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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:
artist67 · 16/11/2006 19:47

What your Ap doing for Christmas hols? Our has really hinted that she cant afford airfare home- she only been with us a few weeks ?I have NO problem with her home for two weeks but may contribute airfare later in year.

What does every else do?

syrup · 17/11/2006 07:55

Hi Artist my AP has been with us since Sept (you may recal my dithering and flapping over her arrival!!) she got a bit down about 6 weeks ago when she found out all her family were going to be in Romania for Christmas. We decided she would go home for 2 weeks I will still pay her pocket money but she is fully responsible for airfares etc. We are hoping she is staying for at least a year so thought 4 weeks paid hol was about right.
I just hope to goodness she comes back after new year (she just laughed and said of course when I expressed my worries!!!) as I start Uni in Jan.

happynappy · 17/11/2006 09:49

Hi, does any other mumsnetter know how to do criminal record checks in Germany or other EU country? It looks as though I may be nearing an agreement with German au pair who is already in UK. Also is there a way of getting a CRB check, the website says only agencies, not parent employers, can get CRBs done which seems really unfair. Happy to pay if any knows a way. Thanks.

tonton · 17/11/2006 13:18

Someone was asking about south amercian au pairs. We have had 2 brazilian aps. They had to go to language school every day to comply with their visa. They were both great - ambitous, hardworking, had boyfirends and social lives. Perfect for us then, when we just had a school age girl. They did cleaning too.

Now I have a 7 month old baby as weell as the 6 year old. I work frelance as does dh. We will need some chidcare - nursery seems a pain as i would still need cover for the older girl in the afternoon. Aupair plus maybe - but she would definitely look after the baby a couple of days a week so maybe not suitable?

totallyfloaty35 · 18/11/2006 12:11

Im having real problems finding an aupair,got a lovely aussie girl starting in March,but really need one now as just had a baby and got 2 older kids and my husbands on tour alot.Every time i think im getting somewhere with an internet application they seem to dissapear.I did interview a german girl who was already here but found her a bit odd,now im wishing i gave her the job odd or not.
Does anyone know any gd sites to try?Am already using Au pair world and Great au pairs.

boo64 · 18/11/2006 13:37

Floaty - how about gumtree? You can specify someone already here - especially given it is a short term job that might work well if someone just wants a few more months.

Sounds like you need help with 3 kids and dh away a lot! Hope you make him feel guilty when you are up doing the night feeds and he is getting an unbroken night's sleep in a hotel somewhere!!

OP posts:
totallyfloaty35 · 18/11/2006 22:51

Thanks Boo will give it a try

happynappy · 19/11/2006 20:59

Any au pairs, host families in Woodford Green or South Woodford out there? I've got an au pair likely starting in January and would like to help her get to make a few friends. (not quite as altruistic as it sounds as I figure this way she'll stay )

Any one out there????

artist67 · 20/11/2006 11:46

Opinions please !!!

We have an older AP who has worked in the classroom setting, and I really don't think she's trying to bond with children ( make friends with then) and finds it very difficult to go to their level. She's interfering with our disciplin and by constantly nit picking at the childrens behaviour when I'm dealing with a situation. She says she has a lots of skills in this area - although never worked in a family setting before.

I have had a frank discussion with her outling what our expectations are, and would like AP to follow our example, but AP doesn't seem happy with this, and says the children are very dis - respectful towards her when I am not around.

I don't think she has the right to complain/judge when she's A)not an experienced child carer/nanny B) not following our example C) not making a real effort with the children, but instead she is trying to command some respect.

