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Our future au pair wants the email address for our current au pair..... What should I do?

(36 Posts)
streetwise Thu 26-Jul-07 18:18:44

I don't really want to be talked about by au pairs. How can I get out of passing it on to her? I don't want to look like I've got anything to hide as we don't.

A bit of an odd situation.

Issy Thu 26-Jul-07 18:34:49

Hi Streetwise

I don't think that this is an unreasonable request. Your future au pair is taking just as much a gamble on you as a family as you are on her as an au pair and the best way of mitigating that risk is to speak to your current au pair. Your current au pair may also be able to provide useful insights into how to work with your family.

All our nannies have met their replacements and spent time with them as part of a hand-over. They could have gossiped about us during that time, although I suspect that they didn't find us that interesting.

iota Thu 26-Jul-07 18:36:03

seems a tad unfair as I am sure you would like to talk to an au pair's former employer, why should she not talk to your former employee?

potoroo Thu 26-Jul-07 18:47:24

Its a fair request, but you shouldn't pass on the previous au pair's contact details without checking with her first.

streetwise Thu 26-Jul-07 19:19:48

I see what you mean about it sounding fair - but I've never begun a job and spoken to my predecessor.

Also - the fact is that she doesn't have a previous employer - so I'm taking her on trust.

The reality is that our current au pair is a lazy bones who's idea of childcare is flicking the TV on. She's been our first au pair and we've learnt a lot of lessons. I want to start afresh with the new au pair.

amidaiwish Thu 26-Jul-07 19:53:44

well just say "i will give [current aupair] your details and tell her to get in touch as i don't think she'd like me to hand out her personal e-mail" and then don't!

iota Thu 26-Jul-07 19:57:06

I have I think it's quite normal to have a 'handover period' in a lot of jobs, especially if it is an internal promotion

streetwise Thu 26-Jul-07 20:17:58

Thank you amidaiwish - that's a very wise suggestion. Duly noted and will be implemented.

JennaJ Fri 27-Jul-07 08:07:59

Not really in agreement. If your current au pair is not up to your standards then surely it would not be advisable for her to have a handover period with the new the old one will just teach the new one all of her bad habits and you will be back to square one!

I would go with the suggestion that your current aupair doesn't want to give out her contact details but that you will pass her email onto her and see if she will make contact..then don't!!

Alternativly you could just explain to new ap that old ap has been lazy and you want a fresh start..that way she will not see you as a pushover from the start.

I would not personally be happy about some of my past ap speaking with their replacement..although some of them I would be perfectly happy. It just depends on each individual situation.

Go with what you are happy with and if the new ap doesn't like it then she prob isn't the ap for you anyway and you will all have saved alot of heartache!!


squiffy Fri 27-Jul-07 11:51:18

If I was an au-pair I don't think I'd work for a family that refused this request - she is putting a lot of faith in you and moving her whole life.

Maybe explain that things never really worked out with you and current AP and then leave them to discuss (once your current AP agrees). Yes they will gossip and you can;t stop it. It doesn't mean that your new AP isn't capable of making her own judgements, etc.

IME they discuss what you are like what the kids are like, do you treat them OK, do they get proper time off/privacy, and so on. Nothing that will affect your ability to start with clean slate in day one.

BrummieOnTheRun Fri 27-Jul-07 12:54:00

I always offer to provide contact details for previous girls who've looked after my kids. Just so they know we're not flesh-eating aliens living in flea pit with bizarre sexual practises involving ikea furniture.

I'm not sure it's comparable to starting a new job really. Put yourself in her position. This girl is most likely getting off a plane having never met you or seen your home. It's a big gamble. She's going to be with you 24/7 for months. Personally I think it's a sign of good faith.

I doubt AP1 will pass on bad habits to AP2 during reference process. You can guide AP1 in the sort of information you suggest she provides (she'd probably find that helpful actually, as they rarely know what to write). I'm not suggesting you write the reference, just that you list the areas she covers, and that that list doesn't include how/what duties she does/doesn't do.

Have you thought about asking for a character reference from someone else (for AP2)? School teacher? Priest? Someone responsible who knows her well?

eleusis Fri 27-Jul-07 12:55:56

I put the new nanny in contact with the outgoing nanny a few weeks before old nanny left. And she did most of the handover for me. It was fab. Old nanny even made a handover book (which I did not ask for) and it was so fab.

Although I guess if current au pair is not up to par, this is not likely to be quite so helpful.

And, old nanny did ask me for a reference from the nanny before her before she accepted the job. Fair enough, I got references from her before offering the job.

I actually think the au pair is taking a lot more risk than you are in moving into your house. If it doesn't work out, she is the one who has to find a new place to live. You just need a new au apair.

TiredFedUpNanny Fri 27-Jul-07 15:43:10

Well what about when employers phone ex employers for references. I think it would be unreasonable for you to deny her this right, as if you have nothing to hide then there should be nothing to worry about. If you have stuff to hide then the new au pair has to judge whether she wants the job. You have your story to put across and so does the old au pair.

I am sure there is nothing to worry about and that you are a good employer, and you just have to make sure there is no ill-feeling with old au pair.

chopster Fri 27-Jul-07 15:48:06

I don't think it is unreasonable. THe girl prob would like the contact to find her feet int he area with other girls the same age, etc. as much as anything else. Also, whatever the current au pair tells her, it is better to have someone coming with their eyes wide open, and hopefully avoid teething problems.

streetwise Fri 27-Jul-07 17:43:22

Eleusis - I don't agree entirely that she's got more to risk. She's moving into a household with my two young children - who are two and three. You say that I would 'just need a new au pair'. Hmm - perhaps - but I'm inviting somebody into my home who I need to trust with two very little children.

streetwise Fri 27-Jul-07 17:50:16

Okay - maybe I haven't explained myself very well as I'm getting a real bashing here.

