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If you have been or had an a au pair (or nanny)

(18 Posts)
dreamteamgirl Wed 05-Aug-09 23:25:30

If you have been and au pair, or even nanny in a strange area I guess, what are the things you really wish your employee had done to make life better for you?

I so want to get this right with my au pair, and for her, and of course DS, to be happy
I am making her room, albeit small, as lovely as I can and taking the first 2.5 weeks she is with us as half/ part time/ working from home to get her settled into household and DS settled into school, but what else can I do?

What would have made all the difference for you? Or if you have had au pairs what would you do do differently with them now to help them settle sooner that you didnt do with earlier au pairs/ nannys?


ConstantlyCooking Thu 06-Aug-09 08:00:45

Thanks for posting this!

turtle23 Thu 06-Aug-09 08:17:21

Without a doubt the most important thing you can do for your au pair is to try your best to come home when you say you will and to pay her time. These seem like obvious things, but I imagine that everyone will tell you how angr it ended up making them when an employer started taking the p.
Thank you for being so thoughtful. It will reward you hugely.

MuffinToptheMule Thu 06-Aug-09 08:28:22

I've been an AP but it was slightly different as it was in Britain and I am British. The most important thing for me was that the rules and what was expected of me were clear. There is nothing worse than getting your wires crossed. It definitely makes for an unhappy household.
When I finished working for the family, my bosses said that they wished I could have been there a bit more and been more of a family member instead of going to my boyfriend's house in my free time. This actually made me quite cross as they never mentioned it before I started living there or when I was living there.
I think for a normal AP, showing them where you live and how to get to different places is really important. Also explain where things in your house are. Is there anything your AP isn't allowed to use/eat etc.
Hope it all goes well.

DadInsteadofMum Thu 06-Aug-09 10:54:04

Time. In the first few weeks I give my au apirs a fair bit of time each evening, to point out things that haven't gone quite right, but also for them to ask questionswhich once they fel comfortable with the evening thing they do. Its all part of Muffin's making sure there are no crossed wires.

drinkyourmilk Thu 06-Aug-09 19:31:33

Taking the time to make sure they know how to get to places - whether it be driving, walking or public transport. A map is good - actually going there is better. Schools, local shops, parks and libraries - so that they don't feel 'trapped' in the house with kids during the first few weeks.

Also try to build their confidence by highlighting the things that have gone well each day - a confident au pair is more likely to approach when there are issues imo.

ConstantlyCooking Thu 06-Aug-09 20:27:32

I will be at home with DCs and AP for 2 weeks before she actually needs to work (we will be paying her for those weeks as we asked her to come early), so was planning to arrange some driving lessons and practise the school run and routes to other places, as well as being able to get to know us. DCs go back to school halfway through 2nd week so she will see some "real life" and I can introduce her to some of the school mums whom she can call on for help if necessary.
IS this overkill? She is 19

Yorky Thu 06-Aug-09 20:53:39

Constantlycooking - that sounds like a fantastic introduction to your family life! You will be more relaxed having seen her with your DC, and driven with her so you know who your kids are with, and they haven't been parked on a stranger!

I have been an au pair twice, once in States aged 18, and once in Luxembourg aged 23

I would note (and I'm sure you already know this) that kids behave differently around different people, I would have a lovely day with the kids I looked after then their parents would get home and they'd undergo major character transformation in seconds. So even while you're carefully 'breaking your AP in gently' give her time on her own with them. And towards the end of your time at home with them let her be the one to pick DC up from nap as that is a big step towards them being used to someone else in their lives

ConstantlyCooking Fri 07-Aug-09 09:44:08

Thanks Yorky. It is nerving-wraacking. I have worked from home for the last few years so haven't needed childcare.

dreamteamgirl Fri 07-Aug-09 12:40:58

Thanks for the advice people

My next step is to sort out a welcome pack and a manual, but like CC I will be around much of the first few weeks

Goodpoint on doing bus trips as I dont do them myself but will make sure we do it together so she knows where she is going!

