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Au-pair- is it worth it?

(20 Posts)
evangelina Sat 26-Jul-08 21:37:48

My husband has invited an au pair over for 6 months starting next week to "help me out". I'm a SAHM with 3 children aged 5, 3 and 18 months. He was told about the 18 year old girl by a work colleague, and I think he fancies the idea of a young lass in the house and the status.
I was never very keen and have started to dread the idea. We used to live near a language school and had short term students living with us, and I found them a lot of work, making sure they were happy, helping them with their English, being under my feet etc.
I can't really see the point if they only do 5 hours a day. My youngest is surgically attached to me and will never settle with a stranger. And I won't be able to let her go to the park etc with the older children as she doesn't know them or the area. 5 hours a day seems like nothing as my typical day is 6 to 8, and we don't have any spare money to pay her either.
I'm beginning to sound like an AIBU thread but can anyone tell me she will be worth it?

blueshoes Sat 26-Jul-08 22:14:45

Hi evangelina, whether an aupair is a help or a hinderance depends on the girl. If the arrangement works, you begin to wonder how you ever managed without her. if it doesn't, then you are really better off without.

You should have quite a good idea within the first few weeks. I have a 4 week probation period where either party can terminate on 1 week's notice. After all, the aupair might also decide we are not her cup of tea, in which case,
I would rather she leave earlier rather than later.

I do think that for it to work, you as the family need to have the right mindset to take the time to settle her in. 6 months is a decent amount of time. You will have to encourage your (older) dcs to go with her and her to play with them, show her the park etc. I have an aupair folder which has details of language schools, other aupairs to make friends with, pubs, cinemas, library, busroutes, transport info, local activities etc. I also have a detailed list of house rules and an hour-by-hour time table so she precisely knows what we expect.

And during the early days especially, to involve her in your life. Once she starts to make friends of her own, she will go out more and be less under your feet outside of working hours.

There is a certain amount of teenage issues to contend with. I don't particularly try to get stuck into boyfriend issues beyond a few questions from time to time. Other than that, my policy is to give her her privacy.

I also go for late teens to early twenties...

I do think that the right girl can be a great help if you take it in the right spirit and make it worthwhile for her as well. Otherwise yes, it is better to do without.

blueshoes Sat 26-Jul-08 22:16:39

BTW, my 18 month old who is a bit of a clingon did end up liking our aupair very much. He was much more well-behaved with her than with me.

catepilarr Sat 26-Jul-08 23:58:29

ad 'And I won't be able to let her go to the park etc with the older children as she doesn't know them or the area. '

the children will get to know her quite quickly and once you show her where the park is and how to get there i dont think you'll have a problem.

agree with blueshoes on the clingy thing.

i get the feeling the problem might be actually that your husband arranged the whole thing sort of behind your back? which is not a very good starting point, i can see why you are worried. hopefully she will be nice and helpful. fingers crossed

evangelina Sun 27-Jul-08 05:43:48

Thanks a lot. Sounds like a good idea about the folder- I hadn't thought of that. With regard to friends and boyfriends- are they allowed to come back to the house?
I think the thing I am most worried about is that their actual hours are so small and yet they are with you 24/7...

evangelina Sun 27-Jul-08 06:21:55

The point about how much they vary also worries me. I found a note yesterday from a Brazilian student we had which was lovely, saying how nice we had been and how much she would miss us but then I remembered another goodbye note (stuffed under their pillow and found after we had returned from dropping them off at the airport free of charge of course) from two girls saying that they hadn't enjoyed their stay because our food portions were too small.
And yes, husband has arranged the whole thing without my consent. He means well, but I really want to slob out and relax during the summer after the hectic summer term with 3 children.

SqueakyPop Sun 27-Jul-08 08:54:44

Most aupairs want to meet people their own age so go out when they are not working. I always screen my aupairs to check that they have interests and hobbies.

You set the rules about who can come to the house, but bearing in mind they are to be treated as a member of the family. If you were the mother of an 18yo, would you allow them to invite their friends over?

My rule is that female friends are fine to stay the night as long as I know in advance. I am happy for friends to call on the aupair, say if they are heading out together. Friends for the aupair is something to be encouraged.

blueshoes Sun 27-Jul-08 09:05:17

Agree with squeaky pop.

So long as an aupair is sociable and has made friends, it is likely she will want to be out and about, rather than holed up at home with rampant children, much as she loves them, of course. Weekends, my aupair sleeps until noon (ah, teenagers) and then goes out so I rarely see her for dust.

One of my houserules is no male guests, whether or not they stay over. I cannot get my head around strange men, whom my aupair possibly just met, being around my children in my home.

The exception is a long term boyfriend I have been introduced to . Then again, I also prefer to choose an aupair who does not have a boyfriend in her home country, to minimise risk homesickness and premature departures.

blueshoes Sun 27-Jul-08 09:11:42

Evangelina, if you are interested in my questionnaire (to screen aupairs) and house rules, feel free to CAT me.

