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Au pairs at the weekend

(26 Posts)
ohIdoliketobebesidethe Fri 31-Oct-08 09:23:27

We are thinking about getting an au pair for the first time. I have an idea of how it would work in the week but am not sure what obligations we would have to her at the weekend. I know they are meant to feel part of the family but if she was mucking in with us at the w/e then she may feel she is doing extra childcare that she's not being paid for. Also if we go away for the weekend is it OK to just leave her money to feed herself etc? I realise that the first few weeks may be different while she is settling in - but would really like to hear how other families make it work.

Also - we could possibly muddle through until next Sept with a messy house, arriving late for work and a home help in the evening. If you could put off having an au pair for a year would you? I am nervous about sharing our home but it would be so nice to have extra help in the mornings as well as the evenings.

Anna8888 Fri 31-Oct-08 09:26:59

Do you live in a town where your au pair could reasonably be expected to make friends with other au pairs or local students? Or in a rural location but with good transport (own car for au pair)?

How much you will need to include the au pair will be pretty dependent on what the possibilities are for her to organise her own entertainment.

You should be careful about leaving a young girl from another country on her own at the weekend if she cannot possibly get to see anyone else - that would be pretty mean and not in the spirt of au pair dom.

wilbur Fri 31-Oct-08 09:30:28

Our au pair works on four days of the week for us and her duties never include working at the weekend. She cooks for herself from food in the fridge and is expected to tidy up after herself, but apart from that I don't expect anything from her Fri/Sat/Sun, unless we have asked her to babysit. Very occasionally, she will do a few hours for us on a Sat or Sun during the day and I pay her extra for those hours. If we go away for the weekend, she's fine fending for herself and it's nice to know there's someone looking after the house. We have sometimes taken AP with us on trips, to show her a bit of the UK and then we negotiate any extra pay or whatever for that if required.

wilbur Fri 31-Oct-08 09:31:41

Ah, I should say, we live in London, and have always had au pairs with excellent English so they have made friends quickly. Anna8888 is right in that a v young girl with no access to entertainment needs more tlc.

ohIdoliketobebesidethe Fri 31-Oct-08 09:46:37

We are in London , zone 2 , so she won't be stranded. I think I would feel a bit awkward having someone hanging around when we are just pottering about iykwim.

FourArms Fri 31-Oct-08 09:51:11

We live in a small town outside a city. We have good bus links to the city and the city has a good train service. Our ap made friends v.quickly with other ap's in the area, and also other students attending the language course she was on.

We almost always asked her if she'd like to accompany us on trips at the w/e (we go out a lot to some lovely places), and she took us up on most places at least once. Yes, she might have had to help a bit on these trips, but IMO this is what you get in exchange for paying for an extra adult which can be quite a significant amount. We also paid for food/snacks on days out.

If we were going to be away for the w/e, we usually negotiated her going home for a long w/e (this was quite cheap as we live near the ferry port to France), so it was a win win situation. I did leave her in the house maybe once or twice, but was quite comfortable with her by then.

Would I put it off for a year... probably if I could find the right Mothers help. Combine that with a cleaner, and you'd be on a winner. I know that would probably seem to be a more expensive option, but it isn't when you weigh up the additional costs.

Anna8888 Fri 31-Oct-08 09:51:48

If you are going to find the permanent presence an irritation, an au pair might not be for you.

Here in Paris lots and lots of families have full-time nounous (nanny-housekeeper). People express great surprise that I don't have one. But I would hate to have someone in my apartment all day, in my personal space.

However, I do buy lots and lots of ad hoc services to help me out with domestic life.

Anna8888 Fri 31-Oct-08 09:53:28

I echo Four Arms - get a cleaner/cleaning service.

ohIdoliketobebesidethe Fri 31-Oct-08 10:02:02

We have a fantastic cleaner blush. Once a week our flat looks like a show home. It's coming home after work to breakfast still strewn everywhere because we left in such a frantic screaming hurry that I will one day look forward to avoiding blush.

Anna8888 Fri 31-Oct-08 10:02:48

Once a week isn't enough - you need someone every day by the sounds of it.

ohIdoliketobebesidethe Fri 31-Oct-08 10:16:38

That would be so lovely - but not financially viable sadly.

