Au Pair brought stranger home with my children...(10 Posts)
Hello, I don't often post on here but have been in such a quandary all day I would appreciate some other POV.
Our au pair (great with the kids, very nice, very trustworthy in general, been with us for 7 months) asked me on her way out to pick my son up yesterday if she could invite a friend round that evening. I said OK.
She then took the kids (3 and 5) out for a play in the park after school and came back at 4.30 with a bloke in tow. Apparently they all had a nice time?!
I asked whether he was planning to eat with us (yes) so proceeded to cook dinner - she insisted on helping telling me "it's ok he is up in my room studying". I work from home so officially was still at work but too concerned to go back to the office and leave them all in the house so I stayed in the kitchen. Finally at 6pm she went upstairs and left me with the children as usual.
Hubby got home, helped put the kids to bed. Then we all ate dinner. Sat and talked together until I said I needed to go to bed. They said goodnight and we left them downstairs. This morning at breakfast she sheepishly told me that he had stayed the night and that she hoped it was OK.
My response was that it's OK to have someone stay from time to time but that I prefer it only at weekends. To which she seemed quite taken aback and annoyed, saying clearly it had no effect on things as she was up early as usual. I had to then defend myself saying that I just prefer not to have anyone in the house in the week - I work, my husband works, the children are there (my daughter is not yet at school). I then took the children to school myself - again to her protests - but I don't want to leave some unknown person in the house. So I said to her that she should have breakfast with him as her guest and that I would go (making me late starting work).
Anyway I feel aggrieved to be put in this situation - feeling mean. It is her home after all. But ultimately I don't feel comfortable. I know I am going to have to defend my position again so would welcome your advice as to what to say. I feel even slightly annoyed that I even said that it's OK at weekends. We don't know him at all and the thought of coming in any time not knowing who to expect makes me feel really low. Is this normal and expected territory when inviting an au pair to share your home life?
I don't know if it's normal sorry but I know I couldn't put up with it. You were expecting a friend round in the evening, not in the afternoon and overnight!
I think there's an area about au pairs if you don't get much traffic here?
I think she has a lack of respect for you.
Is this a regular boyfriend, or someone she has just met?
I wouldn't accept that either. Hanging out with her boyfriend when she's officially working, and having him stay the night without so much as a by your leave...
It may well be her home, but she works for you and she's taking the piss.
For me this would not be ok. At all. We have a rule that boyfriends are not able to stay over at all. I wouldn't mind a boyfriend coming over during waking hours on a weekend, as that is off time, but I would want to know a bit about them and that they are more than a 'stranger' first.
Our AP invites friends over occasionally during the day but not when she's got the DC. She always checks or let's me know in advance if someone is coming. Also I know most of her friends pretty well. If AP would like to spend time with a boyfriend that's obviously none of my business- but it's away from the family home and not during work hours. (We did have one AP in the past who would go out as soon as I got home from work and then came back in the morning in time for a shower before starting breakfast with the kids - that was absolutely fine!)
I think your au pair was either naive (being kind) or disingenuous (more likely) to ask to bring a friend over and not expressly let you know it was a boyfriend in advance, and am astonished she would have him around the DC or stay over.
Is this not something you discussed at the beginning when she first moved in? We always have a good 'ground rules chat' at the start, where we also ask our new au pair anything she wants from us as well, what kind of food she likes, making sure she is happy with the hours/routine etc etc - a kind of rules of the house thing and done positively it sets you up for a good relationship.
It's a bit late in the day, but in your position now I'd work out ASAP what your ground rules are and have a meeting with her to talk through them.
Sorry OP I was so incensed on your behalf I didn't read you last paragraph! here are some (hopefully) more constructive bits of advice on how I'd approach it now
I would ask her for a chat and let her know that you were caught off guard by the situation as it really was unexpected and you feel she was not transparent about the friend being a boyfriend, you felt thrown into an awkward situation that shouldn't have happened.
Say you are not happy with overnight stays with boyfriends at all in the family home and it's just not something you feel the need to expose your children to or explain to them. Also having a strange man around makes it hard for you to relax.
Emphasise that you are happy that she has met someone, but that you just don't want it playing out in the family home.
It is of course her home too, and she is a free agent, but you do not have to accept her boyfriend(s) staying as its not appropriate for everyone else living there. She is of course an adult and it's her choice if she spends nights away at his house as long as it doesn't prevent her doing her job
Finally when she is with the DC she is working, and should not be arranging to be with friends while at work (I am assuming here that she works reasonable hours, our AP only works 4.5hrs a day do has plenty of leisure time). The one exception to this rule for me is play dates with other APs and their charges.
I don't mind my au pair meeting up with a friend when he's with the DC, he generally tells me beforehand if he's going to, but he's been with us a while and I trust his judgment so wouldn't worry if he met up with a friend without mentioning it first. I really wouldn't want a boyfriend/girlfriend staying overnight, especially not without prior agreement. I would probably be less bothered about it if our au pair was in a different wing of the house or on a different floor, but the layout of our house means that all the bedrooms open onto a large landing and the DC have their bedroom doors open at nighttime so it would feel weirdly intrusive to have someone we don't really know there at night.
When we first employ an au pair we have a list of expectations that we send to them before they arrive about things like car usage, guests etc. We prefer not to have guests in the house while the DC are here, especially not unannounced guests, and a couple of times that our au pair has had visitors from abroad we have paid for a hotel room for them both in the city centre. We have also let him bring guests to our holiday home when we're not using it.
I think it's down to personal preference, our previous au pair had a girlfriend who was also an au pair and he used to go and stay overnight with her at weekends and her host family had no problem with it.
So effectively you provided free B&B for a total stranger?
I have no experience of APs but not even my DD or DS would have done this when they lived at home - just walked in with someone completely unknown to me or DH!
You just need to be a bit clearer about your house rules - she can have friends round in the evening but not until after her work hours have finished and they need to leave by 11pm. If she wants someone to stay over on a Friday or Saturday night she needs to ask in advance.
You don't need to defend your position, just tell her what the rules are.
Thank you so much for all your replies. Yes it is our first time with an au pair and we did not even think to talk about bringing people home overnight. It totally caught me by surprise. She did apologise again last night and said that she hadn't realised it would upset me. I find that hard to believe to be honest but at least she is now clear that it is not to happen again.
Still cannot quite believe that anyone (and she is 25 so IMO old enough to think it through) could think that bringing a total stranger home with the children would be acceptable let alone inviting them to stay the night.
I feel sad that she took the proverbial by doing it in the first place, but even more so because she felt that it should have been OK. I guess only time will tell if she chances her arm again....
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