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Family time with au-pair

(33 Posts)
kebek Tue 22-Sep-15 21:25:06

We have a great au pair who has already made life so much easier - except..... She really hangs around in the evening.
She has her room and I've said the playroom with a TV and sofa can be hers and hers alone in the evening, but right now she's reading in the kitchen where my DH is working.
I've emphasised the second sitting room but she says "no, it's fine", but it's not fine with us, we'd like some time alone in the evening.
I'd feel heartbroken if I upset her so don't know how to say when she finishes work she goes to her room or the second sitting room.

VodkaValiumLattePlease Tue 22-Sep-15 21:34:51

When she finishes work she has to either go straight to her room or another sitting room? Yeah hearing that would be pretty upsetting.

MrsLeighHalfpenny Tue 22-Sep-15 21:37:32

The whole point of an au pair is that they become part of the family. If that's not what you want, I suggest you employ a nanny who goes home at night.

kebek Tue 22-Sep-15 21:43:04

I think we really have bent over backwards to make her feel part of the family. But once the kids have gone to bed I'd like to be able to sit down and have a conversation with DH.

AliMonkey Tue 22-Sep-15 21:43:35

Never had an au pair partly for that reason - wouldn't want an extra family member hanging around. Having said that, it would be reasonable to expect to have some time alone eg a couple of evenings a week. Perhaps you need to encourage her to get a social life so she sometimes goes out in the evenings?

pukkapine Tue 22-Sep-15 21:44:48

agree with the others - she IS family whilst she's here and should be welcome with you most evenings... I've an au pair veteran so know how it can be, but it really is best for everyone. And if you can't handle it, it's not the right childcare option for you. Poor girl.

pukkapine Tue 22-Sep-15 21:46:19

and AliMonkey is right - best thing you can do is get her social life up and running - but still she should be able to chill and watch telly ir whatever with the family. Only very very rarely did we ask any of our au pairs for some space.

MrsLeighHalfpenny Tue 22-Sep-15 21:47:00

Why don't you and DH go in another room then? Whilst she's in your house it's her home too, and expecting her to sit in a room on her own all evening is really mean.
How would you feel if you were in a foreign country and the family made you sit on your own all night?

It sounds to me as if an au pair is not for you OP.

Penfold007 Tue 22-Sep-15 21:47:57

Au-pairs are meant to be party of the family not banished. Maybe you need a different form of child care

kebek Tue 22-Sep-15 21:53:27

Sadly we need flexible childcare. I guess I never thought an 18 yr old would want to hang out with 40-something's.
She does have friends but they don't tend to go out in the evening.
I think I am treating her like family - I don't want to see the DCs after 9pm either wink

MrsLeighHalfpenny Tue 22-Sep-15 21:58:11

She's not one of your DCs though is she? She's a third adult that's joined the household.

You can still have flexible childcare that's not an AP. You just have to pay for it. Au pairs are cheap because part of their salary is the provision of food and a home.

If you're only prepared to provide a room, and not a home, don't have an au pair.

We had many au pairs when DCs were young. Trust me that it works best when the AP is treated equally to the other adults in the home.

If you want some time with DH, go out, or you two go to your bedroom.

Pico2 Tue 22-Sep-15 21:58:23

She's another adult in your house. Not one of your DC.

LyndaNotLinda Tue 22-Sep-15 22:01:07

This is why I don't have an au pair - because I don't want someone hanging round my house the whole time.

Tough, frankly

JillBYeats Tue 22-Sep-15 22:04:05

I was an au pair. The family included me in everything. I was a bit naive about space and wouldn't have got the idea that I should have known my place as such. They treated me so well that we are still great friends 25 years on and we see each other every few years. I'm afraid I think if you value her that much then you might need to adjust your thinking. (I too would find it hard in your position admittedly)

SummerMonths Tue 22-Sep-15 22:09:20

We hang out with our APs in the evenings if they are at home. I have found its the best way to work the relationship and build mutual trust. However I deliberately recruit very social, almost "party", girls. That way I know they will be out quite a bit. And we use one of the twice weekly babysitting as a date night so we do get nice alone time that is just me and DH. Could you try that?

kebek Tue 22-Sep-15 22:09:49

I au paired too - way before wifi and laptops and went to my room, wrote to friends and family and listened to mix-tapes of my Walkman, it was brilliant.
It was very clear I wasn't expected to be around in the evening, I didn't care.
Had wonderful nannies before but they leave because when the kids are at school they're bored and want to use their childcare skills, don't blame them it's what they train for.

stinkingbishop Tue 22-Sep-15 22:33:15

I think people are being a bit mean OP; there's a bit of an anti-aupair-employer brigade here sometimes. I was an au pair like you when I was young and I would never have wanted to hang out with the DEAD OLD 40something bosses of an evening wink. I think it is hard, as after work and the kids have gone to bed, I just want to splodge around in my pyjamas eating cheese on toast and watching random stuff on BBC4...and I therefore resisted getting someone to 'houseshare' with until I absolutely had to.