Millarkie Fri 31-Oct-08 10:25:41

We're on our first au pair and to be honest she is out all day at weekends and we barely see her. We gave her maps/A-Z of local towns and info on trains to London and helped her contact other local au pairs (there is a aupairs in UK group on facebook) and she sleeps in, sorts out her own breakfast, goes out to meet friends and we don't see her until she texts me to ask if I can pick her up from the station. We haven't gone away for the weekend but I would offer to take her with us and not be at all surprised when she turns the offer down.
Having said that, our au pair is practically perfect in every way, and I will come down to earth with a bump with the next one I am sure hmm

Anna8888 Fri 31-Oct-08 10:44:24

Add up the total cost of the au pair (or ask some MNers in London to tell you what it really costs them to house/feed/entertain/pay for travel/telephone etc for au pair) and compare it to the cost of a daily cleaner for, say, 2 hours a day...

ohIdoliketobebesidethe Fri 31-Oct-08 10:55:11

Thanks Anna - I will do that.

Anna8888 Fri 31-Oct-08 11:00:17

And take a look in your local classified mag for service providers and try some out.

I used to get my cleaner to do all my ironing - now I send my DP's shirts out - it is marginally more expensive but much more flexible, and the specialist service does a much better job.

Kathyis6incheshigh Fri 31-Oct-08 12:16:29

We see a lot of our AP at weekends. Part of the reason we chose each other is because we like going on trips to the seaside and countryside at weekends and she was keen to do that, rather than wanting to hang out in the city. It's very helpful having the extra adult with us. We keep reminding her she doesn't have to work at weekends but she seems to like spending time with the children and is generally a very good mucker-in. (Though to be fair, she doesn't have much to do during the week.)

We took her on her first ever trip to the seaside recently which was fab!

It's actually rather lovely having her around, though I'm very relieved that she's finally planning to meet a friend this weekend (having been here nearly a month).

I'm sure it comes down a lot to how you get on with each other - if she feels like part of the family it's not a burden having her around.

Pollyanna Fri 31-Oct-08 12:29:30

We don't see much of our ap at the weekends either - she has another job and a boyfriend and wouldn't expect or want to go along with us anywhere (not that we go anywhere anyway at weekends). This has been the case with all of our aps actually.

I personally enjoy having someone around the house, and the children are benefitting alot too imo. We are still in touch with 2 of our old aps (they want my dd1 to be their ap when she is older!) and I am very fond of our current ap. However, we have been very lucky with our aps (I have interviewed them all before starting though), and we get on with them, and also I don't have any problems about sharing my space.

Having said that,I wouldn't like an ap who was a limpet and, for example, sat between us on the sofa every evening or followed me around the house. my aps are all slightly older and like their own space.

ohIdoliketobebesidethe Fri 31-Oct-08 12:31:36

Thanks Kathy and Polly.

Polly did you fly them over for interviews? How did that work?

Quattrocento Fri 31-Oct-08 12:42:09

Ours work like wilbur's. I've always made sure that our AP's are out of their teens and have lived away from home so it shouldn't be like having an extra child around.

dannyb Fri 31-Oct-08 22:07:47

Our weekends are still our own and we have made it clear that we don't expect to babysit our aupairs. My aupair finishes at lunchtime on a friday and tends to then go away until saturday night when she babysits. She is not expected to work on weekends other than babysitting and she makes plenty of plans with her friends. My previous aupairs have also entertained themselves over the weekend. I really wouldn't like one who wanted to hang around with us all the time. We don't take them away for the weekend but are happy for them to stay in the house whilst we are away and we also left our previous aupair for 2 weeks when we went on holiday. Our only rule is that we come home to the house in the same state as we left it. If we go away again this year we will possibly pay for a flight home for our aupair because she's a nice girl but I wouldn't feel under any obligation to do so. She's 24 though, from a big city and has lived away from home so perhaps it's different to if she were 18 and from a rural village

Pollyanna Fri 31-Oct-08 22:28:56

no, I live in a city with a lot of language schools and so far have just advertised on Gumtree. the aps are already here, and I interview them, and if I like them (and they like me!) they have a session with the children and then we go from there.

It has worked ok so far (apart from one disastrous au pair).

HarrietTheSpy Sat 01-Nov-08 10:13:06

pollyanna
just out of interest, do you find that most of the girls replying to your Gumtree ads are ones that haven't gotten along with the original family they've come over to stay with?

jura Sat 01-Nov-08 12:45:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Pollyanna Sat 01-Nov-08 18:34:48

We are the first family for my current ap - she was here for 6 months before she started with us at language school and in a shared house.

My last au pair did come from another family - from what she said (and I have no reason to disbelieve her), that family did treat her very badly.

There are alot of foreign students here. and thy generally want to live with a host family as it is a lot cheaper.

ohIdoliketobebesidethe Sat 01-Nov-08 20:53:27

I hadn't thought of using gumtree, even though that's how we've found our mother's helps but will def try it thanks.

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