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Is my host family bad?

(18 Posts)
Ananda27 Fri 13-Nov-15 11:31:33

Hello,

I am having a bit of an issue with my host family and would like a fresh pair of eyes to tell me whether I am unreasonable before I do anything about it.

A little bit of background about me - I worked in the primary school before and I have done au pairing 3x in my life, before uni to save up and during uni on my year abroad (2 countries, hence 2 host families) and now before my masters. I always had good experience, stayed in touch with families and I still get invited to kids' birthday parties.

My new host family has two lovely and manageable kids (7 and 9yo) and I was hired as a 'au pair/nanny'. The childcare work is 4 times a week, 1h in the morning and then from 3:30 - evening (usually finish around 8pm) and then babysitting twice a week.

The issues I have are:
- communication: the family never told me what they expect me to do, just let me do my own thing and then complain about it - but they never told me their house rules (porridge with honey and banana is amazing healthy breakfast, toast with honey and banana is too many calories and unacceptable?!). They often tell me last minute plans in the morning of that day, text me things when they are in the house rather than talking to me etc, never pick up phone if I call
- cleaning: When I arrived, their toilet was pitch black and my room all dusty. Before as an au pair, I did light housework and cleaned after children, here I do everything, I am asked to hover, mop and dust (with taking every single item out and back) the whole house twice a week at least, clean after parents - their room and bed sheets, iron his shirts, scrub the oven, wipe our fridge once a week, do family laungry and ironing (2 batches of laundry a day) etc... when they cook their supper, I sometimes wash up after them and always put their dishes away. After the weekend, nothing gets done (not even bins taken out), so I have twice as much work the next day. They did complain about me cleaning on several occasions because at first, I wasnt aware I am doing everything, and then they claimed I dont wipe things because I put them in the same place - so now I rearrange everything everytime I clean for them to see I moved the items
- money: When I arrived (on weekend) they said they would pay for that evening's babysitting as I didnt work the whole week - they never did. Then I was told the school is within the walking distance and that kids walk... but they have after school activities so there's no time to walk. We take bus every day and once a week we need a taxi to an activity and back. I have been here for a couple of weeks now and paid for the taxi 3 times already, always pay for all the buses, pay for last minute children supplies to school, pay for two charity boxes full of presents etc according to the list they gave me
- family feeling: I am never invited to family meals at weekend, and if kids want to join, I get leftovers while everyone else eats freshly cooked meal. If something is misplaced, I am the first one to blame and often it's in its place, they just dont look properly!

Btw, I get £160/week in London, it's a live in position. As people, parents are lovely, as employees, I am not sure.

Thanks for any input smile

Onsera3 Fri 13-Nov-15 11:47:37

No not ok. They're having a laugh with the cleaning. It is accepted that you would clean up after the kids if you were on paid time but not the parents. Changing their sheets?! And the fact that they are letting stuff build up over the weekend is not ok.

You can make an agreement with au pair nanny and say do you want to earn extra as a cleaner when you are not minding the children. And you would be paid then a separate extra amount. Otherwise the jobs would just be related to the care of the children- eg you are making a meal for them so clean up related mess.

Not ok regarding the transport. They need to be paying for the taxi in advance and they need to pay for all your bus fares. You shouldn't be paying for supplies.

Regarding attitude they sound very rude. If they are so specific about what is ok for breakfast they need to make it clear.

I'd be looking up go elsewhere as they sound horrible.

DragonRojo Fri 13-Nov-15 13:06:03

I agree. They are exploiting you and being ride on top of that. I would start looking for a student room today and then work as a live out nanny or cleaner of you want. Your hosts are not respectful so it will not end well

Anon2309 Fri 13-Nov-15 13:06:39

they definitely don't sound nice and I know this is hard and you need reassurance - I am also an au pair in London so feel free to message me if you need to meet up and talk and vent. I've been an au pair for a while, with good and bad families and I know what it's like where you're hoping that things will be good but they never change and you're too scared of speaking up because you might get kicked out. Don't be scared. First start looking for a nice family and in the mean while be nice as hell, be so kind and great so they can feel bad for their behaviour towards you. Then, when you have a new family and everything is set - tell them you're leaving and go to your new family! I'm here if you need me smile