I don't know if i'm on a road to nowhere

sashycat · 20/11/2006 16:15

I think I have to take back everything I wrote in my last posting - my ap has turned into the ap from hell and not Austria which is where she said she was from! Thank goodness she is leaving at the end of the month, but what amazes me is that she has found another job she says, locally, yet the new family have not asked me for a reference (of course given her track record on accuracy of facts, I have no guarantee that this is true, but would anyone hire someone without a reference from the current employer?) Actually, come to think of it I DID! I took 2 personal references as she told me she had not told her current employer she was leaving, and then gave excuse after excuse as to why she "forgot" to get a reference when she did leave...I guess I have only myself to blame.

syrup · 20/11/2006 18:51

Artist, I'm afraid I would find your situation really hard to deal with and don't think I could tolerate it for any length of time. My boys can be a total pain and I have to admit DS1 was an absolute s**t to our AP for the first 3 weeks or so (I even started a thread "my DS1 (4) is bullying my AP!!) however she never once complained and dealt with the situation in a very calm way ( far better than I would have done) and DS1 now absolutely loves her and when she goes away at the weekend misses her like mad.
I almost feel that having an AP with classroom exp sounds great on paper but this has probably also made it difficult to make closer more "homely" relationships.
One thing I would point out to her is that respect is earnt and not commanded and children are often exceptional judges of character and if all else fails .......!!!!

MrsSchadenfreude · 20/11/2006 19:22

I had a nanny who was a Montessori teacher and she was absolutely fab, and also had a stand in au pair who was a qualified primary school teacher - also fab. Artist, teacher or not, it doesn't actually sound as if your AP likes children! Maybe this is more of a problem, or did she teach somewhere where they teach very rigidly - ie "this is the right way to do this and only this way will do"?

No advice really - sorry!

syrup · 20/11/2006 19:29

By the way I am not at all adverse to teachers per say ( I start my PGCE next year!!!)

cloudberry · 20/11/2006 20:28

Artist , having just got rid of our ap as you know, reading your last post I'm afraid I wouldn't put up with what's going on. You've not been hugely happy with her for a while for various reasons have you? How does your dh feel about her now? Having gone through angst about how to deal with an unsatisfactory ap, I would now have no hesitation in asking the next one to leave if I was unhappy with her, and I now wouldn't take so long to do it either! It is so much nicer here now she's gone. I'm thoroughly enjoying having the children and the house to ourselves and not having someone moping around who irrites me and takes the piss. I don't know if that helps you, but I found it isn't worth the aggro of having "help" if they're not really doing it. Good luck x

happynappy · 20/11/2006 20:47

Have got potential AP coming to stay for the weekend (she's already in UK and working for another family) and as this is my first time as a host 'mum' (still find this weird hence quotes) I wondered if anyone could lend any useful advice?? The purpose of the visit is to make sure 1) we get along ok 2) to see how she gets on with kids 3) face to face interview. Want to make most of experience and avoid making a mistake that both me and the AP will regret.

Bienchen · 20/11/2006 21:46

happynappy - not sure whether you got any info on the equivalent of the CRB check for German au pair. What she needs is a police check called "Polizeiliches Fuehrungszeugnis".

artist67 · 20/11/2006 22:09

Cloudberry ? Syrup, It is so frustrating because there has been a vast improvement with the Ironing and she is actually achieved some housework, she is extremely willing to help and is very appreciative and considerate, for example she will eat with us at weekends and help clear up?and more besides

This criticism is a real blow and I find it very personal and unwanted. Basically DH hit the roof, then laughed at the thought of our unorganised very passive AP, who has not yet (or ever attempted) to put into practice her discipline or communication techniques. Syrup, I couldn?t think of the right word but it is the lack of ?homeliness? and ?warmth? that IS missing.

AP was certainly not mis-lead by us, as I always stress the worse parts. In AP?s original profile she was pitching herself as a ?nanny? when she approached us. I did make it very clear that I didn?t need a nanny. If I did, at the very least I would expect her to have childcare qualifications and to have worked within a nursery or home setting, and an understanding of family life. This was eventually resolved, and it was very clear from the onset that we are very different; AP very quiet and I?m generally not but i can accept this.

I think she finds the whole AP thing beneath her skills, and her expectations, in my view are unrealistic, as each day passes she interferes or makes very patronising suggestions. It usually starts off about the noise levels of the children, but if she tried to bloody entertain them whilst I?m cooking she might not be reaching for the headache pills at the end of the day.
Although she has made her own friends she has started highjacking our evenings. Last weekend we had friends round and I didn?t mind her staying for a chat, then I expected her to go off doing her own thing, (which she would normally do) but she stayed for virtually the whole evening not really saying very much and got quietly drunk on red wine.

