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Au pair not working out

(136 Posts)
geisha Fri 19-Sep-08 08:01:45

Having our first au pair is not workingout for me. I find it intrusive having someone else in the house and stressful having to consider someone else (I did't think I would). She is nice enough - some small inadequecies but to be honest if I wanted her to stay I would work at addressing those issues so it is unfair to list them. I just feel like I have another child to consider/cook for/worry about..... and don't need it.

She has only been here since Saturday but already I know it is not for me..... I will of course pay for her flight home and give her reasonable notice but please give me some advice about how to address this and when? Thanks.....

FourArms Fri 19-Sep-08 08:46:13

Could you talk to her about how she's finding it? Perhaps help her to find another family - it's much easier once they're already over here as families can meet her face to face.

BecauseImWorthIt Fri 19-Sep-08 09:01:31

Did you not think about this before taking her on?

And it's only been since Saturday - not even a week!

What is she supposed to do now? It's very gracious of you to say you will pay for her to go home, but she came here to learn English - that's what the whole au pair thing is about.

You need to give it more time - but if you really can't make it work, then you need to help her find another family not just expect to pack her off home.

overthemill Fri 19-Sep-08 09:03:59

i think this is because she is new and you haven't had one before. she may be lonely and so hanging aroound a bit more than you expected. once she has friends she will be better i am sure. does anyone else you know have an au pair, has she started her language class yet etc, think of how she must feel

Janni Fri 19-Sep-08 09:06:46

I would not consider having an au pair because I know I would feel as you describe, so you have my sympathy.

However, having been an au pair myself, I would ask you to treat her very delicately so she doesn't lose all confidence in herself. It would be really nice of you to help her find another family. I shouldn't think she just wants to go back home!

squiffy Fri 19-Sep-08 09:11:21

We had a very shaky start with our new one and only really sorted it out 4 weeks in. I think a week is too short a time - you've only experienced the downsides... why did you get her in the first place? For emergency care, to help the school run? List out the reasons you went for an au pair in the first place and work out what you are going to do instead to solve these problems, then make a decision

And I agree that it would not be fair to just put her on a flight home. At very least sit down with her and explain how you feel and help her fidn a new family to move to (unless she really is hopeless).

OneLieIn Fri 19-Sep-08 09:11:54

Geisha, we are also on our first au pair and I would say that for a short time at the beginning I felt exactly like you did. I felt very much like I had gained little except for another child.

However, we put more structure around what AP was doing, gave her more of a timetable and jobs to do and gave it time. We also made a big effort to get her out and about meeting new friends. And it worked.

We are now 10 weeks in and it has been really good overall. The DCs love her totally and we have appreciated the extra pair of hands around.

My advice to you would be to
- give it time
- put some structure around
- get her a social network

I would not pack her off because you might be missing something that turns out to be great.

geisha Fri 19-Sep-08 09:53:30

Thanks for the your comments they are helpful. I thought very, very long and hard before deciding to go down the au pair route. Did a lot of research and considered what the positive and negetive implications might be. I did not feel that I would find having an au pair in the house intrusive, not for a moment. I also did not think that I would feel like I had a third child to look after. A good example is that I cook for the children when I get home from work, sort them out and put them to bed, then I cook for myself and the au pair. If the au pair were not here, I would just eat the kids leftovers! But I can understand that she doesn't want to eat at 5 or 6pm.

I have enrolled her in college to attend english lessons two mornings a week and I believe that last year there were 3 or 4 french au pairs in the class, so hopefully she will make some friends.

I had not thought of helping her find another family, I would be happy to do that. She would be an excellent au pair for a family geared up for it. It is early days and I will do a timetable try that way and just give it some more time.

Oneliein - any tips for developing the social network? Thanks.

Lucy87 Fri 19-Sep-08 10:27:02

Just wanted to comment on one particular part of your reply,

Even though she may not want to eat at 5pm, she could still heat it up later/ do her own soup or pasta at a more suitable hour for her! You don't need to put yourself out by cooking a whole new meal, from that angle seems like YOU are placing the burden on YOURSELF. I'm sure if you let her know you were not a big dinner person she would not be too fussed.

Maybe you could relax what you think you are 'required to do' and you wouldn't find it as much of a strain? I am a nanny, although of usual au pair age (21) and I wouldn't mind at all if my host mother said, "I'm just not cooking, can you work it out yourself?".

Just an idea!

OneLieIn Fri 19-Sep-08 10:37:39

You need to make her your help, so for example about the food, say you can eat with the kids or make your own later. If she does not want to eat at 5 or 6 it should not be you cooking. Do you have a list of jobs she is to do for you and the family? for example, every morning can you make the DCs beds, tidy up after breakfast, put the dishwasher on, feed the cat etc.

You should also ask her to clean up after the kids if she eats with them and say 'Could you unload the dishwasher for me?'

Honestly all of this is exactly what I went through and I got through it. The clearer the boundaries and expectations, the better it works.

In terms of social network, we asked her what she liked to do, she said dance, so we talked her into going to Ceroc classes. We also answered an advert on here for an au pair to help another MNer with her German speaking son which has worked out. Maybe you could ask on here whether anyone local to you has an au pair.

Remember she is NOT your child.

milene Fri 19-Sep-08 10:42:03

Exactly - treat her like another adult, not another child. If there are two dinners to cook, why can't you do one and she do one for example?

