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Au pair too friendly?

(20 Posts)
NewTeacher Sun 14-Sep-08 21:34:26

Hi All

Well we had probs with our first au pair who has now gone and now we have a lovely girl that the kids have taken to and she fits in well with all of us.

The only problem I have is that EVERY evening until we go to bed she insists on sitting with us. It means we have no privacy or 'alone time'! We have another room with tv that she can sit in but she chooses to sit with us.

For example my DH is on one end of the sofa she is sat in the middle with the blanket wrapped round her and I had to ask her to move over so I could sit down BUT I had to sit next to her (which I dont mind) but I'd like to cuddle up to DH considering he'll be away on business for 2 days..

I dont expect nor do I want her to sit with us everyday and all evening I dont mind for a while but I'm starting to feel that I dont get any personal time with DH apart from in the bedroom!

Our last au pair used to watch tv in her own room and sat with us for a bit for a chat.

Oh and the other thing that annoyed me was she was watching tv in the living room and I came in to watch my programme and because I changed the channel she tutted...Should I have to ask in my own house? We have said that the other room is where she watches her own programmes, it was hectic this weekend as we had family round so the other tv room was in use but I dont think I should have to ask to watch tv in my own house! and she should appreciate that when family is here that they take precedence.

Oh Help!!!

MrsMattie Sun 14-Sep-08 21:36:53

You have to lay down some ground rules now or it will end in you resenting her and it all going pear shaped. Don't pussyfoot around. Tell her you want your evenings to yourself with your family.

HarrietTheSpy Sun 14-Sep-08 23:43:20

An au pair is supposed to be 'part of the family.' I think you could say what Mrs M suggests very easily to a nanny or MH but it's a bit awkward for the au pair, I am presuming...

What I am planning to say to whoever joins us is so that the au pair has time to herself and doesn't feel like she is on duty all of the time, it's important for her to feel --the need-- able to go upstairs to her room after dinner or out for some private time. IF we get stuck with someone who doesn't quite GET this hint, for the next one I'm planning to take the loft room where there is a TV and bathroom etc so we can retreat if nec.

COuld this work for you??? Our kids stay up late (!!!) so I'm hoping she will agree getting lost is a good strategy...maybe it's worse when they're reliably in bed by 6.30...

COuld you say - how can we help you meet people so you don't have to hang out with us old grunters all the time??? (another poss strategy for us...)

HarrietTheSpy Sun 14-Sep-08 23:48:10

I hope you're taking her up on two nights babysitting EVERY week.

zippitippitoes Sun 14-Sep-08 23:51:26

she has the blanket

do you need to put the heating on in the house

or strategically just in the other tv room

feelingfedup Mon 15-Sep-08 07:37:26

sorry, but it is bad manners to come into a room and switch tv over when someone is clearly watching it. And 'family takes presidence' makes it sound like you just want a servant, not someone to be part of the family.
looks like she is taking the time to get to know you all, shame the feeling is not mutal.
I suggest you put a tv in your bedroom so you can retreat there and you pay for an evening class for her, something she will enjoy, so you get one night a week alone.

navyeyelasH Mon 15-Sep-08 08:37:26

I think turning over the TV is a bit rude to be honest, yes it is your house but it's common courtesy to be polite. What would you say if one of your children were watching TV and the other just turned it over? A simple, "is it ok if I turn over" would be fine and phrased like that it's hard to say no too.

Also I'm thinking if she has a blanket she is feeling the cold maybe the room with "her" TV is too cold for her? Also maybe she is a bit lonely, I know I'd hate to be on my own all night every night! Another possibility is that maybe she feels rude going to her room, I know I would too.

As HTS suggests ask her how you can help her to make some friends etc.

Good luck with it!

NewTeacher Mon 15-Sep-08 08:57:06

Well its not cold in the house! We just have a habit of snuggling up on the sofa with a thin fleece!

The radiators are set to come on if the temp is too low so its not cold as such.

Well TBH I dont see that I have to ask to watch a tv in my own house. She has her own tv room to use which has the same sky package as we do the tv is smaller but then I cant afford to have 32 inch tv's all over the house.

She doesnt get treated like a servant! but when I have a house full of family over from far (6 people) I dont expect her to be sitting with us. Especially as my living room is not that big! DH was sitting on the floor to make space.

I have gotten her onto websites to meet friends and she is enrolled in an english class and we have paid for her gym membership I dont think I need to be paying for more evening classes.

I think I will drop the hint of the old grunters as suggested by the OP.


OneLieIn Mon 15-Sep-08 09:11:33

You need to help the AP make friends locally, so she wont want to be in the house. Ask her what she likes to do and encourage it, help her find classes, enjoy going out etc.

I think it is reasonable to say 'Tonight, DH and I have some things we need to do / talk about, so we'd appreciate a bit of privacy.'

She sounds like she is lonely. I wouldn't turn the TV over if I had been you. Our AP watches some right old rubbish, but so does DH and TBH, live and let live.

You should be out 2 nights a week.

HarrietTheSpy Mon 15-Sep-08 09:19:16

I think the conundrum with au pairs is that there are major compromises. One of them (as I understand it) is you need to make more space for them in your family life than you would a regular full time employee if they want it. Maybe it's too big a compromise???

