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Struggling to adapt to au pair.....

(24 Posts)
mistletoekisses Sun 25-Oct-09 12:03:13

Hi - am hoping to get some advice on here.

Our first au pair joined us 4 weeks ago. We found her through an agency.

Now there are small things that have started to bother me and I plan to sit down and have a chat with her about them. Individually, they are all small things, but add them together and they are starting to irritate me. It doesnt help that I am 28 weeks pregnant, so am also concious that amongst all of this are pregnancy hormones wreaking havoc!

But the overriding feeling that I am really struggling with is having her in our house. I feel terrible saying such a thing; and unless she is working, then you hardly know she is here since we have really kitted her rooms out. But it is knowing that she is here which simply doesnt allow me to relax.

It was highlighted to me when she went away for a few days; and both DH and I had the most relaxing time we have had since she arrived.

For those of you who have had similar experiences, irrespective of the small stuff bugging me, am I going to be able to adjust with having her here? Or if the biggest bugbear is sharing our house, are we simply going to have to accept that it isnt working?

Please help!

onemoretimetoday Sun 25-Oct-09 12:18:11

I could have written your post myself. Obviously there is a certain amount of adaptation on both sides but ultimately it's a question of whether the pros outweigh the cons and if you find that having someone living in the house isn't working for you then I would give her notice.

We had our last aupair for a year and we couldn't have asked for a nicer more respectful pleasant girl to live with us in but in the end I simply couldn't bear having her in the house despite her doing absolutely nothing wrong. I have her a months notice and helped her to find another family explaining her to her that we liked her very much but that we simply didn't need anyone living in anymore.

I miss some aspects, mainly the babysitting tbh, but we are all happier having our house back to ourselves and I Don't think that we would go down the route of live in help again.

onemoretimetoday Sun 25-Oct-09 12:19:00

Please excuse dreadful grammar

mistletoekisses Sun 25-Oct-09 12:28:23

Hi - thanks for posting!

I am having to think very carefully and there are so many factors that havent yet come into play.

1) I am currently at home 2 days a week. In dec I go on maternity leave, so I am seriously thinking about the prospect of having someone in my house all the time I am here. If I am already struggling, then how am I going to feel then?
2) I had initially gotten her as an extra pair of hands once the baby is born..but then I wonder how I will feel breastfeeding/ expressing when she is here. With DS I expressed in the kitchen/ lounge - I wouldnt do that with her here.
3) She has not yet been able to handle a bathtime without me, DS insists on my being there - and she is unable to distract him sufficiently to prevent meltdown (I have even tried staying out of the way/ pretending I am home), so how will she be able to help once the baby is here?

I dont want to make a rash decision. She is lovely. I have also paid a huge fee to the agency to find her. I dont want to be in the position of having made a decision simply based on one (fairly major factor). But I equally want to be at complete ease in my own home.

onemoretimetoday Sun 25-Oct-09 12:38:42

I totally understand. I am also pg with DC3 and having an aupair would in theory be a massive help. As it happens I am going to keep on my cleaner twice a week and find a mothers help to come in 3-4 afternoons from 4.30 -7 to help me through the witching hour. I will then be able to do homework with DS, pick my others up from playdates and afterschool activities and have someone to run the hoover round and tidy up if I am feeding. It does work out a little more expensive but I think that it will suit us better.

I wouldn't be happy expressing infront of an aupair either, I just feel that the new born days are too intimate to have someone else living in my house with me.

frakula Sun 25-Oct-09 12:53:01

If you can't deal with live-in then an au pair probably isn't the best way forwards. If you feel you really need the help then a live out mother's help, nanny, doula might be better for you. It's a major thing which, I'm sorry to say, is unlikely to change. As you say it's nothing to do with her, it's a feeling that you have about your home being your space and you don't want anyone else sharing that.

Do you not have a trial period with the agencies where you have X amount of time where you can say it's not working and you don't have to pay the placement fee?

mistletoekisses Sun 25-Oct-09 13:00:01

Ok - well thanks, glad that I am not being totally unreasonable! And you worded it very well, those early days are very intimate, and I simply wouldnt feel comfortable being myself with her around.

Which then brings me onto my next dilema! If I already know (am 80% sure) that the arrangement isnt working out...then when do I let her know? I wouldnt let her go before early Dec as I do need someone to do the three morning a week drop off at nursery. The minimum notice period is 2 weeks. So do I give her notice at beginning of Dec? Or do I give her as much notice as poss to enable her to find a new host family.

I will be in a very difficult situation if she leaves before the 5th dec!

That being said, have not definitely made my mind up, so please keep the advice coming!

mistletoekisses Sun 25-Oct-09 13:02:05

Frakula - thanks also for the post. The fee is not refundable if the reason for it not working is that 'we dont like someone living with us'. It has to be a much firmer / justifiable reason than that, and they then offer you another au pair. Getting a refund is nigh on impossible and I wouldnt expect it TBH, they have done their job. It is no reflection on them that I have personal space issues. grin

drinkyourmilk Sun 25-Oct-09 13:07:29

I think that it's only fair to give her as much notice as possible - having said that it depends on the girl as a person. Is she likely to bolt as soon as she knows? Or will she agree to stay till you no longer need her? If you can afford it a £100 - £200 'completion' bonus may help influence?
Maybe if you tell her end of Nov - then explain you will pay a flight home for her (so she can see family at xmas) and new host family can bring her back out? (not that i have ever had an aupair - so not sure how these things work)

mistletoekisses Sun 25-Oct-09 13:22:19

She pays for her own travel and we had already arranged that she went home for xmas/ new year - so she was able to book tickets home for a really good price.