OneLieIn Fri 19-Sep-08 10:49:51

Also, one of the things that I struggled with getting to work was the fact that the AP works 35 hours a week. I felt initially that if I could not ask her to do anything more than that, including simple stuff like emptying the dishwasher or washing her own stuff up. The truth is that she does work 35 hours a week looking after DCs mainly, but outside of that, if I cook (which I do nearly every night) she helps with the clearing up. It's a deal.

mummypoppins Fri 19-Sep-08 10:52:10

agreed one lie in. She is not your 3rd child to look after in terms of domestic chores. She should be mucking in even when DC's ahve gone to bed and its adult time.

Replied to you on the diet thread...fancy a new go at it ??

geisha Fri 19-Sep-08 11:00:12

Thanks this is all helpful - I do tend to strss myself out by trying to please others in an OTT manner - she can either eat when its available or sort herself out later.

Is it too much to type out a daily timetable of lets say what happens on mon monring, mon afternoon, what happens tues morning, afternoon etc etc....

I want to kick myself for feeling so negative about this....... sad

milene Fri 19-Sep-08 11:06:46

A timetable sounds very sensible - then the au pair will know what you expect of her, when her working/off hours are.

mummypoppins Fri 19-Sep-08 11:14:16

Geisha I have a timetable and a list of house rules and do's and donts.

With Au Pairs you can safely assume they know nothing and then work round that if you have one who does show a bit of initiative !!

marmadukescarlet Fri 19-Sep-08 11:16:37

Geisha, a timetable seems a faff but it is the only answer.

Also why is she not cooking one of the meals? Why can she not just make herself some pasta?

Agree with the others, our rules always state that if she joins the family for a meal (and I cook it or pay for it in the case of takeaways) in non work time she helps the dc lay the table and clear up afterwards - even my 4 yr old puts his plate in the dishwasher.

I have a very detailed AP+ timetable (have had some really clueless APs) that I will email you if you CAT me.

mumof2222222222222222boys Fri 19-Sep-08 11:23:47

We're on our 3rd au pair. The last one was fantastic with initiative, did the job and was a joy to have around. the new one is sweet, but not in the same league. I had to pop out the other evening to pick up DH and assumed baby would be in bed when I got back 3/4 hour later. He was playing with her in sitting room where I left them! You really need to spell things out sometimes.
Agree with timetable. Set a good baseline and you can deviate from it if you want to.

geisha Fri 19-Sep-08 11:27:54

Ok, I'm going to do a timetable now.....

Part of the issue for me is that I want to spend quality time with the kids for the short time I can each evening and at the weekend. I am finding it frustrating that they are drawn to the au pair when she is around and would rather play with her than me....whilst I (was) am cooking her dinner! May it's just a novulty that will ware off? This weekend we are going to b'ham shopping and to have lunch with friends and she wants to come but I just want the kids to myself which is probably totally unreasonable blush. I know I can't have it all and it's early days...

Did your kids give your new au pair the run around? My usually angelic daughter is really giving the au pair the run around and her behaviour has dramatically deteriorated Probably doesn't help that she has recently started school....

My mum who has previously helped me a lot with the children I think also feels quite puched out and is thinking about looking for a part time job to fill her time. The reason I got the au pair was becasue mum was struggling to do everything that she was doing and I wanted her to enjoy granny time with the kids rather than tiring herself out looking after the kids and getting my chores done sad

overthemill Fri 19-Sep-08 11:31:27

i think she will probably really like a timetable - just keep talking to her! she'll be as nervous as you..

geisha Fri 19-Sep-08 11:34:29

thank you

marmaduke - have cat you (I think)!

marmadukescarlet Fri 19-Sep-08 11:37:19

Well from what you say this is typical, ime!

I am often jealous of my DC thinking the AP is more fun than exhausted, busy mummy.

Timetable her more chores and less child time, when I have an ap it is so I can spend quality time with both my children whilst she gets on with the essentials. I also timetable an ap to spend time one to one with each dc so I can do the same with the other.

You have to put quite a lot in to organisation at the start to get a healthy balance, but once it is working it is fab.

Once she starts at college she will make loads of friends and you will never see her!

marmadukescarlet Fri 19-Sep-08 11:39:38

Don't have it yet, I think MNHQ actually have to send it on, so will keep my eyes open.

If you get too negative I will just tell you some of my AP horror stories and you will realise she is not that bad! smile

peonyflower Fri 19-Sep-08 12:25:36

I have just done my first au pair experience this summer and completely understand your problem. I too had a very strong feeling that i wanted our au pair to leave before the end of the first week!! We had a sulky Italian girl who was not very energetic, lovely natured and very easy to get on with - just boring to be, I'm afraid I told her how I was feeling and that we needed a bit more of a response from her (the issue was over her dangerous driving and her nonchalence when I commented on it!!). We had 'words' and she bucked her ideas up. Your girl will be feeling very strange in your home as hard as you try and I know that everyone will be telling you this so ....sorry.

However, she was only due to stay for 6 weeks in total and has now left, and to be honest I miss her help now. I just tried to keep behaving normally so the rest of the family could relax. It was only me in the family who had the problem with her and we had another two bust ups whilst she was here which did help to clear the air!!
I would suggest talking to her and be honest about how you are feeling - it is just like having another kid in the house-we have four already!!grin
GOOD LUCK and try and get all the help you can from her!!

geisha Fri 19-Sep-08 12:35:57

Thanks peony - I feel so mean! And I really don't want to upset her or knock her confidence in any way. I just need having her about to lift more burden that it gives me iyswim! My au pair is 18, which on reflection is quite young.

I will try and implement all the advice given by the lovely mnetters here first but ultimately I hope she decides that this is not for her - although this seems unlikely becasue she keeps saying how lucky she is to get such a nice family.....and we are!!! However I am not prepared to make her stay uncomfortable to help her reach this decision.........

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