We're muddling through, but with a bit of balance and compromise. Basically, when I'm with her, I'm really with her, if that makes sense. But try to have healthy separation too. Like any relationship! We go through the weekly planner each Sunday and I say when I'm cooking for both of us (DP is away during the week), when she could cook for both of us, and when we'll just do our own thing. On the evenings we are together I'll make an effort and try to treat her like my own eldest DD (21) who's off at uni. Same at the weekends when we all go out together with the DC on outings, showing her the area. I'm facilitating her making friends and getting a social life. I asked her if she wanted to earn some extra cash, which she does, so she babysits/does language lessons some evenings, which she's very happy about. And then I make sure DP and I go out. In fact much more frequently than we used to, and have much better, deeper chats than the snatched kitchen conversations that we're missing, IYKWIM.

In terms of working, is there somewhere else DH could do that than in the kitchen? Most people would gravitate there as the social heart of the house; can he use somewhere else as a study? I'm lucky in that I have a separate one so can just retreat there.

kebek Tue 22-Sep-15 22:42:45

Thank you, the last few posts have been very sensible. I shall continue to muddle through, I really am totally with her during the day and chat about her day, her friends, language classes, bank account, money etc but in the evenings I too want to out on my pjs and slob - I am still doing this and it hasn't scared her off. Hopefully we'll find a happy medium, although we don't have a study.
I think JillBYeats was right, she's a keeper so I may have to adjust my thinking.

blueshoes Tue 22-Sep-15 22:43:24

Most of my aupairs don't want to hang out with the family. How very dull for them. It is in my house rules that my dh and I want quiet time together after 9pm when the children have gone to bed. Our aupairs are in their room well before this time, on their phones, computers, studying, happy as clams. We make sure they have wifi in their rooms.

OP, just write it into your house rules for your next aupair. For this one, just tell her kindly. I am sure she can understand your need for down time with your dh. She might in fact be relieved. Some aupairs feel they should hang out with the family out of politeness.

Encourage her to make friends. That way, she will be on her phone 24/7 or out socialising.

Radiatorvalves Tue 22-Sep-15 22:43:26

OP I thi k you probably need to have a chat... All very positive, and say its nice that you like spending time with us... But not every night. Why not say that on eg 2 nights a week you and DH need to talk through stuff / watch dull BBC4 drama. Hopefully she'll get the hint without hurting her feelings.

I feel your pain...we had one lovely girl who used to sit in the middle of the sofa when we wanted to watch TV. Was a tad awkward.

Radiatorvalves Tue 22-Sep-15 22:44:20

Blueshoes' advice is good!

HaydeeofMonteCristo Wed 23-Sep-15 09:24:23

I can see how you feel but agree with those who have said au pairs need to be part of the family.

We have au pairs, but we tend to eat together and then go our separate ways after dinner - me putting kids to bed and au pairs tend to want to go to their room. The room is on a separate floor with it's own telly and wifi - if you haven't got a telly in the au pair's room you might want to get one to make it a more attractive option.

On the other hand, I wouldn't want to tell my au pairs to keep out of any part of their house because they are at home and they are part of the family.

I would go to my room if I wanted privacy, or sit and talk in the bedroom with dh if you want to guarantee alone time.

Karoleann Wed 23-Sep-15 11:17:23

The comments from lots of posters who have never had au pairs befoe are ridiculous as usual - of course you need time alone with your husband in the evenings.
If you had an adult DC you wouldn't be spending all evening, every evening with them either, especially when your husband is trying to work.

We do have a room that's just for me and DH in the evening and we make it clear when we recruit that we want someone independent.

I would second the little chat idea, explain that you and your DH need a bit of time together in the evening, but empathise that you really value her etc.

Could you get her a gym pass/swimming pass to the local council gym or an evening exercise class, which may get her out more in the evening?

Pico2 Wed 23-Sep-15 12:58:47

How would you know whether those posters have had au pairs or not Karoleann?

LisbethSalandersLaptop Wed 23-Sep-15 13:02:02

" on't know how to say when she finishes work she goes to her room or the second sitting room."

'Au pair' means she is treated like one of you. 'On a par'?
Otherwise, ,pay for a nanny.

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