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Asking au pair to not spend 2 evenings with us a week

(41 Posts)
MabelAllan Fri 14-Oct-16 13:55:35

Our new au pair arrives this evening, and I'm just finishing writing her welcome booklet. She seems great and I'm really excited. But I've read various threads on this board about au pairs who either never leave the house, or spend all their time on the sofa in the living room. I think that would drive me mad! We've organised language classes and ballet lessons for her, and she's already met a few local au pairs online - she seems motivated and I'm hoping that hanging around the house the whole time won't be a problem.

But do you think it's reasonable to say, from the off, that, for most of the week, she's very welcome to eat dinner with DP and I in the evening, and join us watching telly or chatting. But for 2 nights a week, we'd like to have the evening to ourselves (or to invite friends over): and on those nights, please could she either eat when I cook for the children, or cook for herself, and then vacate the living room/dining room, so that DP and I can get some relationship time together? Or do you think that's unreasonable?

CrumbsThatsQuick Fri 14-Oct-16 13:57:14

Sounds absolutely fine and reasonable to me.

MoonfaceAndSilky Fri 14-Oct-16 13:59:12

Seems fine to me and good to write it down so she knows exactly where she stands from the off.

MabelAllan Fri 14-Oct-16 14:02:01

Thanks! Do you think it's OK to ask her not to be in the dining room/kitchen or living room, though? Her bedroom is big, and comfy, and she has a TV up there - but I'm worried that it might make her feel like she's been 'sent to her room'. She could go out, though, I guess.

AndNowItsSeven Fri 14-Oct-16 14:02:17

She is meant to be an older sister to your dc, if you would tell your own hypothetical 18 year old to give you some space then it's fine, if you wouldn't then no.

2014newme Fri 14-Oct-16 14:03:48

Oh gosh that doesn't sound very nice! I thought au pairs were to be treated like family? I would go out if I had on tap babysitting rather than tell her she can't sit in the living room 2 nights per week. Is your house very small? If she is in the living room.is there another living room.you can sit in to chat?

MabelAllan Fri 14-Oct-16 14:05:55

Not having any older children, I honestly don't know AndNow. I do think it's really important for couples to have some time away from the children. At the moment, because all our kids go to bed at 7pm, DP and I have basically every evening together. But I'm worried about the prospect of never having any time alone together, just to, you know, take stock of our relationship etc. If she was our own child, we'd still need to find that time somehow. And I can't imagine I'd necessarily be happy about a teenage daughter joining us every time our mates came over. Maybe I should reduce it to 1 evening a week; and that, plus the 1 evening that we'll go out, should be enough time.

FinallyHere Fri 14-Oct-16 14:07:56

As PP said, an au-pair lives as a member of the family. I'm sure it's possible to get this message across but it is a tricky message to deliver kindly. Could you wait and see how here social life goes and, if she is around in the evenings more than you would like, ask her what she needs to enjoy more of a social life in the evenings?

MabelAllan Fri 14-Oct-16 14:08:50

We can't afford to go out much, unfortunately - the last time we went out together was about 7 months ago! Once she arrives, we'll go out one night a week, I hope. But I get up at 5am for work every day (6 days a week), so I don't necessarily want to go out more than that - but I would like the 'couple time' that going out offers, but whilst being able to flop on the sofa and have an early night. We have a large house, but only one living room (although there's another sofa & TV in the playroom; and she's got a TV in her own room). I really want to strike the balance of being welcoming and a host family, with not eroding all DP and my time alone together. How do other families with APs manage to have time alone with their partners (aside from going out a lot)? Any advice welcome!

2014newme Fri 14-Oct-16 14:10:40

Yes play it by ear don't write it in the manual it comes across as unkind. You have invited her to live in your house as part of the family. Be nice!

MabelAllan Fri 14-Oct-16 14:13:46

I definitely want to be nice! I've written this - do you think this is OK?

"On Saturday evenings, DP and I would like to have an evening alone together, in the house, if that’s OK: either just to sit and chat together, or to watch a film together, or to invite friends over. On those evenings, would you mind either eating with the children (who we'll cook for about 5.45-6pm), or cooking for yourself? You’re very welcome to join us for dinner every other night of the week! We just thought it would be important for DP and I to have some regular time together alone, if that’s OK."

