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Friend Aupair in Spain and not happy, Can I have your opinions please?

(23 Posts)
MmeLindt Thu 14-Aug-08 19:12:20

A friend of mine is working as an aupair in Spain at the moment. She has been with the family for a couple of months and is pretty unhappy.

Perhaps someone with experience of Aupairs could help to put things into perspective and tell us if this is normal.

She is looking after 3 boys, an 8yo and twins of 3.5yo. The elder boy is ok, a bit cheeky but not nasty.

The twins are a different story, they were premature and one of the twins is, in AP's words, "very behind in his development". He is very loud, overexcitable and causes chaos. She finds it difficult to understand him as his speech is not good. He does not sleep well and does not do what he is told. Noone, not even the parents are able to control him. He is very sweet and gives AP kisses and cuddles. She was told that he is a handful before she went but not the extent of his SN.

The other DT is quieter and sleeps better but they are both out of nappies but have several accidents a day. AP is fed up cleaning wee and poo off the floor.

She works from 1.30pm to 7.30pm and as the house is over an hour from the nearest town is seldom able to go out in hte evenings. She is also unable to go to Spanish lessons due to the long commute. She earns 60euros a week for 30 hours.

They have agreed that she is to babysit 1 - 2 evenings a week. Her employers often tell her shortly before they go out, but if she asks if it would be ok to go out for the evening then her employers often say that is is too short notice.

For the last few weeks AP and the children have been visiting the DC's grandmother in another town. This means that AP has to sleep in the same room as the children and has less freedom as she is discouraged from going out in the evening. The granny undermines AP's authority when she allows the DCs to do things that AP has just told them not to do.
She works 45 hours at the Granny's house but they do compensate her well, she gets 180euros. But she cannot really go out alone as she has not been given a key to the Granny's house.

She is thinking about looking for another job as she feels the family are being unreasonable.

Please let me know what you think. She is so alone, and has no chance to meet other girls her own age. She is such a lovely girl, very friendly and outgoing and she has noone to speak to.

SqueakyPop Thu 14-Aug-08 19:46:41

Sounds awful. She is a slave.

MmeLindt Thu 14-Aug-08 19:59:41

Do you think so? I do too, but have no experience what is normal for APs (except my own 15 year old experience)

MatNanPlus Thu 14-Aug-08 20:05:07

Yikes, MmeLindt you don't mention her age or previous experience but 3 DC, 1 with pronounced SN is hard work and not something i would expect an AP to be left to deal with alone, I would expect her to have either the NT children while the SN twin was given attention or for her to do play therepy with the SN while the NT DC were with an adult.

MatNanPlus Thu 14-Aug-08 20:05:32

Is there also a language ishoo?

Quattrocento Thu 14-Aug-08 20:08:25

The hours are too long - should be 20-25 hours.

There should be no additional babysitting unless she is paid extra

She should be allowed to attend language school

You haven't said anything about housework?

blueshoes Thu 14-Aug-08 20:12:24

The pocket money does not sound great for the hours. But I don't know what the going rate in Spain is.

The main issue is that your friend is not effectively given much time or opportunity to socialise or take Spanish lessons due to her working conditions, inflexibility of her family and remote location.

She should try to bring this up with her family, otherwise I would definitely advise her to look for another family asap. She is not getting anything out of this experience.

MmeLindt Thu 14-Aug-08 20:12:37

I think they have a cleaner to do the housework, she does not have to do much there. (aside from cleaning up after the DTs)

She speaks pretty good Spanish so I don't think that there is a language isshoo.

I think that she would cope with the long hours (she used to be our cleaner and is a hard worker) but the problems with the DT wiht SN combined with the poo and being alone all the time.

MmeLindt Thu 14-Aug-08 21:22:16

So should I advise her to talk to the family about everything or concentrate on one or two problems? I think that if she goes in with this list then it will not go well. I would like to fly over and bring her back home

I feel a bit responsible as I encouraged her to become an aupair when she first started talking about it

catepilarr Thu 14-Aug-08 21:27:16

60 euros per week for 30 hours is normal aupair pay in europe. although working with special needs children on her own is not ok in my view. she should be able to attend classes and if there is no public transport the parents should take her or otherwise make it happen.sleeping with the kids in the same room is not ok.30 hours are fine, 25hours is in the uk (not 20). babysitting up to twice ( sometimes three in some countries) during the working week is included in the weekly pay. but definitely arranged in advanced and she shouldnt be expected to ask whether it is ok to go out! just go out unless babysitting is arranged beforehand (at least a day upfront i would say).
dont know whether there is any other legal regulation in spain than the europian treaty that spain has signed and ratified.conventions.coe.int/Treaty/Commun/QueVoulezVous.asp?NT=068&CM=8&DF=8/14/2008&CL=ENG

i would either recommend a chat about the rules with the family but i personally dont think they'll change. you either treat other people well or you don't. or just find another job.

MmeLindt Thu 14-Aug-08 21:33:54

Thanks, Caterpilar. Very helpful.

Would you suggest she says something about the nappy situation? She feels that she is being left to toilet train the DTs and it does not sound as if they are ready for it.

