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Discuss everything related to paid childcare here, including childminders, nannies, nurseries and au pairs.

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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Mojomummy · 19/12/2006 12:24

OK, so weekly/monthly in arrears. (do you calculate it by paying £55 x 52 + 12?)

Our au-pair will have a bathroom, which will be used by DD1 & maybe guests.

How do I do the contract - do I give a months trial ? I have asked for a reference from the previous place she au-paired at & should I ask for a reference from her employers ? she is a stewardess (not sure what she stewards [hmmm] something for me to ask.

Thanks !

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justaphase · 19/12/2006 12:26

mojomummy stewardess is the word used for flight attendant in some countries

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Mojomummy · 19/12/2006 13:07

oh good, I was worried in case she was a club stewardess

I have asked her for 2 x references.

What else do I need to do ? Oh I am terrified ...but excited at the prospect of order in my house !

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MrsRecycle · 20/12/2006 14:05

Hi mojo - glad I could help. Just to warn you (been bitten before) always, always follow up her references (by phone if possible). I always paid weekly in arrears.

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AMerryScot · 24/12/2006 15:27

As a veteran au pair employer (8 au pairs in 2+ years)...

I pay my current au pair £97 a week (to stay below the NI parapet). We are just outside London, and the au pair travels in every wekekend and often during the week as well.

We think that she realises that she is very well paid. Our first aupair, we paid £60 a week (recommended by an agency) and this was a source of great resentment. I think most au pairs try to save a little money, and this is impossible on £60 a week in our area. Yes, they can do it if they never go out, but that's not the kind of au pair we want.

Right now, we are paying for an au pair plus, but DD is going to school full time in January. Technically, we need only an au pair classique, but we don't feel that we can cut our current au pair's hours, so we will run with it for as long as she is with us. We just need to decide how to reorganise her duties.

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Loopytait · 28/12/2006 19:47

Hi. Surrey au apir wanted asap. Not sure if I'm posting in the right place. I am looking for an au pair to start January sometime. We are in Surrey. Have had au pairs before and know the drill! - Anyone know any who might be interested?

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cloudberry · 06/01/2007 20:16

Hi everyone. This thread seems to have gone to sleep so am giving it a wakeup nudge. I've been dropping in to read how everyone's getting on since we got rid of our last hopeless au pair about 7 weeks ago. Artist, longing to know how you're getting on. And Mizan too - I read about the pushchair incident absolutely aghast. Our new ap arrived on wednesday and oh my god what a difference from the last one. She's mature, interesting to have around, has struck up a great rapport with both dd and ds, is helpful, is just a pleasure to have around and most importantly dh thinks so too. He dislked the last one from the moment he picked her up from the bus station. I know it is early days but she's clearly in a different league. So that's me, and I'll keep you posted.

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MizZan · 06/01/2007 23:11

hi cloudberry - thanks for waking us all up! glad things are going better with the new AP. We too have a new one who started two days ago. Very early days, but for the moment I can say she's far more pleasant and sociable than the last one, and at least offers to help from time to time, and seems into both the kids. On the less good side, she seems to expect to eat every meal with our family, even on weekends - I know she has a right to do this and I'd never say she couldn't, but our family time is so limited (DH works looooong hours and is never around during the week) that I can't say I'm thrilled. Our last two APs both disappeared the minute they were "off duty" from the very beginning, so this never even came up as an issue before. Still, early days. It was such a relief to see the back of the last one that I can only assume this one will be better. I am going to be drumming safety procedures into her head though...

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artist67 · 08/01/2007 11:50

Hi thanks for the wake up. Glad you both have new AP and going well. As you may be aware I asked AP to leave at Christmas as I couldn?t be arsed with confrontations and constant whinging and didn?t want to put up with an atmosphere in my home. After things had cooled down, a few days later, AP asked if we could have a chat she was very apologetic and said that perhaps she had been too quick to make remarks and now realizes that being and AP is best suited to someone younger and not someone like herself - as she put it ?higher maintenance? but now accepts this is how it is, and she likes the children very much?? and is really willing to make a bigger effort and would I reconsider letting her stay on after the New Year?
She really caught me at a weak festive moment, and I just interviewed what seemed like a very ?hyper, opinionated and you?re lucky to have me? sort girl? I relented and have agreed AP could stay until the first week in Feb and will see how it goes!!!( DH not happy about this)
So far, so good, massive effort with housework and children. This morning I never had to ask her to do anything, this is only day one, but at least I know she is capable and can do it.

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artist67 · 10/01/2007 13:04

I now take back every thing I said on Monday and I really regret on sticking to my decision and getting rid of AP ( my own fault). Au pair grabbed DS by the arm and dragged him down the hall way in a fit of anger, screaming at him yesterday. She never mentioned it until I asked her what DS had told me, and she said she was stressed and felt ill and DS was being difficult. I am soooo furious I knew she was irritation but shock at this. AP has also been discussing our personal business to our neighbours?..so she?s leaving by the end of next week.

