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Au pair always in the house

(52 Posts)
Tertius Wed 12-Oct-16 10:19:36

Our first au pair has now been with us for over a month and I would like some advice from those who have had au pairs. I'm a sahm (which definitely has an impact on how I'm finding the experience).

She is much older than standard - nearly 30 - and very helpful domestically, great at tidying and ironing etc. Pretty good with the kids - although not confident with my toddler which means I have stopped trying to leave the toddler with her as it's more stressful than it's worth.

The problem for me seems to be to do with expectations. She doesn't want to go out hardly at all. She will do school runs but otherwise prefers to be in the house. Sometimes she says she is unwell and stays in bed. Sometimes says she needs to study. It's starting to make me feel claustrophobic as I had naively assumed that someone coming here to au pair would make the most of being in central London! This one really is not. She could be anywhere really.

Anything she has done outside the house has been organised by me - language course, meeting other similarly aged au pairs.

Should I say something? Or just accept that this is how she wants to live? As it stands at present I don't feel I can keep this arrangement as it is after Christmas because I will go mad! I take full responsibility for not having found the right personality but she made all the right noises in interview about wanting to explore London / go out / meet people / get extra jobs. Once she arrived she explained how some things in her personal life back home had recently gone wrong and I realised she had come here to get away from home rather than for positive reasons.

I do need some kind of help with school runs because my kids are at different schools for complicated reasons. I'd love some mumsnet wisdom on this.

NoCapes Wed 12-Oct-16 10:22:23

Why do you have an au pair if you're a SAHM?

calilark Wed 12-Oct-16 10:22:40

Is it just the school run that you need help with? If so, would using wraparound care eg.after school club/breakfast club not be an option, giving you time to get to the different schools? Seems pointless having to pay & deal with an au pair if it is just for that reason

LIZS Wed 12-Oct-16 10:25:46

Do you wfh? What are her interests and has she enrolled on EFL course? Perhaps you need to spend time orientations her so she feels confident using the tube and buses to get to places which are free and interesting to her, maybe money is tight and she doesn't realise what is available. Or maybe she is unwell and perhaps you could support her with that.

BabyGanoush Wed 12-Oct-16 10:32:59

Oh, I could not deal with this.

Maybe have a frank talk, say she cannot be in the house all day.

If nothing changes, cut your losses, pay her what she is due and tell her it doesn't work.

If she can't look after the toddler, there is after all no point in her being there.

Iguessyourestuckwithme Wed 12-Oct-16 10:35:43

Why can't she stay in? Is she in her room or just lying on the couch in the lounge.

I'm a live in nanny and sometimes my weekends are just days in bed watching trashy TV after a busy week.

Bobochic Wed 12-Oct-16 10:39:04

I think you need a chauffeur, not an au pair.

1potato2potato3potato4 Wed 12-Oct-16 10:42:13

Do you think she is depressed from the fall out at home?
You probably need to talk to her, ask her if everything is OK and if she'd like some help with looking up places to go/people to meet to make the most of the experience/opportunity. A bit of effort may well pay dividends as she sounds good otherwise. And it's hard not to feel sorry for her, she possibly just needs to a bit of a push in right direction to start building her confidence

Bobochic Wed 12-Oct-16 10:48:47

Do not take responsibility for your au pair's MH. If it's not working out for you after a month, just tell her and let her go and find another solution.

Karoleann Wed 12-Oct-16 11:50:22

I think you need to have a chat with her, explain that you're worried that she isn't happy and that she's not making the most of her experience here. Make it clear if she isn't happy she can go home.

I would also feel very claustrophobic having our au pair around all day.

Can you get her gym membership? it will get her out of the house (ours has gym membership) and also may make her feel better.

Nocapes - I'm a SAHM (I work v v occasionally but usually when the children are at school). Having an extra pair of hands means that all of my children don't need to get up at silly hour when the boys have an early morning club and I also don't have to drag them all out for their after school clubs. It also means that they can do the clubs they choose. It means I can do and watch the boys on match day, help at school, help with cubs, runs my rainbows group twice a week, spend time with them after school doing 11+, homework etc.

It also means that I don't spend my entire week AND weekend doing housework as DH would rather pay for me to have help rather than helping himself.

We have no family nearby to help the children also quite enjoy having our au pairs around and each one has contributed someone positive to our family be it a language, swimming, piano teaching etc.
Good enough reason?

SuperFlyHigh Wed 12-Oct-16 11:53:09

Can you try to get her to be more confident with the toddler? or as BabyGanoush says why is she there?

her MH etc problems are not yours.

suggest stuff she can do, interests etc. Book club?

Tertius Wed 12-Oct-16 11:54:54

Thank you very much to everyone who has taken the time to reply to me.

I have given her a list of suggestions of places to visit, I have found her a language course and put her in touch with other au pairs. She hasn't taken up my suggestions of places to go - not even the library - but has started the language course and met the other au pairs. I've given her a map and Oyster card. She is an adult so I don't feel I can boss her about with what to do in her free time too much. Although maybe I should suggest that it would be healthier if she left the house a bit more.

I think it's pretty likely that she is both depressed and lacking in confidence.

I could look into alternative help it is true and I may have to do this. An au pair is a relatively affordable solution and was intended to enable me to start picking up occasional work but this is not happening with the current au pair because of her lack of confidence with the toddler.

