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Childcare

The au pair 'employers' thread

266 replies

boo64 · 07/11/2006 15:35

As discussed, here's our new thread to swap advice on finding an au pair, keeping good ones, giving them feedback, what works with APs and what doesn't, what are appropriate duties etc!

Note the word employer is in quotes as they aren't officially employees but I couldn't think of anything better to call the thread!

OP posts:
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cloudberry · 29/05/2007 15:42

Hi Brummie, no don't worry about jumping in. Ask away ....!

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BrummieOnTheRun · 29/05/2007 15:45

tks! wasn't quite sure of the etiquette on these group threads.

just wondered what the main advice would be to first timers. my main concern is HOW, just via e-mail and a few calls, you can possible assess whether these girls/women are sensible enough not to let the double buggy roll under the wheels of a car!

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milkchocolate · 29/05/2007 15:49

Hi,
I used aupair world with great success.

We live in London. My kids are in school and nursery. Her duties were to help get them dressed and ready in the morning, make breakfast for them and clean up after meals. Take the youngest to nursery and pick the oldest up from school. She would help with dinner, and clean up after, in addition to some laundry duties, and help put them to sleep.
Our AP was paid £50 per week, + monthly Oyster card with tube and bus travel, and given a mobile phone. She had time off in the middle of the day. We paid for her course, lasted 12 weeks and cost nearly £300. Her English was so good I bougth her the Floodlight catalogue, and she picked a gym instructor course. She is so grateful to us for helping her settle with her new life in London. She stayed with us one year, as agreed. In my opinon, a happy AP is a well performing and loyal AP. She now works in a gym as a fitness instructor, and lives in a flat share, she loves the boys and they love her, and we stay in touch. A very positive experience for all I think! Good Luck!

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BrummieOnTheRun · 29/05/2007 17:02

milkchocolate - sounds like nirvana! in terms of picking the right girl, was it luck or judgement?

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milkchocolate · 29/05/2007 17:48

Hi Brummie (can I call you Brummie?)
I had hundreds of cvs from aupair world, the girls posing in bikinis were never really considered.... Yes, you get some of those.

We were exchanging emails, "spoke" on msn and on the phone, they would want to speak to our former au-pair (also a good friend of us now) to get references and an aupairs opinion on the stay with us. She was a good ally! She would ask them if they were interested in knowing about the nightlife near us, etc, and if they were all keen and excited she would tell me, lol. So in all, I think it was a judgement call more than luck. I did not take the decision lightly as I felt it important that she would fit with our family and be responsible around the boys. I trusted her complitely on the occasions she took them out. She would also take my youngest to toddler group in a church hall nearby on one of the days he was not in the nursery. He was in the nursery 3 days a week. I hope you find one!

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blueshoes · 29/05/2007 20:13

Another aupair virgin here. Brummie, I am also convinced I am a poor judge of character.

I put an ad on the Great Aupair and Aupair World websites about a week ago and just today, made an offer to a French aupair which was accepted! Hope I don't end up moaning on this thread in a few months' time.

For some reason, I received hundreds of hits from aupairs in a few days. Cloudberry, I think it is because I live in London, like milkchoc. But some of these hits were pretty random - like the bikini clad/Ricky Martin sorts , those who were from Mexico, Indonesia whom I could not get a visa for, summer aupairs (even though I clearly stated I wanted a longer term one) ...

I was ruthless in pruning my list.

A handful of aupairs emailed me and I started communicating by email. I went for those that replied promptly and even answered my long questionnaire. I took keenness to be a positive sign - tell me if I am wrong!

Then I asked for references - Brummie, ideally if they have past aupair experience in an English-speaking country, you can doublecheck with their previous family. Mine did not but promised to get me one from her French employer which I will get my French friend to translate.

Again, I assessed how quickly they could get their references together - shows organisation and go-gettingness.

I also called the final one to assess her level of conversational English and get a feel for her personality.

Then I offered! [gulp]

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blueshoes · 29/05/2007 20:14

I am wondering - do people do criminal checks and if so, in UK and/or in the aupair's home country?

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BrummieOnTheRun · 29/05/2007 20:27

tks for the info blueshoes & milkchoc... much appreciated!

I cannot BELIEVE it about the bikinis! Will not relay that info to DH or he'll insist on being involved in vetting process, sad git.

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Nightynight · 31/05/2007 06:57

lol
brummie, on the big databases, a certain % of the girls are there to find husbands. so you do well to avoid the bikini clad ones, or the honeypot smilers.
what puzzles me, is that last year on aupairworld.net, there were loads of girls from several different countries, all wearing the same hat in their photos. It was a sort of sort of pseudo military naval cap thing. At first I thought they must be school friends, but then they were on as coming from different countries, so I didnt understand what was going on.

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Nightynight · 31/05/2007 06:59

some are not even looking for husbands, if approached by a man, they will say how much they expect to be paid if they sleep with him as well as looking after his children. I have this on reliable authority from a dad.

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milkchocolate · 31/05/2007 10:04

I had a friend who went to Manchester as aupair (I am not English). She came back with the dad in the family. She was 18, and he was 40 something. I asked her why she did this and did she actually really love him. She said: "I just wanted to see if I could....and look, I could!" She broke up with him a few weeks later. I was just 18 myself, but so totally lost respect for her.

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lucalacey · 31/05/2007 11:02

I'm looking for a mother's helper/baby sitter in the Halesowen (Dudley/Birmingham) area from late Aug 07. Just evenings for a 2 year old girl who is at full time nursery in the day. She is a little star!

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blueshoes · 31/05/2007 16:56

Shocking!

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artist67 · 31/05/2007 19:27

what was 40 year old thinking of!!!!