lovelynannytobe Fri 13-Nov-15 14:32:14

Don't just post here and and ask if they are 'bad' ... you need to deal with it right now. You are older, educated and experienced au pair in London on quite handsome pocket money.
Maybe they treat you more like a nanny hence you don't get invited to family things, they don't count you in for food (I'd expect to sort myself out at weekends) ... you need to clear this up. Research live in nanny salaries as well to check your pocket money is in line with current market ... and if you are a nanny and underpaid you can ask for more.
Texting you while they are in the house is bad ... I'd just come up when next message comes in and tell them I'd prefer they asked you in person ...
The fares/taxis/additional spending thing ... ask for some money upfront ... suggest a kitty and keep all the receipts so they know where the money is going. You shouldn't have to put your hand in your pocket. But do it now! You could even have one notebook when you keep a tally of everything rather than them going through the receipts.
Ask for a contract of employment (both nannies and au pairs must get one). It just clears up any future misunderstandings with regards to duties.
Cleaning thing ... if you are more of a nanny/housekeeper then yes I would expect heavy cleaning and ironing (again ask for contract with everything specifically included).
Remind them to pay you for that night of babysitting you did when you first arrived ... maybe they genuinely forgot.
Short notice of change of plans .... that's just life I'm afraid. Quite often things crop up over night. Just ask them to let you know as soon as they find out about changes because it may interfere with your plans.
I really don't get people who say 'look for another family and leave' unless there are some serious issues. It just seems to me these are things that can easily be sorted by having an honest chat and laying everything on the table. The kids are easy, parents nice people ... if they really are nice people they will feel rather foolish and rectify any issues. You do sound a lovely au pair/ nanny btw.

Anon2309 Fri 13-Nov-15 15:19:37

Lovely - she is paid au pair wages to act as a live in cleaner. Justifying their "last minutes plans" is just stupid, it's obvious that they don't care about her plans, they see her as this person they pay and can just call for babysitting whenever they need her.
"*maybe they just forgot to pay for babysitting*" EVERY TIME? are you telling me they genuinely forget to spend more money EVERY TIME? They didn't forget, they're just cheap. She shouldn't have to worry about asking for bus fares/taxis upfront, they, as responsible parents should be organised and remember that she needs to take them wherever somehow, they obviously know she needs extra money, they are just avoiding spending money, again because they are cheap.
Any au pair should be treated as your own memeber own the family. That's just the thing about au pairing - you can't talk these things out. They don't change. People who treat au pairs that badly obviously don't want the au pair, they want cheap childcare and a cleaner. This isn't proffessional work, they probably don't pay her tax and probably didn't sign a contract. And even if they did, 98% of the time bad families have no respect for the au pair and can easily kick you out. That's the danger of au pairing - people can mistreat you simply because they can. Because there are no laws protecting au pairs. Bad families have a mindset of "I am paying her all this money and I am an amazing person letting her live in my house in London and the rent is expensive, the au pair should be grateful" and if you don't like something and complain, you can get kicked out in the space of a few hours and left unpaid and homeless. I have seen dozens of girls have this happen to, all of them coming to stay with me/my friends because that's exactly what happened. So no, chances are she can't just sit them down and talk it out, it won't help.

mrsjanedoe Fri 13-Nov-15 18:55:50

It's not acceptable, but if they think it is, they won't change. You are not a maid, you are there to be a big sister and help with the kids.

Do look for another family, but beware of a possible nasty reaction when you tell them, better have another place to stay then.

Ananda27 Fri 13-Nov-15 21:39:43

Thanks for your replies. I am aware that they expect me to be a housekeeper too - now - they just didnt mention it in the role before. When they complained about my cleaning, they said they would employ a cleaner and take some of my pocket money away if I dont want to do it, so there definitely wont be any money on top of what I am earning even after the discussion.

Speaking of which, I mentioned my pocket money, because frankly, I dont know how much I should be earning in London - I just saw it's higher than what most family offered and I expected to spend more time with kids than a regular au pair. However, my neighbour's au pair said she gets extra cash for cleaning and does it only on Fridays for a couple of hours and earns more than what I do.

The last minute plans are not last minute to them, they just tell me about them at the very last minute. I feel like he is more organised and knows about things, but she is the one who deals with childcare and forgets.

When it comes to transport fares, last night we had to take a bus home from an activity because I didnt have enough money for the taxi (spent more than expected on stuff to school) and came home quite late to which they said I need to keep more cash on hand and didnt reimburse what I bought/didnt give me any extra cash.

I have no contract and doubt they pay tax for me because I asked to put my money straight into the bank account and they said no, because they'd have to claim tax return or something like that.

Honestly, the reason why I asked about it on here was to see if I am being a brat about my situation, or if they are indeed threating me unfairly. The way they treat me makes me feel humiliated, patronised and offended (especially when they questioned my cleaning after 4 hours of polishing the house!). They said they are very happy with the childcare, but host dad always finds something wrong with what I do without telling me their (silly) rules beforehand, which creates negative environment at home (kids get in trouble for not telling me what they can or cannot do - they say I let them - I am the bad guy) and it makes me anxious never knowing whether my work is up to their standards or if I will be told off again (ham okay for afternoon, not okay for breakfast; girl can wear shorts to school, but trousers only if they touch the ground completely - but they are still longer than shorts?; homework to be done only by the kitchen table, not in the lounge etc).

