on the cause of unhappiness. If she complains your dc are rude and badly behaved then do something about that rather than complain about her to the agency!

Try to address her concerns. We always let our au pairs cook their favourite dishes from home and this was always a fun, cultural experience for all of us as well as being educational.

We encouraged our dc to learn a few words in their language like please, thank you , good morning, bed time etc and that always went down well with the au pair.

Find out her likes and dislikes and take her on day trips or even on holiday with you. You need to cultivate a good relationship with the person you have entrusted to look after your dc so in that regard you and your family should treat her really well.

ChunkyPickle Wed 16-Sep-15 23:23:05

I've never had an aupair, but I do work with Germans and Austrians, and I'd say that even when they don't mean to be, to British ears, how they speak comes across as brusque and judgemental.

If you take a step back and mentally tone down what you hear, would that make it tolerable? If not, then it's someone living with you - you need to be able to rub along or it's not good for either of you.

Yerazig Thu 17-Sep-15 09:08:26

The main thing you have to remember is she is only 18** I think the problem people forget when bringing au pairs over that in respect they are still a teenager. Yes it's an easy job but with someone who maybe on their first proper job or who have never worked with child/ intend to never have a job based in childcare it isn't. So you can't expect everything to be done perfectly like a parent would do or an experienced carer. The issues you have sit down with her go through clearly what you want from her. If nothing improves cut your ties with her move and find an older au pair or maybe an afterschool nanny.

AskBasil Thu 17-Sep-15 09:17:27

Is it real teenage stroppiness or is it being German?

Sorry to buy into cultural stereotypes, but the way German works as a language, does mean that when translated into English it comes across as far more hedging and brusque that the way English is used.

If it's genuine stroppiness and bad attitude, then tbh I'd get rid of her. She's only been there 3 weeks; yes she's just a teenager, but this is a job, she needs to know that she is learning how to do it and if she's so bloody opinionated that she's already decided that the kids not behaving is not a result of her learning how to deal with them, but that they're bad, then frankly her attitude to them is not going to improve, it will get worse as she becomes more familiar with your family and sees everything through the prism of you being a hopeless family who do everything wrong.

I've had experience of au-pairs and the ones who are good, are those who are open minded and haven't already made up their minds about how the world is and therefore how your children and family ought to be. She's living in your home, she's looking after your kids, if you don't get on with her, then she and all of you are going to be very unhappy. Don't be afraid to decide that after 3 weeks, you already know it's not going to work - the writing's already on the wall. Get the agency to find her a new placement and send you someone else. Honestly, there are masses of young people out there who are open-minded, willing to learn, great fun and a pleasure to have around. She doesn't sound like she's one of them, for you, although she might get on much better with a different type of family.

AskBasil Thu 17-Sep-15 09:52:55

Sorry, I mean less hedging (language wise) of course

Karoleann Thu 17-Sep-15 11:25:45

I think you need a replacement too - being abrupt with a 5 year old and upsetting her isn't on. It does take time for au pairs to adjust, but you've given her feedback and she's not taken it on. I suspect it will only get worse.

Incidentally, next time, I would get someone a little older, Southern Europeans are often more lax with their children. I've posted this before, but agencies now only seem to have the younger, less confident, less experienced candidates and I've only heard of unsuccessful placements recently.

See who the agency can offer, but it may be worth just cutting your losses and recruiting yourself on au pair world.

Lemocla Thu 17-Sep-15 11:29:08

Thanks you all for you comments, it's just nice to hear from other people experiences.

We did not complain to the agency, we talked to her first - We were concerned about her well-being and happiness. We asked her if she thinks she could live with us the way we are and the way we eat. We also told her that we understood that it is not easy to be parachuted in a family in a foreign country (I could not have done it) Further to that chat, the agency called me.

I introduced her to a local au-pair we knew with a child of the same age (they don't really get on - but that's ok). Her timetable is 25 hours with windows of flexibility if she has plans with friends or to fit with language course, or to do whatever activity she wants to undertake. I also took into consideration her needs (following our initial chat) / what she likes to do when preparing her timetable.

Also we may be relaxed but we also discipline our children - but not in the way and extent she may expect.

As for cooking, this was introduced so that she could meals that could remind her of home and that is comfortable cooking. I would not judge somebody who made the effort of cooking. The effort and positive attitude that is all that matters, the rest you can learn.