So, yes I am finding the whole thing very difficult to handle, but I desperately need some help until the end of Jan and trying to be very calm.

happynappy · 20/11/2006 22:30

Thanks Bienchen, I'll pass that info right along to hear, any thoughts on my other postings?

cloudberry · 20/11/2006 22:38

Artist, God it sounds like quite a nightmare for you. Much harder if there are some things which are OK and improving but with that whole negative area too. It's such an awful situation to find yourself in particularly when you REALLY need the help. I know what you mean about criticism being personal. That's what I found the worst about ex ap. The stuff that irritated me I could cope with, it was the implication that we were over-working her and that she'd clearly been discussing it with her friends and then the subsequent details that really nailed it for me. Very very hard when you feel it becomes personal. Have you got friends locally or know other mothers who might know of someone who could help out? I had a fantastic girl who helped us for 10 weeks just before and then after the birth of ds. She lives locally, had worked for years for someone I've known for ages and now works for loads of different families here and there, one day a week for one family, two days a week or a fortnight for someone else etc etc. She's not a nanny as such as she has no formal training, but is brilliant with children and just getting on with things and using her initiative, Only thing is she costs rather more than an ap!! A friend of mine who's asking her ap to leave at christmas, doesn't want to have an ap again for a while but would like some help is going to ring this girl. Sorry - long-winded explanation but just wondered if you know of anyone similiar round you, or could ask if anyone you know knows of someone. Christmas is a problem too because now unless you're really lucky and could find someone immediately, there's not much point in starting with someone new till the New Year. Anyway I've jumped several guns here and should shut up. Just feel for you hugely and wish I could offer words of wisdom that would make a difference. Ramble ramble .......!!

Bienchen · 21/11/2006 11:49

Happynappy - not true that only agency can request this. As a matter of fact, au pair can organise this herself. I know as I did so when I needed paperwork for Australia (am German national). Wasn't expensive but took a few weeks.

Haven't read all of the thread so if there's anything else you want to ask, feel free.

happynappy · 21/11/2006 17:50

Is it there any value to paying for langugage school for our AP rather than the local college which offers free ESOL for EU nationals? Wondered if there was more chance of social network in college or language school? Can anyone give benefit of their experience?

Bienchen · 22/11/2006 19:46

I'd arrange for au pair to attend a trial lesson or two with either option. I found that really usefule - it also helps to make sure class is pitched at correct level for au pair (not too difficult or easy = boring).


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happynappy · 23/11/2006 09:51

have to say bienchen you've been really helpful, some great solutions - any more pearls of wisdom would be gratefully accepted

Bienchen · 23/11/2006 15:40

h.appynappy - where do you want to start. We have had au pairs for seven years! Just finished this summer as DS is now at senior school, I was made redundant a few weeks ago and am pg with DC2 due Feb so no need for au pairs. We had everything the good, bad and indifferent. If you like you can CAT me and have a chat over the phone

MizZan · 23/11/2006 23:21

advice needed ladies. we just met tonight with a new potential ap who has spent the last 6 months working for a family in a small village near the university town where we live. She's looking to change families because she wants to live right in the town, where all her friends and her language school are, and also because her current family don't have her on a fixed schedule, which she'd prefer. She seems very nice though English is limited, and the kids she looks after are the same age as ours, so so far, so good.

the problem is getting a reference from the current family. She hasn't told them yet that she wants to leave them, and they were apparently expecting her to stay a year. She does not want to tell them until she has a firm new job offer, but on my side, I am not sure about making a job offer before getting a reference from them. Am I being overly finicky? Should I just go with my gut instinct (to hire her) and hope for the best? Will the mum of the current family be likely to give me an honest reference anyway, if she's mad that the ap is leaving?

just to complicate matters the kid of the current family goes to the same, very small private school as our son...not that we knew this when we contacted her for an interview!

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