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Having Au Pair issues, is my host family bad?

(76 Posts)
lucelline Wed 10-Jan-18 10:31:50

Do you ever get a feeling in your gut that something isn’t right, yet you can’t tell if you’re just dramatising, or if something is indeed wrong? That’s what’s been happening to me, therefore I feel I need an outsider’s point of view about my issue.
Basically, I’m 18, and I’ve been an Au Pair in Europe for a bit more than 3 months already. The first few weeks were lovely, since everything was new and thus exciting to me. I’m living in Poland, but I didn’t go anywhere during my first 2 months. My host family is always extremely busy and doesn’t go anywhere except the office they work in at Warsaw. They have a 15-month old, who I’m taking care of. You can imagine that 6 hours with a one-year old is pretty exhausting as it requires very intensive care. I’m lucky I’m a pretty patient person, but no one has unlimited patience.
There are a few things that have been bothering me more and more each day, yet I’m not sure if I have the right to “complain” about these. Here’s the thing: the family sees me only as a “house worker” instead of another member of the family, which makes me uncomfortable since we both agreed this experience would be to share cultures and be an “older sister” of the baby, but they’re treating me like a nanny more than an actual Au Pair (and there’s a difference between both!). Whenever I try to interact more with the family and be more personal with them they’re polite, yet the cold/distanced/bare-minimum type of polite. The father actually seems annoyed, he doesn’t even try to hide it anymore, when I try to speak with him. I normally don’t see them much because they’re always working, and on weekends when they do have both days off I’m required to work Saturdays and Sundays. Sometimes I feel they don’t really care or want to spend time with their baby, they go to a separate room and shut themselves in there (I’ve seen them just watching movies or listening to music) while I work in the days I’m supposed to have off. Also, I’m required to give Spanish classes for an hour, 5 time a week to the mother’s parents. This wouldn’t bother me, if they actually paid me for it...! Because I’m getting paid what any other Au Pair gets paid just for taking care of children, yet on top of that I need to give Spanish classes to the parents, so I’m basically doing that for free. And when I do go out to meet friends in Warsaw, which doesn’t happen a lot, my host family set me a curfew of 9pm, which irritates me a bit since I normally don’t go out anyway, and it takes me an hour to go and return to/from Warsaw from where I live. I feel I spend more time at home than outside (I would rather have a balance or at least more time to explore the country), and it makes me uncomfortable that I came 8,000+ km from my country just to spend it in another house for most part of the day. When I asked if I could register for Polish classes the mother didn’t encourage me to learn the language, and when I told her I found a nice place where I could learn Polish she seemed disappointed when I wanted to join them. At night, which is the only time when I can talk to my family since they live in the other side of the world, the family shuts off the WiFi. So I have to pay my own money to be able to talk to my family in the only time I get.
These things have been getting worse each time and I feel the family doesn’t care about my well-being at all, they just want me to be healthy to be able to take care of their son. Or more like, raise their son, as I’m pretty sure the mother has not changed a single diaper since I started working here. Each day I feel less motivated to stay here, yet I’ve no idea what to do, or if my problems are actually valid. My family often tells me that “it’s just how life is” when I tell them I’m getting a bit tired and that I need some days off. I’m thinking of switching host families, but for now I’d just like insightful feedback on the situation?

bellabelly Wed 10-Jan-18 10:37:22

That sounds awful! I'd start looking for another family to work for!

thethoughtfox Wed 10-Jan-18 10:42:01

They sound like assholes. Look up guidance as to what an au pair should be expected to do. They sound like they just wanted a cheap nanny.

RosiePosiePuddingPie Wed 10-Jan-18 10:46:12

Leave! Life is too short for this, OP. Go out and have FUN.

Fezzik Wed 10-Jan-18 10:49:04

That sounds dreadful. You're an adult, you shouldn't have a curfew (and especially not 9pm!). And turning off the wifi is just bizarre and spiteful.

I would give notice asap and find another placement. I'm sorry that you are in this situation but hopefully you will find a lovely family next time.

RavingRoo Wed 10-Jan-18 10:49:08

A friend used to nanny across Central and Eastern Europe and said you don’t generally get treated as part of the family (or even with much respect) unless you’re an older woman. This could well be a culture difference.