As for the abruptness - it was more physical - she grabbed / physically removed my daughter twice in front of me - the second time I had to say something. I just asked her to take it easy on my daughter. I subsequently also had a word with my daughter in front of our Au-Pair asking her to behave nicely and to listen to AP when she asks her to do something.

Anyway to cut a long story short, I think our personalities don't match & when it's like this, everybody will be unhappy and for me, this isn't the purpose of this exchange programme. I wanted a happy experience for everybody.
(we went through a kind of cultural exchange association). I think that she feels the same way, so I think she may decide to find another family after all.

We leave the au-pair programme for a few years I think

Sorry for the long post.

ilovemyelectricblanket Thu 17-Sep-15 11:58:08

Im looking for an au pair and Ive joined up AuPair World. Ive been flooded with offers.

How do I choose?? Were talking 7000 offers. And Im not sure they realise that we live in a small village, without a train station and 40 min bus ride to the nearest town.....

ilovemyelectricblanket Thu 17-Sep-15 11:58:52

Sorry. That was meant to be a new thread... Apologies.

DirtyDripSpout Sun 20-Sep-15 14:26:41

Your DD's reactions speak volumes. If your AP was prepared to resort to physical restraint in front of you, what would she do when you are not there? I really would not be happy. If the AP is only spending 25 hours per week with your DD, I would expect her to be patient and understanding during that time- more so with young children.

All APs are different, regardless of nationality. I always gauge how my children are with my APs. If my children are happy to run to them, great them, chat to them, cuddle them etc etc, I know that I really have nothing to worry about. If my dc ignore them, or seem constantly upset with them, I cut my losses, get rid of the AP and hire a new one. I've never regretted getting rid - only that I didn't do it sooner. There are plenty of brillant APs out there, and for the record I find 19 year olds doing their gap year particularly good. Don't let one bad AP experience put you off.

In my experience a bad AP rarely gets better. It's often short lived. You've done the right thing by having the chat, but it's not having long term results. You need to decide what to do now. If you do decide to get rid, do so fairly by giving notice and you could also pay her air fare home.

You also mention that you are fairly relaxed. Our family is like that too, but I found when I started hosting, it was much easier to start with a timetable, and then relax rules later on. Its harder to start relaxed, and then change to being more stricter. My APs actually prefer having a timetable to start with and once they get used to our schedule and the way we work, they change things later without any issues.

BlackAmericanoNoSugar Wed 23-Sep-15 13:20:38

She is very young and presumably has recently left her family without seeing much of the world. So she is expecting all families to operate with the same basic structure as the her own, which was clearly very structured. If she is locked into thinking that her upbringing was the 'right' way then I think it's unlikely that she will change to thinking that there is more than one 'right' way in the immediate future, eventually maybe but you don't have years to wait for it to happen.

Can you ask the agency to find her a more suitable family and look again for yourself? I'm on au pair number 5 and have always had good results with those who have been football/swimming/other sports coaches or who have worked in summer camps for kids. All of my au pairs have been older, mostly because they need to be over 25 to go on my insurance, but also because I'm not that eager to take on a teenager.

3mum Wed 23-Sep-15 16:22:27

It's sad, but I think she has to go. I have had several au pairs and it has always worked well with one exception. I hung on with this girl hoping it would get better, It didn't and after three months I had to ask her to go. I think I knew she was wrong within a week and I should have acted earlier.

It's your home and she does not sound as if she likes small children. I'd replace her. FWIW all the other au pairs have been lovely so don't despair!

TeaandHobnobs Wed 23-Sep-15 22:08:57

I had to give my second au pair notice, because I felt she and I in particular just didn't mesh. She was from Vienna, and I also found her quite critical of my parenting / my DS, even if that wasn't her intention. She found a lot of problems with England and the way we lived our lives - she was a quite immature 20yo who had never lived away from home before, and couldn't believe that anyone would things differently to how she experienced at home. She wasn't stroppy, but I found living with her incredibly stressful.
I feel bad that I ruined her planned au pairing summer, but I hope the experience taught her a few things about life (although I suspect she probably just curses my name and thinks she did no wrong).
Life's too short to live with someone who makes you feel like this!

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