MmeLindt Thu 14-Aug-08 21:36:43

catepilarr, sorry for spelling your name wrong.

catepilarr Thu 14-Aug-08 22:40:07

dont worry about the name. i dont think an ap should be left to potty train or similar. not ok what you describe in my opinion. maybe if the ap was a nurse specializing in special needs so it would be in her interest to get some experience. i think there is not much to do to solve this, apart from putting them back into nappies or the ap leaving?

bonnibaby Fri 15-Aug-08 11:06:54

Poor thing, it sounds a nightmare.
I worked as a nanny for many years and i think your friends employers would be better suited with a nanny with SN experience.
Expecting her to potty train the children without their support is very naughty too i think.
It sounds like the children are not ready to be out of nappies if they are having several accidents a day ,i feel this is to be expected in the first few days of training but if it goes on any longer than that i personally would wait a bit longer.
If i were you i would advise her to have a chat with them first to see if things can be resolved but if they are not willing to be more supportive then she would probably be best to move on.
I feel for you too as her friend but its not your fault for encouraging her to go,its the family's fault for taking the mick ,

bonnibaby Fri 15-Aug-08 11:06:55

Poor thing, it sounds a nightmare.
I worked as a nanny for many years and i think your friends employers would be better suited with a nanny with SN experience.
Expecting her to potty train the children without their support is very naughty too i think.
It sounds like the children are not ready to be out of nappies if they are having several accidents a day ,i feel this is to be expected in the first few days of training but if it goes on any longer than that i personally would wait a bit longer.
If i were you i would advise her to have a chat with them first to see if things can be resolved but if they are not willing to be more supportive then she would probably be best to move on.
I feel for you too as her friend but its not your fault for encouraging her to go,its the family's fault for taking the mick ,

squiffy Fri 15-Aug-08 12:06:13

She needs to try to find another job.

EachPeachPearMum Fri 15-Aug-08 13:19:58

My colleague's DD is working as an au pair in Spain this summer, and I saw the list of families that offered positions...
I was astonished at the number of hours, and number of children the Spanish families were expecting their APs to deal with.
I have never had an AP, or been an AP, but I have read plenty of threads on mn about what is acceptable/unnacceptable for an AP.
Are there different 'rules'/legal protection for APs in Spain?
She needs to talk with the parents about the amount of notice they give for babysitting, the nappy situation, the GP situation- how they respond will tell her exactly how quickly she needs to leave this family.
GL to her.

cheapskatemum Fri 15-Aug-08 23:09:45

I'm sure that language lessons are an integral part of the AP experience in any country. Perhaps your friend could tackle this issue first, as it's less emotive and subjective than the others. If she's getting out more and meeting other APs she might feel happier in general. She'd also get to know what other families expect. It's a good point about the family helping her to get to language lessons. I did this for my AP when we realised it would take her about an hour and a half to get to them.

nannyma Sat 16-Aug-08 00:17:21

MmeLindt did she use agency? If yes, she should to contact them and tell them what is going on.
If not, better to find another family and reason for leavig is quite easy ... she cant go to school and cant study Spanish. Your friend is not happy and will not be happy. I know how hard is say sorry I am going to by AP for somebady else and ask for references but I dont think that this situation will change. I am sorry for her and finger cross ...

HarrietTheSpy Sat 16-Aug-08 18:33:12

Does your friend feel that she is really suited to childcare? Instead of looking for another family, is there a possibility she could get a different type of job locally?

The situation doesn't sound like one I'd enjoy from the way you described it, I agree. And I think the babysitting and the language thing is unacceptable. But I am wondering whether the behaviour and the potty training situation is really that bad (special needs is quite a strong statement) or that your friend hasn't really been around children and isn't sure what is in the range of normal. I don't mean this in a hostile way. I'm just saying that if she doesn't have a specific interest in childcare, she may be better off looking for another type of job, especially if her Spanish is reasonable.

MmeLindt Mon 18-Aug-08 23:16:50

Sorry, haven't been back to this thread for a few days.

Nannyma
Yes, she did go through an agency. I have suggested that she goes back to them.

Harriet
I did not take your comment the wrong way. She has done a lot of babysitting, for us and for a friend of ours so is used to children of that age. The mum has said that the DT is "behind in his developement", is how she put it. I don't know if that would be termed SN or not, it has been translated from Spanish into German then into English so it might be less serious than it seems. I do trust her judgement, she asked me a month or so ago when DCs generally stop using nappies as she was surprised that the boys were still not using the toilet at 3.5yo. I told her that my DS just started at 3yo. Until then he was wearing nappies though.

She is used to lively boys, she has babysat for me and my DS is boisterous. She said that noone can control the DT.

I have sent her a long email, but it seems that she is still in Malaga and has no access to the internet.

MmeLindt Mon 25-Aug-08 11:03:26

The situation changed at the weekend, AP spoke to the family about her feelings and they were quite dismissive about it. She mentioned that she would like to see a bit of Spain when she is there and they were a bit patronising and hmm looking.

She met up with the mum of another family, she had applied to go there but it did not work out and had kept in touch with them. The mum has been really nice and told her to let her know if she has any problems. They met yesterday and the mum offered to let AP stay with them, she would cover for them while they are waiting for new AP to arrive in 2 weeks then she will help her find a new job.

AP told her family today that she would like to leave and was told to pack her bags and go right away. shock

She just phoned me from the side of the road where she is sitting with her bags, waiting for the new family to come and pick her up. She was ok, a bit shellshocked but glad to be getting away. She has since found out that the last aupair also had problems with the family, she was starting to wonder if it was just her.

Thanks for all your advice.

Anna8888 Mon 25-Aug-08 11:07:03

Glad your friend got out of slavery that terrible job and hope things go better for her in future.

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