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cloudberry · 10/01/2007 19:09

Oh artist, how awful for you, but what a relief for you to give her the boot at last . Your poor ds and what a nasty piece of work she sounds. Will you look for another ap? i seem to remember you really do need the help. Our new one is just incredible in comparison to the last one, a real diamond and very genuine with the children and in her whole attitude. I can't imagine why I put up with the last one for as long as I did as her attitude was appalling now I've got our new ap to compare her to. She is German and incredibly competent, efficient and absolutely able to use her initiative. I was told by my sister-in-law that she'd had very good experiences with German girls so am just passing it on to you. Good luck xx

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artist67 · 12/01/2007 20:48

Hi cloudberry I?m quite relieved AP is leaving and having had two bad experiences in less than 4 months I?m reluctant to got though the whole process again. Although I have been trying to rationalize what has happened, in short, AP had started to display some odd behaviour and is in my opinion quite unstable and very manipulative ?but she has not gone yet !! I?m worried that she has not accepted that she is leaving, as I have seen no evidence of her looking for another job or making travel arrangements I have given her a deadline of the end of next week.
Having Au pairs is perfect of us ? when we had the right AP. I will only consider another AP if she comes highly recommended (verbal reference from UK family)and now just looking at alternative options

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pianist · 12/01/2007 21:03

Have had four au pairs and liked only one of them - not very good odds is it?

Can't bear to go there again, so have given up my job to stay at home and do it all myself!

Think having au pairs is a minefield.

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belgianmama · 12/01/2007 23:13

Hi, reading this I just want to add that I've only had 1 bad experience and about 8 au pairs. I also find the process of finding one v. stressfull. The number of times they seem to disappear of the face of the earth is amazing.
Because I raise my 2 bilingually I always have Dutch or Belgian au pairs and I think they have a more realistic view of what life as an au pair entails. I have this feeling that girls from Eastern Europe often see au pairing as an easy way into the country.
Being an ex au pair myself, though, I would also like to say that I feel that maybe, just maybe, some of you are a bit too harsh on au pairs.

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hiddentreasure · 13/01/2007 17:31

I've had 7 au pairs, of whom only 1 was a disaster although one drove me nuts. After the first two (one good and the one who drove me nuts) I switched to male au pairs with great success. I have a ds and a dd, and the au pair's duties include lots of school runs and housework but the kids were older (dd 8 when we got our first boy) so needed less childcare.

I found the boys much easier to live with than the girls - didn't want to chat all the time, no pmt, no boyfriend troubles, didn't want to borrow my clothes, happy to go out and make their own social life. I think I handled them better too - found it easier to be direct with them, less pussy footing around.

All mine came from Eastern Europe, I was happiest with the ones from the Czeck Republic and Hungary.

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artist67 · 15/01/2007 16:20

Interesting views on Aupair?s- never really thought about a male Au pair. Our Au pair is leaving at the end of the week, and is being arkward and rude. I have managed to find an Au pair locally who needs a new family because her old one is moving out of the area. She was very highly recommended by her current family, and hopefully will start on a trial basis. At the moment she is lodging with a friend and very keen to spend time with my children after school for a few hours, BUT I am reluctant until current AP has gone, as she is deliberately causing an atmosphere and hanging around the house. I think this new AP is worth a try

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Mumpbump · 15/01/2007 16:35

Loopytait - where in Surrey are you? We're in Redhill and our au pair is looking for some extra work as she only has about an hour of childcare in the morning and 1.5 hours in the evening. If the hours worked, I wouldn't mind sharing her...

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mishmash · 16/01/2007 14:54

Hope I am not gate crashing here - hadn't spotted this thread before I started the one on AuPair World.

Our au-pair will finish with us sometime in August so rather than leave it very late, like I did last year, I decided to start looking for a replacement now.

I used an agency for last AP but am not going that route this year. I have been on Aupair World and so many girls match what I am looking for, started adding them to My Favourites and have been contacted by a few girls and likewise I have contacted a few I liked.

I am only on the first 3 pages and there are so many who sound lovely.

Anyone have any tips or advice as to how to whittle them down. I don't want to go too, too fussy to look for a perfect match. My children are older now so my needs aren't as great as before.

UWILA - if you are reading this can you bump up your questionnaire.

Also any other seasoned AP mums - what nationalities have you found to be the best (or is there such a thing) - our current girl is German but is a bit on the serious side, though she came across as being bright and bubbly when we saw her CV and sounded so when we interviewed her too. Don't get me wrong lovely girl but hard work at times.

Any other tips would be greatly appreciated as I am not relying on an agency this year to do the work (not that they did much in the first place and are being paid for old rope!)