Our current au pair sits and watches TV with my husband and I almost every night from about 8 o'clock until whenever we go to bed. If we have friends round she comes in and joins us. She only works for us ten hours a week but has never once cooked the children, herself or us a meal. We prepare every single meal she eats. If I'm cooking her a meal she sits and watches me prepare it and never offers to help. She eats dinner and wine and pudding with my husband and I every night and quite often walks away without even putting her own plate in the dishwasher.

She uses our computer. We've got her a mobile phone etc etc. I'm now thinking what a mug I've been over the last six months! And you probably won't believe that things are even this bad.

The thing is that for the first week she watched TV with us and I assumed that she would get a social life etc and meet friends. She does go out some nights - but if she's not out she's with us. And it gets to a stage when it's too awkward to say anything.

The long and the short of it is that I don't want all these things being passed on to the new au pair as I want to start the whole thing on a different footing.

I'm sure I'm going to come in for a right basing again. And yes I am a bit of a doormat!

NAB3 Fri 27-Jul-07 17:50:42

Has she said why she wants the address? I know it is obvious that she wants to contact her but for ideas of places to go or to get the gossip on you.

NAB3 Fri 27-Jul-07 17:52:55

To be fair, if your au pair is a foreign girl from abroad she probably doesn't have any friends to go out with. A lot of girls expect to be part of the family but you are entitled to time alone with your husband. Cooking for the kids is part of the job, surely? I au paired in Brussels 15 years ago and I think I only ate with the parents on the first and last night with a few in between. I was there for a year.

TootyFrooty Fri 27-Jul-07 17:55:58

Whatever you do, make sure you have the current au pair's consent before you give out her details (if that's what you decide to do).

streetwise Fri 27-Jul-07 18:03:25

NAB3 - you're right. You would think that cooking is part of the job. But our when our au pair put on her form that her cooking was 'fair' I thought she'd be able to do basic vegetables/ pasta etc. But she really can't cook a thing. If I've ever asked her to give the children lunch or dinner - she gives them toast!

With our next au pair I'm going to say up front that I'm happy for her to watch TV with us once a week - or basically occasionally. But as it is currently my other half and I don't get any private time - even though the au pair has a TV and DVD player and about 50 films on DVD in her room.

eleusis Fri 27-Jul-07 18:04:39

If I were you I wouldn't stand for the au pairs slack behaviour. You do as I say or you pack your things.

But, I still think she is entitled to a refernce on you if you are entitled to one on her.

I've gotten stricter and stricter as the years of nanny enployer go by. I now have in my contract something about how boys who are not relatives of the nanny are not allowed in the house when we are not home. So, current nanny, who is quite dedicated to her faith, asked me the othr day if this meant that the pastor couldn't come over. I laughed and said "Hmmm, I think he'll be okay."

BrummieOnTheRun Fri 27-Jul-07 18:11:10

Hi streetwise,

don't think anyone was intending on giving you a bashing apologies if mine came across in any way judgemental.

sounds like you ended up with someone who was expecting to be looked after and has a mother at home who does everything for her.

you've got a great excuse now to raise this with AP2 as an example of exactly what you don't need: 2 young kids PLUS another person to look after.

I'm expecting our AP to eat with us most nights, but would be extremely pissed off if she didn't cook for the kids (have specified this is a requirement) and if she didn't (at the very least) clear her plates away!

would a clear list of responsibilities/ daily schedule and a list of house rules help, do you think?

streetwise Fri 27-Jul-07 18:16:36

It's all such a tricky balancing act. Our current ap clearly wanted a Mum - just as you say Brummie. And I've ended up feeling like it's actually more work having her around.

But during the first few weeks I didn't want to come across as really strict. So I was quite chilled out about things. I didn't realise that this would mean that she would basically never pull her weight and just use our house like a hotel.

BrummieOnTheRun Fri 27-Jul-07 18:25:36

Oh, I always fall into that one too, Streetwise. Want her to like me and be happy: "oh, don't worry, I'LL do sit down and have a coffee!"

But the easiest time to lay down the law is at the beginning.

My plan this time is to write a clear description of what I expect her to do every session she works and what we expect in terms of sharing work load in the house.

I also found they don't always know what to do with the kids and can over-rely on the TV, so I'm preparing a pick list of activities they can do with them.

streetwise Fri 27-Jul-07 18:26:12

What I want to know is - how do you decide if it's working out with an au pair or not? With our current one - I've hoped and hoped that it would get better as time went on - but actually it's got worse. She's asked more and more favours until in the end it's just been a lot more effort and I feel like it has been a bit of a waste of energy. I should have just ended it earlier.

For instance - I'm getting married and asked the ap if she could do an unscheduled hour so I could go and try wedding dresses on. She told me that she couldn't as she'd already made plans to go out with friends! It's left me feeling really upset over the last week or so as I feel like I've been a complete mug!

I'm meant to be taking her to Waterloo tomorrow but I feel like I shouldn't do it as the ap could perfectly easily take a taxi (which I'll pay for anyway) on her own.

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