That being said, I really havent made up my mind either way. Am not going to rush into any decisions and I absolultely want to make sure that pregnancy hormones are not making me act a tad irrationally!

timberwolf Sun 25-Oct-09 13:41:14

An au pair could be very helpful when you need extra rest and time to yourself with your new baby IF she could proficiently entertain ds for you.

Would you feel differently if ds was happier playing with her and being with her without you?

If so could you put any extra work in now to strengthening their relationship?

I have had lots of au pairs and it's true that we do relax more when they aren't here.

I also relax more when ds is being entertained by his aps!

We are however used to having teenagers of our own around.

mistletoekisses Sun 25-Oct-09 13:59:46

Hi - with the exception of bathtime, she is able to entertain DS proficiently. She is on the whole, very good with DS (although seems to have an ability to ignore/ not notice when he has produced a dirty nappy which is one of the things I need to talk to her about).

I think it is simply the presence of an outsider that i feel has altered the feel of the house.

Millarkie Sun 25-Oct-09 14:08:42

We have had au pairs for over a year now but the difference is that we are not around the house during the day and that we need live-in help (dh is often abroad and I leave at 6am to go to work). We had spent the previous year trying to cope without and it was so incredibly stressful that I am aware just how much peace of mind having an au pair here gives me, so that helps me tolerate a lot of things.
In addition we have plenty of space here so we don't feel intruded upon.
I don't think I would cope at all with having anyone in the house whilst I had a newborn though - spent the first few months with mine with a baby stuck to my chest and in varying states of undress. I would be trying to get help from a cleaner and maybe a mother's help for a few hours a day (maybe a student studying childcare?).
But hang on in there til December if you need the drop offs done - you're over the worst bit - everyone gets a lot more relaxed after the first month in my experience anyway.

mistletoekisses Sun 25-Oct-09 14:20:40

Thanks for coming and finding my thread Millarkie! grin

We definitely need some help until I start maternity leave so I think that your advice is very sound.

It is only now that she is here and I have to consider being round her with a newborn that I have really started to question how I will feel - as you say being in various states of undress.

I will keep an open mind over the next few weeks and see how things pan out.

Really appreciate everyones advice!

mistletoekisses Sun 25-Oct-09 20:08:12

Have a very amusing update! You know how they always say a situation resolves itself?

Well our au pair has this evening served her 2 weeks notice. The arrangement not working has obviously been two ways. Was a very civilised conversation and DH and I are very relieved!

Between us both, we'll be able to juggle the morning drops until my maternity leave starts.

nightmareteamgirl Sun 25-Oct-09 22:13:08

Glad you found a solution that was so civilised!!

frakula Sun 25-Oct-09 22:13:26

It all comes out in the wash!

Do you get your agency fee back as she's the one who gave notice wink?

Millarkie Sun 25-Oct-09 22:15:41

Glad it's all worked out for you.
Is she moving to another family or has she decided au pairing is not for her?

mistletoekisses Sun 25-Oct-09 22:22:35

She is going to find another family. She is happy to be an au pair, just not for us. Oops, we are no doubt now on a au pair blacklist! blush

I doubt a refund is coming our way, am inclined to think another au pair will be offered, to which we will of course say no.

sticktoyourgins Mon 26-Oct-09 09:33:52

Why does she not want to be an au pair for you?

nightmareteamgirl Mon 26-Oct-09 13:50:33

Do you think it was probably you being unhappy, inadvertendly making her feel 'unwelcome' and it all perpetuating?

I assume you will let her stay till she finds another fmaily anyway as you arent unhappy with her per se?

mistletoekisses Mon 26-Oct-09 18:15:11

Hello!!

I got the feedback from the agency and both the agency and I are a little confused. The feedback didnt really make sense. Without going into detail, I think the fundamental problem is that she comes from a large and boisterous family and is used to more noise/ interaction than one little child can give. I also think she needs to look after older children.

Re letting her stay on past the two weeks. Simple answer. No. Blunt, but true. grin

TwoCupcakes Tue 27-Oct-09 10:52:38

Glad it's all working out in terms of au pair leaving. Sometimes its almost a relief to have the decision taken out of your hands! perhaps you could consider a live-out mothers help for when the baby is born. i think you will find that an extra pair of hands will help give you a break for a few hours a day and you will be happier knowing that you will still have your privacy at the end of the day. all the best with the baby!

dikkertjedap Tue 27-Oct-09 14:50:08

Hi mistletoekisses
Do you know if her agency will find her another family? If not I have several families looking for au pairs and would be very willing to take her on. smile

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