Should I warn her that I need someone who is not ever present in the house or is this unreasonable? Our expectations of what is normal are obviously different.

thank you so much for your thoughts - I really appreciate your time.

Tertius Wed 12-Oct-16 12:01:43

Thanks again - gym membership is a very good idea.

LemonBreeland Wed 12-Oct-16 12:02:33

I don't think there is any point in trying to deal with her not leaving the house. She isn't suitable as she can't cope with your toddler. Get a new au pair, it isn't working and I don't think it will.

SuperFlyHigh Wed 12-Oct-16 12:02:36

OP - I think I would state as you've said here:-

You want her to make more an effort with toddler to be able to handle toddler as you would like occasional work

You could say you are concerned as at interview she stated she wanted to be out etc but now she is here she isn't doing that, maybe suggest GP visit etc?

Yoga could suit her.

You could sit with her briefly ( and look at activities she could go to/go out to - Fireworks Night with au pair friends etc? she may concerned about costs, travel etc so tell her about night tube, voucher deal sites etc.

is there another interest eg sewing/crafts etc which she could do? our local pub has a Stitch n Bitch group (good fun).

user1476140278 Wed 12-Oct-16 12:03:50

I think that you should give her notice to be frank. Find a childminder.

Tertius Wed 12-Oct-16 12:44:24

Lots to think about. You've all been very helpful. Thanks so much.

I'll update this thread when I've decided what to do.

SuperFlyHigh Wed 12-Oct-16 14:11:35

PS - OP the only reason I suggested my ideas is because one of my friends is Korean - we met through a friendship group.

she had very few friends aside from the ones on her course and being a student was after ideas to socialise within a budget. also as her spoken English was bad because it isn't her first language she lacked confidence when out and about and with new people.

But as I said before I would certainly say you want the toddler situation addressed!

NuffSaidSam Wed 12-Oct-16 21:04:53

I don't think there is much you can do if she is a home bod! Some people are. I am. There's nothing wrong with my mental health I just like activities that are home-based.

If she's in your way, then you could make her room more appealing and explain that you prefer she spend some time in there is she's lounging around. If she's in her room and you just can't put up with her in the house even though she's in her own space, then I think you'll have to let her go.

Re. the toddler. That's possibly something that you could work on, but there's probably little point if you just don't like her personality.

Babymamaroon Wed 12-Oct-16 21:23:42

I totally hear you on this. It grates on my nerves that I literally never get the house to myself anymore as my au pair rarely goes out. She's out at the weekend but that's when the house is full.

You just need space to breathe in your own home sometimes and it is just too much to not even get time to yourself.

As an example, I was on a Conf call earlier today but wanted to prep the family dinner whilst talking. I walked into the kitchen to find the au pair chilling on the sofa, listening to loud music. I was on the phone so amazingly, she turned the music down (has previously not!) but did she leave to give me some privacy? No! WTF. And my au pair is mid twenties so not a young, clueless teen.

She has a flat screen and sofa, massive room and en suite in a separate area of the house. Not like she's in a crammed single room that I'm expecting her to sit in. I also pay for her gym membership. Bottom line, she's just lazy in her off time and lazes round the house.

I wish I had the freedom to head off to the gym or go shopping or go for a run, meet friends whatever! But no. She'd rather sit in all bloody day. Grr. She does have redeeming qualities otherwise we'd have parted ways but I have to admit, she's going in the new year and frankly I will be ecstatic grin

Wizotto Thu 13-Oct-16 17:14:48

One of our au pairs was like this and we let her go as she was so demotivated about life generallythat she affected the mood of everyone in the house. Our new au pair is great with the children, has a lovely personality, enjoys spending time with us as a family and is incredibly sociable and has made lots of friends and gone on lots of day trips so there is a nice balance. It can work really well and be a great experience for everyone so I would give notice and find someone more suited to your family.

jannier Thu 13-Oct-16 21:01:53

With regard to your AP and is really hard to work with young children and gain confidence if the parents are around it may help her if you leave her to it and let them bond a bit. Whilst your there your LO will be seeking you out and looking to you for guidance and it will rob your AP of any authority.
Maybe if she gains confidence with this her general confidence will improve.

Artandco Thu 13-Oct-16 21:08:30

I would just start leaving toddler also, it's hard with parent around. Maybe you just need to be particular about timings? Ask her to take toddler every Monday to the park 9-11am, Tuesday 9-11am you go out and she does cooking and painting or similar with toddler, etc

However, an au pair should have the right to stay at home, it's her home also for that time.

JoJoSM2 Thu 13-Oct-16 23:16:20

An au pair is meant to be like an older sister not someone paid peanuts to work and then not be see or heard and preferably out. Judging by your post, you need a live out nanny and not an au pair.

Babymamaroon, if you were sitting and relaxing somewhere with the music on, the au pair walked in on the phone, would you scuttle away in silence? It isn't the 19th century and she isn't a servant. Have some respect.

NuffSaidSam Thu 13-Oct-16 23:27:43

I agree with JoJo re. the au pair and the phone call.

I think it's really rude to expect someone to stop what they're doing and walk out because you've walked in on the phone! I don't think her manners are the problem.

If she was in your home office or similar then you'd be right to kick her out, but the kitchen is a communal, family space. Not really ideal for conference calls/business calls/calls that require privacy.

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