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artist67 · 31/05/2007 19:43

Can I ask what stance do you take with the computer. Before the arrival of our new AP I have removed the computer in Au pairs room due to endless problems with last Au Pair constantly on it ( in my time).

I have stated on her arrival - computer use in her time only!!

We are now having the same problems over again.Now are new AP has settled in the computer is switched on soon as I go out and when she should be looking after the DC. I have already mention this too her and said she have to use the internet cafe if this continues. Except now she deletes history .. thinking i dont know [sceptical].

It the same annoying problem with her MP3 player and mobile phone plugged in her ears all day and when looking after the kids. I have also mentioned this to her.

Are they all like this?

I understand that being away from home can be lonely but this is taking the p

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BrummieOnTheRun · 01/06/2007 09:03

that's a difficult one, isn't it? does she understand how serious it is (i.e. not watching / being able to hear children)?

it's a generational thing I think. people even sit in offices now working with the MP3 players on so she may not understand why you're making a fuss.

i take it you can't put the computer in another (communal) room, so she has access, but it's clear when she's on it? or is that not acceptable because it's not private enough for either you or her?

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blueshoes · 01/06/2007 09:59

artist67, I would be very annoyed about the computer and MP3. Especially since this is a rule from the word go and you also had words with her. Deleting history is a bit cheeky - that is deliberate flouting of rules and sneakiness to boot.

I don't have a job whereby young people listen to MP3s while working. In any case, this is not an office job. Inattention could result in accidents especially around young children.

Do you have clear set schedule for her. If her hours are not particularly long eg 5 hours a day, then surely any person can cope without the www for that time. I don't think it is unreasonable for her to observe your rules during work times, with the rest of her time free to surf, etc to hearts' content.

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blueshoes · 01/06/2007 10:01

sorry Brummie, I realised I sounded a bit harsh on the MP3 player thing. It must be a generational thing - which has not reached my law firm employer! ok, I think IT programmers in my office may do it.

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BrummieOnTheRun · 01/06/2007 10:03

go blueshoes! you're really strict! And totally correct. (Am clearly going to have to grow some bollocks if this is going to work.)

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blueshoes · 01/06/2007 10:55

I can be strict only because I haven't had an aupair yet - she starts in Aug, lol. Then I will become the pussycat, like my cleaner wipes the floor with me! At least the spirit is willing ...

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Mumpbump · 01/06/2007 12:04

Artist - it is difficult to enforce, but I think it is entirely reasonable to restrict your AP to using the computer during her own time only. I am at work now, but I only log into MN if I have no work pending (which seems very common at the moment). If it is stopping her from doing the stuff you are paying her to do, then I would not let it pass. Did you get her through an agency?

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artist67 · 01/06/2007 17:26

I didn?t use an agency. I did turn a blind eye when she was using the computer, so long as jobs got done, until she started using it when looking after the DC. Au pairs had a laptop in their room and I have removed it and left the desk top in the study for AP?s use.
I don?t want to put a password on as yet !! but will do if it continues. I have had a look through some old threads and its seems to be common thing with AP?s. I do worry about the safety issues with the MP3 player. It also stops DC?s interacting with her when in the house and I don?t see how she can engage with the DC?s tin music coming from her ears. She thinks I?m over reacting about the Mp3 player ? I agree fine for house work, but not for looking after the kids.

I was wondering if others use passwords and restrictions. I know if I put on restrictions this will cause resentment because she will have wait until I come home

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milkchocolate · 01/06/2007 19:33

My AP did not have an mp3 player, but I would never have allowed that for the very reasons that has already been brought up. It amazes me that she does not understand that it is irresponisble. My AP had a big music collection, she would play cd's on the dvd player in the living room, and listening to music and dancing about was an activity enjoyed by her and the kids together. In her own time she would play her music on the radio/cd player in her room. I did deliberately not put a tv in her room, or a pc as I did not want to distract her from her duties.

With regards to computers, email and msn is such an important part of staying in touch with friends and family, so I would not ban that. She was allowed on my laptop in the evenings when I did not use it. I created a log in for her, so she could log in as herself. But, it was restricted for security reasons, she could not download stuff, etc. But she could check her email, chat on msn, gadu gadu, etc. But, in her free time, not when she was working, and to be honest, she never tried to bend these rules.

As with most relationships, the one with your AP is a careful balance of strictness and flexibility, and respect. What is important to bear in mind that this is most likely a new experience for both of you. For her, she has left her family, friends, is in a new country, and has to cope in a language that is not her own. For you, you have to cope with a complete stranger in your house, one you dont know, dont understand probably, and with a different set of expectations to your own. It is important to discuss the ground rules early. Have your expectations in wrting, much like a time table day by day so she knows exactly when her free time is, and what is expected of her.

For both my APs, I have let week one be settling in week. I have told them "Ok this week, we will get to know eachother, on Monday, we start our routine." This has worked very well.

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Nightynight · 02/06/2007 08:00

We havent had this computer problem yet, but I think I would simply take my laptop to work, and password protect any desktops in teh house.
I would tell her I needed the laptop for my work, and let her have it when I got home.

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BrummieOnTheRun · 02/06/2007 08:13

So it sounds like a centrally-located PC with her own (restricted) profile is the way to go. (I hadn't even thought about these issues). And probably a written 'code of conduct' or house rules style document. In the nicest possible way of course.

I have another question, if I may.

I'm looking through AP application forms and one question relates to whether AP has a boyfriend, & whether they will be visiting.

I really DON'T want some strange bloke in my house, but given everything milkchoc has said about difficulties settling into a new country, do you think it's reasonable to refuse?

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