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mishmash · 17/01/2007 23:33

bump

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hecciesmum · 26/01/2007 10:21

Hey mishmash

We've had a Polish girl who was lovely and very sweet and hardowrking.
Another Polish girl who was a nightmare (only stayed 2 months before we changed her)
A fantastic South African who was 120% perfect if there is such a thing
AN Aussie who was nice but a bit of a space cadet and drove me up the wall
Another South AFrican who is also perfect

now - about to chose the next one (cursing the 1 year visa permit system!) who is Peruvian. Wasn't that I wanted a peruvian but she soundsprefect - good english, works at the moment in a kindergarten, fantastic references etc.

To be honest i would avoid ever having another australian again - i have heard from alot of people that they had similar problems to us - so laid back they are horizontal. Depends what you want, but i didn't think it was too much to expect her to tidy up after herself and keep her room tidy...it was always "no worries mate - I'll do it tomorrow". Tomorrow just never came. Lovely girl apart from that but not for me.

hecsmum

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MrsRecycle · 26/01/2007 13:53

Here's my questions mishmash (based on Uwila's):

  1. Why do you want to become an Au Pair?
  2. Why do you want to come to London?
  3. Do you have any friends/relatives in London or the UK?
  4. If so, where do they live?
  5. Have you looked after children before? If so what were their ages and were they boys or girls?
  6. What was you favourite part of looking after them?
  7. What aspect of children?s behaviour do you not like?
  8. dd2 likes to say ?No? a lot ? how would you deal with this?
  9. dd1 is very slow in everything she does ? how would you encourage her to speed up?

10. What activities/pastimes have you done in the last month?
11. What do you plan to do in your spare time when you are with us?
12. Are your parents happy with your decision to become an Au Pair?
13. What pocket money are you expecting? (This will be for 25 hours a week plus 2 evenings a week babysitting.)
14. Do you have a bank account?
15. Do you have the funds for your flight to the UK?
16. Have you had any first aid training?
17. What food do you like?
18. What food do you not like?
19. What is your favourite meal?
20. We like our girls to eat healthily ? do you know what this means?
21. dd2 is lactose intolerant ? do you have any allergies yourself?
22. Do you have any phobias?
23. Describe your health in the past year.
24. What interested you to the role we are offering?
25. Are there any aspects of the role that you need further explanation on?

Oh dear hcmum - I have a few Aussies on my shortlist. Maybe I'll have to question them on their tidiness (having said that I think a typical 18 year old's room is a mess anyway - mine was )
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artist67 · 26/01/2007 20:24

Hi cloudberry and mizzen ? How?s it going with your new AP?s? Just to let you know I have found a fab Au pair who came to us as recommendation with lots of experience and was really just by chance, as was about to give up. The children are us a lot happier and the atmosphere is great, she Spanish speaking so that?s also a great bonus for us. Because of her childcare experience we are letting her have more responsibility with the toddler an increased her hours. The settling in period is over and there are no issues!!! And I don?t have to keep prompting or reminding ect.

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MizZan · 27/01/2007 11:06

hi artist - glad it's working out well for you. our new one is ok, not great. she's a lot nicer than the old one so the atmosphere around the house is better, for sure - a big plus. But quite moody (already having boy problems, and PMS, which was definitely never an issue for us with others!), and not particularly competent - have been through morning routine with her numerous times over past 3 weeks and she still hasn't managed to remember that the baby needs a bib, that the dishwasher actually needs to be unloaded first thing etc. Also my 5 year old is being very stroppy with her and she seems quite unable to cope, which is unfortunate, though I can relate I must admit! Baby likes her well enough.

She seems very exhausted all the time though - tends to nap in the afternoons rather than going out, and arrives downstairs at 5:45 PM looking dazed and expecting dinner. She seems so tired that I haven't dared ask her to babysit. My husband's very ill and pretty much confined to bed for the moment, so that's making things a little weird as well. Also she refuses to wear a watch, which ends up meaning we get no info on things like how long baby napped for, and I suspect there's no way she'd ever get herself together enough in the morning to actually feed my older son breakfast and get him to school on the bus on time.

this may all become academic for us, though, as I've just been made redundant.

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boo64 · 30/01/2007 14:46

Hi all

Just a quick question - did you get your AP put onto your car insurance and if so did it cost a fortune?!

We are thinking of putting ours on the second car's insurance but she won't be driving our main car - and as ds's car seat doesn't fit in the second car it would purely be to make her life easier when she has time off - therefore don't want to do it if it costs a fortune.

I know I could just call the insurers but can't be bothered at this stage!

OP posts:
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DominiConnor · 31/01/2007 09:37

I'm sorry to hear you new Mizzan.
But please tell me that you were joking that she wouldn't wear a watch ?
Pretty please ?

I appreciate that "interesting" behaviour by APs gets posted more, but in a couple of years we were thinking of going that way. Is it really that scary ?

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