How much longer is she planning to stay?

I would be annoyed if I were paying for all those things and she wasn't taking them up...was she pleased when you offered them or did it sort of come with the job?

jimjamshaslefttheyurt Mon 15-Sep-08 09:25:52

I think you need a nanny not an au pair if these sorts of issues are important to you.

Au pairs are there as part of the family and for a cultural exchange as well as work. Some will want their own space, but others might feel lonely in a country by themselves. Many would feel very uncomfortable sitting in a different room watching a different TV to everyone else.

HarrietTheSpy Mon 15-Sep-08 09:39:46

I've just had a question from a prospect about this: "The most important thing is for me to be involved in your family life!!"

I do sympathise with you, not sure this concept of having a permanent house guest is going to work for us.

ingles2 Mon 15-Sep-08 09:40:42

Unfortunately this is par for the course with AP's. I promise you it won't last long though, when she has settled in and made friends(got a boyfriend!!!) she won't want to sit with you.
I too had one that used to squeeze in between DH and I on the sofa, even though there were other armchairs grin.
I think I just said, you know, I don't expect you to spend all your free time with us old farts, you are totally free to go and watch your own tv / go on skype/msn.

marmadukescarlet Mon 15-Sep-08 10:01:16

<hello ingles smile>

New Teacher, don't be discouragedsomeone always pops in to mention servants, we haven't had the 'E' word yet...

I treat my APs really softly, I am a complete pushover BUT I alway tell them that DH and I need some time to ourselves - I wouldn't dream of spending the evening sitting in her accomodation!

I wouldn't a 20yr old DD, to be on top of their parents all the time either.

Although if we are having a family film fest with popcorn DVD's (usually Racing Stripes, Spiderwick, HP etc) I always invite them.

You do need to sort this asap or it will become a habit and will be more difficult behaviour to alter.

You could always try some slurping kisses and a bit of fumbling under the blanket (you and DH not AP) she'll be off like a shot!

ingles2 Mon 15-Sep-08 10:25:55

< hi Marmaduke> grin
M is totally right, you wouldn't dream of wandering into their room, and bunking down for an evening. You respect their privacy and in turn they have to respect yours occasionally. and it's true, an AP is like a member of your family, it would be odd if your 20 yr old dd sat down with you both every evening. It could just be she is waiting for "permission" to do something else, so you must mention it.

NewTeacher Mon 15-Sep-08 10:32:43


I especially like the one about slurpy kisses..

I will speak to her today, I didnt like sitting with my parents when I was at home! There rule was this is our tv you watch your programmes in your room! fair enough me thinks!

I offered her the gym memebership as she showed an interest but she did kinda say she wanted to go with me! I did say this was impossible as when I went she would be babysitting the kids!

I appreciate they are treated as part of the family and trust me she is, we have dinner together, she sits with us when I am back from work etc. We involve her in most things. She has made a friend but all the other local AP's seem to be working all day! which i found odd. I think she has more free time than all of them!

She has her own computer and has wireless access. I'm at work all day so I can only sit and sort things out in the evening but then I am so rushed off my feet. Weekends seem to fly by as theres the kids parties and stuff to attend and she is on her day off so she should be doing her own thing.

Well lets see how it goes when I speak with her tonight.

Thanks again all...

fimbley Mon 15-Sep-08 13:28:36

Hmmm...Good luck tonight then.

Think if i can remember correctly your last au pair was eating too much.

You might want to consider a nanny(they dont-in general-have a need to be seen(considered) as a part of a family) wink

Weegle Mon 15-Sep-08 14:46:39

I think it would have been polite to say "I always watch X on Y night, if you really want to watch this please go in the other room" or whatever. Also, it is par for the course. Our current AP is with us from dinner to bed time in the sitting room watching TV/chatting. Now college has started hopefully she'll make some friends but she probably only spends 1 hour out of 4 evening hours shut in her room, and I wouldn't expect more. Also if we have family/friends over we don't expect her to make herself scarce - she's part of our home now. The only real thing you can do is help to cultivate a social life and reiterate if she wants to watch something different from you to use the other telly.

feelingfedup Mon 15-Sep-08 16:39:55

LOL slurpy kisses and fumbles, she will def get the hint. shame, she sounds a bit lonely.

Julesnobrain Mon 15-Sep-08 22:25:53

This may help...... One of my close friends was an AP years ago with a family and she sat with them at night and watched TV etc, gradually they went to bed earlier and earlier which she thought was a bit weird why were they so tired??? Now as a Mum of two with an AP herself she realises... actually they needed some adult time to themselves. Ironically she said had they asked from the outset she wouldn't have minded and in fact would have welcomed the fact they she could clear off after 'duty time' but because AP is meant to be part of the family she thought they might think her rude/unsociable if she went to her room and watched TV on her own. Learning from this lesson with my own AP, I tell them they are welcome to join me and DH in the lounge until dinner time (9pm) but that after that I need adult time with DH and they are welcome to use the TV in the family/dining room or go out, watch TV in their room etc. I have never had a problem and find they usually can't wait to finish work (7.30pm)and go off to their room to skype, msn whatever with their friends on their PC

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