I had a 'real job' before which I quit to do something I actually enjoy before going back to uni, so I decided to look for another 'real job' and leave after Christmas. That would give them enough time to find someone else and I could still hang out with kids on weekends if I want to.

Hhhhmhowtochoose Sat 14-Nov-15 00:52:36

OP I'm sorry you're having a hard time.

The way they treat you isn't right. I forgot a couple of times to give my au pair money so now I leave her my credit card for transport. And I apologised. They don't sound sorry at all.
The money sounds a lot so I think the cleaning is so so. But not paying into a bank and not having a contract is rubbish. Knowing what's expected of you is so important. The kids asking for things they're not allowed is just a kids thing. My son tries it all the time, so I now warn new au pairswink
I wish you all the best with your new job.

wizzywig Sat 14-Nov-15 12:34:18

They are taking liberties. You sound like you are doing loads around the house.

IoraRua Sat 14-Nov-15 12:39:45

They are being incredibly unfair, I would be out of there asap if I were you. Find another job and leave them to it, seeing as you have no contract and they have treated you badly I'd have no scruples about giving notice.

PrincessHairyMclary Sat 14-Nov-15 12:43:15

Suggest they get you an Oyster card that they have to top up to cover your bus travel.

I have no experience of nanny/au pairing but they sound like they are exploiting you completely.

Ananda27 Sat 14-Nov-15 17:46:23

Thank you guys, it's nice to get some reassurance smile

Ive started looking for jobs now and I will break the news to them once I find one (with some notice obviously - despite the situation, I know it's hard to find childcare last minute and kids dont deserve it).

Hhhhmhowtochoose - you sound like a nice host mum, I understand we're humans, we forget sometimes, not a big deal if they repaid me. I also agree that £160/week should be a normal salary for the amount of work I do, if I didn't spend £20-30 weekly on kids + food on weekends from my money. Oh, and I do have an oyster card, which I bought myself.

I looked after children a lot, so I know kids' tricks, that's why I think I should be informed about the rules so I can manage them better. Every house has different rules and I am happy to adapt, but I cant read minds. If I dont ask myself about what's happening and what needs to be done beforehand, they wouldn't have told me.

Yesterday they actually asked me if I want to have dinner with them and I said yes, so they said that 'in return' I should give kids a bath and put them to bed, making me feel I have to earn my food.

I just dont feel welcome here, so it's probably best to leave for my own happiness smile

SummerMonths Mon 16-Nov-15 22:17:00

They sound mean spirited and selfish.

To be honest they are paying considerably above the London rate for au pairs so I think it's ok for them to expect for a bit more of a nanny role HOWEVER they needed to be clear about that from the start. I'm an au pair host mum and I think the key to a successful relationship is for everything to be discussed clearly before the AP accepts the final offer.

I hope you find a nice new family.

alice298 Wed 18-Nov-15 23:43:24

I am looking for a mother's help! Have sent you a PM. I think your issue with current family is communication - it may not be intentional on their part especially if they're not experienced at having live-in help. I've learnt that after 5 years of au pairs!
Where are you from OP?

mikulkin Sat 21-Nov-15 23:47:20

Texting while they are in house and leaving leftovers from dinner is really bad.
When it comes to cleaning they do pay a lot for just 25 hours of au-pairing so I assume they included the cleaning into the salary - they should have just clarified it with you. Normal going rate in london is 80-100 pounds for pure au pair work 25 hours a week.

Having said that you shouldn't pay for taxis and buses when you take them because of the children so they shoild pay you for that.

uhoh1973 Mon 23-Nov-15 10:26:11

Our nanny has an expense sheet where she records any additional money she spends (for which she hasnt taken money out of a little pot we have) e.g. petrol money, entry to soft play etc and then I refund her monthly direct into her bank account.

I think its ok to ask you to clean but it should be part of your weekly hours and not on top of. Our nanny does do some cleaning (maybe 1-2 hours per week if DS is asleep), she cleans the kitchen floor, irons, cleans out the fridge etc but I wouldnt ask her to change the sheets on our bed or load the washing machine or clean the oven.

It sounds like you need a new job. If you like them ask to sit down with them and tell them how you feel, however they probably wont take it well so you will have to leave anyway. Onward and upward!

uhoh1973 Mon 23-Nov-15 10:27:52

.. oh and also she fills in a timesheet every month so we know if she has worked more / less hours. You could suggest you keep a record of your hours.

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