NotSuchASmugMarriedNow1 Wed 10-Jan-18 10:55:56

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

lucelline Wed 10-Jan-18 16:48:46

Thank you guys for all your answers, seriously! I felt I was going mad with all these doubts and now I feel a bit better to have assurance that my situation isn’t normal.. I really appreciate everyone’s answers and will be looking for another family! smile

roses2 Sun 14-Jan-18 21:52:43

I have an au pair and this isn't the way I treat her - find another family!

Blessed81 Mon 15-Jan-18 00:47:12

That doesn't sound good at all and not fair on u.

My boyfriend is looking for an au pair but has 12 year old twins (boy and girl), and he's a really nice man. That's if you consider changing host family. Or could recommend someone u know who wants to be paired with a nice family. Just trying my luck on his behalf. 😊.

underneaththeash Tue 16-Jan-18 14:18:26

Yes, they sound really awful - go back on au pair world and find a nicer family.
Always ask for a written schedule of duties before you take on a job.

Tanith Tue 16-Jan-18 14:49:45

Yes, in a word!

They very obviously want a full time nanny at the very least, but don’t want to pay for one. Absolutely you should leave and find a decent family to work for.

British families are perfectly capable of exploiting au pairs and nannies (check out Gumtree sometime!) so I think this is less of a cultural thing and more of an entitled cheapskates thing!

lucelline Tue 16-Jan-18 22:40:44

Your offer is greatly appreciated, thank you!! I however found a new host family already, we set the date for me to leave but my current one wasn’t too happy about it and basically won’t let me leave at the date we said (I also need to pay the flight ticket so it’s not like I can afford any expensive day either). I’m really stuck now and don’t know what to do.. I do hope the best for you though, unfortunately all the Au pairs I know already have a host family, but I can assure he’ll find a lively and bright one smile

Solasum Tue 16-Jan-18 22:44:39

Do you need the money to get to your next job? If not, I would just leave when you want to and accept that you won’t get paid what you are owed

DistanceCall Tue 16-Jan-18 22:46:20

What do you mean "they won't let you leave"? You can leave whenever you like.

Blessed81 Tue 16-Jan-18 22:52:50

Thank you. Will keep looking. Good luck with everything

lucelline Wed 17-Jan-18 07:07:31

I technically have the money right now and could leave whenever. I gave a month to my current host family, for them to at least find a new Au Pair and not be left with no one. Yesterday when I told them that the set date I had to leave was February 17, the mum got angry at me because she said I can’t just tell them “when” I’m leaving, that I should have at least asked her if that date was fine, and how I’m behaving is “immature.” I politely tried to explain to her that being here isn’t good for me emotionally anymore, and she still doesn’t understand why I’m unhappy (even after explaining to her 3 times, she doesn’t believe in depression or mental illnesses either it seems). I already set the date with my new family and they said I cant just do that, so if they don’t find someone new before my set date to leave, I’m not sure if they’ll make me stay more time sad

athingthateveryoneneeds Wed 17-Jan-18 07:08:49

Do you have your passport? I'm concerned for your safety.

DrRanjsRightEyebrow Wed 17-Jan-18 07:12:11

You're not a prisoner, they can't make you stay more time.

Somersetter Wed 17-Jan-18 07:13:07

You've given them a month's notice, just leave on 17th Feb. Sounds horrible for you.

AJPTaylor Wed 17-Jan-18 07:23:52

Leave on that date or sooner. Do they have your passport?

Lemongincosy Wed 17-Jan-18 07:30:09

Get another family. Life is short and these people are not adding any value or joy to your time so i would remove myself from the situation asap if i was you.

Imo it is important to maintain boundaries with people working with your family / in your home but this sounds very extreme. I have had nannies never au pairs who live in, but from friends I have never heard of anyone treating an au pair like this.

helenoftroyville Wed 17-Jan-18 07:32:41

They can't make you stay longer, or tell you when to leave. One months notice is all you need to give them.

Lemongincosy Wed 17-Jan-18 07:36:02

@lucelline just read the rest. They cannot make you do anything, don't allow yourself to be manipulated. Inform her that you are leaving on set date, important that she understands you are not asking for her opinion / permission and she should know it's not a debate. Just a fact now.
Also would be good if you make mention that your family are aware you're leaving and highlight how you have been speaking with them a lot. Maybe say one of them is coming to visit you? Even if it's a fib - just so she knows you have people looking out for you and you're not entirely at her mercy!

ZenNudist Wed 17-Jan-18 07:39:20

Can you join your new family any sooner? If you explain how bad things are and how horrible they are treating you i think theyd understand. You dont owe those bastards anything. Get out!!!

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