I think I won't say anything about not being in the living room/dining room etc.

celeryisnotasuperfood Fri 14-Oct-16 14:19:57

strangely i think specifying it to saturday is harsher, thats because when i was lonely it was friday, saturday and sunday nights that were the worst for feeling depressed - as you are so aware that everyone else is having a good time on those nights.
I would play it by ear on this one - she might be a very social girl, or spend her off time in her room on the computer anyway

MabelAllan Fri 14-Oct-16 14:21:29

Oh, I hoped that Saturday would be when she'd be more likely to be out herself; so that it would be easier. It's unlikely that we'd have friends over for dinner any other night of the week, though.

nilbyname Fri 14-Oct-16 14:23:17

I think the bones of your message is good, but lose the "if thats ok?" at the end of your requests.

mouldycheesefan Fri 14-Oct-16 14:24:01

If you are having friends over invite her to join you surely. She will likely be out or in her room a lot. I really think with this no entry to the living room Saturday nights thing you are being horribly unwelcoming and treating her like an employee not an au pair. She isn't a nanny!

MabelAllan Fri 14-Oct-16 14:24:20

Yes, good point - thanks nilbyname

MabelAllan Fri 14-Oct-16 14:30:29

I really don't want to be unwelcoming. But I also don't want to lose all the time that DP and I have alone. How else do people manage to have time alone with their DPs? Sometimes it'll be fine to invite her to have dinner with us; but sometimes I can envisage that I'd prefer to just have an evening with very close friends (and if she was an 18-year-old DC, in that circumstance I'd ask that DC to give us some space too). But I'm worried that, if I don't stipulate from the off, that we need, say, just 1 night a week alone on the sofa together or with close friends, we'll potentially lose all the time that DP and I will have to do some relationship management!

Radiatorvalves Fri 14-Oct-16 14:35:16

I probably wouldn't formalize it, but instead I would say in Week 1 (after a few meals together), "DP and I are going to eat together tonight, could you please eat with the children". Repeat weekly / twice weekly. This tends to happen anyway at our house as we get back from work late and the AP and boys have already eaten. Of approx. 10 APs, we have only had one where I thought she was being a bit intrusive (sat in the middle of the sofa when we were about to watch a film)

Radiatorvalves Fri 14-Oct-16 14:37:33

Oh, and when we have friends around we would usually say, "We are having a dinner party on Saturday night. Are you going out, and if not, please could you eat with the children." If it is my Dad / brother / more casual, AP is of course welcome to join. Quite often they won't want to.

Aftershock15 Fri 14-Oct-16 14:39:31

Well I have teenage children and we sometimes banish them just so we can eat together / sit and chat for an evening. It's probably not once a week, but that's because they tend to be out and about, but we do ask them to go and watch TV in the playroom some evenings.

AveEldon Fri 14-Oct-16 14:41:25

Most people I know specify that the AP eats with the kids

I don't see why you would want your AP to join you if you have adult friends over for dinner

MabelAllan Fri 14-Oct-16 14:42:29

Yes, that sounds like a really nice way of putting it. Thanks! We've never had an AP before, so I don't really know what to expect. I really really want her to be happy, and to have a great time, and to feel like one of the family - but just as DP and I have had to work hard at carving out time for each other amid our jobs/children etc, I'm quite keen to maintain that.

MabelAllan Fri 14-Oct-16 14:44:29

I think the AP probably won't eat with the children most of the time, because she'll have most afternoons as her free time. So unless she particularly loves fish fingers and eating at 5.30pm, I'd imagine she'll eat with us. Which is totally fine by me, but I would like to protect one night a week.

frustratedmom1 Fri 14-Oct-16 14:44:59

There is absolutely nothing wrong with what you're suggesting. We have quite the age gap between our kids and once the little ones are in bed after dinner, our older one gives us space and hangs out in her room several times a week. She actually prefers that as she can skype and chat with her friends. Also your older kids have homework so they wouldn't be around you 24/7!! That IS how you treat your kids especially when you need to discuss private things and just have some quite time with your partner. I especially don't want my older child hanging out when we have dinner guests, drinking and generally discussing adult stuff! There is nothing wrong with asking an aupair to give you space. We've had 4 aupairs so far who've been very happy and been with us over a year each and they love hanging out in their room where they have tv/internet/desk/couch, etc.! They come with us to informal bbqs etc but certainly not when we have friends over for dinner.

CrumbsThatsQuick Fri 14-Oct-16 14:45:25

The mumsnet au pair experience is certainly different from my own. We rarely share an evening with our au pairs. Frankly we (and she) wouldn't want to. This is also the case with other families we know. Not less welcome and no less part of the family/household, we just have different views on what constitutes a nice evening so don't want or need to spend them together.

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