I somehow would not trust dh to find the right aupair. I go through lots of candidates before I settle on one, by using my questionnaire, emailing and calling them, if not meeting them beforehand. There are biggies, like her nationality (visa requirements), are they smokers, prepared to do housework, which you have to know ahead of time. I also check references.

It is a lot of work, and no guarantee of a good fit. There is still an element of luck involved. But I would not take one on cold. Many many candidates could end up being like the holiday students you take on, and would never work as my aupair.

evangelina Sun 27-Jul-08 21:05:13

Thanks a lot for this. I've been out all day so sorry for not replying earlier.
blueshoes- the questionnaire is probably too late now as dh has just accepted this aupair based on a recommendation so there is no element of choice. However I will cat you about the house rules (will have to remind myself how to do so first!) Thanks again.

Snoots Mon 28-Jul-08 21:50:53

Hi - we are two days into our first au pair experience and I have to be honest - I am struggling. We had tix for Kylie concert prebooked this weekend and asked her not to book flights for Fri or Sat. Suffice to say the soft touch in me ended up with the AP arriving on Friday and me searching ebay on Fri night for an extra ticket for her. DH went spare - 'we are not running a charity or an entertainment businesss for waifs and strays'. She came with us, had dinner and the concert and muttered one solitary word all evening.........Its now Monday night and I am exhausted. Conversation is like pulling teeth. She is moping around with arms folded with the children (age 3 & 1) and hasn't cracked a smile yet. Please tell me that this is to be expected or have I managed to recruit the one dud AP from 300+ interested APs........Help!! Need reassurance from other mummies that I am not going mad - I may resort to violence soon if things don't improve. (Details have been minimised to prevent boredom of readers.....wink There are more stories but enough grin

blueshoes Mon 28-Jul-08 22:18:41

Hi Snoots, sympathies. If your aupair does not get better soon (and I would have a word with her), I'd say get rid sooner rather than later. It does not sound like she is making an effort with your family - her indifference to your dcs is a real turnoff. If she is like this now, what will she be like 3 months down the road?

catepilarr Mon 28-Jul-08 22:35:43

just out of interest why did you take her to the concert? did she mention she liked the singer? imagine you arrive to a strange country where strange language is spoken etc and you are taken to a concert you might not even like? i think you spoilt your evening without a reason.
she doesnt seem to be putting much effort in to be helpful. hope she changes soon, otherwise as the others say, get rid of.

Snoots Wed 30-Jul-08 16:05:52

We asked if she wanted to come to London with us to have dinner and watch the Kylie concert. She said yes and seemed positive. Mmm maybe it was a better idea to not go. Since the weekend things haven't got much better. She is extremely quiet and any converstations are driven by us. We went to the beach and the park and she just stands by the children and stares into space. I talked to her this morning and she said she likes us and the children but feels sad. I don't know what to do. I am 6 months pregnant and don't need the hassle. She is willing to help with housework but I need someone mainly to play with the kids with a smile. Is that too much to ask? Sorry for hijacking this thread with my moaning!

mummypoppins Wed 30-Jul-08 16:27:47

oh dear snoots. I had one like that. If I was entertaining her at the weekends........shopping , cinema etc she was fine. Otherwise she would stay in bed all weekend. It drove me mad. In the end I sent her packing after 10 weeks I couldnt stand the stress of looking after another child.

Give it a week but dont hesitate to get rid if she is not suited to the Au Pair experince as it were!

stressed2007 Wed 30-Jul-08 20:52:08

give it a few more days and if things don't get better then get rid of her. Get yourself sorted with a better au pair before the baby gets here!

catepilarr Wed 30-Jul-08 21:22:05

agree with others. has she found any potential friends yet? perhaps is there someone in the neighbourhood with an ap of the same nationality? but i wouldnt put much hope in someone who doesnt interact with the kids....

blueshoes Wed 30-Jul-08 22:18:49

snoots, let us know how it goes. What nationality is your aupair, BTW?

Simply Wed 30-Jul-08 22:20:44

I hope it works out for you evangelina. smile

Snoots - I struggled with our ap who didn't make much effort with my teenage children and didn't want to go out much either (one week she was out of the house about 10 hours in total ALL week! She wasn't ill or anything, so just liked to stay in, read books and watch tv.) She was with us for the full 7 months and I had to change what I'd wanted her to do initially (some childcare, some language tuition and some pet care and housework) to almost only pet care and housework. She liked it here and certainly didn't want to leave until the date she was due to go home and she even expressed interest in coming back. <<<NOOO!!!>>> If I hadn't needed the help like I did (no family living nearby, dh working long hours and being away quite a bit, me woth part-time) then I'd have asked her to find a new family.

Snoots Fri 01-Aug-08 11:51:12

Things are improving...thank goodness. Our chat helped. We'll see. She is Slovak. Her English is not as good as she made out on her site but I'm sure it will get better.

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