Yorky Fri 07-Aug-09 20:15:43

When does the AP arrive? and how old are your DC?
When I went to the States the previous AP sent me a small photo album the kids (2+4) had helped her make of them, their house, pre-school group etc so I at least had an idea who I was looking for at the airport.
Its a good idea to have the manual/guidelines written before she comes, but be prepared to alter it together after discussion, as you go along - by trial and error as it were

The thing about bus trips is important, I don't know where you live but in Lux we lived in the middle of nowhere and I didn't have car during the day and was looking for excuses not to be in during the evenings as I was getting pretty cabin fevery - still stayed 18months and cried when I left

dreamteamgirl Sat 08-Aug-09 22:49:15

Hey Yorky
She arrives on Sept 5th- so excited about it

I ahve sent her lots of photos of us, and she is on my facebook so can see all the photos on there- should I send her some of the house too?

We are in South England in Hampshire- small town

Yorky Sun 09-Aug-09 22:23:49

DTG, if you're looking forward to her arrival then your DS will be picking up positive vibes about her which is brilliant - there is nothing harder than a kid who doesn't want you there. And at 4 he is plenty old enough to make his feelings felt - or to get involved in making preparations for APs arrival. Does he enjoy colouring or sticking - to make a welcome card? Would he send her a picture of himself/a 'letter' about what he likes to do? Maybe he could choose a present to give her when she arrives, a photo frame, or bottle of bubble solution?
I so love the idea of being on her facebook!

PixiNanny Sun 09-Aug-09 22:42:37

I'm like MuffinTop, British working for a British family 'APing' in a sense but also qualifying as a nannying and volunteering towards that in spare time.

Understanding has been a big one for me, my host family understand my needs and wants and are happy to accomodate and negotiate (I don't take the mickey with it though, they say bf is allowed round whenever, I say he's allowed round once a fortnight at most when he gets home! Takes the mick a bit if I done it more often!) and they've been happy with me studying my nvq and happy for me to do instructing things and negotiate time off, etc. So that has been really benefitial for me and very considerate of them

AtheneNoctua Sun 09-Aug-09 23:44:17

Make a nice welcome pack, get your house rules in order, and clearly communicate your expectations up front. If something begins to annoy you, adress it sooner rather than later.

LadyMuck Mon 10-Aug-09 00:02:52

Turtle23 has hit the nail on the head with being prompt in coming home and also with pay. I would also try to be clear as to expectations around food and meals. I had the skinniest au pair with a huge appetite which caused us a few headaches, as I resented in preparing effectively additional meals or courses for her alone. Make sure that she has some place in the kitchen and fridge where she can store anything that she has bought for herself.

ConstantlyCooking Mon 10-Aug-09 07:56:14

LadyMuck you have made me think - what is the right thing to do about food. I was planning to ask her what she wants to eat for lunch/breakfast when I do the internet shop and assumed that generally she would eat with the children or with DH and me in the evenings. Would be happy to buy her stuff for the evenings too - sorry I am rambling- but any ideas?
Yorky - my Dcs are 10 and 13, but DD has used one of her craft kits to make a name plate for Ap's room.

LadyMuck Mon 10-Aug-09 09:20:01

To be honest this may be one where you need to play it by ear for a week or two just to see what works best, and it will depend very much on your own style in terms of planning meals. It can be rather frustrating to find that something you had planned to feed a family of four for dinner has disappeared as the au pairs lunch, and equally she may not share your tastes in food. Do you know whether she cooks or whether she enjoys cooking? We've had various young people staying with us over the years - some prefer to be treated as our kids when it comes to meals, others live off junk food that they reheat themselves and some are fantastic cooks who love to experiment. Until you know what they're like, and can then consider how your family works best, then it is hard to make rules. Personally the one situation that I will now always avoid is being obliged to produce a large homecooked meal every weeknight for the benefit of the au pair, especially as there are days when dh and I have had lunches out so would be very happy with beans on toast.

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